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A Critical Examination of Eliphas Levi's Pentagram


A critical examination of Eliphas Levis diagram of the Pentagram as seen in Transcendental Magick

A critical examination of Eliphas Levis diagram of the Pentagram as seen in Transcendental Magick.



The power of a symbol lies in its compact form. In this way a symbol is very similar to a ritual in that it combines many different ideas into this compacted form. If done properly, or understood properly, condensed symbols become expanded. There are several areas of interest in Levis Pentagram drawing: the symbolism of the pentagram itself, the ideas of the Tetragrammaton and the 5 elements; the symbols of Venus and Mercury conjoined, the caduceus, the Alpha and Omega, the squared circle, and the Hebrew letters which point to different and concrete ideas. (I do not reiterate the history of the pentagram, nor the commonly known meaning so as to avoid banality.)

The pentagram is first and foremost a sign of the five elements, fire, water, air, earth and spirit. It represents man, and the microcosm, while the hexagram represents planetary influences and the macrocosm. The elements are represented on the pentagram with the wand, cup, sword/dagger, and disk symbols. There is a theme of the union of opposites present with the sun and the moon, the masculine and the feminine uniting. This theme is carried out with the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and end, representing all of existence, the squaring of the circle from sacred geometry, and the Venus and Mercury conjoined. The Venus and Mercury are very interesting here because one would think of Venus and Mars being together because of the traditional masculine and feminine from Greek/Roman myth. The use of Venus and Mercury is thus removed from myth mostly and I think hinting toward its use as a pathworking, being the 27th path and the uniting of fire (netzach) and water (hod). Interestingly enough hod, typically thought of as male, is water, while netzach, being female to hod, and female in other senses, having the element of fire thus giving the sense of motion, and not a sense of being static. (The male being the female and the female also being the male.) I also noticed the three darkened Ts, which I found related to the triple Taus in masonry. The A for Alpha also looks like a Masonic compass.

The Hebrew letters are intriguing. I spent a lot of time looking through them and at one in particular which I found made no sense at all. Ill consider the three that made sense first. ADM, PChD, HVH. ADM = Aleph Daleth Mem is quite overtly referring to mankind, not first man. Aleph being the air that breathes life, and DM the blood that receives it. PChD = Peh Cheth Daleth. Pachad is fear or terror. Fear of God might be one reason it was included, as Levi was Catholic, additionally it is the name of the 5th sephira Geburah, and 5 for overt reasons is connected to the pentagram. HVH= Heh Vau Heh. I found that this, according to Blavatsky, was the process of generation itself, and regeneration. YHVH without the Yod. Mankind regenerating Mankind. Now I got to the last one KPR = Kaph Peh Resh. I do not know if these are the correct Hebrew letters, and nothing seemed to fit. I tried KPD, KChD, KSR and every variation because the letters arent clear but nothing came of any of my variations. The only thing that came to mind was Cafer/Kafir, infidel in Arabic; however, I dont think that fits. Levi might have made a mistake and his letters are blurry but I can not figure it out at all.

Putting together all of this information with the traditional view of the meaning of the pentagram gives me a new perspective on the meaning of the pentagram according to Levi. It seems that there is a lot of union of opposites, the perfection of the self, the transcendence of duality, balance within the self, and all of this is done without the overt pressure/presence of the divine. HVH is divorced from Y, and yet it regenerates and can maintain a balance. After the divine created mankind, from a Christian narrative, then mankind has free will and must be a good human, and maintain balance in his or her nature. There isnt a reaching upward, or a going below, but a sense of maintenance and progression. Despite all the balance and the union of opposites I dont feel that this is a static symbol. When I think of all of these items together I think of something which is very much in motion, but a balanced motion. I could continue on with these symbols, and thoroughly explaining the Tetragrammaton, but I felt I should cease because of space. I am familiar with the commonly known meanings of the Tetragrammaton and the pentagram so I felt it was better to focus on the new symbols and the input their contributed.


Anyone who has input on this particular symbol feel free to contact me.



2006 - Ama Marie