Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tarot/Oracle Card Connection Issue

I've been having some issues connecting with my oracle cards (The Fairy Ring Oracle) and my Tarot cards (The Ancient Egyptian Tarot Deck). I've cleansed them within an inch of their lives in different capacities: I've used herbs, candles, meditation, prayer, and neglect to do this. Nothing is helping me in the connection arena. I cannot afford to find new cards nor do I wish to since they're pretty nifty when I'm dead-on. I'm just... so tired of not being able to rely on my second sight that I'm frustrated and snappish about it.

So, has anyone been going through this lately? Have you gone through this and if you have, what was your remedy? Is this like a cosmological, psychological, or emotional issue? In other words: help.

Snakes, snakes, snakes....

Since a while now I'm constantly seeing snakes in spirit journeys or in meditative/dreamy moments. Mostly it's just for a short moment. I see and feel them coiling or crawling around my arms (heads going in the direction of my hands), once I saw them also coiling around my whole body.

My first thought was that since snakes are a very common pagan symbol it might just be kinda brain chatter randomly picturing energy flows. I also feel very energised by that.

But I have the nagging feeling that there's something I'm not getting, something important about this I don't understand or don't want to. Once or twice several years ago I've also thought I've seen a 'ghostly'/spirit kind of image of a little snake out of the corner of my eyes sitting in the same room with me (on my desk). So maybe there's something going on since a while.

I guess it might help to talk about it and collect (however random) ideas. Something someone else says might just be the spark I need to bring light into this and find my own meaning of those images.

So, does this story remind anyone of something? Do any myths, deities or snake symbologies strike you as important here?

I know there's a lot out there about snakes. Maybe there's not any culture where snakes don't have one or two meanings...that's exactly my problem.

And yes, I know Hekate is associated with snakes, I saw a woman lately with a torch and three dark dogs, so I researched Hekate. I didn't see her with snakes in the spirit journey though, so I'm a bit sceptical about her involvement. I mean if she 'sends' me snakes for years to get my attention, why should she simply appear in a spirit journey without snakes? Would be a lot of work just to get my attention, when holding a torch in my face was enough to convince me. And the snake stuff went on after that little encounter.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Musings about Brighid and Healing, Poetry, & Smithcraft

I've been thinking lately about the three areas traditionally associated with Brighid: healing, poetry, and smithcraft.

To me, each of those areas is much larger than the single word descriptor. That is, "healing" is much more than physical healing. It incorporates mental, emotional, cultural, and other kinds of healing, too. "Poetry" is a stand-in for the larger concepts of wisdom, knowledge, learning, teaching, communication, artistry, and related ideas. And "smithcraft" is about creativity in all it's forms, not just metal work. So that would include all kinds of arts and craft work; building, repairing, and maintaining all sorts of physical structures; and more esoteric ideas like crafting solutions and forging alliances within a political, social, or cultural context. To me, it even includes fertility in all its many facets.

And there is a great deal of overlap among all those things. Each of them involves aspects of art, f'ex.

I'm wondering how others view these areas.

What do they mean to you? What does it mean to you that Brighid is so closely associated with them? Is it important to you to have some contact or involvement with any or all of these areas as part of your work with/for Brighid? If so, how do you express each of them in your life? Do you consider any one of them to be more important than the others? Does any one area somehow incorporate the others (i.e., are two of them subsets of one)?

Finally, if you think in symbols, like I do, what symbolizes each area for you? Do you associate any objects, designs, colors, sounds, etc. with healing, poetry, and/or smithcraft? If you wanted to get a tattoo that symbolized the three areas, what would it look like?

Honoring Chavi on April 1st

The fourth anniversary of one of the saddest days in the history of The Cauldron is almost upon us. 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 try 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.

Thursday, April 1, 2010, marks the fourth anniversary of Chavi's passing. TC has not been the same without her. For the past three 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 of us let our candles burn for longer than one hour.

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 27, 2010

Adulthood, Independence, and Ceremony

tinapo85 over in the Kink and Spirituality Thread got me thinking about adulthood and independence and how we mark them (whether physically [piercings, tattoos, etc.], or otherwise).

As tinapo noted, the decision to physically mark independence can seem "juvenile" and when done for the wrong reasons I suppose it is. However, the change from dependent to independent seems to me to be one of the big milestones in life. For those on paths that emphasis marking life's milestones, it seems like this would be a pretty major one to consider. Not to mention several historical pagan religions have precedents for adulthood ceremonies that would be relevant to recons and eclectics.

So my question for TC folks who are either approaching this point or have passed it (recently or otherwise) is how did/will you mark this passage? If you didn't/won't, why not? Does this fit under the title of spiritual practice or is it unrelated to your spiritual path?

Being Borrowed

This is a question mainly for the polytheists who worship more than one God/dess, but it's a bit of clarification about deities' practices with people.

