In the beginning, the pentagram (pentagon) was a holy symbol for The Divine. How did it come to represent evil? And why is it now the most popular image of modern Wiccans and witchcraft?
The pentagram is a five-pointed star within a circle. Originally, the single peak was on top and pointed towards God. It was first recorded around 3500 BC. The Ancient Mesopotamians used it represent their power extending into the four corners of the world.
The Hebrews chose the pentagram to signify Truth, and Pythagoras’ followers considered it to be the emblem of Perfection. Celtic Druids also associated it with the Godhead, because five was their sacred number.
The Early Christians connected the pentagram with the Five Wounds of Christ, but eventually decided to use the symbol of the Cross as their banner instead. Yet the religious connection to the “Endless Knot” of the star endured, and it soon became a personal talisman to ward off demons. In Medieval times it was used as an amulet over windows and doors to stop evil from entering the home.
According to Arthurian legend, Sir Gawain adopted the pentagram for the coat-of-arms on his shield, claiming the five points represented Generosity, Courtesy, Chastity, Chivalry, and Piety.
It was also used by the Knights Templar, who believed the pentagram contained certain mystical powers. Later, when they were persecuted by King Louis IX’s Inquisition, this symbol became associated with heresy.
Before long, the five-pointed star was linked with the Horned God, Pan. It was renamed the “Witch’s Foot” and entered in the mythology of witches and pagans. No longer did the pentagram represent the Divine. For many years it was the public symbol of Satan and his devils.
In private, however, the power of the pentagram lived on. Western Occultists and Freemasons believed that mankind was a smaller part of a greater universe and they decided that this symbol – the “Star of the Microcosm” – was the best representation of human insignificance.
During the Nineteenth Century certain Metaphysical Societies – particularly those based on the ancient Holy Kabbalah – established the pentagram as part of the Tarot Card system of divination. They renamed the Suit of Coins as the Suit of Pentacles.
Twentieth Century Satanists adopted inverted pentagrams (and inverted crucifixes) as symbols of evil – an unfortunate association that has stuck in public consciousness.
Meanwhile, the upright pentagram has been reclaimed by Wiccans and Witches. They see it as a representation of the five elements – Earth, Fire, Wind, Air, and Spirit. It remains the most recognized symbol of their beliefs, and has once again become associated with the Divine!
Cyber Witchcraft. “Witchcraft Symbols,” at http://www.cyberwitchcraft.com/witchcraft-symbols.html
Pagan’s Path. “History of the Pentagram”: at http://www.paganspath.com/magik/pentacle1.htm
Wikipedia. “Pentagram,” at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentagram