Thursday, July 31, 2008

Praying With Your Body?

I was thinking today about the was in which some religions incorporate movement into their worship. This could be pronounced (e.g. whirling dervishes) or more subtle (e.g. crossing oneself before prayer). Here are some of the ways our synagogue incorporates motion into our service:

1. During a part of the service called the Bar'chu (call to prayer) we bow when the word "Bar’chu" or "Baruch" is spoken because the word for blessed has the same root as bow or bend.

2. During one of the hymns, it is our tradition to join hands and dance in a circle around the perimeter of the sanctuary. (This is pretty unusual for a reform congregation. One typically only sees this sort of dancing in an Orthodox synagogue. We are an odd mix of very liberal and very observant.)

3. Before the Torah is undressed and read, it is brought out of the ark and carried through the congregation. We either touch it with our hand our prayer book, and then kiss our hand our prayer book as a sign of respect for God's word.

What are ways that you incorporate motion into your worship?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Should Religion be a Chore?

More than once I have come across somebody who seems to find their religion a chore.

To me, a chore is something that you know that you 'have to' do, but don't really 'want to' do, although you always feel better after you've done it.

For example, I have known more than one person (from various religions) who go to church once, twice or even three times a week, and yet view this as a chore. They feel as if they have to, but they don't really want to, yet they feel good about it once they've been.

Should religion be like that?

Personally I know that if I came to view my religion in such a way I would definitely pull back from it for a while and think 'hey, is this what I really want?'

Yet others may trudge on. I can think of one friend in particular who is constantly complaining about having to go to Bible class, Church etc. and yet once she has been she is always very happy. Which is great. But the continuous up and down must be tiring!

So, do you feel as though your religion/religious practices can sometimes seem to be a chore to you? If your religion ever came to feel like a chore, would you continue on, or step back?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Omniscience of Deities?

This is a question mostly for 'hard' and variously medium-cooked polytheists Wink , though of course all viewpoints are welcome.

I know generally deities are understood to be NOT omnipotent, but do you consider them to be omniscient, and if not, why? To what degree are they aware of most things, etc?

Additionally, do you believe Jehovah/Yahweh is truly omnipotent/omniscient? And perhaps any other deities that are considered to be so? (altho I'm not aware of any that are, there may be) Why or why not?

The Language You Use (in Ritual or Worship)?

Do you find it important or useful to speak to your gods in the language of their original culture? For instance, sing a hymn to Bridget in Gaelic, or Hestia in Greek?

If you have learned a language that is related to gods you believe in do you feel you have benefited spiritually from it?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Religious Misunderstandings: Being Put into One Box

Have you ever been put in one box with people/religions you didn't feel to belong?

Recently I mentioned to a scientific skeptic friend that I use Tarot cards and was startled when she started ranting about a dentist who uses a pendulum to check if a patient is getting the right filling. Shocked It was a bit upsetting to me that my friend didn't ask how I use the cards but straight assumed I belonged to a specific crowd of people who are all the same.

If I see someone wearing a cross I don't straight away assume that he/she believes the world was created in 6 days. It annoys me that some people don't do me the same favor.

Maybe I should have been more careful about mentioning Tarot cards.

How are your experiences?
How did you react?
What do you think one can do to prevent such a misunderstanding?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Diety to Grow Old With?

How important is it to you to have a deity that understands aging? Has your pantheon changed or do you think it will change as a reflection of your age advancement?

For me personally, I no longer feel very connected to Goddesses of Beauty & Fertility. This is a bit of a problem because as far as I can tell the Egyptian deities, who I have always felt drawn to, are ageless or forever youthfull and fertile. There isn't one that I am aware of that changes with age. I believe in other pantheons however, this can happen. I have found I have been gravitating to the darker more shadowy beings like Neith.

I don't see my age advancement as needing an underworld deity at my side (yet anyway, I'm not 90!) just one that can be sympathetic and that I can gain strength and comfort from during a new chapter in my life.

I would be happy to hear of any deity recommendations for the second half of life!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Is This Religious Discrimination? Is It Wrong?

So lets say that someone goes to a new dentist, and while he fixes her teeth just fine, she realizes that all the inspirational/quasi-religious posters in his office and waiting room say "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" on them. Other than the posters in the office, she is not subjected to any sort of proselytism.

After she goes home, and the Novocaine wears off, she googles the guy. She finds his church's online newsletter archives and find several articles written by him that espouse views completely contrary to her own...on matters such as women's rights, reproductive freedom, and so forth. The dentist is clearly very involved with his church, and claims to give more than the required tithe.

