Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Review Time! Handcrafted Cedar Wiccan Altar by DragonOak!


The Place Where Magic Happens!

Throughout history altars have played an important role within religion and spirituality. Altars have been used to strengthen spiritual devotion and to act as a central point for religious practices. In most ancient religions altars were the place where ceremonies and religious rites took place. In modern times altars can still be found in many religions including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism and Neo-Paganism. The use of altars within such a diversity of religious backgrounds stands as a testament to the amazing spiritual benefits people of all faiths have experienced through the use of altars. Even though each religion has their own way of setting up and utilizing altars, all agree that having a personal altar for prayer and devotional practices can be a moving spiritual experience. An altar is a place where you focus on the Divine and the power of the Divine working in your life. For many it is a place to relax and contemplate the mysteries of life. For others it is a place to simply let go and unwind. In honor of this beautiful tradition and Wiccan Awareness Month, I have decided to share my knowledge of how altars are used within Wicca.

DragonOak's Hand-Crafted Wiccan Altar:
Amazing Craftsmanship!
For Wiccans an altar is a sacred place for prayer, mediation, and ritual work. A Wiccan altar is a place set-aside for only these purposes – it is a place where one focuses on the Divine and changing one's life for the better. For this reason altars are blessed and consecrated with the highest good of all in mind. Altars are often central to both spirituality and personal expression as well. You can often tell much about a person by the type of altar they choose and by the items they choose to keep on their altar. Choosing and setting up an altar is a profound spiritual experience. But the truly profound experiences come from using the altar to aid your spirituality and your relationship with the Divine. At DragonOak.com they understand this principle and the impact having a personal altar can have in one's life. For this reason I choose to request this beautiful handcrafted altar for review. Unlike many altars you will find elsewhere all of DragonOak's products are crafted from solid wood and made with love and care.

About The Wood:
Only all natural woods are used in the creation of DragonOak altars. The use of all natural woods adds great spiritual meaning to each altar. The altar featured in this review is created from solid cedar – a beautiful wood with great spiritual meaning. The English word “cedar” comes from the Hebrew "qatar" which means, “to smudge”. Smudging is a time-honored practice of ritual cleansing through the use of herbal smoke and prayer. The Hebrew meaning indicates that cedar wood may have been used in ancient purification and cleansing rituals. The idea of cedar wood as sacred can be found throughout history. Ancient Sumeria revered the cedar tree over 7,000 years ago, calling it the World Tree, the abode of Ea, their chief deity. The Christian Bible also has numerous references to the cedar tree, including its use in the Ark of the Covenant. Cedar wood is symbolic of healing, purification and spiritual protection. It is thought that spiritual properties of cedar help to promote peaceful thoughts and aid in interpreting messages from the inner self. Due to the use of all natural materials each altar created by DragonOak is a unique work of art.

About The Designs:
Stunning Artistic Details!
The beautiful designs on this altar were created by hand using a technique called Pyrography. Pyrography is the art of decorating wood or other materials with burn marks resulting from the controlled application of a heated object such as a poker. It is also known as wood burning. As someone who enjoys wood burning as a hobby, I have to say that I honestly don't know how DragonOak created such prefect lines. The detail of the pyrography is very impressive. It is dark and neat with well defined lines. Simply Beautiful! The designs burned into this altar are sacred Wiccan symbols and statements of faith. Let's take a look at the meaning behind each of these beautiful designs.

Maiden, Mother & Crone:
Gorgeous Symbolism!
Along the top of the altar is written "Maiden Mother & Crone: The Power of Three Within Thee". This statement is a celebration of the power and wisdom of the Divine Feminine. It is also a celebration of the Divine working in us and through us. In Wicca the Divine Feminine is viewed as having three sacred aspects of young woman, mother, and grandmother. Similar to the Christian Trinity, the three faces of the Divine Feminine are considered to be one Divine being.

