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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the article "Pentagram"

A pentagram or pentacle is a five-pointed star. Pentagrams were used symbolically in ancient Greece and Babylonia. The Pentagram has magical associations, and many people who practice pagan faiths wear them. Some Christians associate the symbol with Satanism, though most who use it are not Satanists.

Pentagram with enclosing pentagon

Some sources refer to the pentagram as the "star of Solomon".

A perfect pentagram is easiest drawn by drawing a perfect pentagon, joining the corners with lines and erasing the original pentagon. You may also extend the sides of the pentagon until they meet, obtaining a bigger pentagram.

The word "pentagram" comes from the Greek word πεντάγραμμον (pentagrammon), a noun form of πεντάγραμμος (pentagrammos), πεντέγραμμος (pentegrammos) a word meaning roughly "five-lined" or "five lines".

History of the Pentagram

The first uses of the pentagram we know of is in Mesopotamian writings dating to about 3000 B.C. In the Babylonian context, the edges of the pentagram were probably orientations: forward, backward, left, right, and "above". These directions also had an astrological meaning, representing the five planets Jupiter, Mercury, Mars and Saturn, and Venus as the "Queen of Heaven" (Schekina or Ishtar) above.

The Pythagorean Use of the Pentagram

Pentagram illustrating the golden mean hidden in it.

The Pythagoreans called the pentagram ύγιεια Hugieia ("health" also the Greek god of health, Hygieia), styled it TWO POINTS UP and saw in it the pentagram a mathematical perfection: among other things, the pentagram hides the golden mean: when drawn with perfect angles each line is divided into several smaller segments, and if you divide the length of the longer segment with the shorter segment of any pair of segments you will get 1.618... In the illustration:

<math>\frac{\mathrm{red}}{\mathrm{blue}} = \frac{\mathrm{blue}}{\mathrm{green}} = \frac{\mathrm{green}}{\mathrm{purple}} = 1.618...</math>
The five vertices were also used by the medieval neo-pythagoreans (whom one could argue were not pythagoreans at all) to represent the five Classical elements:

The vertices were labeled in the letters of υ-γ-ι-ει-α though the ordering (clockwise or counter-clockwise) used, and starting vertex, could vary.

Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa, and others, recognized the letters as being the five beginning letters of the words: udor (water, often transliterated as hydor), ge (earth, Agrippa used gaia), idea (idea as in The Platonic Idea), eile (sometimes written as heile, heat, it meant that in the Greek known to Agrippa), and aer (air). However, note that even if one uses the "elemental" scheme that Agrippa used, it's a definite stretch because it uses heat (heile), which is not an element but a quality OF the element fire. Had Agrippa used the Attic Greek, which is the language Pythagoreans back then actually spoke and wrote, he could have used (phonetic) "empreesis" for fire or conflagration.

The ancient, and one could argue real, Pythagorean pentagram was two points up and represented the doctrine of Pentemychos. Pentemychos was the title of a work written by Pythagoras' teacher and friend Pherecydes. Pentemychos means five "recesses" or "chambers" also known as the pentagonas - the five-angle. (This is actually a lost book whose contents are preserved in Damascius de principiis (quoted in Kirk and Raven, The Pre-Socratic Philosophers, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1956, page 55). It was also the "place" where the first pre-cosmic offspring had to be put in order for the ordered cosmos to appear. The pentemychos is in Tartaros.

In very early Greek thought, Tartaros was the first existing Darkness from which the cosmos is born. While it was locked away after the emergence and ordering of the cosmos, it still continued to have an influence. In fact, it was known as "the subduer of both gods and men" (Homer), and it was from this that the world got its "psyche" (soul) and its "daimon". The Boundless Darkness held influence through Mychos or Krater. Apart from being the gateway from "there" to "here" it was also a way in the opposite direction, from "here" to "there", as is evident in the many tales about how Greek heroes, philosophers and mystics descended through Mychos/Krater to Tartaros/Hades (the distinction between the two was very optional back then) in quest for Wisdom. The Underworld as the source of wisdom was the rule.

Tartaros was also later seen as the "chthonic realm" where all the enemies of the cosmic order were locked away, also called the "prison-house" of Zeus. It was said to lay outside of the aither over which Zeus had lordship; what we today would call space, back then called "Zeus' defense-wall," yet it was also beneath the earth. Plato (in Cratylus) said that the aither had a penetrating power that permeats the whole world, and he found it both inside and outside of our bodys. Plato was a Pythagorean. The pentemychos is outside, or in-side, of the aither.

In the play Medea by Euripides, the sorceress Medea calls upon Hecate with the words, "By that dread queen whom I revere before all others and have chosen to share my task, by Hecate who dwells within my inmost chamber, not one of them shall wound my heart and rue it not." Note that she speaks of the Heart. The inmost chamber is the Mychos. Normally, Hecate and Persephone are portrayed as just being the rulers of the Underworld, however, Hecate is called the Lady of Tartaros, Phulada (Guardian), Propulaia (Before the Gates), Kleidophoros (Key-bearer) and Kleidoukhos (Key-holder, Priestess) - but this Underworld of the Greeks and Pythagoreans is also the "inmost chamber" and the Core of Inner Being.

In the image above of the two points up pentagram from Agrippa's book, the notion of Health that is within and inside a living being, is "bounded between the rings". According to myth, Tartaros was locked away by iron (fashioned by Zeus) and bronze (fashioned by Zeus' brother Poseidon. The iron of Zeus is the aither spoken of earlier ("space") and the bronze is demiurgos, or the waterforce which binds things into matter (Poseidon was often referred to as "he who shakens the earth" and the god Proteus, who carries the seals of Poseidon has ever since Antiquity been seen as a representation of matter.) To sum it up; even if seen as the medieval elements, Living Things are the things traveling the Wheel of Life, and not directly connected to or part of the Pythagorean pentagram itself, which is at their core in the center, a Core of Inner Being (the "soul" of "the stuff"). When one had Health, they were considered Zoös and in their hearts there was Eros (the word did not mean "erotic" in the sense we mean it today at all). To not have Health was to be Thanatos - a word that does not exactly mean dead as in "dead and buried," but means dead inside but alive, like a shell.

This is an esoteric connection, but note that the Core is the Greek Goddess Kore (another name for Persephone, alongside Hecate queen of the underworld), whose symbol was the apple. If you cut an apple transversally through its core, it reveals a pentagram. The apple is also still, despite Christian ideas over the years, a symbol of health. (An apple a day keeps the doctor away.)


A pentagram from Agrippas book Occult Philosophy, this one has the Pythagorean letters inscribed around the circle.

Satanic Use of the Pentagram

Most modern esoteric LHP, of which some are called "Satanists" use the Pythagorean pentagram in a way identical or very close to the original Pythagorean way. After all, Tartaros came to mean Hell, and in some ways Hell has been portrayed very similiar to Tartaros, see for example Milton's Paradise Lost; it clearly builds on the presocratic ideas. Satanists of today also oftenly style the pentagram with the head of Baphomet inside the pentagram. The pythagorean Greek letters are usually replaced by the Hebrew letters forming the name Leviathan. The more esoteric Satanists link this to Sophia, the Templars, and the alliance between the Pythagorean guilds, the Pan cults and the Ophites. The Church of Satan uses this Baphomet-pentagram as its official sigil, but these LaVeyan Satanists see in it only defiance against God, rebellion and carnal living; they have no basis whatsoever in Pythagoreanism and more traditional western occultism.

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