From sex to pride,
from pride to self,
from self to power,
from power to passion
from passion to sex,
the gate is formed.
By my will the gate is opened.
Considered to be a foundational exercise of the Feri, the Iron Pentacle has proven to be a powerful symbol of the inner-work that is stressed so strongly in our tradition. Usually taught to students at or near the beginning of their training in order to provide a symbolic container for the work to come, the pentacle quickly becomes a personal mandala for the student, an energetic map that can lend important clues as to where we are wasting our energy, and provide us opportunities to heal imbalances in our inner selves. It is a talisman of great power.
Briefly, the points can be understood as follows:
The point of Sex conceptually represents the creative power of the Universe. It is both polarity and resonance within the current of Divine energy. It is that point of orgasm in which we open to the Universal dance and participate in its creation and in its destruction within each moment.
The point of Pride is our recognition of our own self-worth and the ability to live fully without reservation, allowing our true nature to shine outward while not giving in to the ego’s temptation to compare ourselves to others. It is complete innocence, living fully and unabashedly in the moment.
Self represents our full knowledge of our own potential as well as our limitations along with the knowledge of who we are in relation to others and the Universe at large.
Power is the balanced outpouring of our whole being; the focused harmony of all five points in the pentacle which allows us greater access to our own deep potential. It is the projection of ourselves into the world that causes change, that makes magick. It is never manipulative, for true power exists in its own right and finds revelry in cooperative relationships with other beings and points of view.
Passion is our ability to be open to the fullest experience of feeling, whether that be of the highest bliss, or of the deepest depression. It is the true embodiment of ecstasy.
Taken individually, the points on our pentacle represent important aspects of our consciousness that are normally interpreted in a negative light from the standpoint of mainstream society. Even in those times when an energetic relationship to the conceptual point on the pentacle is one that is encouraged by the mainstream, we find the relationship is usually an unhealthy one. One needs only look to the prevalence of sexual imagery in modern advertising, and the unrealistic expectations that it encourages, for an example of this. Our negative relationships are formed and reinforced each time we compare our bodies to those we see in a magazine, each time we feel “selfish” for accepting a compliment or taking pride in our work, and each time we automatically equate power with corruption.
By restructuring our relationships to these concepts we can begin to balance our world-view through the removal of the negative preconceptions already firmly in place within our psyches. This allows us deeper access to our authentic selves unhindered by cultural conditioning, a state poetically referred to in our tradition as “The Black Heart of Innocence”.
It is from this space, this magnificent state of being, that magick is made. Only when we are free from our irrational fears can we begin to truly live, and it is precisely this that the Gods call for us to do. In order to mediate real power into the world (the true function of any priest or priestess) we must first be made pure; we must come to terms with ourselves for exactly who and what we are, and in the face of this truth, begin to live it fully. Easier said than done.
Each point on the pentacle represents a particular wavelength of consciousness that, even when in isolation from the others, is an invaluable aid to the cleansing and development of the psyche. By connecting meditatively to each point, we can begin to discern how its conceptual power flows through us individually, giving us opportunities to notice how we are affected. When I experience the conceptual energy of Pride, for example, I am faced with the possibility of an unhindered boundless wave of self acceptance and love, an experience that, when taken in the greater context of everyday awareness leaves me with the experiential understanding of how well I am or am not actualizing such acceptance within my own life. If I am living from my heart center, then I am validated in that experience. If I am not, then I am reminded of that center, and encouraged, by example, to allow my energies to flow freely, thus cultivating that sense of pride that I am connecting to.
When used early on in training, it is common to meditate on each point in succession, gaining speed with each pass until the conscious mind can no longer attach itself to any one particular concept, blurring them into one flow of power. From Sex, to Pride, to Self, to Power, to Passion, and back to Sex, the points themselves become energetic markers, like bands of color in the spectrum, that stand out in the midst of the greater force, and yet are a necessary part of that force, lending to the experience rather than distracting from it.
When taken together, the points on the Iron Pentacle create a kind of harmony —not unlike the voices in a choir— that is greater than the sum of its parts. The five conceptual points of our pentacle interlock to create a kind of “psychic gateway” that leads us deeper into the realms of Faery, and into our own power. When we have actualized each point within ourselves, and are able to maintain a simultaneous connection to each of them and their relationships to each other within our consciousness, then we have embarked upon the remarkable journey: We have made the decision to abandon those negative traits forced upon us by the larger society in favor of a healthy relationship to ourselves, and have taken the first real step towards claiming our Divine birthright: We have decided to become more fully human.
