Thursday, May 16, 2013

How Do You View Death?

As this is in the "Gods, Goddesses and Mythology" -section, I'm asking this: How do you view Death - as in the god or goddess thereof? Have you interacted with any of the deities associated with death and if you have, what were your feelings? With or without that kind of interaction, do you view Death as a fearsome figure or not?

One reason for me to ask this is because of a working gone even deeper I imagined and of a god I met there and what happened. Usually, this particular god hasn't seemed to get true cult and there isn't that much UPG to find either - but to me he was clear as crystal about his identity. Now, I'm a not-recon but recon-minded and I'm still wondering. In my own mind I'm dead sure (pardon my pun), but...

This was almost a decade ago, but due to info relating to that particular god and the lack of UPG, I'm still hesitant to say who it was who said "keep being fascinated by death, but as soon I got you handed over by Anpu, I knew my job was to keep you alive" and that he did.

Studying for 2 years and still lost at sea

So, I've been studying off and on for 2 years or a little more. Roughly since I found this forum and made an account. I am completely lost.

I still feel a connection with something and I want to continue but I have no idea what direction to go in. I have a little altar representing the elements and I have had a few things on the Solstice, Yule etc but I am not after Wicca. I am interested with working with a deity but at the same time I have a hard time reconciling the fact that their could be a deity. I don't want their to be and I'm not sure if anything is out there but I can feel something and I want their to be. Does that make sense?

I am interested in herbalism and kitchen witchery, folk magic (I actually listen to a lot of New World Witchery and love it) and very much the order of the natural world. I do related almost everything to Evolutionary Psychology and Biology. That's just how I think if it gives you any indicator. I am interested in Celtic lore and anything from the British Isles really. Something else that I'm interested in and don't know where to start is Slavic lore. I am half Russian and my family immigrated here in the 1910 or so. My grandma, who I never met, practiced a combination of "Old Country" magic and Catholicism. I have no idea where to start since I don't know that side of the family. Any Slavic specialists?

I'm not quite sure what this post is about, I guess, have any of you experienced people encountered this and what did you do? How did you start because I feel like a kid in a candy shop. I've read at least a dozen books or more since I started researching, all on different beliefs and I still come to nothing. Thanks for your advice in advance!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Brighid and The Cailleach

For those of you who don't know, I've been working with Brighid for the last couple of years and at the moment She is my only deity. I've recently been reading a bit more of the Scottish mythology about Brighid (also known as Bride here) and it's very tied up with the mythology of The Cailleach.

In some tales, The Caiileach has Brighid imprisoned over the winter (roughly from Samhain until some time between Imbolc and Beltane) until Brighid escapes, bringing spring to the land. In some versions, Aengus Og rescues Bride and they marry. In others, at the end of winter The Cailleach travels to Tir Na Nog and drinks from the fountain of youth, becoming Brighid.

Previously, I haven't paid much attention to these stories but at the moment they strike me as important. So, I have questions, especially for those who work with either of these deities.

1) Do you consider Brighid and Bride to be the same?

2) Do you work with The Cailleach and Brighid together?

3) How do you see the relationship between them?

4) Anything else?

Opinions on the New Order of Druids?

What are peoples thoughts on the New Order of Druids and their teaching courses?

I like what I see but would like opinions from people more experienced than me.

Here is their site

How to Explain Beliefs to Family?

I'm sure there's been many topics about this but I really wanted some advice on how to explain my beliefs to my mother (the only person I live with). I'm very secretive about it, and she has no idea that I'm a hard polytheist. She knows that I'm "spiritual", because I've bought candles and incense and doing meditation/prayers. But I never elaborated on what I believe to her.

She thinks that I'm an agnostic/atheist. Because I tend to criticize Christianity a lot just in conversation, bringing up conversations about critical thinking and being frustrated with the way Christians act and believe. She's under the impression that I don't believe in any god, which obviously, isn't true, I just disagree with the Abrahamic religions. Recently, I told her that I held many beliefs that are animistic in nature and that I "relate" to the old polytheistic beliefs. She gave me a quick queer look but seemed to accept it and agreed with me a bit on animism.

Normally - I'd just keep quiet like I am. I have no desire whatsoever to have to go into depth about it. But, I've been really wanting to make a small shrine for my patron deity, so I can have a specific place to pray and there's a lovely statue I'd like to get. But, how would I tell my mother about the statue? How do I tell her that I believe in the greek gods? It just seems like it would be a very awkward conversation. It's like someone you thought was an atheist that criticizes religion, saying they wanted to build a shrine to the magical purple unicorn. I hate to compare to that, but nowadays, people see the greek gods as being just myths, so I fear that's how she'd see it. So, how do I do this? Has anyone else done this in a similar situation?

Do you plan to raise your kids pagan?

(As some of you may know from back when I introduced myself, I noted that I'm working on an essay for my college writing course, and would, at some point, require interviews. However, this being an online site, I'm doing things a bit differently. I'm going to pose the question, one that I both need for the essay and am curious about, and answers will be recorded for the essay. Please note, if you wish to answer, I ask that you state how you want to be named - anonymous, your name on the forum, etc. Thanks in advance!)

Many articles I've read about modern pagan families have all dealt with a parent's, or parents' concern on whether or not they should bring their children up as pagan vs. exposing them to the religious practices but letting them make a choice when they wish about whether or not they wish to become pagan.

