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Cauldron and Candle
Cauldron News -- Mid-September 2000

A Publication of The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum
website: http://www.ecauldron.com/
mailing list/board: http://www.ecauldron.com/fregmb.php

With a little help from The Witches' Thicket
website: http://www.cros.net/soraya/
message board: http://forums.delphiforums.com/thicket/start

Return to Cauldron and Candle Archive

CAULDRON NEWS -- Mid-September 2000

Web Page: http://www.ecauldron.com/
      or: http://cauldron.cjb.net/
Mailing List Home: http://www.ecauldron.com/freggroup.html

                 +*+*+ IMPORTANT NOTE +*+*+
       Our ecauldron mailing list is now available, and
       will soon replace our Delphi message board. See
       the first article for more info or just visit
       http://www.ecauldron.com/fregsub.html to join.

In this Issue:

 * Sign-Up for our New Mailing List Today
 * New Articles on our Web Site
 + Harvest Home (Mabon) Article
 * New Web Poll
 + Herbal Lotion for Aches and Pains
 * Support The Cauldron When You Buy at Amazon.com
 + Fruit Visualization Exercise
 * Send A Pagan Postcard
 * Cauldron Chats: Tuesdays, 10-11pm CDT
 * Please Invite Your Friends
 * Link To The Cauldron
 * Suggestions Are Always Welcome


As mentioned in our first September issue of Cauldron News,
Delphi is terminating support for its ancient and often broken
text side, so we are moving our message board to an Egroups
mailing list.  Our new ecauldron mailing list is active and ready
for you to JOIN NOW!

To sign up you can either send an email message to:


or visit the mailing list's subscription page at:


If you want to select digest or web only options when you sign
up, you'll need to use the web page.

Digest? Web-Only? If you are wondering what the heck we're
talking about, here's a quick explanation of the three ways you
can receive an Egroups mailing list:

 * INDIVIDUAL MAILINGS: Each message is sent from the list to you
   as it is received.  If the list gets 45 messages a day, you'll
   get 45 messages from the list in your inbox. This is the
   probably best way to get any mailing list if you intend to
   participate regularly by posting and replying to messages.
   All you have to do it press reply in your mail client to post.

 * DIGEST: Egroups sends out bundles of messages to you in a
   single large message, generally 20 messages in a bundle. It
   sends you at least one bundle of messages a day if less than
   20 messages are received, however. Receiving the list in
   digest form is good if you are mainly going to lurk, because
   replying is a bit harder than with individual emails.  You
   still just hit reply in your mail client, but you have to
   remember to change the subject line AND you have to check to
   be sure your email program does not include a quote of all 20
   messages in the digest at the end of your reply.

 * WEB ONLY: Selecting Web-Only means that you will NOT receive
   emails from the mailing list.  Instead you'll read them from
   Egroups' somewhat featureless web board.  It's fast, but it's
   a single message at a time. Unlike Delphi, the board does not
   send out notifications of new messages nor does it track what
   messages you've read (you'll need to record the last message
   number you read if you wish to start where you left off
   easily). Replying and posting is very easy, however.  You just
   press the button and use a reply form similar to what you are
   used to at Delphi. Many people who use "webmail" accounts for
   email prefer to use this interface as it is faster than many
   web mail interfaces. You can also set your account to this
   option when you go on vacation to avoid having messages
   delivered to (and filling up) your mailbox while you are away.

You can change between these different options as often as you
wish by returning to http://www.ecauldron.com/fregsub.html -- you
are not stuck with your first choice if it does not work out.

IMHO, you'll probably get the best "mailing list experience" by
signing up for individual messages or digests and using a POP3
style mailing account instead of a web mail account. Using a POP3
style account will allow you to use a real email client (like the
free Outlook Express or Eudora Pro) to manage, read, and reply to
email messages.  You can get free POP3-capable email accounts
just as easily as you can get free web mail accounts.  This site
tests free POP3 accounts and lists its top five:


Note that almost all messages from this mailing list will have
"[ecauldron]" (without the quotes) in the subject line. This will
allow you to create (in your email program) a mail folder for
this mailing list and create a rule that will toss all messages
with "[ecauldron]" in their subject line into that folder. That
way all ecauldron mailing list messages will be in one place and
not cluttering up your main inbox.

Egroups combines a proven and reliable mailing list with a number
of features which make management easy with a single message at a
time web message board version of the list for those who want to
participate without a flood of email. Egroups also provides us a
calendar, a links list, polls, a database, member profiles and a
file area.

