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Elemental Witchcraft for Reconciling Divine Paradox

Elemental Witchcraft for Reconciling Divine Paradox December 5, 2021

My forthcoming book, Elemental Witchcraft, is a magickal map to balance and wholeness as a five-fold being here on planet earth. I call that balancing journey the Pentacle Path. This panentheistic tradition of Modern Witchcraft is based in Hermetic philosophy, whose magick attempts to reconcile the “divine paradox” created when God/dess emerged into the material world and their oneness was cast into the illusion of our separateness. The paradox lies between the absolute truth of the God/dess and the relative truth perceived by every iota of matter, organism and individual in the cosmos. Those seemingly opposing truths create a tension that Elemental Witchcraft may reconcile.

Elemental Witchcraft for Reconciling Divine Paradox

In the book, I present this thealogy of the Pentacle Paths to the witchery for your consideration. I organized the elemental lessons for earth, air, fire, water and spirit using the metaphor of the witch’s encircled five-pointed star, the pentacle. Then, like the five strokes drawn in that star, I named the mysteries of those paths for the qualities embodied by the Witch’s altar tools. I took inspiration for these path names from author Christopher Penczak on page 163 of his book Outer Temple of Witchcraft where he wrote: “The four tools of the elements symbolize the most important internal ingredients–will, truth, love, and sovereignty.” Spirit’s path of completion was inspired by Vivianne Crowley’s discussion in chapter 12 of her book Wicca: The Old Religion for the New Millennium.

Below you’ll find excerpts from my new book as a teaser to that release, now expected for late December 2021.

Pentacle Paths of Elemental Witchcraft by Heron Michelle

Earth’s Pentacle Path of Sovereignty

Elemental earth’s paradoxes are reconciled along the Path of Sovereignty. Practical magick of this path asserts our own authority over our lives and establishes our self-sufficiency. We take responsibility to become a beneficial steward of the earth throughout our sphere of influence.  Earth’s projective lesson is one of silence and stillness.[10] Where we shut up, pay attention, and hold open space for the incoming bounties we’ve been manifesting. Earth’s receptive lesson is one of resonance. When we look to the future and ask what’s next through divination and prayer. We seek the next Great Work intention, then we strike the cosmic gong of possibility and tune into the new frequency.

The Sovereignty Paradox: Independence vs. Interdependence

“While sovereignty in that definition above may seem like a solitary, every-Witch-for-themselves pursuit, the mystery teaching cannot stop there. Such radical independence might isolate a Witch with the lonely assumption that we are separate, abandoned to fend for ourselves. The paradox is that witches also affirm our interdependence within God/dess, the matrix weaving us together. While manifested on earth, we are tasked to govern our personal patch of that matrix.

Yet, as the old adage reminds us all, “With great power comes great responsibility.” The key to the personal sovereignty paradox is that we are interconnected through Divine Love of the God/dess. This unconditional love is perfect and fulfills the nine Divine Love Conditions for everyone as our sacred rights. Through the Witchcraft praxis of union, we discover that separateness is the illusion. Me, my neighbor, that tree, the dirt, the ocean, the air, and all the creatures who dwell within the three worlds are all fundamentally interdependent aspects within the wholeness of God/dess. After that realization, sovereignty becomes the easy choice to fully participate in that wholeness as stewards of Divine Love; this is our God/dess’ commission.

Interdependent sovereignty means there are no excuses for harmful behavior, including self-harm, or by participating in the injustices of a dominator society. The paradigm of Divine Love has no scapegoats and no elite “chosen people.” Once you take possession of your rightful crown, you internalize your source of control and then put that control to beneficial use. Think about interdependent sovereignty like this: We are all here to make this bed we are sleeping in together. The more comfortable the bed we all make, the better we all sleep.” ~Chapter 12 of Elemental Witchcraft by Heron Michelle

Elemental Earth and Path of Sovereignty symbols on Heron’s Altar

Air’s Pentacle Path of Truth

Elemental Air’s paradoxes are reconciled along the Path of Truth. Air’s projective mysteries are of knowing, so practical magick of this path encourages research, academic learning, and personal exploration to both “know thyself” intuitively and well-educate yourself about the world in which you live. The receptive mysteries come from airy wonderment through questioning, experimentation, and discovery. The very definition of “occult” is that there are hidden meanings beneath the surface of the obvious. You are responsible for what you “believe” to be true. You can change your mind, evolve, differ from your family or neighbors, and all of you remain respectful and at peace, so long as there’s no harm being done.