My question is this - what did you choose as a parent? Bring the child up as pagan, or let them choose when they're ready?

Monday, May 06, 2013

First Spell?

What was the first spell you did?

When I was in high school I found a reference book in our high school library on Witchcraft - this was in the mid 80s. I was extremely curious even though I was a very active Christian at the time. I read through it and found a dream spell.

The spell was to dream about the person you were meant to be with, your soul mate sort of thing. You put a glass of water half filled under your bed - under where you're pillow would be - with a piece of wood over it. You would dream of walking over a bridge and you would fall in and the person that pulled you out would be the person you were meant to be with. You could do the spell until it worked and then you could not do it again (and have it work again).

So, I did that. It worked fairly quickly - within a few nights. I dreamed I was walking along a river on a path. The river was on my right and the bridge was behind me. On my left was a volcano. The volcano erupted and knocked me into the river and a tall dark haired man pulled me out.

When I tried to see his face it was blurred, like something from CourtTV. I could not see his face no matter what I did. I was infuriating. But more than that, I was completely freaked out that magic was real and I never looked into any pagan again until just a couple of years ago. I did try the spell again but of course, it never worked.

Interestingly enough, the only guys I have ever dated have had dark hair. I still haven't met 'that' guy though.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Religion with homework"

I've heard the phrase kicked about, especially with regard to reconstructionists of any sort, that their path is "religion with homework" (meaning that they do a lot of research). As someone who is blending her own path of witchcraft and druidry (of which I am currently studying the ADF Dedicant Program), I can say that applies to me, too in many ways.

At what point can "religion with homework" become "homework with religion"? At what point should we sit down our books and "just do it"? Can research become a crutch? Can it eventually interfere with practice?

And most importantly, what should the balance be between UPG and research? I know that's a subjective, personal question, but I hope amongst us we could come to some recommended guidelines.

I know we've talked about these ideas before in other threads, but I don't know that we've approached them from this angle lately.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Is Lore and Myth Really Important?

Although I have read quite a few mythologies of gods from different cultures, I have an aversion to ancient mythology. I often feel uncomfortable relying on myth and ancient texts as part of my practice, mostly due to the fact that I often associate it with my birth religion, Roman Catholicism and also Abrahamic religions in general. I'm not sure I want to have any sort of mythology involved in my practice at all.

Would you say reading mythology is a big part of being Pagan? If I'm not willing to read myths or have lore as part of my practice, do you think getting involved in Paganism is a waste of time?

Herbal Reference Book?

I'm looking for a good reference book on herbs. The one I see recommended all the time is Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, but that's also the one I see being decried all the time.

One of the biggest issues with Cunningham's book seems to be that he doesn't warn readers about the dangers of some herbs, especially in relation to pregnancy, medications, and stuff like that. But for someone who already knows that stuff, would it be a good book just as a reference for magic? Or is there something else you would recommend?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Ritual Attire?

I'm attending public rituals with a group and they asked us to wear attire that's just for the rituals we do with them, something that isn't street clothing. While there are many websites that sell clothing like this my problem is that a. I don't have loads of cash sitting around for this and b. I'm plus sized and pregnant so getting clothing off of a website would be difficult.

So what I'm asking really is where did you get your cloths, what do you consider ritual wear, and what suggestions/advice do you have to give?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wisteria Correspondences

I was wondering if anyone knew of any correspondences for wisteria. Living in the Southern U.S., wisteria is endemic. I'm used to the purple wisteria, but recently moved and here, they have white wisteria. I was thinking the white could be used for lunar magic/worship. They have an evocative scent and most flowers are used for love magic so I thought that might be a good correspondence. I've looked in Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs and the only reference is in the very back (if you own it, page 288) under properties of oils and it says wisteria is for protection. I've also checked the only other herbal I own, A Witch's Guide to Herbal Enchantments, Folklore, and Divinations by Gerina Dunwich and there's no mention of wisteria at all. Any help filling in this gap of knowledge is greatly appreciated.

Sensing/Recognizing Energy

A lot of what I'm learning about seems to first start with energy and then centering/ground/shielding/etc. It makes sense to me. I am going to throw out a definition here and hope I'm using it right, but I get animism and that everything has an energy or gives off an essence. But my hold up is...I can't feel it. I'm of the belief that we all have the ability to sense energy but it isn't nurtured growing up so you don't realize that energy is around you, like when you hear a buzzing noise and eventually your body just tunes it out and you don't hear it but it's still there.

I have been reading and re-reading on Jenett's website the portion about energy and how different people sense it with different senses. And I have tried the activity of rubbing my palms together and feel the resistance. But all I feel is warm palms from friction.

So here is where you lovely people come in!

Did you learn to sense energy or did you always have the ability? How do you sense it (sight, sound, touch, etc)? What types of exercises would you recommend? Can I have walls up and not realize it?

I think that meditation would play a role in this as well, just focusing on your breath and your self will allow some of those hidden skills to emerge and become less hidden. Has this been the case for you?

I feel like energy is an important factor and I'd like to practice it while I continue to learn.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Esbats/Full Moon Rituals

So, in the past, really simple full moon rituals have been my mainstay to keep me connected and paying attention to the world around me. I've always felt that the full moon is one day of every month that I can take a moment to really notice time passing, etc, even when the rest of the month I'm crazy busy.