For more infomation on mailing lists and how to use Egroups' many
features, check out egroups Help and FAQ page:


If you signed up for the old, short-lived mailing list in May,
you'll still need to sign up for this new list. Even though it
has the same name, ecauldron, it's a different list.  The old one
is long gone.

While we are not closing our Delphi message board down
immediately, problems with text side mean we will mainly be using
our new mailing list for messages, so PLEASE JOIN US on our new
ecauldron mailing list TODAY:



Since our September issue, we've added a new article and a
book review on our web site -- both written by Cauldron members:

 * Susan Joy gives us a commented list of useful books on the
   folklore and magickal uses of herbs and trees. Most of these
   books are even in print.


 * Stryder has wriiten a review of The Triumph of the Moon: A
   History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft by Ronald Hutton.


By Mike Nichols

  There were three men came out of the West,
  Their fortunes for to try,
  And these three men made a solemn vow,
  John Barleycorn must die...

Despite the bad publicity generated by Thomas Tryon's novel,
Harvest Home is the pleasantest of holidays. Admittedly, it does
involve the concept of sacrifice, but one that is symbolic only.
The sacrifice is that of the spirit of vegetation, John
Barleycorn. Occurring 1/4 of the year after Midsummer, Harvest
Home represents mid-autumn, autumn's height. It is also the
Autumnal Equinox, one of the quarter days of the year, a Lesser
Sabbat and a Low Holiday in modern Witchcraft.

Technically, an equinox is an astronomical point and, due to the
fact that the earth wobbles on its axis slightly (rather like a
top that's slowing down), the date may vary by a few days
depending on the year. The autumnal equinox occurs when the sun
crosses the equator on its apparent journey southward, and we
experience a day and a night that are of equal duration. Up until
Harvest Home, the hours of daylight have been greater than the
hours from dusk to dawn. But from now on, the reverse holds true.
Astrologers know this as the date on which the sun enters the
sign of Libra, the Balance (an appropriate symbol of a balanced
day and night). This year (1988) it will occur at 2:29 pm CDT on
September 22nd.

However, since most European peasants were not accomplished at
calculating the exact date of the equinox, they celebrated the
event on a fixed calendar date, September 25th, a holiday the
medieval Church Christianized under the name of 'Michaelmas', the
feast of the Archangel Michael. (One wonders if, at some point,
the R.C. Church contemplated assigning the four quarter days of
the year to the four Archangels, just as they assigned the four
cross-quarter days to the four gospel-writers. Further evidence
for this may be seen in the fact that there was a brief
flirtation with calling the Vernal Equinox 'Gabrielmas',
ostensibly to commemorate the angel Gabriel's announcement to
Mary on Lady Day.) Again, it must be remembered that the Celts
reckoned their days from sundown to sundown, so the September
25th festivities actually begin on the previous sundown (our
September 24th).

Although our Pagan ancestors probably celebrated Harvest Home on
September 25th, modern Witches and Pagans, with their desk-top
computers for making finer calculations, seem to prefer the
actual equinox point, beginning the celebration on its eve (this
year, sunset on September 21st).

Mythically, this is the day of the year when the god of light is
defeated by his twin and alter-ego, the god of darkness. It is
the time of the year when night conquers day. And as I have
recently shown in my seasonal reconstruction of the Welsh myth of
Blodeuwedd, the Autumnal Equinox is the only day of the whole
year when Llew (light) is vulnerable and it is possible to defeat
him. Llew now stands on the balance (Libra/autumnal equinox),
with one foot on the cauldron (Cancer/summer solstice) and his
other foot on the goat (Capricorn/winter solstice). Thus he is
betrayed by Blodeuwedd, the Virgin (Virgo) and transformed into
an Eagle (Scorpio).

Two things are now likely to occur mythically, in rapid
succession. Having defeated Llew, Goronwy (darkness) now takes
over Llew's functions, both as lover to Blodeuwedd, the Goddess,
and as King of our own world. Although Goronwy, the Horned King,
now sits on Llew's throne and begins his rule immediately, his
formal coronation will not be for another six weeks, occurring at
Samhain (Halloween) or the beginning of Winter, when he becomes
the Winter Lord, the Dark King, Lord of Misrule. Goronwy's other
function has more immediate results, however. He mates with the
virgin goddess, and Blodeuwedd conceives, and will give birth --
nine months later (at the Summer Solstice) -- to Goronwy's son,
who is really another incarnation of himself, the Dark Child.

