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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."

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               "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

               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

               "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.

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               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."

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               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

               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

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               "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."

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               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!

                         Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 


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