But unfortunately I haven't actually made this happen since at least November. So I'm wondering what you guys do to celebrate the full moon, if you do. Do you make a special food, make a toast, hold a formal ritual? I need some inspiration to get back into the swing of things!

Hard Polytheism, Soft Polytheism, and Everything In Between

My question is: are you a hard polytheist, a soft polytheist, something in-between, or none of the above? And why?

This has become an issue for me personally, and I would very much welcome insights from other practicing pagans of all stripes.

My own experience is that rationally I am a soft polytheist: the Gods and Goddesses are Thought-Forms, Archetypes, and Projections of the Unconciousness.

Non-rationally, I have always "talked" to spirits and gods/goddesses since I was a kid, some in particular developing into a sort of teacher/student relationship, for example (me and Athena).

Over time, the more that I have formally interacted with Deities as an adult, the more that these so-called "Thought-Forms" have taken on a force, personality, and energy of their own. Thus I have seen some evidence of the existence of Gods and Goddesses as independent entities, and rationally, I have moved somewhat towards a more centrist position on the hard/soft polytheist spectrum.

Rationally, I am more soft polytheist, intuitively now more towards hard polytheist.

Has anyone else gone through a process or change on these issues? The experiences and insights of other experienced (or not so experienced) pagans of all types would definitely be welcomed.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Honoring Chavi, Elspeth, and Marilyn on April 1st (2013)

The seventh 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. (Some of these posted used to be available on our 2005 Archive Board -- but the software it ran on does not support modern versions of PHP.) 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.

Elspeth, one of the founders of this board passed over on April 19, 2010, after years of fighting congestive heart failure and other medical problems which kept her offline except for generally brief spells over the last five or six years before her death. She was a major participant here in the early years of this board and her posts can be found on our old Delphi forum. Some of her poetry and other writings can in old issues of our newsletter and in the Samhain section of our web site. The Cauldron would have never started if Elspeth had not wanted a forum to replace a small mailing list, The Grove, which she ran.

Marilyn (aka Absent) needs no introduction to the current members of this board. She was a long time active member of this board with many posts to her credit up until she suddenly passed on February 16th of this year. She was a long time staff member whose expertise on the Tarot was appreciated by all.

Monday, April 1, 2013, marks the seventh anniversary of Chavi's passing. It's been seven long years now and TC is still not the same without Chavi. Since the first anniversary of her passing, we have honored her on April 1st with 24 hours of candle burning. Two years ago, we started honoring Elspeth on this day as well. We will be continuing the tradition this year, only we will also be honoring Marilyn. We are asking all Cauldron members who knew Chavi, Elspeth, or Marilyn; knew of Chavi, Elspeth, or Marilyn; or who did not know any of these three people but just want to help honor three wonderful people who meant a lot to many members of TC (and wish to participate) to light a candle in honor of Chavi, Elspeth, and Marilyn 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 them -- 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 log in on April 1st, you will probably notice that many longtime members of this board have changed their avatar for the day to either an avatar of a hat or their regular avatar wearing a hat. These hats are usually somewhat silly. We do this in honor of Chavi who had a thing for silly hats.

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, I can promise you that neither Chavi, Elspeth, nor Marilyn would have been sticklers about the time.

Ishtar and Easter?

Easter was originally a day meant to celebrate the goddess of love, Ashtoreth, who has many names: Astarte, Asherah, Inanna, Ishtar, Anat, Isis and even more. Though each name was used by a different culture; in such the story of each goddess is altered, however there are coinciding motifs and features of all these Goddesses/Goddess. Easter today has been altered and the principle heroine of the story has been replaced by, yet again, Jesus. The Christian story has many of the same principle features of the original, though it has been changed significantly. Some of the features stolen from the worship of Ashtoreth are: Martyrdom and resurrection. So how does a large rabbit hiding eggs in your house correspond to this? Well rabbits are known for their virility, and eggs obviously represent feminine fertility. Why these things though? Well the story of Easter, and the reason it corresponds roughly with the spring equinox, is one based on the concept of birth and fertility dying and returning to the world in the form of Ishtar. The translation can be read here:

So Ishtar goes into the underworld, dies, resurrects three days later, and her consort returns in her place. This is an explanation of winter and spring returning in ancient times. So always remember Ishtar on Easter because it is for her that we celebrate. Enjoy Easter for the reasons it was always meant to be celebrated for, enjoy family, love, and life; for the season of cold and death has ended and now is the time for rebirth, growth, and the return of Ishtar, beauty, to the land of the living.

How to send healing energy?

I was looking at the healing request form and wanted to know how to send healing energy to someone that requires it?

Ceremonial Magic (History)

I'm looking for resources on the history of ceremonial magic traditions of the Golden Dawn / Thelema / etc. type. (General history or history of a specific tradition --- either one is fine.)

Friday, March 29, 2013

What gemstones are you drawn to?

Other than being OMG SHINY, or just beautiful in general, are there any gemstones/crystals that you've been drawn to for no real reason other than you just felt it?

I just had to buy an unakite palmstone today even though I normally prefer stones that come in raw crystal form or some kind of point at least. It's not even a colour I like. And I love it, won't even let it leave my side for a minute right now. Just wondering if anybody had any similar stories or experiences.

If not, what's your favourite gemstone/crystal you find totally underrated?

