The Cauldron’s TWENTY-FIRST Anniversary

Yesterday, December 13, 2018, was the twenty-first anniversary of the day The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum opened for posting!

On December 13, 1997 — 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.

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.

Our forum has done well in the years that followed, although TC has had to move around a lot. From Delphi to a mailing list. Then back to Delphiforums (Delphi’s new name). When Delphi’s poor service and pricing got to be too much to much in early 2004, Bob offered us server space and we moved to our own site. First with Beehive’s Delphiforums-like software (two incarnations), then (very reluctantly) to SMF early in 2007 when it became apparent that Beehive software just could not meet the needs of this forum. Bob’s server gave up the ghost in 2008 and we had to move to our own Linode VPS. The first time in our existence that have had to pay a monthly bill for the message board. Fortunately, our members have stepping up and are donating every month to make continuing this board possible. When the SMF software started having problems in 2009-20100, we moved to vBulletin software in 2011. We moved back to the new improved SMF 2.0 in 2017. It looks like we may be moving to yet another forum software in 2019 as SMF updates have greatly slowed again and SMF is not keeping up with current versions of PHP.

It has been a very interesting two decades. Sometimes it has been interesting in the “may you live in interesting times” sense of “interesting,” but mostly it has been interesting in the good sense of the word. Lyricfox and I met through TC and married in 2004 (over fourteen years ago now). We all made many new friends via TC. It’s also been a lot of work. Work which has been shared with our staff members — without them, this forum would not be here today. This is especially true this last few years as the hosts have been dealing with cancer, moving to another state and multiple sclerosis and have not been nearly as active on the board as we had been in the past. However, the reason The Cauldron’s message board is still here isn’t the Hosts or the staff, it’s our members: the wonderful people reading this message (and now funding the monthly server costs). Without you, this forum would be a ghostly place haunted by memories of discussions past.

Speaking of memories, The Cauldron has been around long enough that we have lost a few members the hard way. We’ve lost Chavi, Elspeth, Marilyn over the years. They live on in our memories (and in old posts in some cases). All three played a large part in making TC was it is.

Overall, however, it’s been a couple of decades years. In “Internet time” we are as ancient as the dinosaurs, but we are still here, still doing our thing, and still enjoying ourselves doing it. We have plans for The Cauldron’s next year and we hope you will join us and help make them happen. With any luck, these plans will work out better than our plans for this last year or two have. Oh well, you win some and you lose some, but just being around 21 years is a big win. Thanks for being along for the ride!

You can celebrate our 21st anniversary by starting a thread on a topic that interests you!

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Staying Up All Night: The DON’Ts

With The Cauldron’s annual Up All Night celebration only 1 week away, here’s a place to put your red-alert warnings for what NOT to do if you’re trying to stay awake until dawn. When pulling an all-nighter, what are the threats? What spells your certain downfall?

For me…

1. NO ALCOHOL. I’d love to celebrate the solstice with some mildly inebriated revelry, but I simply cannot have booze if I’m going to make it until dawn. And most especially, no red wine! If I’m tired, it knocks me out cold.

2. NO TV AFTER MIDNIGHT. Nothing says nodding off like meaningless late-night TV, no matter how engrossing the subject matter.

3. NO POST-SEX HORIZONTALISM. I love me some solstice sex, whether it’s the self-recreational kind or, better yet (when you an get it), sex with partner(s). But once the fun is done, it’s crucial not to lie there in that relaxed haze. I’m told this is especially a guy thing, but it’s all too likely I’ll be unconscious within minutes.

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Card and more cards…

I was learning the tarot but then I got the Dreams of Gaia deck which is about as far from tarot as you can get and still be called tarot.  For a spiritual question, I always grab the Gaia deck.  However, if I want to sort of spy on our family of employees, I grab my beginners deck.

For practice, I sometimes say a person’s name, usually someone who works for my husband and just take a general peek.  The manager at this store’s relationship is solid and good, the 10 of swords on the one that looked shifty,  That’s why that card showed up in my husband’s reading……Well, that sort of thing.

The Lenormand if I really want to dig around more than with the tarot.

I also got some different decks when I learned that each deck works better for me for certain things and kinds of questions.  And that is just it,  I am fully stocked up with what I have coming for xmas.  I didn’t expect to go nuts over the cards and want so many decks.

It takes time to learn these cards and my readings are vague.  They don’t paint vivid stories yet, just a general idea.  I did a Gaia reading for my daughter today and was able to find suggestions based on the reading to help her with some issues.  I want to learn Tarot, Lenormand, Kipper, and gypsy oracle cards.

But the tarot is where I am studying now and where I bought more decks than I think I should have.  One deck, in particular, I ordered myself for xmas, I wonder about.  I saw it and wanted to gift it to my sister but then I wanted it for myself.  Its the Bonefire tarot.  The pictures are done in the style of tattoos.  My sister has tattoos, I thought it would be right up her alley.

