on our Rosicrucian Altars in the S.R.I.C.F.
is the figure of the Pentagram (also called the pentacle, pentalpha, pentangle,
pentancle), a five pointed star, formed by 5 straight lines between the vertices
of a pentagon and enclosing another pentagon. The name pentagram is Greek, from penta
(“five”) and gramma (“letter”). One of the most intriguing symbols of
esotericism, it is has been held to have magical properties since time
immemorial, and is a symbol that has been both revered by initiates as a
talisman of power, and shunned by the masses in abject fear for hundreds of
the image of the five pointed star has become almost obsequious
to the media, and the symbol has been used to promote Rock music and movies,
feed Satanic furor with tales of “ritual slayings,” and other hype.
Additionally, the many neo-pagan movements have adopted the pentagram as
their ensign of “natural religion.” More recently, novels such as The
Davinci Code have weaved a colorful blend of fact and fiction, and once
again brought the image of the Pentagram into popular view. At the same time,
there is a long, somewhat quiet esoteric history of usage associated with this
symbol which initiates in all times have utilized.
the seeming commonplace appearance of this symbol, it is little understood. This
paper will endeavor to highlight some of the symbolic meanings of the pentagram,
looking at historical usage across cultures and languages; Masonic usage in both
the Craft and Higher Degrees, with emphasis on our Rosicrucian usage; the
geometric properties inherent in the symbol, and western occult traditions of
initiation and ceremonial magick. It is hoped that this paper will help to cut
through the popular misinformation about this symbol, and shed some Light on the
real properties and use of this powerful, sacred figure.
the origin of this symbol is lost in time, some occult authorities try to trace
the source of its esoteric significance back
to an astronomical phenomena, the so called “Pentagram of Venus” shown in
the figure below[i]:
synodic period of Venus is approximately 584 days. Plotting the greatest
elongation west or east of this movement five successive times over a period of
approximately 8 years and 5 days traces the figure of a Pentagram on the
Zodiacal belt. Incidentally, the numbers 5 and 8 continue to play a role in the
Rosicrucian symbolism of the pentagram, as will be seen further on.
pentagram has been found on potsherds from the pre-cuneiform Uruk period of
ancient Babylon (3500BCE). In later periods of Mesopotamian civilization it
appears in cuneiform writing to represent the four cardinal directions with the
fifth point representing “above;” as such, it represented the dominion of
royal authority extending to “the four corners of the world and the heavens
symbol also appears in Egyptian hieroglyphics, associated with the Goddess Sopdet,
who was represented in the night sky by the brightest star, Sirius, the so
called Dog Star in the constellation of Canis Major[ii].
Interestingly, the name Sirius is from the Greek word seirios, which means “burning,” and brings to mind the Blazing
Star of Masonry.
Pythagoreans called the Pentagram Hugieia,
with the combined meanings of “health,” “wholeness” and “blessings.”
The letters of this word were placed around the points of the pentagram.
According to Iamblichus, the five-pointed star was the Pythagorean sign of
recognition and held sacred as a symbol of divine perfection. The Greek Goddess
of Health was Hygeia, or the Roman Salus.
Both of these names appear on talismans from Greek and Roman periods, with the
image of the pentagram central.
was a known traveler, and the fact that he appears in Indian tantrik texts by
name as Yavanacharya (“the Greek teacher”) may explain why the Pentagram
also appears in early Hindu tantrik writings and art.
the ancient Hebrews, the Pentagram was the symbol of Truth and the five books of
the Pentateuch. Ameth, the Hebrew word for Truth, is associated with humanity by
the kabbalistic technique of temurah
using the Aiq Beqr system, which utilizes letter substitution according to
Later it will be seen that the very geometry of the Pentagram also encodes the
idea of mankind and Truth.
Pentagram found its way onto many Gnostic amulets. According to Budge
amulets contained the pentacle which contained the ineffable name YHWH within
it. More often the names Moses or Solomon were represented, Moses because
he was connected with the setting up of the brazen serpent, and Solomon because
his seal worked miracles.”[iv]
early Christians associated the Pentagram with the five wounds of Christ. Later
kabalistic Christians would associate the name of Christ in Hebrew characters,
IHShVH or Yeheshua, to the five points
of the pentagram. This method also shows the divine Tetragrammaton associated to
the four points of the star, with the fifth top point being ascribed to the
Hebrew letter shin, which symbolized
spirit and fire, or the Holy Ghost. Thus the pentagram represented the descent
of the divine fire into the world.