The Power of Language

So, I`m a language nerd (linguistics major for a reason) and I`m wondering, in ritual/spellwork/anything magical, how much power do you all think is in the actual words you speak? I know that in most books intention is the big thing, as is raising energy. People tend to not really emphasize language much, but I personally feel like language is extremely powerful. It is incredibly influential in how we think about the world. Also, the way that languages form, change, and morph, is rather "magical" in and of itself.

Anyway, what is your personal belief on the power of the words you speak?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Deities that Frighten You?

Which deity or spirit do you honor or work (or have honored/worked with in the past) with that frightens you or scares you the most? Do you have any deities that you refuse to work with or are scared to approach in anyway? Have you had any really negative experiences with a deity?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Anyone Taking Part in the Solitary Druid Fellowship Equinox Ritual?

Hey, just wondering is anyone else taking part in the SDF Equinox ritual? It's my first time doing this style of ritual and I'm very excited I'll be doing it tonight (20th of March).

I've been interested in ADF for a while but due to lack of money (student XD) and the fact that there is no groves in Ireland as far as I'm aware I haven't joined it. I'm hoping SDF will provide that bridge for me to start practicing this style on my own
What does everyone else think of the SDF?

I just watched a BBC documentary that was fascinating. It was titled the Viking Sagas. After watching it, I have a question about the Laxdaela saga, where Kjartan and Bolli are free to return to Iceland after being prisoner for some time and Kjartan who once was engaged to Guoran, marries another woman and Bolli marries Guoran, who I felt may be jealous of Kjartan's relationship with his new wife, because she asks Bolli to kill Kjartan, which he does. And in turn, a few men are sent out to kill Bolli for his wrongdoing. I was following this story, wrapped up in it, and then it all ended very suddenly with Guoran suddenly becoming a Christian nun and that was it, nothing further.

I guess my question is...what do you guys think about this? Do you really think she suddenly decided to convert to Christianity and why? I thought the purpose of the sagas was to show and teach the right way to live one's life, under the heathenry faith? Or could it be that the Christians got ahold of the stories over time and changed the ending to portray their faith as being the answer to how to live one's life? If the Christians did put their own ending to this story, was this a typical practice? Would the old version be then lost forever?

Baby Steps and Spring Cleaning

Like a bunch of other people, I'm thinking about starting my spring cleaning. Like a bunch of people, I'm dreading the actual doing and don't actually know where to start. So, I thought it might be nice to have a thread where we could talk about what needs to be done during a spring clean, share ideas, and maybe track our baby steps toward unfucking our habitats.

So, what are you planning for spring cleaning? Have you started? How are you prioritizing, and what have you done today?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

What are your most recent dreams, and what do you think they mean?

I really love working with dreams, but people think it's odd if I ask about theirs. I hope to someday be able to help people interpret their dreams, but that's a difficult goal when I can only discuss them with one person without getting a weird look. I also want to get better at interpreting my own, but that's difficult as well when there are only some simple dream symbols out there. |: It'd be nice to get some new perspective!

What are some dreams you've had recently, or recurring dreams? And what do you think they mean?

Yesterday I dreamed of animals--lots of animals, and they could talk to me. I especially remember an owl who was my friend in the dream, though I don't remember what he told me...

Writing Your Own Myths

A few of us on this board, it turns out, write original myths. Not re-tellings of existing myths, and not so much myths for a fantasy world conceived as part of a work of fiction, but myths for the here and now.

(Or maybe these other categories of myth should also be examined here? Chime in.)

In another thread where this discussion began, SkySamuelle wrote:

"Part of my religious path involves getting to the core of 'storytelling as sacred art' which is mostly about delving into the initiatic potentialities in telling a story - basically knowing a subject/truth through fictional exploration, admitting that a story that takes form through inspiration is more something 'discovered' than 'created'."

If you write original myths:

1. Why do you write them? What do you hope to get out of it?

2. How can you "trust" them? Do you think they can have the same validity as established myth?

3. Can we even call these things we write myths, since traditional myths are not the work of a single author, but are the product of many storytelling hands over a long period of time, cementing them to the cultures from which they spring?

Monday, March 11, 2013

I'm just learning about runes, and I would like to make my own set (when the snow melts, as there is still much of it here in Michigan).

What would be the best stones/materials to use, with consideration to the fact I live in a rural area and would be looking outside?

Especially if I want the set to have a special meaning (I would like to make one as a gift).

Pagans & the Unitarian Universalist churches

It might just be me but I seem to have noticed that many Pagans that I have talked to around my area have a problem/dislike of Unitarian Universalist churches. I'm curious about whether it has just been me or if others have thoughts on this.

Warding My House?

So lately I've been noticing shadow people in my house, so far they're just popping out at random and disappearing as soon as they move across a wall. However, I would like to ward my house to make sure that only benevolent entities are here. Tomorrow night is a new moon and I'd like to do the warding then.

So does anyone have any suggestion on how to ward my house and by extension my property? I'd like to use runes over the door and windows since I feel more connected to symbol magic than reciting poems.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Deity without gender?

Or rather, do any of you know of any deities that aren't considered to be masculine or feminine? Or have an otherwise vague gender/sex?

I Want to Learn About Auras

I really would like to learn about and learn to see auras and I don't have the foggiest where to start! Can anyone point me in the right direction? Books are good, personal experiences are better as I find them easier to relate to.

