The five-pointed star or pentagram is one of the most potent, powerful, and persistent symbols in human history. The earliest pentagrams were rough diagrams found scratched into stone age caves. While they are believed to have some spiritual significance, the meaning of the star-shape to early humans is a mystery. According to the Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras, five was the number of man, because of the fivefold division of the body, and the ancient Greek division of the Soul. According to Pythagoras, the five points of the pentagram each represent one of the five elements that make up man: fire, water, air, earth and psyche (energy, fluid, breath, matter and mind; also liquid, gas, solid, plasma and aethyr, or spirit).
Renaissance-era ritual magicians, like the Greeks, used the Pentagram as a Microcosm of the human body. The practice of Ritual Magic was used to create a state of closeness with God through the use of symbols and rituals to imitate the divine state. It was believed that like affects like, that the connection between the world of symbols and the world of actions could also be manipulated for evil purposes. One of these magicians, Giordano Bruno, warned of such misuse of the powerful pentacle by Black magicians. The pentagram is still central to the practice of ritual magic, and is used in the foundation of many of its rituals.
On this day in 1600, the Italian friar, astronomer and philosopher Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake for heresy. His ideas were controversial for his day, but are now hailed as precursory to modern scientific understanding. Bruno proposed the concept of an infinite universe populated by other intelligent life and rejected traditional geocentric astronomy. He agreed with Copernicus that the planets revolve around the Sun, but expanded on this by suggesting that the Sun is just another star. For these unorthodox views (and others beyond astrology) which challenged traditional Christian ideas about the universe, Bruno was found guilty of heresy by the Roman Inquisition and burned at the stake. For his refusal to renounce his beliefs, Giordano Bruno is often remembered as a martyr for free thought.
“Perhaps your fear in passing judgment on me is greater than mine in receiving it” - Giordano Bruno to the judges upon hearing his death sentence
Leonora Carrington -
The Burning of Giordano Bruno (1964)
The Universe is one, infinite, immobile. The absolute potential is one, the act is one, the form or soul is one, the material or body is one, the thing is one, the being in one, one is the maximum and the best… It is not generated, because there is no other being it could desire or hope for, since it comprises all being. It does not grow corrupt. because there is nothing else into which it could change, given that it is itself all things. It cannot diminish or grow, since it is infinite.
- Girodano Bruno
De la Causa, Principio e Uno (1584)
Giordano Bruno - Hermetic Trinity, “Articuli Centum et Sexaginta Adversus Huius Tempestatis Mathematicos Atque Philosophos”, 1588.
These three figures are said to be most ‘fecund’, not only for Geometry but for all sciences and for contemplating and operating.
Figura Mentis - There is a ‘Supernal Triad’, consisting of the Father, or Mind, or plenitude; of the Son, or the Primal Intellect; of Light which is the Spirit of all things, or the Anima Mundi. Ancient theologians understand by the Father, or Mind, who generates Intellect, or the Son, between them being fulgor, or Light (Love). Hence one may contemplate in the Father, the Essence of Essences; in the Son the Beauty and Love of generating; in fulgor, or Light, the Spirit pervading and vivifying all. Thus a Triad may be imagined; ‘Pater, Mens; Filium Verbum; et per Verbum, Universa sunt Producta’. From Mens proceeds Intellectus; from Intellectus proceeds Affectus or Love. Mens sits above all; Intellectus sees and distributes all; Love makes and disposes all. This last is Light or fulgor which fills all things and is diffused through all. Whence it is called the Anima Mundi and Spiritus Universorum, and is that of which Virgil spoke when he said ‘Spiritus Intus Alit’.
Figura Intellectus - A remarkable feature of Bruno’s “De Monade” is the use which he makes in it of Cecco d’Ascoli‘s Necromantic commentary on the Sphere of Sacrobosco. The longest quotation from Cecco comes when Bruno is discussing ten, the number sacred to the ten Sephiroth. He mentions these, but later describes orders of Demons or Spirits whose hierarchies can be contemplated in the intersection of Circles. These (the orders of Demons) are contemplated in the intersection of Circles, as Astophon says in “Libro Mineralium Constellatorum”. “O how great is the power in the intersection of Circles”. This is Cecco’s quotation from the “Astophon” who is to be heard of nowhere else and was probably invented by Cecco. It throws Light on why intersecting Circles are such a prominent feature in the Diagrams by which Bruno represents his Hermetic Trinity.
Figura Amoris - Light is the vehicle in the Inner World through which the Divine images and intimations are imprinted, and this Light is not that through which normal sense impressions reach the eyes, but an Inner Light joined to a most profound contemplation, of which Moses speaks, calling it ‘Primogenita’, and of which Mercurius also speaks in “Pimander”. Here the Genesis-Pimander equation, so characteristic of the Hermetic-Cabalist tradition, is applied by Bruno to Creation of the Inner World.
Giordano Bruno wasn’t executed for this cosmological beliefs per se, but because he rejected major planks of Catholicism such as the virginity of Mary, the trinity, and as the image says, transubstantiation.
His ideas, while often wrong, were still a triumph of common sense over religious gibberish.
“Invisible lines link small earthly things like, for instance, the power of men, to the stars, to the infinite worlds that we don’t yet know. The moon causes the tides and women’s menstruation. The life or death of plants depend on the sun, as does the alternation of the seasons, and even the life or death of men.
To a new vision of the universe, we must associate a new vision of man. We must associate a new vision of man. If the earth goes around the sun, as the other planets go around the sun, if other suns, solar systems, exist, all around the universe, if this is true - and it is true - then God is not up above us, outside the world, but everywhere, in any living or inert particle of matter. God is matter itself.”