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The Pantacle - a teaching story 
(c) Gary Dumbauld, 1988 
 

               Michael came, walking slowly, purposefully, to the stone 
          circle deep in the woods.  Stripped of clothes he came, naked to 
          the wind the moon and the stars, a cord of red twice his height 
          tied round his waist, a black-hilted knife at his left hip.  He 
          tried to still his mind, remember his lessons, push his thoughts 
          to the back of his mind, and just feel; the feel of the Earth on 
          which he trod, the feel of the wind on his body, the feather- 
          weight touch of the moonlight on his skin.  He tried to put 
          himself in harmony with the grand design of the Universe, the 
          purpose of the evening, he willed himself sternly to master his 
          emotions, listen and look with sacred intent. 

               He came, bearing the pantacle before him, balanced firmly on 
          his hands.  Silver, it was, silver like the moon, carved and 
          etched, polished, burnished and blackened with signs and symbols. 
          How he had sweated over it, this past year, with hammer and 
          chisel, graver and burin, acids and wax, the tools of the 
          silversmith.  A year and a day it had been, since he was judged 
          worthy to become a Priest, and given this task.  His to carry, 
          this silver shield, but not his to own, till the rite was over 
          and he, like his father and mother before him, his aunts and 
          uncles and grandparents for generations, inherited by solemn and 
          sacred ceremony the High Priesthood of the Wise. 

               The High Priestess' athame pressed to his chest, her low, 
          clear voice as she asked him the ritual questions, roused him as 
          from a dream, of forest dark, and woods enchanted.   He answered 
          her with a voice not quite fearful, but not as steady as he would 
          have wished. 

               "I come to this Circle seeking knowledge.  I am Michael; my 
          face you well know; I have been sworn and initiated into the 
          Third Degree, but I would now seek the Priesthood of the Wise.  I 
          come, bringing as my key this sacred Pantacle, over which I have 
          labored for a year and a day; I wish to be instructed in it's 
          true meaning; to this end I present my self, the work of my 
          hands, and two passwords: Perfect Love and Perfect Trust." 

               "All who bring such words are doubly welcome" the High 
          Priestess replied, "and I give to you a third password, a kiss", 
          And so saying, kissed him on the lips and whirled him sunwise 
          into the sacred space.  He gazed about himself, his eyes sliding 
          easily over the usual implements on the altar, the candles and 
          wands, censer, bowls of incense and salt; he looked at the High 
          Priestess expectantly. 

               The High Priestess spoke again, her voice reverberating 
          through the circle, echoing back from the sacred boundary stones; 
          "A seeker comes; this his purpose.  The purpose of the Wise--to 
          teach!  As it has ever been, let it now so be done!  Who shall 
          begin?" 

               The Priest in the North stood forward.  "I shall begin.  Young 
          High Priest to be, step to the North." 

               Michael walked to the North, handed the Priest his Pantacle, and 
          stood silently while the Priest examined it, hoping that his work 
          would be judged as correct, hoping he had made an accurate 
          rendering of all the signs and symbols that he had been shown, a 
          year and a day previous. 

               The Priest carefully examined the pantacle, turning it about to 
          catch the light of the central fire, then handed it back to the 
          boy. 

               "It is well done, all is correct.  Look upon the symbol at 
          the top of the pantacle--the upright triangle.  This sign is the 
          symbol of fire, the flame straining upwards, and stands for the 
          three-fold salute, by which I now salute you, recognizing the 
          fire within you, the fire of will, the will to accomplish, the 
          will to dare.  A year ago you knew nothing of the craft of the 
          silversmith, and yet you have taught yourself to make this pan- 
          tacle.  I say again, well done!", and so saying, the Priest 
          touched Michael with his athame on the right shoulder, the top of 
          his head, the left shoulder, and again on the right shoulder. 
 

               Putting his arm around Michael's shoulder, the Priest brought 
          Michael around sunwards a few steps, then faced him again. 

