[Cauldron and Candle Illo]

Cauldron and Candle
Issue #20 -- February 2002

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

C A U L D R O N   A N D   C A N D L E  #20 -- February 2002

           A Publication of The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum
                website: http://www.ecauldron.com/
     mailing list/board: http://www.ecauldron.com/fregmb.php
  delphi forum: http://forums.delphiforums.com/CUSTOM7999/start
             newsletter: http://www.ecauldron.com/cnc/

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

In this Issue:

[01] Editorial: Reality 101
[02] Poem: Earth
[03] Article: Brighid Lore for Imbolc
[04] Review: Astrology & Relationships
[05] Review: The Pythagorean Tarot
[06] Review: Sisters of the Dark Moon
[07] Review: Wiccan Beliefs & Practices
[08] Review: How To Communicate With Spirits
[09] Magick: Spell to Keep Beauty from Fading
[10] Magick: Spell to Discover the Truth
[11] Humor: Three Short Ones
[12] New Articles on The Cauldron's Site
[13] New Web Polls
[14] Support The Cauldron When You Buy at Amazon.com
[15] Newsletter and Forum Info
              (Including How To Subscribe/Unsubscribe)

 +++ Submission Deadline for next issue: February 20, 2002 +++
   Guidelines: http://www.ecauldron.com/cnc/submissions.php

========= EDITORIAL: REALITY 101
========= by Elspeth Sapphire

There is a class that I would love to teach some day.

I believe that it would be more useful that any number of courses
on spirituality, or ritual writing, or divination.

I would call that class "Reality 101."

I am sure that most of us have met candidates for this class. You
can find them in any large gatherings of Pagans.  They are
usually the smiling ones standing next to the people that look
rather frustrated.  That look of frustration comes from trying to
convince someone that it is possible to be grounded in this
reality and still have a spiritual life.

I have noted several groups of people that I feel could benefit
from a Reality 101 class:

=== Everything is an Omen Kid

I am the first person to admit that the gods do send us signs and
omens at times.  Especially when I am not "listening" very well.
However, I try not to go out of my way to see omens at every
turn.  For example: my Matron Lady is often attended by ravens.
When I lived in an area that rarely saw ravens, the appearance of
one of those black birds was an important sign, usually meaning
that I needed to be paying attention.  I now live in an area
where the ravens are the size of puppy dogs and follow people
around.  Unless one comes up and plants itself in front and
starts talking, I am not going to be looking at them as an omen.

I had a friend that saw omens in everything around her.  That was
bad enough, but they seem to give her conflicting information.
Because of this, she was always walking around in a fog, almost
afraid to take action of any sort.  It wasn't until she realized
that not every dog barking was a sign that she was able to get
her life together.

These are related to those who are afraid to take a move or make
a decision without reading the cards, pulling some runes, or
using some other divination device.  These are useful tools, but
hardly necessary to decide whether to have roast for dinner or

=== Free Spirit Parents

You know the ones that I mean -- they are the ones that insist
that any sort of discipline will ruin their children.  Free
Spirit parents are the ones that allow their children to run wild
as you are attempting to do ritual or teach class or even just
socialize.  If you dare to stop these ... uh... imps, perhaps
tell them no, then the parents will jump your case, threatening
and whining.

I don't know how this idea that destructive behavior by children
is actually creative and should be encouraged got started, but I
think it is time that some of these parents look at what they are
creating.  Behaviors that are cute when a toddler will become
hard to live with as a child grows.  How do you tell a teen that
his behavior is unacceptable, when you have never taught him

I look at the current crop of Pagan kids and sometimes shudder. I
do have one hope -- that they will rebel and become born again

=== Not a Historical Scholar

Facts are not always what we want to face.  They can be
uncomfortable and bring our beliefs and ideals into question.
However, we can't just make them disappear by ignoring them and
treating those who do deal in facts with disdain.  Unfortunately,
one sees this behavior too often in Pagan circles.

The whole debate over the age of Wicca is a perfect example.  I
know people, that no matter how many facts you present, will
never accept that Wicca is as young as it is.  They still insist
that it has passed almost unchanged from prehistoric times.

The number killed during the Burning Times is another case of not
wanting to look at the historical facts.  Despite scads of
historical evidence that the number of dead was much lower, many
still cling to nine million dead in the fires.  And the gods
protect you if you point out, that even at the much lower figure,
not all were accused of witchcraft and not all were women.

=== Perfect Love and Perfect Truster

I once overheard at a gathering two women talking.  "They
arrested him for abuse?  How could that be??!  After all, he is a
Pagan and I have circled with him!"

These are usually the same women that are shocked to find out
that there are Pagans in prison.

