Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Honoring Mulitple Gods?

I know a lot of people worship and honor one or two or even three Gods. I on the other hand honor five different deities. Are there others here who honor that many Gods or even more? And how do you find it to keep a balance in honoring all of them, without them getting mad, that maybe one God is honored more or less. My gods are Amaethon, Cerridwen, Don, Belenus, and Sulis.

Deified Mortals

I first grasped the title concept when reading Alan Moore's From Hell. Not the historical fiction itself, but the annotations at the end of the book that cited the extensive research he did into Victorian times, Jack the Ripper, Freemasonry, and Pagan mythology (he bemoans the lack of resources for a dragon goddess, Tiamat, outside of Dungeons & Dragons.) Moore mentioned something about the Greek gods, Apollo and Diana, that one researcher proposed to have been an otherwise ordinary prince-and-princess team from Minoan Crete who were deified as stories about them passed down through generations.

I don't mean to get into alternative history, however. I mean to focus on gods that are most popularly considered (though not agreed) to have maybe possibly have started out as ordinary human beings. There's a neat thread in these parts about Herne the Hunter, and this one of Brighid though the saint is portrayed as more of a vehicle for the goddess than a real person who had a similar name as a goddess and ascended to sainthood-- sadly no threads here for Antinous Farouche or Hymen (yet...? )

So, I wonder. Not in a very organized way, unfortunately, so please do just throw any thoughts in here. I wonder:

What would it mean, for your belief system, if your patron deity turned out to have been human?

How do demigods fit into this, in your opinion? Or those who claim godly lineage, notably from the Tuatha Dé Danann, or Amaterasu?

Do you believe that you, an ordinary mortal human being, can personally achieve godhood? If no, why not? If yes, then how (and what causes would you patronize? Feel free to have fun with this one.)

Monday, July 30, 2012

Neo-Wicca Bad for Feminism?

This opinion piece by a Canadian author is a bit more than a year old, but I just stumbled across it. I fear there's some truth to it, as well as a serious misreading of what neo-wiccan paths are all about.

Wiccans and Mystical Women: How New Age is Secretly Bad for Feminism

"This is why I find New Age thought, like Wicca, so much more aggravating than your average brand of magical thinking. Wicca tends to target itself to women followers. There’s a sense of female empowerment in its imagery of motherhood of Earth goddesses.... It’s a type of magical thinking which lends itself well to taking advantage of those who may indeed feel powerless, unheard, and unseen, providing them with a way to artificially inflate a sense of self-worth using cheap parlour tricks."

Read the entire article then discuss.

Shamanism and Going to the Gods Willingly

Most people speak of serving the Gods because they are "called" or downright "forced". If they have a "choice", choosing to disobey has worse consequences than following. In the most extreme cases, the shamans, usually suffer severely and nearly die in order to gain the power of their Patron. From most descriptions of people who describe this, they seem hesitant if not totally in opposition, until they give up and give the Gods their way.

What I don't understand is this: why do the gods only choose people who are unwilling? Or, alternatively, why wouldn't they choose someone who is honestly willing to sacrifice everything?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Pagan Stereotypes You Embrace?

So we often talk about pagan stereotypes that we dislike, but what about the things we embrace?

For example, I love every cheesy witchy thing about Halloween. I own one of those "witch flew into the wall" decorations that I hang on the front door of my house. I think it's fun.

What pagan stereotypes do you proudly embrace?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Soul Groups: People Connected Beyond the Present?

I've been thinking about reincarnation and souls. Which then led me to soul groups and families (whatever term you desire). Reincarnation has always been part of my life, nobody ever told me it didn't exist. If a pet died, my dad would say, he'll come back again. Or "In my next life, I want to be..."

Anyway, I reading of some accounts of soul groups, people that seem to have a connection that runs deeper than whatever their present relationships. What are some thoughts on this? It makes sense to me, there a few people in my life that I have connections to that seem to go beyond the present. Like my now-best friend. I've known her for a relatively short period of time but we can complete each other's sentences, know when we need each other (kind of eerie, she'll call me and goes, do you want to talk about last night? It took me some getting used to, same for her). In the grand scheme of things, we should barely know each other (live on opposite ends of the province) but since the first day, we both felt like we had known each other for a long time. If I had to guess, it would be that we were sisters at some point. I don't know, I'm just happy to have her in my life.

Is there some reading you would recommend on this subject?

Problems with Tarot Cards

I have had about three or four tarot card decks in the past 10 years.

First were the fairy tarot cards. I did a few readings with those but they just didn't feel right.

Second, I got a color your own set thinking that I just needed a different way to connect to my cards. These felt even more off.

