One of the common themes out there in the world of Paganism and alternative spirituality is the concept of generic Goddess spirituality. There are many different things that people mean when they say that they follow Goddess spirituality rather than a specific religion or spiritual path. In all honesty like all spiritual paths Goddess spirituality is a very personal path. There are some common themes and traits among Goddess spirituality so I am going to cover a few of those themes today for you to follow and understand.
What is Goddess spirituality
What is goddess spirituality? Goddess spirituality is in the end a relationship with one divine great Goddess. This Goddess is the mother of everything. She is the creator of everything. She has no name but is mother to every one who follows her path. The Great Goddess is both apart of this world and separate from this world. The Goddess is in everything and is a part of everything.
Goddess spirituality is actually as old as time. The earliest figures that we have found appear to be mother Goddess figures. It is believed that because women are the ones to give life that the ancient and primitive cultures believed that it was a feminine divine entity that created life. They also believed that it was to her that we returned when we die. She was the womb and the tomb.
The great Goddess is a theme that comes in many different forms and styles. Goddess spirituality is essentially focusing on the Goddess as the source of all life. Its celebrating her form through all life. The great Goddess in Goddess spirituality is the one who can heal, who can protect, and can do everything.
In Goddess based spirituality all you focus on is her energy. The Goddess is the one who gifts you with everything that you need to have in life. She is abundance. She is sexuality, she is passion. The Goddess is the fertile fields, the growing tree. She is the laughter of children and the fiery protection that parents have for their children. This Goddess is love and light but is also fierce and protective. She is also darkness and fears.
Theism and Goddess spirituality
In many pagan paths you find the concept of polytheism. That is a belief in many different Gods and Goddesses. When it comes to traditions and practices of Goddess based spirituality it ca be hard to define exactly if it is a polytheistic path or not. Goddess spirituality can be a polytheistic path or it can be simply a path with out any real form of theism. For now I am going to cover a few of the different theistic or deity centered ways that Goddess spirituality can be experienced.
In Goddess spirituality there are several ways that it can manifest. The primary form of Goddess spirituality is a form that is that of Panentheism. Here they believe that the Goddess is everything in the universe and beyond the universe. The great Goddess both made the universe and makes up the universe. The Goddess is here at all times and everything.
A related view of Goddess spirituality is that of Pantheism. In Pantheism the Goddess makes up all of the universe and all of the known reality we live in. She is everything here. The Goddess is the universe manifested. Just by living and experiencing life we experience her. There is no need for prayer or worship. Simply live life and enjoy the beauty and you have found the Goddess. The Goddess would be in all the food we eat, all the plants we see and any and all animals that you encounter.
Many people who follow Goddess spirituality are soft polytheists of sorts. These people believe that the Great Goddess has many faces and names. They believe that all Goddesses are aspects of the one Goddess. In soft polytheism they believe that she is so vast and so great that as humans we can not fully understand or appreciator all that she has to offer or even all of her mystery. So we created and experience her face in many different forms. In short those who follow a soft polytheistic path believe that no matter what name you use for the great Goddess you are worshiping her.
The other way that Goddess spirituality manifests soft polytheism is believing that one great Goddess created everything and that this Goddess is both male and female. In other words its not just the Goddesses that make up the Great encompassing Goddess. In this view they believe that even the Gods or male aspects of the divine make up aspects of the great Goddess as well as the feminine. This great Goddess is male and female all at once.
Hard polytheism . In Goddess worship through hard polytheism the great Goddess isn’t one Goddess. In this form of Goddess spirituality you are contacting the feminine divine forces through individual Goddesses. Some one who follows Goddess spirituality through the form of individual Goddesses as separate entities worships the Goddesses as feminine divine forms. Here they may worship the individual Goddesses for different reasons for their associations or for what ever reasons the Goddesses they worship call to them.
Then you have monotheistic Goddess worshipers. The monotheistic Goddess worshiper believes that there is only one divine force in the world. That one divine force is the Goddess. They believe that no other divine force in the universe. All the divine power and all divine influences come from this Goddess. They believe that everything came from this Goddess and to her everything will return. This is probably the most common form of Great Goddess worship and Goddess spirituality.
How to practice Goddess Spirituality
In Goddess spirituality the idea is that there are many different ways to practice Goddess spirituality. Like any spiritual and religious path it is going to be a very personal path and choice. Like all paths there will be different ways that you can go out and find the Goddess. There are many ways you can work and make a relationship with the great Goddess and be a part of Goddess spirituality.
The best advice I can give on Goddess spirituality and practicing it is to remember how important feminine energy is to life. All things in this world need both masculine and feminine energy in order to produce offspring and thus survive. Life is the gift of the Goddess. By appreciating life and enjoying life you are living with the Goddess and enjoying all that the Goddess has to offer you. That is a form of Goddess worship.
In the poem the charge of the Goddess there is a line that states “All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals”. This is one of the truths about true divine Goddess spirituality. In true Goddess spirituality doing the things that you enjoy, the things that move your spirit and make you feel whole are ways you can honor and be one with the Goddess. Yes sex and sexuality are implied in that wording but it means more than that. If you live to perform find ways to dedicate your performances to the Goddess. If you paint involve her in your activities and let her direct your painting. By being true to your inner self and your real joys and pleasures in life you are being true to her and letting her move you.
If you are the type of person who likes to do formal ritual than go for it. Goddesses and the divine in general do enjoy formal worship. When ever you are working with any sort of spirit of divine being its important to give them offerings of types at different times. This is how you worship them and stay in their presences. With the great Goddess and Goddess spirituality its not really any different. It just depends on how you interpret the Goddess in your version of Goddess spirituality.
Now you may think that Goddess spirituality is just for women. This is not true. While you may find and will find a majority of Goddess central or Goddess based spiritual paths are women only, this is in part because the Goddess spiritual movement has been tied in with feminine power and movements to empower women. Goddess spirituality also in many cases and ways focuses on women mysteries hence forth it is a female central path. There are men on this path its just different for them and they often times feel out of place.
Paths and traditions
The following is a list of known Goddess central and Goddess spirituality based paths.
Dianic Wicca-Formed by Z Buddapest
Reclaiming- Starhawks tradition a mixture of Dianic Wicca and Feri witchcraft
Goddess spirituality is not one of my expertise. It is an area that I have only done some vague research into. I have presented you with the information I have found. I am providing you with some resources now on Goddess spirituality that may be more beneficial to you,
The Spiral Dance by Starhawk
The Book of Womens Mysteries by Z. Buddapest
The White Goddess Robert Graves
If you have a book or link on Goddess spirituality that you would like to share comment and I will add it to the list. I will also add them to the links pages as I get those resource pages up and running.
Divinity-What is it?
The question I just asked here with the beginning of this post is a very difficult one to answer. In my post about Questions and answers I gave several different questions that deal with you as the seeker trying to figure out and understand what the basis of your view of the divine is. There is a reason I leave this question basically open ended and up to you the read to decide. The idea is that by the end of this post I will have explained a few concepts of the divine and divinity that will allow you the reader to understand more about the possibilities out there.
The world is full of various concepts of the divine. In some cultures you will find multiple views combined and worked together. This post is going to illustrate some of the most common concepts of the divine. By posting these concepts any then looking at the question asked about the divine previously I can point to which views are associated with which questions to help you further understand your path options and choices.
Concepts of the divine
Animisim is the view that all things are composed of a spirit aspect. This belief means that everything is alive. Every tree has its own spirit as does every other plant, animal, rock, and mineral. This belief further can be expanded to have individual places like lakes, streams, mountains, ponds, ect to have their own spirits as well. This was a fairly wide spread belief among ancient pagan religions and was a large part of the very first religions.
Pantheism is the believe that the universe itself is the divine. The world and everything in our reality makes up the divine. The Divine is not personal or considered to have human form or a form to basically interact with.
Panentheism is the belief that God is in the world. The belief here is that the divine is found in everything. It is a part of everything in the universe yet also extends beyond the universe. Here we are also part of the divine. Everything in the world is divine. The world is divine.
This is where you believe in and worship one God while accepting that other Gods exist and may be worshiped that are not your God. This is where monotheism and polytheism can co exist simultaneously. You may personally only acknowledge one god and worship one god, yet you acknowledge other people believe in and worship other Gods. So its acknowledged other gods while not believing in them yourself.
