The pentagram meaning has varied throughout history, religions, and across many different cultures. It’s been depicted as a symbol for unity, evil, the elements, the divine goddess, and believed to represent Satanic or Christian beliefs.
The pentagram is a remarkable symbol found in the simple beauty of Nature; examples include apples, flower petals, and starfish.
Let’s get into the fascinating history of the pentagram meaning, symbol, and spiritual uses!
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Pentagram Meaning Throughout History
Since the pentagram meaning has changed many times throughout history, I thought a timeline would be the easiest way to showcase the pentagram’s development. Feel free to use the Table of Contents above to jump to the section you’d like to know more about!
I’ve made every attempt to write this article as accurately as possible, and all sources used are listed at the bottom of this article for your reference.
Pentagram Meaning in Mesopotamia
Around 3000 BCE, Mesopotamia was governed by Sumerians who created the first known written language (called cuneiform, which was a wedge-shaped script). Sumerians scratched pentagram symbols into stone and also placed them on clay pottery.
It’s believed Sumerians weren’t concerned with the pentagram’s orientation and were often placed in an inverted position. This is the oldest known usage of the pentagram symbol.
Due to inadequate documentation, historians tend to disagree on WHY the pentagram was used, but there are a few theories. The first theory believes the pentagram depicts the five planets seen in the night sky, including Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Saturn, and Venus.
Another theory describes the number five representing Ishtar (Babylonian goddess of sexual love and war); the pentagram symbolized and honored her as the feminine divine.
Pentagram Meaning in Ancient Greece
The ancient Greek philosopher Pythagoras (570 – 490 BCE) believed every number had unique magical properties. The number five represented human life for various reasons, beginning with the idea that the sum of the first odd and even number equaled five (they did not believe one was a number nor odd) Example – 2+3=5.
Another belief suggests five representing human life because the human hand has five fingers, and the human body’s extremities (head, arms, and legs) equal five.
The pentagram was chosen by the Pythagoreans (Pythagoras’s followers) as a symbol of identification and was also used as a health charm.
Later, Euclid (325–265 BCE), a Greek mathematician, outlined Geometry in his book Elements (although the fundamentals were likely sourced from Ancient Egypt). Euclid proved the Pythagorean theorem and described the formation of the five regular solids, known as the Platonic Solids (tetrahedron, hexahedron, octahedron, dodecahedron, and icosahedron), which he considered perfect.
The idea the number 5 was sacred resulted in creating a fifth element (quintessence) to the previous four that formed a human being. Plato (428–347 BCE) later determined the Platonic Solids represented the five building blocks of matter and paired them with the elements (fire, air, earth, water, and aether).
Overall, the Greeks believed the Pentagram was a very sacred symbol due to its mathematical proportions.
Christian Pentagram During the Middle Ages
It may be hard to believe, but during the Middle Ages, the pentagram was one of the main symbols of early Christianity long before it depicted witchcraft; you’ll see it used in many historic churches and buildings.
Christians often used the pentagram to represent the five wounds of Christ, symbolizing his hands, feet, and the stab wound given by a Roman soldier as he hung on the cross during his crucifixion.
It may have even represented the Bethlehem Star, guiding the Three Wise Men to baby Jesus. Also, because the pentagram is created in one fluid motion without lifting your pen, Christians linked it to the Alpha and Omega (the beginning and the end).
The pentagram was even believed to repel evil spirits and witches, so it was often placed on front entryways and windows.
Pentagram Meaning During the Renaissance
During the Renaissance, humanists (a cultural movement during the renaissance that refused medieval academia and embraced beliefs in ancient Greek and Roman ideas) believed the circle was sacred and represented God or the divine and a square symbolized earth and our physical realm. Thus, a human forming a circle could transcend beyond the physical world and into the spiritual symbolically.
Leonardo da Vinci’s (1452-1519) Vitruvian Man (pictured below) depicts a man forming a circle with his arms and legs outstretched. Placing him inside a square and circle, Leonardo da Vinci is demonstrating, metaphorically, that humans can exist in the spiritual and physical realm at the same time.
Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man is based on concepts from Roman architect and engineer Vitruvius and his writings from De architecture, which was written from his personal knowledge and philosophical writings by well-known Greek architects.
Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim (1486-1535), a Renaissance theologian of esoteric ideas, wrote the De Occulta Philosophia (which comprises three books). In his book, he references the ancient script of the Theban alphabet and analyzes the widely held belief that the universe is modeled on human design and possesses a soul.
Like Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man, Nettesheim sketched a human (pictured below) with his arms and legs spread, symbolizing a pentagram. Nettesheim believed humans are the perfect example of the universe and that the ideal image of this was a pentagram. Each point represents human body parts and celestial bodies discovered at that time (Mars representing the head, Jupiter the right arm, Saturn the right leg, Mercury the left leg, Venus the left arm, and the Moon near the genitalia).
Mid-19th Century Pentagram Meaning
Before discussing the Mid-19th century pentagram’s meaning, let’s first jump back in time to 1098 to Anselm of Ribemont and a letter he wrote detailing his account of the First Crusade; in it, he wrote the Turks “called loudly upon Baphomet.”
This was the first time the name Baphomet was mentioned, and most historians believe they were calling upon Muhammad. After this, many innocent people were arrested and falsely accused of worshiping him over the years.
