Pentagrams: Meaning and History
A reference file from the alt.magick hierarchy.
REF: Pentagrams (meaning, history, etc.)
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The pentagram has long been associated with mystery and magic. It is
the simplest form of star shape that can be drawn unicursally - with a
single line - hence it is sometimes called the Endless Knot. Other
names are the Goblin's Cross, the Pentalpha, the Witch's Foot, the
Devil's Star and the Seal of Solomon (more correctly attributed to the
It has long been believed to be a potent protection against evil and
demons, hence a symbol of safety, and was sometimes worn as an amulet
for happy homecoming. The old folk-song : "Green Grow the
Rushes,O!" refers to the use of the pentagram above doors and
windows in the line: "Five is the symbol at your door."
The potency and associations of the pentagram have evolved throughout
history. Today it is an ubiquitous symbol of neo-pagans with much
depth of magickal and symbolic meaning.
The Pentagram through History.
The pentagram symbol today is ascribed many meanings and deep
significance, though much of this is very recent. However, it has been
used throughout history and in many contexts:
* The earliest known use of the pentagram dates back to around
3500BC at Ur of the Chaldees in Ancient Mesopotamia where it was
symbolic of imperial power.
* Amongst the Hebrews, the symbol was ascribed to Truth and to the
five books of the Pentateuch. It is sometimes, incorrectly, called
the Seal of Solomon (see Hexagram).
* In Ancient Greece, it was called the Pentalpha, being
geometrically composed of five A's. Unlike earlier civilizations,
the Greeks did not generally attribute other symbolic meanings to
the letters of their alphabet, but certain symbols became
connected with Greek letter shapes or positions (eg Gammadion,
* To the Gnostics, the pentagram was the 'Blazing Star'.
* For the Druids, it was a symbol of Godhead.
* In Egypt, it was a symbol of the 'underground womb'.
* The Pagan Celts ascribed the pentagram to the underground goddess
* Medieval Christians attributed the pentagram to the Five Wounds of
* The Christian Emperor Constantine I used the pentagram, together
with the chi-rho symbol in his seal and amulet.
* In the legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the pentagram
was Sir Gawain's glyph, inscribed in gold on his shield,
symbolizing the five knightly virtues.
* In Medieval times, the 'Endless Knot' was a symbol of Truth and
was a protection against demons. It was used as personal
protection and to guard windows and doors.
* The pentagram with one point upwards symbolized summer; with two
points upwards, it was a sign for winter.
+ During the long period of the Inquisition, the pentagram was
seen to symbolize a Goat's Head. In the purge on witches, the
horned god Pan became equated with the Devil (a Christian
concept) and the pentagram, for the first time in history
became a symbol of 'evil' and was called the Witch's Foot.
* In the emergence of Hermeticism, graphical symbolism became very
important. The concept of the microcosmic world of Man as
analogous to the macrocosm, the greater universe of spirit and
elemental matter is a part of traditional occult teaching in both
western and eastern philosophies. "As above, so below."
The pentagram, the 'Star of the Microcosm', symbolized Man within
the microcosm, representing in analogy the Macrocosmic universe.
The upright pentagram bears some resemblance to the
shape of man with his legs and arms outstretched; indeed an
illustration attributed to Agrippa or to Tycho Brae (1582)
illustrates the similarity of proportion in this image, showing
the five planets and the moon at the center point - the genitalia.
There are other illustrations of the period by Robert Fludd and
Leonardo da Vinci showing geometrical relationships of man to the
+ Later, the pentagram came to be symbolic of the relationship
of the head to the four limbs and hence of the pure
concentrated essence of anything (or the spirit) to the four
traditional elements of matter. - [Quintessence]
* In Freemasonry, Man as Microprosopus was associated with the
five-pointed Seal of Solomon. The symbol was used, interlaced and
upright for the sitting Master of the Lodge. The geometric
properties and structure of the Endless Knot were appreciated and
symbolically incorporated into the 72 degree angle of the
* The women's branch of freemasonry uses the five pointed 'Eastern
Star' as its emblem. Each point commemorates a heroine of biblical
+ No graphical illustration of any association of the pentagram
with evil appears until the nineteenth century. Eliphas Levi
illustrates the upright pentagram of microcosmic man beside
an inverted pentagram with the goat's head of Baphomet.
In ritual magick the sign has long been used as a ritual flourish
of the athame to symbolize invoking or banishing in respect to
* In the 1940's Gerald Gardner adopted the pentagram with two points
upward as the sigil of second degree initiation in the newly
emergent, neo-pagan rituals of witchcraft, later to become known
as Wicca. The one-point upward pentagram together with the upright
triangle symbolized third degree initiation.
* The pentagram was also inscribed on the altar pentacle, it's
points symbolizing the three aspects of the Goddess plus the two
aspects of the God.
* It was not until the late 1960's that the pentagram again became
an amuletic symbol to be worn and has since then become firmly
established as a common neo-pagan and Wiccan symbol, acquiring
many aspects of mystique and associations that are today often
considered to be ancient folk-lore!
