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Grimoire-My Magical record system

Grimoire: My Record system

Most witches out there have books that they keep their rituals and spells in.  Many traditions call this book a Book of Shadows.  In this book they write down all their rituals, all their spells, and any work that they do with spirits and spiritual beings.  This record becomes in many way our personal sacred texts and documents.  In some cases witches can use their experiences within their records and books to in effect create the lore for their own system and practices.

Like most witches I do have my own magical book and record system.  I actually used to have several different books that I would keep.  In an effort to keep all of the rituals from the different systems I studied separate as they were all separate systems I decided to keep my notes and my notes books separate.  Its only recently that they have been combined back into one book, at least for the time being.

As a solitary and primarily self directed witch I have the freedom to basically record any information I want in any way that I want.  This means that I can have articles from magazines in there as well as any personal reflections.  My book is really personal and is my own record.  Though this book will in the end be used as the basis for the tradition I would like to found and teach, in general my book is something that really only makes sense to myself.

Now I call my book a Grimoire for many reasons.  The term book of shadows just never seem to fit.  For one thing I have never been in the shadows with my practice at all.  I have always been open and upfront about it.  I have never hidden my practice.  Though I might not have discussed it or brought it up in front of some family members I’ve never really made any attempts to hide the fact that I am and have always been a witch.  So the concept of a book of shadows when I am not in the shadows didnt make any sense.

The other reason is that my book has more than just spells, rituals, and invocations.  My book has theory and exercises.  It has lore and poetry.  My book basically contains the sum of my spiritual knowledge and experience over the years.  In this book I have recorded the names of spirits I work with, their personalities, and much more.  This book could in essence be used to teach my path to another person.  It provides step by step exercises with reflections to give an idea of what could be experienced.  The book even has some of the realms and other worlds I have visited listed in there with details.

I also like the term Grimoire.  So I use it for my own practices.  I know that its not one of the great Grimoires of Ceremonial Magic and Invocation traditions, but for me it still is a Grimoire.  Other people when they have read my book will be able to look at it and perform the rituals and the works in there and have effective practices.  They can use my book as a step by step manual for the works I have done.

The other thing is that I have material from the official Temple Tradition Grimoire for the first degree in my book as well.  The Temple material does have its own book as well.  However the material also belongs in my book as I have experiences based on the training found in the Temple tradition.  That is the other reason I call my book a Grimoire.  If the Temple tradition calls its ritual handbook a Grimoire, than I think I can call my book the same thing.  I am after all scribing information from the Temple text into my own text as well.

One thing I am going to try and be better about is actually recording and writing down my rituals and my spells.  I’m the sort of witch who may not always write down the rituals and spells that they have performed.  For this reason there are large gaps in my book of dates.  I also don’t have any information from my early days as a witch.  That first book is long gone.  So working on my Grimoire is actually one of the ways I have started to get my spirituality back on track.

I have all kinds of notes from books I have read that need to be transcribed into my Book.  I am also going to sift through my diaries of a couple years.  I know in several of my diary entries I have thoughts on Gods, Goddesses, and my spirituality.  The notes and the diary entries will provide more material for my book and show me even more places where I have grown and where my spiritual paths have developed.  I just need to spend the time to sort my notes and find out where in my book they will belong.

I do hope that in time I can create different books of Grimoire style work.  I want to have a book just for Dragon work.  That way in that book I have only information that relates to dragons.  By separating that information it also makes it easier to find exactly what I am looking for in my books.  The same goes for my work with Germanic paganism and Greek Paganism.  I’m also creating a prayer book and a specific spell book.  The creation of these books is part of my spiritual development and my spiritual practices.  It relates to my view of the importance of the sacred scribe.

Over the next few weeks my Grimoire is going to get more information into it.  I am going to be adding spells I have posted on websites and I am going to be adding in all sorts of additional correspondence information and the like.  I may have to end up making the main book into separate books any way as this one is already quite full.  So I may end up with theory and exercises in one book with rituals and correspondences in another book.  We shall see how things develop over time.

I know that as I study Hoodoo and get recipes for various items and spells I will be including those in my book as well.  I already have a few recipes for different types of water in my book.  Soon I am going to add spells to the book.  I just got to the spell centric section of one of the books I have been reading and working through.  So that in itself is going to add a bit of stuff to my book.  I’m always busy developing something spiritually between my business and this new maintenance of my Grimoire there is always something new to do and make.

