Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Monday, July 25, 2011
I have chosen to spend some time writing this blog post. Well, I like to THINK I have chosen to do so, having free will to decide what it is I want to write, and when. I like to think I am in total control of this decision…to write about destiny and choice for this blog, but…I can’t prove it. I can’t prove that I have the choice at all; because there is always that question lurking in the back of my mind…was this all pre-determined? Was this all planned out in advance? Was there, at some point in my life, or my previous life, a blueprint that included writing a book about destiny and choice and then blogging on it in the summer of 2011?
There was a song by Aretha Franklin back in the ‘90s called “Who’s Zooming Who?” that asked who is playing whom, who is in control, who is running the ship, driving the car, pulling the strings, captaining the ship so to speak (although she said it in a much more funky way!). When it comes to the ongoing philosophical battle between destiny and choice, we wonder if we are the zoomers, or the zoomies. And there seems to be ample evidence, even if it is somewhat circumstantial, that we act as both.
As zoomers, we get to make choices and determine the actual outcome of our lives. That outcome is not fixed, but is directly based upon the choices we make of our own volition. It may also be determined upon events and experiences that appear to happen to us that we do not choose - accidents, illnesses, crime and the actions of other people upon us. Yet our right to live according to our free will is what drives the vehicle we call “life.” For some zoomers, there is a refusal to believe that there is anything BUT free will and choice and the mere thought that something might be “pre-determined” or destined to happen is the stuff of religious and philosophical mumbo-jumbo. It is not real and has no scientific basis. It is perception. Nothing more. We are human, and in control.
As zoomies, the belief is that our lives are set in motion in accordance with a blueprint or master plan, one that we may have even chosen in the void between this life and a previous one. A sense of destiny plays a role in who we become, including whom we marry, or not marry, the vocations we choose, the locations we live in and the final legacy we leave behind, if any. Oftentimes, zoomies speak of fate and synchronicity and serendipity, as if there were some invisible bond of connectivity that we lived and moved and had our being in. Extreme zoomies, as I like to call them, sense that there is no choice, no free will at all, for even as we might THINK we are making a choice to do something, we cannot prove that the very choice we are about to make wasn’t at some time determined to be made. We cannot prove that our every thought, action and experience wasn’t already set down onto a “book of life” and we are just the victims of the pages turning.
The interesting thing is, there is evidence that we are both zoomers and zoomies, and this evidence is apparent throughout the natural world. It is a part of our own physical makeup as well, and may even be at play in the order of things on a cosmic scale as well. The universe seems to have been formed and evolved according to a very intricate and specific set of events that even speak to the possibility of a higher intelligence behind those events - a “First Cause” that put into action the effects we now see as our universe. The Big Bang may have been First Cause, but most likely it was something before that, for we have to ask what was before the Bang. The decision to bang out our universe had to have been made at some point, and no, I am not saying it was a person or thing that made it. But something set off First Cause and here we are…and we can go even further back beyond the Big Bang and wonder where First Cause began. Or was it always there?
The universe operates according to specific laws, that if not precise, would never have allowed for life to begin at all, and might have even put the kibosh on the formation of planets, solar systems, stars… Our universe is one big blueprint of finely-tuned laws, ratios and forces that, if they were any less or any more, would have never allowed for anything but empty space.
Many people just feel a sense of destiny at work in their lives, myself included. I have always known since early childhood I would grow up to be a writer. This was not a choice for me. It was a true sense of having a path that must be walked, or I would never be happy and fulfilled and feel I had done what I was put here to do.
Yet…I made choices along the way and often made bad choices that went directly against my sense of destiny, and paid the price for them. This suggests that even if I had a destiny, it was still up to me whether I achieved it or not, and also suggests I have a lot of choice over how to get there, as well as how much I want to suffer along the way.
The intriguing world of quantum physics is a wonderful place to bring choice and free will into the discussion, because in the quantum world, there seems to be ample evidence that it is all about choice. Particles exist as both particle and wave until something happens to collapse the waveform. That “something” is the act of observation or measurement. The observation can not only turn a wave into a particle, so to speak, but can also control the outcome of an experiment using that particle, including where it goes and what it does. The observer effect may indeed be a driving force in our larger reality, where we might be “observing” our life into existence based upon what we choose to direct our attention to, and put our conscious focus on.