Third, I got the Rider-Waite set thinking that maybe if I just got something basic they would work better for me. For some reason I couldn't connect to these at all. Except one card. My Chariot card had literally been following me around wherever I go. I would find it outside on the ground at the front door, in my car, in the laundry room. On my desk. Finally I stuck it to the wall in my bedroom where it has stayed put. (However this is behind the fact)

Forth, I purchased a Necronomicon set. I put it somewhere I walk passed many times a day hoping it would help us to bond but I haven't even opened them up yet. I guess I am just nervous these won't work either.

Now has anyone had any similar experience or have any idea why this would happen?

Working with the Elements?

I've read a couple of things recently about working with the elements during casting a circle.

I've generally called the elements, asked them for protection and to empower my circle. Notice that I said 'asked' (example: Element of Fire, I ask that you join me here), because I generally try to show respect to forces more powerful than myself. When I visualize the elements, I tend to see them as animals that relate to the element (fire = salamander).

I read somewhere recently that some people believe the elements, when requested, need to be 'told' or commanded as to what to do (example: Element of Fire, I command you join us here and protect this circle) as they are shapeless energies that flow through time and space without any true direction, alliance, or morals (good or evil).

Is there a general consensus on this as to which is more accepted, or what do you all believe?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

One month out of sync

Ok, so none of this is probably new to any consistent and studied practitioners of Astrology - which is in fact what I'm hoping for.

I farted around a lot with astrology when I was much younger and, without concerning myself much with 'belief' in its efficacy, got fairly good at casting simple charts and so on. That interest drifted for a long time, but like a lot of things in my worldview (which, as you see, I think of as driftwood), it has always been there, rising and receding at intervals.

Now, I recently acquired an ipad, and one of the things I loaded onto it is a very nice stargazing app that follows your motion and allows you to see what's in the direction you're viewing. Last night I was swinging the thing around and saw that the Sun was right smack in the middle of the Crab.

But, but... we're in Leo, right?

Ahh... no. Even Wikipedia makes note that the conventional calendar we use to assign zodiac signs to birth months is so old that it's fully a month out of sync by now.

So how does an astrologer work under these circumstances? Do you cast the chart as it actually is, and assign the real sun sign, regardless of convention? Do you wave your hand and make some noises about the timing being more important than the timepiece, and assign the sun sign by calendar date? Or do you ignore the whole thing, toss out sun signs entirely, and stick with the stars, planets and so on?

Either way, it seems to me that "hey baby, what's your sign" is totally whack now.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Finding a path without the male/female binary...

All the pagan and wicca or sub-wicca paths and books I'm reading seem to have a very strong gender binary at the heart of things. God and Goddess. It's there in the wheel of the year, it's there in the high-ritual-qabala I'm reading, and so on.

I don't believe Male and Female are these two essential poles, and I don't believe they have these innate qualities, like water/fire, or active/passive. While they are admittedly powerful symbols, they are not symbols I want to support.

On the contrary - I do a lot of feminist work around breaking down "women are like X but men are like X" stereotypes, and lots of queer activism too, with people who are genderqueer, genderfluid, agendered and so on. It seems ridiculous to revere a concept religiously which I fight against in real life, and two enshrine two genders as most important when, to me at least, they're not.

I know there are individual deities who are queer-er or gendercomplex, but the new age frameworks for revering them - at least, the ones which are widely available - all default back to male candle/female candle stuff. I'm not at a point where I can freewheel, I need 101ish resources to give me groundings.

Any path suggestions? Book suggestions? Ways of approaching the resources I have to create something which isn't in violation of my value system?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Spiritual Exercises?

I know people do it with yogurt and tai chi and a few other things, and was wondering if anyone had some spiritual exercises they wanted to share?

Spiritual connection is so intimate and individual at times, that I think there must be some very different ways that people do this with exercise that I have never considered.

As for me, finding spiritual connection through cycling was something that just happened. I didn't start riding as a spiritual endeavor, but sure enough, the turning of the wheels got me thinking. But it wasn't until I began cycling through woods (we have a great paved trail here constructed over an abandoned train line that runs through the woods off farm fields) that I began to purposefully use that time and movement in a religious kind of way. Seeing the season turn as I make my wheels turn. It's hard to explain the feelings I get.

There are 4-5 months when I cannot ride and then I walk with the same purpose in mind even through snow. It's not as easy on the joints, but I've been addicted for years to both the spiritual connections, but likely the endorphins too (only get that rush with the cycling though).

The original purpose was to get more healthy in body, but it turned out to do wonders for my spirituality and my depression. Though not a cure for the latter, it has helped me as a coping tool sometimes.