Being Agnostic means that you believe that the nature of the divine to be unknowable. It is not something that can be either proven or disproved. This is a stance that can be applied to spirits as well as to the divine and basically any spiritual or metaphysical stance or belief. There are stages of this like there are agnostics who believe divinity to be unknowable but personally believe more in the possibility and are more open to it. You also have some agnostics that believe that because divinity is unknowable there is no reason to spend any time on the thought or concept. If its there its there if its not its not. There is also a state in between where you just aren’t sure and leave it at that.
Atheism comes in a few forms. In one form it is the completely lack of belief in divinity. In another form it is the disbelief in any deities. Basically it comes down to the fact that Atheists do not believe in any deities guiding the world and the universe. This does not necessarily include a lack of belief in spirits or spiritual forces but specifically divine forces.
Monotheism is the belief in one high and all mighty God. There is only one God. This god is the one who created everything and who rules everything. There are no other divine beings in this world than them.
This is the belief where all gods are one god and all goddesses are one goddess. Within this view there is also a view of the divine where there is one supreme creator that manifests as a God and Goddess in order for humanity to understand it better. Here the various other Gods and Goddesses throughout history are simply facets of this one Goddess and one God. Here it doesn’t matter which God or Goddess you call on in your ritual and work as in the end you believe them to all be one person.
Hard polytheism is where you believe in multiple Gods and Goddesses. here you believe they are all unique and specific individuals. Here Freya is different from Frigga who is different from Juno etc. In this way each God and Goddess have unique personalities and work specific unique roles in their pantheons. With this view you can not simply pick and choose your deities to work with. Its more specific as they all have likes, dislikes, proper offerings, and many other things to consider within cultural contexts of the deities.
Deism is the belief that through reason and observation of the natural world one can establish and determine the existence of a divine creator. Along with using reason and observation of the natural world to determine the existence of a divine creator a deist rejects revelations (sacred texts and the like) as religious authorities. They use their observations and reasoning to come to their own conclusions on the nature of the divine and or the existence of multiple deities or one divinity.
Where to go from here
By now you have a pretty good idea that there are many different ways and different concepts involved in understanding the divine. It is up to you to figure out what your personal view of the divine is. Twelve step programs out there have it right when they have a step in the process to come to understand God in your own way. Not everyone who follows a twelve step program will understand God the same way. Some may not believe in a God per say but they may believe in their own personal divine spark or higher self.
The concepts of the divine I listed above may be able to give you a name for your own beliefs and concepts of the divine. As I said before in this post several of the forms of divine concepts can work together. You can be a hard polytheist, animist, and panentheist at the same time. Its all about thinking of your personal beliefs. There is no right or wrong way to experience the divine.
In the end the divine is a mystery that we must all come to experience for ourselves. The various religions and spiritual paths out there serve as ways to experience these forces. In the end we must all come to our own understanding and our own relationship with the divine. This can take work but in the long run the relationships formed are well worth it.
The essence of life and much more
No real introduction to this post. I am just going to cut to the chase, This is a post I have been meaning to write for two weeks because there are essentially two key points that I wanted to make with this topic that would benefit two separate posts. One is on the origin of it’s spiritual component and the other is on a magical aid and as a trance inducing practice. Like I said both of these posts would be related in that they are both centered around the concept of breath and what it means.
One of the reasons I have both felt the need to write these posts and have been unable to complete or even begin starting these posts is that here in Maine its the middle of winter and that’s bad news for asthmatics like myself. If I am struggling to breathe properly it makes sense that while I would both be in the perfect state to explain the properties of Breath as life I am also not in the best states to think of anything but focusing on my own breath.
It is with both of these things in consideration (and the personal stress I was feeling for not posting for two weeks at this point) that I have decided to write this post. I have a lot of different sources to pull on how breath is both life and is also counted to be an aspect and an essence of the soul (though I’ll try to give enough info for you to create your own opinion). This is a wide topic so let’s start with science and the birth of a human baby and the “actual full death” of a human.
Breath in the human life cycle
After a mother has given birth to her child the doctor slaps the baby on the ass to begin crying and thus start breathing. A human is not considered alive if they are not breathing. If a baby does not cry with that action they are not alive and thus need work to be able to breathe or may be considered dead. In the elderly a person’s whole mind and spirit could be gone yet their body kept alive through food and automatic breathing considered “life support”.
The ability to breath and to have the freedom to some what control one’s breath has always been part of what makes a person alive. So long as a person is breathing and their body can “physically” function even with the support of machines a person is technically considered alive. This is a thought and a concept that has been buried deep within human cultures and thoughts for many reasons and a lot of it relates back to lore and mythology.
I mention that this has been buried deep and that would be correct. There are many different mythologies around the creation of man. There are two central themes I have found that in the creation of humanity. One is that we have been physically created out of the earth by the hands of the Gods. The other is that it wasn’t until the Gods gave us breath that we became fully alive, even if other Gods had contributed other factors to what made a human being, we were not alive until we were given breath by the Gods.
There are two examples that I can think of that support this though. . While many people may not be able to understand and accept this, when it comes to the creation and what actually brought humans to life Christians and those who follow Germanic paganism have one thing in common: The breath of life from their High God.
I’ll start with the creation myth of humans from the Poetic Edda (one of the Norse and Germanic sacred texts):”
17. Then from the throng | did three come forth,
From the home of the gods, | the mighty and gracious;
Two without fate | on the land they found,
Ask and Embla, | empty of might.
18. Soul they had not, | sense they had not,
Heat nor motion, | nor goodly hue;
Soul gave Othin, | sense gave Hönir,
Heat gave Lothur | and goodly hue.”
Here Soul is often equated with physical life. The warmth of our body and fact that it actually reflects life was the gift of Honir. Two of the elements that make humans alive were given from one deity. The abilities to make sense/understand the world is one of the gifts of the Gods. That gift was given by Honir. Finally we have Odin’s gift. Other translations list Odin’s gift last as it is not until breath and life is actually given to Ash and Embla that the first humans come to life.
As you can see from my analysis soul and breath in Germanic lore are associated. The breath of life is important. It enters our body at birth and leaves at Death. The breath can be seen as being the vessel for the soul. It enters at birth and leave on death. That s what the soul is. In some ways the soul and the mind and the breath can all be linked exactly to life. The heart starts working before the mind, and the breath.
In the book of Genisis humanity is not aware or alive until God gives them the breath of life:
5 And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
6 But there went up a mist from the earth, and watered the whole face of the ground.
7 And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.
8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
So that is the connection in the creation of humanity. In both cultures humans were born from the earth in some form. In Christianity it’s from dust. In Germanic lore it’s from trees that we were born. In both sets of lore it is also only through the gift of the breath of life that humanity becomes aware and able to live.
Samhain and Hallowmas:
The Holy Week:
Death and Rebirth in the cycle becomes complete
Part 1: The Spiritual Aspects and implications
I write this as Samhain and Hallowmas come to a close. The festivals of the dead and the transition from the lords of the land to the lords of the underworld completes the transition. I figured that as part of my job to help seekers on their search for questions I should provide some insight as to exactly what this sabbat is about and why people celebrate the sabbat in the ways that they do. Like everything else there are many ways to explain and experience the mysteries of these sabbats and not every ones view will agree with yours or even make sense to you. All I can do is provide my own insight based on my personal experiences and sources.
As I have started to develop my own personal theology this sabbat has come have a different meaning to me than other people might have. That is why in my own practice I call the holiday I celebrate Mortedon. However since most people are familiar with the names Samhain, Halloween, All Hallows Eve, and All Saints Day that is what I will use here.
According to many sources this time of year could easily be considered the witches new year. The God is officially dead and in the underworld. He wont be born again until the Winter solstice and as such he is dead and in the underworld. This is the time to transit between one working season and the other. It is a time of completion and reflection that may bring about the planning ad start of the new planting season for the next harvest.
In many ways the major difference between those who call themselves Traditional witches and those who consider themselves Wiccan is that the majority of the rituals in traditional witchcraft deal with ancestral veneration and ancestors as divine while the rituals found within Wicca focus on the God and Goddess or Lord and Lady rather than the ancestors. This is alright. Not every one is meant to worship and venerate the ancestors. Anthropologically it has been said that ancestral worship was the first form of worship, which is why for me it has become a source of my foundation.
I actually appreciate these different theological styles. There is one holiday in which they both meet and they both share the same view. It is viewed by both paradigms (Wicca and Traditional Witchcraft) as a day to honor both the dead and the ancestors as well as the God and Goddess. It is also an acknowledgement by both sides that the season of reflection is upon us. It is now that we must spend our time upon reflection and preparation for the new year and seasons.
