The Wiccan pentagram hails from Wicca, and a contemporary pagan religion focused on the natural world. Though Wiccans may observe a wide range of rites and practices, the adoration of a male deity and a female goddess, the use of herbalism and other natural things, and the celebration of the solstices and equinoxes are common elements. In addition, Wiccans adhere to a strict moral code, and many of them consider reincarnation to be authentic.
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Some Wiccans claim a direct line to ancient rites, while most scholars view Wicca as a modern interpretation of pre-Christian traditions. It can be done by solitary people or in organized communities (called covens).
Wicca is sometimes cited as the spiritual forerunner of the goddess movement, and it shares certain environmental similarities with Druidism.
Many Wiccans, though not all, worship a female goddess in addition to a male deity (sometimes referred to as a Mother Goddess and a Horned God).
Other Wiccan rituals treat gods and goddesses as archetypal symbols rather than actual, supernatural creatures.
Wiccan rituals frequently involve the four cardinal directions, the equinoxes and solstices of the Sun.
Today, the pentagram remains a pagan religious symbol that is one of the oldest symbols on Earth and is known to have been used as early as 4000 years B.C.
It represents the divine goddess. However, modern American pop culture more commonly represents devil worship.
In 2007, the Department of Veterans Affairs approved the placement of the pentagram on some headstones of veterans in response to a settlement involving the Americans for the Separation of Church and State.
In a recent decision, the Department of Veterans Affairs authorized the addition of the Wiccan pentacle to the list of recognized religious symbols that may be inscribed on veterans’ gravestones.
Wicca is a non-Christian religion that honors the natural world and its cyclical patterns, though it can take many forms. The pentacle is its emblem.
Until this point, the Veterans Affairs office had permitted 38 emblems to be used on monuments to represent the faith of deceased service members.
Americans United stated that while it only takes a few months for a request by a religious denomination to get the permission of the government, the campaign in favor of the Wiccan symbol took almost a decade, plus an actual lawsuit.
There was a holdup, the group said, and they blamed it on Christians being mistreated. Many Americans either do not recognize Wicca as a religion or mistakenly believe that Wiccans worship the devil.
The families were not advocating on behalf of special treatment for the Wiccan families presented in the settlement.
They sought recognition from the department that their religious convictions were on par with everyone else’s, just as dozens of other faiths had obtained. The government settled to help the affected families and prevent further legal costs for the public.
It’s no secret that the pentagram is one of the most misunderstood and misappropriated symbols.
The Third Degree Wiccan Pentagram
Traditional Wiccans, who employ a 3-degree scale, are the only ones who use this pentagram. The third degree is the highest possible rank, and its emblem commemorates such achievement. Wiccans who have reached the third degree are typically considered leaders within their coven and are capable of performing the duties of a High Priest or High Priestess. This pentagram of the third degree represents the completion of the third stage of initiation.
Degrees are a common way to indicate progress in one’s studies in Wicca and other Pagan religions. Earning a degree is evidence that the student has put in the effort to improve themselves via education. Most high priestesses (HPS) will advise their initiates that receiving a Degree is the first step in a new and exciting journey of personal growth and development.
It is customary in many covens to make a new initiate wait a full calendar year and a day before elevating them to the level of First Degree. The initiate devotes this time to learning and usually follows a set curriculum set by the coven’s High Priest or High Priestess. Books, written assignments, public events, presentations of intellectual abilities, etc., are all possible components of such a curriculum.
When an initiate demonstrates proficiency in areas beyond those covered in First Degree, they are promoted to Second Degree. When not the H.P. or HPS themselves, they are responsible for helping with things like leading rituals, instructing, and leading classes. They may also serve as guides for new members of the group. To earn the Second Degree in Wicca, one must follow a set of prescribed lessons or engage in independent study, depending on one’s chosen lineage.
A person who has completed third-degree coursework should feel prepared to take charge. This doesn’t mean they have to leave and start their coven, but they should be able to step in for the HPS when necessary, teach lessons without close supervision, help new initiates with their queries, and so on. In certain religions, only a High Priest or High Priestess or a member of the highest degree (the Third Degree) is privy to the True Names of the gods. If their tradition permits it, a Third Degree has the option of breaking away and starting their coven.
Even though some traditions go up to a Fourth Degree, this is unusual because most stop at the Third Degree.
A Degree initiation, as was previously noted, is considered as the start of something rather than its conclusion. Therefore, taking a Degree ceremony lightly is not recommended since it is a profound and emotional experience. If you want to be initiated into the next degree in many traditions, you must prove your worthiness by asking to be examined.
Initiating someone is a public acknowledgment of their acquired mystical knowledge. It serves as a badge of honor, but you won’t receive it until people in your community start treating you as though you have the requisite education and are startled when you tell them you don’t. This rite of passage helps demarcate the transition between the initiate’s formative years and adulthood. Initiation into a coven or coven of witches is a rite of passage that, in some traditions, not only connects you to the lineage of those who came before you but also imparted knowledge in a dynamic, real-world context that, in the best of cases, changes and improves the initiate personally and professionally. This is not some pagan “badge of honor” scheme.
Degree requirements vary from tradition to tradition. For example, initiation in the Third Degree in one group does not guarantee advancement to the same level in another. Regardless of how long an initiate has been studying or practicing, they are often required to start as Neophytes and complete the First Degree before moving on.
Other Uses and Significations
This ancient symbol can be used by anyone, which would explain why people often believe that devil worshippers primarily use it. While a devil worshipper can use any symbol (even a cross, sometimes), they hold no dominion over the pentagram, the pentacle, or even ancient symbols like the chalice. No one has such dominion over symbols.