I have a friend who does pottery as spiritual exercise. I was surprised at the amount of physicality that went into it from start to finish. And he also has said the spinning wheel was one of the first things that prompted him to think deeply coincidentally. He uses a kick wheel even when the electric ones are available, something about doing that he's said is simultaneously hypnotic and energizing.

Anybody have any exercises they do that have turned out to be or started as spiritual connections?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Is There a Mother Earth Religion/Spiritual Tradition?

Does anybody know if there is any kind of spiritual path that centers around Mother Earth? I have heard of the Gaia hypothesis and philosophy but is there any sort of path out there that embraces "Gaia" or "The Earth Mother" or whatever you wish to call her as a major part of their religious practice?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Eating Locally as a Relational Practice

I spend a lot of time thinking about the theology of food. (In significant part because the culture I live in is so fucked up about food that if I could address that with healthy theology it would be amazing, heh.)

In Kemetic thought, food is related to a lot of things, but importantly it is etymologically linked to the vital life-energy soul, the ka. Nourishing the ka is one of the things that happens when we make offerings (a bit of offering liturgy is "may your ka be fed"), and so on. Further, as social primates, food and sharing food is part of how we build and support relationships. This is not a small thing to spend some braincycles on.

A week or two ago, I had a sudden comment that - as food is basically a bloodflow of a community - and as we subscribe to a farm share in part because of supporting community farms and so on - that perhaps this process is part of building relationship with the land spirits within a community. And rambling about the way the heavily shipment-oriented food supply kind of distributes the land we can connect to in this particular intimate and intense way, because it's just too big. (I think I was not making enough sense to be either convincing or coherent at the time.)

So of course I'm puttering along with this notion in my head, and reading Orion Foxwood's Faery Teachings a few days later and there's a note in there about how people form relationships with land spirits through eating food that was cultivated on that land. Heh!

Has anyone else thought about this sort of thing?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Who do you thank for the food on your table?

I'm very curious about this. Do you thank your gods/goddesses for the food on your table or do you thank the people that work for it (this may include yourself)? I know that the vast majority on here are educated, well-informed persons... who know that food does not appear on the grocery store shelf without the hard work of someone else.

Around here you see a lot of bumper stickers that read "Farmers Feed Cities," "If you ate today, thank a farmer," and "Eat Canadian _(insert pork or beef)_" I could also write what's written on some of bumper stickers my friends' trucks have but some of it highly offensive to the non-farming population.

So just curious, who do you thank? Do you make an effort to support your local farmers? I was reading on another forum where they had a thread about how great the weather has been this summer, sunny and warm, no realising that such weather is a serious issue.

Personally, I thank my gods because my family does grow a lot of what we eat.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Divination with Stones?

The other day I discovered a Scott Cunningham book in my library, the one about stone magick. (The book I usually use for looking up a stone's metaphysical proprrties had been checked out.) Honestly, I didn't get anything out of it, but the notion of using select stones to represent the Major Arcana in Tarot got me thinking.

I have a large (and still growing) collection of tumbled stones that I normally use for charms and as situation-specific worry stones. My idea is that I could also use these for divination, their properties reflecting their meaning; for instance, rose quartz for love, carnelian for confidence, fluorite for clarity, etc. A reading would probably involve selecting stones--with closed eyes--based on what intuition would dictate, and then intuitively lay them out. I don't know what kind of spreads it'd implement; I might just use Tarot spreads since that's what I'm familiar with.

So, any thoughts?

Building Outdoor Ritual Space

While a lot of pagan religions do a great deal with the temporary and portable, such as circle-casting, a lot of others would have, at least originally, had some sort of dedicated space for ritual work, and some of those spaces were located outside.

What sorts of factors would you consider if you were able to build outdoor space? (Privacy, ancient models for what you're doing, different pagan religions, alignments with the stars or directions, etc.?)

What would you build? What materials, structures, other symbols would you want to use?

What else might be involved?

Search For Path Without Clear Vision

The reason I went looking for a forum to join is the topic of this thread. I am looking to branch out my Craft "skills". Specifically, I'd like to pick an area or two to focus on, rather than just general mediocre fumbling around. I'd like to really find my true Path. Obviously I've been doing my own research and spiritual searching. But I like outside opinions, too, so I'm asking you guys.

Trouble is, I'm only really good at three totally unrelated things:

- reading my own Tarot
- foraging wild plants
- the occasional obvious sign from the spirits

Frown. I've been poking at the spirits for a guide, but they want me to figure it out on my own, apparently. Some ideas I've been thinking of:

- Other forms of divination, like pendulum or runes.
- Focusing on stronger spirit-connection through shamanistic methods.
- Wildcrafting amulets/fetiches from foraged items.

But I have yet to have anything strike me very strongly.