Nevertheless, the potency of a symbol has more to do with its
associations and its commonality than with its antiquity and the
pentagram today is ubiquitous amongst neo-pagans.
Symbolic Meanings of the Pentagram.
* The number '5' has always been regarded as mystical and magical,
yet essentially 'human'.
+ We have five fingers/toes on each limb extremity.
+ We commonly note five senses - sight, hearing, smell, touch
+ We perceive five stages or initiations in our lives - e.g..
birth, adolescence, coitus, parenthood and death. (There are
other numbers/ initiations/stages/attributions).
* The number 5 is associated with Mars. It signifies severity,
conflict and harmony through conflict.
* In Christianity, five were the wounds of Christ on the cross.
* There are five pillars of the Muslim faith and five daily times of
* Five were the virtues of the medieval knight - generosity,
courtesy, chastity, chivalry and piety as symbolized in the
pentagram device of Sir Gawain.
* The Wiccan Kiss is Fivefold - feet, knees, womb, breasts, lips -
The number 5 is prime. The simplest star - the pentagram- requires
five lines to draw and it is unicursal; it is a continuous loop.
Expressing the saying "Every man and every woman is a star",
we can juxtapose Man on a pentagram with head and four limbs at the
points and the genitalia exactly central. This is Man in microcosm,
symbolizing our place in the Macrocosm or universe and the
Hermetic/Tantric philosophy of associativity - "As above, so below".
The geometric proportions of the regular pentagram are those of the
* The Golden Proportion is one beloved of artists since Renaissance
times, being those of a rectangle considered most pleasing in
proportion. Here, the ratio of the lengths of the two sides is
equal to the ratio of the longer side to the sum of the two sides.
a/b = b/a+b = a+b/a+2b = a+2b/2a+3b = 2a+3b/3a+5b ....etc.
* If a square is added to the long side of a golden rectangle, a
larger golden rectangle is formed. Continuing this progression
forms the basis for a nautilus spiral.
* The ratio of the distance between two points of a pentagram to its
total width is in the golden proportion, as is the ratio of the
height above the horizontal bar to that below, as is the ratio of
a central part of a line to the outer part.
* This ratio forms the foundation of the Fibonacci series of numbers
1,1,2,3,5,8,13,21,34,55,89,144, etc where each number is formed by
adding the previous two numbers.
* The Fibonacci series is much found in nature in the pattern
arrangement of flower heads and leaves and many flower heads and
fruits themselves exhibit a fivefold symmetry.
* The pentagram has long been believed to be a potent protection
against evil, a symbol of conflict that shields the wearer and the
* The pentagram has five spiked wards and a womb shaped defensive,
protective pentagon at the center.
* There are five elements, four of matter (earth, air, fire and
water) and THE quintessential - spirit. These may be arrayed
around the pentagrams points.
+ The word 'quintessential' derives from this fifth element -
* Single point upwards signifies the spirit ruling matter (mind
ruling limbs); is a symbol of rightness. With two points up and
one (spirit) downwards, subservient, the emphasis is on the carnal
nature of Man.
* Tracing a path around the pentagram, the elements are placed in
order of density - spirit (or aether). fire, air, water, earth.
Earth and fire are basal, fixed; air and water are free, flowing.
* These point attributions are used in ritually inscribing, as a
flourish of the hands or the athame, different forms of pentagram
for invoking or banishing (grounding) each of the elementals
according to the nature of the ritual. The line traces as
illustrated for earth (the last stroke is optional).
Another way of seeing this path is as Man's spiritual journey through
evolution. The spark of Life descending from God, the divine source of
life to the simplest embryonic form (earth), rising to flow (water -
air) on our plane of existence (compare with the intonation of the AUM
mantra), then again descending to the fire of purification before
again rising as a divine spark to find again his spiritual source.
* The pentagram may be shown as an interlaced line symbolic of the
web-weaving power of magick. The descending spirit-earth line may
pass under (male) or over (female) the water-air line to give two
slightly differing forms.
* A pentagram may be open, without a surrounding circle. This is the
active form symbolizing an outgoing of oneself, prepared for
conflict, aware, active. (One wearing an open pentagram must be
physically aware of the danger of sharp points sticking in their
skin from time to time !)
* A circle around a pentagram contains and protects. It is the
passive form implying spiritual containment of the magic circle.
The circle also represents eternity and infinity.
* The pentagram may be inverted with one point down. The implication
is of spirit subservient to matter, of man subservient to his
* The inverted pentagram has come to be seen by many pagans as
representing the dark side and it is abhorred as an evil symbol.
Fundamental Christians, indeed, see any form of pentagram as such.
* However, these are recent developments and the inverted pentagram
is the symbol of Gardnerian second degree initiation, representing
the need of the witch to learn to face the darkness within so that
it may not later rise up to take control.
* The center of a pentagram implies a sixth formative element -
love/will which controls from within, ruling matter and spirit by
Will and the controlled magickal direction of sexual energies.
