A pentacle is a five-pointed star important in Magic. The pentacle is an ancient Symbol that represents the mastery of humans over all inferior beings and the significance of humans to superior beings.

The exact origin of the pentacle is unknown. The ancient Egyptians used a five-pointed star to represent spiritual education. Pentacles appear in relics dating to the ancient Babylonians, and were used as a secret sign by initiates of the Pythagorean mysteries. In the Middle Ages the pentacle was called the Druid’s Foot, the Wizard’s Foot, and the Goblin’s Cross. It appears in the Kabbalah and in Freemasonry and Rosicrucianism.

The pentacle forms part of a geometric constant called the Golden Section, designated by the Greek letter phi, which was used by the ancient Egyptians in the construction of the Great Pyramid and lauded by Plato as the key to the physics of the universe. The Golden Section, a constant of 1.618, occurs in the lines of a pentacle that is inscribed within a pentagon. The Golden Section was so named during the Renaissance when it was used by such artists as Michelangelo, Raphael, and Leonardo da Vinci. It is still used in modern architecture, including the design of the United Nations building in New York.

The five points of the pentacle represent different things:

• the four Elements of earth, air, water, and fire plus either human or God
• the points of a human with arms and legs outstretched
• the five senses
• the wounds of Christ

Pentacles serve as Tools in magical work and are used in Rituals for the conjuring and control spirits and ELEMENTALS, such as TalismanS for invoking supernatural powers and astrological influences and as Amulets for protection from evil forces. Pentacles are embroidered on magicians’ clothing and etched into RINGS, jewelry, wands, and tools.

Pentacle also refers to other magical symbols: circles, semicircles, squares, and crosses that have been inscribed on disks of clay, metal, or wood with the names of God, angels, or demons. These are used for specific spells.

The Key of Solomon, the most important of the magical Grimoires, places great importance on pentacles as a means of protection against spirits evoked in ritual and also as a means of controlling them:

The Medals or Pentacles, which we make for the purpose of striking terror into the Spirits and reducing them to obedience, have besides this wonderful and excellent virtue. If thou invokest the Spirits by virtue of these Pentacles, they will obey thee without repugnance, and having considered them they will be struck with astonishment, and will fear them, and thou shalt see them so surprised by fear and terror, that none of them will be sufficiently bold to wish to oppose thy will . . . for the safety both of soul and of body, the Master [the magician] and the Companions [assistants] should have the Pentacles before their breasts, consecrated, and covered with a silken veil, and perfumed with the proper fumigations. By the which being assured and encouraged, they may enter into the matter without fear or terror, and they shall be exempt and free from all perils and dangers. . . .

According to the Key, the pentacles must be made of virgin parchment made from the skin of an animal that was sacrificed by the magician. Inverted, the pentacle represents black magic and the dark forces, the opposite of God. According to Helena P. Blavatsky, co-founder of the Theosophical Society, it is the symbol of Kali Yuga, the present dark age of violence and materialism in Hindu belief. In occultism, it represents the infernal BAPHOMET or Goat of Mendes. The Church of Satan, formed in 1966, adopted an emblem of a Baphomet inside an inscribed inverted pentacle.
Magick Library - Books

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Further Reading:

  • Barrett, Francis. The Magus. 1801. Reprint, Secaucus, N.J.: The Citadel Press, 1967.
  • Butler, E. M. Ritual Magic. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1949.
  • Cavendish, Richard. The Black Arts. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1967.
  • Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft. 2d ed. New York: Facts On File Inc., 1999.

From: The Encyclopedia of Magic and Alchemy Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley Copyright © 2006 by Visionary Living, Inc.