The Triple Moon:
Breathtaking!
Towards the front of the altar is a large Triple Moon symbol. This symbol represents the three aspects of the Goddess that of the Maid, Mother and Crone. In Wicca the moon is viewed as a sacred symbol of the Divine Feminine. Each phase of the moon has its own meaning and symbolism. The waxing moon is symbolic of the Maid and is a good time for setting goals or beginning new projects. The full moon is symbolic of the Mother and is the prefect time for healing, giving thanks and creating change in your life. The waning moon is symbolic of the Crone (or Grandmother) and is traditionally time for banishing negativity. Each aspect is sacred and helpful in your daily life.

Earth, Air, Fire, Water:
Simply Elegant!
In front of the altar is written "Blessed Be - Earth Air Fire Water - Blessed Be". Blessed Be is a traditional Wiccan greeting and blessing. It is also used many times in the Christian Bible making Blessed Be a good blessing for people of all faiths. The four elements of earth, air, fire and water are called upon in Wiccan rituals. Each element is symbolic of an aspect that we all seek to find in ourselves: Earth – Strength/Fortitude, Air – Intelligence/Wisdom, Fire – Passion/Courage, Water – Emotion/Creativity.

The Pentagram:
A Fabulous Interfaith Symbol!
A pentagram is burned around each candle holder. Due to the misunderstandings most people have in regard to this symbol I have decided to share a sermon I wrote about it below.

"The pentagram (or pentacle as it is known when not written or drawn) is one of the most persistent symbols in human history. It is one of oldest symbols dating back to the time of Uruk of 3500 BC in Ur of the Chaldees in Ancient Mesopotamia. The pentagram is found in many ancient cultures including India, China, Greece, Egypt, Babylon and the Mayans of Central America. Each culture has its own symbolism attached to the five points of the pentagram.

    Wicca Symbolism: The Elements
  • In Wicca, the five points represent the five elements and their metaphysical aspects. The element of earth represents physical endurance and stability and is the symbol of the lower left point. The lower right point is symbolic of fire, which represents courage. The element of water represents intuition and emotion and is the meaning of the upper right point. The upper left point symbolizes air and represents intelligence. The fifth point is symbolic of the element of spirit, and represents the divine. The meaning is basically similar to the old saying "mind over matter," which means the ability of one's spirit to control the lower aspects of our being.
    Wicca Symbolism: Other
  • As the primary symbol used by Wiccans and other Neo-Pagans, the pentagram also represents aspects of their faith. To some, the pentagram represents the spiritual aspects of life and seeking secret knowledge. To others the five points symbolize the four directions of north, south, east and west with the fifth point representing sanctity of spirit. When within a circle, the star symbolizes wholeness, unity and divine knowledge.
    Jewish Symbolism
  • In antiquity the Hebrews viewed the pentagram as a symbol of divine truth. The five points were ascribed to the five books of the Pentateuch and to truth found in Hebrew scriptures of the Torah. In the Jewish Kabbalistic tradition, the points represent the archetypal forces of justice, mercy, wisdom, understanding and transcendent splendor.
    Christian Symbolism

  • In antiquity Christians viewed the pentagram as a lesser-used symbol of their faith. The five points of the pentagram represent the five wounds of Christ. Early Christians also attributed the pentagram as a symbol of the Trinity with the two other points representing the two natures of Christ. It also symbolizes truth, the work of the Creator, the five joys of the Virgin Mary, the Alpha and the Omega and the five virtues of generosity, fellowship, purity, courtesy and mercy. To knights it represented the five knightly virtues of generosity, courtesy, chastity, chivalry and piety."
Embedded Candle Holders:
This altar features two brass candleholders that are embedded into the wood. The candleholders provide a wonderful way to burn your candles safely without having to worry about knocking your candles over during ritual. The holders are designed for standard 6" household candles that can be found in most supermarkets or candle shops. Sadly due to my allergies, I was unable to find any taper candles that were soy-free, dye-free and unscented.

Portability:
With the needs of the solitary practitioner in mind, this altar is designed to be portable so that you can calibrate ritual anywhere! The surface of this altar measures 18" by 9 1/2" by 13" tall making it easy to travel with and easy to store.

