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New on The Cauldron

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.

Balance between “The God & Goddess” and Polytheism

English: The sculpture of the Wiccan Horned Go...

Sculpture of the Wiccan Horned God at the Museum of Witchcraft. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just to set the stage, I’ve been with ADF for a little over a year. Whereas many I’ve encountered came to ADF Druidry from Wicca-based models (i.e., either actual Wicca or Wicca-based stuff such as Cunningham’s works but non-initiatory) I came straight into Paganism and ADF at the same time as I figured Wicca wasn’t quite for me. Fast forward to today and the ADF model doesn’t quite click for me either, so I’ve been exploring other things including ideas from Wicca, general religious witchcraft, Feri, and such. While ADF has some good stuff and I remain part of my local grove because the folks are awesome, there’s a personal component I find lacking for myself in “bringing it home.” Witchcraft is proving to provide that internal development that I didn’t quite get with ADF’s models (no reflection on ADF… just how I jive with it).

Part of what wasn’t working was what I call the “deity du jour.” As a beginner without a solid relationship with a particular pantheon, I haven’t had a broad array of deities to call out and honor in relation to particular high days, workings, etc. And I feel somewhat disingenuous picking one or two for a ritual just because some source links them to a particular high day. Not that I’m beyond honoring a being for the sake of honoring, but I can’t base my personal Paganism around that.

In my current mode of thinking, there’s a Divine Source… that ground of being that everything emerges from. From there, the “God and Goddess” loosely duotheistic model has merit in that much in the universe is a dynamic between polarities. Yin and yang. Creation and destruction. Male and female. So I see the God & Goddess model having merit as embodiments of that dynamic… anthropomorphized representations of a myriad of things that emerge from a polar dynamic. From there, I can see how you get “the gods” and “the goddesses” as separate entities that emerge from that dynamic. Many of them are beings in their own right, yet still having ties back up the “family tree” to the divine masculine and divine feminine that then unify in that pre/non-gender source of all.

The place where it gets sticky is in ritual format. When I do rituals for my grove that’s not a question. ADF has a certain format I have to adhere to. I could just not help with rituals, but I want to support the group, especially since I’m one of the few willing to step up and do ones other than our senior druid. At home, however, I’m wrestling with how to work a ritual. This isn’t set in stone, mind you. I’m open to it evolving over time, but I still need to find a starting point.

Here’s points I’ve been mulling over:

1) I do have at least one deity that has emerged from the group of many to do some work with. So I get that they do step out as individuals.

2) If the more “duotheistic” (not trying to assert Wicca=duotheistic.. just using the term as a handy reference) model is based on polarity and the interaction between two sides of various spectra, what does one do if they have a male or female deity they work with but does not generally work with one of the other gender that is a “consort.” That is to say, if you work with Isis and Osiris you’ve got that covered… but say you work most notably with Herne and Elen of the Ways? Similar in some ways, but not related enough to draw a “consort” style relationship. It seems some folks I’ve seen talking about their model use A god and A goddess, but do not limit the choice to those that are paired to a consort-style relationship. It’s simply one embodying a masculine side and the other embodying the feminine to represent those forces in nature… not a “they’re totally gonna do it” kind of thing which I may be thinking of something that is a holdover from folks expressing distaste at Gardner injecting some of his… preoccupations.

3) What about basing early work in the “God & Goddess” model but establishing that the intention is that deities are invited to step forward out of the crowd of many if they so choose?

Basically the problem is that I see the merit of the harder polytheistic approach in some ways, but it also sets the stage for sampling like at a buffet, even within a single pantheon, and for me that seems to present obstacles toward developing deeper relationships. The “duotheistic” model keeps things a little simpler, but while I agree with the sentiment that “the universe doesn’t get upset at what you call it,” I also don’t want to disrespect the individuality of beings.

So, TL;DR version… I’m curious as to how folks that blend concepts into a duo-polytheistic model manage to do so.

Personal Pantheon/Workgroups

English: Taoist gods spotted in a temple in Ha...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So in another thread I sort of took the notion of writing out what the domain interests were of the Powers who are important to me, because it struck me as amusing. This is “personal pantheon” sort of stuff, or “those gods that are important to my Work”, or the like, rather than either “gods with whom I have some sort of personal relationship” or “the gods of my religion/tradition/path as formally constituted”.

So I’m going to do an initial post to set this up for anyone who wants to, to throw in with comments on “What sort of crowd do you run with, anyway?” and post my individual stuff in a bit.

What is the Best Book for Beginner Wiccans Today?

Symbol of Wicca.What do you think is the best book generally available (in print, not find used) today? Ten years ago, the commonly recommended books were books like Buckland’s Big Blue (Complete Book of Witchcraft), Cunningham’s Wicca for the Solitary Practitioner, Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance, and even Ravenwolf’s To Ride a Silver Broomstick. If you could only recommend one book to some interested in becoming Wiccan, what book would it be and why would you suggest that book?

Changing Your Name?

Have you ever considered of changing your name because your previous was related to an older religion, inherited by your family? Anyone who’ve done this? Was it difficult? Were there any other changes in your life which you’d like to discuss?

