History Of The Pentagram
- Pentagram ~
- A five pointed star, encased by an
outer circle. Adopted by the first pagan practioners, it is always
seen with it's apex pointing upward toward the Divine.
- The Early Roots
- The earliest known use of the pentagram can be found around
3500 BC at Ur of the Chaldees in Ancient Mesopotamia. It was
found here on fragments of broken pottery with some of the earliest
findings of written language. In later periods of Mesopotamian
art, the pentagram was used in royal inscriptions as a symbol
of imperial power extending out to "the four corners of
the world". The pentagram was also used by the Hebrews as
a symbol of Truth and for the five books of the Pentateuch (The
first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures).
- In Ancient Greece, the geometry of the pentagram and its
metaphysical associations were explored by the Pythagoreans (after
Pythagoras 586-506BC) who considered it an emblem of perfection.
It was called the Pentalpha (A five-pointed star, resembling
five alphas joined at their bases), composed of five geometrical
A's. Pythagoras was known to have traveled all over the ancient
world. It's that his travels took him to Egypt, to Chaldea and
to lands around the Indus where he shared his knowledge and views.
Because of his travels we maybe able draw a connection with the
presence of the pentagram in Tantrik art. These early Hindu and
Buddhist writings seem to share Pythagoras' view of the star
and it's symbology.
- The Gnostics were early practioners of Gnosticism; The doctrines
of certain pre-Christian pagan, Jewish, and early Christian sects
who valued the revealed knowledge of God, the origin and end
of the human race as a means to attain redemption for the spiritual
element in humans. These people saw the pentagram as a 'Blazing
Star'. Sharing it's symbology with the crescent moon it was related
to the magik and mystery of the night time sky or the mysteries
of the dark.
- Celtic Druids, saw the pentagram as a symbol of the Godhead.
Celtic Pagans saw the sacred nature of five or the important
nature of "five-ness" in many things. Which is reflected
in much of their symbology. It's also important to note that
these Celtic traditions provide the foundation for much of modern
Paganism practiced today.
- We can find an example of the importance of 5 in the old
Irish tale, "Cormac's Cup of Gold". The hero of the
tale "saw a royal fortress with four houses in it, and a
bright well with nine ancient hazels growing over it. In the
well, were five salmon who ate the nuts that dropped from the
purple hazels, and sent the husks floating down the five streams
that flowed therefrom. The sound of the streams was the sweetest
music." ... "The spring was the Well of Knowledge,
and the five streams the five senses through which knowledge
is obtained. No one will have knowledge who drinks not a draught
out of the well itself or out of the streams. Those who are skilled
in many arts drink from both the well and the streams."
To many Pagan Celts it was assigned to the underground goddess
- If we look at the in numerous Celtic connections of fiveness
we'll also find that:
- Ireland had five great roads, five provinces and five paths
of the law.
- The fairy folk counted by fives,
- Mythological figures wore five fold cloaks.
- It was a symbol of the 'underground womb' and bore a symbolic
relationship to the concept of the pyramid form to the Egyptians.
- Early Christians attributed the pentagram to the Five Wounds
of Christ and from then until medieval times, it was a lesser-used
Christian symbol. Prior to the time of the Inquisition, there
were no 'evil' associations to the pentagram. Rather it was a
form that implied Truth, religious mysticism and the work of
The Creator. The Emperor Constantine I, used the pentagram, together
with the chi-rho symbol (a symbolic form of the cross) in his
seal and amulet. However, it was the cross (a symbol of suffering)
rather than the pentagram (a symbol of truth) that was used as
a symbol by the Church.
- The early Christian Church subsequently came to power and
assumed supreme power over the Roman Empire, using a forged document
- 'The Donation of Constantine'. The annual church feast of Epiphany,
celebrating the visit of the three Magi to the infant Jesus as
well as the Church's mission to bring 'truth' to the Gentiles
had as it's symbol the pentagram. Over time the Church drooped
the circle and altered the pentagram to a simple five-pointed
star, presumably in reaction to the neo-pagan use of the pentagram
with the circle intact.
- In Medieval times, the 'Endless Knot' was a symbol of Truth
and was a protection against demons. It was used as an amulet
of personal protection and to guard windows and doors. The pentagram
with one point upwards symbolized summer; with two points upward,
it was a sign for winter. In the legend of Sir Gawain and the
Green Knight, the pentagram was used as his signature glyph and
was inscribed in gold on his shield. The legend tells us that
Gawain used the symbol for the five knightly virtues - generosity,
courtesy, chastity, chivalry and piety.
- The military monks of the Knights Templar formed during the
Crusades. The order of the Templar found in Rennes du Chatres
in France is an almost perfect natural pentagon of mountains
spanning several miles around it. The creation of other exact
geometric alignments and pentagrams can be found in the area
as well. It is clear from remaining traces of Templar architecture
that architects and masons were well aware of the geometry of
the pentagon and incorporated that mysticism into their designs.
