Thursday, August 26, 2010

Finding a Religion

I know a lot of people consider deities and religion at least somewhat seperate and I'm becoming more and more of that opinion myself. Also, I've seen a lot of posts asking about how to find patron gods but not nearly as many asking about finding a religion.

So my questions are these:

How did you find your religion?

Did you adapt to your religion or did you find a religion that already had similar ideology that you already held?

Just like there are very important things to look for when searching for a deity to interact with, what are the most important things to you when you were searching for your religion?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Paths with Historical Connection to Human Sacrifice?

If you are following a path that has a historical connection to ritual human sacrifice (whether proven or simply probable) - how do you see that in the modern world? Do you enact some sort of symbolic sacrifices (like burning a poppet) to serve a similar purpose in your worship? Or do you feel that it was something entirely for another culture in another time, and not something that is significant to your path?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Your thoughts on death?

I have always been very familiar with death, so familiar that I do not differentiate so much between the dead and the living worlds. I think it is all very connected. I have had a lot of death experience sort of. I have been speaking with the dead for as long as I can remember, and I have guided people over a few times before. I have also lost people I love very much and that always feels so different from the other experiences. I have a hard time seeing through the grief. I just sort of felt that I had conceptually come to understand death.

Now however things have changed. One of my best friends will be beyond the breath in 6 months time. I just found out today although I sensed it last night sort of. Now everything I thought I new is in tatters. I know I should not simply abandon all I have learned due to grief but as I said I have a very hard time seeing anything past my sorrow.

What I could use is some different perspectives on death and what comes after. I have always had my own sort of beliefs, perhaps assumptions, on the topic, but now I need more. What do you see death as? How does one deal with death? I mean I guess how do I balance my belief in the everlasting with the incredible sadness I feel? It seems the two should be incompatible. I know that our time apart will be very brief on a cosmic timeline, but if I know that then why am I so upset? How have different pagan cultures dealt with death through time? Are there rituals that help? I know that is a lot of questions.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Living Mythologies: New Myths for Old Pantheons?

Something I've sort of thought about here and there is the outgrowth of "new mythologies" about various pantheons. I'm not necessarily talking about stuff like Disney's "Hercules" (although I am a little, I guess), but about new stories where the authors/filmmakers/etc. obviously did a lot of research and tried to keep the Gods' personalities intact and create stories similar to the myths that inspired them.

For example, the Percy Jackson books. While there are some problematic elements (I've seen a few people unhappy with the portrayal of Kronos and some of the Titans, and I can understand that), it seems like Rick Riordan did a lot of research into mythology and even added in some elements of Hellenism into the books (the kids all burn parts of their meals to the Gods, the Underworld is the one from Greek mythology, not the Christianish one that's in a lot of these things, Athena's demi-god children all sprang from the minds of their human parents when they were inspired by Athena, etc.).

Or some of Neil Gaiman's writing, especially "American Gods" and "Anansi Boys." Or Diana Wynne Jones' "Eight Days of Luke."

I recently read ... somewhere nonfiction (I unfortunately didn't write it down, and it might have even been a documentary and not a book I'm thinking of) that the reason that there are so many different versions of some of the more well-documented myths is that the stories were not meant as dogma, but just to portray the Gods and teach some morals or even just be entertaining. So they kept being added to, even after people became more skeptical. (I think this was specifically about Greek myth.) And I got from that a sense that the myths are in a weird state of true and not true at the same time — they're not factual, but there's truth in them, even when they contradict each other, if that makes sense.

Do you think that stories that are rooted in mythology and history but that portray the Gods and create new stories can "merge" with the traditional mythology as part of a religious tradition? In a few hundred years, will "Eight Days of Luke" join the Eddas and "Percy Jackson" join the Iliad?

Will some of the events in new stories about the Gods become "canon" like Dante's circles of Hell sort of did for Christianity (i.e., it's not given as canonical in the Catholic version, at least, but pretty much everyone knows about the circles of Hell and it's accepted on at least a cultural level)?

Do you think ancient mythologies can continue to expand and grow as ancient religions are reconstructed, or should mythology stay in the past?

(My own opinion on the matter is that the answer to the last question is "yes," but I'm undecided on the first two.)

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mabon is almost upon us!

I was wondering what some of you do for Mabon? It can be as simplistic or as complex as you want! This thread is just to help give some of us ideas on what to do for the Sabbat that is upcoming in less then a month! Enjoy and let your creativity flow!

