[Cauldron and Candle Illo]


Cauldron and Candle
Issue #86 -- August 2007

A Publication of The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum
website: http://www.ecauldron.com/
message board: http://www.ecauldron.net/mb/


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C A U L D R O N   A N D   C A N D L E #86 -- August 2007

           A Publication of The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum
                website: http://www.ecauldron.com/
          message board: http://www.ecauldron.net/forum/
             newsletter: http://www.ecauldron.com/cnc/
            shopping: http://www.ecauldron.com/mall.php

In this Issue:

[00] Editorial Notes: It's Time for a Boycott
[01] Cauldron News
   * Avatar Design Challenge #1 Results
   * Cauldron Fiction Writing Contest
[02] Interesting Recent Cauldron Discussions
   * Worst Pagan Book?
   * Pagan Pride
   * What Was Your Biggest Magical Mistake?
   * Tarot Card Differences: The Devil
   * Altars and Simplifying
   * Funny (or Just Plain DUH) Responses to Being Pagan?
   * The Sanctity of Your Altar and Tools?
   * Deifying the Dead and Ancestor Worship
   * Nationalism?
   * Reincarnation and Past Lives
[03] Articles
   * How to Keep Your Coven from Being Destroyed: Part VI
   * Choosing a Tarot Spread
   * The Eclipses are Coming! August 28 and September 11, 2007
   * Review: Disciple's Guide to Ritual Magic
   * Review: Llewellyn's 2008 Herbal Almanac
   * Review: Llewellyn's 2008 Witches' Calendar
   * Review: Essential Reiki Workshop DVD
[04] Flamekeeping: Creation
[05] Software Gadgets: The Column
   * MUSHclient -- Excellent MU* Client Now Freeware
   * My Pictures 3D Screensaver
   * Leylines -- Master of Magic-Like Game
[06] Grimoire: Spell to Find Lost Items
[07] Recipe: Raspberry-Cashew Salad
[08] Support The Cauldron
[09] Newsletter Information
(Including How To Subscribe/Unsubscribe)

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Welcome to the August 2007 issue of Cauldron and Candle. You
are receiving this issue because you subscribed. To learn how to
unsubscribe, see the last section of this newsletter.

I don't often put "editorial opinion" in this editorial, but I'm
annoyed enough to do so this issue as I think...


In what is probably one of the most bonehead public relations
moves in the history of the world, Johnson & Johnson has filed
suit against The American Red Cross for its use of the red cross
emblem. From The Red Cross site: "Today, Johnson & Johnson (J&J)
filed a lawsuit against the American Red Cross and four of its
licensing partners for 'unlawful conduct' related to the
nonprofit's use of the Red Cross emblem."

More here:

* http://www.redcross.org/pressrelease/0,1077,0_314_6907,00.html

* http://www.redcross.org/pressrelease/0,1077,0_314_6910,00.html

And Johnson & Johnson's statement is here:

* http://www.jnj.com/news/jnj_news/20070809_081717.htm

While Johnson & Johnson seems to be trying to make this sound
like a normal trademark case, it probably isn't as the American
Red Cross does not own the Red Cross symbol as a trademark under
trademark law. Instead the usage of the symbol was assigned to
the American Red Cross directly by the US Congress. If you would
like to view the Congressional Charter of the American Red Cross
to decide the merits of the case yourself, you will find a copy
here -- section 6 and related provisions seem to cover the

* http://www.redcross.org/images/pdfs/charter.pdf

Personally, I think Johnson & Johnson is so far out of line on
this issue that I am not going to buy any of the many consumer
products produced by any of the Johnson & Johnson family of
companies if I can avoid doing so. There are a lot of J&J
consumer products and almost all of them have generics (if they
are drugs -- and generics are cheaper than the J&J brands in most
cases) or alternate products produced by other companies. If you
would like to boycott Johnson & Johnson products, there's a very
long list on their web site:

* http://www.jnj.com/product/categories/index.htm

If you would like to let J&J know how you feel about this, they
have a contact form:

* http://www.jnj.com/contact_us/index.htm

If J&J have a 1-800 number, I could not find it on their web
site. If you do decide to boycott Johnson & Johnson over this,
but sure to let them know that you are doing so -- and why. And
urge your friends to consider doing the same.

Randall Sapphire
Editor and Publisher, Cauldron and Candle
Co-Host, The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum

========= by The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum Staff

===== Cauldron Message Board Info:

The results of our first Avatar Design Challenge are in and Juni
is the winner. You can see more info here:

 * http://www.ecauldron.net/forum/index.php?topic=2221.0

===== Cauldron Message Board Info:

HeartShadow, ShadowCat and Celtee have come up with the idea to
have a fiction writing contest here on The Cauldron. If you would
like to participate, please read the following rules:

The Cauldron fiction contest August 2007 Rules:

Theme: Harvest Festival
Length: a maximum of 6000 words

Contest opens: August 10, 2007
Contest closes: September 15, 2007
Voting starts: October 1, 2007
Winners notified: October 8, 2007
Honorary Prize: Avatar or Sig Pic, by Cat, and publication in
Cauldron and Candle, the TC newsletter
Judges: Celtee, ShadowCat, HeartShadow

Judging criteria:
--Clear, concise writing
--Easily readable and understandable
--Sticks to the topic

Two submissions maximum per person. However, only ONE submission
will be allowed into the final judging so it is fair for

Contest open to all members of The Cauldron.

Submissions must follow all rules of The Cauldron; including
being PG-13 or better.

HeartShadow, ShadowCat and Celtee will be the judges with the
(impossible) job of narrowing all entries down to the top three.
After the contest ends and the top three are picked, they will be
posted on the board and all members of The Cauldron will be able
to vote for their favorite.

PM Celtee through her profile for her email address. In the
subject line of the email, put your Cauldron name and "Cauldron
Submission" (f'ex: "Celtee's Cauldron Submission") and note "ESL"
if English is not your first language.

Hope you participate. Can't wait to see your submissions so dust
off your paper, sharpen your pencils and let the stories unfold!

For more information:

* http://www.ecauldron.net/forum/index.php?topic=2199.0

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========= Recent Discussion Topics on our Message Board

In an average month, over 200 new discussion topics are started
on The Cauldron's message board. Here are a few of the more
interesting recent discussions. It's not too late to join in.

Thanks to Feedburner, you can now receive an email every night on
days we post new site news items to the main page of The
Cauldron's web site. These emails contain a link to the new item
and the first couple of lines of the news text. You can sign up
for Feedburner's free news delivery via the form at the end of
the site "News and Updates" section of The Cauldron's main web

===== Worst Pagan Book?

Aside from the part where I like bad books - well some of them -
what is the single worst book you've come across?

Of the few that I actually own now, I have to nominate The Little
Giant Encyclopedia of Spells and Magic for pure wrong

* Read (or join in) this discussion:

===== Pagan Pride

First, let me say that I'm very mindful of the issues surrounding
the word "Pagan". Let me also say, that for me, it is a useful
descriptor (one among many) that helps me understand who I am and
how I move through the world in relation to other people.

OK, that said, I'm wondering what folks here think of Pagan Pride

As most of you know, I have always worked in the area of social
justice, and I very recently started a job as the policy director
of a national social justice/education organization. This
organization deals directly with a group that has been
marginalized by society, and is definitely "the outsiders."

I attended an annual event this past weekend, during which I
found myself substituting "religious bias" in my head, every time
someone talked about any other kind of bias (e.g., gender, race,
sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, etc.). And the
more I thought about it, the more I realized that I have the
right to be who I am, wherever I am. Period.

Yeah, I know: Duh.

Anyway, I came home very energized on a personal level as well as
a professional level. I'm interested in working on religious
rights -- and I have the skills to really make a difference. I'm
a professional advocate, lobbyist, advocacy trainer, and lawyer.

Nevertheless, I have some concerns about the way the "Pagan
Community" approaches the issue (please notice the quote marks --
I don't want to revisit the issue of whether there IS a pagan
community -- for these purposes, I believe there is perceived to
be one). Even so, I think I'm going to volunteer to help out with
DC's annnual Pagan Pride Day. At the very least, I'll get a
closer look.

Thoughts? Comments? Advice? Warnings? Encouragements?

* Read (or join in) this discussion:

===== What Was Your Biggest Magical Mistake?