The religious-fanatic Louis IX of France in 1303 saw the Knights
Templar as a strong and powerful force to reckon with. Wither
he felt threatened politically by their wealth and power, or
if he truly believed they were working against God is up for
great debate. But under his guidance, the black times of the
Inquisition fell upon the land. Unimaginable torture and murder
began, slowly spreading across Europe.centuries.
The Impact Of The Inquisition
- During the Inquisition, The Church lapsed into a long period
of torture and conducted itself in the most heinous fashion.
More people were killed for being label pagan or witch that died
during the Holocaust. During this time the pentagram was seen
a Goat's Head or the Devil in the form of Baphomet. It was Baphomet
whom the Inquisition accused the Templars of worshiping. And
their order was disbanded. Many Knights of the order refused
to give up their beliefs, opting to meet in secret and hide their
knowledge from the public. A custom that is still practiced today.
- Around this time, poisoning as a means of murder came into
prominence. Potent herbs and drugs brought back from the East
during the Crusades had entered the cabinets of the healers,
the wise and the witches. Prominent deaths by poisoning caused
the Dominicans of the Inquisition to move their attention from
the Christian heretics to the pagan witches, to those who only
paid lip service to Christianity but still followed an Old Religion
and to the wise-ones amongst them who knew about drugs and poisons.
In the purge on witches, other horned gods such as Pan became
equated with the Christian concept of the Devil and the pentagram,
for the first time in history, was equated with 'evil' and was
label as the "Witch's Foot". Like the Knights Templar
these early pagans were forced underground, hiding and meeting
in secret, doing their best to avoid the Dominican guards and
the burning trials.
- Under the prying eyes of the Church and it's attempt to enforce
control over the people, secret hidden groups of craftsmen, and
societies of scholars began the development of Alchemy. Hermeticism,
the proto-science of alchemy developed along with its occult
philosophy and symbolism. Graphical and geometric symbolism became
very important and the period of the Renaissance emerged.
- Western occult teachings began to emphasize the philosophies
of Man being the small part of the larger and grater universal
spirit. "As above, so below" soon became a common mantra.
And the symbology of the pentagram returned as the 'Star of the
Microcosm', symbolizing Man within the macrocosm or showing the
relation of man in the Macrocosmic universe.
- In 1582, Tycho Brahe's Calendarium Naturale magicum Perpetuum
shows a pentagram with the human body imposed and the Hebrew
for YHSVH associated with the elements. An illustration attributed
to Brae's contemporary Agrippa (Henry Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim)
is of similar proportion and shows the five planets and the moon
at the center point, the genitalia. Other illustrations of the
period by Robert Fludd and Leonardo da Vinci also show geometric
relationships of man to the universe. 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, such
as or the spirit, to the four traditional elements of matter
- earth, water, air and fire. "Spirit is The Quintessence".
The Pentagram Comes To The New World
- In the Freemasonry
order, Man as the smaller aspect of the universe was and is associated
with the five-pointed Pentagon. 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
compasses, the Masonic emblem of virtue and duty. The origins
of freemasonry are lost in the depths of history, obscured by
the traditional 'craft'-secrecy of the order, but there are signs
throughout history of the associations of craftsmanship and ritual
and symbolism that have remained known only to a few, and the
history of the pentagram has remained occluded in the same kind
of mystery. The womens branch of freemasonry uses the five pointed
'Eastern Star' as its emblem. Each point commemorates a heroine
of biblical lore.
- More than half of America's Found Fathers were Freemasons
or practioners of Deism. And we can see how they strived greatly
to institute a society that separated church and state in order
to eliminate yet another occurrence of the Inquisition. They
were very meticulous in their attempts to create a secular government.
But they also incorporated elements of the pentagram symbology
into American symbols. Possibly because they understood how wide
spread the use of this symbol was within all religions. We see
it in the 5 pointed stars on the flag, the eye/pyramid on money,
and even the layout of the nations capital was designed to reflect
- In 1791, Pierre Charles L'Enfante(the designer, who was a
Freemason), laid out Governmental Center of Washington, D.C.,
he planned more than just streets, roads, and buildings. Through
his designs, he incorporated certain occult magikal symbols in
the layout of U.S. Governmental Center. And of course, many fundamental
Christians see this symbol as satanic. In actuality, it's merely
just the top portion of the alchemical formula.
- Victorian Mysticism
- The 19th century brought a new mysticism into polite society.
Metaphysical Societies sprang up around the modern world. Many
of them based on the ancient Holy Kabbalah. The Kabbalah comes
from oral Judaism and relate the nature of God, the divine universe,
morality and occult truths to Man. The Kabbalah is not a religion
unto itself, but rather a system of understanding based upon
symbolism, mathematical and alphabetical interrelationships of
words and concepts.
