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The following are just a few of the interesting things currently being discussed on our message board. Please join in any discussion that interests you.

Wiccan Ebooks?

Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft (1986)

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are there any must reads for a solitary Wiccan that would be sold in ebook form? I know Raymond Buckland’s works are sold for the kindle and I’ve heard good things about him. Are there any others I should know of?

I’m really still very ignorant on so many things and I am dying to learn more and maybe not be so ignorant. I want to be able to discuss things with people and not ask stupid questions or say stupid things.

Casting a Circle?

English: This is a casting of runestaves made ...

(Photo: Wikipedia)

When casting a circle do you have to mark the four directions in the circle? I’ve avoided casting a circle for a while because I don’t have much of a way or marking the directions, so I didn’t know if it would be easy to call the four quarters without some kind of marker?? I tried casting a circle without calling the quarters some time ago and the spell I did kind of worked…just not as I had planned.

Are There Any Shared Beliefs in Paganism that Connect Us Together?

Various neopagan religious symbols (from left ...

Various Neo-Pagan religious symbols (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have read the definition that this forum gives and I have gone through the various topics and I am left with a question of what connects us when we call ourselves pagan. I understand the need for acceptance and diversity but why even use the word pagan if it has no identifiable characteristics? Are there no aspects of the world that pagans have in common? Is there no way to identify unifying beliefs without being too exclusive?

These questions came to me after reading one of Hutton’s earlier books ‘ The Triumph of the Moon’. Hutton makes a convincing argument that Pagan faiths had disappeared in Western Europe dispelling the notion of that an underground pagan cults remained and how the witch trials were not proof of any organized pagan religion. Thus he concludes that modern paganism is in a sense a new religion with references to pre-Christian religions of Europe based of minimal set of dependable information.

In his last chapter he first gives the pagan federation solution to giving some definition to the pagan religion while trying to accommodate the many variations.

The Pagan Federation in 1989 came up with three characteristic that help form some understanding

1. Acceptance of the inherent divinity of the natural world. Which is the rejection of the creation of the world by a power outside itself.

2. The rejection of any concept of a divinely prescribed law for human behavior, and therefor of the concepts of sin and salvation. Instead it is a search for personal growth and happiness with only one major limitation – avoid harming others in the process.

3. The third is the acceptance that divinity can be both male and female. This ranges from a dual sexual Great Spirit to genuine polytheism. The point here is that women represent the same religious power as men.

He also suggested there is an unspoken definition that pagans of today hold on to those tenets, symbolism, kinship and inspiration to pre-Christian religions. This was followed by his own conclusion about modern further characteristics that he believes are associated but first I am first interested in why the three characteristics suggested by the Pagan Federation in 1989 would not be reasonable characteristics that with variation are shared by Pagans?

Wheel of the Year (or Equivalent in Your Path): Does It Work for You?

English: Wheel of the Year with Fire Festivals...

English: Wheel of the Year with Fire Festivals and Quarter Festivals, Neopagan holidays (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Based on Louisvillian’s observation in another thread that they found they were not attuned to the wheel of the year, I wondered for how many of us it does work.

For myself, it does not work as the calendar dates of many of the festivals do not coincide in my area with actual conditions. This issue has worsened with my move from Toronto northwest to the mountains. It’s hard to celebrate mid-spring at the spring equinox when there is several feet of snow on the ground! At the earliest, the trees here leaf three weeks after Beltane (and in the worst years, not til June).

This does not bother me as much as it would have twenty years ago, so it’s not a priority to resolve how I deal with it. But eventually, I would still like to make a decision for myself on how to incorporate the wheel of the year. Will I move the festivals (this could result in many festivals between June and September, and none between Yule and May)? Will I leave them as they are and accept that my climate is different (what I am leaning towards as I like having something to look forward to on a regular basis)? Will I skip some festivals? Will I come up with my own festivals (in which case I’m looking forward to the Festival of the End of Mosquito Season)? Or … ?

For others, there could be different reasons the wheel does not work. Perhaps you live in a city and there is a disconnect with agricultural life.

