News and Updates

Tarot vs. Oracle Cartomancy

For those of you who have read with both, how do they differ for you? What do tarot/oracle each have that you look for? Are there ideas in tarot decks that rub you the wrong way, but work in more freeform oracle decks and vice versa?

Personally, I like the structure and the “story” of tarot, but its that same structure I often find to be a limiting barrier to my ever developing an intuitive reading style. Unfortunately, on the other hand, the vast majority of oracle decks I’ve encountered seem… incapable of giving you an answer you don’t want to hear lol.


Non-Wicca 101 Books

It is not hard to find Wicca 101 books. However, I am also interested in other traditions and I’m not sure what sources to use for, say, general paganism or druidry or shamanism.

What are the best first texts in these areas?

Or do most non-wiccan pagans start with Wicca 101 and then depart from there/develop their own path?

How do you make and keep altars and shrines?

We’ve had a thread for showing off our altars and shrines for a while, and we’ve had several threads asking for help with altars and shrines. How about a thread digging into the specifics of how you use these magical/ritual concepts in your practice?

I recently set up a new desk that has a separate platform off to the side from the main one; I’ve been using it as an altar, on which I keep a few specific things. One is a speaker for playing music; another is a fountain through which I make water libations to my gods; and the rest are tools and magical items. It’s been satisfying to keep it clean and perform a simple cleansing ritual before it. I’ve also noticed that it serves a distinctly different purpose than my shrine, which is simply to house beautiful things and idols in honor of my Powers.

But the process of setting up this altar and starting to practice at it has gotten me thinking about just what purpose altars and shrines serve for modern pagans. For me at the moment, my altar is serving the purpose of helping me organize my changing practice and anchor it in simple rules and rituals at all times. As such, I have clear rules about what I keep on it versus what I keep on the shrine, and I make sure to perform a daily ritual of cleansing and offering there.

But I know that other people have different experiences, and I’m interested in learning about them. If you keep altars or shrines in your practice–what purpose do they serve? On what principles do you construct them? What rituals do you perform at them regularly? How do you take care of them? Do you merge them into one altar/shrine, or keep multiple separate spaces for different purposes and Powers?

May the 4th be with you: practices of the Jedi?

The Star Wars franchise has a lot to say about the philosophies of both groups, but what about their practices? I mean, we see bits of their teaching methods and martial arts, but what about religious practices? Are there any?

The Jedi are sometimes called a religion, but do they function as one?

What do you imagine Jedi spiritual practices would be like? How about the Sith?

How Do You Describe Your Religious Identity In Public?

Identity photoA lot of us following pagan and otherwise non-mainstream paths find that we have to tread carefully around the topic outside of pagan spaces, or even outside of our own personal mystic spaces. How do you navigate that? What descriptors have you taken to using for your faith in various non-pagan circles?

As a bonus question: how are you able to interact with those of other faiths outside of pagan spaces using that presentation?

“Working” with Deity vs. Worshipping Deity

Goddess photoI must confess that I’ve always been a bit…confused by the tendency of pagans to say they “work” with a deity/deities. I always assumed that “working” with a deity related to working magic with the help of a God/Goddess, but I’ve seen pagans who do not practice magic use this expression.

What, exactly, does it mean to “work” with a deity? Is this a reference to prayer/reciprocity? Or something else?

What is the difference between “working” with a God and worshiping him/her?

Personally, I don’t claim to “work” with the Gods as that, to me personally, would imply some kind of even-footing. However, I think others may be using the term in a way I am not familiar with and perhaps I am misunderstanding. What are your thoughts on this semantic difference?

Modern Mythology: Trains to the Afterlife

Trains photoWhat is with the association between trains and death? Why, out of all vehicles, are trains the most common choice of afterlife transportation? (TVtropes has a whole page of examples).

What have trains got that, say, a bus doesn’t?

This has been on my mind because I recently got my hands on some model railroad supplies, and was undecided about whether to shell out for the expensive part (ie a locomotive) until it occurred to me that I could make it into an ancestor shrine, partly due to this trope.

Technology and Your Craft

Technology photoThis past weekend I bought a new phone (Google Pixel 2 for those interested) and I have noticed during my commutes that nearly every person has a piece of powerful technology in their pockets that can be used for different purposes: financial; musical; educational; medical; informational; and the list goes on.

These different purposes have me thinking as I was researching my different deities: how does one incorporate technology into one’s practice? And how does one balance that technology use with off screen time?

I’ll post my personal practices shortly.

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More on: The Cauldron’s Web Site

The Cauldron’s web site sprawls over two domains and many subdomains. The material on is older and the material on is newer. holds material from 1998 to 2010, with several styles and page designs — some of them dating to the turn of the century. We tried to update this site in 2010 to bring it up to more modern HTML standards and improve the design. However, as each of the thousands of pages needed to be redone by hand, the one person trying to do this was soon overwhelmed and gave up. In 2011, we decided to leave as it was and simply start a new site — this site — on Our sites have a common front page and all the material on the old site is linked to from the new site so we really have one big site spread across two major domains. If the site design shifts from something new and modern to something old and poorly designed, then you are on our old site. We apologize for doing things this way, given The Cauldron is a hobby with no budget for updating thousands of old pages, we figured it was better to keep the old material available in its old and not very beautiful form while placing new material in a modern state of the art in 2011 web site. Thanks for putting up with this.