“Symbols are constantly recycled in society and religion. Their meanings evolve over time and can differ from belief system to belief system.”
A pentacle/pentagram is one of those symbols that has picked up a whole lot of baggage over the years. Beginner Wiccans often come to our religion having to ‘reprogram’ their own way of thinking about the pentagram. For years, pop culture, media hysteria and other religions have drilled the idea into our heads that Pagan symbols are bad, and the pentagram is evil.
Unfortunately, in a lot of books aimed at Wicca for beginners, more misinformation about the pentagram is spread. This time, it errs on the side of trying to make the pentagram look good, attaching to it all kinds of romanticized ideas that are just not factual.
What is a pentagram? What is a pentacle? Is there a difference? Let’s have a closer look at the history of this symbol, and the meaning of the pentagram today.
WHAT IS A PENTAGRAM?
A good place to begin anytime you’re trying to understand a word and its usage is to hit the dictionary and look up the entomology of the word. The word pentagram is rooted in the Greek.
Instead of giving you my own interpretations, I’ll take the meaning directly from the dictionary:
MEANING OF A PENTAGRAM: A BRIEF HISTORY
The earliest use of the pentagram we know of is from ancient Sumeria– but it wasn’t a religious Pagan symbol. It was a word in their language that meant a corner or angle (due to the 5 sharp angles in the figure).
In the 6th century BCE, Pherecydes of Syros used it to illustrate the five recesses of the cosmology. Pentagram figures occasionally turned up in the far East as well, due to the 5 Chinese elements: wood, fire, earth, metal, water.
Pythagoras went on to use the pentagram as the symbol of man. Partly it was because the shape represented a human standing with his arms spread wide (the top point being the head, the to outer points the arms, and the bottom two points the legs). It was also considered to represent the 5 elements that the Greeks believed made up the physical body: Earth (matter), Air (breath), Fire (energy), Water (fluids) and Aether (the psyche or soul). When Pythagoras’ school was driven underground, students used the pentagram as a secret symbol to identify each other.
In ancient Judaism it was a symbol found in mysticism, related to the top portion of the Tree of Life in the Kabbalah, it stood for the 5 books of the Torah (what Christians refer to as the Pentateuch in the Old Testament of the Bible) and the symbol was featured in a seal representing the secret names of God.
Early Christians into the middle ages used the pentagram heavily as a symbol for Christ’s five wounds. The star of Bethlehem that lead the wise men to the baby Jesus was believed to be the pentagram. In Authorial legends, you’ll often see the symbol of the Pentagram inscribed on knight’s shields and other things—these were actually Christian, not Pagan, references. Christians thought of the pentagram as a protective amulet, and it was the primary symbol of Christianity back then, even more common than the cross.
So the pentagram had a long, ancient history of uses as a Pagan symbol and Judeo-Christian symbol. It had no single meaning. It represented perfection in mathematics, the human body, words, and was also used in religious ritual and magic.
BUT WHAT ABOUT WITCHES, WICCANS, AND SATANISTS?
So I’ve mentioned that just about everyone had used the pentagram back then, except I haven’t mentioned Witches, Wiccans and Satanists. What about them?
The fact is, they didn’t really exist yet. The only “witches” at the time were the kind of folklore and rumor. Oh, don’t get me wrong—there were people who did magick, but they would not have identified with the term “witch”.
WHEN THE PENTAGRAM BECAME ASSOCIATED WITH “EVIL”
The 14th and 15th century saw the rise of occult practices that were rooted in Judeo-Christian symbolism and mysticism, and they borrowed liberally from many of the symbols, including the pentagram. They also borrowed from Gnostic and Paganism symbols. It’s no small surprise Ceremonial Magicians were accused by the Christian church of heresy. And heresy, to a medieval Christian, barrels down to Paganism, Satan worship and witchcraft.
Anything liberally used by Ceremonial Magicians became associated with anything considered heretical. If you don’t want to be associated with such things, you don’t use their symbols.
