The pentagram, basically the graphic image of a five pointed star, has existed as a symbol for at least 2,000 – 5,000 years, when during the stone age it was carved into rock, no doubt with some spiritual tenor. Since then it has been in constant use by countless peoples and various ethno-religious and spiritual groups, perhaps most famously, the legendary King Solomon. These include the Greeks and the Babylonians for which it represented the five elements, (earth, air, fire, water and spirit), but also the Chinese, the Jews, the Christians, ancient folk communities everywhere and more recently, by occultists and spiritualists.
The pentagram often had sacred connotations, including its association with the Roman goddess Venus, (who eventually morphed into Our Lady Mary), and was later adopted by the Christians, especially but not exclusively, to represent the five wounds of Christ. Since the 16th century, occultists and mystics, (the early ‘scientists’, such as Cornelious Agrippa), and esoteric groups such as the Rosicrucians, Freemasonry and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn have made extensive use of the pentagram. Significantly now of course, the neo-pagan Wiccan movement very much identifies with the ancient symbol.
However, there was never any particular distinction in the orientation of the pentagram until the mid 19th century, when the French, self-styled magician Eliphas Levi, wrote a book in which he personally declared it to symbolise ‘evil’ if pointing down! Following that, in 1897 the French occultist, de Guaita, drew the ‘Sabbatic Goat’ which, by 1966 had become associated with Anton LaVey and his Church of Satan, together with its adopted deity, Baphomet.
This is actually a misunderstood concept and Lévi never intended the deity to represent ‘evil’, but ‘the absolute’ and the balance and harmony of everything; male and female, mercy and justice, etc. Around 1900, however, Alistair Crowley hijacked the symbol of the pentagram, inverted, to represent his representation of evil; the die was cast. This modern misconception of the inverted pentagram has since been reinforced in popular culture by its ubiquitous and repeated use by Hollywood’s occult and horror film industry, who have universally and continually exploited this theme.
To conclude, therefore, the concept of the ‘evil’ and anti-Christian pentagram is a modern invention and in fact groundless. Seen carved in the stones of ancient churches across Europe and decorating many temples of the Western world, Christianity has used the pentagram in both forms from the early middle ages, as demonstrated by its inclusion in Amiens’ 13th century cathedral north transept rose window…
The Alchemy Editorial Team