Issued by the
of the Golden Dawn
Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
The Pentagram is a very ancient symbol of unknown origin. It was used by the Ancient Sumerians and Egyptians, and it was employed by the Pythagoreans as the badge of their Ancient Brotherhood. Pythagoras was born around 580 B.C., and lived his life on earth at about the same time that Buddha lived. The Pentagram, or Pentalpha, has been called the Therapeutic Signet of Pythagoras, who is supposed to have worn a ring with this symbol engraved upon it.
Eliphas Levi, the famous French Magus of the Nineteenth Century, stated the following concerning the Sacred Pentagram:
"The Pentagram, which in Gnostic schools is called the Blazing Star, is the sign of intellectual omnipotence and autocracy. It is the Star of the Magi; it is the sign of the Word made flesh; and, according to the direction of its points, this absolute magical symbol represents order or confusion, the Divine Lamb of Ormuz and St. John, or the accursed Goat of Mendes. It is initiation or profanation; it is Lucifer or Vesper, the star of morning or evening. It is Mary or Lilith, victory or death, day or night. The Pentagram with two points in the ascendant represents Satan as the goat of the Sabbath; when one point is in the ascendant, it is the sign of the Savior. The Pentagram is the figure of the human body having the four limbs and a single point representing the head. A human figure head downwards naturally represents a demon -- that is, intellectual subversion, disorder or madness. Now, if Magic be a reality, if occult science be really the true law of the three worlds, this absolute sign, this sign ancient as history and more ancient, should and does exercise an incalculable influence upon spirits set free from their material envelope."
The Pentagram (5) represents Spirit or God (1) united with the physical Universe (4). It is the incarnation of Spirit into physical form through the four Elements for the sake of experience and self-realization. It is only by physical incarnation that the Spirit can realize its true nature, its potential, and its transcendence. The four Elements are the means by which Spirit can experience its infinite possibilities of self-expression; the finite is the means to the realization of the Infinite.
The Elements, which constitute man's earthly existence, including his inner Self, are linked with the five points of the Pentagram. These are Fire, Water, Air, Earth, and Spirit. The uppermost point is that of Spirit, the essence and matrix of the four Elements; the top left point is that of Air; the top right point is that of Water; the bottom left point is that of Earth; and the bottom right point is that of Fire. Also linked with the five points of the Pentagram are the five Hebrew letters, which compose the Divine Name of Yeheshuah. This Name represents the operation of the Holy Spirit in the midst of the Elements.
Let us take into account the history of the development of the theory of the Elements. This theory commenced with a Greek Philosopher named Thales (640-546 B.C.), who proposed that all things were composed of one element, which he claimed to be Water. Anaximines (560-500 B.C.), a contemporary of Thales, agreed with his theory, but proposed that the element was Air. Heraclitus (536-470 B.C.) proposed that the element was Fire. Empedocles (490-430 B.C.) proposed that there was more than one element, and that Water, Air and Fire, to which he added another element called Earth, were the primary elements of the Universe. Plato (428-348 B.C.) proposed another element, which he said, was the true Primary Element of which the other four elements were made. This fifth element Aristotle called Hule. Plato proposed that Hule was the prime matter of the Universe with four fundamental properties of hot, cold, moist, and dry, and that it was the combination of these properties in pairs that produced the four elements. Fire is hot and dry, Water is cold and moist, Air is hot and moist, and Earth is dry and cold. Aristotle later proposed another fifth element, the Quintessence or Ether, which he claimed to be like fire. The theory that all things were composed of these primary elements remained strong till the 17th Century, when Robert Boyle published "The Skeptical Chymist" in 1661, in which he made a critical examination of the Aristotelian theory of the elements. From the point of view of modern day science, this theory of the ancients is a closed book. But from the point of view of Hermeticism, this theory is still a useful tool to be applied in the operations of the Great Work. The elements of this theory, as they are proposed in Hermeticism, are not the elements that the ancients thought to compose the Universe, but rather do they denote empirical principles that play a vital part in the constitution of our existential lives. Let us therefore interpret this theory in the illuminating light of metaphor, and not in the literal sense.
The Pentagram represents the five physical senses. The senses are the instruments that we must employ in the Grand Operation of the Great Work; they are the creative vehicles of our personal expression in the world which need to be consecrated to the Great Work by way of action, which is ritual. Action is the fundamental means by which to attain the knowledge of the True Self. Think not evil of the senses, but rather your misuse of them; for they are your divine instruments by which you will accomplish the Great Work; they are the creative vehicles of your True Self, its means to experience and to know itself.