Samhain, All souls Day, All Saints Day, Ancestor Night…all of these are names for essentially the same festival. This festival is an acknowledgment of every one who has gone before us. It is also an acknowledgement that there is life after death. It is here we can really see how even though the people we love and cherish may have passed on from this life, they really are still near by and watching us.
In many ways this is the time of year where the festivals a person honors and celebrates explains at least in part what their view of the afterlife is. For some people who believe in reincarnation this is also a time to connect with any of their past lives so that lessons they have to impart may be gives. This is the second festival where the veil between the worlds of the living and dead as well as spirit worlds is lowest. That is why contact with spiritual allies at this time of year.
Part Two: The Theology and Mythology of the Sabbat
Folkore and myth united
This is according to many sources the last sabbat of the year. For many witches the year starts at Yule and ends at Samhain and begins at Yule. In reality there is no real start or finish to a cycle. Cycles are circles and will always come back to a point and start again. This is how the world and the universe exist. Everything in the universe will be used again in the universe at some point in time. Every thing physical you see on this planet is made of of a star that existed eons before we were born:
Theologically, spiritually, and mentally it makes sense that the world as we know it would work in cycles. The physics at work in the universe simply provide a non-disputed example of how reincarnation exists. Here at Hallowmass and Samhaintide we are really able to see and understand how death and destruction/decay are essential to the growth and development of future lives and crops.
According to the Cycle of the Year and the 8 sabbats within Wicca and Eclectic witchcraft Samhain is when the God is dead. He was sacrificed at Mabon to ensure the fertile grounds of the next harvest. At one point in history it was believed that the king was sacrificed to bring life to the land for the next year. This was symbolic of the God’s death for the fertility of the land. Latter corn dollies were sacrificed instead of a human.
Blood was and still is the essential life force. If a creature is alive it bleeds. By the God sacrificing himself his blood (his life force) goes into the land giving life to the land. He knows that he will be reborn in his son in the end of winter and he will from the underworld guide and symbolize his son’s birth and his return by the return of the sun’s light starting at the Winter solstice (Yule).
It was believed that once a person died their body became the land. The blood of the sacrificed victim nourished the spirits of the land for the winter and would gain their favor for the spring.At Samhain the ancestors and other spirits from the land of the dead returned to give their blessings for the following year to their descendants.
The God at this time was in the Underworld understanding and being reborn. At Beltaine he had impregnated the Lady, his lover and wife, who would bear the child of promise who would carry and light the way for the Lord to be reborn at Yule (the light returning slowly) with his actual birth at Imbolc. The rest of the sabbats continue along this line. So in some ways Samhain is both the start and the finish.
The knowledge that there is life after death and life in death is symbolized no better than with ever greens (one of the reasons why those trees are decorated at Christmas). It’s also one of the reasons I feel that the hope to get through the winter for the spring exists. To see something that is alive and producing chlorophyll in the winter while the rest of the trees are inherently dead proves that there is life in death. It is one of the reasons I can see that death allows for the continuation of life.
With these thoughts in mind it is time to get to:
Part 3: A sample ritual
Ways that honoring the ancestors can be done
Now that it has been established why honoring the ancestors is so important I can start to give you some ideas as to how you as a seeker or as an active Pagan could honor your ancestors and the Gods and celebrate this sabbat and simply begin or further expand your understanding of this sabbat. For myself I gained even deeper insight into the mysteries this Samhain. As I post this the gates start to begin closing and the path seems to close, yet the creepy and spooky nature that is Samhaintide and Hallowsmass remains, the time to honor the ancestors comes to a close.
I have had a week to reflect on what I wanted to write for this entry and I have finally come to the last part of the entry where I can really start to explain how one can go about celebrating this sabbat. For many years as a seeker I was honestly unsure of what to do with my offerings for any sabbat. Samhain was another one that left me confused, so now I feel it it is time to give some sort of explanation as to how you can give your offerings to the Gods and the ancestors.
So here is a very simple ritual:
Ancestral Ritual For Samhain:
Apple or Pomegranete Juice/alcohol
Red Apples or Pomegranete fruit & Seeds
As you pour your drink concentrate and think of your ancestors and the Gods and the land. Focus intently and place this light into the food and drink blessing it in the names of the spirits, the ancestors, and the Gods. You then pour two drinks one for the Spirits, ancestors and Gods and one for your self.
As you take your drink say a prayer for what you are thankful and towards any ancestors you wish to contact and communicate with. Take a moment and think of them. Then get into your trance position. For this it may be best of you lie facing down with your hands working as a head rest head in a comfortable position. After you get into position think and state to your self:
“I Vibrate in harmony with the Underworld and the Gods of the Underworld”.
Repeat this statement over and over until you reach a state where you see and become one with the God or Goddess of the Underworld. Continue the trance until you have gained all the insight you will receive. Slowly reduce your vibration into yourself. Once you are back into yourself take another drink in honor of the Gods and the lesson you learned.
Eat the red apple or the pomegranate seeds. If you eat the apple place the seeds aside till the morning. If you eat the pomegranate seeds place a few aside till the morning.
Go to bed expecting dreams based on the rite you performed. The following morning write down any dreams you may have had. When done and dressed for the day take the seeds and the same drink you had the night before and place them in a whole at the trees base.
Reasoning behind the ritual:
By taking in that blessed drink you understand that the drink is the fruits of the Gods who you worship as well as the ancestors who literally are the land. This drink is their blood after the sacrificial blood of the god had been spilled, this is their response. When you eat the fruits of the land or drink of the liquids you are taking in the essence of the land and your ancestors.
When you let a drink in a cup evaporate overnight that drink is consumed by the air and the essence of life. The ancestors who have returned to visit partake of this liquid. In the morning the seeds and the remaining liquid are returned to the ground. This nourishes the ancestors and the spirits as well as the gods. This is how we can honor and nourish them.
Part four: My conclusion:
For me this really explains a lot. Through the ritual expressed above I was able to understand the roles of the Gods and the Goddesses that I worship. I was also able to understand exactly what the underworld does to work with rebirth and reincarnation. Finally When I look at astrophysics and how the creation of new universes begin and what black-holes really are I can see how my theology and philosophy line up with science.
I really recommended that any seeker of the wisdom of the cycle of destruction, reformation, creation, growth, and development take a basic physics course. This course will explain how the various galaxies came into being, how stars and suns are born, and how new universes are created. In some ways it may also lead a seeker to see how magic could be seen to be the force that keeps all of these things working in balance. That is what Samhaintide and Hallowmas is all about.
So what gives about the blogs name? Forging the Pentacle?
The explanation is simple. The path I have started to develop is called Pentalism. There are five aspects to almost all parts of the practice. There are five primary influences, five Gods, Five goddesses, five parts of the soul, and more. The pentacle for me shows how while there can be five individual points, in the end they can all be connected and are always interwoven in peace. The Pentacle is an extremely sacred symbol for this path due to the importance of five. Pentalism is meant to be experienced in a group setting. However I have not really developed each of the degrees and practices (related to each of the foundational traditions of types of craft) I can’t really teach and initiate people until the first degree has been formed (I’ll develop the second degree material in my personal practice as I teach the first degree and so forth).
Ok, so that explains the name, what about content?
I already mentioned some of the content you will be seeing. There will be information on ritual content as well as some basic sabbat or holiday information. There will be some basic information about the deities involved (this is going to be an initiatory oath bound tradition). There will also be posts about failures and successes and everything in between. When I fail I want to have people laugh at it and also help me find out where I went wrong.
By writing this blog I am sharing the basic outline of what will become my tradition. I process information best when I write out my thoughts and my experiences. By putting the information and the process on a blog I hope to get input from other people in the Pagan community . I want that input to challenge me. I want people to point out mistakes in my research and logic. I also want people to tell me why they like something or find something useful. That way I can become a better writer and explore the things I write about in a different light.
This blog will also be participating in the Pagan Blog project. However all of the entries on this blog will reflect this path specifically and only this path. My other blog (Seeker sight) is more about my search for knowledge and wisdom which I can find any where. There will be some cross over as they both will cover some of the same beliefs and practices. That said both blogs should be treated as unique and individual blogs.
You said the title is “Forging the Pentacle” right? So what are your tools and what are the foundations and origins of Pentalism?
There are five primary spiritual and religious practices which form the basis of Pentalism. All of them are different forms of witchcraft as a spiritual practice. Each of them has provided me with many different ways of working my craft and my religion. They have all had an effect on how I have experienced the Gods and Goddesses of Pentalism. I don’t belong to any one of these practices, but have combined them all. Which is why I am and Pentalism will always remain an eclectic religious witchcraft tradition.
