What is this Morality Thing Anyway?

morality over legality

 (Photo credit: GoatChild)

A discussion on MUX got me thinking… What /is/ this thing we call morality? What do we mean when we talk about living a moral life? Where do morals come from? I realized that I don’t really have a good working definition for words like “morality” and “ethics.” Many of my personal reactions upon hearing such words come both from a bad religious upbringing and bad experiences in philosophy class in college, so I’d like to start changing how I think about these words.

What Would You Like to See from The Cauldron in 2014?

Another year has arrived. What would you like to see The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum try to do in 2014 (new and different, just improved, etc.)? Why we can’t promise to make any New Year’s wishes for TC come true, we will look hard at them.

Note: Improvements/additions that cost money will probably not be possible unless someone is willing to donate the money, but don’t let that stop you from “wishing” for them.

How Do You Recharge?

From the last week in July until now I’ve been completely focused on work to the exclusion of proper eating/sleeping/socializing. I’ve been pulling 12-14 hour days regularly and as of this week I’ve been advised that all that hard work has been for nil and I’m rolling back to my previous non-seasonal position.

I’m actually okay with that, this is round 2 of the same so I’m done.

My question is, if any of you have been through similar cycles of uber stress, what steps do you take to recover and recharge?

Paganism with No Deities?

Various neopagan religious symbols (from left ...

Various Neopagan religious symbols  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am new to the board and looking for guidance! Let me give you a little backstory, I grew up Christian, then became confused, then learned about and “practiced” Wicca for about a year as a teenager, and since then have been identifying as atheist. I have always felt a strong connection with nature, am my happiest enjoying the beach, a hike in the woods, a drive through the country to explore new lands, etc. Of course I know this doesn’t automatically mean I should be a Pagan, however I also feel that spirituality is important, and since my year as a Wiccan have always been curious and longing for a Pagan path.

My question then, is which of the Pagan branches don’t believe in any deities? I am comfortable in the thought that “she is everywhere”, that nature IS the divine, but not that there is a specific God(s) or Goddess(es) to which I should worship. I’d like to connect myself with nature and follow a spiritual path, but don’t particularly believe in a greater Being. I’ve been trying to research this topic but I can’t seem to find any one place to really break this question down for me by each branch of Paganism. I’d love some guidance. Thank you!

Up All Night: A Technopagan Winter Solstice 2013

manhattan solstice 3

Manhattan Solstice (Photo credit: Dave Kliman)

Hey, what is this thread? The night beginning at sunset on Saturday, December 21, 2013, is the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. To celebrate the winter solstice (a.k.a. Yule, Midwinter, and probably other things, depending on your tradition), a bunch of us plan to stay up all night and post here in this thread off and on throughout and/or chatter in chat, sharing our experiences or random thoughts…sharing photos or artwork throughout the evening…or just encouraging each other to stay awake!

So if you’re trying to stay up till dawn, or just want to pop in to converse with those of us who are, this is the place! (Or if you’re lucky enough to be in the Southern Hemisphere, enjoying the warmth and sun of summer solstice, tell us what we’re missing!)

In that spirit, here it is again, folks–that modest rhyme I composed specifically for our winter solstice efforts. Tradition dictates that I offer it as invocation to kick things off:


by Altair

Light dwindles, life despairs
A bitter chill is in the air
The sun departs, and with it goes
A fruitful season free of woes
As winter’s icy grip takes hold
The sleeping landscape to enfold
Many hours of dark must pass
Before the sun returns at last
To make its long-awaited climb
With promise of a flowering time

Until that hour, let dark prevail
Greet longest night with strong wassail
Sing and dance, feast and drink
Or solemnly reflect and think
From strange and hidden wells partake
With one rule only: Stay awake!
From dusk till dawn, hear our refrain:
Let the solstice revels reign

[In the last line, swap in the word “vigil” for “revels” if the feeling is more contemplative than festive]

Cauldron’s “Up All Night” Solstice Celebration in About 1 Week

English: Highworth cemetery at the winter sols...