So that is my question: how do I decide? Do I just start poking at all of them and see what sticks? Do I keep giving offers and asking for answers from my spirit guides? Or, from a more practical perspective, do you have any suggestions based on what you know of my abilities?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Mixing Traditions and/or Practices.

I'm getting a bit annoyed by the lack of a coherent magical and/or spiritual foundation in my practice.
I have never been comfortable with a whole tradition, and happy with doing things my own way. Recently I started reading about Chaos magic and it felt like things started coming together. Using what works seems like a good idea, but i believe in a lot of different things that I'm not prepared to throw away just because something more interesting comes along.

I'm trying to get all my beliefs and practices to fit together but it's very difficult. Not having a solid foundation makes me doubt what I'm doing is right. On the other hand I can't just pick a magical system because there always seem to be things that I don't agree with.

Does anyone else have this problem?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Schedule of Pagan-y Gatherings & Events?

Does anyone know of a listing (website, ideally) of regularly scheduled, public pagan-y gatherings, festivals, etc.? I'm thinking of events like Pantheacon, although smaller is also fine, and I'm particularly interested in those located in the US and Canada.

I tried Witchvox, but only found festival reviews and local listings. I'm hoping for something more comprehensive and user-friendly.

Religious and Magical Jewelry?

I was wondering how many other people wear as much jewelry as me? I love rings. I have 7 of them, most are sliver, I have one of Turkish gold and one that is a stainless steel fidget ring. I also wear my mom's pentagram necklace.

I wear them because it helps me personally represent what I do with my life and I am lost without them. I have a few Celtic knots, one with a turquoise stone and a design that looks like wings. I have my fidget ring with a fire design on it. My claddah ring and a plain sliver band. I plan on getting more rings, because most of mine are two rings on one finger. Sometimes I just get a mental itch that tells me I need a new ring.

Does anyone else wear jewelry that means a lot to them or their practice, I'd love to hear about it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Gender Roles and Religion?

Do you feel religion influences gender roles? Or is it just tradition? If this is in the wrong section, please relocate it.

I keep running into conflicts around gender roles. My family owns a fair-sized farm and I would like nothing more than to one day buy into the farm (saving all my money to buy shares). I planned most of my life around that farm. But I keep getting told a woman can't run a farm herself, that I must marry to farm. I should make it clear, I do not have any brothers and both my sisters can't get away from the farm fast enough.

The main argument is that I am not physically strong or skilled enough for some of the harder work. The whole argument reappeared recently when I tore up my shoulder. It's now more than likely permanently damaged. It doesn't stop me. I can do the work especially now that technology has made certain chores easier.

Why do such views still prevail today? Are they influenced by religion (Christianity in my area)? I feel like a cow being sized up at market if I go to a local event and word gets out I'm single again. Don't care to recall the number of proposed arranged marriages I've heard. It's like those boys only see the land I might come with (there's no guarantee, not in life anyway). Add in perssure from the older women (Still single?! Honey, you can't farm without a man! Women belong in the kitchen not in the barn, etc) and half of the time I think we're living somewhere in the 1940s, not 2012!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Suggestions for pagan/esoteric RSS feeds?

I'm posting this for a friend who may take my advice and sign up here, but just in case . . .

He's looking for interesting, well-written sources for general pagan and esoteric RSS feeds. (I didn't say that right. You know what I mean. I hope.) FWIW, he already gets "The Little Buddha" and feels that it's a bit too generic/broad for his liking. He's been pagan (I think Wiccish) for as long as I've known him, nearly 20 years, so he's not after beginner-level materials.

The Good-Enough Tool and the Right Tool (for Magic)

Early in my training with my teacher, I was given an assignment: adopt a couple of certain forms of psychic cleansing and protection, drawn from folk magic sources primarily. This was something that I wrestled with constantly; I found something that somewhat appealed to me, and I tried to make it work, and indeed, it worked, kind of, sort of.

Some time later, I came back to this assignment with something like dread, as I feared being unable to find somethign that really worked, like all the tools - perfectly sufficient to the task - were an outfit that just didn't fit right, or which, while fitting, were just not attractive to wear. And I found an idea, chased a thought sideways, put a little twist on it, and found something perfect. And when I shared what I'd done with my teacher, she said that it was pretty awesome.

This is something that happens to me a lot - I have something that's good enough (usually something that works a good deal better than that particular assignment!), and I'm content with it, and don't think I need to go any further with it. I have an adequate tool, a perfectly good methodology and technique, or whatever.

And usually, I do - I mean, I have my ritual cup sitting on my nightstand right now. It's nothing hugely special, it holds water just fine in a good quantity for my needs, it has a pleasant shape and meets my quirks for wanting such a thing. But I don't have any illusion that it's anything beyond good enough for my purposes. It's possible there exists a cup out there that is mindblowingly amazing for me. (I suspect in the real world I'll make one when my studio works.) This ain't it. But it does what I need it to.