Could we indeed be creating our reality as we go along, and could we indeed be solely responsible for where our life paths take us? If we look at the concept from the quantum world that states nothing exists until we observe it into existence, that sure seems right. Maybe our entire
In the world of divination, we visit astrologers and numerologists and tealeaf readers in an attempt to understand our future, and maybe get a leg up on our destiny. Many times, these readings provide a deep sense of realization that we have a purpose and that the events of our lives that we thought were mere coincidence were nothing of the sort. That we are on track, or off track but seeking advice on how to get back on track. We believe in soul mates and soul codes, past lives and reincarnation, precognition and fortune telling. Life, we hope, is fixed, which takes a lot of the responsibility off of us for our actions, but we are still open to having choices if we don’t like how it is fixed.
The evidence, both scientific and spiritual, for destiny and choice, is there. My research shows a slight edge to one over the other, but the debate is not over and is probably more intense than ever. And when you take a look at all the evidence, you end up feeling as though somehow, there is a blend and flow of both at work. In other words, I can feel a sense of needing to go to
Who’s zooming who? You either chose to read this…or were destined to.
Destiny vs. Choice is a August publication.
Marie D. Jones is the best-selling author of The Deja Vu Enigma; 11:11 The Time Prompt Phenomenon; and 2013: The End of Days or a New Beginning?. She is also a screenwriter, radio show host, and popular public speaker who has been interviewed on hundreds of radio shows all over the world. She was recently featured on The History Channel and is a regular contributor to Intrepid magazine and New Dawn magazine.
Other releases include:
The Resonance Key: Exploring the Links Between Vibration, Consciousness, and the Zero Point Grid
PSIence: How New Discoveries to Quantum Physics and New Science May Explain the Existence of Paranormal Phenomena
The Trinity Secret: The Power of Three and the Code of Creation
Supervolcano: The Catastrophic Event That Changed the Course of Human History (Could Yellowstone Be Next?)
Thursday, July 21, 2011
For years, controversial tales have surfaced from
Its moniker is the Chupacabra, meaning Goat-Sucker – which is a reference to the fact that when the tales first surfaced, most of the animals slain by the blood-sucking nightmare were goats. That’s right: if you’re a goat, it most certainly does not pay to make Puerto Rico your home. It might not be too safe if you’re human either.
Much of the monstrous action is focused upon the
More than 100-billion gallons of precipitation fall each year, creating the jungle-like ambience of lush foliage, sparkling leaves, spectacular waterfalls, shining wet rocks, and shadowy paths that really have to be seen up close and personal to be appreciated. The
As for the Chupacabra: well, its predations and appearance are as legendary as they are feared. And the stories coming from the locals are as notable as they are disturbing.
Some years ago, while on one of my now-many expeditions to Puerto Rico, I had the opportunity to interview a woman named Norka, an elderly lady living in a truly beautiful home high in the El Yunque rainforest that one can only reach by successfully negotiating an infinitely complex series of treacherous roads, built perilously close to the edge of some very steep hills. Although the exact date escapes her, Norka was driving home one night in 1975 or 1976, when she was both startled and horrified by the shocking sight of a bizarre creature shambling across the road.
Norka described the animal as being approximately four feet in height, and having a monkey-like body that was covered in dark brown hair or fur, wings that were a cross between those of a bat and a bird, and glowing eyes that bulged alarmingly from a bat-style visage. Sharp claws flicked ominously in Norka’s direction. She could only sit and stare as the beast then turned its back on her and rose slowly into the sky. Since then, eerily similar encounters with such vile entities have haunted the terrified populace of
As evidence of this, in 2004, I traveled to
Some months previously, he was awakened during the hours of darkness on one particular morning by the sound of his chickens that were practically screaming down the house. Much to his chagrin, however, Noel failed to get out of bed and waited until dawn broke to see what all the fuss had been about. He told us that he was horrified to find all of his prized birds dead. Not only were they dead: they had two small puncture wounds on their necks, and checks by a veterinarian friend demonstrated their bodies were missing significant amounts of blood.
But what made this particular case so intriguing and memorable was the fact that whatever had killed the chickens had first carefully and quietly opened the complex locks on each of the cages before evacuating them of blood. This suggested to Jon and me that a diabolically sophisticated degree of cunning, intelligence, and dexterity was at work. The Chupacabra, then, may be far more than just your average wild animal. So, with that in mind, precisely what is it?