I recently had some, ah, romantic trouble, shall we say, and I was obsessing over it just a little bit (read: a lot). I was confusing myself even worse than the issue itself was confusing me, and I think Manannan finally got well and truly over my whining, and realising that I wasn't going to work the problem out on my own, called in Aenghus to help out. I worship both Gods, but Manannan is my patron. What ended up happening was that Manannan lent me to Aenghus for the week, while Aenghus helped me work out the issues. Afterwards, I lit a candle for Aenghus and thanked Him specifically for the help.

So does anyone else get involved in cosmic games of Catch like this? If you worship one main God/dess, do you ever get passed over to another God/dess for help? Is there any etiquette you usually observe in these circumstances?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How Do You Increase Your Awareness of Magical Energy?

In Wiccan circles, doing a magical working generally involves raising psychic/magical/divine energy (however you prefer to think of it) and channeling or directing it to some sort of target/goal. So to be most effective at performing spells, a witch needs to be able to feel/sense the presence of energy in the circle. He or she must feel it building, know when enough has been raised, and be able to manipulate it and direct it as needed. If this is what you do in your practice, or if you use a similar process for spellworking, I have some questions for you:

Can awareness of magical energy be cultivated or increased, or is it something you must have always had? I have heard pagans and witches express the opinion that an awareness of magical energy (or a sixth sense if you will) has to have always been there, that this is what makes a witch a witch. Do you agree or disagree? Do you feel that you were born with a sixth sense? If so, have you been able to strengthen it through your practices or is it the same as it has always been?

If applicable, how have you been able to cultivate or increase your awareness of magical energy? What advise might you give to a new witch trying to do so?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tree of Tales

One of my favorite short stories of all time is in the book "Dreams Underfoot" by Charles de Lint. The story is about a poet who goes back to her old university and finds out that they cut down a beautiful oak tree that used to sit right outside the library. She runs into a "conjure man" who tells her that it was a tree of tales, and that it was one of the last ones left. So she goes back, take an acorn that's near the stump, brings it home, plants it, and as it grows, she starts telling it stories. It shows up in some of his other stories (she plants it in a park) as a tree that seems to draw people to sit near it and talk to it, and the stories make it grow huge.

Now I know it's just fiction, but there have been plenty of studies showing that plants react when you talk to them, play them music, and so on, and that they thrive that way. They've also shown that plants can have connections to people. And trees (and plants in general) have always seemed to have personalities to me. So I have a small tree in my apartment, and I plan to tell it stories and play music and stuff for the next year, then donate it to the people who are planting trees in a park next March. It'll either be a tree of tales ... or if not, it will at least provide some nice shade and stuff for the kids in the park.

Have any of you read about religious rituals or spiritual practices in books and stories and they just felt so right that you adopted them anyway, even knowing they were made up?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Value of ADF for undecided pagans?

Is it worth it to join ADF for the dedicant materials if you are not necessarily considering a Druid path?

I am asking because I have been going through RCIA for the past year, and I've learned a lot through the more structured "initiation" process (including that liking the core message of the Gospels does not outweigh a basic inability to comprehend monotheism and some of the core tenets of the church, lol). While I am capable of doing research on my own, I get more out of it when there are discussions, focused questions to be researching, and so on. A little direction goes a long way and all.

ADF's membership comes with access to the year-long dedicant guide with reading assignments, exercises, and etc., and glancing at their reading list on their website, it seems like they hit a lot of the reconstructionist reading materials and give a really good overview of early European paganism. And looking at their book list, I recognize many, many names and have read a couple of the books, and it seems like they avoid the fluff and inaccurate research pretty well. I feel like I would get an excellent overview of not just Druidry but a lot of the beliefs of various recon paths through this program.

On the other hand, I do not know if Druidry is the path I am meant to take, and I really don't want to commit to something so quickly again. I'm open to it, but I want to make sure I've had a chance to get my bearings before I make a commitment of any sort.

So what I'm really asking, I guess, is: 1. Am I misconstruing the dedicant guide through ADF? Is it a more solitary process, or are there ways to contact and discuss with other "newbs" the materials you're reading even if you're not close enough to a grove to visit in person? And 2. Do they require a major commitment to embark on the dedicant training (i.e., do I actually have to dedicate myself in any long-term sense to Druidry), or are they also accepting of serious-ish dabblers?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Recommend One Novel

I would like to start a thread where everyone gets a chance to recommend one novel, it can be your favorite novel. One that you feel everyone should read. Fiction, nonfiction, religious, any thing you want to recommend can go in here! The only rule is one book per post, but you can recommend a series if you want.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

"Breaking up" with a deity?