I Want to Learn About Auras

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Soul Vs Spirit

To my understanding the idea of a Soul is not a universal concept so I suppose this is only for those of you who believe in some definition of a soul.

Now for those that do, is there a difference between a soul, and a spirit? For me there is, but I'm having some trouble pinning it down. Please, allow me to offer my thoughts so far and hopefully one or more of you can help me refine this or give me a totally new insight. :D

So commonly I hear people use the terms soul and spirit almost interchangably, at the same time there is a definite difference between the two. My question is, what is that difference exactly?

So soul: for me, is the animating force of and the connecting force in all things...All things have a soul and in my opinion we all share a soul, a spark, a force... not neccisarily LIFE force, but Potential, is sacred geometry soul is the single point, the origin of all other form and possibility? Soul is Potential?

So soul is exant and exists everywhere in all things at all times. Spirit on the other hand is singular, it is the nature of or the conciousness of a thing. Spirit manifests at individual points in the cycle, It is subject to the flow of time. So it can manifest at point A, or Point B, or point C and F simultaneously but it cannot be everywhere at once. Spirit is individual while soul is shared... I Think.

Anyone else have any theories or opinions of the nature of Spirit and Soul, are they the same? Are they different? If so how?

"Fictional" deities?

I was just wondering if anyone here ever works with deities invented in works of fiction. For example, the pantheons of Terry Pratchett's Discworld, the gods and goddesses of The Legend of Zelda or The Elder Scrolls, or maybe just The Flying Spaghetti Monster. I don't myself, but I was curious about anyone else's opinions or experiences. Do you believe that people can have legitimate relationships or religious experiences with deities that are specifically meant to be viewed as fictional?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Working with The Morrigan

A thread I started last month piqued my interest for the Morrigan. I've been researching her since. I find her really interesting and can't help but wonder if She's calling to me a little bit. That's how I usually end up worshiping deities.

Anyway, I was thinking of perhaps approaching Her to suggest that we try working together for a month and see how it pans out. Only one problem.. She scares me a little bit! I feel kinda silly for it as I honour Sekhmet, who's somewhat known for her temper!

I don't know, there's just something about Her that makes Her feel unapproachable to me. However my interest is so strong and I don't want to give up! (I'm stubborn)

So what I would really like to know is, what is She like to work with?

Goddess Mono/Henotheism?

In a hypothetical situation where the big 3 monotheisms surrounding male deities collapsed/melted away/became so unpopular they became minorities could (G)goddess* centred religions which are monotheist or henotheist in nature arise to take their place?

Assuming so, what could these belief systems look like if writ large on a nation/region? Would we see temples dedicated to goddess worship replace churches, mosques and synagogues if their congregations became low enough?

Could such religions become monotheist in nature; denying other deities as false? Could they be henotheist; worshipping one deity but acknowledging the existence of others as more than false?

(I attach (G) to 'goddess' in this instance to give the option of either the archetypal Goddess or any other female deity.)

Witchcraft and Fear

I have a question for people who are well-versed in some form of the craft. I'm having difficulty even trying to phrase what I'm getting at correctly, so please bear with me.

Let me start out by telling you a dream. It was a completely normal dream; I don't think there was anything supernatural about it --- but it illustrates the point I'm getting at well. I had sleep paralysis, which I have fairly often. In this particular dream, the sleep paralysis was blamed on Lilith, who was supposedly levitating me off of my bed. My first thought was, "I should become a witch! Then if something like this happens again, I'll actually understand what is going on and how to deal with it." Then my immediate next thought was, "No, that's a terrible idea; if I were a witch then I'd have to acknowledge terrifying situations like this instead of ignoring them."

When I woke up, I realized that that's pretty much an accurate picture of my feelings about the craft. First, I get interested in it, and go, "Ooh, that looks shiny, I should investigate more." Then I decide that I find the whole idea very frightening and that I want nothing to do with it. Then I think that perhaps it's something I should learn specifically because I find it frightening --- i.e. overcoming fears by demystifying them.

I can never make up my mind as to whether I have any interest in witchcraft or not, and I guess I'd really appreciate it if someone who does have experience in it could tell me what parts of my thought process seem reasonable/realistic and what parts don't.

Public Displays of Spirituality

So I often find myself winding up on the unpopular side of arguments about appropriate displays of spirituality in public (I have rather wide personal boundaries), so I was hoping to maybe get a bit of clarification on everyone's opinions. I've made, to the best of my knowledge, a list of the most common forms of public displays of religion. I've put them in order from least offensive to most offensive, IMO, and I was hoping you could let me know what you think. Where do you draw the line for yourself? Where do you draw the line for others socially? Where do you draw the line for others legally? Would you reorder anything on the list? Would you add or alter anything? I'm honestly curious.

Clothing: Wearing pentacles, crucifixes, turbans, etc.

Small to elaborate personal prayer: Crossing oneself, reciting a prayer to oneself, other small, ritual actions, etc.

Small group prayer/celebration: Any kind of small prayer/religious group meeting in a public place, minding their own business, but loud enough that they can be heard.

Friend-to-Friend (possibly acquaintance) Discussion: A friend or close acquaintance broaches the topic of religion, possibly inviting you to a service or ritual. (Clearly the tact of this one depends on how well acquainted you are.)

Casual Religious Greeting/Blessing: Blessed Be, God bless you, Dia Duit, Merry Christmas, etc.

