|The Elf ½ (elfwreck) wrote in feri,|
@ 2009-02-18 23:54:00
|Entry tags:||iron pentacle|
For the last few weeks, we've done pentacle studies. This post is loosely based on the discussions we're having.
Iron Pentacle: Clockwise from top--Sex, Self, Passion, Pride, Power. Through the points: Sex/Head, Pride/RightFoot, Self/LeftHand, Power/RightHand, Passion/LeftFoot, back to Sex/Head.
Iron is, to me, a social tool. While many people call it "fetch-y," I don't--not because sex/pride/self/power/passion aren't nonverbal, fetch-related concepts, but because what makes them important, what makes them areas of blockages and trouble, is Talker-related. We have hangups about "sex" and not "hunger" (or not as much) because of our social connections, not because sex is a more primal, more important physical drive than hunger. The reason sex is essential to us as humans is Talker/relational--or at least, the reason it is more essential than drives like hunger or the desire to be comfortable (do we even have a name for that one?) or pain avoidance is Talker/relational. Ditto the other points: while they all deal with nonverbal drives, and they are all essential to our emotional and spiritual well-being, often moreso than our social and interpersonal health, they are rooted in our relationships with people and other entities around us. (If you can accept that as a premise, fine; if not, I'd be willing to discuss it. I'm open to other perspectives on the IP, but I'm not teaching from them, for the fairly obvious reason that I can only teach what I grok.)
The Iron Pentacle begins with sex because humans begin with sex. Even those few humans who begin with cells mixed in a jar or a petri dish, are the result of our sexuality: our dualism, our unity of opposites. (And maybe someday we'll change that, and have humans creatable without sex. I suspect that sex will continue to be very popular even if not required for offspring.) Some people occasionally try to rename or re-understand this point as "unity" or "creativity" or something like that--using the description to stand in for the uncomfortable reality that sex is essential to humanity. Even though not essential to every individual, as a culture-shaping force, sex is immense and important. We are an erotic race, glorying in the sharing of sex, teasing each other with the possibility of sex.
In strengthening and understanding one's own sexuality, one's own connection to others through bliss and orgasm and afterglow, we understand many of the forces in society. Marriage, an arrangement of sex and property and childcare, with sex as its linchpin. Money, a promise of value between people who do not share sex... we do not pay our spouses for making dinner (people we share sex with); we do not pay our parents, who created us through sex, for raising us; we do not charge our children, the result of our sexual activity, for their meals. Art, often a way to publicly share bits of erotic energy.
In contemplating our sex, our connection to each other through the erotic, we contemplate the Stargoddess... She whose sex created us all, She who loves us with an erotic warmth. Sex is how we begin, and how we know our place in the cosmos.
Pride. Acknowledging how wonderful you are, what great things you've done, how important you are to the world around you. There's no room, in true pride, for comparison to anyone else... nobody else has to be less great, for you to be excellent. Pride is the point that gets the most argument, the most denigration in public discussions of Feri. (Possibly because there's a great Christian bias against it, and while there's equal bias against sex, that one is so personal and intense that it doesn't get discussed much in public. People aren't as likely to consider someone else's sex as a matter of personal insult.)
There's a scene in Schindler's List, where Schindler is telling a guard about the power of the King, and how the King can grant pardons--how any damn peasant can kill someone, and any thug of a guard can execute, but only kings can pardon--can give life. And the guard, later, pardons a Jew whom he would've killed, over some imagined slight or incompetence, and feels himself very noble thereby. That's Pride... that's the virtue we try to embody. The concept that I am so great, I need not take whatever value anyone else has... I have so much, it spills over to the people around me, and we are all enhanced by my greatness, my awareness of my own glory. (The guard could not sustain such an awareness; could not comprehend a non-zero-sum majesty.) There is no room in that awareness for anyone else's lack of glory... the virtue of true pride, rather than jealous vanity, allows one to look at the world through me-colored glasses, and if I'm looking at it, it must be wonderful, because how could someone as great as me bother to look at something less than excellent? The world is enhanced by our awareness of ourselves as important--because surely a world that can hold people as wonderful as us, must be a terrific place. This person in front of me, whoever she is, must be important, beautiful, fantastic... because a universe that created me cannot create worthlessness.
Our pride, our sense of value and greatness, is reflected outward: we cannot be good if our surroundings do not support goodness. Proud people are generous--they know it's not their possessions or their location that makes them what they are. It's those who lack a sense of pride, those who fear their greatness can be stolen from them, who become mean-spirited and shallow and point-counting, shouting their achievements to all they meet because they fear it's not obvious if they don't. Real pride needs no trophies.