Llew's sacrificial death at Harvest Home also identifies him with
John Barleycorn, spirit of the fields. Thus, Llew represents not
only the sun's power, but also the sun's life trapped and
crystallized in the corn. Often this corn spirit was believed to
reside most especially in the last sheaf or shock harvested,
which was dressed in fine clothes, or woven into a wicker-like
man-shaped form. This effigy was then cut and carried from the
field, and usually burned, amidst much rejoicing. So one may see
Blodeuwedd and Goronwy in a new guise, not as conspirators who
murder their king, but as kindly farmers who harvest the crop
which they had planted and so lovingly cared for. And yet, anyone
who knows the old ballad of John Barleycorn knows that we have
not heard the last of him.

  They let him stand till midsummer's day,
  Till he looked both pale and wan,
  And little Sir John's grown a long, long beard
  And so become a man...

Incidentally, this annual mock sacrifice of a large wicker-work
figure (representing the vegetation spirit) may have been the
origin of the misconception that Druids made human sacrifices.
This charge was first made by Julius Caesar (who may not have had
the most unbiased of motives), and has been re-stated many times
since. However, as has often been pointed out, the only
historians besides Caesar who make this accusation are those who
have read Caesar. And in fact, upon reading Caesar's 'Gallic
Wars' closely, one discovers that Caesar never claims to have
actually witnessed such a sacrifice. Nor does he claim to have
talked to anyone else who did. In fact, there is not one single
eyewitness account of a human sacrifice performed by Druids in
all of history!

Nor is there any archeological evidence to support the charge.
If, for example, human sacrifices had been performed at the same
ritual sites year after year, there would be physical traces. Yet
there is not a scrap. Nor is there any native tradition or
history which lends support. In fact, insular tradition seems to
point in the opposite direction. The Druid's reverence for life
was so strict that they refused to lift a sword to defend
themselves when massacred by Roman soldiers on the Isle of Mona.
Irish brehon laws forbade a Druid to touch a weapon, and any soul
rash enough to unsheathe a sword in the presence of a Druid would
be executed for such an outrage!

Jesse Weston, in her brilliant study of the Four Hallows of
British myth, 'From Ritual to Romance', points out that British
folk tradition is, however, full of MOCK sacrifices. In the case
of the wicker-man, such figures were referred to in very
personified terms, dressed in clothes, addressed by name, etc. In
such a religious ritual drama, everybody played along.

  They've hired men with scythes so sharp,
  To cut him off at the knee,
  They've rolled him and tied him by the waist
  Serving him most barbarously...

In the medieval miracle-play tradition of the "Rise Up, Jock"
variety (performed by troupes of mummers at all the village
fairs), a young harlequin-like king always underwent a mock
sacrificial death. But invariably, the traditional cast of
characters included a mysterious "Doctor" who had learned many
secrets while 'travelling in foreign lands'. The Doctor reaches
into his bag of tricks, plies some magical cure, and presto! the
young king rises up hale and whole again, to the cheers of the
crowd. As Weston so sensibly points out, if the young king were
ACTUALLY killed, he couldn't very well rise up again, which is
the whole point of the ritual drama! It is an enactment of the
death and resurrection of the vegetation spirit. And what better
time to perform it than at the end of the harvest season?

In the rhythm of the year, Harvest Home marks a time of rest
after hard work. The crops are gathered in, and winter is still a
month and a half away! Although the nights are getting cooler,
the days are still warm, and there is something magical in the
sunlight, for it seems silvery and indirect. As we pursue our
gentle hobbies of making corn dollies (those tiny vegetation
spirits) and wheat weaving, our attention is suddenly arrested by
the sound of baying from the skies (the 'Hounds of Annwn'
passing?), as lines of geese cut silhouettes across a harvest
moon. And we move closer to the hearth, the longer evening hours
giving us time to catch up on our reading, munching on popcorn
balls and caramel apples and sipping home-brewed mead or ale.
What a wonderful time Harvest Home is! And how lucky we are to
live in a part of the country where the season's changes are so
dramatic and majestic!

  And little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl--
  And he's brandy in the glass,
  And little Sir John in the nut-brown bowl
  Proved the strongest man at last.

(This file contains eight seasonal articles by Mike Nichols. They
may be freely distributed provided that the following conditions
are met: (1) No fee is charged for their use and distribution and
no commercial use is made of them; (2) These files are not
changed or edited in any way without the author's permission; (3)
This notice is not removed. An article may be distributed as a
separate file, provided that this notice is repeated at the
beginning of each such file. These articles are periodically
updated by the author; this version is current as of 9/28/88.)