The Pentagram represents the Lordship of the True Self over the elemental senses. When we stand above the senses we obtain control over the Elements, so that they become forces in our command. This means that we can, according to the direction of our True Will, transmute them into veritable mediums of perfect expression on earth for the manifestation of our True Self. The five physical senses are symbols of the five internal senses of the Inner Man or Logos. By understanding and grasping the spiritual significance of the five physical senses, a man can experience the mysterious five inner senses of interior illumination. These are the ear of the ear, the eye of the eye, the tongue of the tongue, the smell of smell, and the touch of touch.
The Pentagram is a geometrical symbol of the Wild Rose, which is a symbol of the five senses. The Rose is also a symbol of Love, for it is the flower of Venus. The Rose is further a symbol of secrecy, for it is the flower of Harpocrates, the God of Silence. The Pentagram represents the magical application of the five senses in their proper modes of activity for the transmutation of the human self into the Higher or True Self of the Divine. The nature of that Self is Love, and Love is an interior truth which concerns itself with the Holy Mystery of Silence. The Pentagram is a Grand Key to the occult comprehension of this Great Mystery of Man.
The number of the Pentagram is five, which is the number of the Atu of Thoth called "The Hierophant", who represents the Perfected Man or Adept. The Adept is He who is able "to Know, to Dare, to Will, and to Keep Silent." These are the Four Powers of the Sphinx; and these Four Powers when attained are crowned by a fifth power, "to Go", which is the function of a god. It is the act of doing one's True Will, like a star flaming forth on its own self-determined orbit, free to fulfill its cosmic destiny in the celestial scheme of the Infinite Universe. Like the Elements, these Powers are linked with the five points of the Pentagram. Knowledge corresponds to the point of Air, Courage corresponds to the point of Fire, Will corresponds to the point of Earth, Silence corresponds to the point of Water, and To Go corresponds with the uppermost point, which is attributed to Spirit.
When a man attains true knowledge he has control over the Element of Air; when he dares what is true he has control over the Element of Fire; when he wills what is right he has control over the Element of Earth; and when he keeps perfect silence he has control over the Element of Water. When the Magician exercises such control, he is then able "to Go", to do his True Will and to express his True Self. The Blazing Pentagram or Sign of Magical Omnipotence symbolizes this operation.
Consider the following words by the French Magus:
"The Pentagram symbolizes the domination of the mind over the Elements; the demons of air, the spirits of fire, the phantoms of water and the ghosts of earth are enchained by this sign. Equipped therewith, and suitably disposed, you may behold the Infinite through the medium of that faculty which is like the Soul's eye, and you will be ministered unto by legions of angels and hosts of fiends.
"The empire of the Will over the Astral Light, which is the physical soul of the four Elements, is represented in Magic by the Pentagram. The elementary spirits are subservient to this sign when employed with understanding, and by placing it in the circle, or on the table of evocations, they can be rendered tractable, which is magically called their imprisonment.
"When conscious of failing will, the Magus turns his eyes towards this symbol, takes it in his right hand and feels armed with intellectual omnipotence, provided that he is truly a king, worthy to be led by the Star to the cradle of divine realization; provided that he Knows, Dares, Wills and Keeps Silent; provided that he is familiar with the usages of the Pentacle, the Cup, the Wand and the Sword; provided, finally, that the intrepid gaze of his soul corresponds to those two eyes which the ascending point of our Pentagram ever presents open."
The Inverted Pentagram, from the profane point of view, represents the total reversal of the above ideas, turning man upside down, thus placing him in a position contrary to the divine order. It has been said that this Inverted Pentagram represents the Elements dominating or ruling over the Spirit of Man, therefore representing a false way of life, being the way of evil. But this, in fact, can be very misleading; for it is not really a matter of the Elements dominating Spirit; rather is it a matter of the True Will or True Self being concealed beneath the Elements, to be discovered by eliminating all elemental impurities which veil the truth of the soul. It is an alchemical formula of supreme importance. For the Alchemist it means that he must eliminate all elemental impurities from his First Matter. The True Self is concealed in the World of the Elements and may be found in the depths thereof. This is the doctrine of initiation. Thus is the Inverted Pentagram a most holy symbol to the Wise, but an evil symbol unto the profane. It is, in fact, a symbol of Pan, The All. To experience and to be consciously All is the supreme work of the Initiates and the final work of all mankind. The All is the Absolute, God, or the One Self. Pan is the mythological representation of The All. Thus is the Inverted Pentagram again a most holy symbol. Inverted or not, the Pentagram is a symbol of Man as God. It is important to understand that my use of the word Man throughout this lesson is in reference to the whole of mankind. I am using it in a collective sense, referring to both men and women alike.