About DragonOak:
DragonOak was born R.S. Elvey, June 22, 1964 in Flagstaff AZ. He was inspired by his grandfather who was fully self sufficient although totally blind. Encouraged by his mother in all craft endeavors and rewarded with praise by his grandmother for diligence and hard work. DragonOak received his BA in secondary education at SMSU in 1991

DragonOak began to apple his artistic abilities in the medium of woodwork and pyrography, the art of wood burning, in 2003 when a local metaphysical shop requested his help in building boxes with mystical themes. Prior to this the woodwork had been a hobby. Today DragonOak creates a variety of wood products in his home wood shop in Southwest Missouri, and sells both wholesale and retail for a worldwide audience. DragonOak desires that his crafting be both artistic and functional. To that end he has created trinket boxes, ouija type spirit boards and other pagan cabinetry.

In 2009, he received entry into the Historisches Museum Der Pfalz Speyer in Germany and is listed in their catalog HEXEN Mythos and Wirklichkeit, 2009 Ed Minerva Hermann Farnung GmbH, Munchen. DragonOak's entire collection can be seen at his website www.dragonoak.com. DragonOak also takes commission work for custom items, as this gives him more creative satisfaction than merely repeating the same designs.

The Benefits of Having a Personal Altar:
Maintaining a personal altar is a rewarding experience. Having a place devoted to the Divine helps you to strengthen your relationship through having a constant reminder of your spiritual life. Expressing your spirituality through prayer, meditation and devotional practices has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Many people add a fun element to their spirituality by decorating their altar for each holiday or season. Personally I have found this to be a fun and relaxing practice that helps to keep me grounded. It’s also so much fun to create a theme altar using holiday decorations! You don't have to be Wiccan to enjoy the benefits of keeping an altar. Any one of any faith can enjoy this beautiful spiritual practice. DragonOak offers custom altars to fit your spiritual needs regardless of your religious preference.

The Altar Experience:
There are many ways to use your altar for spiritual growth, fulfillment and for honoring the Divine. Below are a few simply ways you can use an altar to enhance your spiritual life. These ideas are designed for people of all faith, so please feel free to add to this list or change it to fit your beliefs.  

Celebrating the Seasons and Holidays:
Decorating your altar for each season or holiday is not only a great way of being mindful of the world around you - its really fun too! This idea is very similar to how people leave their Christmas trees up year round to decorate for each holiday. Only this idea is far more spiritual as it incorporates prayer. For Example: The photo above is my altar decorated for September 22nd - the Fall Equinox/Mabon. It is a long-standing tradition to count your blessing and give thanks on this day. So instead of simply decorating my altar with fall theme items, I thought of all the blessings I have in my life as I was decorating it. After I finished I gave thanks to the Divine. Now when I look at my altar I do not simply see the decorations, I see all that I have to be thankful for. Each season and most holidays have aspects that can be worked into a spiritual expression of gratitude.

Prayer:
Candles: A Wonderful Symbol of Prayer and Divine Presence!   
Having a place to sit and focus during prayer is a very helpful practice. Not only will your altar remind you to pray more often, it can help you focus during prayer. Think of your altar as your spiritual Facebook wall - anything you put on it is an expression of your prayers. For example: It is a common practice in many religions to light a candle to symbolize one's prayer request. This helps your mind to focus on your intent, making it easier for you to concentrate on the Divine. Another common practice is the burning incense to symbolically carry one's prayer to the Divine. Using herbal incense such as white sage can also spirituality purify your sacred space and bring feelings of relaxation. In Wicca it is a common practice to light two candles to symbolically represent the Divine Feminine and Divine Masculine (Please note: This is not symbolic of different two deities. It is symbolic of the Creator as having a Feminine and Masculine side - similar to how all physical beings were created as male and female.) This idea can be applied to any religion. For Example: If you are a Christian you could use three candles to symbolize the Christian Trinity or two candles to symbolize the two natures of Christ – that of humanity and Divinity.