               "The next symbol on the pantacle is a pentagram.  This 
          pentagram stands for the five-fold salute.  In the form of a 
          pentagram with one point up, the five-fold salute symbolizes that 
          which is the best man has to offer, ascending to the Gods, being 
          enriched, expanded and augmented, and returning to enrich the 
          life of mankind.  Thus, the five fold salute symbolizes the 
          microcosm of man containing the macrocosm of the Universe."   So 
          saying, the Priest touched Michael with the wand, on the right 
          hip, head, left hip, right breast, left breast, and right hip. 

               A priestess stepped forward, saying, "Now, with your 
          permission, I will carry on this candidate's instruction."  The 
          Priest bowed to her, and returned to his place in the North.  The 
          Priestess took Michael by the hand and walked with him farther 
          around the circle, still moving sunwards.  She stopped, released 
          his hand, and faced him, taking up a bowl of blue paint. 
          Stepping closer, she reached out her blue-daubed hand, and made 
          the sign of the labrys on his chest. 

               "The next symbol on the pantacle is that of the Goddess in 
          her aspect as the two moons, monthly waxing and waning.  The 
          waxing moon symbolizes that which is outgoing and constructive in 
          mankind, the waning moon that which is hidden and withdrawn.  The 
          waning moon also reminds us that for every accomplishment there 
          will be failures, that for every gain in our lives there will be 
          setbacks; we are not to weep and wail against the Gods, or fate, 
          or karma, but we should accept that there is a balance, and the 
          balance will be maintained, whether we will it or not. 
          Constructive and destructive, life and death--this is the way the 
          world is made; that which dies paves the way for the next round 
          of life." 

               The Priestess linked arms with him then, and they moved farther 
          sunwards about the circle.  She turned to him, and kissed him 
          firmly on the mouth, saying "The next symbol on the pantacle is 
          the kiss.  I kiss you, Michael, because we are human; the Gods 
          have created us male and female.  I also kiss you in token of the 
          perfect love and perfect trust I have for you, and for the 
          perfect love and perfect trust you declared for us when you 
          entered this holy space.  That is why you were greeted by the 
          High Priestess with a kiss." 

               Michael stood, blushing.  He could still taste the sweetness of 
          her mouth, and his body wanted to respond to her as man to 
          woman--it was well he was carrying the pantacle in front of him; 
          then he got himself under control, realizing the importance of 
          this lesson; the ritual kiss would always be more than a 
          handshake between equals, but never quite a sexual overture; an 
          acknowledgement, not a demand.  He sighed, composed himself, and 
          looked at the next sign on the pantacle. 

               A stern-looking Priest came towards Michael, his face set in grim 
          lines, carrying something Michael could not quite make out.  The 
          man faced Michael, then walked behind him, carrying what could 
          now be clearly seen as a cat o'nine tails.  Michael flinched in 
          anticipation of being struck; surely the Priest was not going to 
          whip him?  Ouch! Yes he was! 

               "Michael," the Priest said, between strokes, "the next sign 
          on the pantacle is the scourge.  The scourge of memory.  Stand 
          tall, now, and be still, it will hurt worse if you try to avoid 
          it." 

               Now he had stopped striking Michael with the scourge.  The welts 
          on his back stung and burned, but Michael tried to ignore the 
          pain and concentrate on the Priest's voice as he continued. 

               "Michael, you told us at your First Degree initiation that 
          you were willing to suffer to learn.  This scourge will not be 
          applied to your back again in a physical sense, but I want you to 
          learn to look back upon your life; and take power from the 
          foolish stupid things you have done.  The mistakes, the petty 
          jealousies, the little hurts you've inflicted on your friends, 
          your parents, the people around you.  Remember, Michael, and as 
          you remember, allow yourself to feel sad, to feel the pain and 
          embarrassment you've caused.  Feel it, take the power from it, 
          then let it go!  Go onward, take strength from your past, don't 
          dwell on it, but don't pretend the past never happened." 

