Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Points on the Iron Pentacle: Pride

This blog post is one in a series where I explore the Iron Pentacle and how it has changed for me since becoming a parent (Read the first installment, Sex, here). 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.

Pride is often confused with conflated ego, and in the Christian tradition is considered one of the seven deadly sins. Why on earth would Feri witches revel in such a thing? Simple- we are Gods*. We have a right to be proud of our accomplishments and words and deeds, especially when they manifest our True Will and the Will of the Divine here in this world.

Pride is the shameless recognition of our own self-worth and ability. It allows us 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 (whether favorably or disfavorably). "What is called pride in our culture is often merely arrogance. ... Arrogance has its flip side in self-deprecation, which is just another face of the arrogant posture."- T. Thorn Coyle, Feri and Reclaiming initiate. 

One of the most interesting conversations that I've had about Pride in this context was in one of Thorn's classes. Thorn put forth the idea that you cannot be proud of someone else. This disturbed me, as I have felt this emotion especially when I taught sixth graders in the Oakland Public Schools.

Of course I could be proud of a child that struggles to read when all obstacles are thrown in their way! My kids had poverty, hunger, non-involved parents, apathetic teachers, and a curriculum that saw them more as guinea pigs than people with needs to contend with. But then I looked deeper. "My kids"- huh. There was my ego, getting in the way of their accomplishments. They learned to read. Yes, I facilitated or assisted but it is truly their accomplishment. I saw then that on some level, being "proud of someone" is trying to take credit for their accomplishment in some way. Wow. What a revelation.

As for Pride in my life, I am proud of many things- mostly my ability to manifest structures and organizations that help people and contribute to the greater good. But no sense of Pride could have prepared me for dealing with my pregnancy and childbirth. I had a lot to overcome. This was not the first time I was pregnant (I gave a child up for adoption when I was 19), and that experience was unwanted, traumatic, and left emotional and physical scars (I was forced to undergo an unnecessary C section and at that time in my life, was not a great advocate for myself.).

Wanting a baby very badly meant going through the physical transformative process of pregnancy that was sure to trigger me on a very visceral level and submit to whatever birth experience manifested itself. And for a while, it looked like a repeat C section, which made me an emotional train wreck.

I struggled daily with the changes in my body and what bad memories were brought up as a result. I struggled with the imbalanced power dynamic I knew that I would experience in a hospital setting and triumphed over those fears. I built relationships to support me when I was at my most vulnerable- and those relationships paid off and ensured what was best for me and my child. I am so grateful to Judi (my midwife), Wolfy (my doula) and Oberyn (my partner) for being there for me when I most needed them.

And as for feeling Pride for my son, when he accomplishes a milestone (as he seems to do daily these days), I am happy for his success- and I revel in that joy. Which to me, appears more honest than feeling Pride.

*Unlike some religions that believe that we "have a spark of the Divine" or we are mirror reflections of the Divine, Feri believes that we ARE Divine. And the work of your lifetime(s) is to become that God that you already are. Hard work, becoming a God.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Lily: Thank you for this post as well as for the links to Ms. Judy and Mr. Oberyn. Oh, Rowan's pics. :)

    I am hungry for articles on the Iron Pentacle. BY December, I think I will be able to buy Ms. Coyle's book.

    I agree about what you said. As someone raised a Catholic, I have often been taught that pride is a sin. When I take pride in something I did well, you can trust someone to just "shush" it aside so that I will not develop, well, too much pride. The results? Mixed + and -. It did teach me to be careful of being arrogant (+), but I also learned to pretend to humility I did not feel in some instances (-).

    This duality troubled me a long while, until I learned through knocks and observations that it is not wrong to be proud of your accomplishments, just don't try to ram it down people's throats by talking about it constantly or taking away from others' chance to shine. I also learned that pride in yourself is necessary, because w/o it, it can leave you at a disadvantage, open to abuses, even from someone you care for or who cares for you.

    I have a request: Will you kindly clarify the "we are Gods" part. I know what you mean,that we are Divine, and I agree with you. But for some of us raised in the Big 5 religions, this can be read with alarm. We'll interpret it as "taking power away from God" or "daring to put ourselves in God's place and showving Him away." (Again, confusing pride with arrogance.) Thanks.


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