Yes, there are people that honestly take the ideal of perfect
love and perfect trust to mean that just because you are a Pagan,
then you are completely trustworthy.  This has led to some
horrible crimes and abuses, even to people that specialize in
robbing, beating, and abusing Pagans.  They know that they can
show up on the Pagan scene and usually gain quick acceptance with
next to no interest in their background.

No matter what beliefs they claim, it is wise to always use
caution in dealing with people.

=== Party Pagans

They are usually there at every festival and every gathering. Ask
them what was the last ritual they attended and they will say,
"Beltaine!" with a saucy wink.  Often they are the first pull out
the alcohol and the first to pull off their clothing. They are
the Party Pagans and proud of the fact.

They are often just as proud of the fact that they don't take
life and this whole spiritual stuff seriously.  That is for the
dull people.  You know the ones -- the ones that always have
their noses in books and are planning rituals and activities. The
dull ones should just kick back and take life a bit easier.

Unfortunately, the Party Ones don't realize how often it is the
"dull ones" that make the events possible that they enjoy.  After
all, =someone= has to do the job of making things work.

=== "I am a Fan"

I once almost was lynched by a mob of "fans".  I did get kicked
off an email list by them.  My crime?  I dared to say that
perhaps their author of choice was wrong about something.  Simply
that.  I didn't say she was wrong about everything or that I
thought she sucked -- just that I thought she was wrong about one
fact.  I was even polite about it.  Didn't make any difference.

I have run into this in other areas than just Pagan.  For some
reason, a fan following will form around an author's work.  This
is fine and good, but when the fans start to give up critical
thinking in favor of basking in the glow from the author, then
something is wrong.

Even the best of authors will be wrong on occasion.  They will
have poorly written books.  They will misinterpret material. They
will be human.  Anyone that expects differently is riding for a

=== One Book Wonders

At one extreme, these are the women who read one book and decide
they are now a High Priestess.  At the other extreme are the
people who figure that because they have read one book on basic
Paganism, they never have to read anymore.  They never need to
study or consult with anyone.  All the necessary tools were in
that one book and that is all they need.

These people are related to the ones that claim that they get all
their information from their deity and as such, need no stinkin'

Identifying clueless people of all these categories isn't
difficult, but convincing them that they really need the reality
class is another thing.  If only I could get them to see that
reality isn't as bad as it is cracked up to being.  But I guess
if I could do that, then I wouldn't need to teach the class --
would I?

                     SEND A PAGAN 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.

========= EARTH
========= A Poem by Moonsongstress

Flesh of my flesh, she said as she rolled up
The little ball of wet clay from the cauldron
And fashioned it with deft hands, into me.
Not perfect by any means, but as I lay under

The gaze of my maker she was happy with me
And my eyes were opened. Under her loving
Gaze I knew my worth. My clay warmed and
Hardened under those keen eyes and a shiny

Coat enveloped the imperfections that were
Perfect in her making. Her hand passed over
My eyes. Sleep, she said, and I glazed over in
The cocoon of pink warmth till the time came.

Sleeping like countless sisters and brothers
Of my clay, in the rich liquid of the soup of life
Teeming with all the tiny makers and their
Busyness, I was suspended in dreams of her.

Her stability rested sure beneath the stuff of
My feet. Earth to earth I walked one on the
Other and never felt her sensitive movements
As she swayed in the breeze of time, dancing

A dance full of singular chances and numerous
Miracles which I could only see as safe and
Sound sameness and strength. How did you
Move mountains? By a butterfly's wing beat,

She said. Why did it happen? I asked. Things
Happen, she said, and I could rest in that and
Feel secure in the knowing of it because it
Allowed me to live fully for the present time.

Love lives now and builds itself on foundations
Of memories whilst all the time looking with
Anticipation for the promises to come. Basking
In the now is where our happiness lies deep,

And as I scanned the horizon for shadows of
Wings of future and rested easy on the solid
Warmth of her curving fleshed bones I knew
The liquid of now for my time, a place where

It was right for my growth and flowering, and
Where my little difference would be made.
The long night of preparation was past and
Tomorrow's light to come, but now was here.

Copyright (c) MoonSongstress 2001


        The Cauldron and Candle now has its own web site
        where we store our back issues for easy reading.


========= by Doreen Motheral

The goddess Brighid (also known as Brigit, Bride, Biddy and other
names throughout Europe) is a goddess who is near and dear to my
heart for many reasons.  I like the fact that she is associated
with both water (her wells in Kildare and other parts of Ireland)
and fire (her fire pit in Kildare).  I like the fact that she
spans both the pagan and Christian worlds and some of her
traditions are still celebrated today.

