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Ch.16 The Pentagram (WMB 16.c)

Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @


Chapter 16 - The Pentagram- part c

The Sumerians were already using the pentagram by 3000 BCE. They called it Ub, meaning ’region’, ’direction’ or ’heavenly quarter’. Interestingly the Sumerians often drew their pentagrams inverted. The Sumerians used a five direction system of East, South, West, North and Above, with Above corresponding to the goddess Inanna, so it has been speculated that these directions were attributed by them to the pentagram.

In ancient Greece, the Pythagoreans called the pentagram Ugieia, meaning ’soundness’. They wrote the letters around the points of the pentagram, but as there were six in the word they combined the epsilon (e) and second iota (i) to make a theta (th) which looks the same as the two vowels combined. They thus labelled the points of the pentagram with the letters upsilon (U), gamma (G), iota (I), theta (Th), and alpha (A). These are also the first letters of words corresponding to the elements. Thus we have Hudor (Water),[1]Gaia (Earth), Hierion (divine or holy thing, i.e. Spirit),[2]Therma (Heat i.e. Fire) and Aer (Air) corresponding to the points of the pentagram.

These attributions started at the top and went anticlockwise around the pentagram, giving this set of attributions:

(Contemporary Wiccan attributions of the elements to the pentagram)

The Greek letters can be seen drawn around an inverse pentagram in Agrippa’s Three Books of Occult Philosophy, showing that this idea was recognised and used in the sixteenth century.

When did the attributions change from the ancient Greek ones to those used in modern magick? The answer may well lie with the Elizabethan magus Dr John Dee. The Great Table of Dee’s Enochian system is comprised of the Four Elemental Tablets (or Watchtowers) combined. The sequence of their combination is relevant for the elemental attributions, as we can see the elemental attributions applied to the pentagram were clearly derived from here.

When creating the Great Table, the top half (or row) is formed by placing the Tablet of Air on the left and the Tablet of Water on the right, as you look at it. Likewise the bottom half (or row) is formed by placing the Tablet of Earth on the left and the Tablet of Fire on the right. If you then read anticlockwise from Air in the top left, the sequence is alphabetical, proceeding to Earth in the bottom left, Fire in the bottom right and Water in the top right, exactly as is seen with the elemental attributions on the points of the pentagram (with Spirit at the top).

The wearing of a pentagram ring, popular amongst Wiccans and pagans today, has a precedent in the third century CE Testament of Solomon. In this work King Solomon was given a ring bearing the pentalpha (pentagram) by the archangel Michael to compel the obedience of demons who he summoned to build the temple in Jerusalem. Descriptions of the ring also refer to it having four gems representing the elemental archangels embedded in it.

(The engravings of the pentagram ring used in the grimoire tradition, this example from Sloane MS 2731 – Lemegeton)

[1] The H is added to the beginning of the word in transliteration from the Greek, so it actually starts with the letter U (upsilon). [2] Again the H is added in transliteration, so the word starts with the letter I (iota).

Extract from: Wicca: Magical Beginnings written by d’Este & Rankine, 2008 (Avalonia.) PB / Kindle @ Shared here with the intention to inspire and inform the now and future generations interested in Wicca and other Pagan traditions inspired by it.



My name is Sorita d'Este

and this is my website and blog!  Thanks for visiting - I hope you are finding what you are looking for!


Many years ago I dedicated myself to the pursuit of both esoteric knowledge, and an understanding of polytheism, the Gods and Nature.  I have been a full-time writer, author and publisher, specialising subjects linked to the occult, witchcraft, Paganism, mythology, ancient religions and magic - and all kinds of things in between since 2003. 


I live on a hill in Glastonbury, overlooking the marshes of Somerset,  a place of myth and legend, and a crossroad for many different religions. Here I am frequently found digging and growing, serving my fluffy rescue cat and navigating the unknown with my teenage son.  

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