[Cauldron and Candle Illo]


Cauldron and Candle
Issue #81 -- February 2007

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


Return to Cauldron and Candle Archive

C A U L D R O N   A N D   C A N D L E #81 -- February 2007

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

In this Issue:

[00] Editorial Notes:
[01] Cauldron News
   * New Cauldron Council Member: ASAHEL
[02] Interesting Recent Cauldron Discussions
   * "Found" Objects and the Divine
   * Pagans Who Practice High Magick?
   * Solitary vs. Group
   * You Can't Be Pagan Because...
   * Has the Fluffy Bunny Inquisition Gone Too Far?
   * Embarrassed about Religion?
   * Muggles???
   * Technology and Your Faith?
   * Magic -- Why?
   * Hey! Someone Pay Attention to Me!
[03] Articles
   * How to Keep Your Coven from Being Destroyed: Part I
   * Chakra Locations and Actions: Part One
   * Chakra Locations and Actions: Part Two
[04] Flamekeeping: Deserving?
[05] Software Gadgets: The Column
   * StationRipper -- Record mp3s from Internet Radio
   * Spyware Blaster -- Block Spyware From Installing
   * FireBug -- Firefox Extension for Web Designers
[06] Grimoire: Spell To Protect Good Health
[07] Recipe: Beef Barley Stew
[08] Support The Cauldron
[09] Newsletter Information
(Including How To Subscribe/Unsubscribe)

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Welcome to the February 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.

This issue finds The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum in about to under go
a major transition. (Yes, this does seem to be a February thing as
it happens most years.) We have finally decided to give up on the
Beehive Forums software that runs our forum. We have to run an
ancient version as none of the newer versions work correctly for
us. Worse, none of the newer versions add the admin features we
really need. Therefore, the hosts and staff have decided to bite
the bullet and move to Simple Machines Forum software. An SMF
forum uses the more familiar "drill down" format that most
message boards on the Internet use, but has a key feature that
we've only found in Beehive before: it permanently tracks unread
messages -- even across logins and logouts and will let you jump
to the next unread message in a thread.  This will be a major
transition for our message board as we have used the
DelphiForums/Beehive board format since the beginning. This will
mean revised rules, faqs and more over the next few months.
See the Cauldron News section for more information on
our planned move to SMF. If all goes according to plan, the
actual move to an SMF board will happen this month.

February is also our Annual Donation Drive month. We have a
special section on that later on in this issue as well. We don't
need a lot of money, but keeping TC on the Internet does cost
money so once a year we ask your help to pay the bills. If you
are able to contribute money, we appreciate every dollar you
donate. If you can't, don't sweat it.

We also have the usual articles, message board discussions from
January, etc. We hope you enjoy them.

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

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


=== General Information

It's February and our annual web hosting bill for ecauldron.com
(the main web site with our articles, reviews, newsletters, etc.)
is due this month, so it is time for our annual Cauldron Donation
Drive. This year, we are hoping to raise some extra money for
expansion (as we have grown a lot in the last year) If those of
our members who can afford to contribute $5, $10, $20 or more in
the next few weeks would do so, we'd probably have all the money
needed. The Hosts are donating $50 toward the fund, so they are
not just asking for others to help out while they sit back and
plan a trip to Greece on the money donated.

Don't worry, if we don't get enough donations, the main web site
will not disappear. The Hosts will scrape up the money needed
somehow, so there's no "if you don't donate the web site will
disappear" nonsense some other sites have been known to do. We
just appreciate all the help we can get as the Hosts are not
rolling in money any more than you are and a large bill in one
month would really work havoc.

We would really like to see more money donated than we need to
pay the hosting bill this year as with our growth, we really need
to do some expanding and Bob would like to expand the connection
the server he has on message board on uses, but needs some extra
cash to do so. Once the ecauldron.com server bill is paid, we
will channel donation money to Bob for the message board server

Donations can be accepted via PayPal or the Amazon Honor System
(or even by money order). Paypal is slightly better than Amazon
as they take a slightly smaller fee out of what is donated. If
you want to be personally credited and thanked for your donation,
be sure to use PayPal and mention your message board login name
in the Comments box (if one appears). (Amazon donations are
anonymous so we can't email you our thanks). Note that donations
to TC are not tax-deductible in the US and probably aren't
elsewhere either.


You'll find a large white box near the top of The Cauldron's main
web page with donation links or you can use these:

Donate Via PayPal

Donate Via Amazon Honor System

Donate Via Money Order (No personal checks, please)
   Email donations2007@ecauldron.com for a mailing address
   (Note this email address will not work after March)


We have a few bonuses for individual donors (at least, for those
who do not donate anonymously).

All Donors

  The hosts have a selection of used Pagan books (many are review
  copies and are very close to "new"). Two donors will be
  selected at random and given their choice of one book from the
  available books. These books will be sent book rate (in the US,
  surface mail overseas). Any person who donates (provided they
  do not donate anonymously) has a chance to win. No minimum
  donation is required.

Contributor Level Donation (US$25.00 or more)

  1. Message Board User Name listed as a Contributor for 2007 on
  our Sponsors page.

  2. Contributor extras on our new SMF message board. This will
  include a special title telling everyone you are a Contributor
  (unless do not want one) and access to a few special board

Sponsor Level Donation (US$50.00 or more)

  1. Message Board User Name listed as a Sponsor for 2007 on our
  Sponsors page.

  2. Sponsor extras on our new SMF message board. This will
  include a special title telling everyone you are a Sponsor
  (unless do not want one) and access to a few special board


This is a "heads up" notice that the hosts and staff of The
Cauldron: A Pagan Forum that we are planning a major switch in
forum software for our message board. This means we will be
opening a new message board using completely different message
board software and turning our current message board into a
second archive board. Unfortunately we cannot move messages from
our old Beehive boards into the new SMF. Beehive boards are just
too "different from standard."

=== Background

As most of you know, The Cauldron started out on DelphiForums
(back when it was still Delphi.com) in 1997. We finally left
DelphiForums for good about three years ago when Bob kindly
offered us space and bandwidth on his server. We used Beehive
software because it was very close to DelphiForums board format
(which is very different from average).

We started out with Beehive 0.4x. 0.5 came out shortly thereafter
and we immediately upgraded. Beehive 0.5 lacks many useful admin
features (and some of those it does have are broken and don't
work). Beehive 0.6 came out about 18 months ago and we switched
to it. It fixed most of the bugs in 0.5, but did not really add
much new in the needed admin features list.

0.6 quickly proved to have a fatal flaw. It was EXTREMELY slow.
It would take 15 to 25 seconds to load a page. Unfortunately,
there was no way to roll back to 0.5, so we turned our original
Beehive board into our read-only "archive board" and opened a new
board using the old 0.5 version of Beehive. Back to almost no
working admin features, but at least the board was fast enough to
be usable.

Late last year, Beehive 0.7 (quickly followed by 0.71 with bug
fixes) followed. We tried ran a test version of a beta of 0.72
(which actually worked with multiple forums) of it here. It had
only a few more features than 0.6 but it was optimized and
therefore fast enough to be usable. Unfortunately, the upgrade
procedure simply did not work for us so there was no way to
upgrade our boards to 0.7x.

Unfortunately, TC has gotten too big and too active (some months,
like January 2007, have almost 10,000 messages posted) to survive
on the barely functional and limited admin functions that Beehive
0.5 offers.

=== Other Board Software Options

The hosts have never been a fan of drill down boards (the
standard type of board on the net (boards ran by vbulletin,
invision, phpbb, smf, etc. software), mainly because these boards
did not permanently track your last unread message as "Delphi-
format" boards do). There are now a few drill-down boards that
permanently track each user's last read message in a thread and
will take you directly to the next unread message in that thread
if you ask it to do so.

