THE FIVE-POINTED STAR
[ The Theosophist, Vol. II, No. 11, August, 1881, pp. 240-241]
[The following comment was written by H. P. Blavatsky on letter by Mr. S. T. Venkatapaty, who claimed to have successfully used the five-pointed star, drawn on paper with the name of a Hindu god written in the spaces, for healing or mitigating the effect of scorpion bites.]
Of late numerous letters have been received in The Theosophist office concerning the efficacy of the mysterious Pentagram. Our Eastern readers are perhaps unaware of the great importance given by the Western Kabalists to that sign, and, therefore, it may be found expedient to say a few words about it just now, when it is coming so prominently before the notice of our readers. Like the six-pointed star which is the figure of the macrocosm, the five-pointed star has its own deep symbolic significance, for it represents the microcosm. The former—the “double triangle” composed of two triangles respectively white and black—crossed and interlaced (our Society’s symbol)—known as “Solomon’s Seal” in Europe—and as the “Sign of Vishnu” in India—is made to represent the universal spirit and matter, one white point which symbolizes the former ascending heavenward, and the two points* of its black triangle inclining
* [Should read: “the lower point,” as corrected by H. P B. herself. Vide footnote on page 315 of the present Volume.—Compiler.]
earthward.* The Pentagram also represents spirit and matter but only as manifested upon earth. Emblem of the microcosm (or the “little universe”) faithfully mirroring in itself the macrocosm (or the great cosmos), it is the sign of the supremacy of human intellect or spirit over brutal matter.
Most of the mysteries of Kabalistic or ceremonial magic, the gnostical symbols and all the Kabalistic keys of prophecy are summed up in that flamboyant Pentagram, considered by the practitioners of the Chaldeo-Jewish Kabala as the most potent magical instrument. In magical evocation during which the slightest hesitation, mistake or omission, becomes fatal to the operator, the star is always on the altar bearing the incense and other offerings, and under the tripod of invocation. According to the position of its points, it “calls forth good or bad spirits, and expels, retains or captures them”—the Kabalists inform us. “Occult qualities are due to the agency of elemental spirits,” says the New American Cyclopaedia in article “Magic,” thus making use of the adjective “Elemental” for certain spirits—a word which, by the by, the spiritualists accused the Theosophists of having coined, whereas the N. A. Cyclopaedia was published twenty years before the birth of the Theosophical Society. “This mysterious figure [the five-pointed star] must be consecrated by the four elements, breathed upon, sprinkled with water, and dried in the smoke of precious perfumes; and then the names of great spirits, as Gabriel, Raphael, Oriphiel, and the letters of the sacred tetragram and other Kabalistic words, are whispered to it, and are fantastically inscribed upon it”—adds the Cyclopaedia, copying its information from the books of old Mediaeval Kabalists, and the more modern work of Éliphas Lévi—Dogme et Rituel de la Haute Magie. A modern London
* The double triangle on the right corner of The Theosophist was by a mistake of the engraver reversed, i.e., placed upside down. So is the Egyptian Tau with the snake coiled round it, in the opposite corner of the title-page cover. The latter double sign when drawn correctly represents the anagram of the Society—a T. S.—and the head of the snake ought to turn the opposite way.
