a cache of usenet and other text files pertaining
to occult, mystical, and spiritual subjects.



                              By Mike Nichols
                              August 29, 2000


     The pentagram, or five-pointed star, may be the most misunderstood
     religious symbol around these days. Being the most common symbol of
     Neo-Pagan Witchcraft, it has nevertheless been denigrated by movie
     and publishing industries which seem 'hell-bent' on connecting it
     with Satanism and other malevolent practices. However, like the
     Roman Cross or Crucifix, it is only when the symbol is INVERTED
     that it alludes to negativity. And even then, there are exceptions,
     as we shall see.

     In its usual upright position (one point uppermost), the pentagram
     is an ancient symbol of protection from evil. Also called 'the
     endless knot' (in its interlaced form), the pentagram was often
     displayed on doors, windows, and hearths of houses throughout
     pre-Christian Europe. It can be traced back to Egyptian and
     Sumerian cultures, and has even been found on Native American
     medicine tools. Sometimes mistakenly confused with the Star of
     David, or hexagram (a six-pointed star emblematic of Judaism), the
     pentagram is sometimes called the Star of Solomon, especially by
     ceremonial magicians.

     To many, the lower four points represent the classical elements of
     earth, air, fire, and water, while the fifth point, surmounting the
     others, represents spirit, the fifth element or quintessence. Thus,
     the pentagram symbolizes the four elements of the material world
     connected with, but ruled by, the spirit. When the pentagram is
     placed within a circle (symbol of unity and wholeness), it stresses
     our connection with the universe as a whole.

     Another interpretation is that there is not one point upward -- but
     three! In numerology, three is the number of harmony, best
     expressed in the classical formula: thesis, antithesis, and
     synthesis. In other words, it is the middle point that harmonizes
     the opposing outer points. The Celtic love of triads (the most
     common form of their 'wisdom literature') has its roots in this
     model. The upper three points are thus placed above the lower two
     points, which represents dualistic opposites that cannot be
     integrated or harmonized (seeing everything in black and white).

     Yet another interpretation of the upright pentagram is that it
     symbolizes the most common view of deity in Witchcraft. The upper
     three points represent the Goddess in her threefold aspect of
     Maiden, Mother, and Crone. The lower two points represent her
     consort God, in his twin aspects of God of Light and God of
     Darkness. However, in all these interpretations, it is important to
     remember that all the points are connected -- each an aspect of the
     other, all part of the same whole.

     But when the pentagram is inverted, so is its meaning. Thus, an
     inverted pentagram may represent the physical world (four material
     elements) in domination of the world of spirit (the fifth element).
     (This may be why Satanists and other 'demonistic' groups use this
     symbol.) With two points uppermost, it may also express a
     Neo-Platonic dualism (the old 'war in heaven', good vs. evil theme)
     -- as opposed to the Pagan monistic view of reality ('the Force')
     seen in the single point upward. The most common exception to this
     rule is that some traditions of Witchcraft (chiefly British) employ
     the inverted pentagram as a POSITIVE symbol of advanced degree. In
     this case, the two points uppermost represent the horns of light,
     symbol of 'the Horned God', consort to the Great Goddess (like the
     Greek god Pan).

     The word 'pentacle', sometimes mistakenly substituted for
     pentagram, really refers to a shallow dish (usually inscribed with
     a pentagram) and used as an altar tool by modern Witches, serving a
     purpose similar to the 'patten' at a Roman Catholic Mass. Common
     variations of this tool include a dish of earth, a disk of copper,
     a dish of silver, or a disk of wax.

     The suit of pentacles (or 'coins') in the Tarot deck, the Stone of
     Fal (coronation stone of kings) in ancient Ireland, the sangreal of
     the Holy Grail processions, and the 'Universal Man' of Leonardo da
     Vinci, are all related to the pentagram, stressing its ties to the
     earth and nature, making it a symbol par excellence of an earth or
     nature religion. The five points also represent the five physical
     senses and allude to approaching the spiritual realm THROUGH the
     sensual -- in fact, the meaning of the Ace of Pentacles in Tarot.
     In numerology, 5 is the number of sexuality, combining the feminine
     2 with the masculine 3. Thus, the pentagram also represents the
     opposite of asceticism.