The current version of Simple Machines Forum (SMF) does this
fairly well. The current version of Burning Board (the software
Bob and Mike use for Asatru Lore) does it with a few caveats.
After testing both boards for a while, Cauldron staff and
selected member testers were decided to go with SMF.

While a few members will probably cheer this software as they
really prefer the more standard board software way of doing a
forum, many members will probably be upset as they dislike the
standard type of board as much as the Hosts do. Unfortunately, it
has come to the point where we have no choice. Beehive shows no
signs that it will provide the tools we need in a functional
package anytime in the foreseeable future and without much better
administration and organizational tools, the hosts doubt this
board will last more than another 6 months before they decide to
just shut it down as unmanageable. The Hosts have always disliked
drill down boards, so you know that things are desperate if they
are saying we really need to switch.

=== SMF 1.1 Standard Feature List

Here is a list of the standard features of an SMF message board.
Some of these features will be turned off here and more features
will be added through modifications.

One very nice thing about SMF, especially compared to Beehive
Forums, is that it is well supported with great help information
explaining how to use the board and a large community of
designers, board hosts, and users to help people over rough spots
and produce modifications that expand the features available.


  * Uses PHP and MySQL.
  * Comprehensive template system.
  * Advanced permission and user management.
  * Supports multiple languages at once.
  * Open and well-documented source code.
  * Tracking of new and old unread topics, not just from your
    last visit.
  * Designed for optimal performance and scalability.
  * Multi-media output. (XHTML, XML, RSS, WAP)
  * Multi-language support from a large community.
  * Package manager that automatically installs or uninstalls
    mods (also known as hacks.)
  * Search:
    - Search the entire forum, a category/board or within a
    - Search within your personal messages.


  * All actions seamlessly require a session based authorization
  * Administrative actions require the user's password (and do
    not rely solely on cookies.)
  * Major actions are time and IP locked, preventing
  * The number of login attempts from a certain IP can be
    limited and time locked.

Forum Settings

  * Ability to display page creation time and query count per
  * Put a board into maintenance mode, allowing only admins to
  * Word censoring, either full word or partial.
  * Ability to break up long words.

Boards and Categories

  * Group boards into collapsible categories.
  * Set categories as non-collapsible.
  * Reorder boards within categories, or reorder categories.
  * Create child boards under other boards. (sub boards)
  * Assign moderators to boards.
  * Allow certain membergroups to access a board, including
    guests only.
  * Configure permissions for each membergroup on the board
  * Ability to indicate new posts to child boards but nothing new
    in parent.

Member Registration

  * Require registration before forum entrance.
  * Require a user to agree to terms before they register.
  * Disable member registration completely (allowing only
    moderators to register people).
  * Require email authentication by sending an authentication
  * Require a moderator to approve registration.
  * Register new members from the admin center.

Member Navigation and Authentication

  * Several security checks during navigation.
  * Password reminder option, by email with confirmation.
    (doesn't automatically reset your password.)
  * Both cookie and session based authentication (works without
  * Cookies can be set local to a path, global to all subdomains,
    or normally.
  * Adjustable expiration time for authentication cookies.

Member Tracking and Tracing

  * Sortable and searchable public memberlist (accessible by a
  * Powerful sortable and searchable admin memberlist.
  * Show all (error) messages and IPs made by a member. (track
  * Show all (error) messages from an IP address or range. (track
  * See who's doing what (accessible by permission.)


  * Several board statistics (accessible by permission.)
  * Tracking of member's online time in seconds.
  * Tracking of topics, messages, new members, and hits per day.
  * Individual member statistics accessible from their profile.

News and Announcements

  * Ability to create announcement boards (members receive a
    notification of topics automatically.)
  * Member option to disable receiving announcements.
  * Email or private message your members by membergroup.
  * Show a news ticker or news fader.


  * Ability to choose sendmail or SMTP (with or without
  * Ability to send a topic to a friend.
  * Ability to view a "printer friendly" version of topics.


  * Create membergroups to group members on permissions, access
    rights, and/or appearance.
  * Assign several membergroups to a single member, with one
    membergroup as the primary group.
  * Define membergroups that are auto-assigned based on the
    amount of posts a user has.
  * Determine the maximum number of personal messages a
    membergroup is allowed to have by group.
  * Assign graphical symbol(s) to a membergroup - by primary
  * Determine which membergroups are allowed to access a board.


  * Ban members based on their username, email address, IP
    address or hostname.
  * Support of wildcards for email address, IP address, and
  * Include a ban reason (viewable for the banned user).
  * Include a ban note (only viewable by the admins).
  * Chose between full ban, 'no post' ban, or registration ban.
  * Include an expiration time for bans.

External integration

  * Integrate parts of forum software into existing website using
    SSI or PHP.
    - Recent topics or posts.
    - Recent news posts in a board.
    - Recent polls.
    - Several forum statistics.
    - List of users online.
    - The menu bar.
    - News.
    - Search.
    - Login/logout.
    - Today's events/birthdays/holidays.
  * Export forum data using XML/RSS
    - Latest members.
    - News.
    - Recent posts.

Wireless access

  * Support for WAP, WAP2 and I-mode protocols.
  * Browse through boards/topics/messages with reduced page size.
  * Ability to login and logout (not with WAP 1.)
  * Ability to see new topics/boards with new replies.
  * Ability to jump to first unread reply.
  * Ability to post new messages (not with WAP 1.)

Theming and Templating

  * Ability to allow or disallow your users to select their own
  * Ability to reset all of your members to a certain theme.
  * Ability to install a new theme via your administration
  * Default templates are XHTML 1.0 Transitional and CSS 2.0
  * Admin can add smileys and smiley sets.
  * Members can choose which smiley set they wish to use (or
  * Themes can be installed by way of the "latest and greatest
    themes" panel.
  * SSI can have and show layers and the like from the template

Posting Features

  * Spell Check.
  * Quick Reply
    - Members can disable it or collapse it.
    - Can be used with "Quote".
    - Also contains "Spell Check".
  * Vast number of "bulletin board codes" to use (including rtl,
    acronym, and others.)
  * Optional editing grace period before a post is shown as
  * 'Insert Quote' feature on posting screen to quickly quote
    previous replies.


  * Can be added or removed to existing topics.
  * Ability to set expiration date.
  * Ability to hide results till expiration of poll.
  * Ability to hide results until after people have voted.
  * Ability to determine how many votes a user may cast.
  * Polls can have up to 256 options.


  * Allowed on a per member group or board basis.
  * The filename can be encrypted to increase the security (so
    you can upload .php files, etc.)
  * Optional restriction on what filetypes may be uploaded.
  * Ability to restrict such that only registered members can
    view them (disables hotlinking, mostly.)
  * Images can be embedded into posts.

Calendar Support

  * Shows Birthdays, Events and Holidays.
  * Display calendar information on board index.
  * Link an existing topic to the calendar.
  * Allow only certain members/groups post events.
  * Event poster can edit event.
  * Events can span multiple days.

Moderation Tools

  * Ability to lock and unlock a topic.
    - Topics which are locked by an administrator can not
      unlocked by anyone else.
  * Ability to allow members to use moderation on just topics
    they posted.
  * "Report to moderator" link.
  * Delete or modify posts.
  * Ability to Merge/Split topics.
  * Move or delete topics.
  * Sticky or unsticky topics.
  * Recycle bin/board for all deleted topics and posts.
  * Moderation log which shows moderation activity and disallows
    log removal outside of 1 day.
  * AJAX editing:
    - Edit a post without page reloads.
    - Double click to edit topic subjects on message index.

