Sunday, March 29, 2009

Help Honor the Memory of Chavi on April 1, 2009

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, 2009, marks the third anniversary of Chavi's passing. TC has not been the same without her. For the past two years, we have honored her on April 1st with 24 hours of candle burning. We've will be continuing the tradition 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 -- especially as some people let their candles burn for longer than one hour.

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. Smiley

This year, we will also be honoring Chavi by opening a SIG for Pagans (and their friends) who are dealing with chronic, long-term and/or terminal illnesses which with be dedicated to her: the Chavi Memorial Chronic Illness SIG. This new SIG should open on April 1st.

Creating my own spirituality?

I'm not sure how many of you have created your own tradition or created a path from scratch but essentially this is what I'm attempting. I'm an atheist pagan; that is to say, I do not believe in deity. I see the universe as divine so perhaps the better descriptor is pantheist. Be that as it may, it's a bit difficult to find a religion that fits comfortably for me.

As such, I've always had a fondness for Shinto and after reading a book about 'koshinto' or 'ancient shinto' I think this faith is a good base for me to start on and work around. Coupled into that is a bit of shamanism but not much, I suppose.

I should like to create a path that is about self-improvement and growth. I can read as many self-help sites, articles, and books as I want but to be honest I find them boring and their activities trite. Sometimes I feel so foolish attempting their activities that I really don't get any value from them but I understand that's fine. I think this is where I can use religion to grow, however. Something that I should be able to always carry with me in my heart and mind so that I'm forcing myself to be accountable for my evolution.

Anyway, backstory aside, I want to create a tradition where I learn from nature. I am starting with the Fox. I believe that the fox can teach me many things and help me get started on my journey. I can see some things that I want to do but I know that I'm not ready for those things either. So I'm a bit paralyzed right now. I see the destination but I am not sure how to get there.

So I guess I should open this thread up to any of you that might have some ideas. I think meditation would be a good first step and I plan to attempt it during earth hour but really I feel like I want to do more so that I am sure to make this a part of my life. I definitely want to live this everyday and mature.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Drawing down/ritual possession and safety measures

What can go wrong about drawing down/ritual possession if one doesn't do it right or doesn't take the necessary safety measures?

What safety measures do you think necessary to take for a drawing down/ritual possession? How do you go about them?

Do you think one needs to be in a formal training to learn it or practice it safely?

Shouldn't you attempt it or permit a deity do it to you until you come to a specific level of formal training or self learning/experience?

Does one need to practice it in a group?

Thursday, March 26, 2009

What to call 'Paganism' in the Workplace?

Not everyone wants to be 'out' as a pagan at work and not everyone thinks it's appropriate to 'bring religion into' work at all. That said, there are those that do on both counts and run up against the problem of the word 'pagan' bringing with it a degree of baggage tht can make life harder than it needs to be. Question is, what term/phrase/name could be used as an alternative that covers the right territory?

Pagan Pilgrimages

As some may know, I'm doing an on-again, off-again, five-part pagan pilgrimage. I've starting prepping for Part 4, and it got me thinking others out there may be able to offer insights from their own experiences.

So has anyone out there made a pilgrimage to a place specifically connected to their pagan spirituality? Was there any preparation involved? What did you hope to get out of it? What was the experience like?

Or if you haven't made a pilgrimage, are there any you'd like to make, and why?

And more broadly, what do you think the value of a pilgrimage is, if any? Where do you think the impulse comes from?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Giving Back

How does the idea of "giving back" work into your religion? Does it at all?

Some background... I do a lot of charity work. In the past, I've been heavily involved with a cancer charity, Relay for Life (my mother-in-law is a breast cancer survivor). This year, I've begun to be involved in a local charity organization of renfair enthusiasts called "Team Wench". We just put on a feast to raise money for MS walks (and we raised over $11,000 this year) and I'm going to be helping put on a tea that I'm hoping will benefit the American Heart Association. I also donate money when I can to various sorts of charities.

Until recently, I never thought that this could be a service to the Gods. But in thinking about it, I believe any time you give selflessly of yourself, that this "giving back" is sacred... whether that's fundraising, or working at a soup kitchen, removing non-native plant species from the state park, or recycling. As a Wiccan, if I truly believe the idea of "as within, so without" then my giving back to the world also helps make me a more service-oriented person.

