What’s in a Symbol?

In my quest to learn more about witches, I got curious about the 5-pointed star called a pentagram in some places and a pentacle in others. A quick Google search explained the nuances of that—a 5-pointed star, which looks like the one we draw on paper without lifting the pen, is called a pentagram. When it is enclosed in a circle, it is called a pentacle. Also, you find an equilateral pentagon in the center of the pentagram star.

As to the symbology, that is not an easy answer. Well, in a way, it is, I guess. The easy answer is that it has been used throughout history to represent different things. I’m not going to go into all of it except to say that it has been used as a symbol across faiths—including Christianity, where it represented both Jesus and the Star of Bethlehem. Today, it is widely known as a symbol used by witches, representing the 5 elements—earth, air, fire, water, and spirit, among other things. It is seen as a symbol of protection, and a pentacle is used on headstones to represent Wiccan faith. Interestingly, the pentagram is also one of the symbols of the 5 elements in China/Japan—earth, wood, fire, water, and metal. Different elements, same star.

I used to wear a cross around my neck. But I came to see the cross symbol not of Jesus but of crucifixion, and I couldn’t wear a symbol that represented something so barbaric anymore. I’ve begun wearing a pentacle every once in a while. It feels like it isn’t owned by any one faith,* and I like that, and I also like that it represents the elements. I especially like learning that witches include spirit as one of their elements. 

*When I went searching for an image for this post, it was ALL things witchy if I wanted anything remotely creative besides a basic drawing of a pentacle. So I guess it is associated with one faith, these days.


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