Since the festival of Imbolc (also called Oimelc) is this weekend
I thought I'd write a few thoughts for those who aren't familiar
with her (and perhaps renew an acquaintance for those who already
were). Imbolc is the time of the year that the ewes lactated, and
the successful timing of this event was approximate, so the exact
date of Imbolc could vary from region to region and from year to
year depending on the climate. Production of this milk supply was
very important to both man and animal.  From the milk comes
butter and cheese. Newly calved cows were also put under
Brighid's protection. Here's an old saying:

Samhain Eve without food,
Christmas night without bread,
St. Brighid's Eve without butter,
That is a sorry complaint.

Cormac mac Cuillenain, who lived in the 9th century said,
"Brighid i.e. a learned woman, daughter of the Dagda.  That is
Brighid of learning, i.e. a goddess who filid worshiped.  For her
protecting care was very great and very wonderful.  So they call
her a goddess of poets.  Her sisters were Brighid woman of
healing, and Brighid woman of smithcraft, daughters of the Dagda,
from whose names among all the Irish a goddess used to be called
Brighid"  In this writing, Cormac mentions her triple aspect of
three sisters, common among the Celts. I often call on one or
more of her aspects of creativity, writing and healing, but she
is much more than that.

The Christian aspects of Brighid and the pagan aspects often
overlap, so it's difficult to figure out which stories have
pre-Christian beginnings. I think there is a seed of paganism in
many of the later stories associated with her.  We'll never know
for sure, but in my own private practice I take many of her
current customs and use them for my own worship of her -- and I
don't worry about the pre-Christian aspect of the story or not.
Your mileage may vary, of course.

On the eve of Imbolc, a piece of linen, other cloth or ribbons is
placed outside (some folks put them on their window sill). This
piece of cloth is called Brighid's Brat or Brighid's Mantle. It
is said that Brighid travels all over the land on Imbolc eve and
if she sees this cloth, she will bless it and give it healing
powers. Some folks in Ireland say that the older your brat is,
the more  powerful it is. Mugwort Grove (the grove to which I
belong) destroys ours from year to year. We put out a whole piece
of linen and tear it into strips for members of the Grove during
our Imbolc ritual.  People take the strips home to use for
healing and some are kept on personal altars throughout the year.

Other folklore says that if the mantle gets bigger overnight, you
will be especially blessed. It's a nice tradition, especially if
you have a lot of illness to overcome for the following year, and
a brat is nice to have for healing rituals later in the year.

Brighid's fiery aspect makes her the perfect goddess of the
hearth -- in fact, my hearth at home is dedicated to Brighid.
There are many hearth prayers dedicated to Brighid, especially
concerning smooring. Ashes and embers were often deposited in the
fields. Also, indoor activity associated with Imbolc often took
place near the hearth, and if there was a feast, an extra place
was set for Brighid.  It is also considered bad luck to do any
type of spinning on Brighid's Day.

There is also the custom of Brighid's Bed. A small bed is made
near the hearth and a doll (called a Brideog), often made from a
sheaf of corn and made into the likeness of a woman and is
sometimes placed in the bed. In Ireland the doll was often made
from a churn dash decorated in clothing (associations t milk
again). Sometimes the doll was carried around town to visit
houses in the neighborhood. Songs, music and dances are performed
-- then prayers are said to St. Brighid for blessings upon the
house (this is similar to wassailing in other countries around
Christmas).  Then the family is asked to contribute a donation --
which used to be bread and butter (there's that dairy again!) but
now it's often money (sometimes given to charity).

There is much, much more about Brighid I could share, but this is
just the tip of the iceberg. A bit of trivia -- Brighid is so
loved by the Irish people that in 1942 a survey was taken on "The
Feast of St. Brighid". The replies about the customs run to 2,435
manuscript pages. A great book, if you can find it, is The
Festival of Brighid Celtic Goddess and Holy Woman by Seamas O
Cathain. There are many really cool stories and legends about

Last but not least one of the other interesting aspects of
Brighid is a prayer attributed to her from the 11th century which
goes like this:

I would like a great lake of ale, for the King of the Kings
I would like the angels of Heaven to be among us.
I would like an abundance of peace.
I would like full vessels of charity.
I would like rich treasures of mercy.
I would like cheerfulness to preside over all.
I would like Jesus to be present.
I would like the three Marys of illustrious renown to be with us.
I would like the friends of Heaven to be gathered around us from
all parts.
I would like myself to be a rent payer to the Lord; that I should
suffer distress, that he would bestow a good blessing upon me.
I would like a great lake of beer for the King of Kings.
I would like to be watching Heaven's family drinking it through
all eternity.

Drink up!


       If you like The Cauldron and have a few extra
       dollars, please donate via the Amazon Honor System
       and help us pay the web site bills.