But the question must be posed: Why in a shamanic tradition must we focus on tools and tricks that are obviously centered around affecting the psychological well-being of the student? Why not simply have the student enter into therapy and leave the psyche to the psychologists and the witchcraft to the witches?
It would be unwise to think that the realms of the psychological, the spiritual, and the magickal do not, at the very least, intersect. Much of the training work utilized in many of the branches that teach Feri today bear a striking resemblance to deep therapeutic techniques. Breathing exercises, controlled relaxation, and guided introspection are all techniques that are utilized in both therapy and in modern witchcraft, so what, if anything, makes them different?
One difference is the deep spiritual connection of the community at large. In the presence of a teacher the Iron Pentacle becomes a connection point the student has to the greater Feri community, a symbol of how our diverse energies are interconnected and how they can flow together to form a unified working whole. Even if we each have a different understanding of the conceptual points, we have the work itself in common which leads us to a greater kinship with each other, as witches of the Feri clan. The fact that we each may have been taught differently on the subject merely reinforces the significance of the work to the individual; for the power to remain authentic it must, by definition, change from person to person to reflect the psychic make-up of the individual. When confronted with real power, real results occur. The Iron Pentacle, as a working tool, is a beginning point for understanding the Feri reality. For years practitioners of Feri have used these techniques, with much success, and have revised them to suit their individual needs as practicality demands. When I practice the Iron Pentacle I am filled with the knowledge that this is a path that other practitioners have embarked upon; other Feri have used these signposts in order to better understand their relationship to our Gods, the Universe, and themselves. When I practice, I am in good company.
Another major difference is in the very nature of the powers that we, as Feri, are dealing with. The Gods, Goddesses, Guardians, spirits, and powers that we are working with are real and not simply in a metaphorical sense as is seen in many modern traditions of the Craft. When I call upon the Gods they show up, providing me with perspectives that I was previously unaware of, or even leading me into situations where I have opportunity to claim and refine my power, my perceptual relationship to the universe.
In my opinion the exercises utilized in the Feri training are (for the right individual) much more powerful in effect than the standard therapeutic model. In addition to being a more direct way to deal with issues and complexes within the psyche, the magickal model enables the student to develop control of their relationship to their environment, and more importantly, provides an experiential understanding of how the world really works. Instead of just reinforcing the old paradigm of separateness, the magickal model does away with such nonsense and instills the understanding of interconnectedness as an experiential reality.
In light of all of this, the Iron Pentacle is, in one sense, a reminder of how that interconnectedness works on a personal level, thus bringing that understanding out into the world at large.
For many modern witches the symbol of the pentagram with it’s five interlocking points has come to represent the interconnected forces of the five natural elemental principals of the Universe working in harmony. It is a reminder that these forces exist in relation to each other, each serving a unique purpose and yet are interdependent with each other, each relying on the next for holistic balance to be achieved.
The shape of the pentacle with one point upwards is roughly in the shape of the human body with arms and legs outstretched. With this in mind we are reminded of the holographic nature of reality, the microcosm/macrocosm: the idea that the very big is contained within the very small. In each of us exists an energetic map for the entire universe.
The Iron Pentacle takes full advantage of this symbolism providing a framework for grounding the conceptual energy into the human body. While focusing on the points in succession, the energy is generally felt within the body beginning with the point of Sex at the center of the forehead, Pride at the right foot, Self at the left hand, Power at the right hand, and finally Passion at the left foot. By running energy between these points we are able to bring the power of the Pentacle into our bodies in an attempt to free ourselves of blocks that we may possess that serve to hinder our growth.
The pentacle is a way to begin to understand the universe in a personal way, as well as a means to understand ourselves, opening the gate to the Mystery and giving us access to the Star Goddess, the Primordial state of being. Like the iron in our blood, it is the foundation of our lives as well as our magick. As witches of the Feri Craft we are the holders of a sacred key which unlocks nothing less than our true potential, not only as witches but as fully realized human beings. With every breath we learn more about what that may be for each of us.