The Pentagram-History, Use & Symbolism

The Pentagram-History, Use & Symbolism

What Is A Pentagram?

Pentagram

A Pentagram is " a five-pointed star that can be made by connecting each of the vertices of a regular pentagon using a singular line. The center of a pentagram's crossed lines forms another pentagon".

 

Associated these days, mainly with Pagan practice, the Pentagram has also been associated with numerous other groups including Christian mysticism, Druidry, Magic, Sacred Geometry, Alchemy, the Kabbalah, Taoism, Chinese Medicine & the Tarot (where it appears on the suit of pentacles/coins). It is also a notable symbol in Freemasonry where it is known as the “blazing star”.

Some of the meanings associated with the pentagram are as follows:

  • From 300-150 BCE the pentagram was a symbol for Jerusalem
  • In ancient times, the Pentagram was featured on tombs and seals of Egypt and Mesopotamia.
  • The Pentagram was also featured on coins from ancient Greece.
  • From the 6th century BCE the Pythagoreans used the symbol of the Pentagram as a representation of man and of good health (The initials of the 5 elements represented by each point of the pentagram, were an anagram for the name of the Goddess of Healing “Hygiea”. They believed that the soul and the body were divided into 5 parts. It was also a secret symbol. A way of the Pythagoreans to recognise each other. They would make the sign of the pentagram on their upper body, the same way that Christians would make the sign of the cross.
  • The Freemasons use the pentagram as a representation of the Star of Bethlehem. It is a reminder that Christ was spirit descended into matter.
  • The Christians associated the pentagram with the 5 wounds inflicted on Christ during his crucifixion.
  • Wisdom- the Pentagram has been associated with wisdom due to the association of Adam & Eve eating the apple in the garden of Eden (If you slice an apple across the centre horizontally, you will see a five-pointed star
    pentagram in apple
    or pentagram). Due to their consumption of the apple, and thus the Pentagram, Adam and Eve became aware, realising that they could make their own decisions.
  • The Roma also associated the pentagram with wisdom, and it is often referred to as the “star of knowledge”.
  • Humankind- the pentagram and the number 5 is associated with humankind and with life because of the 5 points of the human body. In ancient Grimoires, the pentagram is often drawn superimposed over the male/female form shown standing with legs wide, arms outstretched horizontally, and the top of the pentagram situated at the crown of the head.
  • The 5 elements are represented by the Pentagram. The Western 5 elements of Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Psyche (Ether) are represented by the Pentagram.
  • Chinese Taoist tradition also uses the symbol of the pentagram to show the interconnections between the natural elements- Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal & Water.
  • The ancient Babylonians used the Pentagram as an apotropaic charm to protect against evil forces. This has continued in practise with modern witchcraft using the pentagram for similar reasons.
  • The pentacle, (pentagram enclosed in a circle) is a potent magical symbol in wicca and is used to increase protection in ritual and in the circle. It is also used for consecrating ritual tools and charging ingredients for
    pentacle altar tile for charging ingredients
    spell work.
  • The Pentagram is also associated with the planet (and goddess) Venus. In fact, if you track Venus, over 4 years and 1 day, it is said that it will mark out the shape of the pentagram in the sky.
  • In the Kabbalah, the Pentagram represents the upper five sephiroth on the Tree Of Life. The qualities associated with the Pentagram in Kabbalah are justice, mercy, wisdom, understanding, and transcendent splendour.
  • The Pentagram is also the central image on the flag of Morocco, representing the 5 pillars of Islam.

 

How did the pentacle-pentagram become associated with Devil worship?

Until recent history, the Pentagram did not really have a “right way up”. The Pentagram, being a continuous shape, like the circle, does not really have a right way up. It was more recently that it became associated with the Devil.

sigil of baphomet

It was Eliphas Levi, a French poet, writer and sage who first tarnished the good image of the five pointed star. He claimed an inverted pentacle signifies the devil himself. According to Levi, when two points of the pentacle are pointed upwards, the image of Satan, with his horns, is conjured.

After Levi's use, it seems to have slipped into pop-culture as a demonic symbol. These days the pentacle has been used in popular media as an omen of evil and demonic possession. The Church of Satan (which, despite the name, is mainly atheistic and in no way worships Satan) use of the inverted pentacle with a goat head drawn in (known as the Sigil of Baphomet- pictured above) as their main symbol has done little to help it image.

The Pentagram, as you can see, is a symbol that has been used extensively in many cultures and for many purposes. Most of those purposes having nothing to do with evil, despite what certain groups have led the general population to believe. Do you have anything to add to our list of pentagram uses? Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments section.

References:  

English, D. (2023, June 27). Pentagram History, Use & Symbol. Study.com. https://study.com/academy/lesson/pentagram-overview-history-symbol.html
Nozedar, A. (2006). The Illustrated Signs & Symbols Sourcebook (pp. 124-125). Harper Collins Publishers.
Chamberlain, L. (2020). Wicca For beginners (pp. 78-79). Sterling Ethos.
Buckland, R. (2021). Signs, Symbols & Omens (19th ed., p. 216). Llewellyn Publications.
 Eldridge, A. (2023, October 17). pentagram. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/topic/pentagram
Wikipedia contributors. (2024, February 28). Flag of Morocco. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 23:38, March 11, 2024, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.phptitle=Flag_of_Morocco&oldid=1210903257
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