Pagan Blog Project: B is for Belief

What I believe

Since this blog is entirely about my own personal path and how it has been developing I think its about time I actually discussed what some of my beliefs are.  One thing about my beliefs is that while I do have core beliefs how I understand that has been known to change and evolve.  This is a good thing.  When my understanding of my beliefs change or how I apply my beliefs changes it means I have grown and developed quite a bit spiritually.

The whole idea with spirituality for me is to develop my sense of connection to the universe and to my Gods.  As my experiences change in the world around me and as I learn new things I may change my beliefs.  I don’t believe in having solid and steady unchanging beliefs.  For me to have an unchanging or to be unwilling to change beliefs and practices when given different experiences means that I am not willing to grow as a person.  In nature that which does not grow or change dies.  The same thing can happen to a persons spirituality.  If they are not open to new experiences and developments they will not grow spiritually and their spirituality and personal spirit can die.

Now that I have explained some of that background information I can actually start to tell you a bit about my personal beliefs.  As it has been mentioned before this blog serves mostly as a place for me to sort out information and concepts for my personal path and practices.  This blog also serves as a way for me to try and form a cohesive path pieced together out of many different fragments and forms to be one united path.

So where should I start?  I guess I will start with my belief in the divine.  This is actually one of the simplest and most basic beliefs that I have.  It has evolved out of study and reading of multiple sacred texts and mythologies.  This belief has also developed out of my personal study of folklore and fairy tales as well as personal experiences in the spirit worlds and in worship with many different Gods,

I personally would call myself an omnitheist.  I will get into that in a different post later as omnitheism is one of the core tenants in this path I am developing.  Omnitheism is essentially the belief in all deities.  I do not need to know about or experience and have personal relationships with all deities to believe in them.  In holding this belief I can respect every path on the planet equally as all of the Gods worshiped are equally valid in my view.  I have had personal experiences with to many different God personalities to say that some Gods exist and others don’t.  So I believe that they are all real.

I think the next thing I will touch on is cosmology.  My cosmology is complex and simple.  I believe in many other worlds.  I believe that because of all the Gods all the different heavens exist as do all the different underworlds.  I believe that they are all separate realms within a basic three realm paradigm.  All the realms of the Gods are in the upper worlds and heavens.  All of the underworlds or lands of the dead are in one location with this reality or earth in the middle.

That is the basics.  This is where it gets a little more complicated.  I also believe in realms for individual spirit types.  I believe there is a realm for all fire spirits and all water spirits you get the idea.  I also believe in realms of the elements.  I also believe in a realm where all form of Dragons live and exist.  I believe in a realm and world of the elves as well as the dwarves and other spirits.  I believe that these worlds exist here along side this world in ways that we can’t really see and experience.

I also hold the nine worlds in Germanic mythology as part of my paradigm.  So it holds that else where in the cosmos the realms and the worlds of the other spiritual paths and Gods would be there as well.  I have not experienced all of them but I can see them all being there.  They are all tied together through the web of human experience which will bring me to my next belief and concept.

I believe in Fate.  Fate is the web of reality.  Fate is the universe.  Fate is all of us interacting together in a way we can not all understand.  Fate is the way that we are all interconnected and related on a spiritual and universal level.  Fate is everything around us, all that we see hear and experience and all that exists on the other side of the world at the same time unseen and essentially unknown to us.

Fate is that which must happen based on that which has gone before.  Fate is a combination of events that work together to create what which we know and see as the world we live in.  Fate is also how the unseen worlds and the unseen forces in the universe work for us and against us.  Fate is cause and effect.  Fate is basically all options at any time but only that which fits according to the patterns woven in our lives will come out to pass.

I will say more on fate at a later date.  For now we are a part of fate and fate is reality.  This forms a large part of my world view and the view of reality around me.  It also plays a little into my belief and understanding on what magic is.  Though part of my belief in fate and my belief in the many underworlds and afterlife is a belief in the soul.

I believe in a soul.  I also believe in an afterlife.  My belief in the soul plays a role in my belief in the afterlife and in the other worlds.  My belief in the soul is one of the core beliefs I am setting for this tradition.  I believe that the soul is actually not just one thing but a combination of five different spiritual forces that work together to form an individual life.  I believe that in essence the soul is eternal but it also changes forms and has different parts.  Each part has a different role.  Because the belief in the soul is complex I am going to leave it at this: I believe in a soul that is the force of life that allows us to live and have experiences.  It is what makes a person or being alive.

