I thought I'd just do a short post about what the pentagram means to me. As even a cursory Google search will reveal, the Pentacle, or a Pentagram (i.e. 5-pointed star often in a circle) is a symbol that has been used by many cultures, religions and magical systems for many purposes and in many forms. So it is interesting that in modern North America (and to some extent in Europe) it is mostly associated with Satanism (if inverted) and Wicca (when turned right-side-up), in that order. Wiccans rightfully point out that it was never historically associated with Satanism and consider this association to be a perversion of their symbol of faith.
I'm not a Wiccan. I may have taken a great deal of inspiration from Wicca, but I have my own practice. Nevertheless, I have a pentacle on my altar and I wear a silver pentacle necklace around my neck. Why have I kept this symbol which is likely to be interpreted ostentatiously as a symbol of faith? According to the most common Wiccan correspondences, the pentacle is the tool representing the element of earth and the five points represent Earth, Air, Water, Fire and Spirit (at the very top). Another take is that the position of the pentacle facing up would represent spirit over matter, whereas the upside-down pentacle would represent the more controversial matter over spirit. In some traditional covens, an upside-down pentacle is simply the representation of second-degree initiation.
|Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa's De occulta philosophia libri tres.|
While I was deciding whether to keep the Pentacle, I remembered I had seen a picture of a Pentacle that had inspired me once. When I found it again on Wikipedia, it hit me. The Pentacle is a perfect symbol for naturalistic humanism.
The Pentacle is round like the planet and continuous like the universe. It is in that universe and on that planet that humanity makes its home. Humanity has the innate desire to make its special identity known to the universe and tends to place itself at the center. But human existence without the universe is impossible. Humanity cannot thrive by attempting to superimpose itself upon the universe or disconnect from it entirely. It is only through harmony with that universe, determined through knowledge and acceptance of its basic parameters that humanity can affirm its existence with any sense of fulfillment, dignity and purpose. The lines of the pentacle star are usually the same width and style as the circle used to connect the five points. Similarly, humanity is made of the same building blocks of all matter in the universe. When humanity realizes this, humanity realizes that not only is the universe humanity, but humanity is the universe. Affirming the universe is affirming the self and viceversa. To me, this is the essence of both positive spirituality and naturalistic magic.
So that's why I'm keeping it.