I'm not a very heavy tool user, at least not in my head. But I look around, and I see the collection of scarves I use for one set of protection magic, the perfume bottle I use for another bit of protection magic, I see my aforementioned cup, I note that the tools I put away so that the Celt's mother wouldn't see them haven't been put back where they belong... So I think my head is wrong on this. And some of my tools are good enough. And some of them are The Right Tool.

Does anyone else understand what I'm talking about here? How many of your tools are good enough, and how many of them are Right? How do you know when a tool is The Right Tool? How does it affect your magic to work with something that precisely attuned? Can you make a good enough tool into a Right Tool? How?

Friday, July 13, 2012

Good Tarot Deck for Beginner?

I'm looking at getting a Tarot deck, and wanted to know what would be good for someone starting out.

Athames and their uses

Just wondering what exactly are all the uses of them are. Rituals, and what else? Can they be used in self defense and such?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Magical Baubles and Bib-Bobs

This came up in a couple of threads recently and I wanted to pull it out into a thread of its own. People talked about amulets and other, similar things.

So: If you have amulets, magical jewelry, or similar things, what functions do they serve?

How did you make them? Did you use materials, colors, designs, or decorations that were particularly good for that purpose? Did you do some sort of energetic charging to tune them up?

Let's talk artificing!

Rape in Greek Mythology?

From Elani Temperance's quote in the Mythology Taken Literally? topic, I was moved to make a topic with this as the focus (with Elani's permission to quote):

Quote Originally Posted by Elani Temperance
No easy answer for this one. Let me try from a Hellenic standpoint. Myths, in the olden days, were mostly used to transfer messages beyond the actual story of the myth. Even now, many Hellenics take the myths of our Gods and use them to understand the Theoi better (as they do speak of Them and give a glimps into their day-to-day life) but it doesn't stop their. We study the hymns, archeology and the many epithets of our Gods to get to know Them. Myths help, but even way back when, they weren't taken literally.

An example; Greek myth featured a lot of rape. Gods like Apollon, Hermes, Dionysos and Pan are famous for chasing Nymphs. Yet, these Gods were revered side by side with Nymphs in the ancient temples and they did so amiably.

So the myths can be an inspiration, but they're not to be taken literally. Rape didn't mean rape as we know it; often it was the transferance of divinity or a blessing. Quite a different meaning.

A PM exchange led me to this blog post by Elani about gender in Greek mythology. In a link to Susan Cole's paper on Greek sanctions against sexual assault, we find that:

Ancient Greek has no explicit term for "rape" in the sense of "sexual intercourse committed by force" but several expressions used in Greek to mean assault can, in certain circumstances, denote rape.

Abduction was one of these words, and seems to be the most frequent English translations. Etymologically, the English word "rape" has its word origins in describing thievery. In the context of a time when women were property, consent wasn't a factor... which means that in some cases, women may have consented to "rape" in the sense of that they volunteered for abduction that wouldn't be okay to their fathers or husbands.

It made me think about the opening of Herodotus' histories, referring to the wars that came about when Io, Europa, Medea, and Helen were abducted:

Now as for the carrying off of women, it is the deed, they say, of a rogue: but to make a stir about such as are carried off, argues a man a fool. Men of sense care nothing for such women, since it is plain that without their own consent they would never be forced away.

By then it's more history than mythology, but the attitudes of the time read still read as gray to me. They speak of women's consent, in the same sentence that they use the word "forced". Either the efforts of abduction ultimately as a matter of course hinged on the consent of the abductee... or the ancient Greeks really were so misogynistic that whatever came of a woman from (what was described in The Histories as) ambush and violent abduction, would be the woman's own fault.

Back to the myths, I can see some transfer of divinity or blessing being possible in consenting sexual intercourse, that is only considered rape by the vice of being unlawful or unholy to others outside of the couple.

Elani and I discussed the Medusa myth. I confessed that I (a 21st century, non-Greek, cis-gendered woman) had difficulty reconciling the idea of a goddess of wisdom punishing a victim of sexual violation. So, to my mind it would have been a conscious decision on Medusa's part to take Poseidon's blessing where Athena would take offense.

Quote Originally Posted by Elani Temperance
In the older versions of this myth, it's clear that Medusa consents to the sexual acts. As she is a priestess of Athena, she was supposed to remain a virgin. Failing this, she was punished. In my opinion, and I state no sources for this because I have none, Athena also punished Medusa for the desecration of Her temple instead of Poseidon (who was equally to blame) because She wasn't in a position to punish another God.

