Sunday, September 26, 2010

Points on the Iron Pentacle: Sex

In my religious tradition, we have a tool for alchemy called the Iron Pentacle. It is a five pointed guidepost to helping you achieve personal balance. Each point on the pentacle is a human birthright:
Sex, Pride, Self, Power, and Passion.

The Iron Pentacle can be used in many ways as a tool.* "In reclaiming the energies (of this pentacle)...we reintegrate that which has been taken from us by the dominant culture or twisted beyond recognition.", says T. Thorn Coyle, Feri and Reclaiming Initiate. Doing this work is not for the faint of heart- going up against mainstream culture is a hard row to hoe!

When a witch is "on their points", they have successfully balanced all five elements (Please note that this state is not ever considered permanent, but a constant juggling act to remain in balance as we move through life. We constantly go in and out of balance as we strive for it.).

Hilary Valentine, Reclaiming Initiate says, "These five points are qualities (or abilities or states) that occur quite naturally in a human being (or any other animal) when it is healthy. However our culture, like many other cultures worldwide, trains its members to control or limit these qualities in order to reduce conflict (and create the ability to rule over others easily- ed.). Some cultures, for example, the New England Yankee Christian culture I come from, go so far as to label these qualities sins. The opposite qualities, such as virginity, humility, and selflessness are highly prized."

I should speak to the individual points a bit to explain what they mean, as the concepts have been distorted in our culture and the words are often misunderstood or feared. As I describe each point in a new blog post, I will relate not only what they mean to me, but how they have changed and morphed since becoming a parent and what they were like while pregnant.

So, from the top (of the pentacle)! Sex is the beginning and the end of this pentacle- the alpha and omega- just like in the creation of the universe! In Feri, we believe that Sex created the universe, as it continues to create the life that surrounds us. God Herself's orgasm (the big bang) created all matter and energy that is encompassed in the universe.

Sex is the creative power of the Universe: it is life force, connection. It is Divine energy. It encompasses not just genital sexuality, but most assuredly includes it as well. We should never eschew sexual pleasure for some "transcendent" ideal. The body is holy- your body is the body of the Mother- and Sex is the holiest of holies. You pay homage to the original creation and the original love and lust by having sex.

"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.", says Storm FaeryWolf, Feri Initiate. "In ordinary life, we either supress sex energy so deeply that we can barely feel it or we run it in such a way that it spills out of us and onto other people." ... (By running Sex energy properly) we become vital and full of life force and can use this energy to fuel all our endeavors..." says T. Thorn Coyle.

Sex was always a pleasure filled act for me. And luckily, I grew up with very little baggage around sex, masturbation, and my body. But Sex never meant so much to me spiritually until I found Feri and until I got pregnant.**

For me, sex only meant genital play and whatever led up to that before Feri. After Feri training, I could feel Sex walking down the street as I connected with plants, animals, rocks and everything around me. Everything in nature sings and thrums with its own energetic voice, and at times, I can hear it. It can be overwhelming, and not always harmonious (depending on the place, of course). A place that has native plants and wildlife and little disruptions sounds very harmonious. Being in Oakland most days, sometimes things are a little cacophonous.

As I worked with the Iron Pentacle to reclaim what is mine, Sex became a way to connect with others and know them as Divine. And to me, that is what Sex is for. If your sex is meaningless and devoid of Spirit, it is not Sex. And I would rather have Sex than sex any day.

Angela Raincatcher, Nine Ravens Studio
As I grew Rowan inside of me, I experienced Sex from the inside out. I had a little aquanaut connected to me in the most intimate way possible. I was literally a microcosm of God Herself. As he grew and stirred inside me, I was amazed at each turn. I was already connected to this little thing and felt such deep and profound love, and we hadn't even met yet! We didn't know what one another looked like, yet we were in love. I say "we" because it became obvious after Rowan was born that he loved me, too. It wasn't mere instinct, him clinging to me for warmth and nourishment. He knew my feel, my smell. We were intimates. He basked in my presence.

Sex is even more important now that I am a mom. I feel connected to all children, all animals, the planet in a way that makes how I felt before feel like a hollow caricature of caring. I care so profoundly, so deeply that it hurts often.

*Learning about the Iron Pentacle is an exercise best done in person under the tutelage of an initiate. Many Feri and Reclaiming teachers give workshops on this tool. For the purpose of understanding the content of this article, I am giving the barest information possible. It should not be taken as the definitive teaching on the subject. When using the Iron Pentacle, some people meditate on the points and their connections. Others "run" the energy of the pentacle though their body (the human body's design is that of an upright pentagram- the head at the top, arms outstretched, legs beneath. To run the pentacle, one assigns Sex in the head, Pride to the right leg/foot, Self to the left hand, Power to the right hand, and Passion to the left foot (running back into the head for Sex). There are many ways to use the tool to discover imbalances and re-balance the points to get you back "on your points".

