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Three Souls, Three Pentacles

by valerie walker
text and illustrations ©2004-2005

The Iron and Pearl Pentacles are a set of meditational devices originating in and characteristic of, but no longer exclusively confined to, Feri. Victor Anderson's original teachings combined the Iron and Pearl Pentacles (then known as Pentagrams) into one Decagram, whose points were read around the figure, Pearl first, thus: Love, Wisdom, Knowledge, Law, Liberty, Sex, Self, Passion, Pride, and Power.

Victor also taught the Iron and Pearl Pentagrams separately, along with the Decagram. At times Victor also taught a nine-pointed Enneagram (using Power at the same point on both the Iron and Pearl Pentagrams), but not consistently.

Victor's Iron Pentagram (worked around the circle rather than through it) was Sex-Self-Passion-Pride-Power. His Pearl Pentagram was Love-Wisdom-Knowledge-Law-Power. When the two Pentagrams are combined as a Decagram however, Liberty is used for the fifth point of the Pearl instead of Power. Since then, the two Pentacles have been taught separately and the order and names of some of the points have changed in various lines of Feri, although Victor taught the Decagram consistently throughout his lifetime. By the time Starhawk's The Spiral Dance came out in 1979, the two Pentacles were already being used separately. The practice of running the energy point-to-point through the pentacle rather than around the edges was brought in fairly early in Feri, possibly by Gwydion Pendderwen, a close associate of Victor's who is looked on by some as a co-founder of the Faery Tradition.

Eventually, a virtual cottage industry of pentacle-making came into being among Feris. Some of the published variants include the Rust, Gilded, Shadow of Iron, Shadow of Pearl, three different Lead Pentacles (one of which is Victor's, although I have been told both that he abandoned it in later years and that he was still teaching and refining it when he died), Source, Character, Amethyst, Aloha, and many more. The Blessing Pentacle is my own contribution to this effort, and came about when I realized the connections between Vivi / Iron and Emi / Pearl Pentacles. The schema seemed to demand a Pentacle for Ori, and extrapolating from the meanings of the points of the other two, the points of Blessing seemed to be intuitively obvious to me. Your mileage, as I have said before, may vary.

If your mileage, in fact, does not vary, there may be something wrong. This is important enough that it bears repeating. To me this is an example of the true spirit of Feri: that each Feri initiate is free to create and teach what and how his or her own inspiration has envisioned, rather than merely parroting what has been taught and only half-understood. Mindless acceptance of "revealed knowledge" is completely opposite to the Feri expression of one's own true Self. In Victor's words, "God is Self and Self is God, and God is a person like myself."

The three Pentacles discussed here may all be worked through the pentacle (i.e., Sex, Pride, Self, Power, Passion for the Iron), deosil (clockwise) around the points, (i.e., Sex, Self, Passion, Pride, Power for the Iron) or widdershins (counterclockwise, i.e., Sex, Power, Pride, Passion, Self for the Iron) for certain kinds of workings. There are as many different ways of running energy through the Pentacles as there are Feris to do it.

Elements And Pentacle Points

The pentacle is simply the pentagram (five pointed star) with the circle around it. Magickal practitioners of many kinds have worked with pentacles and pentagrams through the ages. The pentagram is an ancient symbol; according to the symbols.com online encyclopedia, Isolated pentagrams have been found on broken fragments of burned clay in Palestine, in layers dating from around 4000 B.C. It was a common sign among the Sumerians around 2700 B.C. Some of those who have conducted research of symbols believe [the pentagram] was used by the Sumerians as a cosmic symbol representing the four corners of the earth and the vault of the heavens.

Many versions of elemental attributions have been used for the pentagram/pentacle. Fig. 1 shows two of the many possible elemental attributions of the Iron and Pearl pentacles. Elemental I and II are both ways of using the elements in the order lightest (spirit/aether) to heaviest (earth), but the first shows the energy running around the outside, and II running through the pentagram itself. There has been much heated discussion among Feris, both online and off, on the subject of elemental attributions to the Pentacles, but there seems to be little agreement. However, since Victor Anderson never used elemental attributions, the individual Feri practitioner is free to use whatever system works.