I thought it might be useful for the newer witches/magicians if
the more experienced folk in here contributed to a list of
magical mistakes they've made (come on, admit it, we've all had
our fingers burned).

* Read (or join in) this discussion:

===== Tarot Card Differences: The Devil

I currently have two tarot card decks: one is The Witches Tarot
and the other is The Quest.

The little book for the Witches Tarot claims that pagans do not
believe in the devil hence this is why there is no "Devil" card
in this deck however in The Quest deck there is a Devil card
which indicates "Temptation".

My question is from what premise does the creator of The Quest
deck define the cards? Is it truly from a "Pagan" view? (As I
understand, "pagan" basically refers to "non-Christian" religions
and traditions.)

What particular "Pagan" tradition, if any, is he basing this
devil card from?

Yes, I realize I risk sounding like an ignorant child but I was
pondering this and I am not sure I ever heard of the "devil" ever
really being referred to in Wicca and Witchcraft.

* Read (or join in) this discussion:

===== Altars and Simplifying

I have a...altar?...shrine?...shelf for Brighid. It currently has
about a dozen candles and oil lamps, as well as an aloe plant, an
offering bowl, an offering cup (for Irish Mist), a pottery piece
I use in my morning purification ritual, and a number of stones
and crystals.

I think it's gotten redundant. I don't need all these candles --
because I AM the offering to Brighid. In her own words to me, "I
can play these strings like a harp"; I am Her harp, Her
instrument, Her tool -- and a harp does not need a lot of
trappings. Tools don't need tools.

I need to simplify my altar and get it in order, and I think it's
a metaphor for needing to simplify and get my life in order -- at
least in regard to my path. I've been feeling torn in so many
directions lately. There's so much to learn and I want to learn
it all NOW.

So, I think I'm going to simplify my altar, as a exercise that I
can then apply to my spiritual life.

Anyone in a similar situation? Thoughts?

* Read (or join in) this discussion:

===== Funny (or Just Plain DUH) Responses to Being Pagan?

What kind of responses have you had from people, when you tell
them you are Pagan, or just not Mainstream religion? I would like
to *hear* some of the funny or just plain "DUH" responses that
others have received. As an example, here is a "Duh" one that I
received when I told someone that I was Pagan -

He said, with a straight face as he was dead serious - "So, you
don't eat meat?"

Granted after I explained that I was Pagan, not Vegan, he
understood and proceeded with the other typical responses -
flying on broomsticks, turning people into toads, worshiping
Satan, etc and so on.

Has anyone else had any responses like that?

* Read (or join in) this discussion:

===== The Sanctity of Your Altar and Tools?

I have to admit I am a bit nit picky about my altar and ritual
tools. I have a permanent altar in my bedroom and I keep symbols
of the Elements on it, my censer and any decorations that may
correspond with a particular Sabbat or Esbat. The only things I
don't keep out on my altar are things my son could get into and
hurt himself with. I keep those safely tucked away in a drawer
and only pull them out during ritual work. I am especially
particular about my Book of Shadows and my divination tools. I
don't let anyone touch my Rider-Waite Tarot deck. I've had it
since I was nineteen and it has been properly cleansed,
consecrated and empowered. I have used it for so many years that
I just can't bear the thought of anyone else's energy coming into
contact with them.

Am I being unreasonable or superstitious, or are there others out
there who prefer to keep their tools "pure" by not letting other
people handle them?

* Read (or join in) this discussion:

===== Deifying the Dead and Ancestor Worship

I would be interested in hearing opinions on how the following
terms might be defined:

Deifying the Dead
Ancestor Worship
Honoring the Ancestors

It seems to me that sometimes the line between these gets

Also, what are some thoughts on adding the dead to your altar who
were not ancestors or someone you knew personally. Say a
historical figure or social rights leader for instance - someone
like Gandhi or Mother Teresa for example, or do you think that
would be unwise?

* Read (or join in) this discussion:

===== Nationalism?

Nationalism has always bothered me. Particularly symbolic shows
of it, such as saluting the flag & reciting the Pledge of
Allegiance. I have a hard time accepting the idea that people
should be symbolically separated by national boundaries, and that
obedience and the fulfillment of duty (loyalty, military service,
etc.) are necessary.

I don't want to use religion as a cop-out, but are there any
spiritual ideas that would explain how I feel? Help me clean up
the muddled feeling of discomfort and replace it with a clear
understanding of exactly what is wrong with nationalism?

I also know that many people here would disagree with me. please,
share your opinions and beliefs as well. But note that I
understand the importance and usefulness of countries, as
economic and political units. I just do not agree with
nationalism, the concept.

* Read (or join in) this discussion:

===== Reincarnation and Past Lives

Do you believe in past lives, and/or reincarnation? Does one
necessarily include the other? If you do believe in past lives,
have you ever tried to discover what they were? What does karma
have to do with this issue? Is reincarnation limited to the
earthly plane, or do you think that past lives can, and have,
been lived on the spiritual plane?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

* Read (or join in) this discussion:

========= ARTICLES

===== Part 6 (of 7): Networks and Networks
===== by Eran

There is a class of people who are driven to tear down Covens and
Pagan groups. Their usual approach is to make unfair and
unreasonable attacks on those in leadership positions. I've
called these people "trolls", making use of the very powerful and
very old European image of forces which are destructive and
chaotic - yet easily outwitted, if you know a little about their

Previous installments of this series have given hints and
techniques for identifying trolls, warning signs to watch for and
ways to recognize the sort of person who is going to thrive on
causing you trouble. As a brief reminder: Trolls can't help being
trolls. They don't want to be destructive, exactly. They just
can't help it. Like a hurricane or a plague, it's simply part of
their nature. You won't change them, and you can't stop them. The
best thing to do is to get out of the way. The best way to handle
trolls is to recognize them, and to not associate with them;
don't let them into your Coven, and if one manages to get in,
kick the critter out as soon as you realize what you're dealing

This installment provides some hints on dealing with trolls in a
variety of other contexts - online, in letter exchanges in a
magazine, or in networking situations in a larger community: how
do you handle a troll who isn't in your Coven? But first, it's
important to recall why trolls need to be treated pretty
strictly. The way you treat a troll would seem cruel if it were
any other kind of person. But it's important to treat all things
in Nature according to what they really are. That is the essence
a Nature religion.

=== Are Trolls Really All That Dangerous?

Trolls often tend to have a very different view of reality from
those around them. Pagans in general often work with the concept
of personalized realities, and with the validity of one's own
perceptions, even if those perceptions differ from so-called
"objective" or " consensual" reality. What makes a troll a troll
is not merely a difference in reality-perception. What makes a
troll is if that difference leads to a dark and dangerous world
in which the person constantly feels threatened and endangered.
This is neither Good nor Bad (Witchcraft has no theological
concept of a struggle of Good vs. Evil). It simply is, and others
who have to deal with such people need to be aware of it.

A troll lives in a personal reality which is dangerous and
threatening. The technical term for this is "psychosis". Trolls
are psychotic. They can be very convincing liars, because they
really believe the dark fantasies they tell. This kind of fearful
psychosis leads to a deep-seated paranoia, a conviction that The
World Is Out To Get Them. The funny thing about paranoia is that
it's a self-fulfilling prophesy; there is some truth to it.
People really don't like someone who's paranoid. A paranoiac acts
in ways which other people find offensive. Paranoiacs frequently
lash out at those around them, in an effort to Get Them before
They Get Me. So yes, paranoiacs often find themselves being
disliked and isolated, or find others responding negatively to
the damage they cause. After a while, there really are lots of
people out to get them. Trolls feel disliked because they often

A combination of paranoia and psychosis frequently leads people
into an anything-goes attitude in order to defend themselves. The
desired end - being defended - justifies any conceivable means,
regardless of the safety of others, or of any social conventions.
The technical term for a person like that - one for whom the
rules of society are irrelevant - is a "sociopath". These traits
- paranoia, psychosis, and sociopathy - make for someone very
dangerous to be around, or even to engage in conversation.

Humans are social creatures. We all need contact with other
humans. Not even a troll can live happily out on a lonely island
somewhere. Since they have been isolated and disliked in the
past, trolls are driven to pursue further human contact. But
because of their paranoia, the only forms of contact which trolls
are really comfortable with are various forms of deception,
double-dealing, and conflict. Trolls need conflict the way the
average person needs food or affection. With a healthy human, a
good dose of personal acknowledgement and validation is necessary
now and again - "Am I okay?" "Yes, you're okay, you're a good
person, and I like you." For a troll, this acknowledgement and
validation comes through conflict: "Am I powerful, and do I have
an influence on the world around me?" "Yes indeed, for you have
hurt me terribly."