Our new polls are working nicely and without all the problems we
had when they were hosted offsite. You'll find them on their own
web page at:


Our newest poll, opened September 16th, asks:

 * Which label (Wicca, Witchcraft, Druidism, etc) best describes
   your religious beliefs?


Make your opinion known, take this poll today!


4 drops marjoram
6 drops juniper
8 drops of sweet birch or wintergreen
3 drops chamomile
3 drops lavender
3 drops ginger
2 oz of carrier oil or lotion

Mix the above ingredents and let blend for 24 hours before using.
Massage in to area of pain or inflammation.


If you wish to purchase books or other items at Amazon.com, you
can help fund The Cauldron's web site by using this link to
access Amazon.com when you make your purchases:


Just use this link to go to Amazon.com via our web site and
almost every purchase you make that visit will earn The Cauldron
a small amount to help pay for our web page -- at no extra charge
to you. You can also use the Amazon link on the menu of every
Cauldron web page and not have to remember this long link.

Unlike the Amazon link listed in prior issues of this newsletter,
you can simply visit this site and save the link in your bookmark
list.  If you then use this bookmarked link every time you wish
to visit Amazon.com, any purchases you make while there will help
fund The Cauldron's web site.


Hold one of your hands out in front of you and close your eyes..
Breathe slowly and evenly, breathing from your diaphragm.. Relax
your mind, and don't worry if this doesn't work perfectly the
first time.

Now, in your outstretched hand, feel yourself holding a fruit.
Let it be any sort of fruit you like. Hold the fruit there. Feel
it in your hand, feel the weight, feel the texture..  Is it
smooth and heavy, or light and rough, or something else?

Imagine yourself peeling the fruit if it needs it, and taking a
very small bite. Taste the fruit, feel it in your mouth. Feel
yourself eating the fruit. Note the taste, note the consistency.
Swallow the piece you bit off and feel it slide down your throat.

Bring the rest of the fruit up to your nose. Smell the fruit,
notice every little detail about the fruit. Now, slowly open your
eyes, and see the fruit there in your hand. See it as real, and
take another bite. Taste this bite as you tasted the last one.
Finish eating the fruit, bite by bite, and when it's done, let
the image vanish. Close your eyes, and then open them again.


We reactivated the postcards on our site in April when our
postcard provider apparently fixed the problem with their servers
which kept erasing our postcards. We've added two new Pagan
Postcard categories: "Samhain and Halloween" and "Wolves" and
we've enabled a much larger number of regular (non-Pagan)
postcard categories. These non-Pagan categories are available for
selection near the bottom of most of the pages in our Postcard

You can send a Pagan Postcard from the menu of any of our web
pages at http://www.ecauldron.com/.  If you haven't tried our
postcard site, give it a try.  It has quite a few nice features.


Cauldron Co-Host Randall Sapphire hosts a one hour general chat
almost every Tuesday evening from 10pm to 11pm Central (Daylight)
Time in our channel (#thecauldron) on the PaganPaths IRC server.
We usually have a pretty good turnout.  Discussions cover a wide
range of topics, depending on what the folks present want to

You'll find all the information you need to connect to our chats
either with your own IRC client or via the Java IRC client on our
Chats web page at:


You can open a Java chat client directly to #thecauldron by
clicking on the "IRC Chat" link in the menu of any of our web
pages, but we strongly suggest you visit the above page first and
read a few paragraphs on how to use it.  This page is also
available from the "[Info]" link right next to the "IRC Chat"
link on our web page menus.  If you have your own IRC client
program, the address of the main PaganPaths server is:

    madison.wi.us.paganpaths.org  (port 6667)

If you'd like to host a chat for members of The Cauldron: A Pagan
Forum on a regular, weekly schedule, please let us know.

If "Central Time" doesn't mean anything to you, this an online
time converter at http://sandbox.xerox.com/stewart/tzconvert.cgi
might help.  I think Central Time is listed as something like "US
- Central" in the drop down box.


If you have Pagan friends who you believe would be interested in
The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum, please invite them to our forum. You
can either drop them a note yourself or -- better yet -- send
them one of our email postcards with the information.


If you like The Cauldron and have a web page, we'd really
appreciate it if you put a link to The Cauldron's web site on
your web pages.  If you'd like some graphic buttons to use to
link to our web site, check the following URL:


Thanks in advance.


Don't forget that your suggestions for the forum are always
welcome, either posted on the message board or via email to
Elspeth Sapphire (asapphire@aol.com) or Randall Sapphire
(rssapphire@ecauldron.com). Typos are, as usual, courtesy of the
Goddess Eris.

Merry Meet, Merry Part, Merry Meet again!
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