Focusing on Gratitude:
A good way to use your altar to help you focus on being grateful is to write down all of the your blessings on slips of paper. Place the slips in the center of your altar and read them once a week (or more if you feel really down). As you practice this you will find that you feel more thankful for the blessings you experience. This practice helps you to stop focusing the negative aspects of life. Another idea is to place an object that symbolizes your blessings. For Example: After 5 years of searching for allergy-free chocolate bars I finally discovered chocolate I would safely eat. I placed the unopened chocolate bar on my altar and gave thanks to the Divine. It doesn’t matter if your blessing is small or great, all that matters is that it is something you are grateful for.

Setting Goals:
Let's face it sticking to our goals can be hard. Personally I find it much easier to complete my goal if I place a representation of the goal on my altar and pray about it. This not only reminds you to work on your goal every time you look at your altar, it reminds you to pray about it as well. For Example: If you are studying hard for a big test you might want to place something that symbolizes learning on your altar. It doesn’t matter what object you choose for this as long as you know what it is meant to represent.

My Personal Opinion:
Personally I find this altar to be of superb quality and craftsmanship. Not only is it beautiful it is very sturdy and durable as well. This altar should last for generations due to the quality of the materials from which the altar is made. The portability of the altar makes it perfect for anyone who enjoys the outdoors, but it is always excellent for someone who does not have a lot of space to store things. It can easily be stored without taking up very much room. Personally I couldn’t imagine storing it because of how beautiful it is, but I can see where some might need to. The built in candleholders are an awesome feature. If I had owned an altar like this one as a teenager, it would have prevented more than a few fires. Sadly I was not able to find any hypoallergenic taper candles. This system will work wonderfully for preventing accidents due to the depth of the candle holders. Another aspect that I truly love about this altar is that DragonOak is very mindful of nature and very respectful about gathering his supplies. If you would like to learn more about this process check out http://www.dragonoak.com/Creating-Magickal-Ritual-Tools.html. Over all this is an amazing altar that anyone of any faith could use to aid his or her spiritual practice. I highly recommend DragonOak for any spiritual tools you may need.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Blogtour! Escaping the Cauldron by Kristine McGuire


 Last month I was given an opportunity to be part of the Escaping the Cauldron blog tour on Oct 1st. Since I was curious about the book I agreed to post my review of it today. Before we continue lets take a look at the description of this book from the author's website "An eight-year journey through the occult and into freedom. Escaping the Cauldron exposes the subtle occult influences that affect 21st century Christians. Part Bible study, part memoir, this book takes the reader deep inside Kristine's eight year journey as a witch, medium, and ghost hunter and reveals how God delivered her out of the occult altogether and mercifully restored her faith and life in Christ." As you can see the book sounds interesting. Due to the nature of the subject I felt it was important to share this book with my friends in the Christian Witch/Wiccan community - after all this is the target audience for Escaping the Cauldron.

How Real Christian Witches Have Responded: 
Unlike many reviewers I have chosen to hear and share feedback from the Christian Witch/Wiccan community. I felt that this is important since this is the target audience for the book. Below are the thoughts of three Christian Witches after reading Escaping the Cauldron by Kristine McGuire. This is their personal opinions- unedited.

Below is a detailed statement from David Dellman who has held credentials with the Assemblies of God Church and currently holds an Masters of Divinity from their seminary. Below are his thoughts.

"The publisher of Kristine McGuire’s new book “Escaping the Cauldron” has offered Ms. McGuire’s manuscript to some professing Christian Witches for review.

I was able to get a look at her book thanks to one of these Christian Witches. I only recently left the conservative evangelical church even though I have been a practicing witch for some time. I “got saved” and “filled with the Holy Spirit” in 1974. I went to seminary in the early 1980s and served in various youth pastorates and adult Christian educational positions since my graduation from seminary. I share this history so that you will know that I am not gullible, naive, biblically illiterate, or given to youthful flights of fantasy.

Ms. McGuire feels that she has been saved from a great error and is relieved to be back in the safety of the one true fold. If she is happy I am glad for her but in the years I spent as an evangelical I was always uncomfortable with the elitism, the condescension, the judgmental opinions, and the condemnation of whole people groups and populations that is characteristic of conservative fundamentalist positions. Just as Ms. McGuire feels the hand of grace in her life “escaping” from the deadly clutches of witchcraft, I feel the hand of grace in my life “escaping” the death grip of Christian fundamentalism. Like all forms of fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism is divisive and bigoted.