Appropriation and Questions of Faith

English: Tradition (1895). Olin Levi Warner. B...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been doing some reading on cultural appropriation and several questions came to my mind.

What do you do when something else from another tradition makes more sense to you though you may not match up with them as well or you may have a different slant on that concept?

What do you do to honor the influences from another tradition if you are not of them, but you feel you owe them?

How does one be syncretic without offending?

What do you do when your tradition lacks something you seek even it otherwise perfectly describes your convictions?

Pagan/Goddess/Magic Schools? Or Peer Mentorship Groups?

DrawingContemporaries-install3

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am kind of looking for some mentorship on my spiritual path; something where I could weekly or every other week check in, create reading and to do lists and give and receive feedback.

I do NOT want to become a priestess or a high priestess or a shaman or an anything at this time and I feel uncomfortable with the design of a lot of schools, they seem to be assuming the goal is to become a priestess or to not study at all. Obviously I could simply be missing schools or mentorship opportunities that I simply haven’t seen!

Does anyone know of any teaching or mentorship space that operate simply for the sake of furthering and supporting people with their spiritual path rather than assuming the goal of any student is to become a for hire witch/priestess etc?

I also am not interested in secret teachings or teachings that I’m not allowed to share for free, because I feel that I am called to help those in need when I am able and it’s a good cause and I have a hard time charging for spirit/energy work. (Trust me I have thought it trough and see a lot of different ways of looking at it, including the ways that “women’s work” of emotional and energetic labor is often devalued and refused payment and this is problematic etc)… all the same I have lived because of the charity of others and I know I needed it and there are others out there in need through no fault of their own. Whether it’s money or love or energetic support, I like to help when I can.

I have also sort of imagined maybe a peer check in group, where people weekly or monthly check in with their spiritual growth and goals and learning experiences and instead of money, the peer support itself is the exchange.

Has anyone seen things like this out there on the nets? I would be fine with paying for the mentorship, (just not with charging others for sharing any benefits I get from my own spiritual growth.) just haven’t really seen any groups advertising this service outside of a priestess type learning program.

I guess to me, if someone shares teaching and support that helps m grow and strengthens my healing powers, that becomes part of what I will have to offer charitably, and I know some places are very protective of letting their teachings go toward charitable causes (which I respect, it’s just not for me.)

I lean mother goddess/social justice/compassion/and probably a little jainist/hindu (in terms of value toward each life form) but a bit heathen in respect for my ancestors and the spirits who may have shaped and supported my ancestors and myself existing. I’d like to go through ayurvedic and Chinese medicine health recommendations and build in European history/herbs etc into the healing model since the thousands of years of techniques were build by and for people in those specific cultures and Ayurveda is designed to discuss the practice of doing what ones ancestors did for healing and connection.

I guess I know what it is I want to be working on, but I’m hoping to find some real life people for support and nudging- especially since I feel I’ve been nudged by my spirit guides (or inner wisdom whichever) that I need to be talking to more real life people about all this or I will get weird and detached from humanity. I live way to far in the spirit realm than is good for my human body/self sometimes! Plus I feel getting too far lost in the realm of UPG can get unhealthy without checking in, learning from others, and admitting frequently and regularly that it’s a very subjective realm in which determining if any other beings than yourself are involved at all is never all that certain. I always come back to agnosticism and uncertainty because I think it’s the most respectful position even if other beings ARE involved- how do I know what messages they are ACTUALLY trying to say vs what I am making up in the equation? Plus I think a great source of strength, health and wisdom is in connecting with others and love is exponentially more powerful when shared and received. (Like if you hug yourself, you don’t get as much health benefit as sharing hugs with others, or kangaroo care will do for a baby vs being left alone to use “self love” to nurture themselves).

Nature Doesn’t Love You, Abrahamic God Does

English: Poison Glen - Mother Nature - the flo...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I stumbled across this on a Catholic website, and as one whose paganism is firmly rooted in the natural world, I was struck by it on several levels:

FORUM: Mother Nature Is One Unreliable Lady

http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/forum-mother-nature-is-one-unreliable-lady

“And the consistent Biblical message is that this Creator God is not like the arbitrary and capricious gods of the ancient world; rather, he is reliable, rock-like in his steadfast love, more dedicated to human beings than a mother is to her child”

…to which one immediate reaction on my part was: Is he nuts?? Has he read the Old Testament? Just off the top of my head (and I know the Christian bible poorly at best)–the story of Noah and the great flood, in which his god kills virtually all of humanity, not to mention the rest of land-based life; that’s a “consistent Biblical message” of a god “rock-like in his steadfast love”??

I read this quickly, so I want to go back and read it more carefully to critique it fully, but I’d love to hear others’ specific refutations or, for that matter, affirmations of what the author proposes.

And BTW, I *adore* the ad that the author references and dismisses as “just more tree-hugging extremism”–he might want to get right with his now environmentally minded pope on that bias. I posted something about this ad here at the Cauldron a while ago, but here it is again, for those who are interested:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WmVLcj-XKnM

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.