**Rowan was intentionally conceived, in ritual. He was insanely planned and he visited us in dreams before he was born. We deliberately incorporated procreative sex into our lives for the sake of bringing Rowan into it, and can I just say? That's weird to me. Before Rowan, sex was always mostly a queer act, more for pleasure than anything else and making babies was someone else's thing.


  1. This is a great blog post. Running the energy of the iron pentacle never gets old. I've been doing it for 5 years and I'm still peeling back layers in my ongoing relationship with these points. As a mother and pagan, I found it helpful to have a modality within my tradition that addresses our relationship to such charged points such as Sex, Pride, Power, Passion, and Self. Thanks for posting!

  2. I think this is brilliant--because I do get what you wrote, even though the full understanding keeps slipping away from my grasp as I am not an Initiate (yet? If I'm meant to be.). Life kinda did several numbers on me in the past which drove home the same points you made about Sex, Power, Pride, Passion, Self (that they're not negative, but necessary in being a healthy individual).

  3. I agree that this blog post is most excellent! I've been thinking about the significance of Sex, lately. Since moving to CA, I have been living my passions more and as such, have a whole, new appreciation for Sex. I hold it in much higher regard. Your ideas here about Sex really spoke to me.

    I look forward to learning more about this Feri ideology. Thank you for sharing. Ashe!

  4. Thanks, y'all.

    FM Jemena, if you are interested in learning more about the Iron Pentacle, there is a book by T. Thorn Coyle called Evolutionary Witchcraft that talks about it. I do not believe there are any Feri or Reclaiming initiates in the Philippines, so that is your only choice at this point.

    Ren, are you Feri or Reclaiming?

    And both of you- join the Witch Mom forums! I would love to have more in depth discussions with you both!

  5. I don't know much about Feri, but I've always been interested in the philosophy (and practice?) behind the Iron Pentacle. The first point, sex, is something that's kept me from delving further into Feri.

    I've identified as asexual for several years now, and I'll admit that for awhile I had very negative views towards sex in addition to my non-sexual orientation. A lot of this negativity resulted from feeling neglected by society and the folks around me, who gave assurances that I was "just a late bloomer" and that apparently it was normal to want to bang every member of the opposite sex you came across. To this day, I've never felt true sexual inclinations towards someone, and though I've worked through a lot of my less than healthy attitudes towards human sexuality in general, I don't think I could ever be comfortable in a religion or ritual in which sex (even symbolically) plays a major role.

    That said, I've read this post a few times over and I really appreciate the way you've described your understanding of sex in this context. I'll ruminate over sex being one manifestation among many of divine creativity.

  6. MS. LILLI: Funny thing is, two years ago, I saw Coyle's book being sold at Powerbooks. I didn't want to buy it or other Witchcraft books at the time as I never know which one's for real and with budget a bit tight....Anyway, I kept going back to the table that contains Coyle's books, attracted to it for no reason I could see. (It was shrink-wrapped, so no way to read the flaps.) My instinct was telling me that I will need it later on, but since my instinct has been wrong several times...Will go back again to Powerbooks and search for it.

    MS. ELLEN M.: I'm not a guidance counselor, but may I hazard a guess that maybe you're looking for Love as well? I mean a combination of Love+Sex to make a relationship worthwhile? Hope I did not offend.
    You see, I have the same problems with sexuality/sensuality, too. But in my case, it's because a good Filipina Catholic isn't supposed to want/feel/need it---and I do want/feel/need (and not necessarily coupled with Love). Mix it with a society that's ambivalent towards Sex, still supports the double standard of morality, and has a Madonna/Whore Syndrome, it makes me wary of exploring sex...Anyway, I sometimes come to the conclusion that I'll only feel safe if I look for Sex+Love. (Hope I was clear and made relevant comments.)

    MS. LILLI + POSTERS: I am glad for your writings on Sex, Divinity, etc. They give me much to think about, helping me to evaluate the things I've learned by offering different perspectives. And, sometimes, I get comfort knowing one is not alone. Thanks much!

  7. Really great blog! I'm not a mom, but I am a student of Reclaiming and Feri and have been browsing the blog for a while and just wanted to say thanks for putting it out! Super interesting and a definite reminder of how much I have yet to learn : )

  8. Thanks everyone. Sex is very important in my tradition, as it is the origin and the link between everything. So this post barely does my gnosis about it justice. But I try!


Comments are welcome but moderated. Please be respectful when leaving a comment.