I have never been political. The American flag has about as much meaning to me as a year old Twinkie snack cake, but back in the late 60’s I was " required" to stand up in my homeroom class and pledge allegiance to a piece of multi-colored cloth, as though the fabric could somehow receive my "devotion. However, imagery is and will forever be all around us casting thoughts and emotions within us without our control. American culture and religious sects have always casted profound messages and symbols to keep in check, making sure we never deviate.
But a practitioner of the arts always deviates from the norm.
I have stood by the above since my first experience in my Wiccan practice, never submit to another’s beliefs but make your own ground. Plant your own seeds and work hard to cultivate and bring some sort of understanding and a workable platform to fruition.
Which brings me to that dreaded symbolic imagery that has haunted me for years, the inverted pentagram.
My first encounter with Satan’'s rear-view mirror was back in 1977 with a little unknown B-movie titled " Satan’s Cheerleaders".
The plot was quite simple;Satan recruits a group of college cheerleaders to wreck havoc unto the earth. Satan was portrayed as a dashing 30’ish clean cut business man who smoked filtered cigarettes and displayed a half-smile at the corner of his mouth. In the film, there’s a scene where Satan displays his emblem. A huge inverted pentagram in flames. Naturally, as a young Catholic school boy I envisioned this symbol as the most grotesque display of evil and quick death to those that would “bear the mark”.
Yet, in my 5th grade class of Theology I was once caught talking in class and as a form of punishment was given the task of memorizing five chapters of the book of Leviticus and the next day stand in front of the class and recite chapter and verse…backwards!.
How irony follows me through my lifetime.
and yes, I was able to recite every line correctly to the dismay of my teacher, who couldn’t understand how I was able to do it in the first place.
Then came the most infamous B-movie of the 70’s, " the Devil’s Rain". Seeing black hooded eyeless disciples hooded in black chanting an invocation to Lucifer to appear before them through the body of Ernest Borgnine (great makeup and effects for the time).
Watching these flicks in the open summer nights of the local drive-in with my dad was priceless. He always told me to never tell mom about these movies as she would never understand. I was completely fascinated by these cultural footprints paving a dark road never to be walked alone, but years later the pentagram would call me instead.
The pentagram as always become an ever-changing symbol for me. As I grow older through the years the five pointed symbol would also grow, not older, but transfigure itself, morph into different meanings for me as I progress through my practice. But even during my time with the Golden Dawn I was still apprehensive about even thinking about an inverted pentagram for fear that Ernest Borgnine would appear in a cloud of smoke with demon horns shouting “who dares call me from the depths of hell”. No thanks, and so I remained in a state of inertia. Immobile and quiet. Carving a small personal niche within my temple to at least perform my rites without fear of…who’s that…could it be…SATAN?
It wasn’t until about 2003 that I began rethinking the inverted pentagram through a little book by Lon Milo DuQuette titled " The Magick of Thelema" which has a nice chapter on this same subject matter. In it, Duquette states that Crowley used the word " averse" to depict the “inverted” pentagram in his ritual the Liber V Vel Reguli.
“Perhaps for some,the averse pentagram will continue to be the frightful symbol of the triumph of matter over spirit(as the aspirants of the Golden Dawn are warned). In Reguli, however, it is not a case of matter triumphing over spirit, rather, it is a case of spirit descending into matter”
Interesting since this could, among many things, also imply the act of physical evocation(at least I would like it to be so).
In Section 2 of Mastering Omnipotence, EA talks in-depth about using the inverted pentagram as a powerful tool to begin the ascent of complete godhood. The meditative chant/mantra to be repeated over and over, preferably nine times,etc…and my old tired tire-track marked mind-frame of mine immediately lifted itself and proclaimed, " remember, thats SATAN!!!".But I also realized I had to rethink and revamp my old cultural programming to move ahead of the class, less I would remain a magickal all-concentrate bottle of processed juice.
I am currently only in section two of the course for a very good reason. I want to integrate the inverted pentagram within my magickal state of mind. I want it to teach me the truth. I want it to liberate me from the past so that I may embrace the future. I will not jump bridges and rivers to get to the meaty sections just yet. Section two is very profound and compelling. The mystery of this symbol must be mastered first prior to venturing into the darkness of the unknown. I must make it my bed-fellow and have it whisper into my ear its secrets. For without this mastery over my unfounded fears I will forever remain the leashed peasant making crops for my master. Its time for a new revolution of the soul to embark on its growth and true adept hood.
Quoting from DuQuette again;
“If you wait until you are positive you understand all aspects of the ceremony before beginning to work, you will never begin to work”