These are all problems which your average Witch is not equipped
to handle in someone else, and shouldn't try to. You won't change
a troll. You won't turn one around. You won't argue one out of
his or her paranoia or psychosis. You won't force one to conform
to social restrictions or to rules of reasonable behavior. Being
friendly and loving and helpful just makes you an easy mark. You
will be lied to, and your own honesty and openness will provide
the troll with information about you, information which will
later be twisted and turned against you. The troll will use you
to gain access and introductions to other people. These people
will be the ones to whom the troll will tell ugly fantasies about
you, and will also be the troll's next victims after you've been
used up.

Trolls are dangerous. They are not creatures you want to have
running around your house. Not because they're "evil", but just
because of their internal drives, drives which neither you nor
they have control over. Don't try. It's like inviting a family of
sharks for dinner. Guess who is the dessert.

Trolls pick individuals as targets. Writer Kenneth Haugk calls
such people "antagonists," and defines their role like this:

"Antagonists are individuals who, on the basis of nonsubstansive
evidence, go out of their way to make insatiable demands, usually
attacking the person or performance of others. These attacks are
selfish in nature, tearing down rather than building up, and are
frequently directed against those in a leadership capacity."

Trolls attack particular people who they see as community
leaders. They become very good and very practiced at it. Their
attacks can be devastating.

But unfortunately, trolls don't wear name-tags: "Hi! I'm Xelda,
and I'm a troll!" Nor can they be recognized by distinguishing
marks - hairy elbows or tusks or something like that. In fact,
trolls are very, very good at disguise. They have to be, for
self-preservation. If they were instantly and easily recognized,
people would stay away from them, and they'd starve. Trolls can
be amazingly likeable - when you first meet them. They can even
keep this up for quite some time. What do you do?

A previous installment of this series gave a list of trollish
traits and warning signs. But even to use those, it requires a
fairly long period of observation. You don't want to make a false
diagnosis, in either direction. You don't want to treat someone
like a troll if they're not one, and you don't want to be open
and trusting and helpful to someone who'll rip your guts out at
first opportunity. Nor do you want to spend your life viewing
everyone with suspicion, and looking for signs of trollhood
behind every friendly smile. Is there a shortcut to recognizing

Yes there is, but it's seldom used to its potential.

=== Networking

Trolls tend to wander from place to place, looking for new food.
One of the signs of a troll in a Pagan context is the person who
can't seem to stay with a single Coven or other group for more
than a year or so, maybe only a few months. Of course, this could
be just someone who hasn't found the right group to work with
yet, so all by itself, moving around may not be a sure sign. But
if the person has always - or almost always - left on bad terms,
if there's a wake of damage and pain left behind - well, then
there's little doubt.

In most Pagan communities - particularly within the most tight-
knit Traditions - people talk to each other. It is possible to
check with previous groups, and find out what kind of impression
a person has given. Listen to what you're told. Don't take it
non-critically, but do pay attention. If HP or HPS "Abc" has more
experience with Xelda than you do, maybe they know what they're
talking about.

Form networks of people whose opinion you respect, whose judgment
you trust, people whom you know to be level-headed and of
reasonable intelligence. Discuss these issues, and discuss some
of the experiences you've had in the past. Listen to their
recommendations, and carefully consider any warnings they give.
You might be tempted to think, "Well, even if Edna and Marvin had
trouble with Xelda, I think I can do better." That's a mistake.
Unless the troll has changed, you won't do better. Trolls are not
healthy; they don't want to get healthy, and you can't make them
healthy. The warnings passed along a reliable network really
should be heeded.

But - as said, you don't want to make a false diagnosis. That's
why it's so important for a network to be reliable. It's one
thing to ignore unconfirmed rumor and vague noises - after all,
the person who started the rumors might actually be a troll! But
it's quite another thing to shrug off the warnings of people
whose judgment and experience you trust, particularly people who
have had direct contact with the person in question. And
particularly if you can get confirmation from others.

But what if a troll has changed? Suppose the past four Covens all
had bad experiences with Xelda, but she presents herself as being
a Changed Person who has Done a Lot of Growth. Do you trust this
self-assessment of positive change?

This is an easy one. Take a lesson from addiction recovery
programs. If Xelda really has changed, that means she's
recognized the damage she has caused in the past, and she's done
all she could to repair past hurts. It's up to her to contact
those previous four Covens, and then to apologize - with no
excuses or shifting of responsibility onto others. And then it's
up to her to work - hard - to make amends. If Xelda isn't willing
to take these steps, then she hasn't changed. In fact, if she
hasn't already taken these steps, before she even comes to you,
then she hasn't changed. If Xelda has changed, then you would no
longer be hearing warnings from past victims. You'd be hearing
amazed tales of real transformation. If you're still hearing
warnings, then Xelda hasn't grown much.

Should you warn others about the trolls you've dealt with? From
my experience, people don't generally listen to warnings.
Sometimes they do, but not very often. Witches take pride in
being independent and capable, autonomous and resourceful,
anxious to make their own judgments. So, don't go out of your way
to publicize your experiences with particular trolls. It'll just
make you look mean and ill-tempered.

There are also dangers in networking. It's possible for a person
to be unfairly blackballed. But the possibility of that is
drastically lessened if the people in the network are all
seasoned to the issues involved. Get together whenever you can,
work together closely and often. Unfair blackballing is done by
people with a personal axe to grind, people who have a pattern of
being unreasonable in other ways, too. The better you get to know
someone - or a group of someones - the more you'll know how far
to trust their judgment.

It's also possible for a network of Old Friends to be set up -
Old Boys or Old Girls, or just Old Witches - with the purpose of
creating in-groups and out-groups. This is why it's necessary to
network with people you know and trust. If you find yourself
within a network where political games and one-ups-manship are
the rule, get out of it, and begin assembling your own network.
If there is a network of reasonable people, then someone who's in
it for power games will be found out after a while - and will be,
appropriately, treated themselves as a species of troll.

Keep in close and frequent contact with the people in your
network. Get to know them as well as you can. Start relying on
them for support. Provide support to them. If any of them are
targeted by a troll, they'll need reassurance and strength. The
experience is incredibly draining. Be there for them. What they
need, more than anything else, is grounding and a shoulder to cry

A network is a good idea anyway. How often have you heard about
forming a strong "Pagan community"? Here's your chance to begin
that process, and it's a very good justification for getting it

=== Trolls Online

There is a subspecies of troll which delights in causing trouble
in online conversations, such as on the Internet, or in letters-
to-the-editor arguments in magazines. They can disrupt
conversations for months at a time, and cause otherwise
reasonable discussions to degenerate into petty squabbles. The
following thoughts about such trolls are based on years of
observation and experience, and on quite a lot of experimentation
to find what works and what doesn't. (Experimentation is
relatively easy to do, and you can do it yourself, if you want.
Find an internet discussion group and wait for a troll to surface
- don't worry, it's unlikely you'll have to wait long, as they
seem particularly common online. Once you see a troll go after
someone, get involved, and try different ways of responding. Be
aware, though, that trolls have a knack for making you feel
belittled. If you're going to do this sort of experimenting,
expect to get flamed pretty fiercely while you're doing it. If
you've got a thin skin or high blood pressure, you might want to
avoid this pastime.)

The Internet is a unique medium, which seems to collect a really
incredible number of trolls. Probably, this is because it is
really easy to lie about yourself online. You can pretend to be
anything or anybody you want, and it is very difficult for anyone
to really check. Trolls who have been found out in their real-
world life will find cyberspace a very compelling place to be.
Besides, on the Internet, you have a potential audience of
thousands - maybe even millions - of people. However satisfying
it may be to muck up a Coven, it is infinitely more exhilarating
to humiliate someone before potential millions of onlookers.

Sometimes, a troll may be difficult to spot at first. Because it
is easy to lie about yourself online, trolls will use this
feature to present themselves as reasonable and charming. And
trolls can be amazingly charming when the need exists. They'll
engage their targets in conversation, gathering data which they
can twist into attacks later. But once they're ready, they can be
vicious. And they are very tenacious.

