pentacle


pentacle
   , pentangle, pentagram
   A five-pointed star made by drawing a single line as interlocked triangles, also sometimes called Solomon's Seal, or the Endless Knot, used as a powerful protective symbol; now often regarded as the essential mark of a magician.
   It is first found in ancient Greece and the Near East as a decorative pattern on coins and buildings, and was a symbol of the perfect universe (four elements plus spirit) among Gnostics and Neoplatonists in the early centuries ad. It reached medieval Europe via Jewish and Arab culture, and was reinterpreted in Christian terms as an emblem of the Five Wounds of Jesus, guaranteed to put demons to flight. In the 1660s, Aubrey had a clergyman friend who always headed his letters with it; this custom had once been widespread, 'for good-luck's sake' (Aubrey, 1686/1880: 51).
   Medieval legend said that either this design or the six-pointed star had been engraved on a seal-ring used by Solomon to control demons. The author of *Gawain and the Green Knight calls the 'pentangle' on Gawain's shield 'Solomon's Sign', but interprets it in terms of the Five Wounds, five senses, five virtues, and the Five Joys of Mary. A pentagram within a circle was the basis for most of the complex protective patterns drawn on the ground by ritual magicians of the Renaissance (and later) when summoning or banishing spirits; modern magicians sometimes extend the term 'pent-acle' to cover any disc engraved with magic symbols, reserving 'pentagram' for the five-pointed star itself. When it is displayed vertically (e.g. when worn as a medallion), it has one point upwards if the intention is protective; since the late 19th century occultists have regarded a pentagram with two points upwards as sinister, even Satanic, though this distinction does not appear in older writings.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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  • pentacle — [ pɛ̃takl ] n. m. • av. 1555; lat. médiév. pentaculum ♦ Didact. Étoile à cinq branches (en occultisme). ● pantacle ou pentacle nom masculin En occultisme, toute figure géométrique tendant à exprimer une structure universelle, et à l intérieur de… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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  • Pentacle — Pen ta*cle, n. [Gr. ? five.] A figure composed of two equilateral triangles intersecting so as to form a six pointed star, used in early ornamental art, and also with superstitious import by the astrologers and mystics of the Middle Ages. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • pentacle — ► NOUN ▪ a pentagram. ORIGIN Latin pentaculum …   English terms dictionary

  • pentacle — [pen′tə kəl] n. [MFr < ML pentaculum < Gr penta ,PENTA + L culum, dim. suffix] a symbol, usually a five pointed star, formerly used in magic …   English World dictionary

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  • pentacle — noun Etymology: Medieval Latin *pentaculum, probably from Greek pente Date: 1594 pentagram …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • pentacle — /pen teuh keuhl/, n. 1. pentagram. 2. a similar figure, as a hexagram. [1585 95; < It pentacolo five cornered object. See PENTA , CLE1] * * * …   Universalium

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