Saturday, October 31, 2009

Philosophy in religion?

What do people here think the legitimate/useful roles are for philosophy within the context of religion? Various ancient and classical Greek and Roman philosophers actively inquired into the nature of the gods and into the role dictated for religion by reason, along with a raft of other religiously-related thinking and practice. So, what are philosophers good for in your religion?

What to call a Wiccan?

We've had various threads here looking at the history and legitimacy (for want of a better term) of different names and titles that get used when talking about paths that derive from British Traditional Wicca and their practitioners. What I am interested in hearing is what the people at TC that fit in that catagory of faiths prefer to be called. Are any particular usages more or less offensive than others? It occurs to me that I use different terms to reflect my concerns and beliefs more htan I use them to reflect the concerns and beliefs of the people that they describe. At least at TC, I'd like to do that less.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Evil Is Sent Through Halloween Candy

Who is crazy enough to believe this?

Kimberly Daniels Warns That Evil Is Sent Through Halloween Candy (Updated)

And the actual article:

The Danger of Celebrating Halloween

Do your Gods dictate?

Of the following, which kind of relationship do you have with your God(s)?

-One of command. Your God tells you want to do, and you do it
-A little more courteous than the first; your God asks you to do something and you do it
-Your God asks you to do something and hopes that you do it
-Your God suggests that you do something, and then leaves you to decide
-Your God doesn't tell you anything and leaves you to do what you want.

My answer lies somewhere between the last two. I get the impression that my Gods leave hints as to what they suggest I do, but generally they leave me to make my own decisions.

How about you?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What factors do you look for in religion?

When searching for a religion, what factors or aspects draw you in? Do you feel like that is an appropriate approach to take? If not, what approach should be taken? Does anyone here follow a faith because of familial duty?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lapsed Faith

Anyone here consider themselves to be lapsed in their faith? What were the important factors that led to this decision? Do you see yourself ever rejoining your faith or would you consider searching for another faith?

Monday, October 26, 2009


What does your path say about lying -- if anything?

Is honesty valued? Why?

Do you believe lying is inherently bad? Or does it depend on the situation and/or on the lie?

Is lying ever the right thing to do?


I am just REALLY excited for Samhain this year and was just wondering what everyone is planning for it this year.

Any rituals?
Special feast?
Anything at all?

Just curious what everyone else may do for Samhain.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Is magic impious?

Funerary stele from the Archaeological Museum ...Image via Wikipedia

First of all, let me inform you that I am a follower of Hellenismos. That being said, I shoukd explain, in the event that anyone does not already know the following:
Hellenic reconstructionism as based on the ancient Greek tradition, has, at its core, certain values and virtues that all Hellenes should try their hardest to subscribe to. One of these fundamental central ethics is that of "eusabeia," which can be safely translated to mean "piety."

That fact lends itself to very strong opinions amongst many Hellenes regarding what is and is not impious behavior. As we can only place subjective observations in such matters, we have many philosophical debates regarding such.

The topic of magic is a rather contentious area of discussion in many Hellenic circles. It is precisely this that causes a lot of people who, in general, share our deities and basic tenets of belief to choose not to identify as recon.

My questions to you all, I hope, should start discussion and healthy debate.

1. Does the use of magic show some degree of impiety?

2. In your religion is it at all arrogant to say that you have abilities stretching out farther than normal human capacuty and thus approaching the divine?

3. If you claim magic is not impious because the power comes from your deities and not from yourself, is it not impious to say you can call down the power and aid of a god/goddess at will?

4. How does your personal use of magic display your piety or honor for god or the gods?

5. In the event that piety is not a significantly important part of your belief system, would you please explain? Why?

Which roles do your deities play in your life?

I think every relationship 'serves' some purpose for us, there are people you can talk very deeply with, people you like to practice specific sports or hobbies with, people you like to party with, people you would 'steal horses' with, people you like to watch movies with, people you can work well with, people you do raise kids with, people you learn with, people you borrow things from, people you enjoy to have sex with, people you argue with, people who give good advice, people you like to help out...

How is this with your deities? What are the reasons you 'work' with a specific deity? Which roles do they play in your life?

I know this is a complex question. I suggest to just pick a few deities which are the most important to you and explain what you do with each of them.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Spirits of the Seasons/Elements?

I have a question, I've been thinking about recently. Do you believe that there is/could be spirits/entities/? that are the personification of the seasons, like winter, summer etc.

Also do you believe that there are spirits of the Elements?

This all came about from thinking about the concept of honoring spirits of nature, and how the seasons play a lot into nature for me. Then I got to wondering about the Elements too.

Atheism does not exist or atheism redefined

A chart showing the relationship between weak/...Image via Wikipedia

For the sake of being perfectly clear I will begin by giving a few definitions according to the Random House unabridged English dictionary.