A troll will misinterpret and mis-state almost everything the
target says. In the midst of a conversation, in which the troll
is fiercely attacking someone, if reasonable questions are asked
of the troll, or if good and effective responses are given to a
troll's arguments, the troll will either take offense, or will
ignore these things completely. And, in any case, will go on
attacking his or her target in really nasty and belittling ways.
Point out an inconsistency in a troll's statements, and ask for
clarification; the troll will simply not respond at all, or will
find something else to criticize in you. If you take offense at
the troll's misstatements and name-calling, the troll will
suddenly switch gears, complain about how nasty and mean you are,
and do everything possible to present him- or herself as an
innocent victim. Trolls love to claim victimhood.

Trolls will sometimes pick on irrelevant details of someone
else's writing, and might criticize misspellings, improper
grammar, a misused word - anything other than the actual topic,
and any ruse to avoid actual points the other person might have
made. Trolls will accuse others of being unreasonable, mean-
spirited, intolerant - simple name-calling designed to belittle
others and to distract the conversation away from their targets'
valid arguments. Pagan trolls love to make accusations of One-
True-Wayism. That's probably the most sure sign there is of an
online troll.

So, how do you handle this? The goal of an online troll is to
make you feel attacked and insulted. If you attack back, that's
all to the good, as far as the troll is concerned. The troll
wants to be the center of attention, and wants to cause damage
while that's happening. Remember: trolls need conflict the way
healthy people need food. Being attacked back tells the troll
that the current strategy is working. Being the object of any
kind of attention - even anger and negative attention - makes the
troll feel validated and acknowledged. It's far better than being
ignored. And if the troll can actually cause pain, that makes him
or her feel powerful and successful.

How do you respond to this kind of attack? First and most
importantly - realize that the troll really has no power to harm
you. Troll attacks come out of the troll's feelings of
helplessness and fear. What the troll wants is to inspire that
helplessness and fear in you. But whether you let yourself feel
those things is up to you, and is not in the power of the troll.

It is really, really difficult to respond in any uniformly
reasonable way. The hints and advice below are good general
principles, but you won't be able to follow them all the time.
Don't expect perfection from yourself. Remember that you're only
human. Sometimes, you're going to respond in anger or
frustration. Sometimes, the troll's jabs and mis-statements are
going to be so outrageous that you'll feel compelled to respond.
Do so when you need to. Then do your best to get yourself
centered again. (One technique which helps is to write a
response, then wait a day before sending it to make sure it
really is something you want to say. But few people have the
self-control to do that consistently. I sure don't!)

When being attacked in public, it's easy to get defensive, and to
worry about what other people will think. It's easy to respond
with anger. But remember that what seems unreasonable and
nonsensical to you will seem equally unreasonable and nonsensical
to most other healthy people. The troll's irrational attacks -
comparing a fellow Witch to an Inquisitor is a favorite one -
will seem irrational and overblown to most everyone else, too.
You needn't defend yourself against silliness like that. In fact,
getting upset about such obvious irrationality will just make you
look irrational yourself. Ignore the insults. If you care about
what other people think, be aware that by rising above that kind
of name-calling, you will look far more respectable and level-
headed. It also makes the troll look silly, and that robs the
troll of most of his or her power.

When a troll twists and mis-states things you've said - or
misrepresents a position you hold and dearly believe in - should
you respond? You have a decision to make there, depending on the
nature of the forum. If you're in a place where most everyone is
pretty experienced and knowledgeable, the best way to handle a
troll is to ignore the nonsense completely. State your position
clearly, and ignore the troll's mischaracterizations of it. The
unfairness of the troll's twisted misstatements will be obvious
to everyone, and will require no response. You really don't want
to get drawn into a back-and-forth argument with a troll, who
will do everything possible to undermine your self-confidence and
self-respect. If a troll's misrepresentations do make a more
rational person wonder about whatever the topic is, that person
will provide a more rational question or discussion point.
Respond to that instead of to the troll.

The situation may be different if you're in a forum with less
experienced people also, people who might not be aware of all the
issues and ramifications of whatever subject you're discussing,
and who might, therefore, be misled by the troll's
misrepresentations. In such a situation, you can respond - but
keep your response calm and reasonable. Respond to the troll's
actual debating points, not to the name-calling and the digs
which are intended to provoke you. The more reasonable you sound,
the less reasonable the troll will sound - and the less
reasonable the troll's arguments will sound.

The troll wants you to get angry, and wants you to feel hurt and
defensive. Deny that to the troll, and eventually, the troll will
go away and find more promising targets. Remain polite, and ask
polite questions, politely point out the troll's inconsistencies.
The troll's inability to answer reasonable questions won't be
lost on many thinking people, nor will the troll's tendency to
answer politeness with insults, reason with hyperbole, calmness
with violent misrepresentation. The troll will begin to look
incredibly silly, without any help from you.

The difficulty with this approach is that trolls - especially
online trolls - tend to collect followers and secondary trolls,
the way sharks travel with remoras. When a troll is starting to
look silly by contrast with someone reasonable, the remoras will
jump in, and start complaining about how awful and mean the
troll's target really is. You can tell the difference between
these remoras and people who are genuinely defending someone who
is being unfairly attacked. Remoras are nasty about it. Honest
defenders of honest people tend to be strong in their defense,
but usually don't resort to name-calling of their own. When the
remoras show up, it's a good time to back off; you've won the
day, because the attacks of the troll's minions let you know just
how absurd and helpless the troll is beginning to look to
everyone (otherwise, the remoras wouldn't be jumping to the
troll's defense). Push the point much further, and you actually
will begin to seem mean. Besides, anyone still following the
conversation runs the risk of getting bored by the flaming.

And above all, maintain your sense of humor. A troll, after all,
is only a troll. If you don't take the troll's insults seriously,
few other people will, either.

=== About the Author

Copyright (c) 2002 David Petterson
May be recirculated as long as this information is included

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===== by Marilyn

When choosing which spread to use, we need to consider not only
the question being asked, but the type of answer being sought.  A
simple yes/no question will require a vastly different layout
than an in-depth question about a complex situation.

Yes or no spreads, options spreads, and category (general)
spreads are the most common ones used.  The most important
consideration when choosing a spread is knowing what you want it
to tell you, at least in general terms.

=== Yes/No Spreads

Even with the yes/no answer, there are different spreads
depending on how much information is being sought.  The simplest
spread is a one card spread, in which the querent cuts the deck
and the reader reads what comes up.  The orientation of the card
gives the yes or no answer.   The meaning of the card itself is
often relevant as well, either in terms of the result or in
shedding some light on the reason for the answer or outcome of
the situation.

There are three card, five card, and larger yes/no spreads.
Sometimes the client wants to know not only the answer, but
anything he/she can do to change that outcome, or the reason for
the outcome.  The spread I use most often also includes cards
that indicate the client's feelings towards the situation, and
what they will think of the outcome.  In this situation, a larger
spread will yield more detail and more options.

=== Options Spreads

The question "Should I choose Option A or Option B?" can be
handled by a yes/no spread on either Option A or B.  However, the
querent usually wants more detail.  Minimally, some information
on each option and where choosing it would lead is required.
Most "option" spreads have at least five cards, often more.  The
layout is usually a specific number of cards for option A, same
for B, and a "decision" card.  The number of cards for each
option can vary according to the level of detail required,
whether the querent is asking for the pros and cons of each
option or only the outcome.  Normally only two or three cards per
option are required.

Sometimes the predicted conclusion for each option is simply
explained to the querent, and no decision card is used, in order
to leave the choice open for the querent.  If a choice being made
is expected to affect others besides the querent, a position is
often included to indicate the others' reactions, or the effects
on the others of each choice.

Occasionally I use a "base" card as well.  For example, if a
querent is trying to choose between potential lovers, the major
arcana card The Lovers can be used.  This would help keep the
reading focused on just this situation, regardless of other
things the querent might also be dealing with, or be under stress
about.  Sometimes the base card is random, the first card out of
the deck.  In this case the card serves to show if the reading is
on topic.  It can also point out something that should be
considered when making this particular choice, but that the
querent might otherwise have overlooked.  Use of a base card is
not strictly necessary or even common.  Some readers use one,
some don't.

There is really no upper limit to the number of cards in an
options spread, or the number of options being explored.  Too
many of either, however, and the reading can become cumbersome.
At that point, it is better to separate the issue into two or
more questions and read each one separately.

