One of my readers asked this question: “What is the Wiccan star called and why is it important?”
The Pentagram is very important in Witchcraft. The pentagram (just the star) and pentacle (the star with a circle around it) is one of the most important icons of paganism. The pentagram represents the five elements and spirit. Here is the description below.
In most Eastern and pre-Christian Celtic religions, the building blocks for all things are the five elements: Air, Fire, Water, Earth, and Spirit. Life can’t survive without each of these. We all need warmth (Fire), a place to call our own (Earth), air to breathe, and water to drink. Everything in the physical world is made up of at least one element, but most often it is a combination of two or more. We need all five to be completely balanced.
The pentacle represents life with each point indicating one of the four elements and a fifth for Spirit. Soon, we will talk about each element’s Elemental, a spirit or being that is completely made of that element. We can understand the world we live in by studying the elements and how they interact in our environment and our spiritual lives.
A note on the elements: The feminine elements are seen as receptive, that is, you put things into water and earth. On the other hand masculine elements are seen as active. Air and fire move themselves and transform other things.
Air represents the direction East.
The sun rises in the East. Associated with the time of dawn, air belongs during the morning. East means new beginnings. So anything that begins or “dawns” is of the Air symbol. Air represents thought, and new ideas dawn in our heads all the time. East is a male element. This is not to say that females don’t have the Air element in them. But Air is considered to be a masculine element. (Remember “animus” and “anima” in Chapter 3.)
Air reflects thought and intelligence. Simply put, Air is pure thought. We use the attributes of Air to figure out our problems. The skill of problem solving is Air’s strength. Think of math and science as subjects ruled by Air.
Things that represent Air are feathers/birds of all kinds, clouds, dust devils, wind chimes, and incense smoke to name a few.
The sylph is the Elemental of Air. Some artists have depicted sylphs as human figures with wings. Sylphs are often seen in cloud formations. Note that an Elemental is an entity that embodies one specific element.
In many Tarot decks, swords represent Air. Since Air is the element of thought and intellect, Tarot swords represent ideas and other qualities of Air. But just like a real sword, thoughts can cut two ways. They can be freeing or debilitating, just as having a life-altering epiphany is to having depression.
Fire represents the direction South.
Fire is associated with noon, the hottest time of the day. As with Air, Fire is seen as a male/masculine element. Fire is action! Fire represents your will. It is the spark that sets you into motion. It is the energy that moves you to finish your housework. Fire is represented by embers, the sun, hot chili peppers, and a flame from a candle.
Salamanders are the Elemental spirits of Fire. The Fire salamander is seen as dragon-like. Like flames, they are shape-shifters. They are sometimes depicted with wings and human faces, much like sylphs.
In many Tarot decks, wands represent Fire. Whereas Air is the beginning or the plan you start with, Fire sets that plan into action!
Fire also transforms. It changes whatever it touches, consuming it and converting it into something new. The Phoenix is a good example of this. It is consumed by fire and then rises from its own ashes as something new. In a sense, it is being reborn out of its own destruction.
Water represents the direction West.
Water’s corresponding time of day is at sunset. Water is associated with the moon and with birth, death, and rebirth. It also has to do with feelings and emotions. Water connotes strong feelings such as love, desire, hate, joy, and sorrow. Water is seen as a feminine element. Things that represent water are seashells, seaweed, water, sponges, and fish.
Because of its association with death, Water is also associated with the Summerlands (afterlife). Many folkloric traditions include a journey over a body of water to reach their afterlife.
The Undine is the Elemental spirit in water. Undines are water entities that can manifest themselves in many forms, from mermaids to the sirens of the sea.
In many Tarot decks, cups represent Water. In Tarot, cups represent emotions. Cups are also associated with birth, death, and rebirth.
You may recall that my name is Moonwater SilverClaw. I chose this name because I feel connected to water. My mother still tells tales of how, as a child, I’d find any puddle in a two-mile radius. To this day I enjoy the water whether I’m snorkeling or doing undersea helmet diving.
Earth represents the direction North.
Midnight is the time that is associated with this element. Earth stands for stability, foundations, and commitment. The greatest image of Earth is Mother Earth or Gaia herself. Earth is seen as a feminine element. Earth is also stillness. Earth is represented by rocks, crystals, dirt, and fossils.
Gnomes are the Elemental spirits of Earth. Gnomes are strong and squat. Their skin is the colors of the Earth with its many shades of brown to black.
In many Tarot decks, Earth is represented by coins or pentacles. Coins in the Tarot connote physical labors and the fruits of those labors. They often refer to physical possessions, such as money, cars, and houses.
The fifth element is Spirit.
The fifth element does not have a specific direction or a specific time in our twenty-four-hour day. That being said, Spirit is what creates the life within us. It is literally the divine spark that we all need to be alive. There is no Elemental associated with Spirit.
What we call the “soul” is in fact a piece of the God and Goddess, or “The All.” Every one of us has this element within us. It is the element that makes all living things divine.
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