This is another lesson of initiation.
In physical form, the pentagram may be worn as an amulet - as
jewelry - pendant, ring, earrings, buckle, etc....
firstname.lastname@example.org (lionel pepper)
- The earliest recorded use of the pentagram as a mystical symbol was by
the Gnostics, who called it the Blazing Star. It was also considered by
Christians during the middle ages to be a symbol of the Five Wounds of
Christ, and used as a protective glyph, generally as a variation on the
Seal of Solomon (a Star of David within a circle).
- The association of the pentagram with non-Christian belief, and its
modern "elemental" analysis, were evidently introduced during the
revival of occultism in the 17th and 18th centuries. The Masons and
similar groups such as the OTO took it up--for example, A.E. Waite is
the person who introduced the symbol into the Tarot deck, replacing
the traditional suit of Coins.
- The use of the "inverted" pentagram to denote evil is a quite recent
usage, and first appears in the works of Eliphas Levi. He is also the
source of the "goat's head" glyph. Before this, neither orientation
had evil connotations per se.
- The modern pagan movement picked up the pentagram as part of a general
borrowing from earlier "occult" usage, and Wicca in particular has
taken it up as an explicit denotational symbol, similar to the
cross, the Thor's hammer, and so on.
According to my own research so far:
The categorization of the "inverted" (one-point-down) pentagram as
"evil" vs. the "upright" (one-point-up) pentagram as "good"
originates in the writings of Eliphas Levi in the 19th Century, most
notably the works "The History of Magic" and "Doctrine and Ritual of
Transcendental Magic." He is also the originator of the now-infamous
goat's head glyph. Eliphas Levi (actually the pen name of Alphonse
Louis Constant, a French Catholic deacon) was one of a number of
writers who constituted a reaction against 18th century rationalism.
His works have had a lasting effect on French magical traditions, and
were instrumental in the development of the Tarot as a serious tool of
Hermetic magic, despite its humble beginnings in Gypsy fortune-telling.
Levi was the first Hermetic writer to assign an elemental (or perhaps
more accurately, alchemical) meaning to the pentagram, which before
him had been used principally as a protective glyph denoting the five
wounds of Christ (and as such, occurs in both orientations in Gothic
cathedrals and cloisters all across Europe)).
Now, I would be more than interested to hear about evidence that
contradicts the derivation I give above; however, I have yet to come
across any "evil" connotations of the pentagram, or the orientation
thereof, that predate Eliphas Levi (who lived from 1810-1875).
This is not to say that his analysis is nonsense--far otherwise, in
fact. If you apply his elemental attributions to the points of the
figure, the orientation does indeed profoundly affect the resulting
connotations. However, it is a mistake to believe that this
interpretation is any more "traditional" than 150 or so years, or for
that matter particularly pagan. It has, however, been picked up by
modern paganism, and has been (comparatively speaking) neglected by
modern hermeticism, which has focused primarily on the Tarot and the
Amanda Walker (email@example.com) writes:
|Eliphas Levi is the earliest source I have yet found in European
|esotericism which gives the points of the star an elemental attribution
This was probably derived from Tycho Brahe's _Calendarium Naturale
Magicum Perpetuum..._, the ancestor of _Liber 777_ and many other works
of that sort. Although the Calendarium does not show a pentagram
marked with the elements, the row "Quinarius denari ..." shows all
the details: a pentagram with human body imposed, Hebrew for YHSVH,
and the elements associated. That's 1582 e.v. Other, later sources
also have the material. Looking to either the _Picatrix_ or the
writings of Petro de Abano might turn up earlier European usage.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Bill Heidrick)
In the book Symbols of t Prehistoric Mesopotamia by Beatrice Laura Goff , the
pentagram is shown and related to the Uruk (Biblical)Eriech)period of
Mesopotamian civilization (3500 B.C>.E.). This sign is located on potsherds
in the location of Uruk (near the mouth of the Gulf), and is in the company of
signs relating to the beginning of written language. In the book Symbols of
the Gods o in Mesopotamian Art by E.Douglas Van Buren, we find the Pentagram
belonging to the archaic period UrukIV, and more frequently on Jemdet
Nasr(3100-2900B.C>.E.) and Proto-Elamite tablets (3000-2500B.C.E.). The title
suggested for the sign is revealing, UB , 'explained as "the very sign used in
the royal inscriptions to designate, in a somewhat obscuretitle, a power
extending to the 'four corners of the world''. These points are the four
corners of the compass.
email@example.com (Frater ABZU)
To say "the pentagram was considered an evil symbol by the Christians" is
a little ... well, general.
I haven't searched the whole corpus of Christian literature, and tallied
up all the mentions of pentagrams-good and pentagrams-bad, but I would
like to point out that (a) the pentagram occurs in "Sir Gawain and the Green
Knight," and not as an evil symbol; (b) the pentagram was often regarded
as emblematic of the Five Wounds of Christ; and (c) the pentagram was
not an evil symbol for Pythagoreans, and there was a strong current
of admiration, in Christian tradition (though not a unanimous one), for
"noble pagans" -- Pythagoras, Plato, various Stoics, Plotinus, and so
on. A good example of the ambivalence in Christian tradition toward
writers and thinkers is Dante's treatment of Virgil.
