IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: Changing the Guard at The Cauldron

On December 13, 1997 — after three frustrating days when only Elspeth Sapphire, Ann Wilson, and myself could post — The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum opened its doors to the general public on the Delphi online service. The forum was an instant success with 60 or 70 messages posted that December and hitting 1000 messages within six months or so. That’s 1000 messages total, not 1000 messages a month.

The Cauldron was started as a Yule gift from me to Elspeth — you had to pay Delphi for forums back then (six months in advance). It was staffed by Elspeth, Ann, and myself with an able assist from our friends from the dying GEnie Online Service. We started a web site for the forum in the web space I got with my Delphi account in January of 1998, although we did not get domain name for a couple of years.

LyricFox was added as a fourth Co-Host a few years later as Elspeth’s health and Ann’s real life meant that they were not always available. LyricFox and I shouldered most of the hosting duties up until 2014 when Lyric’s mom passed away, Lyric’s health worsened, and Lyric’s decided to focus her remaining spoons on her animal rescue work. While she was still a Co-Host and had input on just about every TC decision I made, she was no longer active on the board.

It’s been almost 22 years since TC started. I was 40 back then. I’m now 62 and Lyric’s health issues (now including MS) are demanding more and more of my time. If The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum is to have any chance of surviving another 20 years, it is time for Lyric and myself to step down from our host duties and let others run The Cauldron. Effective today, SunflowerP is The Cauldron’s Host with almost all the powers Lyric and I held as Co-Hosts. I am now Site Administrator. That means I will handle all the server-side background stuff that keeps The Cauldron on the Internet and that’s about it. I also have to approve any promotions to Senior Staff or Host (as those positions have limited server powers). Sunflower as Host will have full control of just about everything else. Basically, as Site Admin I “hire” Hosts and let them do their job. I will not be disappearing completely, of course, but you will probably see much less of me than you do now — and you haven’t seen that much of me recently.

I would like to thank Sunflower for agreeing to accept the position of Host and all the headaches that come with the position. Lyric and I believe we are leaving The Cauldron in good hands. I’d also like to thank the staff of The Cauldron — present and past — for all their hard work over the years. It’s been our pleasure to work with all of you. Finally, I’d like to thank the members of The Cauldron as without active members the The Cauldron would be just another forum killed by social media. May the Gods bless you all.

And with that Lyric and I formally turn the hosting duties over to Sunflower.

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Devotion and Love

I am still in the process of doing an overhaul of my spirituality.  I am not starting over exactly, just examining what is important to me and rebuilding it in a new context.

There were some aspects to my spirituality that were requiring more work than I was willing to put in for the amount of benefit I was getting, especially when my long term interests are taken into account.  I understand that spirituality requires work, but it is up to me to decide which work is worth it.

I am not doing much in terms of prayer right now, although I am still devoted to the Four (as I refer to them), and one of my projects is to make some modest purchases since I have some extra money coming in to make a small shrine specifically for them.

In terms of my devotional life, I am also evaluating what is important to me.  Context is very important to me, so that is why some of my devotions are on hold until I find the correct context for myself and those involved.  But in the meantime, I feel a sense of great love and devotion that I still need to express.  So how to go about expressing that?

I have been feeding a stray cat, and the idea has come to me to build a little shelter for her outside.  I am not willing to take her into my home at this time given that I already have a cat, and I am concerned about introducing a new animal.  She will also need to go to the vet to make sure she is spayed and has her shots and a general checkup.

But that is my next project to express devotional love in my life.  I don’t necessarily need to go on some big search to find those opportunities unless I just really want to.  The opportunities are already in front of me.  Devotional love may often be thought of in other contexts, but I have for some time had the sense that it can be expressed to my fellow creatures as well.

If anything has influenced me from my Episcopal background, it would have to be this need that I have spiritually to express my love, but not because of a command from on high, as if love can really be summoned on command.  (And one of my Christian friends does have an interesting take on that matter.)

Rather, it is a part of my nature that brings me deep fulfillment and peace, and in nurturing that flame of love, I nurture my very soul.  Though I am also reevaluating my sense of divinity, if I believe in an immanent aspect to divinity or divinities, this is a fitting way to express it.

It is a wonderful feeling to make my little world a better place.  Given that my spirituality has much to do with relationships, this is a part of my spiritual commitment.  The benefit is not one sided when it comes to helping this cat.  If the only benefit I get from it is a deep sense of fulfillment, that is enough!  Because that is what I most want out of my life — to feel fulfilled, to have a sense of inner abundance.