- Eliphas Levi was a leader in this new movement and was instrumental
in opening the rise of the Victorian lodges of western mystery
traditions such as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, the
Order Temporale Orientalis (O.T.O.), the Rosicrucians or
the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, the Theosophical Society, and
several other mystical organizations. Even the modern lodges
and traditions of speculative Freemasonry had some connection
to this renaissance of mysticism. Levi was also instrumental
in taking the tarot from being a gypsy fortune-telling device
to a powerful set of symbolic images for divination. Levi is
credited with establishing the design upon the pentagram. Such
associative inscriptions as in the Pentacle of the Tetragrammaton
and renaming the suit of 'coins' as 'pentacles'.
- Many believe these orders were the ones who instituted the
workings of ritual magik with the symbolism of the pentagram
and it's elemental attributes, along with those of the hexagram.
There is little evidence to support this view. And more evidence
to link these symbols with ancient Pagan practices. Making the
magik and pentagram connection much older.
- The Golden Dawn did much to advance and disseminate the roots
of modern hermetic Kabbalah around the world during it's height
of popularity from 1888 to around the start of the First World
War. Through writings and teachings of many of it's members,
such as Aleister Crowley, have come some of the most important
ideas of today's Kabbalist philosophy and magik. Aleister Crowley
also had association with the old pre-Reformation 'hereditary'
witches, through his association with Old George Pickingill and
Gerald Gardner. Gerald Gardner, an initiate of Dorothy Clutterbuck,
is the founder of the tradition of Wicca.
- During this time, we also see the first modern association
of the pentagram with 'evil'. Eliphaz Levi Zahed (Alphonse Louis
Constant, a defrocked French Catholic abbé) who illustrated
the upright pentagram beside an inverted pentagram with the goat's
head of Baphomet. It is this illustration and opposite positions
that has led to the concept of different orientations of the
pentagram being 'good' and 'evil'. Which gave ammunition to the
fundamentalists for relating these Victorian mystic practices
and the emerging modern rebirth of Witchcraft as evil and relating
to the devil.
- The Modern Pentagram
- 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 the Wiccan tradition of
Witchcraft. The one-point upward pentagram together with the
upright triangle symbolized third degree initiation. A point
downward triangle is the symbol of First Degree Initiates. The
pentagram was also inscribed on the altar with it's points symbolizing
the three aspects of the Goddess plus the two aspects of the
God in a special form of Gardnerian Pentacle. The writings of
Gardner and his associate Doreen Valiente, brought the long-withered
stem of Witchcraft, the Old Religion out into the world again,
back from the hidden secret societies of the Victorian age and
the attempts of the Inquisition to destroy all who practiced
these ancient beliefs.
- The Christian morality still kept the pentagram in the minds
of modern society as a negative symbol. So it wasn't until the
1960's that the pentagram again became a symbol to be worn in
public. With the rise of Witchcraft and Wicca and the publication
of many books, there was a reaction to the Church view as well.
- The Church of Satan - by Anton LaVey was part of this reaction.
This organization started out as a renewed practice of the following
of Set, an Egyptian deity. For it's emblem, this group adopted
the inverted pentagram after the Baphomet image of Eliphas Levi.
The reaction of the Christian church was to condemn Satanism
as 'evil' and lumping all the re-emerging societies together
as Devil worship. The stigma of Witchcraft and it's use of the
pentagram has continued through to today.
- The distinction between the upright and inverted pentagram
has now been brought into the practices of Witchcraft. As a means
to differentiate the positive practices of Witchcraft, especially
Wicca and it's incorporation of the Wiccan Rede "An in it
harm none", and perceived negative actions of Satanists.
So despite the use and the different meaning of the inverted
pentagram as a symbol of Gardnerian initiation, modern Witchcraft
traditions, notably those in the USA, strongly separate themselves
from the inverted symbol. The upright pentagram or pentacle however
has firmly established itself as a common neo-pagan and Witchcraft
symbol. Again being used in it's original symbolic form from
ancient lore and text.
- The history of the pentagram can be tracked, traced and documented
through out time. Like many spiritual symbols, it has evolved,
grown and gone through it's various associations, rightly or
wrongly, with good and evil. Today, Witchcraft is the fastest
growing religion in the USA. consequently it's symbology and
beliefs are moving into modern society through literature, TV,
Movies and a new sense of courage by it's practioners. The concepts
of positive practices are fighting hard against the stereotypical
evils of the Inquisition and fundamental Christians. But there's
still a long way to go.
- Unfortunately many people are still labeled as evil for wearing
a pentagram. Many children have been expelled from school for
simply wearing the pentagram as a pendant. Teachers who are also
pagan are afraid to wear their spiritual jewelry to work, for
fear of retribution by other teachers or the PTA.
- As society becomes more informed and misconceptions become
corrected, all pagans hope these old stereotypes will fall by
the wayside and acceptance will be granted to everyone regardless
of their beliefs.
Source: 1, m1,