========= Reviewed by Randall Sapphire

Astrology & Relationships: Techniques for Harmonious Personal
Author: David Pond
Trade Paperback, 368 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn
Publication date: July 2001
ISBN: 0738700460
US Retail Price: $17.95
Amazon Link:

Relationships are an important part of life and we all would like
to know how to improve our relationships with spouses, lovers,
friends, and co-workers. Astrology has always offered help and
guidance in relationships, although it is often stated in
negative terms: sign X isn't compatible with sign Y. That's
always struck me as overly simplistic. Am I really incompatible
with the approximately one-twelfth of humanity born under a sign
said to be incompatible with my own?

David Pond's new book Astrology & Relationships: Techniques for
Harmonious Personal Connections takes a fresh look at
relationship astrology. Instead of declaring certain signs and
planets incompatible, Ponds describes their traits and needs.
This enables one to learn to get along as best one can with other
people. This book doesn't tell you how to find a perfect
relationship. It uses astrological insights to tell you how to
have the best relationship you can with the people you know.

Astrology & Relationships is divided into ten chapters, one for
each of the astrological "planets" in a horoscope. Each chapter
starts with a general description of the planet in astrology and
its effect on relationships in particular. This section includes
exercises designed to help the reader understand the planet and
deal with its effects in relationships. The main part of each
chapter, however, is descriptions of the specific effects of the
planet in each sign it can fall into in a natal horoscope. These
effects are divided into a general description, a section of
areas to work on, and a section on how to deal with others who
have that planet in that sign. The material is easy to read and
understand as it is presented in layman's terms instead of in
astrological jargon. This makes the book less suitable for
experts, but astrological experts are not the intended audience
for this book.

As you have probably gathered by now, to make the best use of
this book one has to know more than a person's sun sign. One
needs to know the sign of all the planets in the person's natal
chart. Fortunately, Astrology & Relationships includes a
simple set of charts which will allow you to determine what
planets are in what signs for anyone born between 1900 and 2005
if you know their birth date and birth time. The most complex
calculation involved is converting the birth time to Greenwich
Mean Time.

While your reviewer is not an expert on astrology, Astrology &
Relationships seems to be a well-written attempt to present
relationship astrology in a very useful manner. Knowing the
astrological traits of the most perfect relationship for you
seems much less useful, after all, than ideas on how to make the
best of the relationships life hands you. Experts may turn their
nose up at the "layman's tone" of this volume, but the average
person with little detailed knowledge of astrology who would like
to use astrology to help him understand and better relate to the
people he deals with every day will probably find this book

           This review is available on our web site at

========= Reviewed by Randall Sapphire

The Pythagorean Tarot
Author: John Opsopaus
Artist: Rho
Book and Cards Set
Publisher: Llewellyn
Publication date: November 2001
ISBN: 1567184499
US Retail Price: $39.95
View Sample Cards:
Amazon Link:

Tarot decks are usually easy to review. There's a deck and
there's a book describing the deck designed to introduce a
newcomer to both the deck and the Tarot. The Pythagorean Tarot,
with its 480 page trade paperback book with over 1600 footnoted
references, breaks this mold. John Opsopaus (you may have seen
his web site, Biblioteca Arcana) and his illustrator, Rho, have
produced something quite different from the norm.

The deck itself doesn't strike one as all that unusual at first
glance. The deck was drawn and colored by Rho in what looks like
colored pencil. This gives the deck an intimate, handmade feel.
Only the Major Arcana and the court cards are fully illustrated.
The pip cards are just geometric patterns of swords, wands,
pentacles or cups. Even the fully illustrated cards are drawn
without a lot of the "hidden" symbolism some decks have.

On closer examination, however, the deck is quite a bit different
from most Tarot decks on the market, albeit often in subtle ways.
One will immediately notice that some of the Major Arcana have
different names and are numbered differently. Each card is
labeled in Greek. Even the system of roman numerals is different
(IIII is used to represent four). The pages in the court cards
are all males while the knights are all females. The people in
the court cards are all Greek deities. While these differences
are noticeable, this is clearly a Tarot deck, not a Tarot-like
divination deck. Nothing here is so strange as to make the deck
hard to use in the hands of an experienced reader (or an
inexperienced reader with a good basic book on the Tarot at hand,
for that matter).

As you might expect from its 480 page length, the book in this
set is much different from the books that usually accompany Tarot
decks. Guide to the Pythagorean Tarot is John Opsopaus' attempt
to present the tarot in a new light. The author believes that
many Neo-Pagans, particularly those from non-Celtic and
non-Wiccan religions, may be uncomfortable with many of the Tarot
decks on the market. The author says "The Pythagorean Tarot
remedies this by providing a system of tarot interpretation ...
that is firmly rooted in ancient Greek paganism and esoteric
doctrine." He goes on to say "The Pythagorean Tarot reconstructs
a tarot such as the Pythagoreans might have used, had they known
the tarot." While this deck is strongly based in ancient
Hellenism, other more modern influences such as alchemy and
Jungian archetypes helped shape the deck and influenced the
lengthy descriptions of the cards.

