Originally, both the pentagram and the pentacle were words used to describe a five-pointed star. As time past, the two words took on different meanings. The pentagram continued to describe the star, where the pentacle describes the five-pointed star encased in a circle.
The pentagram and pentacle are symbols of magic. Each point of the star corresponds to one of the four elements, earth, air, fire and water and the top point represents spirit. Spirit usually points upwards. This represents wisdom and spirituality ruling over man or religious enlightenment before the material and the mundane. An inverted pentagram represents man and the material before spirituality.
The circle that surrounds the star in a pentacle has several meanings. Some believe it represents the universe. Others view it as the encompassing womb of the mother Goddess. Yet others link it with the circle of protection used during Ritual or magical workings.
Numerous people and religions throughout history have used the pentagram. The Ancient Mesopotamians were one of the first to utilize the pentagram. They used it as a Royal seal to represent their authority, which reached to the four corners of the Earth. The Ancient Greeks called it the Pentalpha, as it contains five “A’s” and considered the symbol a sign of perfection. The Gnostics related the pentagram to magic and the mysteries of the night and to the Druids it was a symbol of their Goddess and God. In Egypt, it stood for the “underground womb” and was connected with the great pyramids. To the Celtic people, the pentagram was a sign of the Goddess Morgan and during the medieval times, it was a symbol of truth and protection against evil. The Hebrew people associated it with truth and the first five books of the old testament of the Bible. Even early Christians used the pentagram; to them it represented the five wounds of Christ.
During the Inquisition and the Witch Trials, the pentagram was much slandered and maligned. The ancient symbol that had always represented truth, protection, spirituality and the creative power, all of sudden turned into something sinister and diabolical. Much like the Pagan Horned Gods, such as Pan, the Pentagram became associated with Satan and for the first time in its long history was viewed as evil.
For fear of persecution, followers of the old religions went underground and took their symbols with them. They stayed hidden until well into the 19th Century. The pentacle re-emerged in the mid 1900s, becoming a symbol for Wiccans, Witches and other Pagans. Unfortunately, the Church of Satan also adopted the symbol. The Satanic Church used the inverted pentacle to represent their Deity. Modern-day Pagans, who did not want to be associated with Satanists, began to relate the inverted pentagram with dark magic and the upright pentagram with good.
The antiquity of the pentagram is certain, though its meanings and associations have changed and evolved over time. Today it is a widespread symbol used by Pagans throughout the world. To them it is a protective symbol associated with magic and spirituality. Sadly, Hollywood has done much to malign the pentacle, using it in numerous horror movies, further associating it with Satan worship and demons. It is a shame that such an Ancient and sacred symbol is so misunderstood.
Written by Patricia Cartwright
Freelance writer and Artist, Dog rescue worker and enthusiast
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