Harry Potter, Adam, and the Speghetti Monster

Harry Potter, Adam, and the Speghetti Monster
"Sorry guys...you haven't seen a small metal ball with wings flapping around by chance, have you?""

Thursday, May 31, 2012

My humanistic and naturalistic interpretation of the Pentacle/Pentagram


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.




File:Pentacle 2.svgI'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.

File:Pentagram and human body (Agrippa).jpg
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. 

5 comments:

  1. I came upon your blog (via search engine)and I really enjoy reading your stuff. I am an Atheist witch, too.
    I've always enjoyed the pentacle, too, not just a Wiccan symbol. I think been around for some time and was a Catholic symbol at one point.
    I look forward to more posts, and thank you for this blog!

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is really interesting, a new take on a symbol I love which makes sense! I've never considered spiritual atheism until recently, so thanks for the blog. :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Indeed, an interesting take on this symbol. I, for one, tried to develop another, rather down-to-earth interpretation, in order to better visualise the core elements of my practice.

    Anything outside the circle is part of reality. The circle itself represents our perception of reality, which, thanks to the beauty of the human mind, is different for everyone.

    The top part of the pentagram symbolises one's own intent, which is essential and must be clearly defined in order to achieve the desired outcome. The four other points represent in turn meditation, the spell, the ritual and time, which to my way of thinking are the four main implements to take into account when practising the craft.

    At the center and all around the pentagram lies magic, without which witchcraft wouldn't be what it is.

    ReplyDelete