Guide to the Pythagorean Tarot is a dense and complex work. It
will probably scare the beginning Tarot student (or any Pagan who
has never moved beyond light "Wicca 101"-style books) away.
However, this book is a gift from the Gods to an intermediate to
advanced student of the Tarot or to a Pagan with more academic or
reconstructionist leanings. The volume begins with background
information on Pythagorean beliefs and their place among other
ways of viewing the Tarot. This is followed by detailed
descriptions and commentaries on each card in the Major Arcana.
Each Major Arcana card gets an average of 11 pages of
well-footnoted comments. The pip and court cards are described in
numbered sets (all the aces, all the twos, etc.). Each card has
about a page devoted to it. The remainder of the text covers the
practical aspects of using the deck. The author provides a
suggested divination ritual and seven tarot spreads for using
this deck in divination. A few pages on Tarot mediation and
magick round out the text. The book has an extensive bibliography
and index.

While I really like this deck and expect to reread the book that
comes with it many times over the years, The Pythagorean Tarot is
not for everyone. If you are interested in a unique view of the
Tarot as a sect of ancient Greeks might have created it and if
you enjoy dense, almost academic style text with footnoted
sources, you'll love this Tarot deck and book. If you are
interested a detailed examination of the Major Arcana or in
Pythagorean Numerology, you will find this set a good addition to
your library. If you are new to the Tarot and interested in
quickly learning to use the Tarot for divination, this is
probably not the deck for you. However, if you feel drawn to
these cards for a first deck, don't let the dense book that comes
with them stop you.  Just be sure to pick up a good basic book on
the Tarot to guide you until you feel confident enough to put the
Guide to the Pythagorean Tarot to good use.

           This review is available on our web site at

========= Reviewed by Randall Sapphire

Sisters of the Dark Moon: 13 Rituals of the Dark Goddess
Author: Gail Wood
Paperback, 162 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn
Publication date: October 2001
ISBN: 0738700959
US Retail Price: $12.95
Amazon Link:

Many Wiccans celebrate the Full Moons with a ritual. Although
most of the books on Wicca I read in the 1970s talked about doing
a ritual for both the Full and the New Moon, many more recent
Wicca books barely mention New Moon rituals. Gail Wood's new
book, Sisters of the Dark Moon, tries to remedy this lack.

After a short introduction where the author explains her
background and interest in Dark Moon rituals, this book quickly
moves to its purpose, explaining the phases of the moon (all nine
of them), the lunar year, and providing a brief introduction to
Wiccan ritual. The rest of the book is one ritual for each of the
13 New Moons in a lunar year. These Moon rituals are identified
by zodiac sign and divided into four sections. The Dark Maiden
section covers the rituals for the New Moons in Aquarius, Pisces,
Aries, and Taurus. The section on the Dark Mother provides
rituals for the Gemini, Cancer, Leo, and Virgo New Moons. The
Dark Crone part gives New Moon rituals for Libra, Scorpio,
Sagittarius, and Capricorn. The fourth section, "The Dark Weaver"
cover the thirteenth New Moon which the author assigns to the
(non-existent) sign of Arachne which was invented or discovered
(your pick) by John Vogh in his 1977 book Arachne Rising: The
Search for the Thirteenth Sign of the Zodiac.

Each ritual is prefaced by several pages of comments and
information on the significance of the Dark Moon in that
astrological sign. The rituals Gail provides for each sign are
not elaborate, as might be expected since they are designed for
solitary performance. Many include guided meditations. The author
suggests in passing that one might want to record them and play
the recording back during the ritual. I would say that is a must.
Most people find it very hard to meditate while reading.

Sisters of the Dark Moon is an easy book to describe, but it is a
hard book to give a firm purchase recommendation on. While it
covers material that few books on Wicca I've seen recently have
covered in much detail, its centerpiece -- the 13 Dark Moon
rituals -- seem nice but relatively uninspired. While I
personally think adding a non-existent constellation to the
Zodiac is silly (especially when there are parts of other, real,
constellations in the band of sky we call the Zodiac which could
have been used -- Cetus or Ophiuchus, for example), that really
can't be held against the book -- and that is the only major
issue I have with the book. In the end, this is a fairly average
book on an unusual topic. If you are a Wiccan who is interested
in solitary rituals for the New Moons and do not wish to design
your own, take a look at this book. It just might deserve a home
on your bookshelf.

           This review is available on our web site at

========= Reviewed by Randall Sapphire

Wiccan Beliefs & Practices
Author: Gary Cantrell
Trade Paperback, 360 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn
Publication date: May 2001
ISBN: 1567181120
US Retail Price: $14.95
Amazon Link:

Gary Cantrell, a priest of the "Eclectic-Celtic Pagan of Wicca,"
has added his contribution to the glut of "Wicca 101" (or "Wicca
for Beginners") books with Wiccan Beliefs & Practices. Most Wicca
101 books are fairly average with little beyond the author's
personal style to distinguish them. A very few are excellent and
a larger few are quite bad. Unfortunately, despite a couple of
interesting chapters, Wiccan Beliefs & Practices falls into the
"quite bad" category.