User Profiles and User Options

  * Ability to hide your email address from the public.
  * Select their favorite theme among the activated forum themes.
  * Select their smiley set from the ones available.
  * Email notification
    - New topics per board.
    - Single topics.
    - Private messages.
  * Login with 'invisible' mode.
  * Options to hide other members' avatars and signatures.
  * Ability to download and resize uploaded avatars.
  * Personal text, avatar, signature, and all the niceties of
    forums can be used and are kept up to date in all your posts.

User Resources

  * Icons for topics you've posted to.
  * Show new replies to your posts.
  * Collapsible 'Additional Options' on post screen.
  * Ability to view most recent messages.
  * List all topics that have new replies since your last visit.
  * See who is browsing the same boards or topics as you.
  * Topics that span multiple pages have the page numbers listed
    as well as an "all" link.

=== Find Out More

You can find out more about SMF and see a huge SMF board in
action at the Simple Machines Forum website at:


You can find out more about what The Cauldron is planning and the
progress of our move to SMF on our current message board:



We'd like to welcome Mike (ASAHEL) to Cauldron Council (our
"reserve" staff). Mike is a long time member of The Cauldron and
an Admin on our sister forum, Asatru Lore. Mike works with the
American Red Cross and is often posting from countries that most
of us would not want to visit, let alone spend months in working
on humanitarian efforts -- places like Afghanistan, Korea, and
Iraq. We are happy to have him join TC staff.

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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

===== "Found" Objects and the Divine

Have you ever felt as if an object has "found you" through some
kind of-divine twist of fate? I'm not saying the Gods made sure a
vase was at some place at some time to ensure that you and only
you could find it; more like you happen to be at the right place
at the right time to receive something that is useful/helpful to
you in a religious or magical way?

Maybe it was a walk in the woods or a visit to an antique shop?
Where were you when you came across your find?

How have you used the object since you're found it? Did you feel
any kind of cleansing or dedication ritual was necessary for the

* Read (or join in) this discussion:

===== Pagans Who Practice High Magick?

I have studied the practice of High Magick in various forms but
never could get past the armchair stage because of the use of
"Names of God" and Archangels. I have heard Pagans who do High
Magick tell me that it isn't the same as the Christian God, but
to me, calling on YHVH is just that. How is this reconciled? Only
thing I can figure is that they must see the various forms and
names of God as archetypes or something. Even the LBRP, the most
basic of rituals is using part of the Lord's Prayer. So what

* Read (or join in) this discussion:

===== Solitary vs. Group

A couple of recent threads have got me thinking about why I
prefer to be solitary. In the ADF thread, I was asking for
people's opinions about ADF, which led Fiamma to graciously
invite me to visit her grove. I haven't done it yet, and I'm not
sure why.

Whenever I think about it, I feel...not *scared*, exactly...more
like trepidatious or apprehensive.

I thought at first that it might have something to do with not
wanting to be accused of fluffy-bunniness or something like that.
Or worry that the ADF folks are too fluffy for me. But the thread
on fluffy bunnies gave me the opportunity to think that through,
and that's not it.

So, then I thought maybe it's because I don't label myself in a
way that seems to me to fit with what I know about druidism. But,
on reflection, and on reading the thread about Celtic Recon +
Wicca, I don't think that's it either. I probably would fit
pretty well into a druid grove, as far as beliefs go.

I've finally come to the notion that I'm afraid that worshiping
with a group of people will be just like going to church was for
me. I felt nothing. And what's more, it didn't look to me like
anyone else felt anything, either. To me, it looked like everyone
was just going through the motions.

So, I think I'm afraid that I'll be with a group of people like
that. Sort of that I don't trust them to be sincere.

Why is that scary to me? I have no idea.

But I think that's why I prefer to be alone. I don't talk to
anyone about my beliefs (other than you guys, and I'm not sure I
want to.)

I was wondering what others felt about this. Many people say they
value the community. What, exactly, is it that you value, and

* Read (or join in) this discussion:

===== You Can't Be Pagan Because...

In honor of our militant spammer over on the main board who came
back and bitched that we couldn't be pagan because we criticize
others, I decided it was time to find out all the reasons why our
members have been told they just CAN'T be Pagan.

So first off the bat, no being Pagan if you criticize others.
What's your favorite?

* Read (or join in) this discussion:

===== Has the Fluffy Bunny Inquisition Gone Too Far?

I think it was 2001 when I first read about fluffy bunnies. It
was from a website that clearly defined what some people in the
Pagan community felt was a dumbing down of Wicca, Paganism, and
Witchcraft. It chided Llewellyn publications for their lack of
research, creating history out of whole cloth, New Age concepts
introduced into Paganism, ecclecticism, certain fictional movies,
teenagers, and attacked certain authors with such vigor that it
seemed to be a personal vindetta for some of these critics.

I thought that many of the points made were very well put and
held a lot of water. I still do.

It got to the point, however, when EVERYONE started calling
SOMEONE a fluffy bunny, and the attacks became vicious,
slanderous, spiteful... It is very likely that if you were a
Pagan anytime between 2001-2006 you have been called a fluffy or
have called someone fluffy. I've come to feel that it was a
necessary stage of the Pagan community's development... to weed
out the flakes, if you will. I still feel that it is necessary to
be critical of paths that are made up, changed, or eccleticized.

But is everyone who is accused really deserving of such

I've met REAL fluffies. I've known a college student who lied
about her status as a witch (Queen of THE Witches Council) and
informed me in the same breath that she had an intimate
relationship with her "Whitelighter" (y'know, like Piper from
Charmed). I've read an online book of "dark magick" that I just
couldn't get my head around because I was being told to
visualized BLACK light (and not the kind that makes things glow).
I've listened to (and rolled my eyes at) someone who was nothing
more than a gothy-punk chick with a pentacle call a HPs of her
own (well thought out) tradition and coven a fluffy bunny. I've
watched paths spring up and die. I've scoffed at the idea of the
ancient Irish potato goddess, 9 million women and cats being
burned at the stake, and griped about books that are complete

But this crystal toting, granola eating, ecclectic, Neo-Wiccan
(thanks and you're welcome) with a side of Crowley, Shamanism,
and Chaos experimentation is getting fed up with it. Jumping on a
bandwagon of fluffy hating seems to me no better than someone
becoming a witch because they think it's "kewl".

Thoughts? Criticisms?

* Read (or join in) this discussion:

===== Embarrassed about Religion?

A few days ago an incident occured that startled me and I'd like
to know if anyone else has had a similar experience or thoughts
on the matter.

I was at Wal-mart picking up some altar cloth fabric for an
Imbolc altar redecoration and I found a couple beautiful pieces
that I wanted to get. I went up to the cloth cutting station.
There was another woman there, a cheeful, polite, middle aged
woman, and she was getting some fabric cut as well. She started
talking to me, very nicely, and was obviously a chat-to-strangers
sort of a woman. She asked me what I was making. I froze for a
second and then said, "curtains." She smiled broadly and said, "I
thought that was what you were making. It's beautiful fabric!" I
said, "I know, when I saw it I knew I had to have it." And we
chatted on.

Why did I say curtains? I don't know the woman, would never meet
her again, didn't care what she thought of me, but instead of
saying, "I'm getting some fabric to decorate my altar; I'm
pagan," I said, "curtains," a blatant lie (I was getting half-
yard cuts of wildly different fabrics). I'm not ashamed of my
religious beliefs. Sometimes I am scared of peoples' reactions,
since they haven't always been pleasant. I don't offer
information, ever, but if someone asks an honest question, I give
an honest answer. Why "curtains"? It's been bothering me ever

I have to wonder, if I had told the truth, would the woman have
continued chatting with me about her sewing, her kids, and more?
Or would the conversation uncomfortably stuttered to an end? If
I'm not ashamed of my religion and she seemed nice (not likely to
be verbally abusive or even rude about it) why did I say it?