The first witchcraft path I must discuss is Wicca. When I say Wicca I don’t mean the works of Silver Raven Wolf, Edain Mc Coy, D.J. Conway, Raymond Buckland, or even Scott Cunningham to name a few. I am refering to the books by Janet and Stewart Farrar (What Witches Do, 8 Sabbats for Witches, Way of the Witches, The Witches God, The Witches Goddess), Gerald Gardner (Witchcraft Today and The meaning of Witchcraft), and some of Doreen Valientines work as well as the writings of Alex and Maxine Sanders. Those are actual Wiccan initiates who have lineage via initiation which is cross gender and that can be traces back through Gerald Gardner to the New Forest coven of witchcraft.
A brief explanation of how I define Wicca is required here. I define Wicca as an Oathbound, Mystery, Cross Gender initiatory, Orthapraxic Witchcult where every initiate is a member of the clergy That is a lot to swollow. So I am going to break it down into little bits. I’ll cover each section in it’s own paragraph. Once you’ read each paragraph you’ll see why that simple definition required extra explanation. You’ll also see why I have such a strict view on Wicca and why I am only Wiccan influenced and Inspiried.
Let’s start with the term “oath bound”. By oath bound I mean that the rites and rituals, mysteries, names of deities, and practices are known and only taught to initiates after initiation. Prior to initiation the rites and rituals a seeker and pre-initiate experience are Wiccan flavored and Inspired, but Not Wiccan. There are many religions whose practices are oath bound. In history the Eluisian mysteries come to mind as only the members of that cult ever experienced those rituals and knew what those rituals entailed. There you go. A historical reference to a religious practice and set of mysteries that are oath bound.
The next term in my definition is mystery oriented or based. So what does this mean? By Mystery I mean that there are some aspects of the religion that are based on expereince in ritual which are deeply intimate and can not truly be expressed by words. All witchcraft traditions have mysteries.
The Cross Gender initiation is self explanatory. Only men can initiate women and women can only initiate men. This goes into the power myth described in the decent of the Goddess. There is also an issue of polarity. I’m sure all the reasons for this practice are explained after initiation. It’s something I have experienced. The “public” rite I went to basically said that in their circles it’s male-female-male-female as much as possible (based on the ration of men to women). I actually think it’s a great way to raise energy.
The orthapraxic aspect of Wicca is something that many people can’t grasp coming from orthodox religions such as Christianity where having specific beliefs was the important part of the religion. In Wicca it is not the belief that is important rather it is the proper practice and performance of Wiccan rites and rituals (which can only be performed in a coven setting) that is important. It is the proper performance of these rites and rituals that allow the clergy
The witchcult aspect is important to note as well. Upon the seeker or dedicant’s initiation into Wicca they are made a witch. This is especially important if that person never identified or used that term before. All wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccan. In fact most witches are not Wiccan. Wiccans are witches because they use witchcraft in both practical day to day life and in their worship of their deities. That is what makes them witches.
The final aspect of my definition of Wicca is that they are all members of the clergy. That is right. Once you have been initiated into Wicca you have become a priest or priestess of the Lord and Lady. For this reason every one is a part of the clergy. If you are not called to serve the Lord and Lady of the Isles (the two specific deities in Wicca) then you are not a proper person for Wicca.
Ok. So you explained what Wicca is. You didn’t explain why you say you are inspired by Wicca. Can we get an explanation for that please? Afterall you even said that you aren’t an initiate. There for you don’t actually know the rites and rituals of Wicca. So how are you influenced and inspired by Wicca?
There are a few reasons why I say that. The first thing is that I cleanse ad consecrate my holy water in the same fashion, often times using the same words outlined in 8 sabbats for witches. The second thing is that part of my understanding of the deities I work with (with in Pentalism) was influenced by the Oak and Holy King battles (also described in 8 sabbats for witches). Finally there is the full ceremonial outline. When a full complex ritual is performed it often includes all the elements described within Wicca. These form the first foundation of Pentalism.
The largest element found within my path is the central fact that this path is eclectic. Generic eclectic-neo pagan witchcraft can be found in many different books. My favorites include Christopher Penczak, Laurie Cabot, Ellen Dugan, and Doreen Valientine. I have however also been influenced by Starhawk, Silver Ravenwolf, Edain McCoy, D.J. Conway, Raymond Buckland, and Scott Cunningham (you see there was a reason I mentioned them before). All of these author claim to teach eclectic Wicca. There is no such thing (as shown above). There is however essentially a core tradition of eclectic neo-pagan witchcraft loosely based on Wicca and ceremonial magic as outlined by Cunningham in his book “Solitary Wicca” and “Living Wicca”. At the end of his life he did drop the association with Wicca and simply called it a witchcraft tradition, but the publisher kept the title as is.
The books by these authors all have different views of the God and Goddess and the wheel of the year. However there are some key and central similarities in the practices that lead me to believe they are essentially practicing the same religion, but not always the same way. It is a witchcraft tradition or set of traditions and way of thinking/practicing that has it’s own mysteries and basically a freelance style of ritual. Every eclectic is different, but they are all the same at the same time. We embrace the similarities and celebrate the differences. That is what being a true eclectic is all about.
The MMC concept here is one of the reasons I came to the 5 god and goddess concept for this tradition. It seemed with in the various discussions about the forms of the Goddess with in the wheel of the year there were some things described which never seemed to fit to the MMC concept. I started to see five different Gods and Goddesses described with in the lore and the rituals. That, along with the outline in Wicca lead me to the format that became the Gods and Goddesses of Pentalism.
The ideas about experimentation and the different types of ritual and altar set ups encountered through these books gave me the foundation of how to explore and experiment. That is what has lead me to know what does and doesn’t work for me in my religion and spirituality. That is how I have been able to begin to piece together this tradition. I am very thankful to be an eclectic and to have started to form a cohesive eclectic tradition that I am going to be proud to pass on to others.
Hedge witchcraft is a practice of witchcraft that not many people are aware of. While there are more books available on the subject these days, originally there were only a few websites out there that had any information out there. I am not entirely a hedge witch, but I do embrace and participate in the practices. I say I am not a hedge witch because it is not the only practice I engage in for my craft. While it has played a central role in my access to mysteries, it is not the only or the central aspect of my practice.
So what is hedge witchcraft? Hedge witchcraft is based on the concept of the hedge representing the border between the civilized world (towns, farms, and cities) from the wild (forests, open fields and stretches of road where no one is in sight) and the practitioner being able to be in both this world (civilized) and the other worlds (wilderness and forests). This is the European native form of shamanism.
One thing about hedge witches and hedge witchcraft it is essentially a solitary practice as each hedge rider must find there own way of getting into those trance states, and they need to find their own connection to deities and the sabbats. The other thing is that often time hedge witches will celebrate the sabbats through their trances. This is where the myth of the flying to the witches sabbat comes from. I haven’t used trance as a sabbat celebration yet, but I bet it would be powerful.
However due to my use of various types of trance and trance states to acces the mysteries and to contact spirits I have to add this as one of the foundations of Pentalism. It has been a major part of my practice for years. In fact it was during a workshop on “shamanic witchcraft” that I met my first formal teacher Christopher Penczak. That is also one of the reasons I consider hedge witchcraft to be one of the points on the foundation of Pentalism.
In many ways it has been equated to traditional witchcraft in it’s truest form, but I personally think there are other things. This goes into traditional witchcraft. I had mentioned it in my foundational forms, so I will discuss it briefly here. This is an aspect of the foundation I am still developing. It is a new addition to my practice, and as such it is something that needs a lot of exploration.
So what is traditional witchcraft? I thought that Wicca was a form of traditional witchcraft? Am I wrong?
There are many definitions of traditional witchcraft. The most common definition is that of “forms of pre Gardnerian witchcraft”. By default that makes Wicca not traditional witchcraft, and there are a few reasons for this. Wicca is a more ceremonial form of witchcraft than most traditional witchcraft practices. That is the first and primary difference between Wicca and traditional witchcraft. The other is more of a focus on a personal relationship with the land. While there are some correlations and the like, there are many differences between them. I have explained why Wicca is not traditional witchcraft, but I haven’t explained what it is yet. So here goes.