Can anyone come up with a specific text originating from the first
thousand years of Christianity denouncing the pentagram as an innately
evil symbol? I wouldn't be surprised, myself, if the first occurrence
of such texts was some time within the past two centuries. Or five
The pentagram was used early on by the Xian church (particularly in the
East). Their use was, of course, point-up.
The inverted cross was also used by the Xians. It is known in
traditional mythology as St. Peter's cross. Peter did not believe he was
worthy enough to die in the same way that Jesus had, so he begged to
crucified upside-down. (Or so the legend goes.)
There is, of course, the "standard" pagan reply: the five points
represent the five elements. It is "positive" if it is point-up because
it represents the mastery of mind/spirit over mere matter. It is
"negative" if worn point down because spirit is immersed in or ruled by
the physical rather than mental plane. (CUE: End of standard reply.)
Now for some other possibilities that are somewhat less standard. The
five stages of humanity (or the five stages of life, if you prefer) are
represented. Speaking purely in terms of age, there are: Babyhood,
Adolescence, Adulthood, Middle Age, and Old Age. In terms of life
occurrences, there are: Birth, Initiation, Love, Repose, and Death.
In Egypt the five-pointed star represented the underground womb. To the
pagan Celts, the pentagram was particularly associated with Morrigan, the
To Hermetic magicians (and many others now), the five-pointed star
represented Man in the Microcosm, with his head at the top, hands out to
the sides, and legs below. His genitalia were in the center of the
To Christians (yes, they managed to get a hold of this symbol, too) the
pentagram represented the five wounds of Christ at the crucifixion.
In ancient Greece, the Pythagoreans called this symbol the Pentalpha,
since it is five capital 'A' figures interlaced.
As for the point-down pentagram being "evil", there are a couple of
different answers to that. Yes, modern culture has led to the popular
notion that this is an evil symbol. However, It is also a representative
of the Horned God. Yes, it looks like a goat's head. The Horned God's
most common five forms are represented by the points: human, goat, ram,
stag and bull.
Given the Christian propensity to turn the Horned God into the Devil, is
it any wonder that this seems to be associated with the Christian
I understand that this symbol also has some Qabalistic significance, but
I am pitifully ignorant of the ways of the Qabala. Perhaps someone
else could enlighten you about that part of it.
Another important thing to remember is that the pentagram is a
unicursal figure. That is, it can be drawn without lifting pen/cil from
paper. It also means that each of the five (or more) things that are
represented are *irrevocably* connected to one another, unless the line
is broken. No one thing is any stronger or better than the other - they
are all dependent upon one another.
Jencina May Butler
Here are two books you might enjoy reading, or just looking through:
Rudolf Koch's THE BOOK OF SIGNS, 1930, reprinted by Dover since 1955;
Clarence P. Hornung, HANDBOOK OF DESIGNS AND DEVICES, 1932, reprinted
by Dover since 1946. (Dover Books has many beautiful books on design.)
Koch, re PENTAGRAM: "The pentagram, a five-pointed star drawn with one
stroke of the pen: this sign belongs, as do many others depicted here,
to the most primitive of mankind, and is certainly much older than
written characters. Signs of this kind are quite the most ancient
human documents we possess. The pentagram has had several different
significations at different times in the history of man. The
Pythagoreans called it the pentalpha, and the Celtic priests the
witch's foot. It is also Solomon's seal, known in the Middle Ages
as the goblin's cross. It also represents the five senses; the male
and female principles are also conveyed by the arrangement of the
five points. Amongst the druids it was the sign of Godhead, and to
the Jews it signified the five Mosaic Books. This sign was also
popularly believed to be a protection against demons, and, by analogy,
a symbol of safety. It is believed too to be the emblem of happy
homecoming, whence its employment as an amulet. In ancient times
it was a magic charm amongst the people of Babylon."
Hornung, re PENTAGRAM: "The five-pointed star... As a continuous
interlacement,... it is called the pentacle, or pentagram, and becomes
an important element in the history of magic and witchcraft, with many
mystic interpretations. It is an ingenious development used in ancient
times by the Pythagoreans and others as the pentalpha, an emblem of
perfection. This sign was also regarded as a protective fetish, and
was frequently worn as an amulet."
The pentagram has meant many things to many different people/groups thoughout
history, including strangely enough within the Catholic church itself,
during various parts of the middle ages it was seen as a symbol of truth,
you can find indications of this in some Arthurian legends (i don't recall
the details, however one of the knights in one of the accounts was supposed
to have a shield with the symbol).
Gawain, in the medieval verse-tale SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT.
I strongly recommend J.R.R. Tolkien's wonderful translation,
which retains much of the Old English alliterative form.