Have others here hidden their religion or had an experience like
that? What do you think? I doubt I'm alone in this and I'd like
to know what others think.

* Read (or join in) this discussion:

===== Muggles???

My whole life I lived in the Northern half of the US , mostly
Massachusetts however recently I moved to Florida and as I am
sure you know it's pretty much summer or spring here year round.
While preparing for Samhain this past season it occurred to me
that in Florida our Harvest season is the complete opposite of
what is celebrated in paganism particularly Celtic (which is the
path I am more than likely heading towards). So I was wondering
if any of you have come across this issue and if so how do you
deal with it? The time of year to celebrate a Harvest it the time
of year to begin planting our seeds, this tends to make it hard
to honor something that you are not practicing. Anyone?

* Read (or join in) this discussion:

===== Technology and Your Faith?

Just wondering how you guys feel about growing technologies,
cellphones, computers and how it affects or possibly conflicts
with any of your beliefs. Personally I dislike the dependency
we've developed over computers, etc. and this being on an
internet site has its educational benefits. Any input?

* Read (or join in) this discussion:

===== Magic -- Why?

This isn't a thread on the sorts of operative magic that are
normally discussed here. Rather, I'm hoping to discuss WHY people
seem to find a belief in magic a necessity in the modern era.

Any of us who has been to a chain bookstore in the last couple of
years and looked at the shelves that are devoted to books
concerned with the "occult" cannot help but have noticed the
large number of books that were obviously targeted at "ordinary"
readers, especially books offering spells to fix all sorts of
problems in people's lives, from relationship problems to job
difficulties. (I am attempting here to draw a distinction between
books written specifically about magical religions like Wicca on
the one hand, and more general books that simply read like a
cookbook full of spell recipes which do not have any specific
spiritual or religious connotation, but simply focus on showing
people how to work a spell, and it is this latter group to which
I am referring.)

Given that the the conventional wisdom says that all of this is
naught but the rankest form of superstition in this modern Age of
Science, one has to wonder why there continues to be a general
interest in this sort of thing amongst the general public. (I
infer the existence of a generalized interest in magic by the
fact that publishers are obviously selling enough of these types
of books to keep printing them, which would NOT be happening if
they weren't being bought by SOMEONE.)

In an abstract of a paper which he delivered at a conference in
2002, Ronald Hutton noted that much of the focus of historical
pagan religious activity was directed toward propitiating a
nature that often seemed menacing or hostile and which was
totally incapable of being influenced by merely mortal efforts.

Is it possible that the function of magic within the human
worldview/psyche is to provide us with the perception that we are
able to influence events that would otherwise be totally outside
our control?

* Read (or join in) this discussion:

===== Hey! Someone Pay Attention to Me!

There are a couple of recent threads talking about "thwaps,"
which set me wondering, what about a "thwap" from the other
direction (that is, a person trying to make themselves known to a
deity)? Can it work that way? How would it work, for example do
you think a "pay attention to me" ritual be effective, or
ignored, or even insulting?

My thought was that someone crying for divine help in an extreme
situation could be pretty close to a reverse thwap; there's a
purpose there, and a lot of emotion. But I don't personally have
any experience with this, so I'm curious to hear what people

* Read (or join in) this discussion:

========= ARTICLES

===== Part 1 (of 7): The Problem
===== by Eran

We've all seen Covens fall apart, or larger umbrella
organizations torn by internal strife. Sometimes, this is simply
part of the natural cycle of creation and dissolution, an outworn
group dissolving to make room for new growth. But at other times,
a group with much promise can be damaged or destroyed while
seemingly still young and healthy. And not only are groups
destroyed, but vibrant and dedicated Elders can find themselves
disillusioned, wounded perhaps beyond healing. They go into self-
imposed isolation, and their potential gifts to the Craft are
lost forever.

The process by which this happens sometimes seems mysterious and
incomprehensible. At times, it's impossible to clearly see what
went wrong. Looking at the tragedy after the fact, it seems as if
everyone did everything right. There were, perhaps,
misunderstandings and miscommunications. But most of the people
involved honestly and sincerely tried to understand everyone's
point of view, and they did all the correct conflict-management
and conflict-resolution kinds of things. But somehow, everything
they tried simply made matters worse. And the people who were the
most ethical, the most dedicated to finding a win-win solution,
the most patient and understanding - these were the people who
got burned the worst, the ones whose strength was sapped, the
ones whose idealism was destroyed, the ones who wind up walling
themselves in and cutting off their ties to the community.

It's almost enough to make you paranoid, and wonder if there's a
cowen plot to break the will of our most dedicated and ethical

A while back, Isaac Bonewits published a review of a book which
explored this subject. The book is called, Antagonists in the
Church: How to Identify and Deal with Destructive Conflict, by
Kenneth Haugk (Augsberg Publishing House, Minneapolis, 1988).
Isaac highly recommended this book, in spite of it being written
from a Christian perspective and intended for a Christian
audience of ministers and lay leaders. He claimed the book makes
clear much which otherwise seems mysterious and confusing. He was

For a modern Witch or Pagan, reading Haugk's book frequently gets
tiresome, because Haugk honestly views conflicts within Christian
groups as ultimately being the work of the Devil out to destroy
the True Church. But putting aside the Christian apologetics,
there's an amazing amount in there which is useful and incredibly
insightful. If you've ever seen the sorts of destructive conflict
described above within a Coven or other Pagan group, Haugk's book
will provide an illumination beyond hope. The book needs to be
re-written, though, from a Pagan viewpoint (a project in which I
am currently engaged), because there are strengths and problems
peculiar to Paganism and the Craft which don't impact the
Christian audience Haugk wrote for.

Here's a very important insight: Such conflicts don't "just
happen." The really destructive ones, the really vicious fights
which tear apart Covens or larger groups, conflicts which break
the spirit of the most dedicated Elders, these conflicts aren't
accidents, and they aren't the consequence of simple
misunderstandings or miscommunications. No; they happen because
particular individuals made them happen. There is a class of
personality traits which makes certain individuals crave
conflict. There are people who need conflict the way most people
need food. When one of these folks gets going, no form of
conflict-resolution process is going to work, because such a
person is not interested in resolving conflicts. Indeed, the more
understanding and patient you are, the worse things will get,
because such a person uses your patience and understanding as
opportunities to prolong the conflict.

Fortunately, such people are few and far between, and they can
usually be recognized before they start causing damage. The
personality traits they possess can be identified, and their
techniques can be thwarted or rendered ineffective. To handle
them properly takes prior knowledge and preparation, however. It
also requires a willingness to take firm action, and to freely
exercise your legitimate authority as a Coven Leader.
Unfortunately, unless the problem becomes recognized on a wider
scale and is appropriately dealt with in the Pagan community at
large, damage can still be done in wider arenas. You can make
your own Coven or Grove almost immune to people like this. But
keeping such people from tearing apart larger umbrella
organizations, or spreading malicious rumors through a local or
regional community - that's quite a lot harder.

In a series of articles, I'll describe the personality traits
involved, ways to recognize them, warning signs to watch for, and
techniques which do and don't work in dealing with them. Future
articles will give reasons why Pagan groups can be particularly
attractive targets for such people, and what can be done to make
your group less targetable. Since this is a religious context,
I'll also give some thoughts on the theology of it all.
Regardless of how Haugk views the matter, as Witches we needn't
see it as a conflict of good vs. evil, but rather as a case of
treating the people around us in the ways which are appropriate
to each individual person. Nor is it a case of a cowen plot, but
rather of processes which are entirely natural, though
discomforting - in the same way a plague or a flood or an
earthquake is entirely natural. Though the Gods of Nature throw
such disasters at us, we needn't stand passively and merely
accept the destruction. If you live on a floodplain or geologic
fault, you can, and should, make proper preparations to minimize
how badly you'll be hurt.