By Victorian times, the witch hunt craze was ending, and people started to forget how pentagrams were once very common, prominent Christian symbols. It’s now associated with paganism, Satan and witchcraft, and seen as an evil symbol.
The love of romanticized myth and history drive a new movement: the Pagan revival, and the pentagram gets turned around again. This is where it gets confusing, because misinformation and false histories begin to fly liberally from the late 19th to mid-20th century.
This is the time the Pagan Revival begins (mostly a re-invention than a re-construction of “Old Ways”). This is when Margaret Murray published her theories on ancient Witch cults being peaceful Pagan religions—though her works have been completely debunked since. This is when Gerald Gardner founded Wicca, and people came crawling out of the woodwork claiming to be ‘hereditary Witches’, or claiming their coven was ancient, or claiming some unbroken line to the Pagan religions of antiquity. This is also when a few ‘reverse Christian’ groups popped up, with practices specifically designed to mock and rebel against Christianity (those these groups were pretty rare and the NeoPagan community did their best to distance themselves from such groups).
One thing most of these groups have in common, though, is that they adopt the pentagram.
Hollywood – new on the scene in the mid-20th century – adopts the pentagram as well. Hollywood is not interested in accuracy; it’s interested in the shock value of things. They adopt it as a symbol for evil magic and reverse-Christian style devil worship and stick it into just about every horror movie conceivable. This fuels the antics of a lot of bored, rebellious people, particularly teens, who like to spray paint it on park walls and carve it into trees for the shock value.
By the late 20th century, the pentagram is being used and abused all over the place, but it is Hollywood who manages to make an indelible imprint on the social consciousness—and this is further driven by the media with sensationalized reporting during the 1970’s “Satanic Ritual Abuse” hysteria (which has also been debunked).
It’s only the tail end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century in which the pentagram is finally gaining some understanding. Though mainstream society hasn’t completely lost the ‘kneejerk reaction’ to it, the growth of the Pagan Revival and the availability of information via the Internet have helped to quell some of the shock value and fears over it.
WICCAN SYMBOLS: PENTAGRAM VS. PENTACLE
More misconceptions abound, considering the Pagan community more commonly refers to the symbol as a ‘pentacle’ rather than a ‘pentagram’. Many books and websites have tried (and failed) to make the distinction clear. Some assertions I’ve read in passing are:
The pentagram is evil with one point down
the pentacle is good with one point up
The pentagram is just the star
the pentacle is the star with a circle around it
The pentagram is 2-D; the pentacle is 3-D
Actually, all of these answers would be technically incorrect. If you look at the definitions provided above, pentagram and pentacle are synonymous, and have nothing to do with which way the points face, or whether or not they have a circle around them.
“Personally, I prefer to call it a pentacle simply because it’s easier on the ears, but this is just my opinion. I’ve noticed that ill-informed individuals in my local society are less likely to become hostile in conversation when it is referred to as a ‘pentacle.’ I’m not one for confrontation so this works for me.”
A look at the dictionary’s answer to pentacle and you see that the only real difference is one is derived from the Greek, the other from the Latin:
DICTIONARY MEANING OF A PENTACLE:
THE PENTACLE: NOT JUST A FIGURE, BUT A TOOL
A tool arose out of ceremonial magic. This tool was a flat, round disc or paper that was inscribed with protective symbols (a pentagram could be inscribed on it, but there were other symbols they used as well). It is used as an amulet of warding and power because a large part of Ceremonial Magic is invoking and commanding various entities from Judeo-Christian beliefs.
It was called the pentacle or sometimes pantacle. On the Tarot (a Christian-origin divination system), the symbol is used for the suit of coins, and it represents the Element of Earth.
Wicca and other NeoPagan religions borrowed this tool from Ceremonial Magic. They kept the name, but re-defined its purpose since Wiccans don’t believe in Judeo-Christian entities and is not concerned with calling or commanding spirits.
