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The Pentacle or the Pentagram is a 5 pointed star, often, but not always, encircled with the circle of Unity. It represents the domination of Spirit or Divine Will over base matter, and the elements of Spirit, Earth, Water, Fire, and Air. The pentacle has been a symbol of protection and spiritual growth for millennia. At its points are the stages of Life: birth, initiation, consummation, repose, and death, with the circle bringing us back to birth in the cycle of reincarnation. The pentacle is said to have originated in China as a way for Feng Shui masters to understand the elemental interactions between their elements.
It is said that a pentacle that is held upside down is an “evil” symbol whereas a pentacle held right side up is a “good” pentacle. This idea mostly came from the use of the inverted pentacle on the cover of Anton LaVey’s “Satanic Bible.” Pagan practitioners will tell you that the position of a pentacle does not denote whether or not it will be used for “good” or “bad” magick, but what it will be used for. For example, an upside down pentacle is often called the “banishing” pentacle and is used to sent energy away whereas an upright pentacle can be considered an “invoking” pentacle and be used to call energy forth.
In modern Paganism, it represents the same concepts but spirit takes the place of light. Later in the early Christian period it was the symbol by which the undercurrent of gnosticism was recognised. In Christian iconography the five-pointed star at one time represented the five stigmata of Christ. To the Etruscans it represented all the stars in heaven. In the middle ages this icon held apotr0paic (evil-banishing) significance. And finally you'll recognise the free mason symbol of the blazing star.
Representing the element of Earth in the Tarot, the pentacle is also associated with prosperity and abundance and groundedness. The pentacle is often confused with the pentagram. The pentagram is the mathematical design itself, while a the pentacle is an object in the shape of a pentagram. The paten is a dish for holding cakes and other offerings or for charging material items and often has a pentacle or pentagram inscribed upon it.