One can also argue that Athena transformed Medusa into what she is so she would never have to deal with the violation of her body again (i.e. giving her the power to take care of herself--something much more in line with Athena's persona), should the sex have been non-consensual.

So... modern paradigm criticisms, historical cultural contexts to consider, all welcome. But mainly I wonder: What did each of these mythological stories of abduction and rape symbolize?

Here are some myths I'm thinking of, feel free to add:

Medusa's rape by Poseidon in the temple of Athena
Aura's rape by Dionysus after offending Artemis (with conspiracy by Nemesis)
Arethusa's attempted rape by the river Alpheus (with Artemis intervening for the preservation of Arethusa's autonomy)

Callisto's affair with Zeus (with double retaliation, from her virgin patron Artemis, and from Hera)
Persephone's abduction by Hades
Demeter's rape by Poseidon (during her search for Persephone)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Cleansing Rituals without Smoke/Incense?

I am looking for cleansing rituals that can be used for houses and tarot cards, but they have to be ones that do not include smoke or incense of any kind. Everyone in my house has sensitive noses, allergies, and asthma, not to mention there's a puppy and a baby in the house right now. Any suggestions or resources I could look to? Also, any suggestions on talking to house spirits? I have the ghosts of family members in the house and I get the feeling they don't like that I'm not a Christian anymore. Not to mention they seem to occasionally scare my nephew, who is the baby I mentioned above. Please and thank you!

Visiting That God At His House And Other Stories

So here's a topic that's on my mind, and I know there are folks around here who deal with either completely lore-lost or not-well-attested deities, so hey, it might even be a useful conversation.

So every so often, folks want to deal with a deity other than the Big Ones, the ones that have a lot of information kicking around (whether that's a lot of archaeological evidence, or a lot of recorded stories and references, or even a lot of UPG). Sometimes the information is a name and a department, or maybe a couple of scattered references; sometimes not even that. A face that may not even be intended as divine in an archaeological dig; a personal connection to someone unknown; an allusion that clearly points somewhere, but no clear sense on how to follow up on it.

I was talking last night with one of the folks I regularly talk religion with, and my comment was something along the lines of, "Yeah, if I want to work with this god, I guess I need to go visit him at his house." Of course, that's the end of practical mysticism skills that I'm pretty much least confident about....

(And I know I'm on the lucky end of this kind of Obscure Deity Quest. Archaeowiki has an entry on him! (Though archaeowiki appears to be down, Wayback had it.) It had two sources cited! I already owned one of them! I could look up all the ancient texts cited as mentioning him in anything I could find on the web in books I had! And ... okay. Now what? Sigh.)

So: more obscure powers. Thoughts, experiences, commentaries. Whether it involves visiting them at their house or not.

Reinterpreting Bïfrost

Came across this in the 15th ISC papers:

This paper argues that while de Vries is probably correct in his interpretation of the etymological roots and literal meaning of Bifrǫst/ Bilröst, he neglects to recognise the most appropriate metaphoric connotation. This is because the key to unlocking the meaning of the names appears to lie in the realisation that they are actually poetic kennings which conform in form and meaning to numerous other kennings representing the same phenomenon : namely the trembling, shuddering, shaking movement of the sea or ocean. Evidence for this can be found by analysing the roots of the names Bifrǫst/ Bilröst. It has been speculated that name could denote a way, path, trail or road of some kind (e.g. Simek : ‘swaying road to heaven’), but what appears not to have been considered is the specific association of these concepts with the sea in Old Norse and skaldic poetry. This association is substantiated by one of the largest groups of sea kenning which denote the sea as a way, road, path or trail Within this group are a significant number of examples using rǫst - some examples being blárǫst (the blue trail); hafrǫst ( sea-way); lǫgrǫst (water -path); Gylfa rǫst (Gylfi’s road) and Huglar rǫst (Hugl’s (island) way

This is interesting to me in a couple of ways. Nordic geography saw the world as flat, Midgard encircled by the ocean. In Bïfrost legend, the Jotuns cross the bridge to enter Midgard. With Jotuns being those at the edges of Midgard and the sea being the edge of the world, Jotuns crossing the ocean makes total sense.

Another thing that fits in perfectly is Heimdall. He sits on Bïfrost, awaiting the Jotuns. And...he's the son of the nine ocean mothers.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Nature of Humanity?

What do you think is the innate nature of humanity? Good/evil/blank slate/something else? Are we getting better, getting worse, is the question irrelevant? If the question doesn't even make sense in your religion, why not?

For FlameKeeping, humanity simply IS. Not good, not bad, and definitely not blank slate - I've seen way too much character in babies to believe in the blank slate theory! But the good/evil question doesn't make sense. Good/evil is something we measure against ourselves, so there isn't an external measure to apply to us.

