Magic of the Iron Pentacle: Reclaiming Sex, Pride, Self, Power and Passion, by Jane Meredith and Gede Parma
Llewellyn Worldwide, 978-0-7387-4674-6, 239 pp., 2016
The teachings in Magic of the Iron Pentacle are a blend of workings from two related modern traditions of witchcraft: Anderson Feri and Reclaiming. In Reclaiming, a community-centred tradition that has been my path for a dozen years, the Iron Pentacle is usually taught experientially, in a group, over a period of weeks or months. With this book, Jane Meredith and Gede Parma have translated the group experience into a solitary format and by doing so have expanded the essential work of the Iron Pentacle to those outside the Reclaiming tradition.
The authors write that they “are astounded that such a useful, elegant, and powerful tool is not more widely known. This book is one of our offerings back to the Iron Pentacle, that it might get to share its adventures with different audiences.”1 They have definitely succeeded.
In Reclaiming, the Iron Pentacle is a core workshop that encourages examining, understanding, and repairing one’s inner landscape; engaging with those parts of ourselves that have been hidden, shamed, or negated by the overculture or our upbringing, and restoring them to fullness. Only in fullness can we effectively “unify spirit and politics… [and] use the skills we learn to deepen our strength, both as individuals and as community, to voice our concerns about the world in which we live, and bring to birth a vision of a new culture.”2
The Iron Pentacle is drawn figuratively on the body, with the head, hands and feet each corresponding to one of the points of the pentacle: Sex to the head, Pride to the right foot, Self to the left hand, Power to the right hand, and Passion to the left foot. When we “run iron,” we examine each point and run our energy through it, forming a continuous circuit. When we draw a circle around the pentacle, we form a pentagram through which we can examine relationships among neighbouring points. Each interrelationship deepens our self-knowledge, bringing to light parts of ourselves that have gone unnoticed before.
Jane Meredith and Gede Parma are Reclaiming teachers who have worked with the Iron Pentacle individually and together, and they examine each point in its own chapter. These chapters consist of an explanation of the point, authors’ memoirs, rituals, exercises, spells, trance work, and processes that allow the student to explore what each point means for them.
The remaining two chapters explain basic ritual practices, how to run iron, and two variations of the Iron Pentacle, the Rusted Pentacle and the Gilded Pentacle. Also included is a short explanation of the Pearl Pentacle, described as a “deepening, expansion, and consummation of the work of the Iron Pentacle. The Iron Pentacle is said to be the work of a lifetime, and the Pearl Pentacle is called the work of many lifetimes.”3
The Iron Pentacle is deep work, as you would expect the work of a lifetime to be. Meredith and Parma have done a masterful job translating this very experiential work into words, what could have been a daunting task if not for their intimacy with it. That comes through on every page. I have no way of knowing whether it was by design or happy accident that Meredith and Parma came to write this book together, but it was a brilliant idea. Their two voices lend the feeling of being in community while exploring the Iron Pentacle.
The alchemy contained in the Iron Pentacle comes from reflective self-examination, which is suited to a book format, and then combining those findings and feelings with feedback from the group. Different ways of thinking encourage greater insight and deeper ways of knowing, and allow physical, mental and emotional “kinks” to be worked out. The dual voices of the authors approximate this group experience, and it’s very effective.
The Iron Pentacle is a tool for empowerment, for self-knowledge, for physical magick. It is a way “to enliven and invigorate the places in us that general society does not validate or speak to directly in positive ways… It helps us to be disciplined and keeps us humble, for the work is never ending.”4
A dozen years ago, Iron Pentacle work helped me discover the truth of who I was, who I had been for many lifetimes, a truth that had lain hidden in my soul for almost 40 years. Perhaps Magic of the Iron Pentacle will do the same for you. I second Meredith and Parma when they wish you “Happy adventuring.”