"God - 1. The one Supreme Being, the creator and ruler of the universe."

"atheism - 1. The doctrine or belief that there is no God"

Now, if we dig no deeper than this we see that there are, obviously, atheists all around us. It is my contention, however, that it is contrary to our human nature and impossible to be a true atheist.

If one reads only the first definition of a word in the dictionary one is completely missing what language really is. Having said that I present a few more definitions and my own argument in this issue.

"God - 7. Any deified person or object.
9. To regard or treat as a god; deify; idolize."

"deity - 4. A person or thing revered as a god or goddess: a society in which money is the only deity."

"atheism - 2. Disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings."

"Supreme Being - see 'God'"

If we look at these definitions we have a basic foundation for my statement that there are no true atheists. In the second definition of "atheism" we see that the terminology is slightly adjusted. When looking at the concept with this definition we are led to the term "Supreme Being" for which I also provided a definition for. Looking to "Supreme Being" we see a simple reference to the word God for which I have now offered three definitions. Looking at the most recent two we see a god defined twice (once in print and once in an implied manner) as a person OR thing made into a deity or object of worship. Going further than this we are brought to the definition provided for "deity." By this definition we see yet a third reference to a god or deity as a person or thing. This forms the basis for my point.

An atheist, one who subscribes to "atheism," can not, by definition, exist. This is because a god is any thing or being made into a deity. Everyone by their very nature as a human offers belief and worship to someone or something. For some proclaimed "atheists" their god is money, or pleasure, or simply a belief in the world as the only truth. This is why I say there are no atheists.

Now, please, discuss and debate the points I have put forth.

P.S. I am well aware of the existence and definition of connotative meanings in language. As such, I understand that connotatively, at least as understood by today's cultures, does exist. I still deny however that these "de facto" non-believers are denotatively atheists.

Defining "Worship"

The Business of ReligionImage by Trinitas Imaging / Udit Kulshrestha via Flickr

So. Worship. In the theological sense.

This is a sticky word to talk about. Different people have different concepts of the idea. To some people it's a neutral thing, just a way of describing this thing that happens. To others, it's a good thing and a key part of religion. To still others, it's so negative that they avoid the word in favor of terms like "work with" or "follow" or "look to" when describing their religion. What is it to you? What do you think of when you hear the word? How do we define what worship is? What is the difference between worship, veneration, honoring, and any of the other terms that get used as an alternative to "worship"? What separates worship from just loving someone/something a lot or being really respectful? Etc., etc., etc.

To try to clarify what my intent is with this: While defining the term "worship" is good, I'm not sure that dictionary definitions will be useful here. I'm also not intending to start talking about who does and who doesn't worship; there's plenty of that in the other thread. I just want to get a discussion going about what we, here at TC, see worship consisting of.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Choosing" a religion, I don't understand it

I know this post is a little backwards but I am having problems coming to terms with people deciding to become pagan and then trying to choose their religion. It sounds like the chapter in Siverbunnies on "Choosing your Gods and Goddesses". Yeah, I admit to reading it back in the 90's.

To me a religion is something you feel a calling to. You need to have the belief before you start searching otherwise you can end up practicing the flavor of the week without knowing what you really are. I have no issues with someone searching for a difference in their lives, and no, I don't believe that a person has to be born pagan to become one.

But, I think that a person who is searching really needs to spend some time in deep soul searching and meditation to see what they are missing and then search to find it. Just researching what's out there and picking one is trying to mold yourself to the religion rather than finding the right fit in the first place.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Handwriting of the Gods?

There are a lot of paths out there for which very little is written down. Most of their lore is either passed on orally or lost in the mists of time, and UPG and archeology are the main ways people build their beliefs.

Other paths, though, have reams and reams of original sources and learned commentary. The original writings can be from many different time periods, and the interpretations change according to who is doing it and what has been discovered through other means (again, archeology is a major changer-of-perspective) Often there are contradictory things said about how a god behaves or relates to people, or its fundamental nature even.

How do you decide what to include in your practice? Do you pick a certain time period, or a particular interpreter? If part of a god's history is distasteful or feels wrong to you, how do you justify ignoring or re-interpreting that part, or do you just accept that everybody, including gods, will occasionally earn your disapproval? If you feel that some of the gods' baggage is just the weight of the original culture or the interpretation of politically minded leaders, where do you find the bits that aren't?

In other words, how do you identify what is 'truly' an aspect of your god, and what is put upon it by humans? Do you feel that some ancient writers were more faithful than others, have more of a clear view, or that you can trace a myth back to pre-political interpretations, or does the god speak to you and tell you 'He's got the truth.' 'He's just a hack.' 'That view is degenerate, but that one is me'. 'That is just the way I dictated it, but that one takes liberties'.

How do you decide which sources are reliable and which are not when they contradict each other? Is there a repeating clue, an identifier, that you look for, like authentic handwriting vs clever forgery?