Wiccan Beliefs & Practices starts off with a chapter on
definitions and background. This is followed by a chapter on
ethics, a chapter on tools and clothing, a chapter of short
Sabbat and esbat rituals, a chapter of other rituals, a pair of
chapters of spells and divination, an interesting chapter on
Wiccans with disabilities, a chapter on the place of humor in
Wicca, and finally a chapter on deciding whether or not to come
"out of the broom closet." The main text is followed by a series
of appendixes: a listing of ritual texts, a listing of Celtic
deities, a list of Pagan shops and resources, and a bibliography.
With the exception of the chapter on Wiccans with disabilities,
this is fairly standard fare for a Wicca 101 book.

The author spends a great detail of time and space in this book
telling the reader that the material in the book is just his
personal opinion based on his experience. In fact, he says this
so often that it becomes slightly annoying. However, I'm glad the
author says this because much of the information in this book,
especially the historical information, is just plain wrong. For
example, Wicca was not "already thousands of years old" before
Gerald Gardner wrote about it and Dianic Wicca was not "developed
by Margaret Murray in 1921."

This book contradicts itself in many places. For example, the
author spends a good part of the first chapter telling his
readers that there is no one true way to practice Wicca. Then he
goes on to say, just a few pages later, that if you are not
practicing a Celtic based system that you're not practicing
Wicca. A few pages later, he lists Strega and Teutonic Wicca as
Wiccan traditions even through they aren't Wicca (as they aren't
Celtic-based) according to what he said a few pages earlier. At
another point, the author states if one changes the basics of
Wiccan worship or "subverts the old methods," one is no longer
practicing Wicca. Yet in the information on tools in the third
chapter, the author admits that he has never seen much use for
some of the basic, traditional tools of Wicca, such as the
chalice and the wand, even though their use is called for
traditionally in various spells and rituals. Contradictions like
these (and like the factual errors, there are more than the few
examples I'm giving) confuse me.  I hate to think of what they
would do to the neophytes for whom this book is written.

In his chapter on ethics, Cantrell states that the Wiccan Rede is
an "inviolate rule of witchcraft as Wiccans understand it." I get
so tired of seeing this misinformation in  Wicca 101 books. The
word "rede" means "advice." The Wiccan Rede is moral advice, not
moral law. While calling the Rede an "inviolate rule" instead of
"advice" probably annoys me more than anything else in the book,
this misconception is in many recent Wicca 101 books and is often
stated in stronger terms than the Cantrell did.

The Sabbat rituals in Wiccan Beliefs & Practices are
straightforward and simple, but by striving for simplicity they
seem almost interchangeable. There's little to distinguish any
Sabbat from another in this book's rituals. Another example of
the book's confusing prose is the section on handfasting rituals.
Cantrell quite properly suggests checking whether a handfasting
is a legally valid wedding in your state before performing one.
However, instead of suggesting checking with your state
government or a lawyer, he suggests you should check with the
"Council of the Goddess" -- an organization I've never heard of
and which he doesn't list in his resources appendix.  Perhaps he
meant the "Covenant of the Goddess" -- which he does list in the
resources appendix and which he incorrectly thinks probably
represents most of the formal Covens in the US. However, he says
in that appendix he's found that organization hard to contact,
which makes one doubt that the author would recommend contacting
it on an issue like this.

The chapter on magick is full of the commentary on the origins,
history, and usefulness of magickal techniques, but contains
relatively little information on actually performing magick. The
chapter on divination is a quick overview of the author's three
favorite divination methods: the pendulum, the scrying mirror,
and the runes. The book gives only enough information for the
reader to actually try the first two.

The chapter on Wiccans with disabilities is the one good feature
of this book. It discusses ways Wiccan rituals and practices can
be adapted for those with disabilities. While this short chapter
only briefly discusses hearing loss, back problems, immobility,
and the lack of privacy those dependent on others often suffer
from, I was happy to see it as it is something that is seldom
discussed in the Wiccan community. The chapter on humor is also
enjoyable. It is sort of a "blooper reel" of things that have
gone wrong in ritual. Many new to the Wiccan path seem to fear
what might happen if they mess up a ritual. This chapter teaches
by example that the Wiccan deities don't bite when Murphy's Law
strikes during a ritual.  If only the rest of the book were as
good as these two chapters.