How to Worship Different Facets of a Deity....if You're Really a Hard Polytheist?

OK. So, being a hard polytheist, I have a difficult time wrapping my brain around worshipping faceted gods. I am aware of say, the Hindu deity structure, or the gods of Ireland, who "snip" down into different parts of their own being, and I can understand that it's rather like when a human undergoes an enormous stress or change (just for example), and acts differently from the way they normally are in order to handle certain situations, but they're still the same person...

But what I want to know is, say you have a deity who has two or three facets (The Morrigan, for example...):

How do YOU worship them?
How do you actually view each facet? Does each facet seem like the same goddess or god but is still somehow different?
When do you call on one over the other?
If you merely suspect that two or more are facets of the same deity and aren't a soft polytheist who already believes all the gods are really one, but don't KNOW the "figurehead", as it were, how do you find that one?

Or any other input you might possibly have would be helpful. I just need a few different corridors to send my brain down I've never known before.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ecauldron Ceramics Support Sale

Welcome to the Cauldron Support Sale!

My name is Erinnightwalker and I make ceramic pieces. Since I have a distinct surplus, and since the Cauldron needs some support, I am offering my pieces here. Once they are gone, they are gone- no commissions will be taken in this thread. All profit will go to the Cauldron.

[Host's Note: There are some very nice pieces here (see the second message in the thread) and they are pieced relatively low so even with shipping they wouldn't be expensive. The Cauldron's Server Fund really appreciates this sale. Thanks, Erinnightwalker!]

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Magic Exercise Suggestions?

Hi! It's been a long time since I've posted much (got distracted by graduating from high school ^_^) but I'm back to working on my magic and was wondering if anyone has any suggestions for exercises for controlling magic/energy and keeping consciousness altered. I have done a few impromtu spells recently and have encountered problems with this. I ground and find it very easy to slip into an altered consciousness. One moment I'm thinking normally and then there's a definite shift. But because it's so easy, I have trouble staying there. I constantly feel that I'm about to slip out and so end up rushing my spell work.

The other problem is that I can summon the energy/magic and push it into my hands, but sometimes it gets "stuck" there and I can't push it out of my hands into what ever object I'm working with. I feel this problem using a wand or even just using my hand. I haven't tried with an athame yet. Could this be because I just need more practice, or would a change of tool help with this?

I am not a very visual person, so visualization exercises aren't always effective for me. I tend to focus on the magic as sensation and heat traveling through me instead of light. When I first started I always tried to visualize it as light, but I always lost the light to sensation. So if you have any exercises that involve sensation, I would especially like to hear those, but any exercise would be helpful.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Isaac Bonewits 1949-2010

[According to a post in the ADF Forum, Isaac passed this morning at about 8am. The following was posted to the IBonewits-Announce Yahoo! Group by Phaedra Bonewits.]

Philip Emmons Isaac Bonewits, founder and Archdruid Emeritus of of Ar nDraiocht Fein: A Druid Fellowship, one of North America's leading experts on ancient and modern Druidism, Witchcraft, magic and the occult, and the rapidly growing Earth Religions movement, died today after a short struggle with cancer.

Mr. Bonewits first came into the public eye when he graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in Magic and Thaumaturgy (1970). During his tenure there, Mr. Bonewits worked with many renowned professors including Nobel Prize Laureate Owen Chamberlain. The work he did for that degree became his first book, Real Magic: An Introductory Treatise on the Basic Principles of Yellow Magic (1971).

In 1983, he founded and became the first Archdruid of Ar nDraiocht Fein: A Druid Fellowship (ADF) an international fellowship devoted to creating a public tradition of Neopagan Druidry. In 1995, he retired from a leadership role due to complications from eosinophilia-myalgia syndrome. ADF has grown to become the best-known Neopagan Druid group based in North America. At his death, Mr. Bonewits held the title of ArchDruid Emeritus.

During his forty years as a Neopagan priest, scholar, teacher, bard, and polytheologian, Isaac Bonewits coined much of the vocabulary and articulated many of the issues that have shaped the rapidly growing Neopagan movement in the United States and Canada.

Mr. Bonewits was internationally known as a speaker who educated, enlightened and entertained two generations of modern Goddess worshippers, nature mystics, and followers of other minority belief systems, as well as explained these movements to journalists, law enforcement officers, college students, and academic researchers.

His personal papers will become part of the American Religions Collection at the Library of University of California at Santa Barbara.