Samhain Ritual Ideas

So...guess who is in charge of the Samhain ritual for my group this year?

Eeep! It's me!

I've done group rituals before, but never a Samhain ritual, and I'm anxious. It's an important day for me, and it's important for a lot of folks in my group as well.

The group I work with has done some really powerful rituals. We have also done some pretty mediocre ones. Of course, I've facilitated my share of mediocre rituals, and I can look back on what I've learned and laugh. I just really want this one to be special, and I think my high standards for myself are getting in the way of me even getting started with the planning. The group I work with is very loosely Neowiccan. There's a lot of room for me to do my own thing. We take a lot of inspiration from Reclaiming, but we don't really label ourselves.

I'm resistant to the type of Samhain ritual I usually see. Many of the rituals are focused on banishing negativity. I've seen a lot of "throw your troubles in the cauldron and let them go" rituals. To me, those types of rituals can be effective, but they aren't really "spiritual". They're practical magic. They serve their purpose, but they aren't central to my practice. I want something with more depth than that, and I have a feeling that the rest of the folks in the group want something deeper as well.

I'm not looking for anyone to tell me how to do this ritual, but I'm wondering about people's experiences with Samhain rituals in the past. What were your best experiences? What were your worst? What makes a ritual work/not work for you? I know not everyone here celebrates Samhain, but if you do, what does it mean to you?

I'm hoping a discussion about this will help me with the brainstorming.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Disposing of Offerings and Spell Materials

We were talking about offerings and sacrifices over in the Hazel and Oak SIG, which spun me off into talking about how best to dispose of offerings without soiling the environment. I have alley cats I feed, and my own cat goes in the front yard... not to mention the birds, the cats I don't feed, and whoever's dogs get loose running around the neighborhood. I don't want to put anything out in the yard that will harm the critters or kill my grass or plants.

How do you dispose of your offerings or used spell materials (like wax candle stubs)? Do you just chuck them in the trash? Pour them down the sink? Take them outdoors into the yard or other wilderness?

Have you thought about the affects that your leavings might have on local wildlife or the environment?

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Making Your Own Tarot Deck

I've already made one tarot deck by compiling pictures that spoke to me, and that is the one I currently use, that I will only print one of. However, I'm in the middle of drawing a second deck, and want some help/encouragement. This one I feel it would be OK to print multiple copies of and sell (my first deck would be a copyright nightmare). I'm working on the major arcana right now, and have finished the Tower, Fool, Magus, Priestess, Star, and Hanged Man, am almost finished with Fortune, am in the process of working on the Empress and Lust, and just started the Chariot. I'm still deciding on the final sketch for the Sun and Moon, and the Hermit is taking a back seat right now, as he doesn't want to work with me.

How many of you have made your own decks?

What do you think about making tarot instead of buying a deck?

I've been on and off of here for quite some time. A couple years, maybe. I've been lead down all sorts of paths. Wicca, shamanism, druidry, germanic neopaganism, pantheism, agnosticism, and most recently Buddhism. To me, Buddhism is such a pure, flawless philosophy. It doesn't have me questioning about what there might be, what might come, but rather has me contemplating what is now. And for that I really think that is the right direction for me to go in (am I actually going anywhere at all?).

But to the point. I'm really not sure whether I even believe in a higher power anymore. I felt before that I was trying very hard to accept the whole idea, but it's just something very difficult for me to completely believe. Anyone else feel this way? While I was forcing deity upon myself, I did feel a wonderful connection with nature, though, a familiar, deep connection, which I still do, but it isn't quite the same. Does nature worship, seeing the earth as a divine mass, fall under the spectrum of religious worship? My main focus is on the earth, living in absolute "spiritual" harmony with it and showing my respect in a manner that deepens my own awareness in the context of the earth. I don't particularly think this is exactly religious worship, but I'd like to see what anyone else thinks. Any feedback would be great.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Correspondences of Elements and Senses

I'm big on the Western classical elements--the four (earth, air, fire, and water) plus a fifth, spirit--but I don't have any "authoritative" source for which of the five senses go with which (if there is such a thing as an authoritative source in the broad collective we dub paganism). Maybe I've just forgotten that bit of neo-Wiccanish lore.

Anyway, my instincts/common sense (pardon the pun) tell me this:

Fire--smell/taste (lumping them, since they're closely related)

Spirit has no sense, though it occurs to me that it could correspond to "the sixth sense", aka second sight, psychic powers, ESP, etc., if one accepts the possibility of such things.

So for those of you who work with the system of classical elements, I'm curious what correspondences for the senses you follow/believe/have been taught/have heard.

What form of divination do you practice?

I am interested in what form of divination members of TC practice, and what you think are the advantages and disadvantages of these forms in comparison to the others.

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