The Pentagram: A New Look At An Old Star
Author: Miles Pendry
As a High Priest and Witch of twenty-seven seasons, I have often been asked by curious individuals to explain the meaning of the pentagram I wear. I usually reply with the generally accepted explanation of how each of the five points of the star represents the five primal elements in balance and harmony in an enclosing circle.
If I am in a particularly talkative mood, I will usually expand upon the pentagram’s representation of mankind as reflected in both the microcosm and macrocosm. There is, however, a deeper and more personal definition that I am moved to share during this season. A byproduct, I imagine, of my current funk of introspection and preparation for hibernation. Or, as Ebenezer Scrooge (of Dickens’s Christmas Carol) might explain, “maybe an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of an underdone potato”.
As I sit contemplating my pentagram, I realize how it means much more to me than a symbol of my belief as a Witch. It is far more than a map of the elemental alignments and universal harmony. It also represents hope, and a shining light to a small child lost in the darkness of his life…of my past.
As I consider this small silver star, I am reminded that the same stars shine over my head now as they have since the moment of my birth, more or less. When I look up into the darkness of a cold, black, New Hampshire night sky, those same stars shine back, impassive, unblinking, and unchanging.
I stand many miles and many years beyond where I stood watching those stars of my youth. The seasons at my feet cycle past…Beltane to Samhain and back again. The Wheel of the Year spins faster and faster with each passing season, each turn spinning the years dizzyingly past. Yet the stars above remain indifferent. I think that is why I continue to wear my pentagram to this day. It reflects the one stable, constant, immutable element in my otherwise chaotic life.
I remember as a child, standing alone in the cornfields of the Midwest at night, looking upwards and sensing an unreachable, untouchable greatness, of a cold, distant presence that was uncaring, yet perpetual and unchanging. I think that if there was an aspect of the Gods that I most honor to this day, it would be that distant, unvarying constant and a knowing that something in my life was stable.
With parents who were both physically and emotionally abusive, who uprooted and moved me almost every year so that I could never put down roots or make friends or develop any sense of security, it was comforting to have a quiet, isolated place to run to and a star to hold onto.
The pentagram means far more to me than the five traditional elements it represents, deeper still than the circle of the microcosm/macrocosm of man. The pentagram to me will always represent those stars in that cold, unchanging night sky that I, as a child, looked up towards so many years ago and cried for a little bit of stability to steady my footing as my life sped out of control around me.
I was emotionally raw, stripped bare, unable to tolerate any degree of emotional contact. Wounded as I was, I did not need or want love or intimacy. I felt lost, powerless and unable to control my direction or destiny. The ship of my life was adrift in an ocean of fear, confusion and pain.
I wanted and needed a star to follow, a constant, unwavering light to guide me out of my darkness.
Some people call that light “Jesus” and walk a Christian path. Some people choose to meditate on the light and speak its sacred name “Ohm”. Others still may call that light “Allah” and pray to it five times a day.
As for me, it makes no difference what you name the light, or what religious text you lay before you. Religions change. Old Gods die. New gods are invented and venerated.
A thousand years go by, and it’s Jesus instead of Jupiter. A thousand more years go by, and it’s Money instead of Marduk. Our culture’s concept of God is continually deconstructed and reinvented, sometimes out of necessity, sometimes out of convenience and almost always for somebody’s profit.
But my star still shines in the night sky.
That distant star doesn’t love me. I cannot have a close personal relationship with it. For all I know or care, that star is not even aware or capable of knowing I exist… let alone give a damn about how I live my life, whether or not I give that life to it or if I try to convince others to give their lives to it. More than likely, it is (as described by They Might Be Giants) a swirling mass of incandescent gas. It just shines, nothing more.
But I look to it and honor it all the same…perhaps even more so because of its indifference. My star is there for me when I look up every night. It will be there when and if I remember to look up tomorrow. That is more than I can say about any other person, place, or material thing in my life.
Seasons change, people change, and the world as we know it moves on; but tonight I know my star will still be there in the sky above, shining, regardless of whether I am looking at it or not. (I am human, after all, and sometimes I forget to take the time to look up.)
They say that in time, even stars must die. After all, supernovas are an accepted scientific fact. That may be true. My star might eventually grow old and tired, and burn out in a final flash of glory.
But it won’t happen in my lifetime, and when it does finally happen, I don’t plan on being here to worry about it.