18 November, 2013

Inversion Aversion

Hey, Readers,

Today I was at my friend Christine's house, and she was telling me about a Facebook page she likes called "The Smart Witch." I haven't looked it up yet, but she was telling me specifically about a picture this person posted which got them a lot of flack from her fans/readers. She had posted a picture of a witch wearing an inverted pentacle. As my friend described it to me, it sounded a lot like a painting I really enjoy, so I looked up an image of it and showed my friend. Sure enough, she said, "That's it, but in the version I saw, her eyes were made to look reddish."

Cauldrón by Victoria Francés
Cauldrón is a painting by Spanish illustrator, Victoria Francés. At least, I think it's a painting; I'm not sure what medium she uses. In short, I adore her work, have for years, and my dorm room sported several of her pieces in paper print-out form.

In this and a few other of her paintings, Francés depicts the pentacle pendants inverted. Yet, those who know her work will know that in other paintings, pentacles are worn upright. Also, in this very painting, there is an upright pentagram on the cauldron, after which the piece is actually titled. So this is not an instance of the artist not having any knowledge of the symbol, or thinking that it is always inverted, or anything like that. Yet this might beg the question further: If she knows them to be used both ways, why choose to invert them?

Whatever Francés' reasoning, my friend was impressed at how this "Smart Witch" handled the negative comments on her Page after she posted this picture. The author of the page was able to remain calm and simply inform people that there are many reasons why witches DO use this symbol in its inverted form, including that it may be a Second Degree symbol, or represent matter over spirit. For me, looking at this painting, it strikes me that a person may also wear their pentacle this way so that it is upright to their perspective when they look down at it, or so that it is upright when you hold it up in front of you. I have a long-chained necklace which is a clock designed to look like it rests inside a heart-shaped lock, and the clock hangs up-side down so that it faces upright when I pick it up to check the time. Similarly, my compass has a hanging loop on the "bottom." This could be a very practical reason for wearing a pendant inverted if it is more than just decoration, but in fact something that you work with in a practical way.

The main symbolism, though, for an inverted pentacle, is to me, that it represents Spirit Over Matter when upright and Matter Over Spirit when inverted. This is why it has become associated with Satanism, as Satanists are concerned with matters of matter, rather than with matters of spirit. Whenever someone makes a comment about inverted pentacles being Satanic, I am sure to let them know that Satanists choose to use the symbol that way for a specific purpose. It's not that "we" are "upright" as our pentacles and they want to "invert" everything we stand for, it's just simple symbolism and what they want to represent.

As such, I have also personally considered using the inverted pentagram as a symbol to connect more with the Horned God. The symbol was already used in the past to try and associate the Horned God and Paganism as a whole with Satan--you've likely seen those images of an inverted pentagram with a goat-headed being superimposed onto it--so why not use that in a positive sense, for connection, rather than letting it stay something we shun in an effort to dissociate from it? When I mentioned that idea in Magick Class, I DID get horrified looks... from my fellow practitioners! The fear of being associated with this symbol is really ingrained in some people, not because of what it actually means, but because of what society thinks of us and therefore what we try not to perpetuate. People are so quick to say "I'm not evil because my pentacle is this way. If you turn it around, THAT'S Satanism." Not everything is so black and white, up or down.

Could you imagine the reactions if I did start wearing an inverted pentacle? What would the general public think? What would my fellow practitioners think? What would those of you who've read this post think, since you have this information behind it? Would you think twice or more about it before making a judgement? Is there something about it that JUST makes people feel strangely, or have we been taught how to feel about this symbol?

My friend was impressed with The Smart Witch for being able to explain that this symbol is not, in fact, something that people need to get all riled up over and attack her for posting on a witchy Page. I take it just a bit further in letting you know that the image in question is actually a stunning piece of art, done in 2004 by a lovely Spanish artist. I encourage you to always think more deeply about things like symbols, to ask why, to wonder, and to imagine yourself in someone else's position, even if that person is in a painting.

Think: "If I were wearing an inverted pentacle, what would be the reason behind it?"



  1. Thanks for this, Cara. Been wondering about that one.

  2. You know, I never really thought about the inverted pentagram being used by Wiccan or pagan practitioners (that aren't following a Satanic path). It baffles me as to why people would give you funny looks for wearing the pentagram inverted - people willingly give power to the things they fear. By fearing the pentagram, even as magickal practitioners that know the true usage of the symbol, we perpetuate that fear onto others, creating a truly vicious cycle.

    I applaud your reasoning on turning the symbol into a positive one. I never thought to use it that way - and I think it's a good idea. If you're not opposed, I do think I might steal that one from you and incorporate it into my own practice. :)

    1. I am not opposed! Which reasoning are you thinking about using? I talked about a few things here, so I'm just curious which one stood out to you as something you might personally use!

  3. Oh I get it! At least what might be a joke on Francés' part. The caldron has a far more inconspicuous upward pointing pentacle, what grabs the eye first is the woman's huge downward pointing pentacle, which as you mentioned if she were to look at it, it points up, if you were to hold it up it would point up. YOU the viewer are the one that is thinking in terms of the material if you're focusing on her 'gothy' clothes and on the direction the pentacle is pointing. If on the other hand you're more spiritually minded you would not immediately react to what is plainly visible and you would have noticed that small bit of detail. Which is why the woman in this painting bares the most subtle of smirks. It also I'm sorry to say, caters to the way a lot of (not all) people who prefer to refer to themselves as witches, think of themselves. The ones who get a trill of scaring people who would be betaken a back by all the superficial trappings, the pentacles, the black cat pets, the skulls, and the 'brooms'.

    What bothers me here is that people so often think there usage of symbols is the correct one. You can't forget there are a vast number of mystery schools and secret societies who use theses symbols as well. With that being said I present you yet another meaning. I'm note sure if you're familiar with the golden ratio. Which is present all over the human body, the same applies to the pentagram. The short segments match the golden ratio in relation to the longer ones. It has often been used as a symbol for mankind. If you were to go on the belief that the inversion of the symbol is the exact opposite of what the subject stands for, then what do you think an upside down pentagram means in that context?

    The best way to not succumb to the power of symbols is to not give them any.