Sunday, March 30, 2008

Honoring Chavi on April 1st

If you were a member of The Cauldron any time from about 2003 to early 2006, you will remember Chavi (aka Storyteller Cat and, in offline life, Cathlene Patricia McKenna) and starting in early 2005, her ever positive reports on her battle with a rare form of cancer. (You can read some of those posts here on our slow 2005 Archive Board.) The odds were against her from the beginning, but that did not stop her from fighting hard to turn to be one of the rare survivors. And for a time it looked like she really might overcome those long odds. Unfortunately, it wasn't to be so.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008, marks the second anniversary of Chavi's passing. TC has not been the same without her. Last year, we decided to honor her with 24 hours of candle burning. We've decided to do that again this year. We are asking all Cauldron members who knew her, knew of her, or who did not know her but just want to help honor a wonderful person (and wish to participate) to light a candle in her honor at 8pm your local time on April 1st and let it burn for at least an hour. The object is to have 24 hours of candles burning for her -- one hour at a time around the world. Given things like oceans and the like, this may not be completely possible, but I'll bet we can come close.

The time would be marked in your time zone so it would be like a 24-hour honoring of a wonderful person.

If you want to participate, please post in here. Everyone, regardless of religion, is welcome to participate. If you can't participate at 8pm your time, feel free to pick a different hour, Chavi would not have cared.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Pagan Religions that aren't Earth-based?

Please school me, people. I live in a shack by the Pacific Ocean and don't get out much. I have really only been exposed to pagan thought and practice that considers connecting to Earth as the Divine Mother and protecting the earth as a sacred right and responsibility. It was interesting to read Mari's post over on the failure of paganism in the ancient world thread about how her particular religion thinks of this. Others? What are you all up to?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

When the Newness Wears Off?

Was there ever a time on your journey that you realized that the newness had worn off and if you were going to be able to continue your path it was all up to you?

For instance I have seen newbies post in threads (mainly elsewhere) and they are all excited that their lives are going to be 'magickal' and exciting from now on because of their newfound path. Some of these people are teens, some older than me, so that doesn't seem to make a difference. I remember when I decided to walk the path I'm on. I think I expected the 'magic' and everything to be there just because I'd chosen the path. It took me a while before reality set in and I realized that any magicalness was only there because I made it happen and when I didn't, it wasn't (this was a few years ago for me).

So it got me wondering if this was a normal type of progression from newbie to really (so to speak). Sort of a 'life is what you make of it' or even a 'life is what happens to you while you're making other plans' - if you're not careful to pay attention, that is. ...Thoughts?

Forms and Methods of Purification

I've been thinking a lot about the concept of purification lately and I thought I'd pick some brains. I think we all know about the use of water or herbs, but what else do you use for purification? Is purification something that your path practices or requires?

Also, is there a differentiation in your purification practices between purifying the body and the spirit/soul? Do you use different methods to purify a ritual area than you would for a person? Or a ritual object? Why?

I've also been thinking about the concept of confession in Catholicism- I'm not sure if Catholics would agree, but it seems to me to be a form of verbal purification; by confessing ones sins and repenting them, the sinner cleanses the soul, correct? Would you disagree with this thought? Is verbal purification something you've practiced or considered?

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Fractured Wicca?

As someone just seriously starting to examine this path, (though my interest was first piqued at age 13, many, many years ago), I'm starting to see and read and see more of the differences between wiccans than their similarities. I'm starting to notice some real serious rifts and jabs between the members of a complex, diverse, but supposedly unified religion. The more sites I visit and read, the more I see it. This does not bode well, and is leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

I'm especially referring to the so-called "Fluffy Bunny" phenomena, as denounced in several sites and blogs. While many of their "anti-fluff" points are well taken(!), some of it is also somewhat pedantic and dismissive.