The Truth Paradox: Absolute vs. Relative

“In The Kybalion: A Hermetic Philosophy, a teaching about truth emerges from the Hermetic Principle of Polarity, which states “all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled.”[1] Hermeticists call this the “divine paradox” between the absolute and relative truths.[2] If everything in the universe is a dream within the Divine Mind and our material separateness is an illusion, then we arrive at an absolute truth: the only thing objectively “real” is the God/dess as a whole. Whatever God/dess knows would be an ineffable, absolute truth. However, there must be the polar opposite side of truth too. Everything humans understand to be “true” here in the Middleworld with our finite minds and our best attempts at reasoning with mortal senses is a relative truth. What we perceive to be relatively true is based on our point of perspective: what is obvious, touchable, provable, measurable?

For magick ever to become objectively “real,” the Witch is reminded in The Kybalion to “beware half-truths.”[3] An example of this paradox of truth is in the relative illusion of our material separateness, which is subject to time and impermanence, as opposed to the absolute reality of our spiritual oneness within God/dess, immortal and infinite. This may seem impossible to comprehend, but science presents us with a similar example in the structure of the atom. Matter, which humans perceive as being relatively solid and still, is scientifically affirmed to be mostly empty space, information, and forces that are in constant motion. Electrons are both particles and waves of potential.[4] Both are true at the same time in varying degrees. The paradox can be reconciled, but the mental flexibility we call wonderment allows us to consider more than one perspective at the same time. Embrace a subjective reality. Occult studies start with knowing the obvious, observable, scientifically describable relative truth of the Middleworld. Then they spiritually seek the hidden, opposite, absolute truth on the flip side of the obvious, or what I call the is-ness. From this balanced search for the whole truth, witches derive our own beliefs, as revealed through the course of our practices.” ~Chapter 13 Elemental Witchcraft by Heron Michelle

Air Path of Truth Elemental Witchcraft Heron Michelle
Elemental Air and Path of Truth Symbols on Heron’s Altar

Fire’s Pentacle Path of Power

Elemental Fire’s paradoxes are reconciled along the Path of Power. Fire’s projective mystery is about our will. Truly powerful people align their personal ego within the fires of Divine Will to achieve their sacred mission. We apply the fires of Will when we go and do things that further our witching sovereignty (earth) and strive toward our ideals (air), when we see an issue that needs improvement, take the lead, rally others to help, and work together to change it (fire).Fire’s receptive mystery is about surrender, feeding the forge fires of your will. We let go of the old forms, obsessions and addictions which hinder our progress, like the snake shedding a skin that is too small.

The Power Paradox: Domination vs. Cooperation

“The paradox of power that Elemental Witchcraft can help to reconcile lies on the range of polarity between the domination and cooperation models of “control” that we’ve been exploring throughout this work. The power of the God/dess in equal balance is distinguished by how all beings are interconnected within nature (earth), how the Divine Love of the God/dess drives diverse relationships (water), and how we can wondrously imagine new solutions to shared problems within Divine Mind (air). The path of power teaches that the most internally powerful people are most aligned within Divine Will (fire). This results in a sacred mission that tends to foster personal empowerment in others. In other words, the most spiritually powerful people have the most cooperative power-sharing partnerships and tend to be the most peaceful, which is the paradox! The mystery lies in the location from whence that person derives their power: internally or externally.

Sue Mehrtens of the Jungian Center writes about how similar this power sharing is to the sharing of love: “Our society regards power as a ‘zero-sum thing.’ That is, if I have power, then you don’t. If you have it, then I don’t. But in reality power is like love: the more we share it and empower others, the more power there is in the world.” [5] This describes the ultimate goal of the Hermetic Great Work of Magick. First, we empower ourselves from within, then we share that wisdom to jointly solve the big problems, helping others. Internalizing our power is a process of growing up.” ~ Chapter 14 Elemental Witchcraft by Heron Michelle

Elemental Fire Path of Power Elemental Witchcraft Heron Michelle
Elemental Fire and Path of Power symbols on Heron’s Altar

Water’s Pentacle Path of Love

Elemental Water’s paradox is reconciled along the Path of Love. Water’s projective mystery is one of daring, smashing through emotional barriers to make way for the fulfillment of your Great Work. Water’s receptive mysteries are of accepting emotional conditions that are beyond our control, and settling into the new mold that is coming into form around us. Water is about boundary definition and tending, and ensuring that our relationships are trustworthy, nurturing and reciprocal.