Wiccan Beliefs & Practices is the worst Wicca 101 book I've read
in quite a while. It has so much misinformation and so many
contradictions that it would confuse or mislead most beginners
interested in Wicca. I suggest all beginners pass this book by
and select one of the many other Wicca books aimed at beginners.
This volume's two good chapters simply cannot redeem the rest of
the book, especially when those chapters are on secondary issues
and are not primary "Wiccan instructional material" that most
people would buy the book for.

           This review is available on our web site at

========= Reviewed by Randall Sapphire

How To Communicate With Spirits
Author/Artist: Elizabeth Owens
Hardcover, 194 pages
Publisher: Llewellyn
Publication date: September 2001
ISBN: 1567185304
US Retail Price: $9.95
Amazon Link:

Many people are interested in communicating with dead loved ones
or with a spirit guide. Others, of course, consider the very idea
nonsense or against their religion. While there are many books on
contacting the dead or mediumship, I decided to review Elizabeth
Owens' How to Communicate with Spirits because it was written by
an ordained Spiritualist minister. Spiritualism has been an
active (if small), organized religion in the US since the late

How to Communicate with Spirits is an interesting book, full of
anecdotes about spirit communication from the experiences of the
author and other Spiritualist ministers. Most of the book is
taken up with discussing what spirits are, the types of spirit
guides, how spirits manifest in the material world, relatives as
guides (surprising, the author says they usually aren't),
determining whether a spirit is a true guide, and the various
types of phenomena that occasionally accompany spirit

Only the last three chapters (the 9th through the 11th) deal with
practical "how to communicate" material. The ninth chapter
discusses Ouija boards, automatic writing and drawing, and table
tipping, complete with practical information for those inclined
to try these methods of spirit communication. The tenth chapter
suggests ways to get started communicating with spirits in an
organized manner as opposed to just occasional experiments. The
last chapter provides several guided meditations designed to help
one find and communicate with a spirit guide.

As many members of The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum message areas
know, I'm somewhat skeptical about things like this. While I
certainly do not believe spirits never communicate, I just think
such communication is far less frequent than many others believe.
I'm still just as skeptical after reading this book. However, I
found the book an enjoyable and informative read. The background
information, particularly the many anecdotes, was very
interesting reading. Those looking for such information,
especially those interested in the experiences of Spiritualist
ministers, will find this book a worthwhile read. Those only
interested in the practical side of things may be somewhat
disappointed with this book as only about one-third of the book
is devoted to "how to" instruction.

           This review is available on our web site at

                         UPCOMING REVIEWS
       Here are a few of the books we'll be reviewing in
       future issues: INVOKE THE GODS, MAGIC OF QABALAH,
       FOR BEGINNERS. Reviews often appear on our web
       site first, so check there for new reviews if you
       can't wait for the next issue of the newsletter.

========= Author Unknown


  1 mirror
  1 yard gold string


This spell is to be done when Venus and Mars are in conjunction.

Say into a mirror:

  Figures of fire
  That shift and change,
  Planets that move
  By heaven's hinge,
  Be signed and fixed
  Forever here,
  And close my image
  Within thy sphere.

Measure a yard of golden string, loose from your fingers let it
swing, then tie it in thirteen sturdy knots and hide it among
your scents and pots.

========= Author Unknown


  2 white candles
  1 candle (color that best represents you)


Mediate on the subject about which you wish to learn the truth
for at least 15 minutes.

Light the candle representing yourself, saying:

  This candle I light to represent myself.
  It burns as does the spirit.
  It is as myself in all things.

Set the two white candles to either side of the candle
representing yourself and draw a circle around all three. Light
the two white candles saying:

  These are the symbols for truth.
  They are enjoined about (your name)
  and to me show all truth.

Then say:

  As I roke in the night 'cross the brown heath bare,
  In the bright moons light saw a castle fair;
  Lords and ladies, great and small,
  Where crowding in, 'twas a festival,
  Grasses in the wind are waving.
  They bade me welcome and I went
  To drink their wine to my heart's content.
  I danced and laughed with the ladies fair.
  Ne'er in my life had I such cheer;
  Grasses in the wind are waving.
  Then all at once there came a cry:
  Haro by yaro! Asleep fell I,
  While a lady dancing at my side
  Seemed like a lizared away to glide;
  Grasses in the wind are waving.
  I woke in the early light of day,
  In an olden ruin I did lay,
  O'er the rock and into the sun
  I saw a green-gold lizard run!
  Grasses in the wind are waving.
  Now the truth I know and it stays with me,
  For I have seen what I did see,
  All secret knowledge came to mind,
  Borne on laughter of the other kind;
  Grasses in the wind are waving."

Sit then in quiet contemplation watching the candle flames for
half an hour. In this time will the truth of the matter in
question come to you.

Extinguish candles when you are through.

========= Authors Unknown

=== Inner Peace

I think I have found inner peace.