For just one of the more colorful examples, the endless jabs at certain groups, as well as individuals, such as Oberon Zell Ravenhart, on the site "9 lives, many masters" is really a bit much. In fact, at first I thought the strip was pretty funny, (I also draw, and love comics) but it got heavier handed with each new strip - it wound up (IMHO) being preachy and superior, eventually beating the "message" to death. I think it's possible to take yourself too seriously, sometimes.

This isn't the only site and I didn't mean to single it out except as an example, one of many.
"Wicca for the Rest of Us" is another anti-fluff site, but there I think the viewpoint was delivered more constructively, and was quite educational.

Constructive criticism is a good thing; making jabs at others (and not just OZR) and belittling them is not taking the higher road or helping to educate others, however.
There needs to be that balance of keeping things "real" while not letting exclusivity and superiority stroke the ego.

Now, maybe few will even care if a newb is turned away from Wicca or not; after all, "mystery religions" are exclusive clubs by definition, and limited membership is part of what makes their members feel special. So why should any of you care what I think, or why this bothers me?
Well, young religions are vulnerable religions, and Wicca is still very young. They need growth and acceptance to survive and evolve. That suggests that acceptance of flexibility, within reason, should be tolerated. Then again I suspect a number of you do care about Wicca's image to initiates ( I use the term generally here)

Many forms of early Christianity could be considered "eclectic", as preexisting pagan traditions and Christianity were mixed together in curious combinations; I haven't read of any historical documents where the Church came down on people for mixing Christianity with paganism except one; where the Roman Catholic church fought with the Celtic Church and their way of doing things - but that took centuries before that came to be an issue. In the very beginning, the church was just happy to have converts! (They didn't usually force people to convert at sword point unless you want to buy into the old myths)

It took Christianity several centuries to break up into different rigid factions that wanted to kill each other, but some Wiccans seem ready to manage that in just 60 some years, with "Solitaries" vs. "Initiates", "Fluff Bunnies" vs "Serious" wiccans, Gardnerians vs. Alexandrians, etc...

Why Did Paganism Fail?

A long time ago, the world was dominated by religions we would now classify as "pagan". Today, the Western world and big swaths of the East as well are dominated by the monotheistic Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam).

So what happened?

I'm not so good at history--science is my forte--but I recognize that there probably isn't any one answer for how paganism was displaced in primacy in disparate cultures in disparate eras. Nonetheless, it's striking how thorough the change has been in so many cultures with so many different situations.

I don't buy "evolutionary" arguments--that monotheism is more "advanced" than the various types of paganism (obviously, or I wouldn't be pagan). Yet I'm also leery that it was solely a matter of conquest (adopting the religion of the conquerors either at the point of a sword/gun or out of convenience), though that was a big factor in some cases. And I recognize that in many instances, paganism just took on a subtler guise (e.g., santeria and the other syncretic religions).

Ye Cauldronites who know your history backwards and forwards--and there are a lot of you!--please shed some light on this for me, if at all possible.

[And then there's the inevitable follow-up question: Why the pagan resurgence, however marginalized we may be, and why now?]

Egg Yolks and Witchcraft?

I have a question I'm hoping someone can answer as I have been unable to find any information elsewhere. I was recently in a house that had several small crosses drawn on the walls in various rooms with egg yolks. The woman who owned the house (she's not there anymore) was said to have practiced witchcraft. There was also an incredible amount of salt on the floor (doorways, window sills, around furniture, etc.).

I understand the purpose of the salt but so far I have been unable to find anything that describes using egg yolks to create symbols on anything. I have found several magickal uses for using the eggs themselves but not the yolks. I have looked at various sites including ones dealing with hoodoo, voodoo, etc. but have been unsuccessful. I suppose it's possible that this is something that she came up with on her own but I have no way to ask her. Any thoughts or ideas would be appreciated...thank you!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Hopi Indian Legend?