Now the French Magus asserted:
"By the Pentagram is measured the exact proportions of the great and unique Athanor necessary to the confection of the Philosophical Stone and the accomplishment of the Great Work. The most perfect alembic in which the Quintessence can be elaborated is conformable to this figure, and the Quintessence itself is represented by the Sign of the Pentagram."
Each line of the Pentagram is said to be 21 units in length. 21 is the number of Eheieh, the God Name of Kether, which is the seat of the Yechidah (the True Self). Thus to trace the Pentagram is to affirm the One Power of the Yechidah in its five modes of expression symbolized by the five Elements which are linked with the five lines of the Pentagram. 21 is the Mystic Number of the Sixth Sephira of the Tree of Life called Tiphareth. In other words, it is the sum of the numbers from 1 to 6 (1+2+3+4+5+6 = 21). Tiphareth is the Sphere of the Sun. The Sun is a visible sign of an invisible grace; it is the external symbol of Kether, the One Self. This again demonstrates that the five Elements are expressions of the One Self, modes of its manifestation in the perceptible Universe. It also indicates that Man is the One Self made manifest, since the Pentagram is a symbol of Man.
21 is also the number of the three actual letters of the Tetragrammaton, that is, Yod-Heh-Vav. It is said in the Sepher Yetzirah, or Book of Formation, that by these three letters God sealed the six directions or formulated the Cosmic Cube of Space. Moreover, in the order of the Magical Alphabet, letter 21 is Shin, which is the letter of Fire and of the Sun. Shin is composed of three Hebrew Vavs, so that its true number is 666, which is the Most Holy Number of the Sun. 666 translated into Hebrew letters is Mem, Samekh, Vav. These correspond with Atus 12, 14 and 5. 12+14+5 = 31. Shin is the letter of Path 31 on the Tree of Life, and 31 is the number of the Hebrew God Name "AL", who is the One God or The All.
Now 5 x 21 = 105, which is the Mystic Number of the 14th Path on the Qabalistic Tree of Life, since 105 is the sum of the numbers from 1 to 14. This is the Path of Daleth, which is the Hebrew letter attributed to the Atu of Thoth called "The Empress." The Empress is Venus, Goddess of Love. Thus the Pentagram represents the Law of Love, that Divine Love which unites all things above and below; it is the Love that Adepts assert to be the One Reality Itself, symbolized by the Sun of Light and Life.
The number 14, of which 105 is the Mystic number, is the number of the Hebrew word "Zahab" (ZHB), meaning "Gold" or "Light". In the Science of Alchemy, Gold is the symbol of the Sun; and Light is a universal symbol of the One Self or One Reality. 14 is also the number of the Hebrew name David (DVD), which means Love or Beloved, thus affirming that the One Reality, of which Gold and Light are metaphors, is Love. It is important to keep in mind in this respect that the Pentagram is a geometrical symbol of the Rose, which is the Flower of Venus, the Goddess of Love.
The Pentagram, or Pentalpha, is composed of five A's. A is Aleph in the Magical Alphabet, and the number of Aleph spelled in full is 111 (Aleph-Lamed-Peh). 5 x 111 = 555, which is the number of HAD spelled in full (H=10+A=111+D=434). Thus the Pentagram is a symbol of HAD, the flame that burns in every heart of man and in the core of every Star; He is the Great Invisible Center of Life that is omnipresent, symbolized by the Sun, the center of our Solar System.
Finally, Eliphas Levi (Oh no! Not him again!?!?) stated the following informative words:
"All Mysteries of Magic, all symbols of the Gnosis, all figures of occultism, all qabalistic keys of prophecy are summed up in the Sign of the Pentagram, which Paracelsus proclaims to be the greatest and most potent of all the signs."
Love is the law, love under will.
Thelemic Order of the Golden Dawn.
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