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History and Symbolism of the Pentagram

Anup Patwardhan
Humans have used various symbols over the years for different purposes and beliefs. We bring to you the various meanings of the Pentagram symbol, one of the few consistently appearing symbols at different stages in history.

Did You Know?

The path traced by the orbit of Venus around the Sun in every eight years is a pentagram. This path is traced by the planet in the thirteen times that it orbits around the Sun in these eight years.
Symbols have been used by humans since before the advent of written script for languages. Over the span of time, these symbols have been used to represent different, and at times, contradictory things. Their various meanings are being deciphered even today.
One such symbol that appears consistently throughout history is the pentagram. It is a five-pointed star which is unicursal; that is, it can be drawn in a single movement. This symbol has been a part of the Mayan, Chinese, and Greek cultures, besides others.
Its presence can also be found in neolithic caves as well as in Babylonian drawings. In the Babylonian drawings, it has been used as a symbol for Goddess Ishtar.

Origin of Pentagram Symbolism

This symbol has its roots during the Mesopotamian rule, somewhere around 3500 BCE. It was a representation of the extent of power of the empire around the four corners of the known world. This sign was used to represent the word 'ub', which meant a pit or a cavity. It was used by the Sumerians, circa 2700 BCE, as a representation of the four corners of the Earth, and the heaven at the top.
Pythagorean Mysticism
Pythagoras, the Greek mathematician and philosopher, considered it to be a symbol of health.
According to the Pythagorean mysticism, the symbol signifies a human with a head, 4 limbs at the corners & the genitalia at its exact center. In general, the 5 corners of this symbol signify the 5 elements which contribute to life;
Spirit at the top, air at the upper left corner, water at the upper right corner, earth at the lower left corner, and fire at the bottom right corner. The symbol has a similar meaning in Chinese traditions as well, where the 5 elements are fire, earth, metal, water, and wood. The star of this sign can be an open 1, as shown below.
Star Enclosed in a Circle
When the star is enclosed in a circle, it is also known as a 'pentacle'. This is symbolic of the connection between the five elements of life.
As a Pagan religious symbol, it represents eternity and infinity, the cycles of life and nature, and the ability to contain and protect, as opposed to an open star, which represents an open and active approach along with the preparation to face a conflict. A pentacle is as shown below.

Meaning of an Inverted Pentagram

An inverted star, as shown below, is usually a representation of evil.
According to Pagan beliefs, it is the representation of the dark side. In this, the spirit is at the bottom, which indicates the carnal nature of man gaining importance over the spirit, and the triumph of matter over spirit.
The head of 'Baphomet', the goat of lust, can be inscribed in this inverted sign, where the two horns of the goat are inscribed in the two corners at the top, while its ears are inscribed in the two corners in the middle, and the beard in the bottom corner.

Meaning of the Pentagram in Various Religions Around the World.


In Judaism, this ideogram is related to the 'Pentateuch', the first five books of the Hebrew scriptures, which together are also known as the 'Torah'. It was the official seal of the Jews between 300 BCE and 150 BCE. The symbol, also known as the Seal of Solomon, has been accredited to King Solomon.


In Christianity, this symbol is believed to refer to the 'Star of Bethlehem'. It was used on the seal of Constantine, who in the later stages of his life had converted to Christianity. The corners of the star are believed to have represented the five wounds of Christ, and the symbol was a proof of His divinity. This, however, has changed since medieval times, and it has been considered as a symbol for evil ever since.

Free Masons

Free Masons believe it to be the primary of all the Pythagorean symbols. Other than that, it is considered a minor symbol, and largely ignored. However, some conspiracy theorists believe it to be symbolic of some relation that the Free Masons have with Satanic beliefs.


Both, an upright and an inverted star are used in Wicca, the fifth-largest religion in the world. Some believe that the inverted symbol is the representation of Satan, while others believe it to be a representation of the Horned God.

Latter Day Saints

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has made use of the upright as well as inverted symbol in their temple architecture. This symbol has been used in reference to 'Revelation' chapter 12, which states, "And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars."

Bahá'í Faith

The pentagram is a symbol of Bahá'í Faith.
In Arabic, the star of the pentagram is known as the 'temple'

On National Flags

A pentangle appears on the national flags of Morocco and Ethiopia. On the flag of Morocco it was added by Mulay Yusuf in 1915, as a representation of the 'Seal of Solomon'.
The green color of the symbol is symbolic of Islam, and the five points of the stars representing the five pillars of the religion - Shahada, Salat, Zakat, Sawm, and Hajj. The pentangle was added on the flag on Ethiopia in 1996, to signify the connections with the 'House of Solomon'.

Significance of the Pentagram in Geometry

Geometrically, a pentangle is a polygon with each of its angles of 36º. In the pentacle, every intersection of the edges divides them in the golden ratio. This is the ratio of the length of the edge to the longer segment, and also that of the longer segment to the shorter one. The value of this golden ratio is 1.618, and is represented as 'φ'.
In a pentacle, there are 10 isosceles triangles, of which 5 are obtuse and 5 are acute. The acute triangles are known as golden triangles, in which the duplicated sides are in the golden ratio. In the figure shown, the ratio of x:y is the golden ratio 'φ'.
This golden ratio also forms the basis of the Fibonacci series, in which two successive numbers in the series are added to get the next number.
In the 14th century, in English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the pentangle appears on the shield of the knight, and its five corners are a representation of the five virtues that a knight should possess - generosity, courtesy, charity, chastity, and piety. German magician and occult writer Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa had used the pentagram as a magic symbol.
A pentagon is present inside a pentagram, whereas, the pentagram can perfectly fit the inside of a larger pentagon. This symbol was once believed to protect against evil, with its five spiked wards, and the defensive pentagon which is similar to the shape of a womb.
Today, this sign is used in many forms of media and entertainment, as well as in jewelry. Some consider wearing jewelry consisting of a pentagram like a pentacle necklace, to signify the connection with the basic elements. Many others, however, mainly link it to Satanism and evil.