=== General Readings

This brings us to general or situation readings.  The most common
spread for this is the Celtic Cross spread, although there are of
course others.  This spread will read a category, a general
situation, or a person.  It can provide a "snapshot" of a
situation or person, and has a couple of predictive positions as
well.  People will often ask for a general financial reading, a
general love life reading, etc.  The strength of this kind of
spread most often lies in analyzing a current situation and
giving a general idea of a trend, rather than predicting the
querent's future or "fate."

The same information can be gained by using other general purpose
spreads.  The Pyramid spread covers five chapters or "stages,"
with the final card of each stage doubling as the first card of
the next.  The intent of the spread is the same as with the
Celtic Cross spread, but the timeline is emphasized more, and
cause and effect can be seem more clearly.  The Purpose spread is
smaller and tends to focus on only one aspect of a situation at a
time, but I still use it for general readings if the querent is
focused on smaller steps inside of a larger situation.

Most books and teaching websites on Tarot will include two or
three general purpose spreads, as well as some more specific
ones.  Like most readers, I collect and experiment with these
spreads.  The ones that work for me will stay in my active
repertoire.  Other readers will choose to keep other spreads the
same way.

More complicated questions tend to require more complicated
spreads.  Ideally, the spread should have positions for each
component of the question, as well as the desired components of
the answer.  Self-analysis, for example, is often done with the
Tree of Life spread, where each kingdom represents an aspect of
the self and is covered by anywhere from one to seven cards,
depending on how in-depth the querent wishes to go.  Note:  this
is a very simplistic explanation of a complex spread.  Whole
chapters have been devoted to the significance of a Tree of Life
reading in many books.

=== Conclusion

Yes or no spreads, options spreads, and category (general)
spreads are the most common ones used.  There are specialty
spreads as well, including astrologically-based, Qabbalistic,
Past Lives, Shadow, Pregnancy, and Creative Nature spreads.
There are spreads for most questions that can be asked, and when
there don't seem to be any spreads extant there are always people
working on developing new ones.

=== About the Author

Marilyn is a professional Tarot Reader and a member of the
Message Board staff at The Cauldron.

===== by Janet (Sparrow) Moon

Eclipses mean changes, good and bad. Where they happen in your
chart determines what part of your life they will affect.
Eclipses bring significant events into our lives -- marriage,
divorce, death, birth, career change, etc. Solar eclipses usually
mean new beginnings, and lunar eclipses represent finishing
things. They are the universe's way of cleaning house, and
bringing us in line with life's energy. Even "bad" events bring
us to better places. If an eclipse falls near your birthday, the
following year will be eventful for you. Also, if it is near your
birthday or your rising sign, watch out for health issues. Be
sure to eat healthy, get enough rest, etc. Eclipses can be felt a
few weeks prior to or up to 30 days past the actual event.

The Full Moon Lunar Eclipse on August 28 will be a total eclipse
and will be visible in the US, but not in Europe or Africa. The
western coastal states of the US will be able to see the complete
eclipse, but the rest of us will be able to view the eclipse as
the moon sets. The eclipse will begin at 3:53 AM eastern time
(12:53 AM pacific), and will end at 9:21 AM eastern time (6:21 AM
pacific). The greatest part of the Eclipse will be visible at
6:37 AM eastern time (3:37 AM pacific). Mercury and Uranus will
also be at an opposition on the same day. We may be feeling
rather irritated to say the least, and some of us will be looking
to our addictions for a crutch. If you can get past the
irritation and maintain your sobriety, this could be an extremely
spiritual Full Moon. This would be an excellent time to "Let go,
and Let God." Our connections with our higher power on this day
could be tremendous.

The Solar Eclipse in Virgo on September 11 will be a partial
eclipse and will be visible from parts of South America,
Antarctica and the South Atlantic, and the greatest part of the
eclipse will occur at 8:31 AM eastern time. This eclipse will be
at an opposition to Uranus and a square to Mars, and this could
leaving us feeling tense, to say the least. There is a potential
for hysterics, especially in females, and males could be losing
their tempers. We may go extremes on this day, or we may
experience some sudden outbursts. Those of us who can direct this
energy into a positive outlet may find that we are ready for a
new project, and we will be ready to look at all of the details.
Any projects that seem different from the norm will probably

The Lunar Eclipse on August 28 will be at 5 degrees Virgo and
Pisces. If you have any planets at between 3 and 7 degrees in
Gemini or Sagittarius, this eclipse could be especially difficult
for you. The Solar Eclipse on September 11 will be at 18 degrees
Virgo. If you have any planets between 16 and 20 degrees Pisces,
Gemini or Sagittarius this eclipse may cause extra stress. Also,
where these eclipses land in your houses determine what areas of
your life that will be affected. If you are interested in knowing
more, you can also Order a Transit Report.

=== About the Author

Janet (Sparrow) Moon is a professional psychic and astrologer.
You can visit her web site for more articles about upcoming
events in astrology, and to read her daily astrology general
tendencies forecast. http://www.sparrowmoon.com/

===== by Mike Gleason

Disciple's Guide to Ritual Magic
by Frater Barrabbas
published 2007 by Immanion Press
Paperback 332 pages
ISBN: 1905713088
See this book on Amazon:

Every once in a while a book comes along which is profoundly
simple in its goals, even if the execution is not so simple. This
is one of those books. The goal is simple: to provide an
introduction to the Arts Magickal. It is, however, no mere
intellectual exercise for it requires an experiential component
which many other introductions forgo for a variety of reasons.
Many of today's self-proclaimed magicians will be shocked by
Frater Barrabbas' belief that it is necessary to have a
disciplined, orderly, and consistent approach to creating magick.
There sometimes appears to be an attitude that "intent" trumps
form in all things. This may be true in the mundane world
(although I wouldn't bet the rent money on it), but it definitely
doesn't work in the realms of magick. To work magick you need to
know what to do, how to do it, and why to do it; anything less
produces illusions instead of results.

Frater Barrabbas draws a very clear distinction between
Ceremonial Magick, which he sees as outdated, and Ritual Magick,
which is seen as the magick of the new century. While some may
not agree with these distinctions, his definitions are clear and
clearly reasoned and deserving of serious consideration.

It is important to note that this in an introduction, a
beginner's text. Do not make the mistake of assuming, because you
have read other texts, that you can pick and choose, or mix and
match among the data provided. The author assumes that you have
read some previous works, but are not an experienced
practitioner. Therefore, you need to accept his word on the
necessity of certain timings, rituals, and correspondences. If
you aren't willing to abide by that assumption do yourself a
favor and put this book back on the shelf.

If you are looking for an easy guide to magick; a quick solution
of all your life's difficulties; a one size fits all solut5ion,
you won't find it here. The author freely admits that magick is
hard work and takes discipline. You must be willing to make
sacrifices in your life in order to master and use magick.

Do not expect to read this book quickly. It is designed to be
read, used, and thought about over an extended period of time.
You won't master the rituals in this book in a month, or even a
year. It takes time to establish habits and routines, and
building them through steady repetition and experimentation.

On the one hand, this is a book for the new century. On the other
hand, it is rooted in the attitudes of the late 19th and early
20th centuries; in a time when instant gratification was NOT a
concept found in daily life. This was a time when the pace of
life was slower, and more time was devoted to "improving"

You must be willing to devote some serious time and effort to
understanding the concepts which form the foundation of magick. A
working familiarity with the fields of psychology and religious
symbolism are a definite plus while reading the first half of
this book.

I understand the author's attempt to be fair in his
representations, but the constant use of and other variations
are, in my opinion, a bit wearing. A simple alternation of these
terms (such as "he" followed by "she" the next time the magician
is referred to), or a clarifying statement early in the work
would be enough to ensure understanding.

Unlike many books on Ritual Magick I have read there are very few
non-verbal (drawn) illustrations. There is a great deal of
written illustration, which is vitally important when dealing
with a topic which can be easily misunderstood. But as far as
tables of correspondence, or line drawing illustrations, there
are no more than three total pages out of 352 total (less than 1%
of the total) pages, which is a very small number. Frater
Barrabbas intends for you to stretch your mind and visualize.

Do not think that the material contained within these covers is
either easy to absorb (it isn't) or the ravings of an unbalanced
mind (it isn't that either). It is a carefully presented process
for the use of magick. It requires preparation, study, and hard
work. It requires the rethinking the commonly accepted worldview.
It also requires a commitment to follow through on thoughts and
actions. It is not a book for everyone; but then, magick is not
for everyone.