Then they brought him his blazon that was of brilliant gules
with the pentangle depicted in pure hue of gold.
By the baldric he caught it and about his neck cast it:
right well and worthily it went with that knight.
And why the pentangle is proper to that prince so noble
I intend now to tell you, though it may tarry my story.
It is a sign that Solomon once set on a time
to betoken Troth, as it is entitled to do;
for it is a figure that in it five points holdeth,
and each line overlaps and is linked with another,
and every way it is endless; and the English, I hear,
everywhere name it the Endless Knot.
So it suits well this knight and his unsullied arms;
for ever faithful in five points, and five times under each,
Gawain as good was acknowledged and as gold refine'd,
devoid of every vice and with virtues adorned.
the pentangle painted new
he on shield and coat did wear
as one of word most true
and knight of bearing fair.
First faultless was he found in his five senses,
and next in his five fingers he failed at no time,
and firmly on the Five Wounds all his faith was set
that Christ received on the cross, as the Creed tells us;
and wherever the brave man into battle was come,
on this beyond all things was his earnest thought:
that ever from the Five Joys all his valour he gained
that to Heaven's courteous Queen once came from her Child.
For which cause the knight had in comely wise
on the inner side of his shield her image depainted,
that when he cast his eyes thither his courage never failed.
The fifth five that was used, as I find, by this knight
was free-giving and friendliness first before all,
and chastity and chivalry ever changeless and straight,
and piety surpassing all points: these perfect five
were hasped upon him harder than on any man else.
Now these five series, in sooth, were fastened on this knight,
and each was knit with another and had no ending,
but were fixed at five points that failed not at all,
coincided in no line nor sundered either,
not ending in any angle anywhere, as I discover,
wherever the process was put in play or passed to an end.
Therefore on his shining shield was shaped now this knot,
royally with red gules upon red gold set:
this is the pure pentangle as people of learning
Now Gawain in brave array
his lance at last hath caught.
He gave them all good day
for evermore as he thought.
-- Raven (JSingle@Music.Lib.MATC.Edu). [All standard disclaimers apply]
...in Great Britain, the inverted pentagram is the sign of a second level
Wiccan Student in the Gardnerian Tradition. Because of the fear frenzy of
the Fundamentalists, in this country another symbol is used. And the
symbols may be very different in different parts of the world as to how
to identify either a Satanist or a second level Gardnerian Student.
...the symbol is a reminder to face the evil/dark and nastiness within or
it will rise up and control you.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Susan Profit)
Well, according to my tradition, four of the points represent the
elements of Earth, Air, Fire & Water. The fifth point represents the
spiritual. Now, reference to up or down...Up is representative of the
higher spiritual plane, down is representative of inner spirituality.
...the pentagram as a symbol for Satanism was a figment of some
fundies' collective imaginations then adopted by Satanists. To lend
further credence, it was pointed out that a point-down pentagram looked
a little like a goat's head, said to be a Satanic creature. Actually,
this reference first showed up centuries ago when the Roman Catholic
Church attempted to slander Pan and His followers.
email@example.com (DREAM WEAVER)
Joseph of Aramathia came to the Isle of angels after the crucifixion of
Christ. There are those who believe that Jesus himself came to Britain and
was taught by the Druids during his early adulthood.
Regardless the people of Britain saw remarkable religious similarities
between their own beliefs and those of the EARLY Christians. There is proof
that the British practiced both religions side by side.
Later when the Roman church was in ascendancy they started to subvert other
religious practices. For some reason, whether to show displeasure of Rome,
or whether the Church itself initiated the practice, those who where against
the church inverted their crosses and since the Pentagram was worn with it it
also was inverted.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Allan M Rennie)
There are a lot of pagans out here that use an inverted pentagram as a
banishing/grounding pentagram that aren't involved in Satanism at all.
Both the upright and inverted pentagram are tools and nothing more. They
are symbols of a way that ritual and magick and energy are moved. How
each person or group of people chooses to *use* such symbols is the key
issue. If you use an inverted pentagram for "Black Magic" (Ghod how I
hate that term. Especially since Black Magick for me designates only
those workings done in the dark phase of the moon.) then it is the energy
that you focus and the direction that *you* choose that makes them "evil"
The pentagram itself is an extremely ancient symbol, with various forms
and significances in different cultures -- much like the cross.
The magical pentagram as used in a ritual which projects it to the four
quarters is a relatively recent innovation, apparently no older than
the Golden Dawn (or possibly Eliphas Levi.) The ritual authors derived
the symbol from older sources, probably including the Pythagoreans, and
built the ritual from it and other materials, such as a Jewish night
prayer. This is the form in which the pentagram is used by modern
paganism, which employs numerous variations on the Golden Dawn
pentagram ritual as the basic framework for circle work.
I heard this symbol is used in a "spiritual communications" in certain
forms of Satan worship. The person sits in the middle of the circle
while "praying" to the spirits who can then "sit" on each of the five
points of the "star".