On vacation last year, I paid a brief visit to the Hopi Indian reservation in Arizona. While there, I saw an intriguing reference in a museum to a Hopi legend about the coming of the "white man"—which was one of the reasons they initially welcomed Europeans, until it became apparent that we were not the fulfillment of the legend. I asked a couple of people while I was there, but I couldn't get a simple answer as to the origin of this legend. Would someone be able to point me in the right direction for more information?

Sunday, March 23, 2008


What superstitions do you know of? Which ones do you follow? Are you embarrassed?

Ones I follow:
I know of the one saying that buying a tarot deck for yourself is unlucky, and that somebody should give it to you. I learned it when my mom gave my sister a tarot deck.
I knock on wood. If no wood is to be found, I knock on my skull.
I cross my fingers for good luck. When I was a kid I crossed my fingers if I knew I was going to break a promise as I was making it.
I throw spilled salt over my left shoulder.
Astrology. Nuff said.
I found a 4 leaved clover once.
Bad luck happens in threes.

Ones I know of:
Leaving milk outside for elves.
A horseshoe above the door to keep trickster elves out.
Never whistle behind stage. If you do, spin three times or the show will be a disaster.
A ghost light is kept on inside the theater when everybody is gone.
Crows are bad omens
Its bad luck if a black cat crosses your path.
If you sneeze, it means somebody is talking about you, somewhere.
If you walk over your own grave you will get a cold chill.
13 is an unlucky number.

3 is a lucky number.
4 is a lucky number.
5 is a lucky number.
6 is a lucky number.
7 (and multiples of) is a lucky number.
9 is a lucky number.
17 is a lucky number.
108 is a lucky number.
(Is it just me or do the lucky numbers seem to out number the unlucky one(s)?)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Do You Miss Church?

I have considered myself a pagan for about 16 years now although I didn't formally leave the Catholic church until about 10 years ago. I was raised by a Catholic family and attended church very regularly. When I decided to stop attending church I was living in Los Angeles and thought I would take advantage of my location and seek out people like me to replace the community of people I lost when I left the church.

In the following years I drifted in and out of online groups, meet-ups, covens, regular workshops, etc. always looking for the sense of community I got with the Catholic church. I found that generally the pagans I met were a bit flaky, unreliable, not grounded, fake, and just not really the sort of people I could depend upon. Not to say that all the Catholics I knew were perfect but my experiences with Catholics were that if you needed help in your life, you went to the church and they would help you. Not so with the pagans I met in Los Angeles. I never felt at home with any of the groups or covens I joined and I eventually became discouraged and disillusioned and decided to be a solitary.

When my husband and I moved to the small town in Oregon that we currently live, I started an online group to form a pagan community here in town. There are about 80,000 people in and around this town so I thought there would be some pagans among them. Sure enough, about 65 people joined my group. I was thrilled! I decided to have monthly potluck gatherings to socialize, network, and to build a pagan community that was akin to the community I had when I was Catholic. But lo and behold, three gatherings in and people started to flake out, talk trash about other members, disappear, and soon the group fell apart. Once again, just like my experiences in Los Angeles, the pagan community let me down.

So now here I am, searching for community once again, missing the community found at church, and wondering if I'll ever find that kind of strong support I have been looking for. For the pagans here who were church members in their past, do you miss the community feeling of belonging to a church? What has been your experience in the pagan community of having that same support system? Any advice for helping me deal with this?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

How Do you Practice your Religion?

Do you practice your religion/beliefs/worship/magic solitary or in a group? I just wonder how many Pagans practice in a group at all. I'm a newbie and don't have any experiences with Pagan groups.

Gods as Ideas vs Gods as Deities

I grew up in an exceedingly dry and academic religious group called Theosophy. I learned plenty about myths, indeed the start of every Sunday children's class began with a story that fit with the theme of the week.
But it was all very dry. There weren't any rituals other than the sounding of a gong, and a very occasional intoned AUM. We were encouraged to meditate, but not to worship.

And now I'm interested in worship, in a relationship with a god or gods, but in my head they are still....archetypes. Concepts. Not real.