Highworth cemetery at the winter solstice The shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere falls between the 20th and 23rd December depending on the year.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This has totally snuck up on me (like the rest of the holiday season). In case it’s snuck up on you, I wanted to remind everybody that Up All Night: A Technopagan Winter Solstice, the 2013 edition of what’s become The Cauldron’s annual solstice celebration, is only about a week away!

When it begins: sunset on Saturday, December 21 (whatever time sunset happens in your location; so the thread will become active a little bit before the sun sets in the Australasian region)

When it ends: sunrise on Sunday, December 22 (whatever time that happens in your locale; many of us end up posting summations of our experience well into the next day…after we’ve finally gotten some sleep!)

For those who don’t already know, the idea is simple: A bunch of us stay up all night on the Northern Hemisphere’s winter solstice to celebrate the longest night of the year and the return of the sun afterwards. So we hang out here in The Cauldron, in a special thread devoted to the night’s festivities and in chat, to keep each other company in a kind of cyber moot. Wackiness ensues (esp. in the wee hours after extensive sleep deprivation)…

All are welcome, whether you’re trying to stay up all night or just dropping by to partake of the fun…whether you’re marking the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere or the summer solstice in the Southern…and no matter what path you may follow, or none at all.

You can see some of the chatter in the run-up to this year’s event here.

This year’s non-theme (a conversation starter that can be freely ignored) is “hot/cold”. Start collecting your thoughts, songs, links, videos, recipes, etc. for sharing, and get ready for “Up All Night”!

The Cauldron’s SIXTEENTH Anniversary

Avery Anniversary Sixteen

(Photo credit: Bernt Rostad)

Today is the sixteenth anniversary of the day The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum opened for posting!

Sixteen years ago today — after three frustrating days when only Elspeth, Ann, and myself could post — The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum opened its doors to the general public on the Delphi online service. This was before it was known as Delphiforums and back when user forums, then known as “Custom Forums” had a presence on both the paid Delphi Online Service (in wonderful a pure text/command line like environment) and on their new free Web forum version. 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.


Psychic shields and magic circles in weird energy shapes?

The magic circle illustration from Francis Bar...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I took a long break off magic, like a ten year break due to having kids, and a mountain of other RL issues. So now I’m slowly getting back into magic, studying it and refreshing myself from the beginning. At the moment, I am working on grounding, centering, and shielding. I do a daily mediation to do this. But my psychic shield never looks like a bubble. It looks like a human shaped balloon. Sort the energy taking on my shape and not venturing too far from my body. So I keep imagine that I’m in the middle of a human shaped balloon or something.

And that’s not the only thing. So magick circles, I do the visualization and I can’t get my energy to do a bubble at all! I mean it’s a weird oval shape or something. It’s weird. I have no idea what it’s going on. Any suggestions? am I worried for nothing?

Honoring deities who aren’t your patron?

English: The Maize God as scribe

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

While I know there are several people out there with patrons, many others obviously don’t and that’s fine. I am curious if there’s anyone out there that honors a god or goddess simply because they admire them. If so, what do you do to honor/ pay your respects to him/her? Does the deity in question respond sometimes? Has it ever led to anything more?

Interest vs. Plausibility vs. Belief

English: This is the religious symbol of Ayyav...

 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, I’ve had cause to do some serious self-examination regarding my beliefs and have realized that I’m not sure what it is that I really believe. By that I mean that there are some very basic, nuts-and-bolts type questions that I can’t confidently answer (ex. What do you believe the general nature of deity is?). My problem is that I seem to have difficultly distinguishing between things/ideas that I think are interesting, things/ideas that I find plausible, and things/ideas that I actually really believe in.

So, my questions are: Has anyone else had problems in this area? If so, how do you make the distinction between “Oooh, shiny!”, “Yeah, I can see that…”, and “I definitely believe this.”?

(After reading over this a few times, it occurs to me that I might ought to just call myself an agnostic and be done with it… Except that I don’t think I’ve done enough introspection to firmly say “I don’t know.”, either. Is it possible to be unsure about whether or not one is unsure about something?)