Todd Strickland (email@example.com)
...The inverted pentagram has always represented a variety of things,
as do the upright and skew pentagrams. Aside from prudery in symbolism
apparently originating in the 19th century, the abuse of this symbol
by associating it with evil or "Devil Worship", in the Christian sense,
is an act of religious intolerance on a level with racism in Nazi
Germany. Use of the inverted pentagram by non-Christian Satanists is
harmless, no different from use of the swastika by the Theosophical
Society. Hate groups have attempted to use the inverted and other
orientations of the pentagram to engage authorities in the suppression
of non-Christian religious organizations, much as the Proctor and Gamble
logo has been associated with irrelevant interpretations by certain
Christian groups selling competitive products door-to door.
Accordingly, the pentagram in its various orientations is an appropriate
symbol of solidarity with victims of bigotry. Wear it proudly and
display it in your windows. If that had been done with the Hexagram
in 1930's Germany, 9 million Jews, Gypsies and Masons might have been
saved from untimely and horrible death. Avoidance of this symbol may
result in: A. tacit endorsement of abuse of minorities for financial and
other gain. B. encouragement of children to adopt this symbol as a
justification for destructive behavior.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Bill Heidrick)
1) Many Satanists don't wear an inverted cross. They have no use for
that symbol, which has nothing whatsoever to do with our religion or
2) The Pentagram has no "right side up" or down orientation. It's an
almost circular symbol, which can be used one-point-up, one-point-
down, one-point-right, one-point-left, or askew. There are some Pagan
and Wiccan folk who use what you call the "inverted" pentagram as a
symbol of their initiation. There are some Satanists who use the
pentagram in other ways than what you call "inverted."
My personal use is one-point-down, for reasons based in the discussion
of symbolism in the Temple of Set's _Crystal Tablet. It has nothing to
do with any Pagan, Wicca, or Christian use of a similar symbol.
Supposedly, a "good" pentagram has only one point up, and the "inverted"
pentagram, which is associated with "evil" devils and demons (!) is
hated. "White" witches are quick to point out that the pentagrams they
wear around their necks are not "evil" etc, and even Anton LaVey
(founder, Church of Satan) says that he uses the two point up pentagram
to represent man's carnal (vs "spiritual" nature), which is basically
correct. What he does not mention is that the two point up pentagram is
older and much more common. The one point up pentagram was basically
something that came along with the "Wicca" movement via Gerald Gardner et
al; in other words, it is recent and invented by people born and raised
Christian. Fact. Well, looking back through historical stuff, the theme
of 5 things is extremely common and is associated with the Goddess (ref.
_The White Goddess_ by Robert Graves: well known book). Looking through
certain art, you can also find a pentagram, which is always 2 points up.
You can go to your library and get any book of Tantrik art to see this.
Freemasons use it to mean "man", which is also easily verifiable. The
point is, the pentagram goes way back and is common, perhaps because the
image and general shape is common in nature: many animal faces have
this shape and plants do as well, but only if it has 2 points up. Both of
the referenced mystical groups are older than the "white witches" and the
movement in general. This is something you should be able to research and
see for yourself pretty easily.
...as I said, the two easiest groups that use this and are known to
be old, etc, are the Freemasons and Tantriks, which are groups not
historically related and have different origins and traditions, but both
use a two-point up pentagram. The Freemasons call it the Eastern Star,
and you can probably get a graphic file of this off of the internet (so
you don't even have to go to the library). Check "Alt.Freemasonry" (I
think it is) and maybe someone can give you pointers; you can also see on
that group Freemasons being accused of using the "devil's sign", which
is funny, since Freemasons have been along much longer than the Church of
Satan! For the Tantrik stuff, most any art history book about it will
have at least one pentagram in there: I have seen them either in "symbols
relating cosmos" pictures or chakra diagrams. Since most books draw on
basically the same materials, I cannot recommend a specific one. Just
look in the computer under "Tantrik art" or "art Tantrik".
The Pentagram business is a *convention*, not an absolute. But it's been
intentionally built up and reinforced over the last 20-30 years as the
American Wiccan/NeoPagan movement has evolved. Most people are taught that
the upright star represents the human "Spirit": an individual person in
charge of their own destiny, and unifying the other Four Elements within
him/herself. So far, so good, right?
In the late 1960's, a whole bunch of books on Witchcraft, Magick, and
Occultism came out. There was a big "fad" thing happening there for
awhile, probably due to the influence of the Counterculture. Enquiring
minds wanted to know: Is there magic(k)? Does it work? How can I do it?
Will I go to Hell for doing it? And suddenly there were all these books.
In this era, Anton LaVey started the Church of Satan and published "The
Satanic Bible". Obviously his Church needed a logo, and so he turned to
the works of Eliphas Levi, the 19th-century French Occultist. Levi lived
in a repressive time and place (he was actually a Catholic priest) and got
his writings past the censors by making a big, bold distinction between
Good and Evil. It is Levi's famous engraving of "Baphomet" which became
the Official Satanist Logo: modified and somewhat updated to include the
Inverted Pentagram emphasizing the Horns of Satan.