I believe in spiritual realms for different spirits.  So I believe in many different spirits.  I believe that all animals have a spirit inside of them or an individual soul.  I also believe that there is a spirit ruling over all domestic dogs for example and the like.  I also believe that each individual species of plants have their guardian spirit of that plant species as well as individual souls.  I even believe that stones and crystals also have a ruling spirit and an individual spirit.

I also believe in Genis Loci or the spirits of places.  I believe that mountains have their own spirits.  I believe that ponds have their own spirits.  I even believe that small ponds can also have many spirits in the area like mountain spirits, broke spirits, as well as the spirits of all the plants and animals in the area.  I believe homes posses individual spirits.  I also believe that the land our homes our build on also have individual spirit forces.

I believe in magic.  Magic I believe is a practice, a force, a skill, and a craft.  I believe that magic is the energy we use to cause changes in this world.  I also believe that magic is the force that causes change in this universe.  I believe magic is the force of change and creation.  Its a force for creation and destruction.  Magic is a force for life and for spiritual gain as well as daily gain.  Magic is also a mystery and a tool by which we can access the mysteries of the universe.

I also believe in psychic abilities.  I believe that we can sense and see spirits.  I believe that people can sense and see spiritual energy and personal energetic fields known as auras.  I also believe that we can contact guardian spirits and receive information from them.  I believe that we can also tap into some higher selves and spirit forms and use tools like tarot cards, runes, shells, bones, and other objects to tell or gain insight into the future.

I believe that we all have these psychic abilities.  I do believe that we need to learn how to train them and work with them though.  I believe that psychic abilities like these provide us all with excellent ways to understand the world around us.  It is also through our psychic abilities and practices that we can experience spirits, Gods, and travel to the other worlds.  So I believe that learning what our specific psychic senses are strongest and working with them to be developed is essential to spiritual development.

I believe in spirit world travels.  I believe that we can travel in spirit to the other worlds.  I believe that these travels help us understand and experience the mysteries of the universe.  These travels give me insight into the different types of spirits out there and how they may work.  Its how I meet spirit guides and how I have experienced some Gods and the spirit realms.  Astral travel and shamanic journeys are central tools to this practice.

So there you have it.  You have some of the basic beliefs that I hold.  As I said some of the beliefs I hold are very complex and could use more attention than warranted in this one post about the basic beliefs I have.  Those beliefs like the ones on the cosmology, fate, and the soul are going to be written about in more length as time continues.  For now you at least know where my basic beliefs are.

As always if you have any questions for me about my beliefs or anything I post or say here please let me know.  I will answer them to the best of my ability.

A: Ancestors and Why Ancestral veneration exists

Ancestral Veneration:

One of the common theme that anthropologists have found with prehistoric religion as well as with some more of the ancient pagan religions that ancestral veneration and respect was a central theme.  There were often rituals done specifically to honor the ancestors and there were often altars specifically designed for ancestral worship.  There were also shrines to the spirits of the land which have been connected to ancestral veneration.

Modern Ancestral altar

Modern Ancestral altar

So a question I asked myself often was what it actually meant for ancestors to be worshiped.  They were dead and gone.  While I believed they existed and continued to live in some sort of afterlife I never really figured out why it was important.  Then one day I was reading a book about traditional witchcraft which explains why if you are worshiping nature and the land that you really are worshiping your ancestors.

The body when it becomes buried or cremated ultimately becomes a part of the earth.  The body contains a part of your spirit and your soul.  That part is released into the land once you have passed on.  It means they are the earth and as a nature worshiping witch I must be honoring my ancestors as well.

I then started to understand the rituals behind the sacrificed king and the blood into the land.  By feeding the ancestors we feed the essence and spirits of the land.  By placing the sacred king as a sacrifice and having his blood spill into the land the world was fertile for the next year.  The worship of the land and the veneration of the ancestors were essentially the core of the ancient beliefs.

Some people have theorized that the spirits of the land were actually the spirits of the ancestors.  Some people believe that the elves in various traditions are based on ancestors and spirits of people being sacrificed at specific locations for religious purposes.  The identity of the recent sacrifice would merge with the essences and personalities of the other sacrifices and a spirit built of all of them would be born.

Ancestral veneration was important and for me still is important.  In some ways it has helped me deal with the losses of several of my loved ones.  It also helped me gain some closure with my adoption and loss of that sense of self.  Once I started to accept that I could still see and interact with my ancestors each and every day my path became more meaningful and I started to really understand and explore the true nature of underworld religious traditions.