For me traditional witchcraft is pre-gardnerian forms of witchcraft. There are some forms of this practice which are initiatory (The new Forest Coven for example) and there are many forms which are solitary. The sources I have read on the subject come from both solitary and coven based books. So my view has a bit of both. That still doesn’t explain what exactly traditional witchcraft entails.
Well it is an underworld tradition. The rites and rituals typically involve some sort of physical and spiritual travel which symbolically and spiritually bring us to the underworld. That is where the Gods reside in this tradition. It is also where fate is woven and where the ancestors reside. That is why I say traditional witchcraft is an underworld tradition.
Traditional witchcraft also involves a lot of ancestral worship and veneration. Who and what the ancestors are and what the ancestral worship and veneration mean will be covered in another post shortly. For now they are those who have passed beyond the physical veil and into the underworld reals and they are those who are yet waiting to come back and return (they will be future witches and will create future ancestors). The ancestors are of blood and body as well as emotional and spiritual ties.
The final difference between traditional witchcraft and Wicca is the way the rites are performed and the tools used in rituals. The rituals in traditional witchcraft are less formal and theatrical/scripted. They are more spontaneous, yet they have some structure. All of these are factors in why this form of witchcraft has become part of the spiritual foundation that is Pentalism.
The final point in the Pentalist foundation is that of Hermetic witchcraft. This is a style of witchcraft in religious and spiritual terms as well as magical practices that highly engages the mind. When the tradition will be taught this will actually be the first degree. The points and lessons of this degree are outlined in the book “The Kybalion”. There will be many more essays on the Kybalion and how it relates to this tradition.
The is also tied into the first degree of the Temple tradition. That is where I have started my official training as a witch. For the last three years my magical practices and my rituals as well as meditations have been based entirely off of the teachings in the first degree of the Temple tradition as well as the Kybalion. As I begin to develop more and develop techniques for each of the key principles I can begin to further develop this.
Ok. So there you have the foundation. This should give you a basic idea as to where the ideas and concepts in this tradition are found. Things will become more clear as I post more. Every post will add insight into this path and how it comes together. This has served as your basic introduction and foundation to Pentalism. Some of the basic practices will be covered in an upcoming post. Please enjoy!
I must be honest right here and now. My theory of ascension is in some ways based upon the theories of ascension and the philosophy behind ascension that is described with in the TV series ” Stargate SG-1″ . With that in mind if I take those theories and add them to the theories behind reincarnation that I employ (which will be discussed in my two part posts on Fate) my idea of ascension comes to have reasonable logic behind it. This post is coming now because it is directly related to my last post education and experimentation. Based on some of the things I mentioned in that post my ideas may actually be understood.
So what is ascension? How do we ascend? What does it mean to ascend? All of these are questions I am going to answer in this post. There are many things and aspects of my personal philosophy I am going to be sharing here. While many witches are not concerned with “enlightenment” or reaching the next stage of evolution (some traditional witches consider this to be an aspect of the witches path to succumbing and cheating fate) I am. This is one aspect of my path that I can trace to ceremonial magic. Ceremonial magic is all about reaching a higher state where you become closer to one with the Gods you work with. This is part of the path of ascension. I actually use my witchcraft to help me on this path through utilizing the principles found within the Kybalion.
My thoughts about ascension where made even stronger upon reading the Kybalion. If you read my post: principle of mentalism. I will get into this aspect even more after I post individual responses to the various principles outlined in the Kybalion. For now I can at least give a basic idea as to what I mean by ascension.
Ok. So the first questions I mentioned that I am going to cover is what is ascension? The second phrase in the title of this post is the key. Ascension is the process why which we reach the next state of being. It is the process by which we reach the next stage of being. In ceremonial magic the idea is to become one with the Godhead or the gods. Some people believe that humanity is the last stage prior to be pure essence and godlike. I disagree with that statement. I think there is much more beyond the state of humanity. I personally think that humanity is quite fare from the true essence of divinity. With out ascension we can not reach those states. Ascension is the process by which we reach the next state. That is why ascension is spiritual evolution.
The next question I mentioned is how do we ascend? Ascension is a process that takes many many lives. That is one of the reasons we reincarnate. There many lessons and experiences that can only be gained in the human body. That is why I see the body as an aspect of the soul. With out reincarnation we can not fully learn every lesson there is for us to learn in the human body. There is no way we can experience all of the mysteries available to the human world (every religion has it’s own set of mysteries, and atheism even has it’s own mysteries). That is why we reincarnate.
Ok. So if reincarnation is the key, why do we reincarnate? On of the reasons we reincarnate is to learn lessons that are required for ascension. I believe that there are some actions that are meant to be paid for in another life. I think that if you torture people for pure amusement in one life you will experience some form of torture (emotional strain, financial strain, ect are all forms of torture that may be worse than physical torture). I also think that there are some lessons that people just need to experience.
In my view I find suicide to actually make things worse. When a person commits suicide they opt for an easy out. Any lessons that they had not learned yet in this life (especially if it dealt with that they were having difficulties with when they ended their lives) will be more difficult. I have experienced the courage needed to face and overcome the desires of suicide. If you gain that courage then you really are learning your lesson.
By actually learning the lessons you are meant to learn in each life you are able to learn the lessons you need in order to ascend. By ascending you reach the next stage of being. However the lessons we need to learn as life lessons are not the only things we need to learn in each life. There are many other things, the key however is turning knowledge into wisdom.
I define wisdom as having the ability to turn the knowledge gained from experience into a practical application. That is what seeking true wisdom is. It is seeing the world for how it truly is and it is turning practical knowledge gained from books and experience into something that can be used every day in both the day to day mundane life and the more intimate and spiritual aspects of your life.
There are several goals that are accomplished before one can ascend. The first goal is self explanatory and has the direct tie in to my previous post. The first goal is to learn as much as you can. I believe that a lot of what we learn and experience in each life is recorded on our susoul or the stand of fate which is reality that is us. By learning as much as we can from books and personal experiences we have gained more wisdom which will help us reach the next level of existence.
Through learning as much as we can and thorough seeking true wisdom we can a deeper understanding of the nature of reality, the galaxy, and the universe. This is where I got my idea about death and destruction being the true from. When you look at how the various galaxies, and stars are created there is death and destruction. yet that is only one aspect of the mystery that is the creation of the universe and the galaxies.
As part of gaining as much wisdom as you can and learning all your lessons you will after a long period of time reach the next stage of being. You will have ascended. So what is the next stage of being? That was the final question I asked. Ascending means you have reached the next stage of being and the next state of existence. That is what it means to ascend.
The next state of being is a mystery. It is something that is unknown until you reach it. I have many theories on the possible other states of being are. I will cover each theory, but it is important to know that I don’t know which state comes next, or if even there is a choice. My theory does include some basic order, but I may have it wrong. I do believe there are many stages between humanity and becoming a divine being, but until I have gained a deeper gnosis as to what the ascension involves I can just share the states I believe exist beyond the current state of humanity.
This is related to my cosmology. Right now I am going to give you some idea as to my cosmology. There will be a more in depth post this week. I am on spring break this break which means I’ll have more time to write for my blog. I have so many things I want to write about that this vacation creates a perfect time for that.
Any way back to my cosmology. In essence I hold essentially a multi-world multi-verse theory. In essence I believe in many other worlds and planes of existence beyond our own, and as I hold all mythologies to have some truth and all gods to exist I thus believe that all of their realms beyond this realm exist. There. You have the bare bones of my cosmology.
In traditional witchcraft there are many different views on what happens to people who have succumb and cheated fate. Many witches have a concept of “the mighty dead”. Peter Paddon describes these as the few individuals who have gained enough spiritual knowledge and experience where when the reach the cauldron of rebirth they emerge as a whole individual and not many pieces (source).
I see the mighty dead as one example of the possible next stage of being. These are people who are wise. These masters are often the first spiritual teachers that a novice witch and pagan comes in contact with. They may be young spirit guides. These are people who still have some lessons to learn before they reach the stage of “angels” or even before they become elves.
Robin Artison holds that once you have died you become an elven being or fay beings. I think that it is possible that our shades are elves, which would make elves also the next stage of being. yet I think the mighty dead may be the a stage between elves, as I think the elves have mysteries beyond the ones accessible to the elves. (Witching Way of the Hollow Hill)
Along with elves there is the possibility of becoming a nature spirit or even a genus locai. The genus locai are essentially the spirits of a place. Many witches work with these spirits for power. That is why connections with the land become very powerful for witches. In this way genus locai are essential nature spirits. While I think elves are a type of nature spirit, they are not the only ones. I will cover more about elves in a future post, as well as nature spirits when I cover spirits and elemental spirits and the elements (also this week).