But then I saw a reading laid out with it on YouTube and the colors popped like with the Dreams of Gaia deck I love.  I am waiting for the Gaia deck to come out with a mini version.  The fact is, the deck is hard to riffle shuffle like I like to do.  The Bonefire is much smaller but thick.  I still think it would be easier for me to shuffle.  I could see myself taking it with me and using it.  The symbols are there in the deck and its a traditional deck that should read like a traditional deck.

I feel terrible because want to pull it out and do a reading for my sister with it.  If she falls in love with it, she can get her own set, right?  Also if I were to ever do a reading for her friends, I’d want to use this deck.  Okay, maybe I wouldn’t mind looking a little bit cooler than I am.  But its the bright colors that really get me and how a reading kinda screams.  With things seeming vague on some decks, this one gives more of a story in my head.

And so a big part of my xmas is cards.  And I kinda didn’t expect it to eat xmas but it did.  I am going to not buy anymore and just work with these decks all 2019.  But I have a habit of overdoing things when I find something that makes me happy.  I really hope I didn’t over do it on different decks and I will use them all regularly.  Its a bigger set of cards that I thought I’d actually need.  I thought one of each system would do the job.  Maybe I over did it?

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For the purposes of discussion I’d like to ask how you understand forgiveness.

It’s upheld as a virtue by Christianity, but I imagine different people have different understandings of that word.  One Christian friend of mine believes forgiveness is not complete without full reconciliation, and if one party makes that impossible, only a limited forgiveness can be granted — a letting go of personal animosity, but no more.  I hear a similar sentiment among conservative Christians in my family, a sort of forgive but not forget attitude.

Another friend of mine tells me that I don’t have to forgive.  I’ve had some pretty horrible things done to me by a few people.  I’ve carried a lot of anger, and then it just sort of dissipates over the years, and eventually I have come instead to feel compassion for these people and even interact with them positively, though I do limit how close I get to them and guard boundaries I had to fight very hard to establish some years ago, though I’ve had the pleasure of being able to relax them to some extent.  Some of these people are mellowing with age.

Recently I found that I had forgiven my grandparents for some serious things I won’t bother you with the detail on.  My grandfather had reached out to me, as he is very ill, and I embraced him back into my life after some years of cold distance on his part.  He wants to spend time with me before he departs.  As for his wife, I don’t exactly embrace her, but I’m able to interact with her in a limited way, and I don’t feel any more anger.

I don’t try to forgive them.  It’s just that after a number of years and having set boundaries to prevent further provocations I find myself no longer angry, and since I’m not angry, I start feeling compassion instead which is how I generally feel about people anyway.  I’m not sure my friend is right that I didn’t have to forgive in that sense because I don’t seem to have had a choice in the matter.  If my other friend is right that forgiveness involves full reconciliation, then there is one for whom I’ve let go of the anger, but there is still no full reconciliation — I feel that is impossible because of the other party, and I do not seek to make myself vulnerable again to that sort of treatment.

Mostly I have up to this point thought of forgiveness as just letting go of shit.  I don’t tend to emphasize it as a virtue since I don’t experience it as something that can be done voluntarily.  It’s a sort of natural unfolding for me.  It is important to me spiritually simply because of the benefits I receive from it, and my spirituality largely revolves around obtaining what I can best ascertain is good for me as a whole person.  But this isn’t really something I obtained through effort unless my other spiritual disciplines indirectly contributed to the state, in which case I did not do it intentionally.

What is your understanding of forgiveness or its role?  Does your faith address the matter?  I know various neo-pagans may have totally different sentiments about the word or different understandings of what it means.  What are your thoughts?

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Pagan Studies

I know there is an interdisciplinary academic field called Pagan Studies that is basically a social study of Neopaganism. I do not know too much about it. I was wondering if anyone here had any thoughts about it?

The Wikipedia article on it mentions that some pagan folks have had problems with some of these academics. I am wondering also if anyone had any positive views about the field? Has the academic study of paganism enriched your own spiritual practices in any way? Or has it been a problem? Or no real relevance at all?

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What & How do you celebrate?

On The Cauldron, we have many walks of life, and given the time of year, there are many different holidays celebrated. That got me thinking: what and how do you celebrate for your practice during this time of year? What celebrations do you have outside of your practice (if any)?

For this thread, I’d love for people to share what their practice is (e.g., Hinduism, Eclectic Pagan, Hellenic Polytheistic, Kemetic, Christianity, etc) and what major holiday(s) they celebrate around this time for their practice and how they celebrate them. Obviously, there’s also the non-practice celebrations too – for example, I identify more as a Hellenic Polytheist, but I still celebrate Christmas with my family.