Pentalism is definitely an underworld tradition at it’s heart.  There are all sorts of spirits and world that are traveled to and explored in this path.  There is an entire mystery set related to the mysteries of the underworld, the soul, and reincarnation.  These were actually some of the very first mysteries I experienced within my training in the Temple tradition.  It’s also related to my philosophies of the elements which I will get to in another little while.

Why do I practice an underworld tradition?  In essence this tradition and practice has come to accept that the core essence of the universe is that there can be no creation with out destruction, no life with out death.  I have come to see that there really is no difference between the two, except for their polarity on the pole of life.

In some ways I really started to understand how my rituals and magic are ways to maintain the balance of the creation/destruction from starting to embrace the underworld aspects of my path and of the religions I have studied.  Things have started to fall in place and I began to understand the dynamic polarity that allows for fertility of life (the creation and destruction).  I started to see the mysteries of nature.

Once I started to worship my ancestors and pray to them I began to feel more complete.  My theology and philosophies were really beginning to meld together and become a cohesive whole.  I was starting to see my path  form some syncretic aspects which has been important to me.   It was nice to see how I really was beginning to understand what it means to be a member of a mystery religion.

I have really started to understand why people took such care of their dead.  In some ways I can also see now why so many people in America have an issue dealing with death and the loss of a loved one.  Other cultures have no real issues with death.  They understand it’s necessity and importance.

From worshiping my ancestors I was able to look at the cycle of life in a new way.  When I took my physics class and we went to discuss basic astrophysics regarding the formation of stars and the forces involved I started to see the larger picture.  I really started to understand what it means to be alive and in this universe.  I can’t explain it any better than this image so I will end my post by saying these images when you apply it to the life cycle on earth you see how earth is a microcosm of the macrocosm which is the universe.

Star Stuff

Altars: Worship tool, work bench, shrine, or some other mixture?

Altars

For any one who has ever gone to a temple or attended a church service of any kind you are typically familiar with some sort of altar. The altar is a place where sacred texts are placed, where candles are lit, prayers are murmurer, and worship happens. In witchcraft and magic the altar can serve as any number of things. Some paths encourage and use the word altar and others prefer terms like shrine or work bench and anything in between. There are so many different concepts and terms associated with altars here that the purpose of an altar is hotly debated.

In regards to Pentalism the altar actually has three different purposes. In an ideal situation those who follow the path of Pentalism (which can be practiced solitary as I am now) will have three different types of altars. Each of the altars would serve a different purpose. So there are three purposes to an altar in Pentalism. All three of the purposes and all three types of altars will be covered here now.

The primary purpose is to focus as the center point of worship. The next part is more spiritual than religious. This is the “shrine” type of altar. The final type of an altar is that of the workbench. All three aspects of the altar come into play in ritual. Once and a while they will also work together in the form of spell craft. That however depends on the type of spell you are working. For now I am going to focus on the spells and magical practices that would use an altar and the ritual uses of the altar.

Before I can talk about the use of an altar in magic I must discuss the use of an altar in ritual. I find that before magic is practiced some sort of spiritual and religious background is required. Having either a spiritual (which does not need to be religious) background or a religious background will allow a person to have a philosophy in which to base and construct their magic. That is why the second type and purpose of the altar discussed will be that of the shrine and the final use will be that of the magical workbench.

So in ritual the altar serves as a few things. In some ways it serves as the focal point. On the altar there are two figures or representations. One for the God and one foe the Goddess being worshiped at that time and sabbat. At times there may be two Gods and Goddesses involved in which case you would need two different representations on the altar or in the center of the circle (one for each God and Goddess).

So what does the altar have on it for content?

Aside from the representation on deity, there are the symbols of the elements and the elemental guardians. How the elements are important will be discussed in the posts of elements and spirits as well as cosmology. You also have the offering bowl for the libation and the plate for the food. There is typically something in the very center to represent the ancestors. You also have the tools for the creation of sacred space (which will be covered in the circles post) on the altar which will include wands, earth, candles, incence, and the like.

Ok. That covers the equipment. So the next thing to cover is how they are used actually in ritual. The use in ritual depends entirely on what sort of ritual you are performing. Each of the traditions and types of witchcraft that form the foundation of this tradition have different styles of rituals and different tools they use in ritual. The equipment and altar set up is going to vary.