But in Wica, as founded by Gerald Gardner, the Inverted Pentagram was used
as a symbol of the Second Degree, which treats of the Horned One and his
powers of Transformation: Death, Love, and Rebirth. So to Witches (at
least from 1949 on) it had a different, more "neutral" meaning. In English
practice it is still used as the Second-Degree symbol. (Perhaps in certain
ways the Brits tend to be more sensible and less superstitious than we,
But not here in the USA, oh no! As soon as the inverted-Pentagram Satanic
Logo got identified in the public mind with Evil Black Magic(k), those
anxious to distinguish Wicca from Satanism made it quite plain that "we"
only use the Upright Star. I can't blame the American Craft for this: it
was an expedient demanded by the time. (If you think we got "clueless
newbies" now, you should have seen what was out there then!)
And so the Upright Pentagram has gone down, over time (but not that much
time, really) as the symbol for those whose magic(k) is "Positive" (Good)
not "Negative" (Baaaad). As for the Inverse Pentagram -- just try wearing
one to a party, especially if you're fifteen years old -- and see how much
attention you get! "Eeevil" still equals "Sexy and Dangerous" in our
culture; add the "I *am* a Master Warlock" spin and you may *actually get
laid*! So you can understand why the Inverse Pentagram is a big boon to
lonely, horny people still in the "Workin' the Bar 101" phase of
development. (Anton LaVey certainly did!)
Witches are supposed to be, IMHO, more subtle than that. If you appreciate
the distinction between raw fish and sushi you probably giggle at people
who wear Inverse Pentagrams. But don't get in their face with it -- for
most of them it's legitimate self-assertion, given a culture in which they
must wrestle with the Xtian notion that it's "evil" to Just Be Themselves.
Sooner or later they may discover more subtle aspects of Magic(k) -- or
maybe not, if it really works for them. Meanwhile a strongly-projected (if
unspoken) "that's *tacky!*" will usually take care of the "problem".
...You're confused. It's the *upright*
Pentacle that is the "Sign of Man", and it's alchemical symbology, not
Masonic. Leonardo de Vinci uses it in his very famous drawing of a Man
with his arms and legs outstretched, with the upright Pentacle behind him
& framing him. Just my $.02.
email@example.com (Walter Five)
Leonardo's famous sketch does *not* contain a pentagram of any description.
Check an art history book, or if you have Web access, the upper half of
the picture may be found at http://leonardo.net/ as an inline gif.
The figure is drawn on a superimposed square and circle, *not* a pentagram.
"A beautiful theory, callously murdered by cold, unfeeling facts."
firstname.lastname@example.org (Peter Trei)
Be it one or two points up, the position is really irrelevant. In both
Pagan/Wiccan and Satanist traditions it depends on which way that the
Pentagram is drawn. If being used for the positive or "gathering" means,
it is traditionally drawn clockwise. If being used to negate or
"diminish", it is drawn counterclockwise. However, the fact that one
way is "evil" while the other is not is up to one's own perception.
Throughout the ages, many religious symbols have been used to serve
one's own means and by that they tend to have been corrupted.
More Star Stuff &c. (Long Post):
In Masonic tradition, the upright interlaced Pentagram is sometimes used
to symbolize the sitting Master of the Lodge. This is an old tradition,
very popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, especially in English Lodges.
It has fallen into disuse here here in the US, possibly because of the
association of the Pentagram with Occultism. (Masons have enough trouble
with gratuitous prejudice without using a symbol popularly thought to be
a "negative" one.)
However, I have seen several antique Past Master's Jewels (presented by
the Lodge to the outgoing Master on his retirement from the East) in which
the Interlaced Pentagram is superimposed upon the Compasses, with the
traditional carved moonstone at its center. It may also be noted that a
"hidden" aspect of the symbolic Pentagram exists in the 72o angle of the
open Compasses as seen in Freemasonry's standard logo. This is intentional.
As for "Eastern Star": I am a member of the Order of Eastern Star, a
Masonic Women's Organization, (founded in the 1860's) whose symbol is the
five-pointed Star (*not* the Interlaced Pentagram). Each Star Point
represents a heroine of Biblical lore (three from the Old Testament and
two from the New) who exemplifies a Feminine Mystery. For example, I sit
at the Point of Esther (aka Ishtar, Isis, Astarte) and represent Her
-- quite a treat for a Goddess-worshipper like me.
In most State Jurisdictions, the "Eastern Star" is seen with two points
up, something the National organization refuses to change despite what I
imagine can be rather nasty pressure from local Fundamentalist groups. In
New York State (where the O.E.S. was founded) however, our Star has
*always* been seen with one point upright. I don't know why the others
originally chose the reversed Star, but I'll ask someone from out-of-state
sometime and perhaps then be able to report on it.
