Some friends of mine who own a Baltic imports store had just come back from a buying trip to Latvia. “Come see this,” said Sean, when I walked in the door. “It's very special.”
He was right. The Thunder brooch was beautiful, bronze, big and solid enough to heft in the palm of a hand. A Sun Wheel, but this was a Sun filled with lightnings: Sun and Thunder in union. “It's a wonderful piece,” he said, “but I can't put it out on the floor.” I was on the verge of asking why not when suddenly I saw why not.
What’s the difference between a pentagram and a pentacle? Aren’t pentagrams satanic? Why do some Wiccans wear pentagrams? Do I have to wear a pentagram to be a Wiccan?
A pentagram is a five-pointed star, usually depicted as interwoven, or with the lines used to draw it overlapping. A pentacle is a pentagram with a circle around it. Pentagrams and pentacles have long been symbols of protection and warding off evil, and they are used for that purpose by many Wiccans today.
A Little History
Pentagrams have been used for thousands of years and appear in ancient Greek, Roman, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian art. They have been used by Christians, too—perhaps most famously by Hildegard of Bingen, who, along with other twelfth-century Christian scholars, associated the number five with the five senses and the human body (one head, two arms, and two legs; it reminds me a bit of Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man), and saw it as the symbol of the microcosm, or the divine reflected on earth. The symbolism of the pentacle plays an important role in the medieval poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and of course it is also associated with the Christmas star and sits atop the Christmas tree in many Christian homes.
I'm a Jungian and an eclectic Neopagan, which means that I am doubly vulnerable to charges of cultural appropriation. Jungianism and eclectic Neopaganism are criticized for their borrowing of symbols from other cultures for a variety of reasons. First, the removal of religious symbols and practices from their cultural context may be seen as trivializing. Second, the adoption of the traditions and practices of another culture may be seen as a form of cultural theft, and another form of Western colonialism. In many cases, these charges are well-founded, but I don't think it is fair or accurate to condemn eclecticism automatically as either trivializing or as cultural theft.
Bulls.Big, strong, temperamental creatures that have had loomed large in man’s past.Bull jumping, bull baiting, bull fights and running of the bulls are events where they were, and in some cases still are, featured.They were used in the form of oxen to pull plows and carts.Their virility kept up herds, generating wealth for their owners. In some areas, placing a bull head above a door gives protection and luck much like the horse shoe. As sacrifices, few animals were more costly.From them we get the terms ‘seeing red’ and ‘bull-headed’.A lot of myths feature bulls, even modern myths like Paul Bunyan and his blue ox.In some cultures, earthquakes are blamed on a rowdy celestial bull believed to have the world upon its horns.A lot of masculine divinities, particularly those of the sun and the sky, are associated with bulls.
Yesterday I did what I normally do in the afternoon- bring the laundry in from off the wash-line. I reach for a shirt, and there is a spider that has spun a delicate web between it and another shirt. Grabbing a small stick, I carefully pick it off its web and place it on a branch. See, I’m not scared of spiders.
Getting to the final bit of laundry, I unpeg a long black skirt off the line and drape it over my arm. Out the corner of my eye I notice something large and greyish rubbing against me. I think nothing of it. As I plop the skirt in the laundry basket, the greyish thing moves and realisation dawns.