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Conservative Women vs. the Dark Arts

I’m just gonna leave this little gem here:

I have to say my favourite line, possibly from any article ever, is the following:

‘There’s Harry Potter of course, and also the sinister Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, complete with devil worship, cannibalism, human sacrifice and, inevitably, feminism.’

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Paganism in Fairy Tales

Hello everyone,

I thought I would bring up a subject that’s of great interest to me. When you say that you attribute religious/mythological significance to fairy tales, most people will look at you kind of funny. On the other hand, we have had a thread recently about working with Baba Yaga, so it seems there is some acceptance that at least certain fairy tale figures are unambiguously pagan or mythological.

I actually have a theory that Slavic fairy tales like those of Baba Yaga are especially archaic. During the 19th century, many romantic scholars analyzed fairy tales in depth and tried to find deeper mythological meanings in them. Modern scholarship tends to be much more skeptical. Yet most western scholarship has focused on Germanic fairy tales like those of the Grimm’s collection. In the past, it was assumed that these were preserved fossils of “Aryan” culture.

In reality, I’ve found that the paganism in Grimm’s fairy tales seems much more degraded than that in Slavic stories. Both have a story about a bird stealing golden apples and being pursued by a hero. Yet the Grimm’s version of this story, “The Golden Bird” is a silly animal fable about a foolish hero who only succeeds because of the aid of an extremely exasperated fox. Meanwhile, if we look at the Serbian “Nine Peahens and the Golden Apples” we see a much more mythological story in which the hero discovers that the Peahens are shapeshifting princesses (Daughter of the Sea, in some stories) and later has to rescue one from Koschei the Deathless or a Dragon. The Slavic variants of this story actually have many parallels to the Nart Sagas of the North Caucasus, which affirms their pre-Christian nature.

 Of course that’s not to say that German fairy tales don’t have their little gems of pagan belief, like Frau Holle for example, but they just seem harder to find. That’s not surprising, because we know that a lot of folklore was probably destroyed by industrialization and the uprooting of old-fashioned agrarian life. By the 19th century, when many of these stories were recorded, you had many places in Eastern Europe where peasant life was not very different from the middle ages. Germany was much more modernized, and that probably had an impact on the German folk memory. Also, the proto-Germanic language probably dispersed across Europe around 500 B.C., during the iron age, whereas the Slavic migrations didn’t happen until the middle ages. So the Slavs stayed isolated and formed a cohesive group for about a thousand years after the Germanic tribes had scattered and diverged from one another, which could have helped preserve ancient narratives in the Slavic folk memory.

I’ve compiled a list of Eastern European fairy tales that I consider to be relics of Slavic paganism below.

I was wondering if anyone else has delved into fairy tales or folklore in order to recover past knowledge. If so, what has been the result?

Slavic Fairy Tale List:

Vassilissa the Beautiful
The Frog Tsarevna
Maria Morevna
Ivan the Cow’s Son
Nikita the Tanner
Finst Falcon
The Crystal Mountain
Koschei the Deathless
Elena the Wise
Go I Know Not Whither and Fetch I Know Not What
Vassilissa Golden Tresses
The Sea King and Vassilissa the Wise
King Bear
Water of Youth, Water of Death, Water of Life
Prince Danila Govorila
Ivan the Peasant’s Son and the Little Man Himself
God and the Devil
The Lime Tree
King Kojata
Baba Yaga

Balkan/South Slavic:
The Nine Peahens and the Golden Apples
Kiss Miklos and the Green Daughter of the Green King
Mirko the King’s Son
The Reed Maiden
Praslea the Bold and the Golden Apples
The Three Brothers and the Golden Apples
Bash Chelik

West Slavic:
The Jezinkas
The Wood Lady
Three Doves
Plavachek the Coal Burner’s Son
Good Ferryman and the Water Nymphs
Princess of the Brazen Mountain
Princess Miranda and Prince Hero
The Eagles
The Mouse Hole and the Underground Kingdom
The Frog King
The Three Golden Hairs of Grandfather Allknow

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Defunt Religions

Okay, the problem I have with Christianity is that it is no longer easy for people to learn ethics they can apply to their modern lives from these stories.  The problem I have with Paganism is that it is trying to be out of date as well.  Neither are addressing the ethical issues confronting people who want to make the best choices with all the new science and information and resources available to them today.

I have spoken in tounges.  I have done energy healings.  My pendulum works about as well as can be expected considering my guides.  I have gotten good readings with tarot cards and the Lenormand cards.  I am perfectly happy to muddle through life without referencing any religious texts.

My children learned their ethics from Japnese anime and Harry Potter.  And perhaps from me. I don’t think with the resources available to me I could have done a better job.

So really all the religions make feel as if I have been given a book on MS-DOS copyright 1981 and am told to take that as my only source and build a hot new phone app that works on Apple and Samsung.

Does anyone ever feel this way?  Is it just me?

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