One of the beliefs I have inherited or rather taken from Greek Philosophy and theology is the concept of demi-gods. To be honest I think that the people who are born as demi-gods (born of a human and a god or goddess) as people who are either at the next stage of being, or in between the next stage of being. These people are part god and part human. That is why I am not sure if they are in between the state or at the next stage.
The last possible stage I see between humanity and being a God is that of being an angel. In my very first pagan blog project post I briefly covered angels and angelic beings. For now I will say that I see them as being the messengers of gods. By being messengers of gods they are nearly god like. That means they are actually close to being gods. However they are not godlike. There is still more for them to learn and experience though.
If I go by the Kybalion there is still one more stage before we unite with the ultimate creative source and have experienced all the mysteries we need to experience is godhood. Like I have said I don’t think that once we have experienced all the mysteries we can experience as humans we are automatically at the state of divinity. I think it takes time and a process of centuries of reincarnation into the various life forms.
When you take ascension into consideration it also explains why I believe that all individual Gods described in the various mythologies exist. I also believe that there are many deities out there which may not belong to any one specific pantheon because they are an individual who has reached the stage of being a god after many life times and many ascensions. In that regards I think every witch that practices some form of religious witchcraft can be worshiping a God and Goddess duo that we might not actually have knowledge of.
Since I mentioned that Gods may be ascended beings after many lifetimes I must make one more statement. I do not believe that each and every god and goddess out there to be an ascended being. In fact I believe many gods to be beings that were created by THE ALL in that state. As they are mental creations of THE ALL, THE ALL could have created them in any fashion they exist. There for they are as they were intended to be.
I also think that they could simply be beings beyond our understanding, but that was covered in my post: Divinity
This week one of the possible prompts for the Pagan Blog Project for the letter E was eclectic paganism and eclectic witchcraft in the form of “neo-Wicca”. Over the last few days I have read several different blogs from the Pagan blog project on this topic. While there have been many valid insights there are some things I feel that I should say about myself.
Here is the first part of the prompt:
Eclectic practice is something that can be a big debate in different part s of the Pagan community. Some feel that being eclectic opens you up to a whole world of ideas and tools that with the more narrow view of a specific tradition just isn’t available. Yet others feel that being eclectic equates to a practice that is lacking in structure and commitment to anything. Are you eclectic? -Rowan Pendragon
Yes. I am eclectic. I am both an eclectic witch and an eclectic pagan. I find that the two are very different practices. While I do use my witchcraft to help me connect to deity and as a part of my worship to deity, it is primarily a non religious practice a craft. The deities I worship with my craft are responsible for the core mysteries of the witchcraft tradition I am developing and sharing through these pages and writings. That being said I do accept that witchcraft is essentially a craft and a philosophy that while spiritual in nature can be adapted to any philosophy or religion.
I however say that I am an eclectic pagan because I am not limited to one ritual set or technique. I am not limited to any one pantheon or cultural way. I do not have to worship or follow the typical 8 sabbbats found in most witchcraft traditions (which I do honor as well). I can worship any deity I want with any holiday I choose.
I have used Hellenic rituals to honor Zeus and other Hellenic Gods. I have had an ecstatic ritual invoking Pan and have been in states of ecstasy and panic created from the worship of Pan that forced me to face my sexual fears and my deepest personal fears. I have also felt the caress of Dionysus while drunk on booze and enjoying liquor. While I have only celebrated one Hellenic festival and it was years ago, I still have that deep connection to Pan.
I have held Blots and Symbels in honor of the Aesir, Vanir, some of the frost Giants. I use the Nine Nobel virtues as the corner stone of my philosophy when it comes to my world view and ethical views. I have experimented with runes and the Seax worship of Odin and Freya (it didn’t work for me). I have started to explore a few Germanic holidays that might not be followed by people other than the Asatru and Heathen recons.
I have done a full moon esbat to Diana according to The Gospel of Aradia and Strega traditions. I still have a lot to learn about Strega and the other deities. However I feel strong in my connection to Diana through the Gospel of Aradia. The most recent connection I have felt to any deity was during that ritual this past summer.
While I am interested in Celtic and Native American traditions I have not pursued them. I know that in many cases those cultures are closed to outsiders. While my own teacher (Chris Penczak) has a connection to some of the Celtic deities, I am not comfortable making that connection as I am not of that blood. From what knowledge I have been able to research even with my adoption I have no connection to Scotland or Ireland. The only possible Celtic connection to me would be in England if there are any to be found with in Anglo-saxon English culture.
I was raised in the United Church of Christ. To this day I have never accepted the core trinitarian philosophy of the UCC that God, Jesus, and The Holy Spirit were one person. I do believe in Jesus and I do believe in the Holy Spirit and God. I just think that they are all separate entities. I think that they are all connected that Jesus is a Demi-God and the son of God as well as a prophet, teacher, and wise man. I believe in God. I just don’t worship Jehova/Yaweh/Allah (the God of Judaism, Christianity and Islam) as my exclusive god. I worship any God I chose when I chose.
As an eclectic pagan like I said I am not limited to exploring and experiencing the rituals and celebrations of just one cultural practice. That being said if I worship a deity from the Roman pantheon I try to worship them with those rituals. In that respect I have started to answer the second question asked by Rowan which was:
What are your thoughts on eclectic vs. traditional practice ?
When it comes to my religious witchcraft experiences I can’t really explain. I have a deep interest in Wicca and those traditional rites and rituals. However there are practical issues and other things that prevent that from happening. I wish I could be a part of a traditional group of some sort. I long for the commitment of repeated rituals with mass power behind them, a community, and a set of core rituals and practices that have already been developed. I long for that sort of setting.
When it comes to the exploration of the other paths I have tried to practice in the traditional way. It can be difficult. I find that the traditional practice makes the connection with the deities a lot easier as the rites are typically found with in the lore in some way.
I find security in tradition. It helps me cement my practice and create foundations that are strong. The foundations built on tradition are stronger. I believe strongly in the power of tradition, habit, and practice. To me these help develop sign posts on the path, and tradition gives validation to personal experience.
This is why I am an odd eclectic. I have explored many paths and taken several things. When I explore I use recon methodology. I read the lore and I read academic sources if they are available. I read and research the history. I have discussions with other recons. I pray and make introduction based offerings to the Gods. I use tradition.
I find that I am going to eventually find one recon path to stick to. However for now I feel that I need to explore all paths open to me at this point in time. I will always keep the worship of the various deities separate. I do not believe that they are all the same. I do not believe that all Gods are one God and all Goddesses one Goddess. I believe that all Gods are individual entities. That is why I keep the worship of the various deities separate. I find that honors and respects them.
I find that eclectic practice where you take different deities in worship them in context that they were never worshiped in before (Hindu deities in a Neo-Pagan witch) is not acceptable. While there have been some deities that have been worshiped in the context of other traditions (The Hellenic, Roman, and Kemetic deities were all interacting via the cross-cultural worship and interaction at the time) I find that in the end, the comparisons are usually fairly off and done with little deep research into the myths and lore as well as traditions of those people.
That is why I as an eclectic keep the worship of every different pantheon separate. I find that it helps me bond with them and the culture better this way. It also helps me gain a deeper understanding of the culture through the exploration of the rituals. Plus I gain a modern understanding through anthropological research.
Now I must begin the topic of “Eclectic neo-Wicca” and my feelings about that. I do not accept people who practice an eclectic form of religious witchcraft based loosely on the teachings of proper Wiccan rites as Wiccan. I do accept them as witches. In fact I firmly believe as an eclectic religious witch there is an established traditions for us.
Wait eclectic tradition?
Yes. Eclectic tradition. My personal library contains several books on “Eclectic witchcraft”, as well as Wicca and traditional witchcraft (not even mentioning my recon sources as well). I have found that essentially if you look at the books that label themselves as “eclectic Wicca” there are essentially core rites and rituals practiced. While the individual practitioner may be a soft polytheist who uses other deities aside from the MMC and horned God (which I was when I started and I will have a post on this later at some point) in their rituals the actual content of the rituals is the same. The words may be different, but the intent and the format are the same.
That is why I see eclectic neo-pagan witchcraft to be a cohesive tradition. The various deities found in the tradition are different but the ritual format and content are the same. I have found that even when looking at the various witch traditions out there: (Cabot, Temple, Blackforest, Standing Stone, and many others) they have the same core rituals and sabbats. While the individual interpretations were different and may use different deities the overall mythology is the same.
