D: The divine in my world-Omnitheism defined
The divine in Ominitheism
I live a constantly evolving paradox in some ways. I am an omnitheist. Its an all encompassing view of the divine. I say all encompassing because depending on what sort of ritual I am working my view on the divine will change or be modified. I make room for experiences of the divine in basically any and all formats as I believe the overall Divine to be something that humans can not fully understand in our form. This also means I will and have experienced the divine in many different forms.
Basically I am a Hard Polytheist in that I believe in all individual Gods in pantheons and religions. I may not have encountered them all like I’ve never met to my knowledge any of the Gods associated with Chinese religions or Hinduism or even Native American traditions, but I still believe those Gods are individual beings. This also means that I Do believe in Yaweh/Allah/Jehovah or the God of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. I can’t emphasis this enough. I just believe that they are an individual God among many.
This also means that when I work a ritual from the context of a soft polytheistic view where they believe all the Gods are one God and all the Goddesses are one Goddess I believe the God and Goddess of that religion are a unique God and Goddess whose impressions are a combination of the psychological archetypes of the many Gods and Goddesses in literature. So I believe that there is a God and Goddess out there who through modern Wicca and Modern religious witchcraft movements who is a manifested form and force of All Gods and all Goddesses, though each person in this religious form focuses on specific names to them it doesn’t matter and to this divine duo the names do not matter. They are nameless and yet have many names.
Like wise my belief in the God of the three big religions allows me to attend church services with family members and treat it as I would the worship of any other God within their specific religious constraints. Yaweh and I have an understanding of sorts in that I believe in him and have accepted that he is the supreme God in those religions. However I never in the Christian tradition I was a heretic of sorts believing that the trinity was a set of three divine beings. So like I said we’ve reached an understanding of sorts that is uncomfortable at best for the both of us. I maintain my belief that he is one of many thousands of Gods and I treat the church services as that Gods particular style of worship.
In this way it is not any different than how I outlined I have approached the worship of Greek Gods and Norse Gods. I approach their worship from a recon style and perspective. I find that recons so long as the worship of the different pantheons or cultures is separate then you can follow more than one path. Its about respecting the Gods and making sure that you worship them in a way that would have been appropriate in that particular culture.
In this way I treat Christianity as a culture which it really is. The Christian worldview has impacted the world culture in many ways, so when I go to church I feel that I am engaging in that aspect of the culture I live in, as well as the culture where this God (Yaweh) is worshiped.
I believe that all the Gods of the Greek pantheon are individuals. I believe that all the Gods of the Norse pantheon are individuals (to the point where even the tribal differences in views and concepts may actually be different divine forces) an so forth for each pantheon. I even believe that the 12 big Gods of the Greek pantheon and the 12 great Gods of the Roman pantheon who are often said to be the same beings are separate beings (Zeus and Jupiter are different Gods in my view and not the same as in other views of the two pantheons).
I have experienced too many different types of divine individuals to not believe that in some way all views of the divine are true. This is why I consider myself to be an omnitheist. While I believe that there are individual Gods and Goddesses (Athena, Frigga, Isis, Ceriweden, etc to name a few and only a few) as individual people (like I am different from you) I also believe that there may be an overruling God of each force like there may be a generic Goddess of Love and God of war that are essentially made up of all the other Gods of each force).
I have experienced individual divine forces and I have experienced overarching all encompassing divine forces. I believe all paths hold truths. This is why I believe that by studying all religions and philosophies I can gain even more insight into the divine and the mysteries of the universe. In this way I may also be a chaos magician where I change paradigms as needed for ritual and spiritual work, if so than I am a chaos witch. I’ve experienced too many different styles of the divine manifesting to not believe that all versions of the divine are true
Suffice to say this basically outlines most of my concept of the divine. My views of the divine are constantly evolving and changing. I’ve had too many different experiences to not be willing to be open to every possible avenue for the divine to manifest. Though because I also believe in the power of the mind I also think that we can create divine forces or manifestations of the divine energy through names and other experiences.
In essence this is where part of my experience of the five Gods and Goddesses that are the divine beings in Pentalism comes from my experience with the various Unnamed Gods and Goddesses of Eclectic Wiccan and Eclectic Neo-pagan witchcraft traditions. Each tradition had some very similar concepts of the God and Goddess but there were enough differences that I started to feel that perhaps there was actually more then one God and Goddess involved in the myths and lore of Modern witchcraft.
Those divine beings are basically a separation and division of the five different types of Gods and Goddesses I have experienced through different versions of modern Eclectic Wiccan lore. I thought that because there were essentially five different ways I saw the Gods manifested that there were five distinct Gods and Goddesses worshiped in Wiccan traditions. The more I study and think about the different God forms and Goddess forms and associations I see the more those five Gods make sense.
So I figure I’m developing a tradition that treats the seasonal versions of the Gods as individuals and the Moon Goddess and Sun God as separate beings. I’m still developing experiential lore in meditations to support this particular divine setting but so far it seems to make sense. The season energies are very different so the Gods involved in each season would be different. There will be more information on those Gods in the next post, outlining the Gods and Goddess of Pentalism.
Omnitheism I feel is important as a view and philosophy of the divine as it allows for extreme personal experiences. It allows people to experience the divine as individual beings while also accessing the divine forces behind say healing with out specific names. This allows people to have both experiences with the individual divine beings in the various pantheons and the overall divine forces that are out there in life.
Review: I am Healer, Story Teller, and Warrior Priest: Learning from Arianrhod
The book I am Healer, Story Teller, and Warrior Priest: Learning from Arianrhod is a short book. This book focuses on the lessons of one specific Goddess within the Celtic pantheons. This book covers many different lessons for personal and spiritual development. The overall concept and goal behind the entire book is to gain a better sense of Self and the relationship to the divine.