Larger personal prayer: Bowing to Mecca, shouting "Hallelujah" for personal celebration, (I don't know how common this is, but I did see what I believe was a Buddhist chanting in a moderately loud voice on the street once), etc.

Polite Strangers Who Back off When Turned Down: Handing out pamphlets for churches or school, pagan groups, maybe a quick "Would you like to hear about Jesus," etc.

Large group prayer/celebration: Ranging from groups of Krishnas to religious parades (Mardi Gras, Xmas Parade, etc.) to gatherings in public areas.

Street Preachers (Being annoying, but not hateful): Name says it all.

Door to Door Evangelists (Being polite and leaving when requested): Name says it all.

Strangers, Street Preachers, and Door to Door Evangelists (Being aggressive and rude, but not necessarily hate speech): Name says it all.

Public Hate Speech/Forceful Behavior: Name says it all.

People Using Secular Positions of Authority to Preach or Discriminate: Teachers, bosses, politicians, etc.

Personally, I draw my own personal line at "Casual Religious Greeting/Blessing." That's just how I express myself sometimes. For others, I draw the social line at "Door to Door Evangelists (Being polite and leaving when requested)". So long as I don't have to open the door when they knock, or they're willing to leave when I say "no thank you," I don't mind. I might think they're silly, but it doesn't bother me. I draw the legal line at "Public Hate Speech/Forceful Behavior". I think that's fairly self explanatory.

I know this is a pretty sensitive subject for a lot of people, but I am interested.

The Ancient Egyptian Daybook: Finally, a calendar for Kemetics!

So check it out guys, Tamara Siuda has created a calendar that will include a blank perpetual calendar so that you can calibrate it to your liking. She has it up as a Kickstarter project,which means she had to get a certain amount of donations in order to make this dream a reality. So far she's already reached her goal (and you can still pledge certain amounts to be one of the first to get the calendars), but there are stretch goals that include a mobile app that I'm really excited about. If this sounds interesting to you guys, I encourage you to pledge any amount (and certain amounts come with the book itself once it's published).

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sad News: Marilyn (Absent/Absentminded)) Passed Over This Afternoon

I have the sad duty to report that TC has lost a staff member and many of us have lost a real friend: Marilyn (aka Absent/Absentminded) had a heart attack today and passed away this afternoon (February 16, 2013). Her health hasn't been good but was very sudden and came as a surprise to all of her family and friends.

The Hosts would like to extend condolences to her husband, to Jubes, and to all of her "real life" family. This is hard on her online family here at TC, but even I can't imagine what her in-person family is going through. I lost my father to a sudden heart attack and know the suddenness of it all make it harder -- even when the person has had major health issues for years.

Marilyn, we will miss you. May you ascend.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Offerings for Bride?

I'm building a shrine to Bride for a number of reasons:

1) I live in a town which bears her name so she's a kind of 'tribal goddess' for people living here (if they're Pagan).

2) I'm hoping to become a bard and with Bride being a goddess of poetry she is a logical choice for an aspiring wordsmith.

I've been thinking for some time on what sort of offerings to make to her. Milk's the obvious one, given what she represents, but I was thinking of other stuff as well. I'm guessing her crosses made from reeds or something stiff-but-flexible, and poems I've written would possibly go down well too.

Is there anything I haven't thought of? Food offerings or otherwise?

Any info would be most welcome!

Music and Your Religion

I'm curious to see how you guys integrate music into your practices/faith, if you do at all. If you do, do you use it to help with certain meditation techniques? Do you feel spiritually connected to certain kinds of music? (I know that's a rather odd question, but I couldn't figure out how else to word it.)

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Talking to the Gods

Can I randomly talk to the Gods or does it have to be a part of a ritual? I mean, when I was a Christian, I used to just sit and "talk" to God like he was there, next to me. Or more like he was a psychologist. I could stop whatever I was doing and start talking to Him, about my problems (or anything, really), at any time.
Can I do this to the Pagan Gods/Goddesses as well, or I should light a candle first and then make this talking thing part of a ritual/worship?

Pagan and Belief in God?

I was having a discussion with someone and the question arose, can you be a pagan and still believe in God? For me, I believe in God but I also believe that there are many other gods. I was just curious as to other thoughts.

Custom Mythology

Has anyone here written their own myths? Did you incorporate gods from one or more pantheons? Why did you write your own myths? For those who have some experience writing their own myths, was there anything in particular that tripped you up that you might warn newbies about?

Monday, February 04, 2013

Struggling With Aspects of Greek Culture/Religion

Long story short, a while ago I had decided to abandon Hellenic religion, as I was more interested in certain Egyptian gods, and felt like my own worldview was more in line with certain kinds of pagan witchcraft in that I think of life as sacred and cyclical, and also that I believe in gender equality and free sexuality. That's simplifying a lot, but let's just go with it. I am drawn to Egyptian gods and culture because it was one of the few cultures, ancient and modern, in which women had pretty much equal legal and social standing. Sexuality was not a problem, and virginity was a non-issue. In contrast, ancient Greek culture was generally very restrictive of women and female sexuality, though men were free to do what they wanted sexually as long as it didn't infringe on someone else's property.

