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.
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!