I realize the word “bigot” is loaded with negative connotation and I don’t mean to use the word to insult or hurt but I do believe that ideological bigotry is one of the institutional sins of the religious right and I do believe that this “I know better now” attitude is reflected in Mrs. McGuire’s work.

The fact is we live in a diverse world, with a diversity of opinion especially in esoteric or religious matters. Mrs. McGuire in chapter after chapter tried to explain what Christian witches believe and practice. I must tell you it would require volumes to document the diversity of opinion in the Christian witch community. There is no one uniform belief or practice.

I am a Christian witch. Jesus Christ is my Lord; His blood covers my sins as it does Mrs. McGuire’s. I am also a Universalist, and I can defend all of my positions and practices’ using the very same Bible that Mrs. McGuire has used to condemn them but I would prefer to avoid a debate about this passage or that because the Bible has been used to defend the position that the world is flat, that human slavery is a God appointed right. The Bible was used for generations to deny equal rights and equal access to women, and it was used to justify the murder of thousands of accused witches many of whom were burned alive while Christians watched. So, the fact is, the Bible can be used to support or condemn almost anything.

I believe Mrs. McGuire’s instance that the Christian witch is sitting right next to you in the pew is almost certain to begin a “witch hunt” that will “out” witches who do not wish to be out of the broom closet. I think that is sad. It is sad because it is difficult, not to be a Christian in a culture in which 70% are confessing Christians, but to take any position on any issue other than the orthodox position.

It is extremely difficult to stand up for what you believe in when it means you will be forced from the church home you might have known all of your life. Mrs. McGuire’s book will no doubt create the paranoia that will result in many otherwise content Christian witches losing their church homes.

Mrs. McGuire said that, “The American religious climate is in upheaval with many young adults leaving the Christian faith.” I believe she is correct but I believe the “upheaval” is because the evangelical fundamentalist church has lost touch with its mission. It has become a “cauldron” of bigotry rather than a beacon of love.

In the same paragraph Mrs. McGuire said, “Perhaps even worse are those who call themselves Christian while abandoning foundational beliefs about Jesus Christ and replacing them with a more socially palatable solution.” Of course these “heretics” are “even worse” than those turning from the faith. What is “worse” about them is that they are leading others “astray,” but in their minds they are not leading anyone “astray.” They are instead leading them to a healthier and more Biblically sound interpretation of the scriptures than what conservative Christianity is offering.

Mrs. McGuire said that, “Popular voices question what was once recited as creed.” I believe she is referring to works like Love Wins: A Book about Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived by Rob Bell, Raising Hell: Christianity's Most Controversial Doctrine Put Under Fire by Julie Ferwerda, and The Gospel of Inclusion: Reaching Beyond Religious Fundamentalism to the True Love of God and Self by Carlton Pearson. These books and others like them are leading the church to much needed and long overdue reform, they are leading us away from the kind of bondage that Mrs. McGuire would like us to embrace anew.

In quotations at the beginning of the book, Tracey Bateman said that Mrs. McGuire, “encourages the church to love and not condemn those trapped in Satan’s snare.” Yet a few short pages later Mrs. McGuire says, “One thing stands out to me when I read these scriptures. These activities (or the people choosing to do them) are condemned.” It is this kind of schizophrenic, conditional love that drives me crazy. Love with strings and conditions is not love at all; it is a deal, a bargain, and that is not what the gospel of Jesus Christ presents. God’s love is a gift, freely given, freely received.

Mrs. McGuire believes that the Bible condemns not only the practices of the Christian witch but the person of the Christian witch. In fact, the Bible also condemns gossip, lust, and enough other practices to include everyone who will ever read Mrs. McGuire’s book or any other book. We have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God but God’s love covers our sin, that is the good news of the gospel.