I remember as a kid I believed. I had my little alter to Krishna, and I'd intone his name one hundred and eight times before bedtime while counting on my brayer beads. (Lord Krishna, Avatar of Lord Vishnu, Protector of the Universe.)

As I find myself looking into paganism it all sounds very interesting. I want something spiritual in my life. But in the back of my head is the constant little voice saying, "its all very well, but you don't actually believe any of this stuff, do you?"

Edit: And as a question: How do you see the gods?

Question about Creating Circles?

Why does Gardner say to leave the a door at the north? (you'll have to scroll down a bit for the actual quote)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Druid Handbook?

Went on a trip to the local bookstore (a decent one, not the commercial sell-outs Grin) and purchased The Druid's Handbook by John Michael Greer, but I see that he borrows heavily on Robert Graves. Did I just waste $20 or is there something worthwhile in it?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

"Bad luck to buy your own deck" - how common is that, and where?

Elsewhere, Rin mentions a superstition related to tarot:

It's considered bad luck to buy your own deck. You're supposed to get it as a gift. Maybe taboo was the wrong word? I view it more as superstition and I think its silly. I've bought my own deck before, tho' it wasn't right for me doesn't reinforce the superstition. I also don't see the point.
The way Rin talks about it, it sounds like it's fairly common where she is - as it also is (or anyway has been; I'm not hooked in enough to the local scene at the moment to be sure if it still is) here. Though there's not a lot of contact/connection between Calgary's and Winnipeg's Pagan/occult/divination/etc scenes, there's enough that ideas do cross-infect.

Most of those who responded in the original thread didn't mention whether it was something they'd heard of before or not - but they didn't say, " Roll Eyes Oh, that old canard again!" (or some approximate equivalent). I didn't post that, but I sure as heck thought it.

So now I'm wondering whether it's a common superstition in a lot of places, or whether its commonness is a regional phenomenon. Is this something you've run across a lot, or a little, or not at all, in your neck of the woods? (Don't forget to give me a notion where your neck of the woods is - I know where lots of folks are, but I don't have a TC map in my head.)

Celebration of Misrule

About this time of year, Jews celebrate Purim. Besides reading the book of Esther, this holiday is characterized by a spirit of misrule. In this festival, everything is supposed to be topsy-turvy and as disrespectful and silly as possible. People wear silly costumes, shout and shake noise makers during the scripture reading and so forth.

I wonder if any of you folks have holidays or have engaged in rituals of a similar nature? This might be something that honored chaos elements, or trickster deities, or something I've never heard of. If so, what are some examples?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Special Terminology?

What interesting terminology do you use to describe your magical and energetic work that is unique to that work? I, for instance, use the word "purpose" as a verb meaning "to give purpose and/or intention to," which I only ever apply to energy that I am doing it to. Does anyone have any other interesting examples?


Over in one of the other topics here in this thread, I believe one about a new home, someone posted the mentioning of using wards to help keep out negativity. Which I am really interested in, besides the use of white sage and incense, to help with this place as I learned it was likely rented out by a drug dealer (Hmm...)!

I was wondering, what and how would one go about this? I've heard and read of little bit on stone wards, but also know you can go about this with using other items. But I don't know how!

So, thoughts and suggestions?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Wicca a Religion of Clergy?

Just started to read Starhawk's The Spiral Dance. What I don't get is this:

Quote from: Starhawk 1999, p.38
"Every initiate is considered a priestess or priest; Witchcraft is a religion of clergy."
I guess you can practice witchcraft without being a priest/ess, so she's aparently speaking only about Wicca. But why is it a religion of clergy? Why are the initiates priests/esses?

Aren't they all equal anyway, except for the high priest and high priestess?

Or is it a matter of everyone being basically able to lead a ritual? But isn't priest/ess about intermediate-ship, wouldn't it become obsolete once you have a group where everybody is a priest/ess? Or is it to stress the difference to the non-initiates?