Take all this merely as advice. If you know of better ways to
deal with the problems explored here, by all means, use them -
and share them with the rest of us!

By Any Other Name... A future article will provide a list of
warning signs and telltale personality traits. But to start with,
let's begin with a basic understanding of what we're dealing

Really destructive conflict is caused by people who are driven to
engage others in unwinnable contests. Such people generally have
very low self-esteem, little regard for those around them, often
a rather loose grip on consensual reality, and frequently possess
a fair measure of paranoia. Their low self esteem makes them want
to tear others down, in order to make themselves look better by
comparison. Having little or no regard for others, they won't
care about the damage they cause, and frequently won't even
recognize they've caused any. Being unable to distinguish reality
from their own rich inner fantasy lives, they will be very
convincing liars, because they honestly believe the incredible
things they say. And their paranoia is often justified; when they
act on their inner drives, they start causing damage, and people
stop liking them. Paranoiacs frequently do have many enemies, and
few friends.

All this makes them very guarded and closed-off and secretive,
though they'll frequently hide behind a carefully-constructed
mask of outward friendliness. One such person was overly fond of
the most famous quote from Machiavelli: "Keep your friends close,
and your enemies closer." That kind of deceit and duplicity is
something to look out for.

The word Kenneth Haugk uses for these sorts of destructive people
is "antagonists." The word was chosen to remind his Christian
readers of the antagonism between Satan and the biblical god. In
a Pagan context, it wouldn't be appropriate to use this imagery
of Eternal Conflict. We'd do better with an image more in keeping
with Pagan myth and symbolism.

Something like "Shiva" or "Kali" would be an improvement. After
all, destruction is a natural process, though one which we don't
want to stand too close to, if we can help it. But then,
destructive people get most of their strength from the fear and
worry they can inspire in their targets, and putting on them a
label like "Kali" gives them far too much power. Better still
would be a term which, while not minimizing the danger, doesn't
give them more respect than they deserve. The Books of Raoul say,
"Every ecosystem needs maggots," and so I've heard the term
"maggot" used effectively, though that seems to go too far the
other way. A word I've chosen to use is "troll."

In much of European mythology and folklore, giants, trolls, and
ogres are embodiments of the forces of Chaos, natural forces
which often batter at the walls of civilization or even at the
orderly forms which Nature Herself creates. Chaos is not an
"evil" force. It's simply the flip side of the creative impulse.
Seeing destructive people as chaotic rather than as evil helps to
place them into a useful and meaningful Pagan context. Of all
these chaotic embodiments, trolls are sometimes among the
strongest - yet they also have an unintentionally comic side, as
we're reminded by fairy tales such as the "Three Billy Goats
Gruff," or modern stories such as Tolkien's "The Hobbit". Trolls
can be easily outwitted, if you know something about them, for
sunlight turns them into harmless boulders. An understanding of
the true nature of destructive people is the sunlight which
renders them impotent and ineffective.

Inner Drives Trolls can't help being trolls. It isn't that they
want to be destructive, exactly, any more than a plague-carrying
flea wants to cause death, or a flood wants to destroy a town.
It's just in the nature of the thing. Floods simply spread over
the plain, and if you happen to be in the way, well, too bad for
you. Nothing you did either caused the flood, or could have
prevented it. In the same way, destructive people have inner
drives which make them act as they do. No action you take will
make them behave differently. The best you can do is to not be
around when the dam breaks.

Frequently, trolls are unaware of the damage they're causing. A
cornered mongoose doesn't really want to rip you to pieces; it
just wants to get away. So too, a destructive person will usually
deny wanting to cause pain. Such people really want something
else, usually the things which all people want and need: self-
fulfillment, validation, a feeling of security, and so on. It's
just that trolls have extremely unhealthy ways to go about
getting these things. And when they do get them, their insecurity
convinces them it won't last, so they'd better get more. This is
the key in a nutshell: trolls are not healthy people, so they
can't be expected to act in mature and healthy ways. And treating
them as if they were mature and healthy is like treating a
cornered mongoose as if it was a beloved housecat. The results
are not pretty.

A mongoose or a plague-carrying flea is not likely to change into
something else. Neither is a troll. Unless you are very, very
skilled as a counselor, nothing you can do will help a troll get
healthy. In fact, things you'd normally do to help other people
will just make matters worse. If you are understanding and
patient in response to a troll's dishonest or destructive acts,
what troll learns is: dishonesty and destructiveness is rewarded
by patience and understanding. This encourages the troll to
continue being dishonest and destructive.

Trolls need conflict, the way healthy people need food. If people
are responding to them in any way at all, this provides them with
a feeling of having an impact on the world around them. Since
they have very little self-esteem, any reaction at all is far
better than none. And since fear and hate are powerful emotions,
if they can inspire fear and hate, this makes them feel powerful
and effective. Further, being hated feeds their paranoia ("See? I
was right! People really don't like me!") and encourages more of
the acts which inspired the fear and hate in the first place
("... so I have to get them first!"). But being loved and
embraced won't stop those actions, since what they crave is
excitement and conflict, not love. And being somewhat paranoid,
they'll think your acts of love are intended to fool them into
feeling safe and comfortable; they'll be convinced your kindness
is part of an elaborate trap. ("I know people don't like me. So
why are you pretending you do? What are you up to?")

Because trolls need conflict, they are very practiced at it.
Experience is a good teacher, and most trolls will have had an
enormous amount of experience by the time they are old enough to
join a Coven. If you wind up being the target of a troll's
attacks, fighting back is not a good idea. Trolls are very, very
good at turning any frontal assaults to their advantage. They are
even better at finding and manipulating more subtle responses.
One of the most powerful defensive tricks they have is pretending
to be the victim. Once you respond - in any way, regardless of
how measured and controlled your response is - they begin telling
everyone they know about how mean you are, and how cruel and
vicious and vindictive you're being. It's a good way to turn your
own friends against you, and begin making you feel isolated and
paranoid. This tactic has the additional advantage of turning
attention away from whatever unethical acts the troll was doing
in the first place.

For a healthy person involved in a misunderstanding, a careful
explanation of what went wrong can go a long way toward resolving
the tensions. But this doesn't have the desired effect if the
person isn't healthy. Don't explain things to a troll. If you sit
a troll down and say, "This act led to this damage; this
statement caused that argument; you misunderstood me in this way,
which caused this difficulty," it verifies for the troll exactly
what worked and what didn't. Such an approach tells the troll
precisely which strategies can be used to prolong the conflict.
If you say, "We can resolve the problem by doing this," you've
told the troll what to avoid. Trolls are willing to make any
promises which are needed to lull you into a sense of unwariness;
then they're good at finding justifications for breaking those
promises, or finding ways around them, so the conflict will go
on. Particularly if other people are involved, they are also very
good at deflecting any discussion away from the central issues
involved - such as the troll's own actions.

So, patience won't help; retaliation won't help; love and support
won't help. Explaining the situation won't help, and neither will
proposing solutions or compromises, nor will mediation or
engagement in any sort of dialogue. If you wind up in any dispute
or argument with a troll, doing any of these things will simply
make matters worse, and will probably result in incredible pain.
Yet these are exactly the approaches you should use with most
people who are not trolls. Most people are healthy. Trolls are
not, and should not be treated as if they are. Trolls are not
healthy; they won't get healthy, they don't want to get healthy,
and keeping them near you will eventually let them harm you.