One of his most influential contributions was the Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame (the "ABCDEF"), developed in 1979 as a response to the Jim Jones People's Temple tragedy. It has been translated into many languages and used around the world to evaluate how dangerous or harmless an organization might be. It was the first such scale to use theories of mental health and personal growth to judge rather than theological or ideological standards.

His other books include Authentic Thaumaturgy (1979, 1998), The Pagan Man (2005), Bonewits's Essential Guide to Witchcraft and Wicca (2006), Bonewits's Essential Guide to Druidism (2006), Neopagan Rites (2007), and Real Energy (2007), which was co-authored with his wife, Phaedra, as well as numerous articles, reviews and essays. As a singer-songwriter, he released two albums, Be Pagan Once Again (1988), and Avalon is Rising (1992).

He is survived by his wife, Phaedra, his son from a previous marriage, Arthur Lipp-Bonewits of Bardonia NY, his mother Jeannette, his brothers Michael and Richard, and sisters Simone Arris and Melissa Banbury.

Gods Are Not Religion

Warning: I have my rantypants on.

Quote from: FierFlye on August 10, 2010, 09:50:55 pm
Um, yes. Foundation is what I've been lacking. Mostly because every religion I've encountered is built on the foundation of getting in touch with god/goddess(es), and I'm quite agnostic.

I am getting increasingly frustrated by the general way that religion is taught, honestly.

Here's the thing that I want to rant about: gods aren't actually foundational to most religion, and relationships with them are not foundational either.

You know what gods are, in real practical terms, as put forward in the pagan community at large and treated by most groups that are doing instruction and the like? Advertising for religion. "Do you like the look of our god? Come to our circle/grove/temple and try one free!"

Gods are the flashiest part of most religions - the myths are teaching hooks, illustrations of principles, and so on, and one pedagogic technique is to have one's instructional stories painted really large and in really bright colours. And for all that there are a lot of godbothered people in the pagan community at large, and I think there are sound reasons for that, for most people historically religion is just plain not about "here's what I do about the gods that bother me", because most people are not bothered by gods.

"Personal relationship with one's god" is (to overgeneralise here and I'm aware that I'm overgeneralising) for prophets, devotees, and mystery cults. Most people are not prophets, ecstatics, or members of mystery cults. (Though Christianity is at its core a mystery cult, IMO; the Eucharist is the relevant mystery.) Most pagan religions these days came about because of prophets and devotees because those people have the motivation to do the work, not because that's what the religion is about.

And there's a translation gap. Consider Wicca/neo-Wicca for an easy example: Wicca proper has this whole devotee thing going on inside its mystery cult, and is a fairly exclusive, private thing, because there just aren't that many people who meet the requirements of devotion to the unnamed Lord and Lady. But the bits that leaked out took on this congregational form for people who just want to "believe" and "love the earth" and who aren't specifically called, because that's a normal level for religion to settle at - a framework without calling.

And both sides think the other one is missing the point, because there's a real difference between "called to do the work to build a religion" and "called to practice a religion" that just disappears because lots of the people who are called to the building side don't have a sense of how one can be in the religion without building. (See also: recons who are smug about being 'religion with homework' and don't have any conceptual space for people who just want to follow the religion, not do PhD research.)

Hardly anyone teaches the framework. We get a lot of "How do I find my patron?" questions and not a lot of "How does a practitioner of this religion need to live?" questions, and that corrupts the discourse. Because we talk about the flashy stuff, not the core stuff.

It's subtler than the people who are all "I am a vampire possessed by Anubis, so I know the ancient gods are returning, but I'm worried about them making it back in time for the coming war on the astral", but it's still focusing on stuff that's more flash than substance. (I AM NOT MAKING THAT UP I SAW IT YESTERDAY.)

Speaking as a Kemetic here, this is one of the places that I get frustrated with the established temples. In my current research for the book I'm writing, I've done a lot of digging into the theological underpinnings of Kemetic thought, and occasionally come across things that are very simple, very core concepts that underlie the religion - beautiful things, glorious things. And I'm getting them from Jan Assmann, not from a temple authority, so people who aren't capable of plowing through the neutronium that is Assmann aren't going to find it!

The stuff I learned from temples was mostly framework for ritual to the gods, not framework for life. (And I've had a lot of people thank me for my little essayrant linking ma'at to putting shopping carts away, because that was apparently the first time that the concept had been presented in a way that was easily accessible to them! Shopping carts!)

