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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."
                          Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 
                "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.
                          Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 
                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."
                          Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 
                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
                          Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 
                "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."
                          Last amended June 11, 1989  --  Page NEXTRECORD 
                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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