Pentagram has been associated with the Star
of Bethlehem or Three
Kings’ Star, which led the Magi to the newborn Christ. Of these ideas Pike
Star which guided [the Magi] is that same Blazing Star, the image whereof we
find in all initiations. To the Alchemists it is the sign of the Quintessence;
to the Magists, the Grand Arcanum; to the Kabalists, the Sacred Pentagram. The
study of this Pentagram could not but lead the Magi to the knowledge of the New
Name which was about to raise itself above all names, and cause all creatures
capable of adoration to bend the knee.[v]
the Arthurian legend of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Pentagram was
emblazoned in gold on Gawain’s shield, representing the five virtues of
generosity, courtesy, chastity, chivalry and piety.
symbol of the pentagram appears on many Knights Templar graves in France, as
well as being intrinsic to the architecture and positioning of many chapels. One
dramatic example is the mysterious shrine of Rennes du Chartres, said to be a
center of Templar activity, which is situated in the center of a ring of
mountains that form a nearly perfect pentagram.
symbolism of the Western Mystery tradition has assigned the four elements of
earth, air, water and fire to the four points of the pentagram, with the top
point being attributed to the quintessence, or spirit. From this pattern is then
attributed Kabalistic hierarchies of Archangles (Auriel for Earth, Raphael to
Air, Gabriel for Water, and Michael
with Fire), the Four Worlds (Assiah, Yetzirah, Briah and Atziluth), parts of the
soul, and many more correspondences which are too lengthy to address in this
Zelator ritual of S.R.I.C.F.
briefly introduces the symbolism of the Pentagram on the Altar to the new
Five-pointed Star reminds us of the five points of felicity, which are to walk
with, to intercede for, to love, to assist, and to pray for our Brethren, so as
to be united with them in heart and mind.
an emblem of the five points of felicity, the Pentagram reminds us of our duties
towards our brethren of the Rose and Cross throughout the world.
in the ritual the subject of number symbolism is addressed, and the number five
is explained as
emblem of Health and Safety; it is also denominated the Occult number; the
Pentagram was a famous talisman; it represents Spirit and the four elements.
reference to health and safety is interesting as it is reminiscent of the Greek hygeia discussed earlier.
Pentagram may be seen as symbolic of the entire course of initiation in the
S.R.I.C.F. First Order, as the elemental degrees are easily associated with the
elemental points of the Pentagram; while initiation into the Second Order
represents the quintessence or fifth, top-most point of the Star. In this way,
the candidate of the S.R.I.C.F. symbolically builds up the power of the
pentagram internally as they progress through and assimilate the lessons of the
degrees. Entrance to the Second Order would then represent Adepthood, as the
initiate has established the flaming star within their very heart of hearts and
embodies the very essence of the Pentagram, and is a living embodiment of the
Stone of the Philosophers.
the Craft degrees, the figure of the Pentagram may also be seen in the image of
the 5 rayed Blazing Star. According to Albert Pike, the pentagram is synonymous
with the Blazing Star of Masonic Lodges:
Blazing Star in our Lodges, we have already said, represents Sirius, Anubis, or
Mercury, Guardian and Guide of Souls. Our Ancient English brethren also
considered it an emblem of the Sun. In the old Lectures they said: ‘The
Blazing Star or Glory in the centre refers us to that Grand Luminary the Sun,
which enlightens the Earth, and by its genial influence dispenses blessings to
mankind. It is also said in those lectures to be an emblem of Prudence. The word
Prudentia means, in its original and
fullest signification, Foresight: and
accordingly the Blazing Star has been regarded as an emblem of Omniscience, or
the All-Seeing Eye, which to the Ancients was the Sun.[vi]
further associates this star with the “Divine
Energy, manifested as Light, creating the Universe.”[vii]
Masonic scholar Rex Hutchins asserts that the Pentagram
the symbol of the Divine in man… The five-pointed star with a single point
upward represents the Divine. It also symbolizes man for its five points allude
to the five senses, the five members (head, arms and legs) and his five fingers
on each hand, which signify the tokens that distinguish Masons.