1. Is the Wheel of the Year (or the equivalent in your path) important to your practice? Why or why not?

If yes:
2. Does the Wheel of the Year (or the equivalent in your path) work for you? Why or why not?
3. If not, what was your solution, if any?

Mirrors: Folklore, Beliefs, and Superstitions

An early 20th century Hallowe'en greeting card

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Branching out from another thread, I’m posing this as a discussion topic.

Mirrors. They come up an awful lot in various traditions, magical and non-magical uses, and superstitions. They are mentioned in terms of luck (i.e. breaking one resulting in bad luck), magic, divination (scrying), communing with the spirits (ancestors, ghosts, what have you), and sometimes even in terms of seeing through to another realm or seeing your “other half.”

I’m curious about the experiences and wisdom of other people, so consider this the thread to share your opinions, experiences, knowledge, and understanding of mirrors and all they entail in a magical/spiritual manner.

I know it’s a little vague as to a topic direction, so here are a few questions to pick and choose from to start the ball rolling:

What are some stories or bits of knowledge you’ve come across regarding mirrors or reflections that have stuck with you over the years (or an appropriate time frame to count as memorable)?

What is your opinion or experience regarding working with mirrors magically (communing with spirits, spellwork, divination)?

Do you put credit to the idea that breaking a mirror results in bad luck? And if so, what are your thoughts on methods to reverse or mitigate that bad luck?

What is your opinion regarding the idea of a mirror being a portal to another realm of existence? Or even a window into seeing your shadow self?

Daily Prayer

Virgin in Prayer, Engraving, Die heilige Jungf...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was wondering if daily prayer is a part of people’s paths and personal practices, as I find it very satisfying and grounding, though I haven’t heard very much about it in pagan religions.

My prayers tend to be of a Christian nature from a Catholic prayer book, just because I like the structure and am pretty open to various religious practices. I haven’t found pagan “daily devotions” that particularly speak to me, and I don’t have the talent to write my own. I know in recon paths people often should honour gods in their personal shrine, or give libations and prayers, on a daily basis. I personally don’t want to bother with incense and offerings every day, but I do like the idea of prayer. Some neo-pagans seem to do daily meditations and visualization work, though I’m not too interested in that. I prefer a more devotional practice.

Maybe because of my Christian background, I like the idea of long, traditional prayers from a prayer book done on a daily basis without much variation. There are ancient hymns to ancient deities that I have found, but not much in the way of prayers without propitiation, which is fine, just not what I’m used to.

I’m wondering what daily practice looks like for other people here.

How do you communicate with the Gods?

Libia, Cirene (sito archeologico), Tempio di Zeus

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m a Polytheistic pagan/Druid and have recently started out with communicating with Deities. I’d like to know how others go about this, and some guidelines for my practice.

How do you speak to the Gods? Is ritual needed? Do you do it in a specific place?

How do you know you are getting through with your communication? Finally, what is the response like?

Reflecting on recreating Pagan religion from Ronald Hutton’s book Pagan Britain

Imaginative illustration of 'An Arch Druid in ...

Imaginative illustration of ‘An Arch Druid in His Judicial Habit’ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have just had the pleasure of reading “Pagan Britain” by Ronald Hutton and was particularly interested in his comments about how one can recreate a religion, in particular from northwestern Europe which was no longer practiced certainly by 1000 AD and realistically not practiced prior to this time. Thus with no surviving tradition and no untainted sources how can we create a believable religion we can believe in. Here is some of his presentation and I would like to know how others feel about this position.

Hutton states that “it is impossible to determine with any precision the nature of the religious beliefs and rites of prehistoric British. It may fairly be argued therefore that present-day groups have a perfect right to recreate their own representation of those and enact them as a personal religious practice providing that they remain within the rather broad limits of material evidence”. So what is this broad evidence he refers to?

1. We can be certain that the pre-Roman British believed in and honoured a large number of goddesses and gods, with powers and functions related to the natural world or to human concerns and activities, and often particular to specific localities and peoples

2. they practiced animal sacrifice, in at least its minimal form: that the beasts consumed at festivities were consecrated to deities before being slaughtered and eaten; this is, again, because it was a universal custom across pagan Europe.

