The Hexagram is not generally perceived as a Pagan symbol but it does appear from time to time so is worth closer examination.
The most commonly recognised expression of the hexagram is as the Star of David the symbol of Judaism. The two interlocking triangles are sometimes referred to as the Shield of David and although it does appear as decoration in historical Jewish contexts it is more recognisable as a symbol of Zionism. This is not the extent of the appearance of the hexagram in Jewish culture, with the six pointed star appearing within the Kabbalah.
The Hexagram is often taken as a symbol of unit, the union of male and female as represented by the two triangles used to draw the Star of David. The upward pointing triangle represents the male aspect whilst the downward triangle represents the female. The two triangles also represent the concept of As Above So Below, with consciousness ascending towards Godhead through one triangle and descending to the material and mundane through the other.
The Hexagram can also be used to represent the four classical elements, in the form of the elemental triangles, as can the seven classical planets. When broken down into it’s two constituent triangles the elements of Fire, the upward triangle, and Water, the downward triangle, become apparent. When laid over each other than the element of Earth (downward triangle with line) and Air (upward triangle with line) appear within the Hexagram. The Planets and western Zodiac can be overlayed onto to the hexagram as illustrated below and is particularly used by the Golden Dawn as an entry to working with planetary energies;
The Planetary Ritual of the Hexagram is introduced after the Rituals of the Pentagram (which introduction elemental energies) and begin with working with solar forces before moving through the classical progression of the Planets.
The Unicursal Hexagram is the form of hexagram used in these ituals because it can be drawn in a continuous line.
This form of Hexagram can also be used to work with elemental energies as well as planetary, however the emphasis is on the balance between Sun and Moon.
Planetary Magic is not limited to the Golden Dawn and there are other rituals involving the Septagram which facilitate practitioners to work with Planetary Energies. This is a subject that will come up next week so don’t forget to check back.
Hexagrams and Curses
The other thing that cropped up in my research phase was the association of the Hexagram with the practice of hexing. This was mentioned repeatedly on pagan websites with no context or reference. Now if you Google a variation on the theme “Hexagram Hexes” you will find quite a bit of antisemitic sentiment, which I have absolutely no time for and I which I doubt is the origin of the belief. More likely, I think, it is to do with an association with the so – called Dutch Hex Signs and the beliefs that they are meant to protect the barn and it’s content from witchcraft (the Dutch word for Witchcraft being Hekserij and the German being Hexerei). My understand is that the designs used to decorate Pensilvanian barns are not related to a belief in witchcraft but have Pagan origins to do with the reverence of the Sun and solar cycle which, to God fearing American Christians, may equate to the same thing.
Hexagrams and Me
As I noted at the outset, the Hexagram is not a common symbol with neo-Panagism and Witchcraft. It’s use is very much tied up with the practices of the Golden Dawn which apart from the LRP’s doesn’t appeal to me. Planetary Magic isn’t really a particular interest of mine though I have worked through rituals associated with the Septagram / Heptagram in the past.
As a symbol I have always associated the regular hexagram with Jewish religion and with Israel and although the Kabbalah is linked to Judaism the practice itself has never appealed to me. On the other hand the Unicursal Hexagram has always been linked to the GD and Thelma’s Law as given by Alistair Crowly so neither have rung any of my bells.