he writes that this figure
the symbol of the Microcosm, the universe where humans dwell. Since the pentagon
which encloses the pentagram may be formed by connecting the five points of the
human body, for many centuries the symbol was also used to represent humanity in
this symbol then is a representation of humanity, and our Divine role in the
Universe as co-creators of eternity.
addition to being a central altar piece in our Rosicrucian Temples, and the
Blazing Star of the Craft Lodges, the Pentagram appears as an ensign in some of
the High Degrees and rites. For example, it is central on the apron of the 28th
Degree of the Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, Knight
of the Sun or Prince Adept. In
discussing the symbol of the pentagram in the lecture of this degree, Pike
writes in Morals & Dogma that
certain undertakings [the Pentagram] cannot be dispensed with. It is what is
termed the Kabalistic pentacle… This carries with it the power of commanding
the spirits of the elements.
central lesson of this highly Kabalistic and Alchemical degree is that there is
no death, only change. The
Pentagram, symbol of humanity as the microcosm is an apt representation of this
wisdom which, to one who has internalized it, may have that contempt for death
which is expressed in the line from 1 Corinthians – “Where, O death, is
your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
the same lecture, Pike alludes to the true meaning of this radiant symbol:
the masters in Alchemy say that it needs but little time and expense to
accomplish the works of Science. When they affirm, above all, that but a single
vessel is necessary, when they speak of the Great and Single furnace, which all
can use, which is within the reach of all the world, and which men possess
without knowing it, they allude to the philosophical and moral Alchemy. In fact,
a strong and determined will can, in a little while, attain complete
independence; and we all possess that chemical instrument, the great and single
athanor or furnace, which serves to separate the subtle from the gross, and the
fixed from the volatile. This instrument, complete as the world, and accurate as
the mathematics themselves, is designated by the Sages under the emblem of the
Pentagram or Star with five points, the absolute sign of human intelligence.
may be said that the Pentagram represents the power of the Divine Will, as
manifested in Humanity, to effect conscious change. As conscious participants
with the Divine Will, humanity is in the unique position of being able to be
co-creators with the Divine.
sisters of the Eastern Star utilize a Pentagram as their primary symbol.
Interestingly, their usage places the pentagram “upside down,” with two
points on top and a single point facing down. According to esoteric tradition,
this usage indicates the “evil” forces of darkness. The occult authority
Eliphas Levi writes in Transcendental Magic:
Pentagram with two horns in the ascendant represents Satan, or the goat of the
Sabbath, and with the single horn in the ascendant is the sign of the Savior. It
is the figure of the human body with the four members and a point representing
the head; a human figure head downward naturally represents the demon, that is,
intellectual subversion, disorder and folly.
to whether the author of the Easter Star rituals was aware of these qualities
when designing the emblem of the rite is most likely unknown. A contemporary
member of the Eastern Star has informed us that the explanation of the symbol
she received attributes the two points as facing towards the east, providing an
unobstructed channel from the altar to the Eastern dais, as well as creating a
confined center or “chamber” in the east that is formed between the two
extended points and the dais. All Masons would be familiar with the idea of
having the path from the Altar to the East clear at all times, and this may in
fact be the most probable reason for the design.
into the very structure of the Pentagram is the golden
section, a particular proportion in geometry that has been praised by
artists for centuries as embodying the very divine beauty in form.
Mathematically, the golden section refers
to the division of a line segment into extreme and mean proportions; that is, a
line is divided such that the smaller part is to the greater, as the greater is
to the whole. The golden section has been used extensively in post-Hellenic
architecture, as well as playing a large role in the construction of early
Cathedrals. The work of Michelangelo is just one example of the use artists have
made of this special proportion.