The Love Paradox: Love vs. Fear

What is Divine Love? Witches seek to reconcile the paradox between unconditional or perfect Divine Love of the God/dess and the necessary conditions of human relationships as we navigate the illusion of our separateness.

Going back to the God/dess’ Thealogy of Perfection in chapter three, the paradox resolved by the path of love is Perfect Love versus  fear of a lack of love. It all comes down to how we experience the nine Divine Love Conditions and the fear that arises from not having them. When those fears come true, our hearts are wounded, which is why we call emotional pain being “heartbroken.” To be denied these basic human needs for too long is traumatizing. That trauma causes anxiety and anger. That anger twists and festers inside us until it emerges at paranoia and hatred.

Fear of a lack of love too often leads to abusive relationships where bigotry, hostility, and aggression dam up the waters of Divine Love. Like wounded animals, sometimes folks lash out and impose the same transgressions that they’ve suffered onto other people. This is their pitiable way of either getting what they need the hard way or exacting revenge as a means to lessen their pain. The deprivation of Divine Love is how bullies are made. Wounded people tend to wound other people…

Mahatma Gandhi is credited as saying, “The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.[7] Folks hate what they fear, and that fear, on some level, comes from the wounds inflicted by a lack of Divine Love: resources, affection, free-will, acceptance, security, trustworthiness, expression, authenticity, reciprocity. The divine paradox holds in the balance two simultaneous truths: we are unified within one God/dess of unconditional Divine Love, and we are separate individuals upon the material plane, and healthy relationships must hold safe boundaries that do not transgress our diversity and individuality. A way to show unconditional love for anyone who violates your healthy boundaries is at a peaceful distance that you are allowed to define. In witching terms, through the promise of Perfect Love and Perfect Trustworthiness.

To realize this universal truth allows us to remain centered in compassion, thus reconciling the paradox. Elemental water grants us permission to fully accept ourselves and all others for exactly as we are, without judgment. Elemental water also grants us permission to redefine the societal landscape to be radically inclusive, ensuring that unconditional Divine Love…is accessible by all beings. We can include everyone without kill-or-be-killed ranking through a competition for resources. In this way, the paradox between unity within God/dess and diversity upon earth is also embraced. ~ Chapter 15 Elemental Witchcraft by Heron Michelle

Elemental Water Path of Love Elemental Witchcraft Heron Michelle
Elemental Water and Path of Love symbols on Heron’s Altar

Spirit’s Pentacle Path of Completion

The paradox of spirit is a little different than the other elemental mysteries. Spirit in alchemical terms is often called “quintessence” or the fifth element which arises as the synergy of the other four. It is the balance of the Goddess and God within every being in a unique blending of projective (god) and receptive (goddess) attributes. The magick of completion is to realize that divine gender and human gender have always been a spectrum, not a toggle switch. We must integrate our primary gender identity with the rest of our range of gender identity, to discover the full rainbow of our potential. In completion we are fully empowered; Anima and animus, sexual and contra-sexual aspects of ourselves may be peacefully reconciled in wholeness.

The Completion Paradox: Unity vs. Diversity

“The paradox reconciled through Spirit’s completion resolves the polarity of unity and diversity. Once more, this mystery teaching goes back to the “divine paradox” between the absolute truth and the relative truth of God/dess; between the monolith oneness (Hermeticists call the One only One) and the simultaneous radical diversity of individuals incarnated into this apparent separateness. To reconcile this paradox, we must hold as equally evident that 1) every possible thing, seen and unseen, sentient and otherwise, is absolutely one being: Divine Love. Therefore, no kind of person is greater-than or lesser-than anyone else manifested on earth. There could be no superior race, no dominant sex, no “chosen people.” 2) The ultimate purpose is to parse God/dess into diverse individual forms to discover the relative truths in every nitty-gritty nook and cranny of possible make, model, identity, lifestyle, and demographic. Nature is compelled to seek further diversification!

The illusion of our separateness serves the very useful purpose of relationship. We create ripples of interference patterns as we interact with each other, whether that be love or tension, and God/dess learns from those interactions. As we awaken into the absolute truth of our unity, we naturally evolve into inclusivity of relative truths too. All bigotry and phobias about each other fall away. In this way, the paradox between unity within God/dess and diversity upon earth can be equally embraced. In Oneness we are a beautiful kaleidoscope of diversity.” ~ Chapter 16 Elemental Witchcraft by Heron Michelle

Spirit Altar
Heron’s Yule Altar with Goddess and God in Balance

The Path of Return

The path of return is symbolized as the circle around the pentacle and our wholeness within God/dess. In Hermetics, this is the long journey through all our many incarnation since the dawn of the cosmos, returning back to our source of Divine Love and bringing with us all that we’ve learned through incarnation.