So... what about y'all?

Mahayana/Greco-Buddhism and Hellenismos

Lately along with my Hellenic studies I've also been studying a bit of Mahayana (mainly listening to Zencast, so I don't know if that really even counts as studying) and attempting to implement more Dharma into my life as well as continue my path of worshiping and honoring the gods.

I'm aware of the concept of syncretism and wanted to see if anyone else has found a "connection" of sorts involving Buddhism and their Hellenic practices. Do the philosophies coincide at all? I think about the Delphic Maxims and many of the divine laws seem to fit very nicely with Buddhist thought and in a way, it seems to me as if the Dharma would make one even more pious and virtuous.

Thoughts? Opinions? Semper, what the heck are you smoking?

Nurturing a Spell?

I'm very new to magic and just started trying some simple spells. I did one the other day that involved planting seeds and for some reason every time I walk past it I have a strong urge to nurture it by putting my hands around the pot and chanting. Other than caring for the plant normally now, should I leave it alone? Am I being overzealous?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Your Concept of the Afterlife?

I know there are several pagan concepts of the afterlife out there-Summerland, Valhala (sp?), the Underworld--but what do you honestly believe happens when you die? I'm not saying these places don't exist but with so many, do you choose? Is there only one? Is there something else?

It's who you are not what you are; isn't it?

It seems to me a tenet of the world's cultural discourse that people are fundamentally equal (whether by creation, assertion, mandate or on principle) in some way relevant to moral responsibility and social order. Out of this grows an ethic of treating a person on the basis of who they are, rather than what they are; of judging a person on the personal qualities that are understood as being within their influence and control. It is an ethic that I frequently find?/read into? (YMMV;)) the moral arguments, discussions and debate that I encounter, particularly within the pagan communities of which I am a part. FWIW I think it's not a bad starting point when dealing with friends and strangers alike.

That said, is it an ethic that is universally supported across pagan communities?

Are there myths/legends/teachings/folk lore/etc. that teach that it is right to judge a person on the basis of things over which they are not deemed to have influence and control?

UPG is of definite interest to me for a contemporary perspective and 'traditional' or 'established' materials that are viewed as 'canonical' (for want of a better term) are especially good because I can read them and self-remedy the easy questions.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Pagan Vs. Neo-Pagan?

I would like to know the difference between the term Pagan and Neopagan and how is it differentiated? Thank you for any help...

Creating My Own Ritual

I am trying to create a ritual that can be used for both solitary and coven work, specifically for Beltane. I have not created a ritual before and am unsure how to start. I want to either create one that can be used for on my own and with my coven but I think I might have to create a seperate one for each.

For my solitary I am trying to focus on sexual fertility, but I want to make sure I address the other forms of fertility as well. I've done a few solitary rituals before but they weren't for any major holiday.

I'm just worried that I may be completely going about this all wrong and will offend those that I am trying to honor. Especially since my goddess is the Morrigan, not because she is vicious, but because I'm not sure how to include her in a Beltane ritual.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I need help. I'm wandering aimlessly here and it's getting me nowhere.

Does Self Harm Go Against the Rede?

I suffer from depression and struggle with self harm and have been pondering something.

I am so scared Mother (Goddess) is mad at me... or I have disgraced her ... or something. Because, well, is self harm going against the Rede? It says, "An it harm none, do what ye will." Harm none... that includes oneself... does it not?

I don't know why this has suddenly started haunting my thoughts. I have never really even given it any thought, but now...

Weather Magick?

Does anyone here practice weather magick? What exactly does it involve? Is there any good info--books, sites?

Why is it called a 'Book of Shadows'?

Just wondering where the term 'Book of Shadows' originally came from and what is meant with 'Shadows'. I came across it watching Charmed the first time and thought it was just a cheasy invention of that series.

Do you like this term? Do you use it for your magical/spiritual journals? Why/why not?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


If you have offended a Deity, forgotten something you have promised to do, agree to something then don't do it, what do you do? Do you ask for forgiveness or leave an offering? How to you make ammends with Deity? Do you have to make ammends? Are you expected to do a "penance"?

How do you make things right again?