     But wherever the pentagram is displayed, one message is clear: evil
     has no power there.


              Document Copyright  1988, 2000 by Mike Nichols
                    HTML coding by: Mike Nichols  2000

     This document can be re-published only as long as no information is
     lost or changed, credit is given to the author, and it is provided
     or used without cost to others.

      Other uses of this document must be approved in writing by Mike

   Revised: Thursday, April 2, 1998 c.e.

The Arcane Archive is copyright by the authors cited.
Send comments to the Arcane Archivist:

Did you like what you read here? Find it useful?
Then please click on the Paypal Secure Server logo and make a small
donation to the site maintainer for the creation and upkeep of this site.

The ARCANE ARCHIVE is a large domain,
organized into a number of sub-directories,
each dealing with a different branch of
religion, mysticism, occultism, or esoteric knowledge.
Here are the major ARCANE ARCHIVE directories you can visit:
interdisciplinary: geometry, natural proportion, ratio, archaeoastronomy
mysticism: enlightenment, self-realization, trance, meditation, consciousness
occultism: divination, hermeticism, amulets, sigils, magick, witchcraft, spells
religion: buddhism, christianity, hinduism, islam, judaism, taoism, wicca, voodoo
societies and fraternal orders: freemasonry, golden dawn, rosicrucians, etc.


There are thousands of web pages at the ARCANE ARCHIVE. You can use ATOMZ.COM
to search for a single word (like witchcraft, hoodoo, pagan, or magic) or an
exact phrase (like Kwan Yin, golden ratio, or book of shadows):

Search For:
Match:  Any word All words Exact phrase


Southern Spirits: 19th and 20th century accounts of hoodoo, including slave narratives & interviews
Hoodoo in Theory and Practice by cat yronwode: an introduction to African-American rootwork
Lucky W Amulet Archive by cat yronwode: an online museum of worldwide talismans and charms
Sacred Sex: essays and articles on tantra yoga, neo-tantra, karezza, sex magic, and sex worship
Sacred Landscape: essays and articles on archaeoastronomy, sacred architecture, and sacred geometry
Lucky Mojo Forum: practitioners answer queries on conjure; sponsored by the Lucky Mojo Curio Co.
Herb Magic: illustrated descriptions of magic herbs with free spells, recipes, and an ordering option
Association of Independent Readers and Rootworkers: ethical diviners and hoodoo spell-casters
Freemasonry for Women by cat yronwode: a history of mixed-gender Freemasonic lodges
Missionary Independent Spiritual Church: spirit-led, inter-faith, the Smallest Church in the World
Satan Service Org: an archive presenting the theory, practice, and history of Satanism and Satanists
Gospel of Satan: the story of Jesus and the angels, from the perspective of the God of this World
Lucky Mojo Usenet FAQ Archive: FAQs and REFs for occult and magical usenet newsgroups
Candles and Curios: essays and articles on traditional African American conjure and folk magic
Aleister Crowley Text Archive: a multitude of texts by an early 20th century ceremonial occultist
Spiritual Spells: lessons in folk magic and spell casting from an eclectic Wiccan perspective
The Mystic Tea Room: divination by reading tea-leaves, with a museum of antique fortune telling cups
Yronwode Institution for the Preservation and Popularization of Indigenous Ethnomagicology
Yronwode Home: personal pages of catherine yronwode and nagasiva yronwode, magical archivists
Lucky Mojo Magic Spells Archives: love spells, money spells, luck spells, protection spells, etc.
      Free Love Spell Archive: love spells, attraction spells, sex magick, romance spells, and lust spells
      Free Money Spell Archive: money spells, prosperity spells, and wealth spells for job and business
      Free Protection Spell Archive: protection spells against witchcraft, jinxes, hexes, and the evil eye
      Free Gambling Luck Spell Archive: lucky gambling spells for the lottery, casinos, and races