Symbolism in the Ancient World:
In ancient cultures it usually had astronomical and religious associations. In ancient Sumeria it represented the five visible planets and was used to mark the directions. It was later associated with the Roman Goddess and the planet Venus.
Pythagoras, a Greek mathematician and philosopher, associated it with the division of the soul. The five points represented the five elements: fire, water, earth, air, and psyche(energy, spirit, plasma, breath, matter, the mind, liquid, solids,etc.)
The ancient Pythagoreans associated the symbol with, Hygeia, the goddess of healing. In ancient Greek her name was an anagram for the five elements.
It was worn by early Christians to symbolize the wounds of Christ, and was later used in doctrines of esoteric Medieval and Renaissance beliefs and was associated with alchemy, kabbalah, and Ceremonial magic.
Symbolism in Magic:
Ancient ritual practitioners used the pentacle/pentagram as a microcosm of the human body. The symbol was used to create a closeness between the practitioner and the Gods through use of symbolism to represent the divine state.
Jewish kabbalistic tradition associated the symbol with the five upper sephiroth on the Tree of Life. These were five numbers that could not be devised by ant other number but themselves. They represented justice, mercy, wisdom, understanding, and transcendent splendor.
Satanism and Wicca:
In Wicca and other Neo-Pagan traditions it is a symbol of the five elements, the union between the spirit, the self, and the earth. It is also often used as a symbol of protection.
It was not adopted by Satanists until the later half of the twentieth century. To many it represented the negative aspects of magic. It symbolized matter and individual conquering the religious theologies of the time, earth over the prospect of heaven. The symbol should not be associated with an upside down cross, a symbol of rebellion against Christianity.
In modern Satanism the symbol is associated with the person and their choice for personal glory and immortality over a union with the divine.
Direction and Symbolism:
An inverted pentagram is also not a symbol of evil. How it is used, like magic itself, determines if it is positive or negative. Many modern day Pagans use the symbol to invoke, if the point is facing upward, and to banish if two points are facing upward.
The pentacle, at one time, had the same associations as the pentagram. However, it came to mean a wooden or metal circular plate upon which magic symbols are drawn, those symbols including a pentagram (five pointed star). In ceremonial and ritual magic the pentacle is often inscribed with the pentagram and words of power and used as a talisman of protection.
The Witch Book: The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft, Wicca,and Neo-Paganism. - Written by Raymond Buckland.