My religious witchcraft is eclectic. I have taken from traditional witchcraft (Through Robin Artisson and a few other authors), The “Wiccan literature” out there (Gardner, Frosts, Sanders), I have taken from Hermetic literature (The Kybalion), Shamanic literature, and Eclectic Witchcraft as well as some Thelemic literature (The LBRP). My practice melds all of these together into one whole unit that works. How this is developing I am still not fully aware. Its just developing.
However none of that makes my practice in any way Wiccan. Nor does it make me Wiccan. I have not been initiated into Wicca. I have not learned the rites of Wicca, nor have I experienced the mysteries of Wicca, nor do I know the names of the deities in Wicca. I am not Wiccan. I may never be Wiccan. I am a witch as the religious and magical practice that primarily drives me is derived from various forms of Witchcraft.
In discussions I have had with other people in regards to the nature of the magical craft called witchcraft one constant comment has been that witchcraft as a craft is eclectic in nature. It is something that is going to be developed individually by each witch.
As a magical practice I primarily define witchcraft as dealing with the folk lore and folk traditions of European countries both continental (German, France, Italy, Norway, Sweden) or Island (England, Ireland, Scotland, Iceland,). This magical practice contains lore from all of these sources and have adapted to include some Christian influenced charms over the years.
It is this adaptability that has allowed Witchcraft to survive. It’s no wonder that witches are often considered to be ‘cunning”. Witchcraft has many forms from protection from witches (witch bottles and many protection charms during the puritan era in America fit into this category). Some of the practices can be traced to fairy tales, and others more to local legends and traditions. The fact of the mater is that as a magical practice witchcraft has always adapted and will always be adaptable due to its eclectic nature.
As I mentioned before essentially witchcraft as a magical practice is going to be created by each individual witch. While there may be some spells and charms passed on through oral lore or in the form of a Grimiore ( or Book of Shadows) essentially every witch must find what works for them selves. This is why constant trial and error is important. That is why constant study and exploration is important.
My witchcraft involves angelic forces from time to time. It can involve elemental spirits, dragons, other spirits, ancestors, gods or just my own energy. The spells I create can involve intense energy manipulation or little to none. They can involve manipulating physical objects or they can involve simply focusing mental energy. My magic is varied and allows for experimentation and development.
The final question asked in the prompt this week by Rowan was:
how do you feel eclectic work benefits you if that’s the path you follow?
I have found several benefits to being an eclectic pagan. One of the key benefits is that I can widen my network of contacts and I can increase my experiences. I have found that by honestly going into the various Recon and eclectic or traditional groups saying that I am a seeker who seeks genuine wisdom and experiences. I do not know if my path lies along the lines of a specific tradition or if I am suited more to always be an eclectic. For now I wish to simply discuss and learn from you about your groups practices that they will be more willing to accept me.
Another benefit has been the ability to constantly explore and try new things. As I said before in this post I am not limited to any specific holiday calendar or ritual setting. By being an eclectic I have opened myself up to the possibilities to be found in any and every path out there. I don’t have to experience the mysteries of the universe (and I believe every path to have a unique set of mysteries available to them) through just one culture. I can experience many mysteries.
The largest drawback I have found to be that I have to constantly be studying. As an eclectic I have to constantly be reading and expanding my references for various paths. I have to look into history and culture. I have to look into modern telling of myths and folk lore as well as more of the literal translations of source texts.
I have to look at personal experience. I have to compare it to lore and experiences by other people. I have to keep a record of what I have done and what I hope to experience. There is a lot of exploration that comes with being an eclectic. There are times that the work may not seem worth it, but in the end I find it worth it.
I am an eclectic because I am a philosopher in the truest sense of the word. I am a lover and seeker of wisdom and knowledge. That may explain the various deities I have connections to (Zeus, Odin, Thoth, Friga, ect). I believe that there is wisdom to be found any where. You just have to be open to the possibilities.
Could I be wrong?
Yes. However I have found that the journey is worth it. I have found that in the end I seek to find wisdom where I can. I might not agree with every practice I read, and frankly not all of the rituals I have experiences have sat well with me. The fact that I keep going shows that I have the one key virtue that all eclectics need:
To be an eclectic witch and an eclectic pagan is to have the courage to explore, test, and question everything that is out there. It is to test your self and your practice. It is the courage to try things that other people might not. It is the courage to experiment and fail and try again.
Is it worth it?
I think so. I find enjoyment and pleasure out of reading about, researching, experiencing, and exploring various religions and philosophy. I find enjoyment out of pondering the nature of the universe. I find enjoyment out of exploring all avenues of wisdom and learning. I am in that ways happy to be a college student.
For those reasons and more I am an eclectic. I tread the border between being a traditionalist. I hold that traditions should remain in tact. I hold that traditions are meant to be done a specific way for specific reasons. In that way I am a traditionalist. In that I am open to more than one tradition or way of thinking I am eclectic. Just because it’s tradition doesn’t mean it’s the only way, but it also doesn’t mean that traditions should be discounted.
One of the things I realized that I would need to cover at some point in this blog is exactly what I think about divinity and deity and gods and what makes a god a god. For me the belief in gods is an essential aspect of my religious core. Over the last few years I have come to realize that my concept of what makes a being a god and divine figure is not the same as every one else. So I figure why not try to put some of this into words.
One of the things I must say right here and now is that the essence of divinity and the essence of the divine in its true nature is a mystery. The search for the meaning of the divine is something that only each person can do for themselves. I say this is a mystery because a lot of what the divine is can not be expressed in words but only experienced through personal revelation. I’ll get into the mystery aspect later on when we get to the letter M. That being said here we go!
The nature of the divine
The first thing I have to say on the subject is that everything on earth contains the essence of the divine. We are a part of the divine in that we are all a part of nature. The earth and all that we see or can see through images (I’m talking deep space photos here) are physical manifestations of the divine. That is the physical essence of the divine.
According to the bible Yaweh/Jehova created man in his image (by man I mean man/human kind). This to me comes to mean two different things. We are divine in that our physical bodies are representations of what the divine may have looked like. It also means that we are divine in that we have the ability to create and destroy the life we make (life here refers to communities, businesses, etc) as well as those of plants and animals. We have the ability too shape this world into what we would like it to be.
That power is a hefty responsibility. In the first Spiderman comics Peter is given the advice that great power comes with great responsibility. This is one of this things we have to realize. If we take the Christian bible as a literal truth than we have the power and the responsibility to keep this world going.
That is only our physical responsibility. Our spirit the breath of life I mentioned in my post about death is a divine gift. The Poetic Edda states that:
17. Then from the throng | did three come forth,
From the home of the gods, | the mighty and gracious;
Two without fate | on the land they found,
Ask and Embla, | empty of might.
18. Soul they had not, | sense they had not,
Heat nor motion, | nor goodly hue;
Soul gave Othin, | sense gave Hönir,
Heat gave Lothur | and goodly hue. Source: Poetic Edda VOLUSPO Human Norse Creation Myth
Soul here refers to breath. These were the three Gods who also created the Nordic universe upon the death of Ymir. The sense here refers to right and wrong, and common sense. The next text in the Edda focuses on the common sense aspect. Heat, motion, and godly hue are the physical bodies. With out the mind (sense), Heat nor motion nor godly hue (body), and Soul (Soul) we humans would not be. Each of the Gods gave an essence of divinity. This is yet another example of how we are part of the divine.
Other pantheons have members that were once mortal who ascended to Godhood. The Egyptian pantheon and religion was known to deify their pharaohs upon death, associating them with Ra. In Greece Hercules was made into a god upon his death. This here shows me one other possibility about the nature of divinity.
One of my beliefs is that of ascension. I believe that over many lives I will obtain all the wisdom that I can from existing in the life form of a human. I believe that at that point in time new mysteries on a new level of existence will be open to me. That means all of my past lives converge into one being. That being has more wisdom and insight than any human could ever have. I have now reached a state of divine essence (pure spirit). I am in many ways an angelic form. Not human, but not fully a god yet. I still have much more to learn and experience before that level of enlightenment can be obtained.
I believe that gods many have existed in many times before us. I believe that the universe has been created and destroyed many times over. I believe that galaxies and life forms are constantly being created and destroyed (taking a look into the expanded cosmos will show you that much). I think that the universe is held in the mind of one all knowing being who is beyond all comprehension that we may just call pure “Spirit”. This being in the Kyballion is termed THE ALL.