The version I know of the logic behind this goes:
Pentagram points= Head(Spirit)
L.ARM (Air) R.ARM (Fire)
L.Leg (Earth) R.Leg (Water)
And is symbolic of the triumph of Mind over man/the elements. (good)
The Inverse pentagram being symbolic of the domination of the
spirit/will/mind by the earthly forces, Lust,Greed,etc. (bad)
Therefore 'Whites' seeking to control their bodily urges wear the 'good'
type. 'Blacks' glorifying and magnifying their bodily urges wear the 'bad'
Crowley's view was that neither version was intrinsically good or bad but was
merely a classic magical instance of an Aspect. Each should be used
according to the object of the ritual/talisman or the forces being invoked.
Example: When invoking Elementals to actually DO work a base up point down
should be used and when invoking Intelligences to answer questions, offer
guidance etc. then a point up pentagram should be used.
Malcolm@celtic.demon.co.uk (Malcolm Grandis)
The single-point-up pentagram in fact appears in the ancient verse about
Sir Gawaine and the Green Knight. Sir Gawaine carries a shield with a
pentagram emblazoned on it like a coat of arms. The poem states that
the pentagram symbolizes, among other things, the five senses, the five
fingers, and the five Knightly Virtues (Courtesy, Chastity, Generosity,
Brotherly Love, and Pity -- interestingly, courage is not included).
email@example.com (Rosanna E. Tufts)
A weird thing about the five-pointed star: every ten years (I think? Uh
oh, maybe that's wrong... anyway, every [insert time period here]) the
planet Venus traces a perfect pentagram across the sky when viewed from
The Pythagoreans used to wear it on their robes--none of them every really
told my *why*.
firstname.lastname@example.org (little o)
In article ,
email@example.com (Captain Horatio Pugwash) wrote:
> To the best of my knowledge, the pentagram was a shape
>discovered by Greek mathematicians. It was significant
>because if a pentagram is drawn in a perfectly equiangular
>pentagon, two of the line segments it describes are in
>the exact proportion of the Golden Rectangle, the Greek
>shape of perfect aesthetic harmony. It was revered by the
>Platonist cults that believed in the power of certain
>shapes and numbers. I would presume that superstitions
>about it were disseminated by pagan Rome and became part
>of European folk tradition...
The Greeks may have (and probably did) derive the mathematical
formulae for inscribing a perfect pentagram, but the symbol itself
probably predates them. I believe I've seen pictures of pentagrams
in African petroglyphs, for instance.
It seems more likely to me that the Pythagorean rather than the
Platonic schools revered the symbol. I recall no discussion of
mathematical formulae in Platonic literature - which doesn't mean it
doesn't exist, merely that it is overwhelmed in my memory by other,
mostly political philosophies. I believe that the Pythagoreans were
more apt to be regarded by other Greeks as cultists than were
students of Plato, but I'll admit that the impression is gleaned
more from Mary Renault than from contemporary sources.
And, for what it is worth, the early fathers of the Xian church
selected the pentagram to represent the Star of Bethlehem for a
reason: it symbolizes the Pentagrammaton, YHVShH, Yehoveshah, which
was translated into Greek as Jesus. Both the Tetragrammaton and the
Pentagrammaton appear to predate Kabalah, the earliest sources for
which are found, I believe, in twelfth or thirteenth century France
and Germany - but they do not predate the sources from which the
Kabalah was drawn. That symbolizm *may* have been the reason
medieval Satanists are presumed to have inverted the pentagram,
though my reading suggests they preferred to invert the cross.
I always find it odd that xians sometimes claim that a symbol which
from the earliest years of their religion has represented their God
is really the symbol of His enemy.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Baird Stafford)
The points of the pentagram are viewed by many as follows:
top: Spirit, right top: Water, right bottom: Fire, left top: Air,
Left bottom: Earth.
Most wear them to remind them to always have Spirit over the elements in
life. Also Life, health, protection (especially against hostile
Also a human being as a microcosm of the universe.
The points can represent the five senses, stages of life or states of
Hope this is of some help! There is a lot of symbolism in a pentagram it
has had many names through the ages: Pentalpha, the Endless Knot, the
Pentacle of the Virgin, The Seal of the Microcosm, the Star of Knowledge,
the Pentacle of the Templars, and according to some, the Seal Of Solomon,
Medieval churchman however, called it witch's funk or wizard's star. It
has been used by Sumerians, Kabbalists, Celts, Egyptians, Christians and
"Izabela Wysoka" :
> What is the EXACT meaning of the inverse pentagram? I know it is to
> symbolize a goat's head, but I guess, this is not all.
The so-called "inverse" pentagram (which can also be derived by rotating
it eighteen degrees) may have gotten its nasty reputation from its
Islamic application as a simple decoration. One can find an example of
this on the cover of S.H. Nasr's _Islamic Ideals and Realities_, which
features a very ornate "inverse" pentagram with the Arabic script for
"Allah" in the center pentagon. There was a time when Christians thought
Muhammad was the Antichrist, and anything with any Islamic connection was
email@example.com (Kevin Bold/Fra:. Baraka)
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