If you are looking for a quick fix for your problems, or a
shortcut to making magick work for you, you are doomed to
disappointment with this book. If you want the arcane rituals of
magickal lodges, you are still going to be disappointed. If, on
the other hand, you want a useable guide to integrating magick
into your life and are willing to put in the requisite time and
energy, this book is what you are looking for.

This is a "101" book with a difference. You won't be spoon-fed
reworked, tired techniques. You will be taught how to access
information and levels of your own existence you may not have
known existed. It isn't a required book for the average Pagan or
Witch. It is, without reservation, a required book for the
serious aspiring Ritual Magician.

There are some things I disagree with in this book, based on
personal experience and attitudes. I'm sure others will also find
points to disagree with. That does not mean that Frater Barrabbas
is wrong, merely that his experiences have been different. And
make no mistake, this book is written from experience. His 35
years of work show on every page. This is, most certainly, NOT a
theoretical work. If you are not serious, or if you are not SURE
magick is for you, this book may scare you away from the field.
If you are certain, however, this book in an invaluable guide and
needs to be in your life (NOT sitting on your bookshelf).

If you are serious about learning to use magick, this book is a
must. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

===== by Mike Gleason

Llewellyn's 2008 Herbal Almanac
by Llewellyn staff
published 2007 by Llewellyn
Paperback 312 pages
ISBN: 0738705543
See This Book at Amazon:

Every year Llewellyn offers a variety of almanacs, datebooks, and
calendars. And every year people find some reason to complain
about them. If for no other reason their sheer dependability
makes them a worthwhile addition to your bookshelf.

The basic astrological data (which is traditionally Llewellyn's
strong suit) is the least of the reasons to buy this almanac. The
articles (36 of them, in six sections, by 24 separate authors)
are the strong suit. I look forward to this almanac every year,
even though I am, by no stretch of the imagination, an herbalist.
In fact, I sometimes use that as a guideline when reviewing
books. If a subject is beyond my areas of comfortable knowledge
(things I trust my memory on, with no urge to verify my memory),
and the book under review doesn't send me to check alternate
sources, I feel safe in saying that it is a worthwhile addition
to the "average" Pagan or Witch's library.

The articles are divided into six broad categories as they are
every year (Growing and Gathering Herbs; Culinary Herbs; Herbs
for Health; Herbs for Beauty: Herb Crafts; and Herb History, Myth
and Love). They cover a broad spectrum within each of these
categories, and there should be something to appeal to everyone.

The disclaimer about only being a collection of folk knowledge
and not intended for medical use, etc. is the same as it is every
year (and as it must be in this litigious society). I understand
and agree with this disclaimer and with the recommendation to
start with small amounts to check for reactions.

This is a book to be savored and enjoyed. Don't rush through it.
Pick and choose. Read an article when you have half an hour to
kill. Let the information seep into you. A simple read-through
cannot begin to exhaust the information contained in this book.

Whether or not you agree with all the information (and I'm
betting there will be an occasional "Are you kidding?" moment for
everyone), you should find some "Aha!" moments as well.

Don't buy this book for the astrological and astronomical data.
Buy it for the articles.

===== by Mike Gleason

Llewellyn's 2008 Witches' Calendar
by Llewellyn staff
Published 2007 by Llewellyn
Paperback 32 pages
ISBN: 0738705551
See this book at Amazon:

Every year Llewellyn brings out a uniquely illustrated wall
calendar. The calendar pages are the least interesting part of
this yearly offering, after all, not much changes from year to
year. The draw is the monthly articles and the articles at the
end of the calendar. The authors of these articles bring unusual
views, as well as more mainstream thoughts to the topics they
choose to write about it.

The illustrations are always executed in a "primitive" style
which draws the eye and reveals unexpected depths. In a world
which seems more and more to be a world of computer generated
images, it is nice to see these images.

I know there are people who don't like anything from assorted
publishers (Llewellyn seems to draw a lot of that reaction, for
whatever reason), but if you are willing to put aside such
prejudice and actually read what is here, I think you will find
it interesting and worth the price.

===== by Mike Gleason

Essential Reiki Workshop DVD
by Barbara Stein
Published 2007 by Crossing Press
2 DVD Set (about 254 minutes)
ISBN 1580911803
See this book at Amazon:

What is Diane Stein's Essential Reiki Workshop DVD set? Well, it
isn't a way to learn Reiki without personal instruction. It will
give you an understanding of Reiki and will familiarize with all
the concepts which form the basis of Reiki, but it will not give
you than hands-on experience which you need.

This is a DVD set which was made at a weekend seminar, which is
in itself unusual. The sessions are broken into four segments.
The first segment consists of background, success stories, and
the history of Reiki (as channeled through Ms. Stein. You may or
may not agree with what she says, but the bottom line is to ask
yourself if this information resonates with you. If it does,
fine, accept it. If it doesn't, accept it as her take on the
subject and move on. Some of it is fairly well documented, while
other parts of it are more speculative.

This set of DVDs is designed to be used as a backup for the
classes and the book which goes with them. Like her book, it is
only the bare bones. You need the attunements passed teacher-to-
student. It is not possible to "self-attune" anymore than you can
perform surgery from a book or DVD.

Midway through the first DVD you get to see the process of
attunement for Reiki 1. Witnessing it is NOT the equivalent of
receiving it. If you have not taken Reiki training (I have not)
it may serve to allay any uneasiness you may anticipate. There
are no secrets to discern, only experiences to have.

You also get to observe a Reiki healing. By seeing this you get
to observe the positioning of the hands on a patient's body.

Ms. Stein reiterates often that, no matter how moved you may be
by what you see; no matter how strongly you feel; you MUST get
your attunements from a Reiki teacher IN PERSON. It is not
possible to get them from a book or even from this DVD. The
attunements come from the passage of energy and from experience,
not theory.

She also makes it clear that her experience of Reiki, and her
teaching of it, often differ from the "traditional". Does this
make her version invalid? By no means, it simply makes it
different. I'm not sure HOW different she is from traditional
teachers, but I found her to be engaging and ultimately

This DVD set, with almost 4.5 hours of teaching and demonstration
was an eye-opening introduction to the topic of Reiki for me. It
is well worth the time to watch and, with it broken into four
segments; it can be absorbed in small doses.

If, as was the case with me, you have no experience with Reiki,
this is an excellent way to start. If you have been trained by a
traditional Reiki master, it may give you another perspective on
your practice. In either case, it is well worth the price.

========= CREATION
========= by HeartShadow

HeartShadow is following her own religious path. She calls it
FlameKeeping. This regular column will present articles on
FlameKeeping, many taken from HeartShadow's FlameKeeping blog at:


===== Creation

In the Beginning, there was Void, Nothingness. And in that Void
floated a single speck of Possibility, of power and chances and
potential. And it floated forever, for an instant, in a time
before Time began. Nothing changed, everything in perfect stasis,
until the speck of Possibility became aware of itself, and
thought "I am."

There was not room, in that speck, for both what was there and
awareness of Itself. And that speck of Possibility exploded into
energy, expanding rapidly, changing from only possible to actual.
Both physical and spiritual in every particle, a thinking, self-
aware Universe exploded into reality.

As the Universe physically expanded, rapidly changing from
superheated plasma to energy and matter, coalescing into suns and
planets, it watched itself with amazement. Without frame of
reference, there was nothing to compare its changes to, but
changes were happening nevertheless, and each change was
something new to wonder at.

In time, however, the Universe stopped changing so quickly.
Change became predictable, regular, and boring. But awareness did
not cease, so the Universe sought for that which would be
interesting, different, new. As fascinating and beautiful as
everything was, everything was somehow static. And so the
Universe sought for something different, something to occupy the

A small corner of its body, a small planet, caught the Universe's
attention, and it looked closer at the strange tickling sensation
it felt there. There was life there, rapidly changing life, and
even as the Universe looked more closely the burgeoning life
changed more rapidly. It seemed even the very awareness of life's
existence, and the noticing of it, changed that life and made it
multiply and change even faster. And the Universe began to
wonder, to speculate on what this life could become.