Ritual with Children

[From our new Pagan Parents SIG]

How much do you include your children in ritual, worship, or other aspects of your religious path? Do you have special rituals or practices that are for the little ones, in addition to your solitary or group ritual/worship? What are some ways you share your religion with them?

I am not raising my children (ages 6, 4, 2, and 14 mos) to be any particular religion; but I'm also not raising them with no religion. We attend an awesome UU church and they are exposed to, and free to explore, any and all paths. I've no interest in indoctrinating them; it's not my path to convert anyone to anything. there is a lot of value in what I believe (or I wouldn't believe it, LOL) and I think that it can apply to - or at least inform - their own unique paths.

I'm pretty adept at answering questions, and introducing concepts, and having discussions with them. However, I've only been Pagan for a year and a half... any kind of Pagan Smiley. So while my children hear lots of discussion about different theology and beliefs, and they have their questions answered, I haven't really succeeded in building a practice that truly includes them.

Starting out, I read a bit of Circle Round and it seemed good. I wasn't at a place to even begin It's been a while now though, I would have to borrow it again to see if it has ideas that are relevant to my path now (which started out being "earth-based, maybe Wiccan?" and has developed into something different.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

College School Work and Path Intersecting?

Does anyone ever find the work or reading they need to do for school intersecting with their path?

For example, I am taking Theatre History, so I've been doing some reading on Dionysus, and now I'm thinking I'd like to start doing devotions to Him (well, I am in theatre, so it would be logical Wink -- but moreover I just think I should do so, which may be a not-so-subtle hint).

This is probably because I have been trying to be as scholarly as possible with regards to the Gods I honor and work with, and the ways in which I do so. When I'm engrossed in academia (and have access to such a lovely library) it just seems to be a logical next step.

Anybody else find this?

Conversely, does your path enhance your school experience in any way? Do you find it influencing the choices you make with regards to classes or even majors/minors?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Methods for Learning New Divination Techniques

I'm looking for tips on effective processes for learning new divination techniques.

Try as I might, I've never had much luck with tarot. It just never clicked for me. I don't trust my pendulum any more -- it's too easy to move the pendulum unintentionally. I've been doing fairly well with ogam, but have found that to be useful mostly for clarifying and learning about the "whys" of a situation, rather than for figuring out what's coming down the road or which path to take, if that makes any sense.

Tana mentioned Lenormand oracle cards a few weeks back in another thread, and it intrigued me. So I've ordered a deck (from Italy, since they seem to be hard to come by in the U.S.) and what seems to be "the" book -- not that there are many books on Lenormand cards.

So I'm interested in ideas for how to go about learning this new system. I don't mean tips for learning the card meanings -- that's what the book is for (although I'd be interested in that if anyone wants to share). I'm mean tips for how to really wrap my brain around a new system and how to learn and test it to see if it's accurate.

I've never taken a particularly scientific approach to learning any kind of divination. I've never bothered to keep much of a journal or to experiment or whatever. So I'm open to any suggestions for how to take this project on in a way that is documentable and testable.

And if anyone has any experience with Lenormand cards, I'd be interested in that too.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Craft - Getting Over Uneasiness?

Newbie to the craft, and all that sort. Just a bit of curiosity. How does working with magic make each of you as an individual feel? Do you ever feel uneasy, or silly, when you work with tools, and chants? I've never worked with magic, and I don't exactly have the privacy I'd like to have, but I would imagine that I would feel a bit.., strange when I worked my first spell. How did each of you feel the first time you cast something? If you did feel uneasy, how did you overcome those feelings?

The Little Details of Myths....

With little details I mean things like Artemis bow being golden or silver.

Do they inspire you, confuse you, bore you, annoy you...?

What importance do they have for your belief and practice?

How do you go about unclear or contradictory stuff?

Could you explain how this works/doesn't work for you with an example?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Your Body and You

What is your relationship with your body? Is it something you must suffer until you can put it aside and move on to greater things, or is it what you are? Are your body's needs something that must be dealt with, or something to be enjoyed? Some of each?

What does your religion say about bodies? Your own and other people's?