The only effective way to handle trolls should be obvious. It's
also very simple, in theory at least. Don't associate with
trolls. And if one gets into your Coven, he or she needs to be
ejected as soon as you recognize that it really is a troll you're
dealing with. And you don't want to get involved in detailed
discussions with the troll, explanations of why you're taking the
action you're taking. You want to just do it, and be done with

But obviously, you don't want to treat a healthy person this way,
someone with whom you're simply having a genuine disagreement or
misunderstanding. So the trick is not so much in how to handle a
troll. It's in how to recognize one.

Next time, I'll present some ways to recognize trolls.

=== About the Author

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

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===== by Tracey Wilson

Chakras are intersections of vital energy flows that are present
in the ethereal body and in related locations of the physical

Even though there are hundreds of these intersections - which are
used by the Eastern medical practice in acupuncture, there are
seven major chakras, associated with the physical body: these
major charkas are where the major energy flows intersect. The
health of an area of the physical body and the condition of its
associated chakra are related. Meditating on a specific chakra
(pronounced shock-ras) in the location of the diseased area of
the body will help heal that area of your body.

=== Base Chakra

The first chakra is located in the area of the base of the lumbar
spine. It is the center of vitality, physical energy, and self-
preservation. It activates and strengthens the will to live, to
survive, to manifest, etc ... it assists one to live on the
physical plane, and stimulates life energies. It is the location
of the resting Kundalini. It is also the center, which vitalizes
the kidneys, the suprarenal glands, and the spinal column in the
physical body. The colors associated with the base chakra include
red, representing the essential, idealistic, and confident
passion for life, and black, representing stability and grounding
to the source of security.

=== Sacral Chakra

The second chakra is located one to two inches below the navel.
It is the center of desire, emotion, creativity, sexuality, and
intuition. It stimulates the creative life force, forces created
for existence on the physical plane, and the bases of life,
itself. It is the center that vitalizes the digestive system,
reproductive organs, sexual activity, and the gonads, where sex
hormones are produced. It has been known as the pathway to
health; it is attuned to emotions and thoughts concerning
wellness, and is usually the location that allows dis-ease to
manifest, in order to cleanse the body, mind, and/or emotions.

The second chakra has also been said to be located under the area
under the rib cage, at the location of the spleen. It has been
called the splenic chakra, and is considered by some to be a
major chakra (as well, which would make eight major chakra
locations, instead of seven). It is the center, which allows for
vitalization of the entire physical form. It also acts as an open
door to both the receipt and assimilation of the life-giving
energies of the universe.

The colors associated with the second chakra include orange,
representing wisdom, equity, creativity, and benevolence, and
blue/green, representing the synthesis of Divine guidance in
areas of healing.

=== Solar Plexus Chakra

The third chakra is located at the area below the breastbone,
behind the stomach. Looking at the solar plexus area at the back
of the body, the location is just below the shoulder blades. It
is the center of personal, power, ambition, intellect, astral
force, desire and emotions based on intellect, and touch.

The third chakra contains a protective energy, protecting against
any negativity, which is contained within any of the other
chakras. It is the center, which vitalizes the stomach, liver,
gall bladder, sympathetic nervous system (activating involuntary
muscles which enhance the mobilization of the physical body),
pancreas, and adrenal glands. The color associated with the third
chakra is yellow, representing meditative analytical thought and
intellectual activity.

If you are new to studying and opening the chakras, pick the area
you are having the most difficulties in, and work on that one
location. When you feel comfortable, and feel like you are making
progress toward opening that specific chakra, you can move on to
another location, concentrating only on that area, or adding it
to the other chakra location. Always meditate only on opening and
clearing one chakra at a time.

Please read Part Two for the other chakra locations, indications,
actions and the color that rules them.

=== About the Author

Tracey Criswell Wilson is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/
which is a site for Fiction Writing. Many of Tracey's writings
that include poetry, fiction and non-fiction, can be found on
this interactive site.

===== by Tracey Wilson

This is the continuation of the chakra locations, indications,
actions and colors associated with each chakra. For the
introduction and chakra information, one-three, please refer to
Part One.

=== Heart Chakra

The fourth chakra is located at the center of the chest, at the
level of the heart. It is the center of compassion, love, group
consciousness, and spiritually associated with a "oneness" with
"All That Is" (to me, God). It provides for desegregation between
the loving energy of the heart and the analytical energy of the
intellect: it provides for a "sprinkling" of love and compassion
to all of the chakras. It is the center that vitalizes the heart,
thymus, circulatory system, blood, cellular structure, and the
involuntary muscles, which assist in the restoration of both
physical and loving energy. The colors associated with the fourth
chakra include pink, representing softness in strength,
compassion, empathy, and unconditional love to all that exists,
and green, representing soothing, smoothing healing, ecstasy and
exhilaration, and a joyful and fulfilling anticipation.

=== Throat Chakra

The fifth chakra is located at the neck, the center being
recognized as the area of the throat located above the
collarbone. It is the center of communication, sound, and
expression of creativity via thought, speech, and writing. The
fifth chakra has been called the communication center, acting to
provide the energy for, and the understanding of, both verbal and
mental communications. It is the center, which vitalizes the
thyroid gland, throat and jaw areas, alimentary canal, lungs,
vocal cords, and the breath. The color associated with the fifth
chakra is blue, representing the knowledge of oneness with Divine

=== Third-Eye Chakra

The sixth chakra, also known as the brow chakra, is located
between and about one finger- breadth above the eyebrows. On the
back of the body, the corresponding location is at the base of
the skull in the area of the medulla oblongata. It is the center
of psychic power, higher intuition, the energies of the spirit,
magnetic forces, and light. It enables focusing of the higher
intuitive information and stimulates the wisdom for "right"
intent. The sixth chakra, when activated and clear, is the center
for outside guidance and the intuitive "aha". It also assists in
the purification of negative tendencies and in the elimination of
selfish attitudes. It is the center, which vitalizes the
cerebellum, nose, central nervous system, the pituitary gland,
and the left eye. The combined interaction of the pineal and
pituitary glands activates the center. The color associated with
the sixth chakra is indigo, representing the attainment, the
search, and those who search for the spiritual purpose of life.

=== Crown Chakra

The seventh chakra is located at the crown of the head. It is the
center of spirituality, enlightenment, dynamic thought, and
energy. It allows for the inward flow of wisdom from the ethers
and brings the gift of cosmic consciousness. When stimulated and
clear, it enables one to see the truth concerning illusory
ideals, materialistic pursuits, self-limiting concepts, pride,
and vanity; it further allows one to experience continuous self-
awareness and conscious detachment from personal emotions. It is
the center, which vitalizes the cerebrum, the right eye, and the
pineal gland. The colors associated with the seventh chakra are
violet, representing royalty in enlightenment and the search and
attainment of the true meanings of spirituality, life, and
existence, and a shimmering golden-white, representing the state
of perfection in body, mind, emotions, and spirituality.

The areas where few energy flows intersect are called minor
charkas. These minor charkas include, for example, centers at the
palm of the each hand, at the sole of each foot, behind each eye,
in front of each ear where the jawbone is connected, above each
breast, and at the back of each knee.

Chakras can be opened by a variety of methods. One way is simply
meditating on the area you want to open (the area of trouble or
dis-ease). Imagine the color that each chakra represents, and see
it as a wheel spinning- the faster and more freely it spins, the
clearer it becomes. You can also use crystals to help facilitate
a clearing/healing. One method is via the use of laser wand or
another wand-type crystal, rotated in a counter-clockwise
direction or in a clockwise direction. Research throughout the
world has found that the opening of chakras can be different for
each person - in some cases the chakras, can be opened by
rotating the laser wand in a clockwise direction. The
practitioner, or if you're doing it yourself, will need to "feel"
the rotation each time, such that the proper directional opening
is facilitated: the practitioner or self, will sense an increase
of heat, of vibration, and/or of energy when the chakra is open.