Figure 1: Some Elemental Attributions of the Pentacles

Fig. 2 shows that the figure of a pentacle may be regarded as a two-dimensional map of a three-dimensional object. Interestingly, when I made an Internet search of the elemental attributions made to pentacle points in many different religious traditions, I found that the one thing all had in common was that the top point always represented aether, spirit, akasha, the quintessence, the "fifth element," and that the other four points were arranged in many different combinations. This filtered through my intuition as a sign that, consciously or unconsciously, all these traditions recognized that the top point was actually a vertical to the other points' horizontal, and that the Magick circle which I had so often cast was actually a sphere (consistent with the Feri custom of calling six Guardians plus the Center--the Witch hirself).

Figure 2: The Elements, Guardians, and Pentacle Points

It also meant that the center point, the crossroads where the four directions meet, was also where the fifth and sixth directions (above and below) met. Which led further to the thought that the directions are actually the dimensions: front/back, side/side, and up/down. There are three roads to the crossways where Hekate traditionally lives, and they are the three dimensions. The Triple Goddess is triple not only in Time (the three life-stages of Maiden, Mother, and Crone), but in Space. So the Pentacle, five-pointed, is actually a map of triplicities.

Further, the vertical element at the center, based in the Black Heart of Innocence, and progressing up through Sex and Love to Devotion, is the center whose circumference is everywhere, which lives in the individual Witch. This is the path of the Ladder of Hestia, up and down which we bring energy from the earth to the sky and back. This energy is the Blue Fire of Feri.

Iron

Exercise 1: Running The Iron Pentacle The simplest full Iron Pentacle exercise is to run energy through the points of the Iron Pentacles, thus:
Stand up or lie down on the floor with feet apart and arms out, so that your body forms a pentacle. As you chant each phrase, feel the energy which is generated by the individual concepts of Sex, Pride, and so on, focusing in the area of the body next to each point:

In the names of those things which trouble me:
In the name of Sex [head]
In the name of Pride [right foot]
In the name of Self [left hand]
In the name of Power [right hand]
In the name of Passion [left foot]
In the names of those things which trouble me:
I claim them,
I own them,
They shield me. They are mine.

Notes On Running The Iron Pentacle

I have added "In the names of those things which trouble me/ I claim them, I own them, they shield me, they are mine" when invoking the names of the points, because the points of the Iron Pentacle are things which, while natural to the human being, have been disowned in our names by society, so that they become problematic. It isn't enough to say that you are sexual or prideful or powerful, you have to feel it. And some kind of ritual claiming of these things, their dark sides as well as their bright, is necessary. If we are being honest with ourselves, we each have to admit that Sex or Power or any of the other points is an area in which we feel (or have felt earlier in our lives) nervous. There are parallel (but not identical) processes to go through with each of the other pentacles, since the idea of the whole practice is self-transformation.

As you do the pentacle exercise for the first time, pay attention to the thoughts that come into your mind at each point, the emotions which are evoked, and the physical sensations which come up for you. Feel free to run energy through any one of the Pentacles individually, or all of them at one session. Compare and contrast the resulting changes over time as you repeat these exercises daily. There will likely be changes in your energy, attitudes, thinking, feeling, and even what is happening in your life. Often, these life-changes are subconsciously engineered by our Fetch in order to pry us away from something to which we have been clinging too long, or to push us in new directions. This is where keeping a journal can be extremely useful. Obviously, you will need to know each of the individual points much better than you do initially in order to make the exercise meaningful. I suggest working through the points with the exercises I provide below, or with your own choice of exercises. By the time you have spent some time with each point, running the Pentacles will have become a complex web of emotional, spiritual, and physical associations which will be completely unique to you, based as it is in your own needs and desires.

Figure 3: How the Pentacles Progress

Some Feri practitioners use the Iron Pentacle with the Self and Passion points at the practitioner's right and the Power and Pride points at the left; others reverse this with Power/Pride at the right and Self/Passion at the right. There is no absolute rule about these things. What's fun to do is run the Iron Pentacle ambidextrously. First run the energy around the pentacle points: Sex, Self, Passion, Pride, Power. Then run it through: Sex, Pride, Self, Power, Passion. THEN you do a Left Hand Pentacle -- so you're running (around) Sex, Power, Pride, Passion, Self. And then through: Sex, Passion, Power, Self, Pride. Each of the points will assumes a different aspect when taken as different order along different paths. And, of course, you can mess around with them in lots of other ways, e.g., doing the Iron Pentacle as a horizontal wheel which rises up your body and goes out like a ninja star. I'll talk about this specific exercise later.

