The pentacle is one of the most famous images within religious symbology and has great spiritual meaning to the Wiccan culture. Unfortunately due to its similarity to the inverted pentacle, the characteristic symbol of many satanic cults, the symbol has been perceived as an object of fear and mistrust by many people. In fact this reputation is completely undeserved, as both the pentacle and Wicca have no Satanic roots.
The art of Wicca or Witchcraft is a reconstructed form of Paganism fairly similar to the religious structure of the ancient Celts, based upon a spiritual connection with the Earth, it spirits, and its elements. The upright pentacle was originally the symbol of a Goddess known as Kore, who was worshiped over an area extending from Egypt to what is now present day England. Kore's sacred fruit was in fact the apple, the core of which has a near pentacle-like arrangement of seeds when sliced in half. However, the Wiccans did not agree with this interpretation of the symbol. They believed the pentacle to be the symbol of the Goddess of the Underground known as Morgan, which the Wiccans later adopted as their own symbol.
To those outside the faith the pentacle is nothing more than an oddly shaped star, but to the Wiccans it is a bold statement about the universe and our place within it. The underlying message of the symbol is quite simple, that we have the ability to bring the "spirit" to Earth and we can only become a complete organism by doing this. Then five points of the pentacle are usually interpreted as the five factors needed to sustain life; fire, earth, water, air and the spirit. The circle around the outside represents the Goddess and refracts and reflects light, supposedly bringing intelligence, wisdom and protection to the wearer. The metaphysical elements and the placements on the pentacle are as follows:
Fire is located on the lower right hand angle of the symbol and represents the element of fire. Metaphorically it also represents courage and daring.
Water is located on the upper right hand angle of the symbol, and represents the element of water. Metaphorically it also represents emotion and intuition.
Air is located on the upper left hand angle of the symbol, and represents the element of air. Metaphorically it also represents intelligence and the arts.
Earth is located on the lower left hand angle of the symbol, and represents the element of earth. Metaphorically it also represents stability and physical endurance.
The spirit is located at the top point of the upright pentacle, receiving the pole position as the most important factor in the sustainability of life. Metaphorically the spirit represents the All and the Divine. During ceremonies the spirit rules over the four elements.
The pentacle is often worn by all practicing Wiccans, usually as a ring or another form of jewelry. Many craft their own as a talisman, usually from stained glass, stone or wood, and decorate it with personalized runes, sigils and symbols related to the owner. Many pre-made pentacles come embedded with various stones, which are specific to the birth month of the wearer. They can also attract and focus a specific energy desired by the owner. The pentacle has an important role in many ceremonies and rituals, and is often found inscribed on alters and ritual knives (or athames). During magical rituals the pentacle is often drawn in the air using an athame, and can be used to cast and banish healing circles and various spiritual energies. When inscribed upon an alter the pentacle is used to focus and accumulate and energy and intentions of the spell. Many Wiccans may also bless themselves or others with the sign of the pentacle, usually by passing their hand from their forehead to one hip, across to the opposite shoulder, then across to the other shoulder and down to the opposite hip, before returning to the forehead. Traditionally the pentacles were manufactured from materials of varying cost, such as copper, sliver, gold and brass. Silver pentacles represent energy of the moon and the associated psychic energies, whereas gold versions represent the energy of the Sun, power and strength. During times of religious persecution they were often made from clay and dough, which were readily disposable and saved many Wiccans from being brunt alive.
In magical ceremonies the points of the pentacle don't only just represent the metaphysical elements, but also the directions of various energies and spirits.
When the pentacle is drawn it is vitally important that the lines are continuous and unbroken, as any breaks in the line can allow useful energies to escape, or worse, allow negative energies to enter. When placed upright the pentacle allows the spirit to rule and control the elements, freeing the mind and allowing personal growth. Simply put, an upright pentacle represents the spirit ruling over the physical world, allowing the owner to explore beyond the limits of normal human perception. Conversely an inverted pentacle releases the spiritual energy back into the planet. An inverted pentacle was originally awarded to a witch who had reached the second or third status, but associations with Satanism caused them to replace the inverted pentacle with the triangular form.