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?)

Looking for Novels about Pagan Families

Reading (process)
(Photo credits: www.mysafetylabels.com)

Does anyone know of novels about Pagan families? To be specific, I am looking for coming-of-age novels that happen to be about Pagan families and/or children.

I ask because I’ve read many that happen to be about Christian families, Jewish, Muslim, even Atheists, but I’ve never read one about a family that happens to be of pagan faith. I don’t mean it to be a major part of the story, but simply for it to be a background thing, a character element. I’ve read many times “after we came home from church,” or “After Billy finished his Quran reading,” “When she got home she unwrapped the scarf around her head” “After dad thanked Jesus for dinner”.

But never once have I read “After thanking Old Horny” or “As I prayed to the Triple Goddess, I thought” or “The pyre for Thor was great, then we”, “she took the pentacle necklace off before getting in the bath,” Anyway, I think I’ve made my point. Same with many Asian religions as well, by the way, but I won’t get into that for now.

So does anyone know of a book along the lines I’ve stated?

The Toilet Paper Fairy (No, I’m serious): A Suburban Spirit

Toilet paper Español: Papel higiénico
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The setting: my mother, a night monitor, got off early on Thanksgiving before she could watch The Muppet Holiday Special with Lady Gaga at the gatehouse. I, being a member of the Younger Generation, was the only one capable of operating the television, which meant turning it on half an hour early to monitor signal strength and frequently fidget with the antenna.

The scene: a store commercial featuring Suburban Housewife trying to pick a brand of what looked like toilet paper (the signal was inconsistent, so half the commercial was pixels).

The spirit: suddenly, a blue dress wearing, blue butterfly winged, blue haired woman pops out of the stacks of rolls to give penny saving advice.

Yes, an immortal denizen of insect/human hybrids dwells among the narrow passageways in the canyon of Grocery Store, to guide one upon the path of hunting down good quality brands in the linoleum and metal jungle of Free Market.

I think, a thousand years from now, our descendants shall be worshipers of the Toilet Paper Fairy, with many sagas written about her.

Anyway, even if that doesn’t happen, we consumers can use her as a symbol representing our ability to only buy what we really need, not to give in to gimmicks, and avoid over priced junk.

Popular Inaccuracies New (and Less New) Pagans Should Avoid

Bust of Diana wearing a moon crown
Bust of Diana wearing a moon crown (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I thought it might be helpful to have a thread to help people new to pagan religions sort through some of the very popular, very false claims out there. So, without further ado, here goes.

1. “Nine million witches died in the Burning Times.” Historians actually place the number killed in the witch trials between 40,000 and 100,000, with no conclusive evidence that those killed were actually pagan at all. Read more here: http://wicca.cnbeyer.com/burning.shtml

2. “Wicca is an ancient religion.” Gerald Gardner founded Wicca in the twentieth century. He claimed to have a lineage dating back farther, but there’s little to no evidence. More here: http://religiousstudiesblog.blogspot.com/2012/06/gerald-gardner-and-origins-of-wicca.html?m=1

3. “In ancient times, the Great Goddess was universally worshipped. Women ruled, and society was generally peaceful.” There are plenty of places online where this is debunked, but I recommend the book The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory: Why an Invented Past Will Not Give Women a Future by Cynthia Eller.