Because of this, she decides to find a new dentist, despite the fact that her root canal was a stunning success. She can't stand the idea that her money is part of a tithe supporting a church with views with which she vehemently disagrees.

Did she do the right thing? Why or why not?

Musical Witchcraft?

I recently stumbled onto the idea of musical Witchcraft, but in my search for additional info, I came short on learning anything that can help me. You see, I am attempting to make a unique form of witchcraft that is personally for my own use, so I'm basing spells, rituals, exercises, etc. on my favorite things. It's a greater challenge especially because I have very few supplies for spells, so I'm aiming to use psychic ability or energy work for a majority of the spells.

So I'm reaching out to my Pagan community for some help, since I trust you guys and girls. Does anyone know anything of Musical Witchcraft? If not, does anyone have any thoughts/ideas to help with my form of witchcraft?

Importance of Scholarship to Your Path

Unlike many other religious forums, the Cauldron places a premium on research and scholarly understanding of religion. As such, we've amassed a collection of bookworms, archivists, and other people that love learning. What are some ways that you incorporate research into your religious practices?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Follow up Tarot Reading When You Don't Understand a Card?

Has anyone ever done a second reading when something in the first one left you puzzled?

How did you do it? Did you do a complete new spread? Did you do a different spread? Did you use a puzzling card from the former one as significator?

More than a week ago I've done a celtic cross spread and had the 5 of swords (Robin Wood deck) in the position of 'near future'. I'm still trying to figure out what it means. The problem is that from what I know about the card it could mean disappointment or gain of something that doesn't belong to you, but it's not clear if I'll disappoint someone or someone will disappoint me or if I'll loose something that belongs to me or if I'll gain something that doesn't.

I also don't know what kind of loss/gain or disappointment it might be. Will it be about relationships, a job or something else? As I've just graduated and will start a completely new job in a completely new city soon it could refer to any loss or gain. I'm confused. Maybe it's just trying to say that I'll be disappointed about something because my hopes are too big. I had the 8 of staffs on the position of 'near past', maybe indicating that I'm going a bit fast and aren't aiming careful enough or expecting too much. But I'd like to know to what aspect of life if refers to. (Maybe I should have phrased the question more specific, I just asked how my new life will be.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Future Development of Paganism - Seeking vs Being Raised Pagan

Today and even more in the past 20th century most Pagans came from non-Pagan backrounds and had to go through a search phase before they settled on a path (or became eclectics or continuing seekers).

I wonder if this would change slightly in the next few decades. Do you think there will be more Pagans, more acceptance of Paganism and thus more people raised Pagan? If more people are raised Pagan, do you think Paganism will still contain this element of personal quest or will it become normal that Pagans are just born into their paths?

Would you say this seeking is an integral part of Paganism/specific paths or is it just there because many people come from non-Pagan backrounds and need to seek before they find something else?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Internet and Spiritual Development?

Do you think that the internet aids or hinders spiritual development? Is it a little bit of both, or does it do neither?

Also in what ways, or basically why do you think this?

And last, I will point out that I am asking this question from two ends. On the individual level, as well as on the worldwide level. (Basically how does this relate to an individual person, and how does this relate to humanity as a whole). Feel free to answer either or both (just please let us know which you are referring to, to avoid confusion.)

The Long And Short Of It

I blame Koi!

Quoting Koi: "Now I think we need a thread where everyone gives their long, explanatory title ... and what they typically shorten it to."

Well, I have 'Kemetic Feri Discordian' in my short line, which is a decent summation, I suppose; those are three things with names. I actually mostly just say 'Kemetic', as that's the basis of where I'm coming from, but it doesn't help communication much 'cause most people haven't heard of it.

If I were being comprehensively descriptive I'd probably have to go with something like:

Secularly-raised Setian Kemetic neo-reconstructionist ecstatic mystic heretic pledged to Hethert, dedicated to Wepwawet, and beloved of Khnum, student of the Anderson Feri tradition (Morningstar line; hoping to train in Blackheart line as well) with a heavy kitchen-witch and hearth-guardian sensibility, heavily leavened with ancestral influences (particularly Slavic folk customs, some Irish lore, and a ladleful of dwojwierny), part-time disciple of the Discordian saint Sri Syadasti, dabbler in spirit dealings drawn primarily to Bluejay, with half-assed influence from a variety of sources that illuminate my personal understanding of Egyptiana, including particularly a smattering of Judaism, Hinduism (especially Shaivite Hinduism), Shinto, and West African Traditional Religions and the African Diaspora Religions.

