The pentacle, a five-pointed star with a single point upright, is the most important symbol of contemporary Witchcraft. It is both a religious symbol, as the cross is to Christianity and the six-pointed star is to Judaism, and a symbol of the magical craft of Witchcraft. A written or drawn pentacle is called a pentagram. In Craft rituals and Magic, the pentacle is a round disk made of clay, wax or earthenware (or, in some traditions, copper or Silver) which is inscribed with a pentagram and other magical sigils and symbols and is used to consecrate the Magic circle, ground energy and cast spells. In rituals such as DrAwIng Down the moon, the high priestess may assume the pentacle position—standing with arms and legs outstretched—the symbol of birth and rebirth.
Many Witches wear a pentacle pendant or ring as a sign of their religion, or as an Amulet or Talisman. most are made of silver, the metal of the moon and psychic forces, but some are made of gold, the metal of power and energy. Some Covens use the pentacle as the sigil of Witches initiated into the second degree.
In ritual, pentagrams are drawn in the air with the sword or athame. The methods of drawing a pentagram are precise and vary according to purpose. Pentagrams to invoke are drawn differently than pentagrams to banish. In magic, the pentagram is the Witch’s symbol of protection and positive power and is used to control the elemental forces. Pentagrams also are used in Craft meditation exercises, in which each point of the star is associated with a specific quality, attribute, concept, emotion or the name of a Pagan deity.
The magician’s pentacle is a round disk or circle inscribed, customarily, with a five-pointed star. It is also called the Pentacle of Solomon and is an important and powerful magical symbol of divine power. According to various interpretations, it represents God or man and the four elements of nature; the five senses; the five wounds inflicted on Christ on the cross; and the five points of man in an outstretched position: head, arms and legs. The magician embroiders pentacles on his robes and inscribes them inside and outside the magic circles used in ceremonies and rituals. Pentacles are engraved on rings. As an amulet, the pentacle protects the magician against attack from Demons and spirits; as a talisman, it enables him to conjure and command them.
Some pentacles are symbols other than the fivepointed star: circles, semicircles, squares and crosses, inscribed with the names of angels or Demons, or the magical names of God (see nAmes oF power). These symbols act as talismans to achieve a specific purpose, such as wealth, love or revenge.
The sacred symbol of Witchcraft often is misunderstood because of associations of the inverted pentacle, with single point down and double points up, with the infernal. If an upright five-pointed star represents God or the deity, then the reverse is said to represent Satan. In the 19th century, Eliphas Levi described the inverted pentacle as representing the horns of the goat of the witches’ sabbat. “It is the goat of lust attacking the Heavens with its horns. It is a sign execrated by initiates of a superior rank, even at the Sabbath,” Lévi said in key of the mysteries.
The Church of Satan, founded in 1966 in America, adopted as its symbol the Baphomet, an encircled inverted pentacle inscribed with a goat’s head and kabbalistic symbols spelling “Leviathan,” an infernal serpent associated with the Devil (see Satanism). In Europe, some modern Witches used the inverted pentacle to denote the second-degree rank. This use declined, because of the association of the symbol with Satanism.
- Adler, Margot. Drawing Down the Moon. revised ed. New York: Viking, 1986.
- Farrar, Janet, and Stewart Farrar. A Witches Bible Compleat. New York: Magickal Childe, 1984.
The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft and Wicca – written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – Copyright © 1989, 1999, 2008 by Visionary Living, Inc.
A pentagram In Magic, usually a PENTACLE enclosed in a circle. The pentagram is used in Rituals and Spell casting. Pentagrams are traced in the air with a magical TOOL, such as a dagger, for banishing unwanted energies and invoking desired spirit presences, and for opening and closing rituals.
The pentagram also is the religious symbol of Wicca and represents the five senses and the four elements plus Spirit or Mind (see Quintessence).
GIORDANO BRUNO said that five is the number of the soul because the human form is bounded by five outer points. Thus magicians and sorcerers could cast spells by using a pentagram.
The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley Copyright © 2006 by Visionary Living, Inc.