I do believe that we are becoming better people, in general - we do not accept things that in the past were accepted. The more we move away from simple survival, the more society gives people freedom to be themselves instead of conform to a norm. I believe that we can /become/ better, as a people. Doesn't mean there aren't times we fall back, but hey, that's human nature too.

Magical Systems?

What are some of the Magical systems that yall use? I'm just trying to get an idea of what is out there and what people us.

Coming out of Fallow Times

So I've been absent from the boards for a few months, and I'm not sure if the depression or the fallow period came first, but they formed a perfect storm of apathy and anxiety that's kept me from spending any energy on spiritual things until about last week. It was deeply unpleasant and I'm glad it seems to be over.

I have to say, reading several of TC's members' blogs on the subject really helped me frame my thoughts in a way to help myself stop worrying so much and realize that I'm not alone in this, and it might just be a cyclical thing that happens sometimes, and, most importantly, that it doesn't last forever. Thank you all, so much.

The question pestering me now is this: How do I get back into something resembling a spiritual practice? I feel like I should be doing this by degrees, and not going fast and furious with offerings now that (what seems to have been) a long intense Deity getting-to-know-you period is over. I'm certain They aren't completely absent from my life; even when I could only focus on having enough energy to go to work and numbing my brain with tumblr, I kept getting words and ideas like "self-care" and "mindfulness" thrown at me from all corners.

Still, I feel guilty about lapsed offerings and missed holidays, and I'm wondering if I should make up for that in some way with ritual, or focus on getting myself back up to optimal performance before I start doing Deity work again.

Those of you who've dealt with Fallow Times before, what's helped you the most in re-engaging with spiritual life?

Birthdays as Holy Days

A friend recently put forth an interesting idea - that she celebrates her birthday as a holy/feast day. The occasion is marked with offerings and prayers of thanks to her deities, a specially prepared meal shared with others of a similar path, and various rituals of self purification and celebration.

Does anyone else do this or something similar? Any thoughts on the celebration of one's own birthday as something sacred or holy?

I'm still chewing on this idea and still working out some conflicting feelings about it. I'd love to hear other Cauldronites take on this one.

Ideal Deity Portrayals

The discussion of Offensive Deity Statues begs an opposing question: What images of deity do you find to be ideal or particularly well done? What makes them so?

Why do so many people misinterpret the Rede?

I've been wondering for years... why do so many people misinterpret the Rede? We've discussed it's meaning to death here several times over the years. Those of us who didn't just read a book yesterday know it doesn't mean "Harm None" and know it doesn't generally apply to non-Wiccan paths. We know that it doesn't mete out consequences for any actions that may cause harm, or even define what harm is.

Where are people getting these misconceptions? Is it crappy beginner books? Is it misinformed Big Name Pagans? I'd like to know, because it doesn't seem to make much difference how many times I (and other Wiccans here) refute the common misconceptions... they just keep turning up like a bad penny.

Note: I'm looking to discuss the spread of the misconceptions, and not necessarily the misconceptions themselves. Like I said, we've hashed them to death, so there are lots of good threads out there discussing that part. But if the thread drifts, the thread drifts...

Friday, July 06, 2012

Herne made up by Shakespeare?

So, I've been reading a very lovely book called, "The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England's Legends, from Spring-Heeled Jack to the Witches of Warboys" by Jennifer Westwood.

I came across an entry on Herne the Hunter, which stated that Herne is often confused with the god Cernunnos, and that he wasn't actually a deity at all, but a huntsman who committed a crime and was hanged from the King Richard II's great oak in his park; that the "horns" on his head are actually a joke referring to his crime.

Can anyone speak to this?

Un-making a commitment?

A friend of mine did a commitment to the neo-wiccan gods. She commited to study the religion and worship Them, but now she decided neo-Wicca is not for her (I warned her, but she didn't listen). She doesn't know how to free herself from the commitment now. Leaving aside her stupidity...

I have some general questions (not about her specific case):

Do you think it's possible to un-make a commitment to the gods? (I'm sorry if "un-make" doesn't exist, I don't know which word to use, but you know what I mean, yes?)

Well, if you made a commitment to be a part of a certain religion and to worship its gods and goddesses, and you realize it's not for you, how would you do to go away?

Thursday, July 05, 2012


I am interested in what people think about oath bound materials and traditions. The exclusivity of information is a very complicated idea. Certainly, some oath bound traditions still hold very close with those codes, but others not so much.

My curiosity was sparked because I needed to find out more about Heredom. (Woke up saying it as part of a phrase.) And within a week or so of mentioning that I'd like to read about it, I had someone offering to give me some oath bound books. I was asked to return them to a lodge when I was finished with them or destroy them, no big deal made.

