New SMF Board Coming Soon — Important Stuff to Know

As you probably know, our old vBulletin board died about a week ago during an attempt to upgrade it. We decided to just bite the bullet and replace it with an SMF board. This new board is almost ready to open (we hope). Messages and member accounts made it over.

The most important thing to know about the new board is how to log on. You use your username and password from the old vBulletin board, however, the first time you log in you will be asked to enter your password a second time. Also if you try to log in and receive an “Unable to verify referring url. Please go back and try again” error, you need to be sure you are accessing the board with a url that starts with ““.  If it starts with” (or ““) you will get this error because “” is not technically the same website as “”. Moving to the more secure “https” means it is more picky about such things.

Here are some other important/interesting things to know about the new SMF board software:

1] Messages from Old Board: We believe almost all messages and threads from the old board made it to the new board. The few that are missing are from the last 24-48 hours on the old board. The backup made just before trying to upgrade the old vBulletin software failed, so we had to use the previous backup to recreate the board on this new software. Some BBCode are slightly different between the two boards which means that sometimes “raw bbcodes” will appear in messages originally posted to the old board.

2] Avatars and Attachments from Old Board: Unfortunately, neither uploaded avatars nor attachments uploaded with messages successfully moved to this new board. The attachments are simply gone — nothing can be done to recover them. You can restore you avatar, however. There are hundreds of “standard” avatars to select from on this board (including all the standard ones that were on the old board). If you used a standard avatar you can just reselect it in your profile settings. If you uploaded one of your own, you can just upload it again (also in your profile settings). To get to your profile settings, hover over on your avatar (which is one auto-generated by the board at the moment) in top menubar, hover over the “Modify Profile…” item in the profile menu, the click on the “Forum Profile” item in the submenu that pops up. You can also just click on your avatar in the top menu and go to the profile area and use the menus there. Note that this top menu “floats” — that is it is always available no matter how far you scroll down a page (assuming you have a modern browser).

3] Visitor Messages: Visitor messages (in your profile area) did not move either as they are not a normal feature of SMF. We’d added a mod with something similar, however. You can enable a “Wall” in your profile area to allow visitor messages on your profile (see the Wall Settings in your profile area). This works something like the status area on Facebook — both you and others can post there. You have some control over who can and you can remove wall posts you do not like, etc. This only appears if you turn it on.

4] Suggested “Layout” Options: We suggest you turn on the following in the Look and Layout section of your Profile (by checking the box next to these items and pressing the “Change Profile” button:
* Return to topics after posting by default.
* Hide messages posted by members on my ignore list.
Others can be set as you wish (as can these two, for that matter).

5] Social Groups: None of the Social Groups from the old board made the transfer. We’ve added a social group mod that allows social groups with many of the features found on the old vBulletin board. You are welcome to start a new social group.

6] Wiki: The wiki did not make the transfer — there is nothing like it for SMF. This means no wiki pages for social groups. All the material that was in the public part of wiki made the transfer — as messages on a hidden board. They are currently hidden from view while we try to figure out how to make it available.

7] Likes Replace Karma: We have replaced the Karma system with a “Like” system where messages on many (but NOT all) boards have a “Like” button (near the bottom of the post (above the signature, if any). Please only like messages that you consider really good. Liking every message as some people do on Facebook is a waste of system resources. This is an experiment. If the system does not work out well, it will be removed.

8] Blogs and Other SMF Board Features: This board has many new/different features — many of which are currently turned off. New features will be activated slowly. One of the new features that currently IS active is the Blogs feature. Members can start their own blog on the forum. Posts to the blog need to follow the same rules as posts to the message board.

Do you keep your altar out in the open?

I am rearranging my house because of space issues and the only place I am able to put my altar now is in the front area/living room right by the kitchen. I love the idea of having it out where I spend most of my time anyway, but my only issue with this is that guests will see it. Which isn’t a huge problem, since I don’t try to hide my beliefs or anything, but I’m also not trying to be like “hey everyone! Look at how interesting and pagan I am!”

Also, my altar is a small desk that I sit at so it’s not just a little shelf or anything. It’s a full on workspace filled with all my candles and incense and tarot decks and runes and crystals , an obviously spiritually dedicated space.

I’ve seen on many websites not to have your altar out in the open or within view from anyone who wouldn’t “appreciate” it, whatever that means. I don’t know if I agree with that or not, since what does it matter what other people’s opinions are on my spiritual practice? So do you guys keep your altars hidden from view, or do you not care either way?

Beyond the Basic (Ancestral-Oriented)

I’ve already started building a relationship with the spirits, ancestors, and my recently deceased family for a good couple of years now. My extended family practices “folk magic” which they don’t talk about but in short stories my mother would blab once in a blue moon. I try to pick things up but a lot of it is mixed with Christianity. I am not a christian.

But beyond the looking at genealogy, giving offerings, altar placement, and daily prayers, are there other practices that are a bit, can’t think of another word, a step-up beyond the basics?

