Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Pentagrams and Pentacles

This is a pentacle.
There is always a lot of discussion about which is which.

The most recent piece of idiocy I found was this one.  On the surface, it appears to be well (if selectively) researched, but there are inconsistencies within it and if you read to the end, it's a warning against the occult for Christians.

A pentagram is a five pointed star.  That's it.  The word doesn't mean or even imply upright or inverted.

pen·ta·gram [pen-tuh-gram] 
noun - a five-pointed, star-shaped figure made by extending the sides of a regular pentagon until they meet, used as an occult symbol by the Pythagoreans and later philosophers, by magicians, etc.

Word Origin and History 
pentagram -"five-pointed star," 1833, from Gk. pentagrammon, properly neut. of adj. pentagrammos "having five lines," from pente "five" + gramma "what is written."  
Modern Language Association (MLA)
"pentagram." Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. 03 Dec. 2012. Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/pentagram
Historically, the pentagram has been used to portray so many different things, including it's use (inverted) as a Sumerian pictogram. In our modern neopagan times, it's symbolic of the five elements - Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit.

A pentacle is usually described as a pentagram enclosed in a circle. However, Solomonic Grimoires show a range of pentacles with all sorts of different shapes (and symbols and inscriptions) inside the outer circle - depending on which planetary influence and Goetic Spirits are being summoned. In other texts, the word "pentacle" is only used to describe the plate on your altar.

Grand Pentacle of Solomon.

I find that using pentacle to describe the pentagram in a circle is easier than saying "pentagram in a circle", because with the circle, it's no longer just a pentagram.

I read one long and mostly useful explanation of the differences between pentacles and pentagrams. It was on one of those terribly flaky, filled with unicorns and fantasy, facebook witchy pages. I say mostly useful, because it was fairly sensible until it described the inverted pentagram as being purely for evil or satanic (not the same thing) purposes. I made the comment that in Traditional Wicca, the inverted pentagram is the symbol for second degree, depicting a journey within. It was immediately deleted and I was banned from further comment! You can lead a horse to water as the saying goes - maybe we should invent a new one - you can lead a fluffy to knowledge, but you can't make them think.

I'm starting to believe that the neo-wiccan movement that is mostly expressed in these bright and sparkly pages, where a comment that disagrees, however politely, is called bullying and trolling (whole different rant there) feel a need to be either "holier than thou" or "more persecuted than thou" - it seems to swing between the two.

I really should stop looking at these pages, they make me grumpier than usual and they make me want to smash small cute fluffy animals into small smears of grease.  However, they provide inspiration for much of what I write, they show me where neo-pagan "teachings" are terribly lacking. I can hope that when they do get a sweetness and light overdose and start looking for something with a little more substance, that such people may find this blog and learn to question some of the idiocies they've been spoonfed.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. So it is, and so it shall be. Thank you banging your head against the wall for the rest of us.
    Funny, I was looking all over for a pentacle pendant/amulet last week. I figured the pentacle must be either extremely popular or extremely misunderstood. The very Friday before I needed it (I was preparing a specifically timed protection ritual for Saturday at Sunset), I went into one last shop. The owner—who knows me well—told me they were all out. She had just sold the last of her batch (yesterday) during a separate ceremonial event.
    Stubborn as I am, I can't stand to be told, "No." LOL.
    So, I hovered around and circled the tiny little shop anyway...
    Then...BLAMO! There it was! A lone tiny little pentacle lying there, waiting for me to come along and claim her.
    Once again Universal Law is confirmed: THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES! HOORAY!
    Blessed be.

    1. That's awesome :) Love it when that type of thing happens.