I’m going to quote a few passages here:
“Under, and back of, the Universe of Time, Space and Change,
is ever to be found The Substantial Reality–the Fundamental
“Substance” means: “that which underlies all outward manifestations; the essence; the essential reality; the thing in itself,” etc. “Substantial” means: “actually existing; being the essential element; being real,” etc. “Reality” means: “the state of being real; true, enduring; valid; fixed; permanent; actual,” etc.
Under and behind all outward appearances or manifestations, there must always be a Substantial Reality. This is the Law. Man considering the Universe, of which he is a unit, sees nothing but change in matter, forces, and mental states. He sees that nothing really IS, but that everything is BECOMING and CHANGING. Nothing stands still-everything is being born, growing, dying-the very instant a thing reaches its height, it begins to decline–the law of rhythm is in constant operation–there is no reality, enduring quality, fixity, or substantiality in anything– nothing is permanent but Change. He sees all things evolving from other things, and resolving into other things–constant action and reaction; inflow and outflow; building up and tearing down; creation and destruction; birth, growth and death. Nothing endures but Change. And if he be a thinking man, he realizes that all of these changing things must be but outward appearances or manifestations of some Underlying Power–some Substantial Reality.
All thinkers, in all lands and in all times, have assumed the necessity for postulating the existence of this Substantial Reality. All philosophies worthy of the name have been based upon this thought. Men have given to this Substantial Reality many names-some have called it by the term of Deity (under many titles). Others have called it “The Infinite and Eternal Energy” others have tried to call it “Matter”–but all have acknowledged its existence. It is self-evident it needs no argument.
In these lessons we have followed the example of some of the world’s greatest thinkers, both ancient and modern–the Hermetic. Masters–and have called this Underlying Power–this Substantial Reality–by the Hermetic name of “THE ALL,” which term we consider the most comprehensive of the many terms applied by Man to THAT which transcends names and terms.
We accept and teach the view of the great Hermetic thinkers of all times, as well as of those illumined souls who have reached higher planes of being, both of whom assert that the inner nature of THE ALL is UNKNOWABLE. This must be so, for naught by THE ALL itself can comprehend its own nature and being.
The Hermetists believe and teach that THE ALL, “in itself,” is and must ever be UNKNOWABLE. They regard all the theories, guesses and speculations of the theologians and metaphysicians regarding the inner nature of THE ALL, as but the childish efforts of mortal minds to grasp the secret of the Infinite. Kybalion Chapter 4: THE ALL (Source)
The last two paragraphs there explain why I say that the true nature of divinity is a mystery. It’s unknowable as we understand it. The same entry in the book goes on to give three philosophical laws about the true nature and essence of the All and their conclusion about how the universe is held in the nature of an all encompassing living mind:
But while the essential nature of THE ALL is Unknowable, there are certain truths connected with its existence which the human mind finds itself compelled to accept. And an examination of these reports form a proper subject of inquiry, particularly as they agree with the reports of the Illumined on higher planes. And to this inquiry we now invite you.
“THAT which is the Fundamental Truth–the Substantial
Reality–is beyond true naming, but the Wise Men call
it THE ALL.”–The Kybalion.
“In its Essence, THE ALL is UNKNOWABLE.”–The Kybalion.
“But, the report of Reason must be hospitably received,
and treated with respect.”–The Kybalion.
The human reason, whose reports we must accept so long as we think at all, informs us as follows regarding THE ALL, and that without attempting to remove the veil of the Unknowable:
(1) THE ALL must be ALL that REALLY IS. There can be
nothing existing outside of THE ALL, else THE ALL would
not be THE ALL.
(2) THE ALL must be INFINITE, for there is nothing else
to define, confine, bound, limit; or restrict THE ALL.
It must be Infinite in Time, or ETERNAL,–it must have
always continuously existed, for there is nothing else to
have ever created it, and something can never evolve from
nothing, and if it had ever “not been,” even for a moment,
it would not “be” now,–it must continuously exist forever,
for there is nothing to destroy it, and it can never
“not-be,” even for a moment, because something can never
become nothing. It must be Infinite in Space–it must be
Everywhere, for there is no place outside of THE ALL–it
cannot be otherwise than continuous in Space, without break,
cessation, separation, or interruption, for there is nothing
to break, separate, or interrupt its continuity, and nothing
with which to “fill in the gaps.” It must be Infinite in
Power, or Absolute, for there is nothing to limit, restrict,
restrain, confine, disturb or condition it–it is subject to
no other Power, for there is no other Power.
(3) THE ALL must be IMMUTABLE, or not subject to change in
its real nature, for there is nothing to work changes upon it
nothing into which it could change, nor from which it could
have changed. It cannot be added to nor subtracted from;
increased nor diminished; nor become greater or lesser in any
respect whatsoever. It must have always been, and must always
remain, just what it is now–THE ALL–there has never been,
is not now, and never will be, anything else into which it
THE ALL being Infinite, Absolute, Eternal and Unchangeable it must follow that anything finite, changeable, fleeting, and conditioned cannot be THE ALL. And as there is Nothing outside of THE ALL, in Reality, then any and all such finite things must be as Nothing in Reality. Now do not become befogged, nor frightened–we are not trying to lead you into the Christian Science field under cover of Hermetic Philosophy. There is a Reconciliation of this apparently contradictory state of affairs. Be patient, we will reach it in time.
We see around us that which is called “Matter,” which forms the physical foundation for all forms. Is THE ALL merely Matter? Not at all! Matter cannot manifest Life or Mind, and as Life and Mind are manifested in the Universe, THE ALL cannot be Matter, for nothing rises higher than its own source–nothing is ever manifested in an effect that is not in the cause–nothing is evolved as a consequent that is not involved as an antecedent. And then Modern Science informs us that there is really no such thing as Matter–that what we call Matter is merely “interrupted energy or force,” that is, energy or force at a low rate of vibration. As a recent writer has said “Matter has melted into Mystery.” Even Material Science has abandoned the theory of Matter, and now rests on the basis of “Energy.”
Then is THE ALL mere Energy or Force? Not Energy or Force as the materialists use the terms, for their energy and force are blind, mechanical things, devoid of Life or Mind. Life and Mind can never evolve from blind Energy or Force, for the reason given a moment ago: “Nothing can rise higher than its source–nothing is evolved unless it is involved–nothing manifests in the effect, unless it is in the cause. ” And so THE ALL cannot be mere Energy or Force, for, if it were, then there would be no such things as Life and Mind in existence, and we know better than that, for we are Alive and using Mind to consider this very question, and so are those who claim that Energy or Force is Everything.
What is there then higher than Matter or Energy that we know to be existent in the Universe? LIFE AND MIND! Life and Mind in all their varying degrees of unfoldment! “Then,” you ask, “do you mean to tell us that THE ALL is LIFE and MIND?” Yes! and No! is our answer. If you mean Life and Mind as we poor petty mortals know them, we say No! THE ALL is not that! “But what kind of Life and Mind do you mean?” you ask.
The answer is “LIVING MIND,” as far above that which mortals know by those words, as Life and Mind are higher than mechanical forces, or matter–INFINITE LIVING MIND as compared to finite “Life and Mind.” We mean that which the illumined souls mean when they reverently pronounce the word: “SPIRIT!”
“THE ALL” is Infinite Living Mind–the Illumined call it SPIRIT!
Later on the the Kybalion there are references to living many lives until we eventually ascend to becoming one with THE ALL. I equate the universe in THE ALL as the universe with in an authors head in the world they create. The world of Harry Potter originally existed purely within the mind of J.K. Rowling. When publsihed it was opened to other people and the universe expanded, but still played by her rules. If you apply this theory to the grand scheme of the universe we are simply thoughts of the unknowable Divine mind.
So in the end what is Divinity?
To me the Gods are beings of immense wisdom and power whose full beings are beyond our comprehension and as such should be considered mysteries. However I think we can get insights into their natures through the passages in the texts about the various pantheons. It will never give you the full image, but it may help guide you into a better understanding of them.
I also think that they have lived lives before that are beyond our understanding. That is why I think there are so many creation and destruction myths. As I said look at the universe as a whole. The powers of life (creation) and destruction (death) are what rule the universe. Why can’t those powers be the reason why there are so many cultures with so many different deities and creation myths? Couldn’t they be from other systems billions of years ago whose energies through space radiation came to us? I don’t say its face. Nor do I think it’s the full truth. I think it may be a possibility.
What about you, the seeker, the reader? Have I given you anything to think about with this post? If you have any questions or concerns please post them in the comments section 😀