The Pentagram: A Symbol for Good or Evil?
The Pentagram is the symbol of a five pointed star and has had a few different names over the centuries. It has been known as a pentalpha, a star pentagon, pentancle, petagle and also as a pentangle. The word itself comes from the Greek ‘pentagrammon’ meaning ‘five lines’.
What is the Pentagram?
Today it is a symbol of the Wiccan faith and rightly so, as it has associations with magic. The Wiccans weren’t the first to honour their faith with this symbol, however, and its roots can be found as far back as the times of Babylonia, Mesapotamia, Sumeria and ancient Greece and China. Nowadays many neopagan faiths have adopted this symbol for their cult, Christians have used it to represent the five wounds of Jesus Christ and it appears on the Masonic regalia of the Freemasons.
Note that the simple five pointed star is not a pentagram. The pentagram is drawn with a continuous line and has strokes through the centre of the star.
Wiccans will define the pentagram as inside a pentagon or circle. In the past the term ‘Pentagram’ has been used to describe amulets, often with a hexagram inside (Star of David). The term is thought to have come from an old French word meaning ‘to hang’ and the symbol would have been used as a talisman or as a symbol of magic.
What is the meaning of the Pentagram?
The symbol itself may have originated as the symbol of the Goddess Kore, who was worshipped over an area which extends from England to Egypt and beyond. She was believed to have invented the Roman alphabet. Kore’s sacred fruit was the apple and when cut through its centre, the apple will often reveal a near pentagram shape at its heart with each point of the star represented by a seed of the apple.
In Babylonian times the points of the star were probably astrological markers and they are thought to have represented the five planets Jupiter, Mercury, Mars, Saturn and Venus. Venus would have been the top most point as she was revered as the Queen of Heaven (Ishtar).
The Pythagoreans worshiped the Pentagram as the symbol of the Greek Goddess of health.
In China it was referred to as ‘Wu Xing’ and its points represented the five elements Fire, Earth, Metal, Water and Wood.
Christians have used the pentagram in connection with the five senses and it also been used as a symbol of health if you see the letters S, A, L, V, S inscribed upon the five points. It has also been believed to represent the five wounds of Christ and was thought to be a symbol to ward off all evil.
The Celts thought that the pentagram was a symbol of the Goddess of the Underground, whom they named Morgan (Morrigan). The five points related to the fact that Ireland had five great roads, five provinces and five paths of the law.
A reversed pentagram, with two of its points facing upward is thought to be a symbol of evil because it overturns the natural order of things. With the single point facing upwards it is thought to be a symbol of good due to the interpretation of a spirit residing over all the other elements.
Satanists have given the pentagram a bad name since they reversed the symbol and placed a goat’s head inside it. This is called the ‘Sigil of Baphomet’. They use it as a sign of rebellion and to reject the symbol of the holy Trinity.
The circle surrounding the pentagram is thought to be a symbol of unity, wholeness, infinity and protection. Religions throughout history and some of the more contemporary ones today, use it to represent the female deity or feminine spirit and force.
The Number 5
The number 5 has always been much respected as mystical and magical. Humans have five fingers and five toes. We have five senses, sight, smell, hearing, touch and taste. There are essentially five rites of passage in our lives, birth, adulthood, coitus, parenthood and death. Medieval Knights were said to have five virtues, courtesy, generosity, chivalry, chastity and piety. The Wiccan kiss is a fivefold one, feet, knees, womb, breast and lips. The number 5 is a prime number. The pentagram is made up of 5 lines and it is unicursal.
How is the Pentagram Used Today?
The five pointed star is often used on medals representing bravery and honour. It can also be found today on police badges, military vehicles, national flags, corporate logos, rock music branding, and commercial advertising and on many graphic designs. Whilst its image remains somewhat tarnished due to the misbelief that it is used only to represent devil worship and Satanists, it will continue to abound in our society for many years to come.
Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentagram, http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/pentagram.html, http://www.religioustolerance.org/wic_pent.htm