Self. But who is it, that doesn't need those trophies? Self is the point glossed over in public discussions. It's personal, and that makes it hard to talk about with strangers, and uncomfortable even with friends. (Also, we've got all that new age baggage about "finding yourself"--discuss it too much and the conversation gets mocking as the terminology of the 70's spiritual movements creeps in.) In our discussions at my home, we almost skipped over this. We know who we are. We are none of us Craft beginners, nor strangers to soul-searching and identity games, and we don't feel any need to describe ourselves as part of that knowing.
There's an exercise in self-awareness that Robert Anton Wilson mentioned, copied from possibly Crowley: for a time, he decided to eschew the words "I" and "me" and variations thereof, and bit his knuckle every time he slipped up and said one of them. (Crowley's version involved cutting himself with a knife.) Learning to talk about yourself in the third person is interesting and difficult; learning to do so without sounding ridiculous is more so. Self-awareness through self-negation: remove the self-shaped core from conversations and then sort out what's missing. It's one of the few ways to contemplate the Self; mostly, it's too hard to remove the subject from the observer.
Power. So... now that you've got eroticism, and value, and awareness, what do you do with it? Anything you want--that's what "Power" means. The ability to Get Stuff Done. Occasionally, I hear about "power over versus power with"--I disdain such hair-splitting. Power is power; how it's used is up to you. There is no "good power" or "bad power" any more than there is "good stone" or "bad stone"--there are useful applications, and harmful ones, there is misplaced power but that doesn't make it bad or wrong, any more than salt is "wrong" if it's in your drinking water. Power can be inappropriate for the circumstances, but never wrong.
Power scares us. "Where there's fear, there is power"--anytime we are afraid, we can look to the fear and find power at its root. If we are confident in our own power, we have no fear. Power is the most vulnerable of the points; it's the most susceptible to outside influences. All the talk about "keeping your power" is very nice, but doesn't actually remove handcuffs or stop a rapist. I like the idea of "keep aware of what power you have, even when things seem hopeless;" I do not like the possible message "you could have stopped it if you'd been enlightened enough, or picked the right way to exercise your power." The people killed by Katrina did not "abandon their power;" the eighteen thousand couples in California waiting to find out if their marriages will still be legal next year are not "failing to use their power." Power is a limited resource, restricted to some venues; none of us has power in all settings. The reason we must learn to use our power is that it's not infinite: like a muscle, it gets stronger with use, and like a muscle, it has limits, and we need to know them. The strongest man cannot lift an elephant; the most powerful witches cannot prevent tsunamis.
Like the other points, power is not a zero-sum game: my gain is not your loss. We can all increase our power. Unlike the others, power has boundaries. We can always find things our power cannot do. But with practice, and study, and perspective shifts, and growth, we can chip away at those things--we can learn all that our power can do, and expand it into new realms.
Passion. Where we find those new realms. What inspires us, what makes us want to be strong and glorious and sexy and aware. Passion is the current that carries us, the water of life that nurtures us. When it's lacking, or sparse, we are parched--empty, slowly dying. We can become accustomed to limiting our passions, limiting our access to our passions, the way people in deserts can survive on limited water. But passion, unlike water, is not a limited resource... the only reason to avoid it is our fear, or complexes from a childhood that taught us that feeling "too strongly" is a bad thing.
Some actions inspired by strong feelings are bad. Feelings themselves are not. Much of the problems in the world today are caused by people unwilling to be passionate, people trying to claim that what inspires one person should inspire everyone else, people who think oppression of "ugly" passions will make them go away or be less ugly. But passion is not rational. It can't be coerced or enticed; our desires, our drives, our inspirations are not matters of weighing pros-and-cons and making a choice. They spring from our innermost selves, a gift of divinity. A way to find our kin, perhaps; we can only share sex with a tiny number of people, but we can share our passions with thousands. (And it's not illegal to do so in public! Mostly, anyway.)
In Feri, we learn to shape our actions and our relationship to the world, not to avoid our feelings, our drives, our impulses. If they threaten to overwhelm us, we counter by creating channels for them: run the energy through all five points, faster and faster. We direct them to manifestations of our choice... and we need all five points in balance to choose a healthy way to do that: an erotic awareness of our selves and the world around us, the confidence that we are worthy of the life we want, an understanding of the difference between "me" and "other," the energy and skill to make things happen, and the drive and desire to balance these things and take action.