I don’t really have many questions about this topic, although I would be interested in hearing from other perspectives.  Is a commitment to other earthly creatures a part of what devotion means to you?

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Gods of…what? And what does that mean?

If you’ve spent any time researching ancient gods, whether for fun and education or for your personal spirituality, you’ll have noticed something: most deities are described as “the god(dess) of” something or another. Aphrodite is the goddess of love, sex, beauty, and often the stars and the sea; Odin is the god of magic, death, prophecy, etc. Sometimes I see this referred to as the “domains” or “spheres” of a god.

But what exactly does it mean to say that Someone is the god of magic or the goddess of warfare? What does a deity’s set of spheres or domains say about them and how are they related to these areas of focus, according to your personal path?

A few more specific questions for interested parties to answer:

  • What domains or spheres define your Powers?
  • What does it mean, in your path, for a Power to have such a definition? What is their relationship to those things?
  • Bonus: if you were a god, what would you be the god of?

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Paganism: It’s Not Just for White People Anymore

A deliberately provocative title that glosses over a lot, so let me clarify:

Paganism, in its broadest definition, has been practiced for millennia by non-European peoples, and thrives among us to this day (for example, in the syncretic religions of the African diaspora in the Americas). But in the mainstream neopagan movement in the North of the world–North America, Europe–with its focus on Greco-Roman, Celtic, and Norse/Germanic pantheons,* I’ve never sensed a participation commensurate to our population among us folks of African descent born and raised in the North. Maybe I’m wrong about that, but that’s my impression.

(*Kemeticism would be the fourth widespread pantheon, and that one, grounded in the continent of Africa–if not its sub-Saharan peoples–at least offered some connection to black folk, and seemed to be where the few of us tended to land. Asatru, on the other hand, with its folkish and outright white supermacist brands that have been discussed ad infinitum, can be especially unwelcoming.)

Lots of reasons for this, I think, among them the strength of the black Protestant church in the U.S.; rightly or wrongly (and there are big historical reasons for it), those churches have outsize influence on African American culture…which would make it harder, it would seem, for folks to explore something so exotic as neopaganism.

Yet at Pagan Pride here in NYC, for 2 years in a row now, I’ve been startled by how many black people participated. I’m probably overestimating, but it felt like our presence began to approach the 1 in 4 mark…which would match our proportion of the NYC population. (New York is about 25% black.)

When did this happen? What’s going on? Or have I been wrong all along, and black people have always participated in pagan events at the same rate as everyone else? Since, aside from NYC Pagan Pride, I don’t have much live interaction with other pagans–no circles, no covens, no retreats or gatherings in my life–I don’t have much to go on.

So I’d like to hear from everyone who’s willing to share their experiences–not just the other black folks here at The Cauldron (yes, we have a few…though I’m not sure how active they’ve been lately), but anybody–what your experiences are:

–In your pagan activities, do you encounter may pagans of African descent?
–When you have met us, what were the circumstances, and what pagan path did they adhere to?
–Have you noticed any trends over time in black participation in paganism?

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Blessings from Argyle, Scotland

A chàirdean chòire,

I recently came across the “Pagan Carmina Gadelica” and was very interested by it.  Although it appears to work from the English translation and does not penetrate the Gaelic original, I was quite impressed nonetheless with it and very much admire the dedication of working through the entire thing.

I am currently extracting everything I can find in the original Gaelic texts that relates to pre-Christian belief, and in doing so, there has been quite a plenty that ties in much more effectively with the manner in which we Gaels communicate with nature and express ourselves through the language, in the sense that the paternalistic “father” of Middle-Eastern monotheism is removed, letting the feminine through once again.

I am one of very few fluent Gaels pursuing this path, and therefore would like to share some of what I find that would be otherwise impenetrable to the non-Gael.  I wonder is there a topic on the subject of the Pagan Carmina Gadelica that I could contribute to?

Myself and family are a good few steps down the road here in Scotland, having re-instituted coming-of-age and welcome ceremonies at revitalised sacred sites in Argyle after years of wild meditation and focussed research into the lore of our people.  We have received visiting groups from both the Maori and Mohawk peoples to our shores as well as many other journeyers from all walks of life.  The road is long yet, but it has risen up to meet us so far.

Thank you for having me.

Ciad mìle taing ‘s na beannachdan uile leibh!

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I need help….evil spirit

Hi members, I am new to the forum and to my path and I didnt know who else to turn to.

I have something evil following me. I have for a few years now. I first discovered it about 4 years ago when a friend told me the spirit that stood outside of my room was actually a demon. I was suffering with depression at the time and she said this was being brought in by the demon feeding off me. She is Christian and prayed for me and it went away temporarily. It returned a year later when my emotions were at a low. She prayed again.