The Wiccan pentagram is not an emblem of good versus evil. Instead, it represents the five pillars of faith—Spirit, Air, Earth, Water, and Fire—with each element represented by a particular point and the circle representing the cosmos.
The direction the pentagram is supposed to point is another common misunderstanding of the symbol.
You’ll also find the false belief that a pentagram is “evil” when it points downward and “good” when it does so upward. Since the largest sect of Satanism (Church of Satan, founded in 1966) uses an inverted pentagram with a goat’s head in the center, the downward-pointing end of the sign is most often linked with Satanism. However, it can be used in both the up and down directions.
Although pentagrams with the points down are less prevalent, they are not inherently evil.
Symbolizing the triumph of Spirit over matter, the inverted pentagram points upward. The top point stands for the Spiritual Element, while the remaining four points symbolize the other four Spiritual Elements.
If you’re curious how the pentagram was appropriated or used by actual devil worshippers, we’ve prepared an explanation below:
19th-century occult groups believed that a pentagram with its point up symbolized the ascendancy of Spirit over the physical elements. In contrast, a pentagram with its point down indicated the descent of Spirit into matter or the subsumption of Spirit by matter.
This understanding is mainly responsible for Wicca’s adoption of the point-up pentagram and Satanism’s adoption of the point-down pentagram as their respective emblems.
These two religious groups do not see eye to eye. While many eclectic occultists tend to use elements from different practices, it would be unfair to assign an evil connotation to the pentagram when the base of its use is so pure and universally good for everyone.
From a practical perspective, the pentagram can be so much more than an object to be feared. Instead, it can be embraced and can become a significant part of your repertoire of spiritual symbols, connecting you to the universe in Spirit.
In some contexts, the pentagram symbolizes the synthesis of polarities—typically masculine and female—into a complete entity. For instance, Wiccans may interpret the pentagram to stand for both the Horned God and the Triple Goddess. The number five symbolizes the union of males and females because it is the sum of two and three, where two stands for the Mother and three for the Father.
The pentagram has long been recognized as a powerful emblem of exorcism and defense against evil. The Baha’i Faith uses a five-pointed star as its emblem.
The Church of Satan uses the Baphomet Pentagram as its copyrighted, official emblem.
This particular artwork is relatively new, though comparable ones existed before the Church was founded in 1966. Nevertheless, the Church permitted us to use it here.
The pentagram has a rich history of symbolism in the occult and magical communities. Additionally, the pentagram has often stood for humanity and the microcosm. The religion of Satanism celebrates human achievement and urges followers to prioritize material needs and comforts. According to 19th-century occultist Eliphas Levi, the pentagram also represents “intellectual omnipotence and autocracy,” which is why Satanists use it as a symbol.
A pentagram with its point pointing downwards represents the second degree. For example, the degree 1 symbol is a triangle pointing downwards.
Spelled out in Hebrew along the outer edge of the symbol are the five letters for Leviathan, a biblical monster of the sea that Satanists see as a representation of the Abyss and the truth concealed from the light. Humanity, or the microcosm, is a miniature version of everything in the universe or the macrocosm. This means that the elements and planetary influences coexist within each individual, and so do the elements themselves. Therefore, every person and thing here has a corresponding astrological sign.
The Tetragrammaton is the Hebrew word for “the four letters,” which together form the name of God.
This pentagram was drawn by Henry Cornelius Agrippa, who wrote the Three Books of Occult Philosophy in the 16th century. Humanity is depicted as a microcosm whose makeup reflects the macrocosm represented by the seven planetary symbols. Mercury appears at the bottom left, followed by Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, in that order of orbital distance.
Common polarity symbols in occultism include the Sun and the Moon. In this context, the moon represents the ability to reproduce and sexuality. It is positioned at the manly focal point of the illustration: the genitalia. Here, at the solar plexus, the Sun resides, a symbol of more elevated mental and emotional processes like intelligence and spirituality.
This illustration appears in a section of the book titled “On the Proportion, Measure, and Harmony of Man’s Body,” which begins on page 27. This concept is based on the idea that man is God’s finished creation.
The Agrippa pentagram is an example of a symbol revealed to Antiochus Soteris from on high. This emblem was a sign of the Pythagoreans and a protective amulet. The Greek letters encircling this image (reading from top to bottom, clockwise) spell out the phrase “health, soundness, or diving blessing” in Greek: U-G-I-E-I-A. In the future, amulets fashioned from the letters S-A-L-U-S (which spells “health” in Latin) were popular.
The human figure is often depicted within the pentagram. But, on the other hand, it is sometimes linked to the five wounds Christ suffered. During the 16th century, Valeriano Balzani illustrated this idea in his work Hieroglyphica.
The Arabic word Baykal, meaning either “temple” or “body,” is what the Baha’i call the pentagram. A nine-pointed star may be most people’s image when they think of Baha’is, but Shoghi Effendi designated the Baykal as the official emblem.
Specifically, the haykal stands for the physical form of the Manifestations of God, the most recent of which is Baha’ullah.
Baha’ullah’s teacher, the Bab, used the haykal as a graphic model for several of his works, including the one shown above. Arabic script is organized like a pentagram along the lines.
In Gardnerian practice, the pentacle is a disk with seven symbols arranged in a circle. In Wicca, the 1st degree is denoted by the triangle with the point pointing down, as seen on the left. The right-hand, downward-pointing pentagram stands for the second degree, while the middle, upward-pointing pentagram and triangle together signify the third degree.
The Horned God occupies the left half of the bottom side, while the twin crescents represent the Moon Goddess.
In contrast, kindness and harshness, or the kiss and the scourge, is represented by the S$ sign at the bottom.