In this final installment of this Pentacle Approach to Wellness series, we’ll explore our Spiritual bodies, bringing our God and Goddess selves into co-creative balance, so that we may claim our personal sovereignty, and gain a broader, transcendent view of life. This concept of balance is symbolized for Witches by the Pentacle, an encircled five-pointed star.
If you’ve been reading along this series the last two years, you’ve already been working on balance through the four classical elements, by learning from both their projective and receptive attributes. By Earth we balance our physical bodies, through preparing good food, good sleep, self-care of grooming, and maintaining our dwelling spaces. By Air we balance our mental bodies, with careful consideration of our beliefs, meditation and speaking affirmations. By Fire we balance the body of our Will, taking actions to align us with the Highest Divine Will, igniting motivations to achieve our sacred mission. By Water we balance our emotional bodies, identifying what wounds us, defining our boundaries, and learning to respond through Divine Love.
Point 5. Ether: Wellness of The Spiritual Body
So, here we arrive at the final point of the Pentacle, and the fifth element of Ether, which is symbolized in the graphic above as both the top point of the star, but also as the surrounding circle. Ether is the ground of being; it is the implicate order; it is what interconnects the web of existence. I would call this the transcendent synergy of Divine Love. I might even go so far as to say this is the collective consciousness of the cosmos that mystic folks like us appeal to as The Great Spirit.
To be in balance within our Spiritual Body is to awaken from the illusion of separateness. We remember our interconnection within that eternal Great Spirit, throughout time and space. To seek spiritual balance is to embrace our wholeness – dark and light, day and night, the good and bad, ugly and beautiful, as all part of being an incarnate God/dess. Wholeness is perfection; we are Perfect Love.
Meat-suit or Popsicle Stick?
I used to think of myself as a Spirit temporarily wearing this meat-suit. I let my eyes deceive me into accepting that my skin was my outer edge, and everything that distinguished “me” was encased by that meat suit. Then I began studying modern witchcraft, and attuned to Reiki, a Japanese form of energy healing. Thanks to Christopher Penczak’s most excellent book: The Inner Temple of Witchcraft, I discovered that my anatomy extends far beyond my skin, that I am a multi-dimensional being of energy with many layers of self, all vibrating at different frequencies.
As Albert Einstein once said:
“Concerning matter, we have been all wrong. What we have called matter is energy, whose vibration has been so lowered as to be perceptible to the senses. There is no matter.” source
Understanding that human beings are more than just their meat, is a holistic perspective. My mental, emotional, will and spiritual selves are more than just the mechanics of firing nerve impulses, glands squirting hormones and my metabolism. I think within the Divine mind, via the mental body of my Aura, for example. So rather than being a little spirit driving an organic machine, I’m more like a cosmic energy popsicle with a body stick…or some such…because analogies. My physical body is just the relatively-solid core of a vast energetic being, is what I’m trying to say.
Macrocosm to Microcosm, Get Thee to the Cross-roads
The Circle Cross is a another symbol often used to represent the weaving of the five elements. It is also the astrological symbol for the planet earth.
Often in magick, you’ll hear about going to the crossroads. The crossroads describes an intersection of worlds, the liminal place, betwixt and between, where gods and mortals can meet. In some folk traditions, you actually go find a place where two roads cross to work your magick. When witches cast a circle, we create an energetic construct of this very symbol at the macrocosm level – we carve out that sacred place between the worlds. Then we open the gates to the four elemental realms and evoke Deities and spiritual beings to join us on consecrated ground.
But the occult mystery is that the microcosm crossroads lies within yourself. In order to expand your consciousness into the greatness of cosmic-level divinity, you’ll have to take the deep dive within yourself.
