Universally respected, feared and especially misunderstood, the pentagram is a very ancient symbol of harmony, health and mystical powers and still considered to be one of the most potent. A common and unfortunate misconception, especially more recently, is that the pentagram has an inherently negative or offensive meaning, representing evil, especially being portrayed by the popular media in association with ‘black magic’.
The Pentagram, an astro-alchemical hieroglyph, is a geometric, five-pointed star with interwoven bars that can appear either isolated or within a circle, usually with one point uppermost, imbued with many esoteric qualities. Some commonly used alternative names for the pentagram include pentacle, pentangle, and pentalpha. It is believed to have originated over 5,000 years ago in Mesopotamia, as a graphic description of the astronomical movements observed in the conjunctions between the planet Venus and the Sun. Representing Venus, the pentagram is also known as the morning star.
Passing through Sumerian and then Egyptian cultures the pentagram is argued as being the original device central to the Seal of Solomon as well as serving as the ancient seal of Jerusalem for 150 years.
Many interpretations exist for the meaning of this mystical star, reaching across many cultures, religions and ages, mostly being of a positive or ‘good’ nature. Pythagorean mystics in ancient Greece interpreted the symbol as being the sum of the numbers two, (representing feminine/terrestrial), and three, (representing masculine/celestial), making five, the microcosm of the human mind and spirit. From that time, the symbol increasingly took on greater occult and religious significance. The five points came to represent, for Christians, the protective power of the Five Wounds of Christ; for alchemists and Gnostics, the five elements of spirit, air, fire, water, and earth; for medieval sorcerers and magicians, the force of Solomon over nature and the spirit world.
Like the circle, the ‘endless’ attribute of the pentagram represents perfection, continuity and eternity, with the power of binding evil forces and elements and therefore denoting good luck. As illustrated by Leonardo, the symbol is an allegory of the outstretched figure, the microcosm of man reflecting his integral personality and potential perfection.
Talismans and amulets were frequently created using the pentacle as their focal point, often with the addition of Latin or Cabalistic Hebrew characters and within a protective circle. These could be drawn on virgin calfskin or chalked onto doors and floors, or fashioned from metals, ivory, etc as rings and amulets and inscribed in wood, rock or bone.
As with other emotively meaningful symbols, the pentacle’s inversion is usually, though not exclusively, used to mean the ‘Goat’s foot’, or Devil’s Goat, representing Satan, and the ‘black hand’ in medieval magic.