As one becomes more attuned to the crystals and to the self,
intuition will guide the practitioner or self, to the most
beneficial crystals and the most beneficial locations for
placement. When one utilizes these arts with a loving and open
heart, there can be no errors and there can be no detrimental or
adverse effects.

=== About the Author

Tracey Criswell Wilson is an author on http://www.Writing.Com/
which is a site for Fiction Writing. Many of Tracey's writings
that include fiction, non-fiction and poetry, can be found on
this interactive site.

========= DESERVING?
========= 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:


===== Deserving?

What is it we, as humans, deserve? It's a common plaint .. "I do
deserve this" "I don't deserve this" .. as though there's some
cosmic scorekeeper, and we're supposed to get X.

But do we really deserve ANYthing? As Americans, at least, we are
told in our founding document, the Declaration of Independance,
that we are endowed with certain inalienable rights .. Life,
Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That simply because we are
alive, we deserve these things, and no one has the right to take
them away from us. (interesting historical sidenote .. it was
originally going to be pursuit of PROPERTY. interesting change).
But at the same time, our own government has the right to take
these away at times .. you transgress the law, you lose your
liberty for a time, at least in certain ways. In death penalty
states, you do something horrible enough and even your life can
be taken by the state.

And these *simple* rights also leave questions .. we have a right
to life. Does that mean that we have a right to health care to
stay alive? Or simply that people can't go around killing us? Do
we have a right to die? To sell ourselves into slavery for some
reason? And, of course, these are only rights that our
*government* guarantees us.

I deserve. Such simple little words. And powerful all out of
their size. When we claim we deserve something, we've stopped
thinking, stopped questioning. We're not asking anymore, when we
claim we deserve .. we are demanding as a right.

Do we deserve anything from the Divine? Even our life is a gift,
something given freely by our parents. (hopefully without strings
attached, but we all know how parents can be). The basic building
blocks of life are things the Universe gives freely .. air for us
to breathe, sunlight so our crops can grow, soil for it to feed
off of. We don't even question these things .. we take them as
granted, as automatic. As things we deserve. No, when we say "I
deserve" we speak of things that are not freely given, but of
things we desire but have thwarted from us.

I'm truly uncertain whether we deserve anything in our lives. We
can earn things based on societal norms, but that is not from the
Divine directly, but from each other. When we play by the rules,
we *deserve* a fair chance to win, for example. But even here we
are closing our minds to other possibilities, to the idea that
maybe the game is flawed, or a tie is the best option.

But the Divine owes us nothing. It gives us life as a gift, gives
us identity and individuality so that it may live through us and
so that we may experience life. But the Divine owes us nothing.
We should treasure our lives as gifts, not see them as something
we are owed, something we are deserved.

=== Questions

 * What do you think you deserve? Why? Who owes it to you and
 * How would your life change if you saw life as a gift instead
   of something you deserve?
 * What is the difference between the community owing things to
   each other, and the Divine owing things to you (other than the
   ease of collection)? What do you owe to other people? Do you
   owe anything to the Divine?

========= 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:



Back when I was a teen, I got a lot of free music by recording it
off the radio on cassette or 8-track tapes. (I know I'm dating
myself by mentioning I had an 8-track recorder.) This was a free
and legal way to get copies of music. Heck, one local station
would play an album straight through so you could easily record
it without ads. While the RIAA hasn't yet managed to criminalize
recording from the radio in the US, radio isn't what it used to
be. With large companies buying up hundreds of formerly locally
owned stations, it can be hard to find anything worth listening
to -- let alone recording -- on the radio in the US, even in
large urban areas. Fortunately, there is Internet radio with a
broad select of stations from around the world.

StationRipper makes it easy to record sounds as properly labeled
mp3 files from any Internet radio station that broadcasts a
shoutcast or icecast stream. The freeware version of
Stationripper will only record two stations at the same time (you
can record from up to 600 stations at the same time in the
payware versions), but that is enough to record a lot of music
without much effort other than selecting the station(s).

Here's a list of the major features of the freeware version.

    Record Shoutcast Radio & TV into MP3's.
    MP3's labeled with the correct Band & Song name.
    Record 2 stations at one time
    Drag and drop iTunes Radio.
    Download Podcasts.
    Don't re-record of songs you already have.
    Auto-Set Genre from Station Portal.
    Manually set all Genre's.
    iTunes or MediaMonkey integration.
    MSN Integration.
    Adjust track splitting settings.

StationRipper is easy to use. You tell it where to store the
mp3s, select a station from the embedded web page interface, and
it starts recording with the next song played. You can fiddle
with a few settings and the like, but that's basically all there
is to it. StationRipper isn't perfect, For example, it sometimes
cuts off a few seconds from the beginning or end of a song and it
sometimes mistakes commercials for songs, but it is a great way
to build up your music collection legally (at this time in the
US, at least) and at no cost. Quality of the mp3 copy varies with
the bitrate of the radio station's audio stream. As you might
expect, the higher the bitrate, the better, so you will need to
take that into account when you select stations to record.

Rating: 4.5
Operating System: Windows (with Internet Explorer installed)
License: Commercial Freeware
Price: Free
Version: 2.71
Web Site: http://www.stationripper.com/

===== Spyware Blaster -- Block Spyware From Installing

Spyware Blaster is an interesting concept. Instead of hunting for
spyware installed on your computer, it tries to block common
types of spyware from installing. It makes hundreds of common
ActiveX spyware programs that can infest Internet Explorer think
they are already installed -- blocking them from installing. It
can also set Internet Explorer and Firefox to block a huge number
of ad tracking cookies, making it much less likely that your web
site visits can be tracked by Internet advertising companies.

Spyware Blaster is simple to use and is regularly updated to
block new threats. It will not replace programs like Adaware or
Spybot Search and Destroy, but it will make your computer much
safer -- especially if you use Internet Explorer as your browser.
It best to run Adaware, Spybot Search and Destroy, Spyware
Doctor, etc. immediately before running Spyware Blaster -- this
will remove spyware and tracking cookies already on youe system,
then Spyware Blaster will make it harder for the common ones to
reinfest your computer.

Rating: 4.5
Operating System: Windows
License: Commercial Freeware
Price: Free for personal use
Version: 3.5.1
Web Site: http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/spywareblaster.html


FireBug is a must-have Firefox extension for anyone interested in
web site design. It allows you to explore web pages (your own to
debug or others to learn from) an an intuitive and very useful
way. FireBug's author describes the extension like this:

    FireBug lets you explore the far corners of the DOM by
    keyboard or mouse. All of the tools you need to poke, prod,
    and monitor your JavaScript, CSS, HTML and Ajax are brought
    together into one seamless experience, including a debugger,
    an error console, command line, and a variety of fun

FireBug combines a number of useful tools in one cleanly designed
and powerful extension. FireBug includes:

    * JavaScript debugger for stepping through code one line at a
    * Status bar icon shows you when there is an error in a web
    * A console that shows errors from JavaScript and CSS
    * Log messages from JavaScript in your web page to the
      console (bye bye "alert debugging")
    * An JavaScript command line (no more "javascript:" in the
      URL bar)
    * Spy on XMLHttpRequest traffic
    * Inspect HTML source, computed style, events, layout and the

If you are skilled web designer, these tools are just what you
need. If you are just starting to design web pages, these tools
provide a great way to examine your designs, debug javascript
problems and examine pages online to see how they were made.