What I mean is, when we talk to our family alive and have a connection, we really don’t need to try to hard because family is family. I don’t have that type of connection with living family; so, it’s hard to understand what that means to go beyond setting up foundations to know about my spiritual family. I feel that when I learn about my spiritual family and more intensely experience how they help me, I can get more of a sense of what live is about.

The spirits help, especially those of our environment-sun, moon, wind, etc but I feel I’m ready for something more intense.

I visited a shop where I met a couple of Santeras there. If the religion wasn’t so expensive, I would learn more about it. I got a divination reading and was told to make a relationship with my ancestors first as I don’t need divination through a Babalow or Santera to build a relationship with them first.

I can write a novel about my experiences and questions. Have you guys realized you “got it” and ready to go to that next step?

I am not interested in European religions, but are there other pagan religions or practices that are ancestral oriented?

Beginning Worship

I have just recently became a Eclectic Pagan. Last night I performed a rite to find my patron deity. After I completed the rite I felt like I had hellfire in my body but yet I was not sweating, I was then compelled to grab my ancient Greek coins, I was also compelled to speak with my girlfriend about pouring wine into the ground when I get married. I believe that this was Hades speaking to me. I am looking for some prayers to Hades that I can perform. Please help!

Hang ups about Hoodoo

I’m interested in incorporating Hoodoo into my practise but I have some reservations.

From what I’ve read the practise is steeped in Catholicism, which is a branch of Christianity I don’t feel particularly at home in. However, I don’t feel right taking Hoodoo out of its religious framework. It feels like I’m cherry picking the parts that interest me, and discarding the rest.

I mean I already feel bad as I don’t have African ancestry; I already feel like I’m treading somewhere off-limits.

I’m not sure what to do. I’d love to know my fellow Cauldronites’ thoughts and opinions.

Exploring “low” magic and could use some suggestions on resources

spell photoI finally picked up a book on witchcraft, the Hedge Witch Book of Days, and it has all kinds of fun stuff in it (recipes!). However, since it’s basically a “through the year” kind of a book, it’s a little light on practical stuff and I’d love more information.

First off, a little about me. I’m 30 years old as exploring a new path. I’ve been sort of on this journey for maybe nine months. Publicly, I’m an Episcopal Christian with Celtic leanings, but I’m also extremely drawn to druidry, pagan ideas, and recently, witchcraft. I feel like Brigid, who kind of straddles the pagan and Christian world, keeps elbowing me, as well.

I have my own place and live well away from family, which is good since I cannot imagine them being supportive of anything even mildly witchy or pagan. I grew up fundamental-lite Christian, so yeah. They love me, but “going to hell” would be a very real concern for them.

Anyway, I’m not particularly interested in ceremonial magic at the moment, although I do like ceremony (hence the Episcopal thing), ritual, etc. I want practicality, and I’m curious about the Green/Hedge/Kitchen Witch path–I’ve dabbled in herbs since I was in my teens and kept a nature journal for almost as long, so being connected to nature and working with plants isn’t entirely new.

Also, I love physical books, so “go check out this website” is probably not something I’m going to do on a regular basis. I’d much rather hold a book in my hand that I can read, take notes in, mark, etc.

I’m eyeing Grimoire for the Green Witch. It has tons of high reviews on Amazon (and keep in mind I’m a BEGINNNER as in I have barely actually done anything yet–I’m also staying with my parents for a bit due to a break from work and family circumstances–so books that absolutely spell out the basics are totally fine). I’m not particularly interested in Wicca as a religion although I like the god/goddess concept, etc.

I guess what I’m really looking for is basic books on magic, but not so much ceremonial magic as practical magic.

As a sort of somewhat related question, I was listening to a podcast and somebody was saying that the idea of a “power animal” is–off? Wrong? I hadn’t really heard the term “power animal” before, but I got the idea that it’s sort of what other people call a “spirit animal”. The book I have refers to them as “power animals”. Is this wrong? What were they talking about? Help? (I’m so lost… if something I’ve said doesn’t make sense or needs clarification just ask… I may have said it weird since I’m extremely new to this and paganism and magic is sort of a foreign language; I’m still getting over my fundie “magic is devil worship” and “using crystals sounds so hokey even though I can see why you would” hangups in some areas.)

Making Deity Figures

Has anybody ever made their own figures of deities for their altar? I ask because I’m having a REALLY hard time finding representations of the gods that draw me that I like. I have a little Cerridwen that I’m extraordinarily fond of and recently picked up a Bast figure (she doesn’t fit into my personal practice, but I have cats, and honoring Bast peripherally seemed right somehow), but I can’t find a Brigid that I like and the Horned God is even more difficult.

Ideas? Brilliant sources for statuary? “I made my own and it worked out well” stories? All would be welcome.

And while I know some people have success with representative objects that aren’t actually figures, I’m a very visual person and would like actual figures.

(And the ideas don’t have to be specifically related to Brigid or the Horned God; I’m still hashing out what this all looks like so any experience would be fine.)