Pearl

Exercise 2: Running the Pearl Pentacle

In the names of those things to which I aspire:
In the name of Love [head]
In the name of Law [right foot]
In the name of Knowledge [left hand]
In the name of Liberty [right hand]
In the name of Wisdom [left foot]
In the names of those things to which I aspire:
I affirm them,
I become them,
They shield me. They are mine.

Notes On Working The Pearl Pentacle

In recent years, the Iron Pentacle has been taught before the Pearl, and it has even been stated that one cannot run energy properly through the Pearl unless the points of the Iron are balanced. However, Victor originally taught the Iron and Pearl together as a decagram, going around the points of Pearl first, then Iron. This was called the Copper Decagram, and to the best of my knowledge has died out in Feri except within the Vicia, a line which was very close to Victor in his later years. (The outlook of the Vicia can be found on their website, http://www.lilithslantern.com/.)

One of Victor's earliest initiates has affirmed that he was also taught the Decagram. This is an example of the drift which is extremely common in Feri. As lines become further and further separated from the source, and people add and subtract lore, drift happens in practices, in theology, and in attitudes. And the less and less the different lines communicate with each other, the more drift happens, until you end up with practices which have almost nothing to do with each other.

The main reason for learning Iron and Pearl together is that they are actually different aspects of the same thing, which may also be described as different octaves of the same note in the musical scale. Those lessons we learn about ourselves and the issues which trouble us from the Iron Pentacle are equivalent to those lessons we learn and those issues we wish to solve about relating to other people in the Pearl, and about those inner gifts which allow us to relate to the gods in the Blessing Pentacle. There are resonances from Pentacle to Pentacle which are as much a part of the significance of the Pentacles as their points or the paths between the points. Exercise 3: Running the Decagram

In the names of those things to which I aspire:
In the name of Sex-Love [head]
In the name of Pride-Law [right foot]
In the name of Self-Knowledge [left hand]
In the name of Power-Liberty [right hand]
In the name of Passion-Wisdom [left fooot]
In the names of those things to which I aspire:
I claim them,
I own them,
I affirm them,
I become them,
They shield me. They are mine.


This second version uses the Iron and the Pearl points, and shows how one evolves into another. Also, those things which trouble us are transformed into those things to which we aspire by being seen as the roots of those things to which we aspire, and therefore part of them. This is very important. If the Iron points are only seen as things which trouble us, or only as things which we are defiantly glad of, their twofold nature is not made clear. And the idea here is not to only be troubled or defiant about those things we have always thought of as sinful, or aspiring to virtue without acknowledging the necessary presence of its shadow. The idea is to balance on that teetering point where we can admit and own and claim and become all of ourselves, whether society has taught us to approve of it or not.

There is some disagreement about the position and naming of several of the Pearl Pentacle points. Some Feri place Wisdom at the left hand and Knowledge at the left foot; and some place Power rather than Liberty at the right hand. The Blessing Pentacle is original with me. If you feel you do not wish to work with it, or you would prefer to construct a pentacle of your own for the Godself, by all means do so.

Blessing

Exercise 4: Running The Blessing Pentacle

In the names of those things I am given:
In the name of Devotion [head]
In the name of Truth [right foot]
In the name of Radiance [left hand]
In the name of Grace [right hand]
In the name of Blessing [left foot]
In the names of those things I am given:
I accept them with thanks,
They shield me. They are mine.

Exercise 5: Running The Pentadecagram

In the names of those things I am given:
In the name of Sex-Love-Devotion [head]
In the name of Pride-Law-Truth [right foot]
In the name of Self-Knowledge-Radiance [left hand]
In the name of power-Liberty-Grace [right hand]
In the name of Passion-Wisdom-Blessing [left foot]
In the names of those things I am given:
I claim them,
I own them,
I affirm them,
I become them,
I accept them with thanks,
They shield me. They are mine.


Here we see the results of the progressions of the Iron and Pearl Pentacle points, where what troubles us (Iron) is transmuted into those things to which we aspire (Pearl), and the ultimate realization is that all these things, along with the points of the Blessing Pentacle, are gifts from the gods. The living, breathing Universe gives us these things, and our acceptance is with thanks, knowing that they are our birthright as sentient creatures.

three souls