Byzant MysticalTarotSymbolsKabbalahBiographyAstrologyScriptorium

The Pentagram

The PentagramThe Pentagram

The pentagram is a powerful symbol of protection and balance, and each of its five points represents one of the five elements (the four manifest elements together with the unifying element of Spirit). The above illustration shows each element in its characteristic color: red for Fire, yellow for Air, blue for Water, black for Earth and white for Spirit.

The upright pentagram represents order, with everything in its proper place. In particular, the element of Spirit is shown above the other elements - the flesh is subservient to the Spirit. The inverted pentagram can be a symbol of evil (in much the same way as an inverted cross), as Spirit is then ruled by the material elements. In certain nature-based pagan religions, the inverted pentagram is a beneficent symbol representing the male deity, the Horned God, who is a positive force. In this case the two upright points of the pentagram are a stylization of the god's appearance.

Because an upright pentagram shows the forces and building blocks of nature in correct manifestation, it has a very grounding, harmonizing influence, and this is further emphasized in the pentagram above by the central placement of possibly the ultimate symbol of dynamic balance, yin-yang.

The physical world is the final crystallization of higher forces, and so the manifest world (such as Malkuth of the Kabbalists) and the element Earth itself are considered to be composed of the other elements. Hence the pentagram, as a representation of the blending of all elements into one, is sometimes used to represent the composite element Earth. Examples of this include the elemental tools of Ceremonial Magic, where a pentacle (a disk inscribed with a pentagram) corresponds to Earth, and the Tarot, where the suit of pentacles is the Earth suit.

Vitruvian Pentaman The pentagram represents the microcosm and internal energies, while the hexagram symbolizes the macrocosm and external energies. Pentagrams are often found in nature, in flowers and crystalline forms, for example, and their shape can be used to draw a human figure with torso and limbs in correct proportion, as suggested by Leonardo Da Vinci's (1452-1519) famous drawing of "Vitruvian Man" (made around 1492 and named after a treatise on the proportions of the male human form by the ancient Roman architect Vitruvius).

As an expression of the number five and in its dynamic aspect, the pentagram is linked to the sefira Geburah on the Tree of Life. It is also a representation of the five Hindu elements or Tattvas (Prithivi - Earth, Apas - Water, Vayu - Air, Tejas - Fire and Akasha - Spirit), and of the five elemental activities of Chinese philosophy (Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire).

A pentagram is unicursal (i.e. it can be drawn in one go without removing the pen from the page) so it is easily drawn in the air with a magical tool, starting at any one of the five points and moving in either of two directions. It is no surprise then that the pentagram is an important symbol in Magic, and it can be drawn in invoking and banishing forms. An important cleansing and protecting ritual, the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, is built around creating banishing earth pentagrams in each of the four directions. A banishing earth pentagram is one drawn from the point of Earth sunwise, i.e. moving to the point of Spirit first. An invoking earth pentagram is drawn from the point of Spirit, moving to the point of Earth first.

The pentagram can also embody the Pentagrammaton, the "five-lettered name," as explained in The Pentagram as Pentagrammaton.