“And thou who thinkest to seek Her, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not unless thou knowest the mystery; that if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, then thou wilt never find it without thee. For behold, She has been with thee from the beginning; and She is that which is attained at the end of desire.” Charge of the Goddess, Doreen Valiente sacred-texts.com
Jungian Psychology meets Wicca
The best resource I’ve found in understanding these mysteries is by Priestess and Jungian Psychologist, Vivianne Crowley. In her book Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Millennium. She interlaces these concepts of wholeness as enacted through the four functions of the the personality, the circle and four classical elements:
“The circle and four quarters are a pattern of perfection for the personality and provide a template for our psychological and spiritual growth. Our spiritual journey into the cores of our being, to our own inner Godhead, as we journey to wholeness. The circle cross of the four elements within the circle… is a symbol of this balance and wholeness. When we achieve balance, we stand in the centre of the circle, at the crossroads of the four functions. From this vantage point we can have a true and unbiased view of the world around us.” page 121
I interpret this to mean that our praxis of witchcraft first asks us to work toward balance via our correlations with the elements. We work toward well-rounded personalities, psychological development, and strengthening our physical bodies, minds, hearts and wills. In order to figure out our spiritual selves, we must first dig deep within, to master our incarnate selves. THEN we can tap our Divine potential. She goes on to say:
“Thus released from the distortions, and with our humanity made whole, we can seek the higher vantage point that lies in the third dimension above the central point. This is the point of the fifth element, the element of Ether. Ether lies beyond the four functions which are immanent in the material world. This is the element of the fifth and transcendent function, the world of the Divine Self.”
The Mechanics of Magick
Hermetic Alchemy: VII. THE PRINCIPLE OF GENDER. “Gender is in everything; everything has its Masculine and Feminine Principles Gender; manifests on all planes.” — The Kybalion.
“Everything, and every person, contains the two Elements or Principles…Every Male thing has the Female Element also; every Female contains also the Male Principle.”
As a panentheist, I see every spec of the universe as the Divine Body, immanent in nature. I connect to the transcendent consciousness of Divinity as The Two Who Move as One. We are made of Their Divine Love. Thus this principle tells me that I am also The Two Who Move as One. I believe that spiritual imbalance happens both when we forget our inherently divine nature, but also when we neglect either the god or goddess within ourselves.
Hermetic Alchemy: IV. THE PRINCIPLE OF POLARITY. “Everything is Dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled.” — The Kybalion.
Polarity and Gender are not an either/or toggle switch, it is a sliding scale. This has relatively little to do with our physical sex of phallus or yoni, so don’t get stuck there. We are ALL GOD/DESS, and the God/dess is every possibility of the rainbow, regardless of what’s in our britches. Rather than talking about what is masculine or feminine, I prefer to think in terms of projective and receptive.
Balancing Anima and Animus
Thus, the trick to balancing our Spiritual Bodies is to embrace both our projective sides, and receptive sides, and drag that slider closer to the middle. Carl Jung described our female/receptive sides as the anima and our male/projective sides as the animus. Leading from there, the journey is personal, complex and no two humans will have the same experience.
For example: While my body is female, and my sun, moon and ascendant are all in receptive (female) water and earth signs, every other thing is in the projective (masculine) signs of air and fire. This helps my balance a LOT. However, when I look carefully at my fears and my wounds, and what I consider my “shadows,” I discern that my primary personality strengths are indeed receptive/anima. Therefore, the contra-sexual side I need to embrace and strengthen, is my animus – my projective side. I need to cultivate and empower my inner GOD.
But that’s just me.
Exercise 1: Strengthening the Goddess – Anima
Vivianne Crowley suggests in Wicca, that the mystery for a predominantly “masculine” witch who seeks to know the goddess, is to stop hunting for Her, and invite her to emerge willingly, because she has “been with him from the beginning.” Their goal is to strengthen their emotional, creative, nurturing side. Perhaps they step back, cease striving, be silent, practice active listening; they create art, prepare food, explore their feelings in a journal and to loved ones; They nurture a garden, animals and children; they explore sensuality. They should pamper the body through grooming and preening because feeling outwardly beautiful is very important to self-love. Don’t believe me? Go watch Queer Eye on Netflix.
Exercise 2: Strengthening the God – Animus
Crowley also suggests that the mystery for the primarily “feminine” witch who seeks to know the God, is to cease waiting for a “knight in shining armor” to save them. They go forth on the perilous quest to seek out the wild God within themselves, because he is “that which is attained at the end of desire.” They strengthen their intellectual, leader, and warrior side; they speak up, speak out, strike out; they study, explore big cerebral ideas; they strive outwardly through activism and action; they engage the muscles, explore skills of the diplomat and defender…perhaps a martial arts class? Take a leadership position, go into business or politics, try your hand at ceremonial magick; indulge passions and sexuality.