I moved ut of the house and city and have recently taken on my own flat or rent. Over the last few weeks I have been emotional and stressed but also looking further into wicca. I believe this demon is back. My dogs sense it and go balistic.I have placed a protection chant on my dog and also a chant to remove it from my home. I have charged my Crystal’s in the full moon last night and  placed small bottles of salt in all the windows but I’m worried I may trap it in the house.

Can anyone help me. I’m scared if this thing that seems to want me. Have I brought it back in by researching magick?

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Resources for mediation of disputes

This might be one of my, by now, fairly frequent long shots but here goes (and I think they pay off as often as they don’t pay off, so why wouldn’t I?)

Also, putting this here as it pertains to things like social media.

Anyone know of any readily accessible* ‘mediation’ resources online?  (*Read: free.)  Even more of a long shot, is there any such thing which can be used online, e.g. in a social media type context?

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If the 4 Elements, What Do Your Symbols Look Like?

This question is aimed squarely at those pagans like myself who acknowledge the four elements of the classical Western tradition: earth, air, fire, and water.

What symbols do you use for them?

I can’t explain why, but using the right symbols for something is very important to me. Somehow the right graphic symbol bypasses all the clutter of words and sums up the essence of something.

The images here might be a good starting point for discussion.

I favor the symbols from alchemy (first image, triangles of the bottom row), because–
–They are of old esoteric provenance
–It’s tidy: a set of 4 shapes that echo and oppose each other, suggesting a coherent system of things that relate to one another
–(For those of us comfortable with gender polarity) The up-pointing triangles for fire and air tag them as “masculine” elements, while the down-pointing triangles for water and earth indicate their “feminine” nature

BUT they’re somewhat arbitrary; there’s little that inherently links any one symbol to that particular element.

In search of another set of symbols–one in which each symbol has a visual connection to the element it represents–I really like the line drawings of the top line of the first image:
–A simple pictorial reduced to the absolute minimum
–As with the alchemical symbols, a set of 4 shapes that echo and oppose each other, suggesting a coherent system of things that relate to one another
–The lines of fire are the only ones that are oriented vertically, appropriate for an element that stands apart from the others as a transitional state

BUT I’m indifferent to the symbol for air; it’s the least intuitively connected to its element. It makes sense in the context of the others, but when I think of air visually, I think more of spirals with long tails (like in those old-time drawings of wind: the swirling lines coming from the pursed lips of blowing clouds). But that would destroy the conceptual symmetry of the line images.

Does anyone know where those line symbols come from? (At first I thought they might be poached from pop culture–the movie The Fifth Element–but I looked those up, and while similar, they’re not nearly as clearly delineated, one element from the other.) Are there other symbols that you use for the elements?

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I think a deity may be trying to contact me, help!

Hi everyone, I’m super new to this. I’ll start with a bit about myself. I was raised Christian but always felt like I was in a club that I didn’t know the rules to and I was always messing up. Recently after years of telling myself I’d explore other religions I finally had the chance. My husband and I went to the bookstore to get him a cookbook and there was a display set up with the cookbooks with Wiccan books. I bought 2 of them to read and immediately felt like I was home. I’ve been researching and reading for the past few weeks now and recently I’ve started to dream. I normally only dream 2-3 times a month but this week I’ve dreamed every night.

I haven’t been able to remember them either. So while on our normal walk I told my husband about my dreams and how I couldn’t remember them. I did a quick search thinking maybe a deity was trying to contact me via my dreams. I thought maybe it was Morpheus. When I looked over a saw a monarch butterfly land on a goal post. I told my husband who said it was kind of odd since its starting to get cold around here. I felt like maybe Morpheus was wanting to work with me. I said that if I had a dream and remembered it I would know Morpheus wanted to work with me. We get home and a moth with the same coloring as the butterfly from earlier lands about two feet from our house.

On the way to work I quietly said in my head if I see another butterfly its a sign that Morpheus wants to work with me. As I was going to my first break I noticed a blue butterfly printed skirt. Went to sleep that night and dreamed, and I remembered it. I’ve been seeing butterflies now it seems wherever I go and I remembered last nights dream. I’ve been struggling with trying to figure out if Morpheus wants to work with me and how to contact him if he is. I’ve never worked with a deity and I’m not sure how to go about it. But the weirdest part is last night I dreamed of a man who told me I had 7 days to kill Diana or I would die. I don’t know any Diana’s and this dream has really freaked me out. I guess some help or advice would be wonderful. Thanks for anything.

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