Understanding the Pentacle and Pentagram

One of the most essential items a witch uses when casting spells is the symbol of a five-pointed star, known as a pentacle or pentagram. Believed to date back more than five thousand years to ancient Mesopotamia, the pentagram has been a powerful and positive symbol for many different religions throughout history, as well as in alchemy. In pagan times the symbol was often worn as an amulet for spiritual protection and to ensure a safe, happy homecoming. The five points of the star represent the five elements; spirit is the topmost point, and the other points, moving in a clockwise direction, are water, fire, earth, and air.

 

pentagram photoWhen turned upside down, the pentacle assumes the shape of a goat, symbolizing the horned god of some neo-pagan faiths. At some point in Western history—the actual date is debated by scholars—the five-pointed star became erroneously equated with Satan and devil worship. As time went on, those working on the darker side of magick adopted the down-turned pentagram sign that often appears in horror movies today. Because of the bad press, and probably because most witches want to practice purely white magick and not associate themselves with anything negative, we tend to use the pentacle in the more familiar upright position that, if you look closely, resembles the form of a human: the top point of the star is the head, the outer points represent the arms, and the lower points correspond to the legs. Many witches wear pentagram necklaces and earrings as a form of protection or as a way for fellow witches to recognize them.

When casting spells, it is always best to have this symbol on your person or somewhere on your altar. You can either draw a simple pentagram or, if you are an artistic soul, create a more ornate centerpiece with painted glass or something similar. As you set up your altar, place the pentacle directly in the center so that you can arrange the other items all around it. The size of the five-pointed star doesn’t matter in the slightest. You can have a full-size dinner-plate version or just a small earring.

 

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