Kabalist, styling himself an “Adept,”—a correspondent in a London Spiritual paper, derides Eastern Theosophy and would—if he could—make it subservient to the Jewish Kabala with its Chaldeo-Phoenician Angelology and Demonology. That new Cagliostro would probably explain the power and efficacy of the “five-pointed star” by the interference of the good “genii,” evoked by him; those jinns which Solomon-like he has apparently bottled up by sealing the mouth of the vessel with King “Solomon’s Seal” servilely copied by that mythical potentate from the Indian Vaishnava sign, together with other things brought out by him from the no-less mythical Ophir if his vessels ever went there. But the explanation given by the Theosophists for the occasional success obtained in relieving pain (such as scorpion bites) by the application of the Pentagram—a success, by the by, which with the knowledge of the cause producing it might with some persons become permanent and sure—is a little less supernatural, and rejects every theory of “Spirit” agency accomplishing it whether these spirits be claimed human or elemental. True, the five-pointed shape of the star has something to do with it, as will now be explained, but it depends on, and is fully subservient to, the chief agent in the operation, the alpha and the omega of the “magical” force—HUMAN WILL. All the paraphernalia of ceremonial magic—perfumes, vestments, inscribed hieroglyphics and mummeries, are good but for the beginner; the neophyte whose powers have to be developed, his mental attitude during the operations defined, and his WILL educated by concentrating it on such symbols. The Kabalistic axiom that the magician can become the master of the Elemental Spirits only by surpassing them in courage and audacity in their own elements, has an allegorical meaning. It was but to test the moral strength and daring of the candidate that the terrible trials of initiation into ancient mysteries were invented by the hierophants; and hence the neophyte who had proved fearless in water, fire, air and in the terrors of a Cimmerian darkness, was recognized as having become the master of the Undines, the Salamanders, Sylphs and Gnomes. He had “forced them into obedience,”
and “could evoke the spirits” for, having studied and acquainted himself with the ultimate essence of the occult or hidden nature and the respective properties of the Elements, he could produce at will the most wonderful manifestations or “occult” phenomena by the combination of such properties, combinations hitherto unknown to the profane, as progressive and exoteric science, which proceeds slowly and cautiously, can marshal its discoveries but one by one and in their successive order, for hitherto it has scorned to learn from those who had grasped all the mysteries of nature for long ages before. Many are the occult secrets ferreted out by her and wrung from the old magic, and yet it will not give it credit even for that which has been proved to have been known by the ancient esoteric scientists or “Adepts.” But our subject must not be digressed from, and we now turn to the mysterious influence of the Pentagram.
“What is in a sign?” will our readers ask. “No more than in a name” we shall reply—nothing except that, as said above, it helps to concentrate the attention, hence to nail the WILL of the operator to a certain spot. It is the magnetic or mesmeric fluid flowing out of the fingers’ ends of the hand tracing the figure which cures or at least stops the acute pain in benumbing the nerves and not the figure per se. And yet there are some proficients who are able to demonstrate that the five-pointed star, whose points represent the five cordial [sic] limbs or those channels of man—the head, the two arms and the two legs—from whence the mesmeric currents issue the strongest, the simplest tracing of that figure (a tracing produced with far more efficacy with the finger ends than with ink, chalk or pencil), helped by a strong desire to alleviate pain, will very often force out unconsciously the healing fluid from all these extremities, with far more force than it otherwise would. Faith in the figure is transformed into intense will, and the latter into energy; and energy from whatsoever feeling or cause it may proceed, is sure to rebound somewhere and strike the place with more or less force; and naturally enough that place will be the locality upon which the attention of the operator is at that moment concentrated; and hence—the cure attributed by
the self-ignorant mesmeriser to the PENTAGRAM. Truly remarks Schelling that “though magic has generally ceased to be an object of serious attention . . . it has had a history which links it on the one hand with the highest themes of symbolism, theosophy, and early science, as well as on the other with the ridiculous or tragical delusions of the many forms of demonomania. . . . In the Greek mythology the ruins of a superior intelligence and even of a perfect system were to be found, which would reach far beyond the horizon which the most ancient written records present to us . . . and portions of the same system may be discovered in the Jewish cabala. . . .”* That “perfect system” is now in the hands of a few proficients in the East. The legitimacy of “Magic” may be disputed by the bigots, its reality as an art, and especially as a science, can scarcely be doubted. Nor is it at all doubted by the whole Roman Catholic Clergy, though their fear of its becoming a terrific witness against the legitimacy of their own ascendancy forces them to support the argument that its marvels are due to malignant spirits or “fallen angels.” In Europe it has still “a few learned and respectable professors and adepts,” admits the same Cyclopaedia. And, throughout the “Pagan” world, we may add, its reality is almost universally admitted and its proficients are numerous, though they try to avoid the attention of the sceptical world.
* [Quoted in the New Amer. Cycl., art. on “Magic.”—Comp.]