I first encountered the Witch’s Pyramid in Dorothy Morrison’s book, The Craft: A Witch’s Book of Shadows. I don’t think that’s where it originated from, but that’s where I first came across it.
So what is the Witch’s Pyramid?
I interpret the witch’s pyramid in the same way as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. If you aren’t familiar with that, it is a pyramid that explains human behavior based on which needs are met – from our most primal instincts all the way up to our spiritual needs. You can read more about that here.
The witch’s pyramid has four (sometimes five) conditions that make it up. They are…
1. To know
2. To dare
3. To will
4. To be silent
5. To go
Now, these aren’t needs as we think of in the food pyramid, where you have to have a little bit of each on for your diet to be balanced. This is why I like the comparison to Maslow’s hiearchy better. The first level of the pyramid is “to know”. This is where you start, and you can’t move forward to the next level in the pyramid until you have mastered this one.
Now, some people interpret the pyramid differently, and that’s okay! Some people believe that the pyramid is a set of standards to be met by a witch – that each one needs to be understood before they can all work together for the witch. Yet another way of interpreting the Witch’s Pyramid is that each point makes up the corners of the pyramid as if it were standing on the ground, and the top makes up a fifth point – to go. We can talk about all of the ideas of belief, but let’s talk about each pyramid level first.
Like I explained in my podcast, one of the first things I believe you have to do as a new pagan (or someone coming back to paganism) is to know yourself, know your beliefs, and know your ‘whys’. You can’t begin to grow spiritually if you don’t have an understanding of why you do what you do and what you believe. This is why most of us elder pagans who have been practicing for a while like to encourage a never-ending stream of knowledge. Keep reading. Soak up all of the information you can. This also means learning about the land around you. What plants and herbs grow in your area? What about the local Land spirits? Also, know how to glean good information from bad information. Know how to cite your sources. Know how to research. Knowing in this context doesn’t just mean having knowledge of your craft, although that is important. Knowing, here, means knowing yourself as well.
Humans are fickle creatures, and we are blessed with the idea and feeling of fear. However, as witch’s, we can learn to work with that fear. How else can we move forward on our path in witchcraft? There will definitely be times you are afraid, but the difference is you have to be willing to move past that fear to get what you want or need. You have to dare to be yourself – to defy those around you who would rather you conform to their standard of living and beliefs (unless you’re a minor…I’ve talked about this). It takes courage and guts to move in the path of witchcraft. It isn’t all love, light, and rainbows. Sometimes it is crying in the middle of a ritual. It is fear of the unknown. It is the nervousness when approaching something new. It is the tooth and claw of the land and spirits around you when you don’t ask for permission before entering their space. To be a witch means to dare to be afraid, to dare to make mistakes, and to dare to keep learning.
There are a few schools of thought on the idea of magick and how spells are cast. There are those that believe your intent is everything, and then there are those that believe the ritual is the most important. I fall somewhere in the middle. Intent is important, yes, but so is the ritual and how the spell is cast. When you will something to happen, you are manipulating the energy around you to get what you want. As a witch, you must be willing to take a close look at your intents. If your will is not clear, thinks can get muddled and grey when you go to cast your spell and work your magick. If you don’t know what it is that you want, how can you expect to make the spell work properly? As a witch, energy manipulation is an important skill to learn. It aids in casting circles (if that’s your thing), meditation, and spellwork – plus a million other things that you will discover as you learn. It is a vital part of working magick, and you must be willing to look at your intents and make them as clear as you possibly can.
To be silent…
Sometimes we need to know when to keep our mouths shut. Some of us have trouble with that – me included – but there’s a good reason for this being included on the witch’s pyramid. Several, actually. Silence is golden. It is how we listen to the beings around us – the spirits, the animals, the Gods, the Land. It is also a method of listening to ourselves. During meditation, we can use the silence to our advantage by quieting our thoughts and simply allowing ourselves to be in the moment. I know it seems counterintuitive to listen to ourselves and quiet out thoughts at the same time, but once the silence takes over, our spirit and higher-self can communicate easily. It has a hard time breaking through the clutter of our daily lives and random thoughts, so silence is important. We also need silence when working magick. Now, not everyone believes in this way, and that’s okay, but I believe that you shouldn’t always tell others about magick that you are working. If you’re doing a spell, don’t brag about it to everyone else. Don’t talk about it with your friends or – even worse – strangers or people you don’t even know. We can’t possibly know the intentions of those around us, and when we have loose lips and blab about the magick we are working, those that have ill intentions can use that against us.
What’s the fifth point?
The fifth point on the witch’s pyramid isn’t one that I originally learned, but it stands for ‘to go’. This point is the top of the pyramid and means that once you have a solid foundation beneath you – the previous four points – you are ready to go forth and manifest the life you want to live.
So why is this important?
Even if you are a secular witch, the witch’s pyramid still holds good educational value. It isn’t the end-all-be-all of knowledge, but it gives a good starting point. Each corner of the pyramid is essential to the growth and development of a witch both spiritually and magickally. So take the, write them in your book of shadows if you want, but know what they are and what they mean. I first read about these more than ten years ago, and I still use them today when I’m met with a difficult situation.
Let’s take a look at two different pyramids so we have a visual if that’s helpful to you.
The first one looks like the food pyramid most of us are familiar with. To know is on the bottom and to go is on the top.
The second one looks like a 3D pyramid with four corners on the bottom and then the tip on the top. To know, to dare, to will, and to be silent make up the bottom four corners. To go is represented by the tip.
Both of these interpretations are correct, it just depends on what you believe. In the first image, you can’t move up to the next level of the pyramid until you’ve mastered the one beneath it. In the second, you can’t move on to the tip until you’ve mastered each corner.
Take some time to think about which version makes the most sense for you or, if you come up with a different explanation, that works, too.
In my humble opinion, the witch’s pyramid is an essential part of learning witchcraft. It should be written in your book of shadows in one form or another as you learn. It should be committed to memory as a reminder of why you do what you do, what you believe, and the cost of those beliefs.
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