The pentacle (the disc) was adopted as an altar tool, and is used to symbolize the Element of Earth on the altar. It’s also used as a tool for placing sacred items upon it when cleansing, consecrating or charging them.
The Wiccan symbol of choice for this round disc was the pentagram/pentacle. To further confuse things, this tool does not have to be inscribed with a pentagram/pentacle.
TYPICAL MEANING OF A PENTAGRAM/PENTACLE IN WICCA
As far as Wiccan symbols go, the pentagram isn’t a representation of good vs. evil. It’s a symbol of our faith, a symbol of the 5 Elements (one for each point), and the circle (the universe) contains and connects them all. No matter which way it’s facing, circle or no circle, there’s nothing ‘bad’ about it.
Another misconception about the pentagram in Wicca is which way it points. Again, you will find common misinformation that says the pentagram is “evil” if point down and “good” if point up. The point down is most commonly associated with Satanism, because the largest branch of Satanism (Church of Satan, est. 1966) adopted the inverted pentagram with a goat head inside of it as their symbol.
It’s traditionally used both point up and point down. Point up pentagrams are more common; but point down pentagrams are not considered evil at all.
The point-up pentagram represents the spirit ascending above matter. The top point represents the Element of Spirit, the other four points represent the four Spiritual Elements.
When a pentagram is point-down, it represents spirit descending into matter. This is most traditionally used in lineage covens during second degree initiations, because it’s at this point of one’s spiritual path that one turns “inward”. You face and challenge your ‘dark side’ – your base emotions, fears, ignorance, prejudices, etc., you deal with them and develop mastery over yourself.
screen printed on the back and both sleeves. To find out more please visit my web store. first couple of orders will receive a goodie bag with these very limited ramen friends badges I made! first come first serve :3
Most of the things I know about Turalyon are from the books (Tides of Darkness and Beyond the Dark Portal) and I just loved his friendship with Khadgar. That’s too perfect to see them smile and laugh. They were still so young. And now they’re reunited !! 💛
The Esbats, or Wiccan lunar holy days, celebrate the moon’s passage around the Earth. The Esbats offer Wiccans a chance to regularly put aside time to step away from the ordinary world and dedicate time to spiritual reflection and/or magical work. In Wicca, each phase of the Moon is noted, because different kinds of Moon energy are used for different kinds of magick.
Some groups extend these celebrations to include the dark moon/new moon, or even the first and last quarters. In many traditions, the eight festivals of the Wheel of the Year (Sabbats) are considered times of celebration, while the main “magickal work” is done on the Esbats. If you’re having a hard time figuring out what phase the moon is in, there are many phone apps and websites that track it. Here are the usual basics. (Please Note: if you do not wish to practice magick for any reason at any time on any phase, you can simply meditate on the moon phases. For example, during the dark/new moon you would meditate on banishing something severely negative in your life instead of performing an intense banishment spell. If you don’t have the time or energy to meditate or practice magick for any reason at any time on any phase, that’s okay! Take a break!)
Dark Moon/New Moon
A potent time for your most powerful destructive magick. Note, destructive does not necessarily mean ‘harmful’. You don’t have to destroy a person.
Magickal workings conducive to the dark moon include destroying or banishing very powerful things, such as unwanted entities, addictions or serious diseases. I would not use this time lightly– it’s got a little too much 'umph’ behind it to just get rid of a whiny ex who still calls you once in a while, to break your habit of having a second cup of coffee in the morning, or if you have the sniffles. But if you were dealing with, say, a stalker, a drug addiction, cancer, etc.– something that poses a serious threat – then this is the best timing for it.
Waxing Crescent Moon
When the moon is “waxing” it appears to be growing, the period from the dark to full moon phases. It’s magnetic energy assists with bringing things to out. This entire waxing period is the best time to work with constructive magick, or magick that builds things/brings things to us.