The author divided the book up into 4 different sections. Each section of the book had a specific set of lessons in them. The first section of the book is basically an introduction section. Here you are given a starting point for the journey of the book. This is the only section of the book that is made up of one chapter.
The second section of the book is about myths and legends. This section of the book provides two key mythological tales from Celtic lore. The section here then discusses and provides and overview of those two mythic tales and the various lessons in them. Here we learn about some important deities in Celtic spirituality but also learn quite a bit about the relationships between the different divine groups within the Celtic pantheons.
The third section of the book covers the topic of the Goddesses Arianrhod and Bloudeuwedd. Here we get information about their specific characters and their roles in the mythos. We also learn about the symbols of these Goddesses and how they can be worked with spiritually. Section three is also made up of one chapter.
The final section in the book is titled “Manifesting the divine”. This is the section that finally ties in the title of the book to the rest of the book. Here we finally see the roles of the warrior, the healers, the priests, and other ways of manifesting and working with the divine energy explored earlier in this book. Here we get into some practical work and can find spiritual development.
The first chapter in the book covers the concepts of what which has been lost and that which has been found. Here the author introduces the concept of the self as a relation to the divine and the divine energy of the universe. The author touches on Jungian psychology and philosophy. This chapter forms the basic concept of the book which is to gain connection to the divine and the Gods.
The second chapter begins the section on mythology. Here the author starts us off by introducing the first set of myths one should read in regards to Irish paganism. These are the invasion cycles covering the three groups that battled over time for control of Ireland.
The third chapter talks about one of the most famous groups mentioned in the myths of Celtic tribes. This is the group called the Tuatha De Dannan. These are the people known as the fae and fairies to the Christians, while to the Celts these people were there deities and are deities to those who practice modern Celtic spirituality.
Chapter four is called “The ‘Tyranny’ of Bres”. This chapter covers a series of battles and challenges faced by the Tuatha de Dannan as they were ruled by this king. Here we learn of many hardships the Tuatha De Dannan are forced to face and how their teachings are forbidden.
Chapter five gets into some of the symbols that come up in the myths regarding the Tuatha De Dannan. Here the author provides insight as to some deeper meanings and concepts in the myths just read.
In chapter six we are introduced to The Mabinogion. Here the author gives an account of the various books and tales within this collection of Welsh myths. The author while not providing the entire extensive texts provides you with enough understanding to be able to know what the story contains and who the characters are.
Chapter seven discusses the importance of the Mabinogion in today’s world. Here the author discusses the themes and concepts found within the Mabinogion. You are provided with heroes and gods and how their symbolism and their stories are still relevant in the world we live in today.
Chapter eight makes up the entirety of the third section. This chapter focuses on two goddesses from The Mabinogion and their symbolism. We are taught their sides of the story and the symbols in the myths. Here we even learn the meanings behind the use of the flowers that make up the Goddess Blodeuwedd and how that plays into her character.
Chapter nine is where we enter the final section of the book. here the author discusses and goes over the concept of the wounded healer. Here we learn what it means to heal from wounds and what it means to be a true healer. Here we learn that it is ok for us to show our scars from healing ourselves. This shows that we can go on and live with the pain.
Chapter ten starts a discussion on shamanism. Here we learn the authors concept of the shaman soul. We learn about the different aspects of ourselves and how to work them together.
Chapter eleven teaches us some magical and spiritual philosophies involved in manifesting the divine and creating a relationship with the divine. Here the author gets into a few of the concepts found in The Kyballion.
In chapter twelve the author gets into their views on the different bodies that a person has. The concepts here include the emotional body, the physical body, the spiritual body, and the mental body. The author also gets into their relationship to each other and how they work to make us a whole person.
Chapter thirteen teaches us about being a spiritual warrior. Here the author talks about the concepts of what it means to be a warrior and the traits of a warrior. Here the author gets into our responsibilities in the role of a warrior, self discipline, and being honest with oneself.
Chapter fourteen is a Mandala created by the author for Warriors. Its a way of mapping all of the selves. It is a way of showing consequences and actions. This is a “living” document according to the author as it changes and evolves as each individual grows and involves. Its a tool for showing and exploring spiritual and personal growth.
The fifteenth chapter of this book is all about the healer. Healers have always had an important role in religious and spiritual traditions. Here the author gives us a unique healing technique that they created. The author then goes into many other spiritual healing traditions including sweat lodges, Reiki, and affirmative prayer to name a few.
The sixteenth chapter in this book gets into the concept of the storyteller. Here the author explains why we need storytellers today and how they can fill a spiritual void. The author here gets into the spiritual roles as well as the practical roles of the storyteller.
The final and seventeenth chapter in this book covers the concept of the priesthood. The concept of priesthood in pagan and alternative spiritual paths is not always understood today. Here the author gets into the importance of the education that the members of the priesthood have to get in order to best serve their gods. The author talks about how the priesthood has a concept of service and how those who are of the priesthood must provide service of some sort to the community. The author also touches on how it is important to have recognition by others that you are of a service to the community.
The author ends the book by giving some advice on finding balance between all of these concepts. The author continues to explain and expand on the concept that it is up to you to do the work to make the connection and develop yourself spiritually.
Overall this author provides a lot of concepts to consider for developing your spiritual path. The author does well to tie in the concepts to Celtic spirituality specifically as that was the focus of the book yet leaves it open enough for you to find your own paths and relationships. The author does a good job of introducing some of the myths and the lore of Celtic paganism while giving the reader something to read and need to research on their own. This book provides an excellent starting point for Celtic spirituality while giving those on other spiritual paths many things to think about.
Pagan Blog Project: D- Divinity
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.
A: Ancestors and Why Ancestral veneration exists
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.
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.
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!