Foster Case says of the golden section appearing in the pentagram:
occult interpretation of this mathematical proportion is sometimes expressed in
the maxim: ‘Nature is to man as man is to God.’ The proportion itself is
often called the Golden Section of Pythagoras, and is associated with the
Hermetic axiom: ‘That which is above is as that which is below, and that which
is below is as that which is above.’
a square is added to the longer side of a golden rectangle, a larger golden
rectangle is then formed. Continuing the pattern, the golden section reveals
itself to be part of the Fibonacci Series, where each number in the series is
obtained by adding the previous two numbers: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13… The
Fibonacci series is a naturally occurring pattern that is found in nature, such
as the growth patterns of trees, the nautilus shell, pine cones, crystals,
leaves and the human body. Clearly the stamp of the Great Architect is found in
the world, with the wonders of creation!
golden section of the Pentagram is approximated with the numbers 5 and 8 of the
Fibonacci series. Interestingly, the dimensions of the Rosicrucian Vault of C.R.
as described in the core document the Fama Fraternitatis are said to be 8
feet tall and 5 feet wide. This mysterious vault was said to be a “compendium
of the universe,” each wall illustrated with Kabalistic and Hermetic symbols.
Pentagram has a long history of occult use. It was by use of a poorly
constructed Pentagram that Mephistopheles was able to manifest in the circle of
Faust! Magical grimoires of the western esoteric tradition are replete with
examples of pentagrams being used as protective and evocatory talismans, or as
the seals of circles of the Art which were traced on the floor of the ritual
chamber. Literally thousands of examples are extant from the works of Trithemius,
Dr. John Dee, Heinrich Agrippa, Kircher, Bruno, and many others, which show the
hermetic and kabalistic applications of the Pentagram in ceremonial ritual use.
one of the most evocative descriptions of the occult powers of this symbol comes
from the magician Eliphas Levi (Alphonse Louis Constant), who writes of the
Pentagram in his book Transcendental Magic:
Pentagram expresses the mind's domination over the elements and it is by this
sign that we bind the demons of the air, the spirits of fire, the spectres of
water, and the ghosts of earth. It
is the Star of the Magi, the burning star of the Gnostic schools, the sign of
intellectual omnipotence and autocracy. Its
complete comprehension is the key of two worlds‑‑it is absolute
natural philosophy and natural science. Its
use, however, is most dangerous to operators who do not completely and
perfectly understand it. All
mysteries of magic, all symbols of the gnosis, all figures of occultism, all
Qabalistic keys of prophecy, are resumed in the sign of the Pentagram, which
Paracelsus proclaims to be the greatest and most potent of all.
this absolute sign, this sign as old or as older than history, should and must
actually exercise an incalculable influence on souls disengaged from their
material envelope. Armed therewith and suitably disposed, we can behold infinity
through the medium of that faculty which is as the Soul’s Eye, and can cause
ourselves to be served by legions of angels and demon hordes. The empire of the
Will over the Astral Light which is the physical soul of the four elements, is
represented in magic by the Pentagram.
it be asked how a sign can exercise that immense power over spirits which is
claimed for the Pentagram, we inquire in turn why the Christian world bows
before the sign of the cross. The sign by itself is nothing, it derives strength
from the doctrine which is resumes, and of which it is the Logos. Now, a sign
which epitomizes by expression all the occult forces of Nature, which has always
manifested to the elementary and other spirits a power superior to their own,
naturally strikes them with fear and respect, and enforces their obedience by
the empire of knowledge and will over ignorance and weakness.
points of the pentagram are often associated with the five-fold name of the
Christ, IHShVH or Yeheshua. Paul
Foster Case describes this:
letters at the five points of the pentagram are the Roman characters
corresponding to Yod, Heh, Shin, Vau and Heh. They are the letters which spell
the divine name IHVH, Jehovah, with the ‘holy letter,’ Shin, symbol of the
Holy Spirit, placed between the first two and last two letters, thus: I H Sh V
H. This is the occult and Rosicrucian spelling of the name Yeheshua, or Jesus…’It
is the symbol of the Word made flesh.’ […] every pentagram … symbolizes
the mystical name IHShVH…[viii]
one of the most powerful talismans of antiquity, the Pentagram shows the divine
nature of mankind as intermediaries between God and the lower orders of being.
A symbol of health and protection, it has been used by countless cultures
on charms, in magical grimoires, carved on temples and used in magical and
within this geometric figure are the codes which signify the very Vault of the
Rosicrucian Adepts; as well as signs showing where the true vault lies, centered
in that internal sanctuary of the heart, the Secret Temple of the Master.
man’s dominion over the elements, the pentagram suggests that humanity
partakes of its Creators essence and is in fact a co-heir of eternity, working
with the Deity as living temples of the Most High God.
our Rosicrucian Temples, the Pentagram is also reminder of the divine blessings
of IHShVH and the Victory on the
Cross. In this sense, the Pentagram represents the Rose Cross Lamen, with a
blooming Red Rose of Victory and Divine Will upon the Golden Calvary Cross of
the elements which are transformed through the alembic of our hearts into
Alchemical Gold of the Sun.