I was a little surprised that it took no more than asking to get information, but upon hearing some old men discuss the backlashes of secrecy, I kind of understand why they would have mixed feelings and how it wasn't a big deal to give me the materials. I asked if they were concerned about people using the idea of silence in an organization to mentally or physically abusive ends, and was told by a couple that it offended them that the idea of confidentiality was used to scam people out of money all over tarnation.

And since some here are of oath bound traditions and many others know about them and have interesting opinions, I thought I'd pose a few questions here:

What is/are some of the most secretive organizations (nongovernmental) magical, philosophical, social and why would you classify them this way?

Do you think this kind of secrecy is effective in whatever its purpose is stated to be?

What are some of the drawbacks to this kind of silence that you have heard of or experienced?

Have you had any experiences with these kinds of organizations that you care to share? As in what did it do for you? Is it something you'd recommend?

Questions for my Spiritual Journal?

I've heard a few people talk about a Spiritual Journal. In this journal you are supposed to write down your beliefs, experiences with deity and ritual, and just about anything that relates to your religion or spiritual experiences. I thought it would be a good idea to start this journal by first asking myself questions about my beliefs. My first entry will be my answer to the following question.

1) How do you view deity?

I will keep a handwritten journal at home and I was wondering if anyone could pose a few questions for me and I can include these questions in my journal and will try and answer one question a day. I will not be posting answers to these questions but I am just looking for ideas. I figured this is a good start to finding a path for myself by first asking myself WHAT, WHO, AND WHY I believe. Once I feel I have clearly outlined my beliefs I will begin moving onto writing about my experiences with deity. My experiences with meditation and prayer. Experiences with ritual.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Lammas vs. Lughnasadh?

In another post, Darkhawk said:

Quote Originally Posted by Darkhawk:
When not treated as a Wheel holiday, but more in its original Celtic context, Lughnasadh is the harvest feast day and athletic competition established by Lugh in order to honor his foster-mother, Tailtiu.

I wondered how many people actually celebrate Lughnasadh and how many celebrate Lammas instead?

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

A Taoism Thread (and other Eastern philosophies)

By definition, Taoism isn't exactly a religion, in that there is no direct worship of a god or deity. It's more of a philosophy set simply for one to live their life. That's about the most basic definition I could find.

I "dabbled" a little with Eastern philosophies in high school such as Buddhism, Shinto, and Taoism. Taoism stuck out to me the most in its never ending emphasis on balance. A Taoist is not afraid of darkness, but he knows not to get lost in it either. A Taoist recognizes his flaws and his own shadows just as he sees his left and right hand. Where there is light, there is shadows. Therefore a Taoist strives to find peace by going with the way of Tao (literally means "Way" or "The Way", as in a path.)*

I did not dedicate myself to Taoism because of it's passive nature, or at least what I perceived it to be through the author of a couple books I read. It seemed to me that the Taoist did not try and create his own destiny, he simply rode out the waves of life in peaceful, dignified grace. As romantic as that sounds, I got the idea that heavy amounts of solitude and meditation were encouraged, to the point of hermiting oneself (again, just going with the perception I got from a few authors) and I simply didn't have the time for that.

Still, the principle of harmony through balance has worked wonders for me with my current path, and I find myself using various Taoistic principles in spell craft. For example, one of the books I own called Everyday Tao by an author called Deng Ming-Dao (I can support a link if anyone requests) is basically a Taoist dictionary of sorts with about 200 words maybe (simple words grouped into different categories) and includes the Chinese character for it, which I then fashion into a rune.

I hope to gain some new knowledge and perspectives from people who possibly share similar philosophies or who have a knowledge in the field.


In my search for a path that fits, I have come across (both in the past and recently) the Wheel of the Year. I'm not sure which paths observe these holidays, but I found them to be quite fascinating. From what I can tell, Lughnasadh is the upcoming harvest holiday/festival in August (at least for my hemisphere). I plan on trying to do something for this holiday.

So for all of you that do celebrate this holiday, let me know what you do to celebrate. If you do not celebrate this particular holiday, do you celebrate something around this time of year. If so, do tell! I love learning about new things, holidays included.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

God/desses and Capitalization

So, as per usual I was searching around on the thread, and noticed that some people capitalize both the name(s) of their god/desses, and the third person pronouns tied into the sentences (e.g. I follow Odin. I love Him and all of His principles...). Personally, I don't do this, even for the Christian Yahweh. The god/desses I follow have never shown any preference for it. But I'm curious. Do you do this? If so, what is you're reasoning behind it? If not, why don't you?

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