The word pentacle, meaning the five pointed star in a circle, is derived from ‘penta’ meaning five, and the ending of the word ‘circle’. The five pointed star without the surrounding circle is called a pentagram. This symbol is used by many Pagans today as a symbol of their faith. It is unclear exactly where it originated, however it has been used by many groups including Pythagoreans who used it as a secret symbol to identify themselves, and by early Christians who wore it for protection and as a reminder of Christ’s wounds suffered on the cross.
Pagans see the pentacle as representing their faith, and as a symbol of protection. The five points of the star represent earth (bottom left), air (top left), fire (bottom right), water (top right) and akasha, or spirit (top). This emphasizes spirit, or spirituality ruling over the material elements. It shows the higher mind moving past the restrictions imposed by our senses to explore the infinite possibilities in the universe. The star can also be seen to represent man, with the bottom two points for legs, the left and right points for arms and the upper most point for the head. The circle represents divinity surrounding and encircling man, never ending protection, unity and oneness.
When shown with one point downwards, two upwards, the pentacle becomes a symbol of a second, or third degree initiate in a Wiccan tradition. However this form of the pentacle has gained negative associations through teenagers using it as a way of rebelling against their parents, wearing it for shock value alone. As these people tend to be rather anti-social and offensive, people sadly associate the pentacle with this kind of behavior. Satanists also use the pentacle inverted, generally with the Baphomet drawn on it.