With eclectic shared practice with primarily-family, thus heavily neo-recon-Celtic influenced.

If the thing that's distinctly dual-trad at the moment manages to synthesise into a syncretic jobbie, its name will be something like Ab Khem.

And this is why I wrote the Cauldron article on how not to screw up eclecticism!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Can Two Different Beliefs Both Be Correct?

This is something that I have been contemplating for some time now, but unfortunately I feel I am going to be just as incoherent in my words now as I would have been a couple of weeks ago. Please bear with me!

When it comes to matters of religion, people hold very different and often conflicting beliefs to one another. For instance, my MIL believes that Judgement Day is just around the corner and her god is going to choose a select number of people to rule with him in heaven. She believes this to be the absolute truth, and she believes it with every fibre of her being. She even refers to her religion as 'the truth'.

I on the other hand most certainly don't believe this! That belief just doesn't work for me, and thus my religious beliefs are completely different. And thus conflicting. Although my MIL would not be happy to hear what my religious beliefs were and would try to convert me to her beliefs because that's what she believes she is supposed to do, I am fine with her holding her beliefs. I don't care that they conflict with mine. I believe that religion is a very personal thing, and thus would never try to convert anybody to my own beliefs. Just because they work for me, it doesn't mean they're going to work for someone else.

Yet when all said and done, I feel as if this train of thought has a very serious flaw. How on earth can do completely different, completely separate, completely conflicting religious beliefs both be right? My MIL would clearly state that only her beliefs are right, and that everybody elses are wrong. One thing I like about TC is that the majority of people here respect an individual's religious freedom. Including myself. And yet does this mean that I'm secretly thinking to myself; only my beliefs are right, and everyone elses' are all wrong? Because I'm not thinking that in the slightest... but how can I say that two beliefs are both the truth? I can't. To me, it defies logic.

And so, I'm confused.

If anyone has any musings whatsoever on this subject, I'd like to hear them. Sorry for the long-winded post.

The Bits You Don't Like

There are a lot of people who want to walk a pagan path, and want it to be a 'historical' path, but basically disapprove of parts of it and simply discard them. They are usually advised to do this, in fact, with phrases like 'take what you like and leave the rest', 'if it makes you uncomfortable it's not for you', and, basically, 'if it feels good, do it'.

This leaves a lot of paths looking unbalanced, usually towards the 'white light' side, but also occasionally towards the 'dark fluff' end of things. There are Wiccans who reject binding and scourging in initiations, 'shamans' who rail against the use of entheogens, practitioners of sacrificial religions who disapprove of sacrifice. They seldom change the name of what they do, but if one assumes that a person using the name of a religion actually embraces all the parts of it, one is often wrong.

My question is, what have you rejected in your chosen path, and why? Did you spend any time trying to follow the practices you don't like? Do you feel that if you had, you would have understood them as integral and embraced them, or would have ended up excising them anyway? Do you seek to understand the 'uncomfortable' bits before rejecting them, and do you feel your religion is missing that elusive 'something' due to sanitization?

I often find modern religions to be superficial when described by their pratitioners, but I can't figure out if that is because those practitioners have discarded half their humanity (and half of their gods' reality), or because those practitioners simply don't talk about those aspects in public.

F'ex, I read a post on another forum where the person wanted to try augery and wondered if her local butcher shop would be willing to sell her 'a mess of entrails to read'. To me this seemed worse than useless, but suggesting that she ritually slaughter her own bird or beast, with appropriate ceremony and dedication, and read its entrails in the context of the ritual itself, was met with a superior/condescending version of 'ewww, gross!'. As if wanting to read entrails was uber-pagan and impressive, but doing the prep-work oneself was simply barbaric.

How much do you discard as barbaric or uncivilised, and do you feel that it undermines or enhances your authenticity as a modern day pagan?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More Than One Religion?

While I'm not a complete newbie to Pagan Religions, there is still a ton I need to learn, and I'm getting there... slowly. Especially lately where I have more time on my hands to read, search, etc. But I'm slightly confused on something..

I have not read too much into this but I am hoping to get some opinions from people who know this stuff better than me because I don't really know if there is a right or wrong answer.

I have seen people who are Pagan, who consider themselves as being part of more than one Pagan religion. For example, I see several people who, in their list of beliefs list things such as Druidry, Shamanism, Wiccan, Heathen. While I know these are all Pagan, I know that a lot of Pagan religions are quite different from one or another, would believing in more than one Pagan religion be contradictory to the others? Mind you, I don't yet know a lot about other Pagan religions other than the ones I'm reading up on, so whether or not they contradict one another is quite over my head. I have also seen posts on other forums regarding Druidry vs Celtic Recon and people who claimed to be into both.