I read an article that said the way to achieve inner peace is to
finish things I had started. Today I finished two bags of potato
chips, a chocolate pie, a bottle of wine and a small box of
chocolate candy. I feel better already.

Pass this along to those who need Inner Peace....

=== Sign Language -- A Louisiana Joke

One day Father Boudreaux and Pastor Thibodeaux wuz fishin on the
side of the road.  Dey thoughtfully made a sign sayin, "The End
is Near -- turn yurself 'roun now, afore it's too late!," and
showed it to each passing car.

Well dis one car dat passed didn't 'preciate the sign and wuz
shoutin at dem and hollorin, "Leave us alone, you religious
nuts!" Den all of a sudden dey heard a big splash and dey looked
at each other and Father Boudreaux said, "ya think we shoulda
just put a sign dat say 'Bridge Out' instead?"

=== World Religions

While working on a lesson in world religions, a kindergarten
teacher asked her students to bring something related to their
family's faith to class. At the appropriate time she asked the
students to come forward and share with the rest of the students.

The first child said, "I am Muslim and this is my prayer rug.

The second child said, "I am Jewish and this is my Star of

The third child said, "I am Catholic and this is my rosary."

The final child said, "I am Southern Baptist and this is my
casserole dish."

========= Cauldron Info

The following new areas have been added to The Cauldron's web
site since our last issue.

 * Yulie and the Origin of Yule

   A humorous history of the "Goddess Yulie" and her holiday.


 * The Granny Phenomena!

   Faerie K. discusses the Granny Phenomena: long dead relatives
   who just happened to pass on the secret family tradition of


 * Hellenic Ethics

   A discussion of ethical system of Hellenic Paganism. It's not
   the Wiccan Rede.


The following book and tarot reviews (some included in this
newsletter) are new to the web site:

 * Sisters of the Dark Moon


 * Wiccan Beliefs & Practices


 * How to Communicate with Spirits


 * True Magick


========= Cauldron Info
========= NEW WEB POLLS

Web Polls have disappeared from The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum's web
site. In mid-January, our Web Provider turned off a major feature
of PHP (that 99% of publicly available PHP programs use as they
consider it a "security hole." I suppose it is -- in the same
manner than doors and windows on houses are a security hole (and
should be eliminated from houses to increase their security no
matter how much it reduces their usability).  Unfortunately, this
broke our PHP poll software.  Polls will return when and if I
find (or have time to write) free poll software that both works
on Cubesoft and works the way I wish it to work.  My apologies.

========= Cauldron Info

If you wish to purchase books or other items at Amazon.com, you
can help fund The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum'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 some 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.

========= (Including how to subscribe and unsubscribe)

Cauldron and Candle is a free publication of The Cauldron: A
Pagan Forum with assistance from our sister form, The Witches'
Thicket. The Cauldron and The Thicket aim to publish this
newsletter once a month and often actually succeed in doing so.
We tried to publish it twice a month for a while, but real life
interfered too often.

Copyrights on individual items in this newsletter are retained by
their author, please contact the editors if you need to contact
an author for permission to reprint an article and the editors
will do their best to put you in touch with him or her. No one
involved in producing this newsletter has any money to speak of
so suing us if you don't like something we do is a waste of time
and money.


You are receiving a copy of this newsletter because you signed up
to receive it. You can subscribe or unsubscribe to this
newsletter via your web browser at:


Or you can unsubscribe via email by sending a blank message to


Be sure to send this message from the email account actually
subscribed to the newsletter. If you have trouble unsubscribing
by email, please use the web browser mentioned above.

If you need to change your subscription to a new email address,
unsubsribe your old email address and subscribe your new email


The Cauldron and Candle web site contains information on this
newsletter and an archive of back issues.



Cauldron and Candle is always looking for articles, reviews, and
announcements of interest to the Neo-Pagan community. Submissions
will normally be considered for both the newsletter and our web
site. For more information, please see our submission guidelines



If you have Pagan friends who you believe would be interested in
Cauldron and Candle please invite them to subscribe. You can
either drop them a note yourself or -- better yet -- send them
one of The Cauldron's email postcards with the information.

You are also welcome to forward a copies of this newsletter to
interested friends and associates provided you forward the entire


If you like The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum please invite your
friends to visit. If you 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 (elspeth.sapphire@worldnet.att.net) or Randall
Sapphire (rssapphire@ecauldron.com). Typos are, as usual,
courtesy of the Goddess Eris.

Merry Meet, Merry Part, Merry Meet again!

Return to Cauldron and Candle Archive

Top | Home | Message Board | Site Info & Rules | Report Site Problems
Thanks to Cauldron Sponsors
(Sponsor The Cauldron!)

Cheap Web Hosting Report | Pagan & Magick Supplies
Witchcraft Course
Download Hundreds of Magic Spells