The first time the Universe saw one piece of itself consume
another, however, it began to rethink the entire idea. How could
one eat another? How could one piece be valued above another? For
a long moment, the Universe speculated destroying this small
world, finding a way to extinguish the teeming life that preyed
upon itself for survival. But during the speculation, the
Universe saw signs of communication, of awareness. Of something
that might someday lead to intelligence. And curiosity of what
might be became more important than the methods of survival.
Currently, there was only rudimentary communication, seeking
mates, seeking food. But if life could communicate with itself,
however rudimentarily, perhaps someday something would be able to
communicate with the Universe itself.

For the first time, with the possibility of companionship, the
Universe felt desire. And it began pushing the possibilities of
life around, attempting to force, as quickly as possible, that
which would be company. A creature that would be sentient, that
could be made in the image of the Universe itself, possessed of a
mind, a body, and a soul. Anything that could be manipulated was
for the desired effect, and ignored when they no longer served
the main desire.

Finally, there was humanity. Using tools, using their minds.
Capable of having souls in the image of the Universe, the
Universe sectioned off parts of itself to be the souls of these
humans, that which would see and remember, and learn from all
that happened. And the combination of their more complex brain,
and the soul, allowed for a mind that could ask deeper questions,
have more complex thoughts than simple questions of food and
mates. In them, the Universe saw the possibility of communication
directly. To answer their questions of why even as it gave them,
and give them hope as they gave It.

Communication proved to be harder than anticipated, however. The
mind of the Universe is vast and complicated, and the simple act
of touching that mind to the human drove the person insane. To
understand the vast totality of the Universe was too much for any
individual to comprehend, much less cope with. There needed to be
intermediaries, or some other way of communicating that did not
do so much harm, some way that would actually lead to effective
conversation in time.

So the Universe created Gods, separate beings, but aware of their
connection to each other and the Universe itself. And the Gods
lived in the bits and pieces of human minds that they weren't
using, and communicated with humanity. Some followed the wishes
of the Universe, and tried to teach about the interconnectedness
of all things, and advance humans to where they could speak
directly with the Universe. Others were selfish, and tried to
deny their nature, and sought to gain more worshippers for
themselves, and live in more minds to the exclusion of other
Gods. And the Universe itself sought for minds that could handle
the contact.

And so we live, children of the Universe and yet still part of
It, struggling to achieve that same sense of connection that the
Universe itself craves. Struggling to find community and
understanding, for our souls are also reflections of the greater
Universe, and aware of loneliness even though we can never be
truly alone, for we are all a part of something greater.

=====  Questions

  * Why is it nigh-impossible to communicate directly with the

  * What does Creation mean to you? Being a part of a greater
    whole instead of a specially created individual? Being a
    special individual instead of just part of a greater whole?

  * Why are we forever lonely and alone? How do we cope and
    adapt? How do we make life less lonely?

========= Interesting Items From The Software Gadgets Blog
========= http://softwaregadgets.gridspace.net/

The Software Gadgets Blog aims to present a different "software
gadget" every weekday. A software gadget is a program or addon
that is both interesting and useful -- and often free. This
column highlights three of the programs listed recently. Many
more were listed and you'll find more gadgets like these added
every week at the Software Gadgets Blog at:



While graphic games seem to have taken over the commercial online
multi-player gaming market, free-to-play text-based MUDs and
their later incarnations (MUSHes, MUCKs, MOOs, etc) --
collectively referred to as MU*s -- still live on, both for
roleplaying and for social chatting. I've been an occasional user
of social MU*s since I created a character for the then uber-
popular LambdaMOO in June of 1994 -- only a few days after I got
my first dial-up Internet provider.

While you can connect to a MU* with any telnet client, plain old
telnet provides a very poor MU* experience. A client program
created especially for MU*s provides a much better experience --
with features like macros, scroll-back buffers, colorized text,
events that trigger when a specific piece of text is received,
etc. I've used a number of MU* clients over the years, both for
unix and for Windows.

For several years in the late 1990s, Zmud was my favorite client.
I even paid for it when it switched from freeware to shareware,
but after converting to shareware, it seemed like the author
spent as much or more time changing licensing systems to stay
ahead of crackers than he did updating the program. I eventually
tried of the seemingly never-ending protection system changes
switched to MUSHclient. It was also shareware, but the author
regularly updated it and provided new features instead of wasting
time trying to prevent crackers from getting a free copy. Over
the years MUSHclient went from a nice little MU* client to a
great MU* client. With the recently released version 4.x,
MUSHclient is freeware.

MUSHclient has a huge number of features -- here is a list from
the MUSHClient help file (note that this list is not complete or
up to date -- for example, it doesn't even mention Lua

    Fast MUD/MUSH/MUCK/MOO client for Windows. Written in C++ for
    high speed and compact size.

    Has large scrollback buffer, command history, aliases,
    triggers, timers, keypad-navigation, speed-walking, and auto-

    Supports scripting in VBscript, Jscript, PerlScript and
    Python, recognizes ANSI color codes, has user-defined macros,
    spell checking, proxy server support, chat system, built-in
    editor, and logging.

    Also supports MUD extensions MCCP (Mud Client Compression
    Protocol) and MXP (Mud eXtension Protocol).

    You can write your own plugins in any of the four supported
    scripting languages, or use ones written by others which are
    supplied with the program, or appear on our web site.

    * Multiple worlds can be open at once
    * You can automatically connect to a world (name and
    * You can have multiple windows open per world
    * Context-sensitive help is always available to explain how
    to use configuration screens, and other features.
    * Details for an entire world, or just one of
    triggers/macros/aliases/colours/timers can be saved for re-
    use later.
    * Supports MUD Client Compression Protocol (MCCP).

    Output window
    * Holds up to 500,000 previous lines in memory
    * Fast scrolling back and forwards using keyboard or mouse
    * Copy from output window for pasting into command window or
    * Can be frozen to review messages without them scrolling out
    of view
    * Supports user-chosen font
    * Supports user-chosen palette of colours
    * Supports an additional 16 custom colours for triggers and
    other uses
    * Recognises ANSI colours, hilight, inverse
    * Automatic line wrapping at end of line so words are not
    chopped into two
    * Selected messages from the MUD (eg. pages) can be displayed
    in a different colour to make them stand out (by using

    Command (input) window
    * Can be resized so lengthy commands can be entered
    * Supports copy/cut/paste, arrow keys, home and end keys, and
    the mouse
    * Last 5,000 commands entered are saved for recall and
    * Previous commands can be viewed in a "command history"
    window for easy selection
    * Commands can optionally be echoed in the output window
    * Auto-completion allows partial words to be completed when
    you press based on a matching word in the output window.
    * Spell-check automatically or on request

    * Each world can log its output and (optionally) commands
    * Logging can commence automatically upon connection,
    appending to an existing log file if desired
    * Logging can be filtered to remove pages, whispers etc.
    * Filtering is controlled by using triggers
    * Each log session can be prefixed and suffixed by
    identifying information (date, time etc.). The date/time can
    be automatically generated.
    * Each log line can have a "line prefix" which may contain
    the date/time that line arrived

    * There is a custom "notepad" (text editor) for editing
    commands or any other purpose
    * Notepad has spell-checker
    * Notepad can do case conversions, and other conversions such
    as Unix to DOS

    Macros (function keys)
    * Up to 30 different keys can be used for single-keystroke
    entry of commands (F2 to F12, Ctrl+F2 to Ctrl+F12 and so on)
    * Various other keystrokes are available for macros (Alt+A,
    Alt+B and others)
    * You can use the numeric keypad also for single-keystroke
    * Macro commands go through the command processor so they can
    call aliases, scripts, speedwalks etc.

    * Any number of "triggers" can be entered, per world.
    Triggers are used to match on output from the MUD, and then
    automatically perform a function (for example, page someone
    when they connect)
    * Triggers can include wildcards (e.g. " * says * ") to match
    on variable text. The text matched on in the wildcard can be
    used in the response to the trigger.
    * Alternatively, you can use "regular expressions" in
    triggers for precise matching
    * Triggers can be set up to match the colour of incoming text
    * Lines which activate a trigger can be displayed in a
    different colour, so you can use triggers to highlight
    certain types of game output.
    * Individual words can be highlighted
    * Lines which activate a trigger can also optionally play a
    sound file (a WAV file) so that you can use triggers to play
    sounds to alert you to certain events.
    * Triggers can be used to omit certain types of displays from
    the log file (if one is open)
    * Triggers can be used to copy the matched text back into the
    command (input) buffer for editing, if desired.
    * Triggers can be used to send the matching text to the
    status line, or a notepad window, if desired.
    * Triggers can call a script function.