Some of the Pagan religions are similar, some are different, but is it 'wrong' or contradictory to study/practice more than one?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Closed Traditions?

So I'm really not sure what to think of this. I was on a site I frequent called gaiaonline. It's mostly teens and young adults, with a thriving message board and a few games and such to play. One of the forums is called Morality and Religion, or M&R for short. There are a few Pagans on the site who are very well read and knowledgeable, but I'm starting to think that they are just making some things that they personally believe into fact and telling people who are trying to start out in Paganism that it is the whole truth. Other than this they are nice people and have a private forum for helping newbies along.

The main think they seem to be able to rant on about is something they call 'Culture Rape', claiming that most ancient Pagan traditions are closed and if you weren't raised in, say, Ireland, then you have absolutely no right to attempt to worship Celtic Deities. Some people try to defend themselves by saying that they are of Irish descent but they still cry culture rape. They get pretty mocking when people say that they have anything to do with Native American spirits or Deities if they aren't Native American themselves.

I've googled the terms closed tradition and culture rape many times and only ever found it from this small group of people... I'm just curious of ANYONE has come across this? I'm just really confused, and I'm not the type to get into a confrontation with them because, honestly, if I go up against them I'm going to get mocked since I haven't read all the keys of Solomon or something... And having been 'thwapped' by both Celtic and Native American Gods, it's pretty much a sure bet they would have a lot to say to me that isn't productive at all...

Why Candles?

Almost every religion, Pagan religions included, likes to light candles for all sorts of things. Pagans frequently light candles as a form of prayer for someone, for mediation, as an offering, or as part of a spell (candle magic). The prayer/energy request folders on this forum abound with messages of "I'll light a candle for you."

Why is the use of candles so wide-spread? What do you use candles for and why?

Friday, July 11, 2008

Religion and Hierarchy

Hierarchy is something that crops up in many religions. I’m not referring to the relationship between humans and the Divine, but rather the relationships that occur between humans in a religious structure/organization.

For instance in Catholicism (the only reason I’m using this example is because I find it to be the easiest) there is the Pope, various Archbishops and Cardinals, bishops and bishops of a diocese, priests, and pastors. And of course then there are the lay people.

And so I have been thinking: what is the purpose behind such hierarchy? If one was to come from a fairly Marxist perspective, their reason may be that it is a form of social control. And yet other religions beside those ‘dominant’ ones such as Catholicism also have some sort of hierarchy within them. BTW for instance, has the High Priestess and High Priest of a coven.

So, do you believe hierarchy is an important aspect of a religious organization? Why do you think many choose to have a hierarchy? Does your religion have any form of hierarchy?

(A latter thought I had: how do you feel about the hierarchy of men and women in certain religious organizations? If there is one in your religion, how do you feel about it? And if there isn’t, do you think there should be one?)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

How Do You Re-Use?

A lot of us try to be "green" in a variety of ways...recycling, composting, conserving energy, etc. One of my favorite ways to be green is reusing junk and making it into usable stuff. What are some of the things you do to reuse? Here are a couple of my favorites:

1. Turn soft plastic containers (e.g. yogurt containers, sour cream cartons) into seedling containers. I heat the tip of a Phillips screwdriver to poke drainage holes in the bottom, and then put the container lid underneath as a drip tray. If you can get your hands on larger containers (e.g. Panera's cream cheese containers) this works well for large houseplants as well.

2. Turn cereal boxes into magazine holders. I never have enough magazine holders because I hate to pay the exorbitant cost for a cheap piece of plastic. I recently found that I can make serviceable holders out of cereal boxes. Once the cereal is gone, just remove the plastic bag from the inside and cut it into the magazine holder shape. Here is a pic of a few completed ones: If you get really fancy, you could cover and decorate it. Mine are more au naturale, 'cause I'm lazy and not very Martha Stewarty.

Main Board Back Up

After over a week of downtime due to a lightning strike frying parts of the server, our message board is back up. Special thanks to Bob for getting this fixed while in the middle of a cross-country move.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Main Board Still Down, Join Us on the Backup Board

The Cauldron's Main Board is still down (as is everything on Bob's server, including his own sites). We still have no idea when things will be back to normal as we have not heard from Bob (which means he's still doing the cross-country family move thing). However, we are having fun "camping out" on our backup board. If you miss your daily dose of TC, come join us.

Template by - Abdul Munir | Daya Earth Blogger Template