At the beginning of my pagan path, I was pretty exclusively devoted to Mictecacihuatl, as I had been to her semi-Catholic syncretic form, La Santa Muerte. I was in a very dark, barely-getting-by place in my life, and that's something that really drew me to her--that she deals in harsh realities and in doing what's necessary just to survive. Last fall, she and I had a rather nasty falling-out (I've told the story before; she had the idea that it was my best friend's time, and I argued with her about it) and she didn't speak to me for several months. A while back, she put a bug in my ear that she was calling in a promise I'd made for her in exchange for my friend's life, that I'd get a tattoo to honor her. My appointment to get the tattoo is in a little over 3 weeks.

Lately, I've been getting to know Brighid, and I'm getting the feeling that, while it's not so harsh that I'd describe it as a "thwap," she'd like me to stick close to her, and that I can't really serve Mictecacihuatl and walk the path Brighid wants me to follow. I feel like I have to get the tattoo, because I made the promise, but I'm afraid that if I do, I'll be obligated, and that it's going to make it harder to move forward. Mictecacihuatl helped me through a very ugly time in my life, but I feel like she was interested in the person I was, rather than Brighid, who's a better example for the person I want to be, and (if this makes sense) Mictecacihuatl has always made me feel like I was her property, while Brighid has made herself known more as a mentor/"older sister" figure. Not a mother, exactly, but looking out for me, and leading me in the right direction.

So what can I do? I don't want to be tied down to a goddess who won't let me go down the path I need to go down to grow as a person, but I don't want to piss her off, either. Would it be inappropriate to get the tattoo as sort of a closing of my account, so to speak, with Mictecacihuatl? Sort of like, I've done what I promised, so this is goodbye? The other goddesses I've worked with don't seem to care--they've just sort of backed off. But Mictecacihuatl has a bit of a temper, and I really don't want to see her angry. I just really get the impression that Brighid thinks I'm running with the wrong crowd and would like me to reconsider my association with Mictecacihuatl.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Is 'the Goddess' a sentient being, et al?

This is more geared towards Goddess-worshipers / Duotheistic pagans.

If you worship the Goddess, is she a sentient being, an impersonal force (similar to Brahman in Dharmic culture), or a mixture of both?

If you worship 'the God', is he subservient to the Goddess, equal to the Goddess, greater than the Goddess, or are they the same being?

Saturday, March 06, 2010

All paths lead to the same meadow?

What do you think of the saying all paths lead to the same meadow? Do you agree to it? Why or why not?

How do you interpret the saying? Does it mean that there is one truth or one God/dess? Or does it mean that all paths have ultimately the same destination (which could be Summerland, a return to the Divine Source or something else)?

Do you think it's a valid saying or do you think it's fluffy? (Is fluffy valid, LOL?)

I've also heard that all paths lead to the same meadow, if you harm none. This sounds very Wiccan, so non-Wiccans probably wouldn't agree?

What about the saying all clockwise paths lead to the same meadow? Clockwise as in either the right-hand path or a positive, non-harm morality?

Thursday, March 04, 2010

My birthday is Ostara

Literally, and every year I have tried to separate the 2 and it has ended in minor disasters. This year I'm putting them together, and putting on a good sized festival/pot luck thing. Instead of presents, I'm asking everyone to bring a dish to pass and mead. I was wondering, what can I ask for everyone to bring? I have done a bit of research, and so far I have fresh bread (and hot-cross buns), salad, stuffed eggs, roasted lamb, and herb soups.

What do you suggest?

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Religion Remains Elusive at Present

Have you ever felt like things were finally coming together again in your religious life, only to have it blow up in your face?

Recently, someone else posted on here about how he was experiencing a religious dry spell. I commented on this entry and told him that I was going through the same thing--it tends to happen. Personally, I'm finding it difficult to worship the sun disk while working third shift. I know a lot of people on this forum commented on that entry with the same bit of advice: things like this tend to happen and we can only get through it to the best of our abilities.

Anyway, as I said, my current problem is that I'm having issues celebrating the Kemetic sun deities since the sun is, of course, anathema to me. However, I was finally coming to grips with this. I had begun instruction with my son on the Kemetic deities (well, religions in general) and it was making me feel like I was finally slipping through the gorge in the middle of my path. So, tonight, I felt especially connected to netjer and was going to do... something... with that feeling. So, I went to do something with it and... I find myself back in the religious desert I was screaming about/cursing about only a week ago.

So, have you ever thought you were finally getting out of your dry spell only to realize that you were bypassing an oasis instead of having actually come to the Promised Land?

Monday, March 01, 2010

Touched by a God/dess?

If you have had a distinct and unmistakable connection or interaction with a god or goddess, was it readily apparent at the time which deity it was? How did you know?

If not, how did you eventually figure out the identity of the god, and how long did it take? Was it fairly shortly afterward, or did it take a while - and do you feel that you were led to the identity, or was it difficult to figure out?

Or have you been touched by a god/dess, but still aren't sure of the identity of that god to this day?

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