Pentagram represents the agency of Divine Will, the radiant inexhaustible Will
of the Christos, flowing forth endlessly through humanity. That same Divine
power which Psalm 91 alludes to, and from which the protection of the Divine is
thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall
any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to
keep thee in all thy ways.
12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou
dash thy foot against a stone.
13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the
young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore
will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I
will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him
Bekar (The Kabalah of Nine Chambers)
system of temurah known as Aiq Bekar divides the 22 letters of the Hebrew
alphabet into a grid of 9 chambers with their numerical values:
Sh L G R K B Q Y A
300 30 3 200 20 2 100 10 1
M S V K N H Th M D
600 60 6 500 50 5 400 40 4
Tz Tz T P P Ch N O Z
900 90 9 800 80 8 700 70 7
grid is then used as the template from which to permutate words, which are
either expanded or minimized.
Hebrew, the word for man is ADM, adam.
This is not an individual man, rather it represents humanity as a whole, mankind.
The Hebrew letters enumerate to the number 45.
the Aiq Bekar grid, the word ADM may be permuted into the word AMTh (emeth),
which means Truth and has the value of 441.
this system, the Kabalah indicates that Man embodies Truth, and that Truth is in
fact in Man
Henry Cornelius. Three Books of Occult
Philosophy (ed. Donald Tyson). Lllewellyn, 2000.
E.A. Wallis. Amulets and Supersitionss. Dover, 1977
E.A. Wallis. The Gods of the Egyptians Dover, 1969.
Paul Foster. The Great Seal of the United States. Builders of the Adytum,
Paul Foster. The True and Invisible Rosicrucian Order. Weiser, 1985.
Henry Wilson. Coil’s Masonic Encyclopedia. Macoy Publishing, 1996.
Manly P. The Secret Teachings of All Ages (Masonic, Hermetic, Qabbalistic and
Rosicrucian Symbolical Philosophy). Philosophical Research Society, 1977.
Rex. A Bridge to Light . Supreme Council 33rd Degree, 1995.
Eliphas. The History of Magic. (trans. A.E. Waite). Weiser Books, 2001.
Eliphas. Transcendental Magic
(trans. A.E. Waite). Weiser
Masonic Cyclopaedia. Aquarian Press, 1987.
Albert. An Encyclopaedia of Freemasonry and Its Kindred Sciences. (New &
Revised, 2 vols). Masonic History Company, 1921.
Michael (trans). Vamakeshvaratantra (Part of the Nityasodashiarnava).. PP, Varanasi, 1989.
& Dogma, Supreme Council of the 33rd
Degree AASR, 1950.
David. Some Notes on the Esoteric Geometry of the Pentagram, Privately
Roscruciana in Civitatibus Foederatis, First
Order Rituals. Privately published, High Council, S.R.I.C.F.
William. The Canon: An Exposition of the Pagan Mystery Perpetuated in the Cabala
as the Rule of all the Art. Weiser Books, 1999.
A.E. The Holy Kabbalah. Citadel Press, 1995.
notes on the synodic period of Venus were obtained from the website of the
Masonic Grand Lodge of British Columbia: http://freemasonry.bcy.ca/anti-masonry/venus.html
Image from the European Southern Observatory
The star system known as Sirius is actually composed of twin stars. The
brightest “star” in the night sky, Sirius has long been associated with a
tradition of occult doctrine. In ancient Egypt the heliacal rising of Venus
signaled the annual inundation of the Nile which provided the rich alluvial
soil on the banks of the river. As such, Venus was associated with the Goddess
Isis, associated with fertility and nature. It was during the “Dog Days”
of summer when this phenomena occurred.
E. A. Wallis Budge, Amulets and Superstitions, p. 203
Albert Pike, Morals
& Dogma, pg. 842
Albert Pike, Morals
& Dogma, pg. 506
For an excellent kabbalistic study of the Name IHShVH, see The Name of
Names by Paul Foster Case.