               The Priest again stepped behind Michael, this time carrying a pot 
          of something in his hand.  Michael flinched again as something 
          touched his back, but this was cool and soothing, drawing out the 
          pain.  The Priest waited a few moments, till he saw that the 
          cooling balm had done its work, then took Michael gently by the 
          hand and drew him along, ever sunwards, to explain the next 
          symbol. 

               "The next symbol on the pantacle is the sign of the God, the 
          horned circle.  The horned circle represents, among other things, 
          the Cretan bull, annually sacrificed by our ancestors.  The bull 
          symbolizes the wild magic of the God, the intuitional magic, the 
          magic that springs from the instinct.  The Cretan priests 
          sacrificed the bull, thus indicating the triumph of reason and 
          intellect over instinct and intuition.  We, however are not 
          Cretans, and we do not immolate the bull of intuition on the 
          altar of reason.  Logic and reason are fine in their place, but 
          never neglect the way you feel; never forget that the universe is 
          a mixture, a combination, a melding of the tangible and the 
          unreal, instinct and logic.  Now I must retire, your instruction 
          will be completed by the High Priestess." 

               The High priestess approached Michael, walking slowly, 
          deliberately, each foot placed with purpose, her upright carriage 
          reminding him of her status, first among equals, High Priestess 
          of the Coven, the Circle of the Wise. 

               She stepped closer.  "Michael," she said, "the last symbol on the 
          rim of the pantacle is the inverted triangle, the alchemical 
          symbol of water; representing the number three, the number of 
          life.  It is a gate, a gateway of life, a gateway of time, for 
          time is past, present, and future; life is body, mind, spirit.  I 
          am about to bestow upon you, the three-fold kiss, to bring your 
          body, your past, your mind, the present, your spirit, and the 
          future to bear on this moment." 

               So saying, she bent and kissed him, first on the right shoulder, 
          then the left; kneeling she kissed him just above the phallus, 
          and then on his right shoulder again. 

               "Michael, you have now passed around the rim of the 
          pantacle, let us now move to the center, and I will instruct you 
          in the meaning of the central pentagram.  The pentagram in the 
          center of the pantacle is the sign of mankind.  If I stand thus, 
          with feet apart, hands stretched to the winds, head erect, the 
          pentagram will enclose my body.  We therefore can observe that 
          the pentagram in the center of the pantacle represents mankind in 
          the center of the universe, surrounded by Goddess and God; 
          blessings and reminders; past, present and future; good memories 
          and bad; light and life, love and law.  The central pentagram 
          therefore can serve as a reminder to us, that the Universe was 
          NOT made for man, man was made for the Universe." 

               She knelt at his feet, smiling, and kissed him, first on the 
          left foot, then the right, saying, "I bless your feet, Michael, 
          that have brought you in these ways, reminding you to be ever 
          ready to go on foot, to help, protect, and defend the brothers 
          and sisters of the Wise." 

               She kissed his knees, saying, "I bless your knees, reminding 
          you to ever go on bent knee in humility when supplicating the 
          Deities, that one who knows his own worth will gladly kneel in 
          order to learn." 

               She kissed his phallus, and said, "I bless and consecrate 
          the organ of generation, that in time you may know that love is 
          the great teacher of equality; love is the prime example of man 
          and woman as equals; two beings, alike in all ways, equal in all 
          ways, but totally different; one incomplete without the other; 
          forever opposite, but forever complimentary.  Indiscriminate sex 
          will gain you nothing, Michael, for though sex is magic, love is 
          the magician." 

               She kissed his right and left breast, saying "I bless your 
          breast, and remind you to keep within the safe repository of the 
          breast, the secrets of the Wise, as if under lock and key." 

               Then she kissed him on the mouth, and said, "I bless your 
          mouth, Michael; henceforth, as a High Priest, you will be a 
          teacher, and the words of your mouth, based in knowledge, 
          leavened with intuition and instinct, uttered with magical will, 
          shall live in the memory of the Wise.  Go forward, make your 
          progress, High Priest and Magus!