The waxing crescent is the best time for magick on yourself (or on the subject) pertaining to new beginnings, such as starting a new project or making plans for the future. If you’re looking to conjure energies into your life such as a more positive attitude, more patience, more understanding in your relationship, this is the perfect timing for such goals. When you want to cast spells for self improvement, such as if you want to improve your psychic abilities, to absorb the information in a new class, or bring out your inner beauty, this is the time to do it. Artists or anyone artistic/creative will find this the best time to cast spells or perform meditations that will bring inspiration and passion into your work.
First Quarter Moon
The First Quarter, or Waxing Half Moon, is the time when energies are most conducive to attraction. Unlike the Waxing Crescent, which is best for going within and bringing things out, this is the best time for magick that attempts to draw things outside of yourself to you.
Use this time for spells and meditations meant to attract things you want in your life, such as money, protection or success. It’s also an ideal time for attracting people into your life, such as friends, lovers and clients. If you’re looking for an animal companion or have one that you want to bond with, this is a good time to perform the workings.
If you’re looking for a lost object, or house hunting, etc., this is a good time to perform spells for success in that area to help you bring that which you most desire into manifestation.
Waxing Gibbous Moon
The Waxing Gibbous is still a time for constructive magick, best used towards 'reeling in’ that which you’ve been working for already. If you started a project and it’s floundering, stalled, if you’re at the point when the thing you’re working for is coming into the home stretch and you need some extra energy to bring it home, the Waxing Gibbous will give it a boost.
This phase is a great energy for renewing your strength, will and determination to see your efforts through. If you are giving in to temptation on your diet, working hard toward something and feeling burnt out or are at the point where you’re getting lazy and distracted from completing your tasks, give yourself a power boost during the Waxing Gibbous.
When the Earth is caught between the moon and the sun, the result is the Full Moon bearing the most powerful energies of the lunar cycle. The Full Moon is often seen by people as 'all purpose’– it’s energies are prismatic in that it flows into all areas and needs, be it constructive or destructive.
Even more so than the Dark Moon, the Full Moon is a time you would utilize for extra power when you’re facing very difficult challenges. This is not just for minor mundane tasks, such as looking for the energy to reorganize your closet or trying to clear negativity out of the house after an argument; this is a time to reserve for those important things in your life that need major changes or major boosts.
While you can plan spells for anything, utilize this energy for your priorities that really matter in your life. If you need to win a court case, or find a new job with better pay to prevent you from losing your home,
Magicks and meditations revolving around spirituality, psychic development, dreams and divination are particularly well times for the Full Moon.
Waning Gibbous Moon
After the Full Moon peaks, we enter the waning half of the lunar cycle. Waning energies repel rather than attract, so it’s a good time to begin working on spells to get rid of things.
Minor banishings can begin with the Waning Gibbous. This is a good time for general cleansings to upkeep your home, office, garden or any of your personal spaces, etc., to keep things from mounting up. This is also a good time to cleanse any personal objects you may have, such as your jewelry or magickal tools. Think of this more like routine dusting– there’s no major build-up, you’re just trying to keep things clear to prevent problems.
If you have something for which you need closure, or if you’re ready to end something in your life (such as an unfulfilling relationship or unsatisfying business venture), this is a good time for spells to bring things to their fruition.
As for meditations and divination, rather than looking to the future or onto new things, it’s a good time for introspection. Where have your previous attitudes and actions brought you? What things in your life have been affecting you most? Are you happy with where you are? Do you need to make any attitude or behavior adjustments?
Third Quarter Moon
The Third Quarter, or the Waning Half-Moon, is the perfect timing for dealing with obstacles or leaping over hurdles that might cause you to stumble on your way. Whenever you’ve been working toward something, and there’s a roadblock in your path, the timing of this moon phase offers appropriate energies for helping you burst through it.
Temptations are the number one thing I like to deal with during the Third Quarter. If I’m finding that I often want to cheat on my life-diet, or lay in bed rather than get up and do my exercise, or watch TV and fool around on the internet rather than working, I banish that temptation with a spell.