Mrs. McGuire also quotes a passage of scripture that warns that in the “last days” Christians will be “seduced by deceiving spirits.” Bishop Carlton has a different opinion of this passage. He believes that “the most pronounced antichrist spirit is religion itself – even Christianity…” He said that to, “insist that the world is not already redeemed to God by Christ is to suggest that Christ failed in His task,” and this is the spirit of antichrist and this is the “deceiving spirit” that the passage Mrs. McGuire quotes actually applies to.

Mrs. McGuire is entitled to her opinion and I found her life journey fascinating reading but I found her comments about Christian witches specifically and the occult in general based more on misinformed standard Christian fare than actual practice or genuine understanding. I think Wicca's Charm is a superior book from the conservative Christian point of view. It presents the positives of Wicca as well as the negatives, and it is at home with the audience that Mrs. McGuire is trying to reach; terrified, paranoid believers.

I am simply no longer in the business of condemnation. I believe that God loves every human being of every race, national origin, and creed. I believe that God has already accomplished eternal “salvation” for every human soul. This belief frees me to love without restraint or condition even those who condemn me, even those like Mrs. McGuire. To that end, Mrs. McGuire, thank you so much for sharing your book with me. I wish you much love and success in your journey." ~ David Dellman
Below are the thoughts of Rev. Diana an Interfaith Minister and High Priestess with Coven of Christ Ministries. 

"Please remember these are just my opinions and not to be taken as doctrine of any kind. I think this woman is frightened and confused and is clutching at anything she can find to justify her current belief system. She is trying to fit in where society will accept her and her marriage. I am concerned about her vision of Artemis being mad that she had chosen Jesus over Her. All of the Gods and Goddesses in Wicca are aspects of the One. Anyone really studying the religion knows this. I hope she is happy with where she is on her path now. But it saddens me that she is afraid of what she knows and has experienced. Try not to be angry with her. Her references are close minded and she obviously does not really know what or who a Christian Witch really is. Many don't. I wish her well." ~ Rev. Diana
Below is a statement from Rev. TigressPhoenix another Interfaith Minister and High Priestess with Coven of Christ Ministries. 
"Sadly Escaping the Cauldron is one of the few books that I have ever found personally insulting. In all honestly I feel that this book will push Christo-Pagans, Christian Wiccans and Christian Witches away from the church and possibly away from Jesus Christ. Instead of speaking in an understanding manor the author chooses to use misguided information about this group of individuals. At times the author seems very negative towards her target audience which is very disheartening. For someone who has spent 8 years as a Christian Wiccan, the author lacks basic information regarding what Wiccans truly believe. The part of this book that really struck home for me was the author's vision of Artemis being mad that she chosen Jesus over Her. In Wicca all of the imaginary of the Gods and Goddesses are believed to be aspects of the One God. We are monotheistic and believe in only one Divine Being. For example I worship Jesus Christ, but at times Christ comes to me in the form of Artemis or the Greenman. The Creator can take on what ever form that is needed to connect with an individual. So to say that "Artemis is mad at me because I choose Jesus" is a total oxymoron. Its simply not possible because they are the same person... I have studied different religions all of my life. Wicca has been one of the most interesting religions I have researched, leading me to read many books on the subject. As an interfaith minister and high priestess who has been studying Wicca for twelve years and practicing Wicca for eleven years, I find the author's statements harsh and at times insensitive towards their target audience. I have found many errors in what the author believes Wicca is, which is surprising considering the time she spent as a Christian Wiccan.  I feel that the author has turned away from a golden opportunity to awaken to the truth. I truly feel sorry for her that she has chosen to be lead by what others tell her. Instead of what her heart tells her. She will be in my thoughts and prayers. Blessed Be ~ Rev. TigressPhoenix

Below is a statement from ordained minister Toni Nell.
 
 "Although I have not been able to read the entire book, I have read enough to get a pretty good feel of “Escape from the Cauldron.”

Although I do not agree with Ms. McGuire’s opinions or viewpoints, that are not entirely a surprise as they are coming from a woman who has wandered between the world of Christianity and Wicca for many years. Ms. McGuire is obviously a woman who has been battling with inner demons her entire life; struggling to find peace with the Craft she loved and the teachings of her Christian upbringing.