People may be wondering what this has to do with religion, but I think these attitudes are reflected in religious views, as virginity is sacred to goddesses like Hera and Artemis as a prerequisite of marriage (for women). Greeks also valued virginity as being equivalent to purity in other goddesses, such as Hestia and Athena. Not only that, but many of the male gods assert their dominance by raping (or attempting to rape) mortal women and goddesses, for example, Zeus' countless forced sexual encounters, Poseidon's rape of Medusa, Apollon attempted rape of Daphne, and Hades' abduction of Persephone. I just don't personally find this militantly patriarchal attitude relevant to my spirituality.

Well, that's all well and good, and while I still feel in tune with the Egyptian deities I was following, and the witchy path of liberation and celebration of nature as a manifestation of divinity, I do feel drawn to Greek deities I used to follow, and miss some aspects of my Hellenic practice. The problem is, I don't know how to reconcile that with the rest of my political and spiritual views. I am extremely drawn to Lady Hera, but at the same time, she represents the patriarchal ideal of the chaste wife who is often the recipient of her husband's dominance rather than an independently powerful goddess. Also, when I follow Hera, I feel like I turn into a much haughtier and socially conservative person than I am regularly, so I'm not sure how to handle that. Adopting a more traditional ancient Greek cultural perspective puts me in conflict with my more modern socially progressive views. I don't know if this makes sense to anybody, but that's what I'm struggling with at the moment.

The offensive deity statues thread brought to mind all the terrible deity artwork I've seen over the years, so I thought I'd ask what your favorite egregious examples were.

Just recently on the Pagans of Color blog, someone linked to this amazing example of a whitewashed Erzulie Dantor, and whitewashed depictions of deities of color end up getting called out there pretty regularly.

In the realm of sexist art, Freya seems to get the worst of it amongst the Norse gods; I often see her drawn to look like a Frank Frazetta painting, because of course she's going to ride into battle topless, or perhaps in a chainmail bikini...

The Elements

How do you see elements. Are they energies that you draw from and raise for your practice? Or do you see them as not just energies to be raised but also entities in their own right that you can use in their own practice sort of they are their own beings. For me they are seperate entities to be greatly respected because they will test you after you draw on them for energy to be sure that you are worthy. I also think that there is a fifth element the aether, for me the spirit world is definitely its own entity.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pre-human Gods?

A thought occurred to me when I was reading an article in a science magazine, which was detailing new findings in human evolution, and how Homo sapiens is a hybrid of at least two species.

My sudden thought was: what if the gods/sacred spirits of these species prior to/contemporary with H. sapiens still existed? Would they try to contact us because we're their descendants?

I'm referring to Homo neandertalensis and the Denisovans, for those who don't keep up with such things, and borrowing a being from Mrs. Auel's "Earth Children" series-the Cave Bear Spirit, to represent hypothetical pre-human gods, how would you react if such an ancient entity contacted you?

What do the gods get out of us?

Basically, I'm wondering what use we are to the gods. I don't think they hang around us just for companionship or the warm fuzzies, so what exactly do they derive from a mutual relationship with humans? A lot of people seem to be very focused on what gods can do for them, but don't consider that the gods aren't always completely altruistic. It's only natural that if we are getting something out of interacting with them, prayers, worship, etc, then they're getting something out of it too. But I'm having a hard time figuring out exactly what that is.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Sharing for Recons: What and How?

Reading Kiya's thread The Reconstructionist Book Problem and Jenett's recent PBP post B is for Book I began to wonder: given the difficulties that the reconstructionist approach can have with regard to academic books and the perception of academic culture, how does the average recon, or otherwise historically-informed practitioner, best share the knowledge they have acquired? What kind of information is best shared, aside from a general reading list? What kind of information does not share well? What kind of information is not shared but really needs to be?

Obviously, the answers to these questions will vary between the cultures each religion is attempting to reconstruct, and I'm looking forward to culture-specific answers as well as more general answers that apply to the approach as a whole. What do you share? What don't you share? What ways do you disseminate information, and do you think these methods can or should be improved?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Reconstructionist Book Problem

Somewhere recently I saw a comment about how one has to, in order to be a good reconstructionist, read the academic books rather than the "popular" ones. Because only those will actually teach you how to do the religion.

I wonder sometimes if people who say this actually read academic books. Because they have jack shit about how to actually practice the religion they're studying in the here and now. I mean, I can read all about the procession of fifty priests with offerings for the Wagy, but not only am I not a priest, I am not fifty priests. I can read about theories of ritual structures built around standing stones, or their astronomical alignment properties, but I don't have a Stonehenge in my backyard and even if I did we have no actual knowledge of what was actually done there, rather than what might have been done there and some interesting facts about star alignments.

A lot of my personal work involves going through academic books to come up with information for how to celebrate various festivals, yes. But that work is primarily as an interpreter. I pick up pieces of knowledge out of academic tomes - the overwhelming majority of which is completely irrelevant to a modern day practitioner, since we lack large communities of co-religionists, civic support for religion, institutional temples or worship spaces, or other things that get studied academically - in the awareness that the knowledge I have is incomplete, does not encompass the majority of the population practicing that religion in ancient times, and so on.

And then I try to make something useful out of it. Something that we can do now. Something that connects to the world now. Which is a process of translation, interpretation, synthesis, interpolation, and making shit up to fill in the obvious holes. And that is not something that comes out of academic books - that's something that comes out of a process fed by academic books and a whole heap of other stuff. And it's a great heap of actual work, to boot.

