Pentagrams and Pentacles

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A pentagram is classically a five-pointed star drawn with five straight strokes of the pen, and is a common theme not only in modern day Wiccan and Neopagan iconography, but dating back through Christianity to the Babylonian times. Additionally, there is a heavy masonic symbolism to the shape.

The word “pentacle” is often used synonymously, though technically this is a pentagram enclosed by a solid circle circumference, as we see in the Dante’s Hex Necklace.

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The symbolism of the pentagram is much argued, with different cultures and beliefs stating a different meaning to the simple shape. For Christians, it may represent the five senses or the five wounds of Christ. The symbol recurs in the romantic tales of King Arthur, where it is said to have five meanings. The two mentioned above in addition to: the five fingers, the five joys Mary had of Jesus and the five virtues of Knighthood.

Neopagans, though not the Reconstructionists, bear the pentagram as their religious symbol, much as a Christian may wear a cross. The symbolism is straight-forward and brings the human spirit into alignment with nature. Earth, fire, air and water are represented in the lines of the pentagram, with the human spirit resting at the highest point. If engirdled by a circle, this often symbolises unity, the goddess and protectiveness. The pentagram is heavily associated with the female spirit and Venus.

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Many people, on seeing the pentagram, may think of satanic rituals and darker magics, confusing the work and belief of paganism with something more anarchistic. However, Satanist rituals involve the reversion of the pentagram, so that two points reach upwards, while three, representing the holy trinity, point downwards in rejection.

Beyond those mentioned above, the pentagram is used in many belief systems as something of balance and centralisation – a focal point for power and belief. While some see it as sinister, and a sign of dark forces at work, others see it as a union with the goddess, and the empowerment of the human spirit.

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