Alright, now that we’ve discussed that bit of history, let’s jump forward to the Mid-19th century.
Up until 1861, the pentagram had only positive connotations and spiritual meanings until French occultist Éliphas Lévi and his book, Dogme et ritual de la haute magie (Transcendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Ritual).
Éliphas Lévi describes a goat head by detailing the pentagram’s orientation and outlining a depiction of Baphomet. Here is an excerpt from Dogme et ritual de la haute magie.
A reversed pentagram, with two points projecting upwards, is a symbol of evil and attracts sinister forces because it overturns the proper order of things and demonstrates the triumph of matter over spirit. It is the goat of lust attacking the heavens with its horns, a sign execrated by initiates.
The flaming star, which, when turned upside down, is the hieroglyphic sign of the goat of Black Magic, whose head may then be drawn in the star, the two horns at the top, the ears to the right and left, the beard at the bottom.
Let us keep the figure of the Five-pointed Star always upright, with the topmost triangle pointing to heaven, for it is the seat of wisdom, and if the figure is reversed, perversion and evil will be the result.Éliphas Lévi – Dogme et ritual de la haute magie (Transcendental Magic: Its Doctrine and Ritual)
Éliphas Lévi believed an inverted pentagram should be sinister and evil because it placed “matter over spirit” and allowed sexual desires to reign over a sense of reason and logic.
Inspired by Lévi years later, Aleister Crowley used the pentagram in his occult practice, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, as a Banishing Ritual to trap and disperse demons or troublesome entities.
In 1966, occultist Anton Lavey founded the Church of Satan and, inspired by Éliphas Lévi’s description of the pentagram, created their symbol and logo called the Sigil of Baphomet. This symbol is sometimes referred to as the satanic pentagram.
The Church of Satan does not worship the devil, and instead, members consist of atheists. According to their website’s frequently asked questions page –
We see the universe as being indifferent to us, and so all morals and values are subjective human constructions.
Our position is to be self-centered, with ourselves being the most important person (the “God”) of our subjective universe, so we are sometimes said to worship ourselves. Our current High Priest Gilmore calls this the step moving from being an atheist to being an “I-Theist.”
Satan to us is a symbol of pride, liberty, and individualism, and it serves as an external metaphorical projection of our highest personal potential. We do not believe in Satan as a being or person.Church of Satan – Fundamental Beliefs
Another reason the Pentagram has become notorious for “evil” stems from the media coverage of serial killers who had occult interests like Richard Ramirez, aka “the Night Stalker.” Ramirez frequently left the satanic pentagram at crime scenes and, after he was convicted, drew an inverted pentagram on his palm.
Lastly, fictional movie and television portrayals have villainized this sacred symbol pairing it with sinister intentions or “dark magic.” Unfortunately, Hollywood magic has powerful effects, and many people genuinely believe that a “Satanic Pentagram” is truly nefarious.
Pentagram Meaning During Modern Times
Today, most spiritual practitioners see the pentagram as a symbol of protection, representative of harmony and balance, or knowledge and guidance from the universe or divine.
The pentagram also represents one’s connection with Nature and the five elements, earth, air, fire, water, and aether. When placed within a circle (pentacle), it indicates a unity of body and spirit and symbolizes life. The circle helps to ward off negativity and safeguard spiritual energy.
In traditional forms of Wicca, an inverted pentagram correlates with Second Degree Initiation. There is a focus on shadow work during this period and developing spiritual awareness and emotional control over elements and the Ego. An inverted pentagram is a representation of this concept.
During the Satanic panic of the eighties combined with misinformed opinions, schools often prohibited students from wearing pentagrams on jewelry or attire. Later this was ruled to be a breach of the First Amendment and religious rights.
The pentagram was recognized as a religious symbol in April of 2007. The pentagram can now be placed on the graves of fallen service members at Arlington National Cemetery whose beliefs align with the pentagram meaning.
Since the pentagram is a prevalent symbol with Freemasons, and because many of America’s founding fathers were members, the pentagram is frequently woven into American culture, often unnoticed.
Examples include the dollar bill, the National Mall, the Great Star Flag of 1837, the pentagon, the medal of honor, and even the national flag.
Pentagram vs Pentacle – What’s the Difference?
Pentagram vs pentacle, what’s the difference? This is a commonly asked question, so let’s begin with their appearance. As you can see from the image above, the pentagram is a five-pointed star created in one fluid motion without lifting your pen. A pentacle is a pentagram contained within a circle, bringing to mind chaos magic and sigil creation.
Regarding the spiritual differences of the pentagram vs pentacle, honestly, the answer depends on who you ask.
Some spiritual practitioners believe the pentagram and pentacle are synonymous with each other and use them interchangeably. They believe both symbols represent our connection with nature and harmony with the world around us.
Since the circle and the pentagram represent symbols that do not have a beginning or end, other spiritual practitioners believe the added circle to the pentacle symbolizes eternity, infinity, nature’s cyclical seasons, and limitless energy.
Lastly, some people believe a pentacle is simply ANY design that contains magical symbols and does not necessarily include a pentagram or star shape. As an example of this, The Lesser Key of Solomon is often referenced as evidence of this belief. Although one could argue, those are sigils, not pentacles, but that’s a debate for another day.
I hope you enjoyed this article on the pentagram meaning! Please feel free to ask any questions below! Lots of love to you and remember as always…