The pentagram is a five pointed star commonly associated with Wicca, Ritual magick, Satanism, and Masonry. The Pentagram has a long and complex history as a religious symbol. Found scrawled in caves of ancient Babylonia, the five pointed star was copied from the star shaped pattern formed by the travels of the planet Venus in the sky.
The emblem remained popular through many cultures and time periods- it was called the pentalpha by the Greeks, who believed it had magical properties.
For a time, a pentagram was the official seal of the city of Jerusalem:
In later times, it was used by medieval Christians to symbolize the five wounds of Christ, and figured in the heavily symbolic Arthurian romances. In medieval times, the pentagram represented the proportions of the human body.
Through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the pentagram was commonly used (ironically) as a charm against witches and demons. (like other protective knots, it was considered effective only if drawn perfectly)
It was not until the twentieth century that the pentagram became associated with Satanism, probably due to misinterpretation of symbols used by ceremonial magicians.
In alchemical texts, the four elements (in Latin)- flatus, ignus, aqua, terra, superseded by light, or divine energy- illustrated the process of creation, and the biblical motto Fiat Lux, or, “let there be light.”
In Wiccan/Pagan lore, the pentagram symbolizes the five elements- earth, air, water, fire, and spirit. The Wiccan emblematic pentagram faces point upward to symbolize the triumph of spirit over matter; the modern Satanic pentagram is transposed, point downwards, to symbolize earthly gratification, or the triumph of the individual over dissolution. Some Wiccan initiatory grades also utilize a reversed pentacle, although for different purposes.
A pentacle used for ritual purposes in Gardnerian Wicca
A pentagram enclosed within a circle is known as a pentacle, although pentacles do not always contain pentagrams.
For a more detailed look at the history and meaning of this symbol: The Pentagram.
See also: pentacle gallery