We have been so long abused by this patriarchal culture which would deny women their intellect, and deny men their feelings – and deny anyone on the rainbow of non-binary gender expression any validation at all! The beautiful work of Witchcraft is to fulfill our own unique blend of spiritual wholeness so that we may have personal sovereignty and govern ourselves with “beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence,” as the incarnate God/desses we came here to be.
Witchy Rituals bring Spiritual Balance
Doing spiritual things with friends of like-mind can be fun and beneficial, even if you are primarily a solitary witch. Go check the message boards at a local metaphysical or witchy shop and see what meet-ups and drum circles may be afoot. Facebook groups abound, and can be helpful places to connect and share ideas. Is there a pagan student alliance at your school? Or how about a nearby Unitarian Universalist Church that may have a CUUPs chapter?
A witch’s rituals celebrate the tides of nature, according to the patterns of rhythm that repeat on all levels, microcosm to macrocosm. They are an external enactment meant to create internal changes. Must we hold some ancient ritual on Yule night to make the actual new sun rise again the next morning? Um, no. But witches choose to enact that Yule ritual, because we choose to engage, to observe, to invest time and energies into ourselves.
By celebrating the sabbats of the wheel of the year (solar holidays) and the esbats of the lunar phases of the month, we work on specific areas of balance within our anima and animus. We tap into the cycles of projective and receptive, of birth, growth, decline, and rest.
Exercise 3: Celebrate the Lunar tides – Engage the Goddess Within and Without
“Once in a month, and better it be when the moon is full, gather in some secret place…” Charge of the Goddess
Rituals that tap into Lunar tides are typically held at night, and explore the feminine, goddess energies. The moon reflects the light of the sun. She receives that power, and then mirrors it to guide us through the dark night.
“Soft of eye and light of touch, speak ye little, listen much
Deosil go by the waxing moon, sing and dance the Wiccan rune
Widdershins go by the waning moon, chanting out the baleful tune
When the Lady’s moon is new, kiss the hand to her times two
When the moon rides at Her peak, then the heart’s desire seek.” Wiccan Rede
At new moons I like to do some divination and quiet, devotional work. This is receptive, and non-striving for me. I try to “speak ye little, listen much.”
At full moons I like to work magick for change, and speak my “heart’s desire.” This is the projective side of the Goddess, as we birth into the world our creation. So, this is my time for spell-work and craftiness. Sometimes that is a full ceremonial esbat with the Coven. Other times that is a simple rite of offering a toast, or lighting a candle and just praying aloud at my altar.
Exercise 4: Celebrate the Solar tides – Engage the God Within and Without
Each sabbat, when enacted within the greater poetic system of the elemental lessons, becomes a step in an eight-part process of self-discovery and evolution that serves to balance all our selves. That is some powerful magick that transcends every other trapping of the “religion” of Wicca. How you do that ritual it is just the minutia, the point is to do something meaningful.
Projective: The light half of the year begins at Yule, the winter solstice and waxes in strength until Litha, the Summer Solstice. This is the mythos of God projecting into the physical world as the tides flow in. During this time we energize our projective sides as the sun climbs higher in the sky each day, the initiate and cultivate new Work, setting and working toward new personal goals. As the world bursts into life, bloom and fruit – we also project outward into the world and DO THE THINGS.
Receptive: The dark half of the year begins at Litha and wanes into darkness until Yule. This is the mythos of the god receding from the physical world. During this time the tides flow out, and we open our harvest baskets to begin receiving. As the nights lengthen, we harvest, take stock, give thanks and make offerings. After the final harvest of Samhain, we accept that death is a natural part of the process. We integrate what we’ve learned, and seek guidance for the darkness ahead, and then rest.
Visit a Spiritual Adviser for a Divination reading.
Although I read the cards for myself regularly, when the question requires more objectivity, I will seek out a reading from a trusted witch, priest or priestess. Cultivating a trusted relationship with a good adviser is invaluable.
Through our praxis of Witchcraft, we strive to achieve balance. By working ritual magick, we take our place at the crossroads, within and without. Through Spirit we elevate our consciousness to a higher view, from the vantage point of our eternal Godhead. Here we can have a broader view of the world around us. In these dark times we need balanced and powerful witches seeing the bigger picture, rising above all the divisiveness and doing the good work of healing and balance in our society. Thank you for reading, and thank you for witching; your work is important.
I am offering a workshop on this series at Mystic South Conference 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia.
The Pentacle Approach to Wellness: Balancing The Spiritual Body