Religion is about living. Part of one's living is/can be to worship and love the gods - hell, from a Kemetic perspective, most of it is, but that's because in that perspective putting on makeup is worshipping Hetharu, not because it's chock full of formal ritual all the time - but that's not the whole of life. I get obsessive about ordinary-people-did-stuff-in-Egypt because I'm trying to find a way of integrating with the whole of life rather than living in the fringes of temple worship all the time. I know people who left Kemeticism in part because they were looking for the whole of life stuff and weren't called to do the religion-with-homework, and that bugs me. A lot. So I want to frame for the hoers of onions....

Some people are building religion for devotees, and that's great. But one of the things that I think is freakin' fantastic about what Heartshadow is doing is that she's mostly trying to present the stuff that is core to the religion, not the stuff that's attention-grabby.


Okay. Done now.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ending a Relationship with a Deity?

When I started my path, I was drawn towards three main deities: tM, Aenghus, and especially Manannan. I'm still building relationships with Aenghus and Manannan. In fact, Manannan is my patron, really, and I've since begun to develop a relationship with Lugh.

But my relationship with tM is dwindling. I always seemed to get a "your daily stuff is Manannan's job. I'm here if you really, really need me, but you're not really mine" sort of feeling from her. I continued to make offerings anyway, because She was nice enough to at least say She'd be there if I really did need Her. But I haven't talked to Her in ages, nor do I really get much of a connection anymore, especially since I expanded my worship to include Lugh.

Would it be disrespectful to break off the relationship? To just not offer regularly anymore, but make offerings if I ever do need to take her up on her offer of help? Or is that unlikely to happen, especially if my 'worship group' does keep expanding?

I suppose I should ask Her, but I'm a little...well, I don't want to offend her, and my conscious mind has a nasty habit of getting in the way of the responses from deities...

Help, please?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Who are your people (spirits)?

Specifically, not deity, but spirit work.

1. Who/ what spirits do you work with?
2. In a few phrases, what would be your best description for those spirits?
3. What are the three most important things you've learned working with specific spirits?
4. What unusual manifestations of these spirits have you noticed after working with them?
5. What spirits are on your list of beings you'd like to work with in the future?
6. What is your 'getting to know you' process for spirit?

Being given a tool by a deity

I've had very few encounters in dreams and spirit journeys with deities who handed me one of their 'tools', all of those encounters were very intense. One was Artemis giving me a bow and an arrow to shoot something, one was Hekate handing me a torch to inflame something.

I'm still a bit puzzled about what it means to be given a tool by a deity. Both those instances had a specific function at that particular moment, they helped me with a step on my life path. But I'm wondering if I'll be working with those tools again...if there's any meaning apart from solving the imminent situation they were presented to me. If there's some 'energy' about the tool that will kinda linger in my hands? (Both experiences are recent enough so I don't know about long term implications if there are any.)

What are your experiences with that sort of thing? - I'd love to have some exchange about this subject.

I've also heard one shouldn't bring anything back from the otherworld and leave it there before returning into normal consciousness. I wonder if that applies here and what others think of this.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Dianic Wicca -- For Females Only?

Alright so after Genevieve told me about Dianic Wicca I decided to look around the forum and I typed //Dianic Wicca// into the search engine and came upon an article entitled: Different forms of witchcraft I realize in this article it DOES say that men can be practitioners of Dianic Wicca, but why is it usually JUST women that are Dianic Witches?

Dedication: How'd That Work for You?

All right. So, last night, I was connected and on-target. I did a minor dedication ritual for the Sekhmet, some object dedications, and a re-naming ceremony. All of this was done in the name of Sekhmet. At first, I was connected and one hundred percent on target. And then something happened. I don't know what happened, but at first I felt like I was doing everything she desired, and then it fell apart. I went to bed feeling unhappy and knowing that my atonement isn't going so well. (She's pissed at me, in case you don't know, because I ignored her for over a year.)

I don't know what I did wrong. Maybe the dedication ceremony wasn't what she really wanted? I don't know! So, when you dedicated yourself to insert-deity-here, how did that work out for you? Did you know that the divine entity that is your patron was happy with you? Or, reversed, did you know that s/he wanted more from you? How did you rectify that situation if they wanted more from you?

In other words, I did something wrong and I don't know where I FUBAR'd it.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

What is the Wiccan Version of Armageddon?

I know Christians have their end of the world and I know that the followers of the Norse Gods do as well....but what do Wiccans believe will happen at the end of the world? What is their version of Armageddon?

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