Rating: 4.0
Version: 0.4.1
Web Site: http://www.joehewitt.com/software/firebug/

========= From the Spell Grimoire:
========= Spell To Protect Good Health

Light a red candle. Say:

    I invoke Gangida, great protector!
    May we look after your treasures,
    as our bodies are your treasures!

Light a black candle. Say:

    Nullify disease as it approaches this body
    Arm my blood with guards To slay all intruders!

Light a green candle. Say:

    Gangida, grant protection
    from all imbalances in the heavens,
    from the earth, from plants, from air;
    from my past and from my future.
    Protect me from east to south,
    from west to north!
    May my body be rendered healthy
    under Gangida's protection!

=== 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 Eadie

This is a two-day recipe.

===== Day One

=== Ingredients

1 1/2 - 2 lbs beef stew meat (I've also used brisket)
2 T olive oil
8 C beef stock
1 onion (coarsely chopped)
1-2 celery stalks (each stalk cut in medium-large pieces)
2 cloves garlic, mashed
1-2 carrots (cut into medium-large pieces)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp Rosemary
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste

=== Directions

Season meat with salt and pepper, and brown the meat in the hot
oil in a large skillet. Drain excess fat. Add meat and all
remaining ingredients to a large stockpot and simmer meat 1 to 1
Ĺ hours with lid on, but tilted to vent. If needed, add water to
keep the meat covered during the simmering. Remove all vegetables
and the bay leaves and place meat back into stock. Discard
vegetables. Place meat/stock in the refrigerator overnight.

=== Day Two

Remove pot from refrigerator and skim off any fat on the surface.

=== Ingredients

2-4 C beef stock (amount is optional and depends on whether itís
      needed to cover vegetables. You can use water if necessary,
      but stock is better. Either way, you'll want to watch the
      liquid levels since you'll need all the veggies covered
      during cooking.)
1 onion (coarsely chopped)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
1 C uncooked barley
1-2 C chopped celery
1-2 C carrots (coarsely chopped)
1 1/2 C new potatoes (chopped in 1 inch pieces); parsnips can be
substituted for potatoes
1-2 C frozen cut green beans
1 14 oz canned/drained chopped tomatoes
Salt/pepper to taste

=== Directions

Bring meat/stock to a boil, add onion, garlic, bay leaves and
barley and turn down heat. Simmer for 20 minutes covered with lid
tilted to vent. Add celery, carrots and potatoes and simmer for
an additional 20 minutes. Add green beans and tomatoes and simmer
for an additional 10 minutes or until beans are tender. Remove
bay leaves. Check for seasoning and serve.

(This makes a tremendous amount of stew (I generally freeze 4-5
four cup plastic containers on top of having a couple of servings
while it's "frest") and freezes well. If needed, you can add
extra water to thin the stew out after refrigerating overnight or
freezing. The barley will absorb a lot of liquid. Also, the
amounts used in this recipe can fluctuate, and itís very open to

=== 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
members to actively participate by posting their comments and
views in our discussions. One of the easiest ways to help The
Cauldron is to actively participate in our message board. The
staff especially appreciates members who start new topics for
discussion based on their own questions, opinions, or interests.


===== 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
in which we always need articles:

* information on the beliefs and theology of the various Pagan
  religions, especially non-Wiccan religions

* information on holidays and festivals of the various Pagan
  religions, especially non-Wiccan religions

* recipes for oils, incenses, and food for the various Pagan

* magick, spells, and ritual information

* herbal information

* positive articles on dealing with other faiths

* information on historical pagan cultures

* editorial/opinion pieces

Non-Wiccan material is stressed not because we don't want Wiccan
material but because good non-Wiccan material has been hard to
find. We have a web form you can use to submit an article for
consideration: http://www.ecauldron.com/bnbarticleform.php

===== Book Reviews

While The Cauldron receives some review copies from a couple of
Pagan publishers, there are many books that can only be reviewed
on our web site if a member has a copy and writes a good,
objective review. The Cauldron is interested in reviews on the
more academic books used by reconstructionist Pagan religions as
well as on the books one finds on the Pagan/New Age shelf in the
bookstore. We have a web form you can use to submit a book review
for consideration: http://www.ecauldron.com/bnbbkreviewform.php

===== Graphic Assistance

The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum is purposely a low graphics site as
we value page download speed over flashy graphics. However, we
are always willing to talk with artists who have ideas for
well-designed small graphics (small in both physical dimensions
and file size) that might enhance a specific article or page.

===== Invite Your Friends

If you have friends or acquaintances who you believe would find
The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum useful, please tell them about our
site. If you are active in our message board and have friends who
might enjoy them or have information to contribute, please invite

===== Link To The Cauldron

If you have a web site where linking to The Cauldron: A Pagan
Forum would be appropriate, simply providing a link to this web
site is a big help. Our Link to this Site page explains how you
can do this if you need help or want some simple graphic buttons
to use: http://www.ecauldron.com/linktous.php

===== Donations

As The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum uses as many free services as
possible, our need for money to operate our site is currently
lower than our need for the many items we list above. However, if
you have a few dollars to spare, we would be honored to have your
help in paying for our web site. You can donate by using either
PayPal or the Amazon Honor System links below (we get about 85%
of what you donate).

Donate via PayPal
Donate via Amazon.com

===== Amazon Purchases

The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum also receives a small percentage
(usually 5%) from most items purchased from Amazon.com when you
go to Amazon.com from one of the links to Amazon on our web site.
If you purchase a lot of books, CDs, and other items from
Amazon.com as many members do, going to Amazon.com through one of
our links when you are going to make a purchase there is a
painless way to help fund this web site.


If you are a regular user of the US version of Amazon, you can
help The Cauldron by replacing the URL of your ebay bookmark in
your browser with the above link so that TC gets credit every
time you visit Amazon.com.

To do this in Internet Explorer or Firefox, find Amazon in your
bookmark list. RIGHT click on it and select Properties from the
popup menu which will appear. A dialog box describing your
bookmark will appear. You'll see the standard Amazon url --
probably http://www.amazon.com/ -- in an edit box (labeled
"Location" in FireFox and "URL" in IE). Erase that url completely
and replace with one listed above, then click on OK.

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
affiliates a small percent of the winning bid if the winning
bidder enters ebay from an affiliate link (some like how our
Amazon.com affiliate program works). So if you visit the US
version ebay via the following link, the Cauldron will get credit
for your bids:


If you are a regular user of the US version of ebay, you can help
The Cauldron by replacing the URL of your ebay bookmark in your
browser with the above link so that TC gets credit every time you
visit ebay.

To do this in Internet Explorer or Firefox, find ebay in your
bookmark list. RIGHT click on it and select Properties from the
popup menu which will appear. A dialog box describing your
bookmark will appear. You'll see the standard ebay url --
probably http://www.ebay.com/ -- in an edit box (labeled
"Location" in FireFox and "URL" in IE). Erase that url completely
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
a month and often actually succeeds in doing so. We tried to
publish it twice a month for a while, but real life interfered
too often.

This issue of Cauldron and Candle as a whole is copyright (c)
2007 by The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum. 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. The opinions expressed
herein are those of the individual authors and do not necessarily
reflect the views of newsletter, The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum, or
its staff. Publication of an article in this newsletter is not an
endorsement of the authors position or any products and companies
mentioned therein. 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
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Or you can unsubscribe via email by sending a blank message to


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



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


Don't forget that your suggestions for this newsletter are always
welcome, either posted on the message board or via email to
LyricFox (lyricfox01@ecauldron.GETRIDOFME.com) or Randall
Sapphire (rssapphire01@.ecauldron.GETRIDOFME.com). Typos are, as
usual, courtesy of the Goddess Eris.

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