Latest on the Shape of Religious Belief in the US

From today's (9 March 2009) USA Today:

Most religious groups in USA have lost ground, survey finds

"The percentage. of people who call themselves in some way Christian has dropped more than 11% in a generation. The faithful have scattered out of their traditional bases: The Bible Belt is less Baptist. The Rust Belt is less Catholic. And everywhere, more people are exploring spiritual frontiers — or falling off the faith map completely."

I think more people exploring--rather than thoughtlessly adhering to what they've been brought up with--is probably good news.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Kemetic Iconography Clarification

Many times while looking at pictures or statuary it is hard to tell deities apart. The people who sell these items don't help because oftentimes they mislabel them. I've seen a Ma'ahes statue labeled as Sekhmet and a Yinepu or Wepwawet statue labeled as Isis.

So what are differences in iconography with Amun and Amun-Ra?
Atum and Atum-Ra?

Nebet Het and Nebet Het-Seshat?

Yinepu and Wepwawet? Wepwawet and Wepwawet-Ra?

Aset and Hethert? Aset-Hethert?

Heru and Khonsu?

Heru Wer and Heru-sa-Aset?

Ra and Ra-Heru Akhety?

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Disposing of a Spell

I often use tealights, and a few days ago I cast a tealight petition spell. It was only a simple good luck spell, where I added a little note and some spices to the tealight. The only problem is I seem to be having a hard time throwing the now-burnt out tealight into the trash.

I've never had this happen before, but for some reason it just doesn't feel right- almost as though the spell isn't quite finished or something. And so it's sat on my shelf up until I feel able to throw it out.

Does anyone else ever feel a little funny about disgarding magic items?

What do you usually do with your finished-with items?

Life Lessons

I believe we are in this world to learn lessons. I'm not sure about the minute details, like why for example, but I do know that everyday we learn something. Recently, I learned that due to this lasting flu, I am wasting my health and my youth, simply because I refuse to take care of myself properly--too much stress, poor quality sleep, etc. Realizing this I am taking steps to change it. Some lessons in life take much longer to learn, some repeat themselves hoping we humans will get a clue. For me, the hardest lesson was realizing that Love is not a given. You receive love when it finds you worthy (thank you Khalil Gibran). I find teachers can be anyone or anything, you can learn lessons in the weirdest places.

My questions to you all are:

1. What is something you are going through now? Are you learning from the experience?
2. Do you feel that if a lesson is not learned, are you doomed to repeat it?
3. What is the hardest lesson you have had to learn?
4. Who/what do you learn from the most?
5. Does your religion/sprituality aid in this?

Monday, March 02, 2009

Help Interpreting This Tarot Spread?

As the title suggests I'd like some help interpreting this tarot spread I did last night. I've been using my Complete Idiots Guide to Tarot Spreads Illustrated and wanted to try something new (usually I just do a Celtic Cross Spread)

Anyway the spread I did is called a Whole Person Scan, it's supposed to be based on Feng Shui. I was using my Goddess Tarot, some of the cards aren't where traditional cards are in the deck.

These are the cards I drew:

Card 1- Health/Heart: 8-Justice

Card 2-Career: King of Pentacles

Card 3-Travel/Helpful People: 21-The World

Card 4-Children/Creativity: Ace of Pentacles

Card 5-Relationship: Six of Swords

Card 6-Fame/Reputation: Nine of Swords

Card 7-Prosperity: Two of Cups

Card 8-Family: Two of Pentacles

Card 9-Skills and Knowledge: 11-Strength

I've looked through the book trying to find out an interpretation for each card placement. It just askes questions for each card.

If anyone can help I would be most grateful.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Blending Divination Techniques

Questions about divination:

* How do people feel about combining different types of divination together in one reading?
* Why?
* If you do combine, what kinds of divination do you use together and/or that you feel work especially well together?
* Is one kind your "primary" divination technique, and the other used to check the accuracy of the first?
* How do you reconcile them if you get opposite answers?
* Do you use one type to expand on or clarify the reading received with the other type?
* Are there any divination techniques you would NOT use together?

When did you start to call yourself a Witch?

Did you have a phase in which you researched/tried out magic without calling yourself a witch?

Did you wonder about when you finally could/should?

What made you take the step from thinking of yourself as 'I'm interested in witchcraft' to 'I'm a witch'?

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