And doing that work not only shouldn't be everyone's job, it can't be. (I personally know several people who - upon learning that they'd be expected to basically take an independent-study college class in order to be a part of their religious community - wound up leaving the relevant recon communities entirely. Not for lack of devotion; for lack of any community support at all, ever, in this regard.)

The thing about popular books - aside from the fact that many of them are cruddy, but that's a different problem - is that they're attempting to solve this actual problem: synthesising data into something that can actually be put into practice. Yeah, it's not gonna be as deep an understanding of ancient practice as reading everything in its bibliography and everything else besides, but it might have little things like:

* a functional festival calendar
* with ideas about how to celebrate each of the festivals
* structures of basic rituals
* context for devotionals
* and an outline of worldview/ethics/approach
* in terms that will be accessible to a broader community, enabling shared practice and celebration, which is after all a big part of the entire point.

A good and accessible library of such things will be, for purposes of actually conducting oneself in a religion superior to the academic books in their bibliographies, because they will have put the pieces together into something that can actually be done, rather than handing someone a crate containing disassembled car with half the parts missing and saying "Go for a drive!"

And even if they're not going to produce as well-informed a practitioner as someone who has read everything in their biographies ... well, reading them will take a lot less time, and be a lot more direct to the actual goal of having a religious practice and community.

Divine symbolism in everyday life

I've noticed that whenever I feel sad or lacking inner strength I seem to attract cats and birds. I have no doubt that it's a deity trying to speak to me.

But I'm curious, does anyone else find that they attract certain animals if they're going through a particular high or low point?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Prayer Bead Prayers?

I've always been very fond of the use of prayer beads as a meditative tool, (I find it hard to meditate due to fidgeting and having something to use my hands for is very helpful,) and was wondering if anyone had any short, easily-memorized prayers that could be repeated while counting along a string of beads. (I haven't decided what religion is right for me so I don't really care what path it's from. If anything, the more diverse my options the better.)

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Deities as a "function"?

There has recently been a very interesting thread on the Asatru Lore forum regarding the nature of deities.

what is a god -- a workable model

I thought it may be interesting to discuss this model in a more general “pagan” environment.

As far as I understand it, (and if I’m interpreting this incorrectly, please feel free to point out my errors) the main idea is that a deity is NOT a universal being. Instead, a deity is a local wight/spirit/kami with a particular “function”. Different deities in different locations may share certain characteristics, and it is possible for us to use the name of a deity to refer to a “type” of very powerful regional being.

To give an example, “Thor” would not be a singular being with influence throughout time and space. Instead “Thor” would be a title, a “job description”, if you will, that refers to local wights concerned, in “Thor’s” case, with storms, thunder, rain and fertility.

Therefore, there would be “Thors” all over the world, wherever there are powerful local wights concerned with the above mentioned phenomena. In that case, my “Thor” in Western Canada would be a different being than the Northern European “Thor”, but they would share certain characteristics.

I first encountered this idea in an Heathen context, but I wonder how it would be perceived by people who practice other “pagan” traditions.

Deities You Pray to and Patrons?

Is there a difference between a deity that you pray to and your patron deity? Are there different levels of relationships with deities? How do you know if the deity you pray to is your patron deity? (Asking?) Is it alright to not know? What does it mean to be god-bothered or thwapped?

Would the Gods exist if we didn't?

In a hypothetical scenario where there is an absence of human life on planet Earth, would the Gods still exist?

Why/why not?

Monday, January 07, 2013

"Popular" Celtic Books

What are your favorite "popular" celtic books? By "popular", I mean books that are not scholarly tomes. For instance, I kinda like what little of Frank MacEowen's stuff I've read. It's in no way historically accurate, but it's interesting.

And what are your least favorite? Besides that Witta book that everyone hates. I do own a copy, and am not about to burn it or recycle it (not that I necessarily recommend it to people), and I can at least credit it for starting my push to learn about more authentic forms of Celtic spirituality.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Compartmentalizing Your (Online) Life

I’m wondering how many Cauldronites keep their spiritual life separate from the rest of their life, especially when it comes to online communications.

Do you keep separate Facebooks, blog accounts, emails, and Twitter accounts, ect – one for your pagan self and one for your meatspace self?

What considerations prompted your decision in how to manage your online life? What factors should be taken into account?

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Music and Religious/Magical Practice?

Do you use music when doing your spells or a ceremony (magical, religous, or inbetween)? If so, what types of music do you use and why do you use it? Does it change depending on what your doing or do you use the same music everytime to put you in the right state of mind?

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Predictions, Hopes and Plans for 2013

Resolutions I tend to make at other times, so instead I thought it might be fun to ask people what they predict, hope and plan for the coming year.

I predict things will change. I'll give it more thought and possibly come back later with something more specific.

I hope to broaden my horizons and make more connections in the local and online pagan communities. Maybe find a mate or a fling or something else. I hope to learn new things.

So far, I've planned my PBP topics for the year and that involves visiting several shops and venues as well as participating in some activities. I am nervous about drum circle, but I will do it!

Anybody have anything they want to share?

What do you want done with your body after you die?

I think that the whole embalm, coffin, bury thing is rather wasteful, in money and space, so I'd like to be cremated and scattered across a beach or in a forest.

I don't know if any pagan paths say what should be done with a body after death. I'm just curious to everyone's responses. Does your faith influence what you want done?

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