3. It is also possible to reconstruct the festive calendar of the ancient British, in outline, from historic records and comparative data.

4. The emphasis on the right side in burial customs and (perhaps) domestic layout is almost certainly related to a belief that it is lucky to turn to the right when moving, in the direction in which the sun moves in this hemisphere and which the modern age calls clockwise. This remained widespread in northern Europe until recent times

5. We can also be certain that the pre-Roman British possessed some sort or sorts of belief in the survival of the soul after death, not only because this is also general among traditional peoples but because Greek and Roman authors noted that such a belief was held with unusual fervor among the natives of north-western Europe.

6. The continued deposition of objects in natural places and at prehistoric monuments went on until the very end of Roman rule

7. Commentary by Christian monks about the residual and inappropriate behaviors of the newly converted Christians such as Gildas from 450 to 550. More specifically 540 – 547 where he recalled that his compatriots had once worshipped the divine powers inherent in the natural world and needed to change this view to that God created the natural world for the use of humans. (from another source here is Gildas quote “Nor will I call out upon the mountains, fountains, or hills, or upon the rivers, which are now subservient to the use of man, but once were an abomination and destruction to them, and to which the blind people paid divine honours,”)

I think this is an interesting start and am wondering what other people feel about his in the forum.

Difficulties with Eclecticism

English: Religious symbols from the top nine o...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve had some difficulties with eclecticism over the years but I’m starting to think that’s the only way for me to go and really be true to my calling.

When I first had a yearning for it I really had no context to fall back on and could never even really get started, but after I was immersed in liturgical Christianity it became much easier to create ceremonies that were of substance and had a coherent theology.

But for a year or so there it kind of went bad. I burned out because I created a new system in a short amount of time based on ideas that were intellectually appealing but probably not from a place of spirit, that part of me that can simply say, “Yes, this is truth as I am able to apprehend it.” (In other words, something I truly had faith in.)

So over time I continued with organized Christianity but some rites developed that I still do and that have worked and have a lot of depth and beauty. But I feel more connected to that personal side of my spirituality than institutional religion and don’t feel right about converting to any other religions no matter how much I admire about them.

So…I’m taking a break from all of that to explore this because I feel a lot of things coming up and am about to create more and might simply cut ties with formal religion/church except for maybe a visit here and there. A lot of this has grown out of a spiritual encounter I had that is not easily classifiable. But I’m hoping I’m not going to burn out again or get frustrated. These are some guidelines I’ve developed for myself in the development of an eclectic practice. Some elements wouldn’t apply to all eclectics but this is what I’ve come up with:

1. Keep your ceremonies, theologies, and other practices related to the core tenets and goals of your path.

2. If a practice seems appealing from my own religious background or one I thought of in passing do NOT adopt it unless there is a clear reason to do so. The practice must be compatible with the core ceremonies I have developed or grow organically from them. (I have a method for how new practices emerge or revisions are made.)

3. Do not adopt deities or very specific religious practices from other religions you have no connection to or were never a member of. Instead use something from your own religious background or eclectic practice and adapt it with new associations to fill a similar need. (This one in particular is how I’ve discerned over the years that I should do it — it’s a disaster every time I do it differently.)

4. Do not assume that because a theology you have created is coherent that it is actually your belief.

5. If you are going to adopt a belief or new practice that will influence your ceremonies, do the intellectual homework, but do not burn out on this. Pray about it and discern. Then put it out of mind — if it re-emerges and I can truly give assent to it from a prayerful place then adopt it.

6. Do NOT rush!

7. Let some beliefs be held in tension, even contradictory beliefs if need be — something useful will come of it. Do NOT over-think it!

8. Let the path develop slowly on an as-needed basis: do not try to fill in gaps until you need to, especially if a practice from your religious background still fills that need and there is no need to re-invent the whole wheel.

As I said, some of these apply to me very specifically. (I could explain but it wasn’t really necessary right now.) What do you think? Do you have any similar guidelines or advice? Thanks.