Another good use of this moon phase’s energy is in aiding with transitions, whether these are transitions that you have to make or simply want to make in your life. It can help smooth out any wrinkles that might cause snags as you go on your way.
Waning Crescent Moon
If you need to clear your life and home of negativity, stress, strife, chaos, etc., now is the time to do it. The Waning Crescent, as it approaches the Dark Moon phase, it suitable for stronger banishing than at any other time of the waning moon phases. Get rid of whatever has been plaguing you– anything you find to be seriously annoying, frustrating or concerning (save things that are serious threats for that Dark Moon).
If you need things to end– not just to finish up and bring to a close, but things that no longer serve you that you need to just stop in their tracks– this moon phase is a good time to do it. Dropping a hopeless project, relationship, friendship, etc. is best done at this time. This is a good time to cast a spell for anything for which you wish to bring about a swift and benign ending.
January Full Moon
The Wolf Moon, also known as the, Cold, Snow or Winter Moon, etc., is a time of protection and strength. The Wolf Moon can be seen as a time of both beginnings and endings.
February Full Moon
The Storm Moon, also known as the Death or Quickening Moon,
is a time to do magick for fertility and strength. In the olden days, it was a time of true hardship.
March Full Moon
The Chaste Moon, also known as the Seed or Worm Moon,
the Chaste Moon is a time to plant mental seeds- thoughts of success and hope. This is also a time of purity and newness. It is a time to mentally prepare yourself for new experiences.
April Full Moon
The Seed Moon, also known as the Egg, Grass, or Wind Moon,
etc., This is the time to sow the seeds of Magick. If you’re planting a magickal garden, you want to get out there and put things into the earth. This is a time to move your planning phase into action.
May Full Moon
The Hare Moon, also known as the Flower or Planting Moon,
is a time of health, love, romance, and wisdom. It is also a great time to rekindle the romantic spark and passion in a relationship.
June Full Moon
The Lovers Moon, also known as the Strawberry or Rose Moon,
the Lovers Moon brings with it energy for love, marriage, and success.
July Full Moon
The Mead Moon, also known as the Blessing, Lightning, or Thunder Moon,
is a time of enchantment, health, rebirth, success and strength. It is also a time of celebration and magick. Remember that mead is the nectar of the Gods. Now is a good time for prosperity magick.
August Full Moon
The Wyrt Moon, also known as the Wort, Barley, Corn, or Red Moon,
is a time of abundance, agriculture and marriage. At this time you might want to do magick to help someone else reap the benefits of the Earth’s abundance. (With their permission of course!)
September Full Moon
The Harvest Moon, also known as the Barley or Hunters Moon,
the harvest Moon is a time of protection, prosperity, and abundance. The energy of the Harvest Moon will help along any magick that is geared to bring you or someone else abundance.
October Full Moon
The Blood Moon is sometimes called the Falling Leaf or Hunters Moon,
etc. It is a Moon of new goals, protection, resolution, and spirituality. The night of the Blood Moon is a great time for divination of any kind. At this time of year all of nature is making ready for winter. This is a time to reflect on what you did during the year and to evaluate your accomplishments.
November Full Moon
The Snow Moon, is also known as the Beaver, Mourning, or Tree Moon
etc. This is a good time to work with abundance, prosperity, and the bonds of family and friendship. This is also an excellent time to use divination to get an idea of what’s up ahead. Remind yourself that although winter is coming, it will not last forever.
December Full Moon
The Oak Moon, also known as the Cold or Long Night Moon,
etc., the oak Moon is a time for hope and healing. This time of the year the Moon has reign over the earth, because there are more hours of night than day. Our thoughts turn to rebirth of the light and the longer days that are promised after winter solstice. This is a great time to let go of old patterns or problems and start anew. If something has been eating at you for a long time, work to give it up at this time. Let go of the negative and let the light of longer days shine inside you.