Here is a short excerpt from my book--"Witchcraft, Power, and Transformation: A Magical Mystery School for the Twenty-first Century." This is the introduction to the section on the pentacle/pentagram from the chapter about magical tools. There is more information in the full chapter, such as how we use it and what it means when it's upside down. For now, I'm sharing this in the hopes of dispelling some very old disinformation about a beautiful and powerful symbol.
Five-pointed stars often evoke a sense of mystery, even fear. This should come as no surprise. They’ve been used to arouse creepy feelings in horror movies since the dawn of cinema. But people didn’t always think they were dangerous and scary.
Pentacles carry a rich and diverse history. They occur in nature—think of the starfish and the near-perfect pentacle inside of an apple cut in two crosswise. Five-pointed stars can be found scratched on the walls of caves and in ancient Sumerian texts. They have been used to symbolize the sacred elements since antiquity. Early Christians adopted the pentacle as a symbol of Christ’s wounds on head, wrists, and feet.
The Greek philosopher and teacher, Pythagoras (puh-THA-gu-rus) founded a school devoted to mathematics as a doorway to spirit. He placed great importance on a ratio called ‘the golden mean,’ an irrational number usually rounded to 1.618 and represented by the Greek letter Phi written as φ (pronounced fee). The ratio 1.618:1 shows up in the structures of galaxies, the growth of all living things, and even our DNA.
Pythagorean geometry applies to the pentacle as follows: there are four different line lengths in the pentagram. From shortest to longest, each one is 1.618 times lon ger than the next longest one.
In the pentagram above the lines have been color-coded, so that you can see their various lengths as defined where they meet. The longest one (red) is 1.618 times the length of the next-longest (green), which is 1.618 times the blue line. The blue line is 1.618 times the length of the shortest, which is magenta
The five-pointed star only became demonized about five or six-hundred years ago during the period of the Inquisitions when.he Church of Rome declared them to be evil. This happened because they feared that all power other than their own was satanic. They determined to identify and exterminate all symbols used by non-Christian groups. Since alchemists and occultists used the pentacle in their practices, it was forbidden.
Modern Witches have reclaimed this symbol. On an altar, the pentacle usually represents the element earth. The five points of the star correlate with the five alchemical elements, earth, air, fire, water, and spirit. As magical tools, we use them for protection.
Witches wearing pentacles are reclaiming a sacred symbol which has been demonized, and far more. Science continues to validate and expanded upon the importance of phi as a building block of nature. When a Witch wears a pentacle, they display a talisman which embodies the very formula of creation.