“The path of return refers to the natural return of consciousness back to its Source, to eventually re-merge with the God/dess. Like a homing beacon, after our spirits incarnate here in the Middleworld, we instinctively seek reunion with the wholeness that our dreaming minds remember from before the womb. The work of the initiate of these mysteries is to awaken from spiritual slumber, to surrender attachment to our limited human egos, so that we may rediscover our divine nature and somehow ease the ache of separation we feel on earth…

It is said that due to the transient nature of the elements, the four major existential fears that humans face are these: a fear of death, a fear of responsibility for themselves and their own freedom, a fear of aloneness, and a fear of meaning.[8] The difference between the esoteric (inner) paths and exoteric (outer) paths is whether you’re seeking salvation from these fears from an outside source or from within yourself.

Characteristics of progress along this path of return would look like internalized loci of control, authority, and security. That internal power would be harmonious with nature, unassuming and humble, gentle but fierce. I think these qualities describe a witch who is “soft of eye an light of touch,” someone who speaks little and listens much.[9] Someone who
is fully present to win, doesn’t burn the Witch, is the solution to the problem, and is a strong link in the chainmail of our society.” ~Chapter 17 Elemental Witchcraft by Heron Michelle

Find Out More

For an in-depth exploration of the history, thealogy and elemental mysteries of The Pentacle Path described above, check out my book “Elemental Witchcraft: A Guide to Living a Magickal Life Through the Elements” from Llewellyn Worldwide Publishing (Due out late December 2021). In those pages you’ll find many illustrations and exercises, with formulary craftings, Hermetic witchcraft rituals with guided journeys, and planetary magick spells for balancing each element and the Goddess and God within. They are adaptable for witches at every level of attainment. Signed copies of my book, and the candle wrap stickers pictured above are available for purchase and shipping within the US on my website: www.thesojo.com/webshop

Cover of Elemental Witchcraft by Heron Michelle

Footnotes:

[1] Atkinson, William Walker (Three Initiates). The Kybalion: The Definitive Edition. Edited
by Philip Deslippe. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2008. Page 67.

[2] Atkinson, Chapter 6, The Kybalion.

[3] Atkinson, The Kybalion, 98.

[4] Described by the Double-Slit experiment; Glenn Stark, “Light,” Encyclopedia Britannica, updated October 29, 2020, https://www.britannica.com/science/light/Youngs-double-slit-experiment.

[5] Mehrtens, Sue. “How to Internalize a Locus of Control, a Locus of Authority and a
Locus of Security: A Follow-Up Essay.” Jungian Center for the Spiritual Sciences.
Accessed April 30, 2020. https://jungiancenter.org/hot-to-internalize-a-locus-ofcontrol/.

[6] Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 2.

[7]  Attributed to Mahatma Gandhi.

[8]. Urvun D. Yalom, Existential Psychotherapy, cited by Mark Stavish, M.A. “Problems on the Path of
Return: Pathology in Kabbalistic and Alchemical Practices.” Accessed February, 12, 2020. https://hermetic.
com/stavish/essays/problems-return.

[9] Mathiesen, Robert, and Theitic. The Rede of the Wiccae: Adriana Porter, Gwen Thompson

and the Birth of a Tradition of Witchcraft. Providence, RI: Olympian Press, 2005. Pages 52–53.

[10] The four projective lessons are traditionally called The Four Powers of the Sphinx and originated with Levi, Eliphas. Transcendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Ritual. Translated by A. E. Waite. York, ME: RedWheel/Weiser, 1972. Page 30. The four receptive lessons were originally presented as “Widdershins Spirals” by Roderick, Timothy. Dark Moon Mysteries: Wisdom, Power, and Magic of the Shadow World. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1996. Page 79.

About Heron Michelle
Heron Michelle is a witch, high priestess and author of the forthcoming book, Elemental Witchcraft, to be released Dec. 8, 2021 through Llewellyn Publishing. She is a co-founder of The Sojourner Tradition of Modern Witchcraft, a mom of two, Reiki Master, tarot card diviner, clairvoyant and shopkeeper living in Greenville, North Carolina. Check out her website for social media connections and content creations at heronmichelle.com. You can read more about the author here.

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