I guess I'm somewhat predisposed through my Catholic upbringing, please explain me what I don't get.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

House Spirits?!?

I have a newly forming pet theory regarding house spirits; being that they may not soley be tied to the place but often to family from domicile to domicile and generation to generation. Now I have considered this may be a modern phenomena (after all we have recently spoken of deity moving with the times, why not elementals and fae?), however I distinctly remember a story in W. Jenkyn Thomas' Welsh Fairy book of a brownie that liked the family so much it moved with the family. This of course peaked my interest.

So I am sending out a plea, to aid me in my task, does anybody else know of stories/mythology/fairy tales of house spirits/lare/wights/ who are tied to families rather than places?

What to Do for Ostara?

I've been browsing the Internet (bad idea, if I do say so myself) and looking for information on Ostara. In my walk, I celebrate the 8 sabbats most typically celebrated by Wiccans (I am not Wiccan myself, it's just what feels right to me.) Sadly, a lot of the stuff I find on Ostara is for fluff bunnies. I was wondering if anyone had any ideas of what to do for Ostara?

Oak and Beech, stones to go with?

I was wondering what stones are good and complimentary to the Beech and Oak Tree?

Basic and simple quest. I know...weird huh?

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Gods in Movies and Books?

(This is mostly aimed at Greek Recons seeing as their gods are the most famous.) How do you feel react when your gods are represented in fiction and in movies, like Disney's Hercules? Do you consider some of the ways they portray them disrespectful? Or do you feel that it doesn't matter as long as they didn't mean anything by it (because most people have no clue that people still worship the Greek gods)? How do you think specific gods might react to being represented like that?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Don't have an altar?

We see a lot of threads here related to what folks have on their altars, and why. I am curious as to how many of you don't have an altar, and why that might be. Back when I was semi-Pagan, I had an altar for awhile, but dismantled it after my husband refused to treat it respectfully (e.g. constantly setting his empty soda can next to the athame). I don't have an altar now (despite having a cool nook built in the wall that would be perfect) because I don't know it would really be appropriate now that I'm studying Judaism. Even synagogues don't have altars, and the connotations with animal sacrifice and the second temple make me leery of introducing it into my home.

So, who doesn't have an altar, and why?

Deities Requesting Specific Foods or Drink

In mosey-ing around here, I have found it not very uncommon for people to mention a certain deity they work with asking for a certain type of food or drink for offering (this was inspired in particular by Jennett's mention of Artemis wanting baklava in the "Practicing Basics" thread).

My question then is why would a deity ask for a food such as this? What do they plan to do with it? Not being in the physical plane, I imagine they could just conjure up the taste or smell if it was something they liked. Why do they request for a worshiper to provide it?

Do you find certain gods or goddesses have a sweet tooth or other strange cravings? lol. And finally, does it appear that they ask for foods or drinks that might be similar to the tastes or preferences of the lands from which they originated (the land they were originally worshipped)? If you had a god or goddess ask for something particularly unusual, please share!

Pagan Fiction?

I was just wondering what fiction books you've discovered that are either Pagan-themed or have some Pagan elements to them. They seem (to me, at least) to be few and far between. So I'm curious to see what anyone else has found.

My personal favorites are:

"The Wild Wood" and "Greenmantle" by Charles de Lint

"The China Garden" by Liz Berry

and the "Circle of Three" series I read when I was in high school, by Isobel Bird.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Incense Burning in Different Traditions?

I like to burn various incense because I love the smell and feel that it creates a positive atmosphere, but I wonder how it is used in different traditions and why.

I've read somewhere that smoke cleanses the room of spirits and somewhere else that you can offer incense to spirits or gods.

Which traditions/religions do use incense and why?

Why and how are you using incense and does it relate to a specific tradition?

Mensa Pagan SIG?

I let my Mensa membership lapse years ago but I've been hearing interesting things about the Mensa pagan SIG.

Anyone belong and able to share more details? Is it worth the cost of the membership dues?

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