Concerning the terms Pentagram and Pentacle
Exact definitions can be hard to pinpoint within ‘magic’. Each tradition my have their own respective you’ll hear different views and more or less substantiated ideas concerning the terms pentagram and pentacle. A pentagram per se is a simple geometrical figure, namely a five pointed-star drawn with five strokes. A pentagram is also called a pent-alpha, because five alphas joined at their base resemble a pentagram. Ideally the angle of each edge measures 36°. Sumerians and Egyptians are known to have used the pentagram in scripture as well as a religious symbol. Interestingly some of the oldest discovered depictions of pentagrams traced by Sumerians were drawn in such manner that the lowest angle would point downwards (which by some is also called an inverse pentagram – however we do not use that term). It is unclear whether Sumerians would attribute anything negative to the ‘downwards pointing’ pentagram, as is done in modern times. There were also pentagrams pointing into other directions and they may altogether simply have been used to denote orientations.
A pentagram traced within a circle is sometimes referred to as a pentacle. However, throughout centuries the word pentacle has been used synonymously for any religious amulet attributed with the magical purpose of evoking a spirit, which has symbols inscribed upon it. These symbols can be pentagrams or other geometrical figures. A magical property and directionality arises if the maker or person using it charges the amulet with his personal intent. Such pentacle used in magic and ritual can be made from metal, wax, paper, wood or clay etc. and can for example be worn as an amulet or placed as a disc upon the altar. Instead of a pentagram it can for instance also have a hepta-, nona-, deca- or hendecagram, astrological figures and other things traced upon it. For the sake of simplicity we will list all inscribed altar discs and amulets under that moniker. More specifics are given in the item description.
Concerning their Directionality and Magical Function
According to our understanding neither the term pentacle nor the word pentagram imply any directionality or magical purpose per se. Neither do we regard a downwards pointing pentagram to be automatically associated with ‘negative’ attributes. A pentagram with the lowest angle pointing towards the ground, underlines first and foremost the earth aspect and connection to the plane of materialisation (of which the disc upon the altar is representative). The two ‘legs up’ can also represent the feminine, an open chalice or the prima materia into which the ‘seed of spirit’ or ‘divine spark’ is conceived, and the lowest point the source from which same spirit is evoked. It can further be associated with the underworld and the dead – for the positive and the negative, the benific and the baneful alike. In the same way a pentagram pointing upwards could be associated with positive and negative attributes. The reason why we trace it pointing downwards is merely and simply because it feels natural to us.
In general the pentacle represents physical manifestation, e.g. in rites of evocation the spirit, who’s signature is drawn upon the pentacle is made to appear by annointing, rubbing, fuming and knocking the amulet, in combination with chanting formulae etc. The reasons for and goals of such evocation can be manifold, e.g. the spirit may be evoked for giving answers, drawing money, granting boons or fame etc. The purposes are as manifold as man’s needs and as diverse are the spirits, saints, demons etc. that may be evoked. During the evocation the pentacle acts simultaneously as a protecting amulet.
The pentagram disc worn as an amulet or placed upon the altar is a basic tool, whereby the pentagram is often seen as an allegory of the harmonic interplay between the four elements of the natural world, with each point being assigned to one element and the fifth point representing the ‘Spirit’. The shape of the pentagram is viewed as a perfect geometrical figure and thus also represents wholeness, balance and health. In some Satanic traditions the pentagram can represent aspects adverserial and disruptive towards the harmony and balance between the elements of the created world (which is then perceived as a prison) and the pentagram disc is used for manifesting destructive goals. In these contexts the magician may also visualize a pentagram turning black, dissolving or breaking. Lastly in baneful magic curses directed against a certain person or group may also be wrought to manifest with the help of the pentagram disc.
Our Unique Pentacles
The additional symbols and illustrative elements are our personal preference. They are telling stories and transmit something of the events occuring during the time of their crafting. None of the pentacles are baneful or benific per se. They can be used for both. However if you are looking specifically for a pentacle pointing upwards or having any other orientation, a different motif or special symbols traced upon it we can discuss the details and price for making you a custom one.
(This article is a short discourse and adendum to the page. It was spawned by a recent discussion and I want to thank everyone who took the time to comment and share their views and knowledge.)
October 18, 2013