Rather than being a story of a woman’s return to Christianity after straying, this book was written more in a bible study and discussion format to help the Christian church to identify the Craft and why it is against God’s design. Although I do not agree with Ms. McGuire, I do respect her opinions. However, I found a few of her comments a bit disheartening and some of her “in depth” focus on the Craft or Christianity tends to be lacking any real focus.
For example, Ms. McGuire talks of legalism with distain throughout the entire book, YET it appears that she has returned to a legalistic point of view i.e. her quote of “anything other than submitting to the total will of God is witchcraft.”

Although Ms. McGuire has a fairly good knowledge of Christianity, Witchcraft and the blending of the two, she lacks insight into both. Witchcraft does not provide an alternative to God, it provides and alternative way to worship. Wicca/Witchcraft does not have us to find all answers solely within ourselves. It asks us to take personal responsibility for our actions and realize that we are co-creatures of our world. The bible, which she so lovingly quotes, tells us that we are of free will – meaning we have a choice in how our lives play out and that we are responsible for those choices.

I am in favor of any book that opens up conversation even if it is from a viewpoint different from my own. However, I find it very disheartening that Ms. McGuire does not spend much time focusing on what is wrong with the current state of the church today….why people are feeling the need to look for something more. In my humble opinion it is the lack of experience which she repeatedly states we should not base our spiritual beliefs on. This to me is ironic as it was an experience is what lead her to Christ in the first place. The modern church is designed to invoke an experience to bring the sinner to Christ. If that were not the case, a simple reading of a few passages would be sufficient.

Ms. McGuire is entitled to her beliefs, but the book in general lacks fluidity and does not allow for open dialog among all readers. It only allows for dialog among those who share her limited view." ~ Toni
Author Bio: 
Kristine McGuire spent eight years blending Christianity with the occult. She has been a Solitary Eclectic Christian Witch, a clairsentient medium, and a lead investigating member of a paranormal enthusiast group. Learn more about her at www.kristinemcguire.com

Personal Opinion: 
Due to the reactions of those who have been Eclectic Christian Witches for more than a decade, and due to my own personal knowledge of the subject, I have to say that I am rather shocked by the contents of this book. In my own personal opinion- the author seems to have never studied Wicca. I love that the author has a deep love for Christ and seeks to share the peace she has found with others (I love and respect her for that because that is a beautiful thing in and of its self *HUGS*). But she has missed the fact that "Christian Witches" are still "Christians".  Maybe not in the sense she feels is Christian, but in their own words they love Christ and follow him. Many Christian Witches are even teachers within traditional Christian churches due to how much they have studied the Bible to form their own unique belief system. I understand her compassion and love for those that she feels are lost souls. But there is a right way and a wrong way of sharing one's testimony. Saying that your target audience is going to hell and that the greek goddess Artemis is a demon is the WRONG way to share one's testimony.  Imagine how any traditional Christian would feel if someone said "Your going to hell and Jesus is a demon"? Would you want to listen to that person or read their testimony? Odds are you would only see that the name of Jesus had been insulted. The same goes for talking with Christian Witches because they believe that Artemis (or any God or Goddess) is an aspect of One Divine Being (they are monotheistic). For them Jesus Christ and Artemis are aspects of God, to insult one is to insult the other in their belief system. Imagine how insulting such statements must be for them. It doesn't mater if you disagree or agree with their beliefs. If you want someone to listen to your testimony, you must respect their religion regardless of what you think of it. Yes this is something that is at times is difficult, but the love of Christ requires us to "be all things to all people". In the book of Acts Paul approached a statue labeled "To The Unknown God". He shared the Gospel with them by using that statue as an example. This can be found in Acts 17:22-23  "Then Paul stood in the midst of the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I perceive that in all things you are very religious; 23 for as I was passing through and considering the objects of your worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Therefore, the One whom you worship without knowing, Him I proclaim to you." ~ New King James Version. Paul is the perfect example of the right way. 
If you would like to learn more about Escaping the Cauldron by Kristine McGuire check out http://www.escapingthecauldron.com
 
Please Note: I highly recommend that you do your own research the author's own biases have out weighed any other information in this book.