The one common practice and use of the altar in all of the rituals is the place where the offerings to deity are placed. That is why this is the primary purpose of the altar in ritual. While all the tools used in the various forms of ritual are placed on the altar, in essence it’s key role is to hold the offering to deity in the liquid and physical state as well as the gaseous state (incense burning in ritual can been seen as offerings if they are blessed and lit with that intention as part of the ritual).

There. I have covered the basic needs and purposes of an altar when it comes to ritual. The next thing I am going to discuss is the use of an altar as a shrine. While I see all shrines as a type of altar, not all altars are shrines. I’ll eventually get to the full aspect of a shrine in a later post. For now there is a basic purpose that any seeker and any beginner to any path can use.

A shrine here is a place that is sacred. It is blessed and consecrated in the honor of the beings that the shrine is for. On the shrine you can place any images or representations of the beings you like. It also holds a place for offerings to those beings and is a place that prayers to those beings can be offered.

At this moment I have two shrines. I have one for dragons and one for the ancestors and the spirits of this land. The concept of the ancestors will be discussed tomorrow in my second A post for the pagan blog project. Ideally I would have at least five more. One for each of the elements and one for the spirit of the land and the hearth/home (which in my case is the same being as I told the spirit of the land my apartment is on that she could come in to the apartment in the winter if she felt like warming up in the cold *her home is a giant oak which has scattered hair [my own] and coins around it as offerings to her*). For now the elements will have to have their small representations on the main altar and the heart/home and land spirit shrine will be shared with my ancestral shrine.

So an altar holds offerings and ritual tools. A shrine as an altar is a place for offerings to those beings and prayers. It also contains symbols and representations of those beings. That covers the first two aspects and roles of an altar. Both of those were ritual and spiritualistic based. Can we get to the workbench and magical aspect now?

Yes we can. The third role of an altar is that of the workbench. When an altar is functioning in this form it primarily has to deal with magical work. While many witches and pagans do practice magic as a form or part of their rituals, magic does not have to take the form of ritual magic or work. Right now I am going to talk about pure spell crafting and casting that would require and altar to function as a work bench.

So before I can talk about spells and spell craft and magic I should probably define what magic is right?

Um yeah. That would be helpful. So how do you define magic?

Magic for me has three distinct definitions and aspects. There is the aspect of performing an act to cause a change in the universe. There is the act of wishing and visualizing, and finally there is the aspect of energy manipulation. The energy manipulation and the act of causing a change are often considered to be the same thing. I do not see it as such. That is why I will cover all three aspects of magic separately starting with energy manipulation.

The most common definition was coined by Alister Crowley which basically is “The art and science of causing change in conformity with one’s will”. In that aspect I take it a bit further. As a practice and process for me magic is the art and science of causing a change in ones world and the universe by manipulating and directing the subtle energies that exist in this world.

There are many ways to raise and direct this energy. There will be more information on that covered in a few more posts later. For now the most typical way of raising energy is through chanting and repetitive motion. Once the energy is raised you direct the energy out to the universe to have it manifest your goal. That is an energy manipulated specific spell.

In spell crafting a workbench may often be required. This is the magical function of an altar. While you work spells you often need a place to hold the materials you are using to craft and perform your spell. The materials you use will depend entirely on what sort of spell you are crafting and performing. The types of magic worked are so various that the tools and materials found on workbenches depends entirely on the personal flavor of each witch and spell caster.

So what sort of tools or materials can we see on an altar as a work bench? That depends on the type of magic and the spell you are performing. If you are a kitchen witch (one who performs magic and spell craft through the foods and drink we ingest) then you will have spices, meats, herbs, baking and cooking supplies and maybe candles or stones. Some one who works just herbal magic will have different herbs and a candle typically as well as a censer for burning incense. Candle magic involves candles (based on color and needs) and oils. Prayers can be magical as can wishes. It all involves the type of magic you are performing.

There are the various uses of an altar in pentalism. I mentioned that they can sometimes be mixed in ritual and spiritual work. This is true. When I discuss the wheel of the year I’ll explain a bit about fertility. For me fertility takes many forms. One of them is simply the ability to provide for yourself and have all the needs you have in your life. That is where magic can be applied in rituals. When I discusses ceremonial magic there will be more information about that.

There you have it. I hope I have given you some idea as to the role and use of an altar. I also hope I have given you some idea as to what you might put on it for yourself. My personal altar changes on

Forging Pentalism

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!

~Loona~

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