    * Any number of "aliases" can be entered, per world. Aliases
    are a shorthand way of entering commands, for example: CLW
    could send "cure light wounds".
    * Aliases can match the start of a command, anywhere in the
    command, or exactly the command by using wildcards. For
    example, if you set up an alias of "c" to mean "cure light
    wounds" and make it match exactly, then it will not clash
    with "close".
    * Wildcards used in the alias can be used in the substitution
    text, so you can make aliases that can take "arguments"
    * Aliases can expand out the contents of variables
    * Aliases can match using regular expressions.
    * Aliases can be used to omit the matching line from the log
    file, or the output window if desired
    * Aliases can call a script function.

    * Any number of "timers" can be entered, per world. Timers
    are used to cause things to happen at a particular time (eg.
    9 pm) or an interval (eg. every 10 minutes).
    * Timers can call a script function.

    Speed walking
    * You can optionally use speed walking to move quickly from
    one location to another.

    Command stacking
    * You can optionally use command stacking to enter more than
    one command per line.

    Status line
    * Status line shows name of active MUD, when input was last
    received, number of lines received and other useful things.
    The status line can be updated by a trigger or a script

    Activity window
    * You can open an "activity" window which is useful when
    connected to multiple MUDs. It shows if there is activity
    (output from) a MUD which is not the current (frontmost)
    window. A single keystroke then switches to that window.

    Numeric keypad
    * You can use the numeric keypad for movement in the MUD
    (press 8 to go north, 2 to go south, 4 to go west, 6 to go
    east, and so on). The actual commands that are sent for each
    keystroke are customisable.
    * You can also use an "alternate set" of keystrokes on the
    numeric keypad by holding down the Control key. This lets you
    have a second set of actions (perhaps for during a fight).

    * You can write scripts in Vbscript, JavaScript, PerlScript
    or Python.

    * You can automatically map the direction you are going as
    you walk around.

    * Related groups of triggers/aliases/timers/variables and
    scripts can be saved as a "plugin" - a separate file.
    * These can be easily generated using an inbuilt "plugin
    * Plugins can be shared between different worlds, saving the
    need to repeat triggers etc. in multiple worlds, and also
    makes it easier to fix problems in one central place.
    * Plugins can be distributed to friends without them needing
    to understand scripting or load individual triggers into
    their worlds.

MUSHclient is easily the best freeware MU* client available for
Windows. If you are into MU*s and have not tried MUSHclient, it
really should. Now that it is freeware, I expect it will become
the most popular Windows MU* client.

Rating: 5.0
Operating System: Windows 95+ (also Linux via WINE)
License: Freeware
Price: Free
Version: 4.01
Web Site: http://www.gammon.com.au/mushclient/mushclient.htm


My wife reformatted her Windows XP box recently due to various
registry problems it had picked up over time. While downloading
new copies of various freeware programs she uses, she stumbled
across this nifty screensaver. My Pictures 3D Screensaver takes a
directory of pictures on your hard drive and displays them on the
walls of a 3D gallery. When the screensaver activates, it walks
through the gallery displaying your pictures in a nifty 3D
setting. It comes with two galleries and you can download others
(although my wife has yet to figure out how to make downloaded
galleries work). This screensaver can also play user-selected
music files as it displays your pictures.

Operating System: Windows
Price: Free
Web Site: http://www.mypictures3d.com/products/screensaver.html


I'm not much of a computer gamer. I tend to avoid the new,
cutting edge, and expensive because I seldom play a game from
start to finish before getting bored with it. One of the few that
I really enjoy playing is an old DOS game from 1994 or so,
Microprose's Master of Magic. Unfortunately, there was never been
a remake or sequel for Windows. Master of Magic runs fine in
DOSBox -- if you can find a copy. I was quite surprised to
stumble across a freeware game called Leylines that while not
quite a remake of Master of Master, is obviously cut from the
same cloth.

From the Leylines web site:

    Leylines is an intriguing turn-based strategy game of
    exploration and conquest. Set in a fantasy world, it lets you
    pit your armies, magic and commerce against up to seven
    opponents and a horde of barbarians. Start from a single city
    and work your way up to a grand empire. Train over fifty
    different units and cast over fifty different spells to gain
    the upper hand.

    Featuring heroes, tactical combat, special resources, split-
    screen and hot-seat multiplayer modes, a random world
    generator, a map editor and an extensive tutorial.

I downloaded the game and quickly discovered that is really is
very similar to Master of Magic. Will it have the same play
value? I don't know yet, but I'm hopeful.

Operating System: Windows 98 , ME, 2K, XP (DirectX 7+),
          Linux version also
Price: Free
Web Site: http://crystalshard.net/leylines.htm

========= From the Spell Grimoire:

  Orange candle
  Black candle
  Small Magnet
  Usual ritual requirements, such as incense, quarter candles,
  and athame.

First create the Circle and invoke the Elemental Guardians.
Raise a cone of power by chanting and drumming, or racing around
the circle.

Then light a Black candle (for solving mysteries, and drawing
away the negativity of the loss),

Light an Orange candle (for luck and precious objects).

Visualize the lost objects in the mirror as already being found.
Place the magnet between the two candles and stroke it towards
you as you recite this rhyme:

    By the wavering flame of this black light,
    Grant to me of my [missing item] a sight.
    By the power of this orange flame,
    Give me luck to find the same.
    In this mirror the [missing item] I see
    Make the magnet draw them to me.

Repeat three times.

Close the circle, but leave the candles burning with the magnet
between them until the candles burn down.

=== About This Spell

This spell is taken from The Cauldron's Spell Grimoire, a
collection of basic spells available on The Cauldron: A Pagan
Forum's web site. You'll find more spells at:


========= From the Cauldron Cookbook:
========= submitted by Koi

=== Ingredients

2 large bags baby spinach
6 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
1 small can cashew halves and pieces
1 8 oz bottle raspberry or raspberry-walnut vinaigrette
       (I like Ken's Lite)

=== Directions

 Simply toss all the ingredients in a large bowl and serve.

(Incidentally, I don't think it tastes very good with actual real
raspberries thrown on -- too tart for the salad -- but it's not
bad with those little mandarin orange slices.)

=== About This Recipe

This recipe is taken from the Cauldron Cookbook, a growing
collection of recipes submitted by members of The Cauldron: A
Pagan Forum. You'll find more recipes at:


========= Cauldron Info

The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum was founded in December 1997 to
provide a friendly but serious discussion area for Pagans on the
Internet. We've grown a bit over the years. We now have an active
message area, a large web site with around 700 pages of
information (including over 300 book and divination deck
reviews), and a monthly email newsletter. To continue to provide
and expand these services, The Cauldron needs lots of volunteer
help from our members and supporters.

Here are some of the things members and supporters can do to help
The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum thrive:

===== Actively Participate In Our Message Board

While our new message board welcomes readers, we encourage
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===== Articles! Essays! Tutorials!

We are in constant need of original, well-written and accurate
articles, essays, tutorials, and other written items for both our
web site and for our Cauldron and Candle newsletter. There's no
real limit on length for web site articles. Here are a few areas
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Non-Wiccan material is stressed not because we don't want Wiccan
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===== Book Reviews

While The Cauldron receives some review copies from a couple of
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The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum is purposely a low graphics site as
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===== Donations

As The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum uses as many free services as
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Donate via PayPal
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If you purchase a lot of books, CDs, and other items from
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If you are a regular user of the US version of Amazon, you can
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To do this in Internet Explorer or Firefox, find Amazon in your
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If you use Amazon UK, you can use this address


If you use Amazon Canada, you can use this addess:


===== Ebay Purchases

Are you an Ebay user? Ebay has a new program that pays
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If you are a regular user of the US version of ebay, you can help
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To do this in Internet Explorer or Firefox, find ebay in your
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and replace with one listed above, then click on OK.

===== Have Questions or Suggestions?

If you have specific questions, proposals or other ideas we
haven't mentioned here, please email them to
rssapphire00@ecauldron.GETRIDOFEME.com. (Unfortunately, Randall
has to answer general "Tell me more?" type questions with a
request for a more specific question. He's not trying to be rude,
he just can't think of anything general and useful to say that
isn't said here.)

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

Cauldron and Candle is a free publication of The Cauldron: A
Pagan Forum. The Cauldron intends to publish this newsletter once
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