Certainly, theories wildly abound with respect to the nature of the beast, with some researchers and witnesses suggesting that it is some form of giant-bat. Others prefer the theory that it has extraterrestrial origins. And a notably large body of people view the Chupacabra as a wholly supernatural beast. The most bizarre idea postulated, however, is that the Chupacabra is the creation of a top secret, genetic research laboratory hidden somewhere deep within
Whichever theory may prove to be correct – and there may be other possibilities, too – of one chilling thing there seems little doubt:
Nick Redfern works full-time as an author, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. He writes regularly for UFO Magazine, Fate, Fortean Times, and Paranormal Magazine. His books include The Real Men in Black, The NASA Conspiracies, Contactees, and Memoirs of a Monster Hunter, all published by New Page Books. Nick has appeared on numerous television shows, including the BBC’s Out of this World; History Channel’s Monster Quest and UFO Hunters; National Geographic Channel’s Paranatural; and SyFy Channel’s Proof Positive. He lives in
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
Spirit. It moves in all of us. It is the essence of every being and of all things. It is what makes us sacred in a sacred universe. Spirit is the energy that moves all things from the source and back again. It is the constant motion of the universe: expansion and contraction, extension and return. I call these two forces Becoming and Belonging and they move within all of us. They are anchored by a neutral force I call Being.
Some have called these same forces by different names. One such set of names is Agency (Becoming) and Communion (Belonging). Communion is the way in which we relate and cooperate with others. Agency is how we assert ourselves and succeed in our accomplishments. Another set of terms that have been used are Relatedness (Belonging) and Self-Definition (Becoming) which contrasts the desire and need to be close to others with the desire and need to be a separate individual. Those who use these different terms agree on one thing: both of these forces exist in each of us and they are interdependent of each other. If we focus only on Becoming we become ego-centered and disregard the needs of others but if we focus only on Belonging we lose a sense of our unique individuality and can be subject to the control of others. Our lives are enriched and fulfilled when we each seek to be a unique person who can relate, interact, and care for and with others.
When we connect to the force of Becoming, we become attuned to our own unique potentialities and learn to live in a way that allows these potentialities to manifest. When this happens, we feel connected and alive; we experience the joy of growing and shining like a beacon of light. It is like the sailboat that opens it sail and finds the wind. The sail becomes filled and pushes the boat along. We can find out which way the wind blows for us and then open our sail and soar. Finding out about who you are as an individual is acting in accordance with the force of Becoming.
When you find out who you really are, you develop self esteem and you become confident and self assured in yourself and your path in life. With self-esteem, there is less anxiety and you learn to focus on your personal strengths rather than dote on your perceived weaknesses. Many of the messages rampant in our culture seek to focus on weaknesses. We are taught to look at our deficiencies and to compare ourselves to impossible models of perfection. In order to sell the quick fix and the cosmetic cure, they have to convince you that you need those things. By focusing on negatives, you develop a constant sense of inadequacy. Coupled with the message that you do not have the power to find your own solutions you become compelled to seek out others who claim to offer the right answer or brand of snake oil. People who learn to focus on their strengths instead become engaged in their lives and increase the quality of their experiences; they find the joy in living. To do this, one must discover one's one strengths and unique characteristics.
The process of Becoming has two parts: knowing who you are and from knowing that, learning how to live so that you are true to yourself. This is called living authentically. To come to know yourself you need to discover your own personality traits. I define personality as an individual's external expression of internal characteristics used to obtain needs and desires and to avoid threatening situations. Our external expressions are sometimes called behaviors because they are not usually completely random actions. We tend to follow patterns of behavior based on things we have learned from our life experiences and from genetic influences. Those things create a set of internal characteristics which includes things like habits, attitudes, interests, values, principles, and priorities. Motivated by these things, most people tend to respond to a particular situation in the same manner each time it happens so long as all conditions are the same. Of course, conditions never are the same but the point is that we do tend to form general patterns of behavior over our lifetimes so that we maintain a kind of template of actions. Through these patterns we find ways to obtain what we need and try to avoid dangerous or stressful situations as best we can. These patterns create our basic personality. But, human beings are infinitely more complex than any simple typological system can express. We are more than mere labels. The complexity of the human personality is comprised of several different influences: our basic genetic type, our layers of past environmental factors, and our personal Inner Narrative which is your own personal story.
In looking at personality, it is possible to apply Pagan concepts to help us get a unique look at people. An important part of Pagan thought is the idea that all beings are sacred. I take the approach that there are no bad or wrong types. Each person has his or her own unique qualities. It is not these particular qualities that make a person good or evil. Rather, it is the actions of an individual and the resulting consequences of those actions that result in harm to one's self or to others that makes something wrong or “bad.” That is not to say that there are not some qualities of personality that are not better than others. Someone diagnosed with having a sociopathic personality disorder is more likely to take actions that cause harm to others than one who may be described as warm-hearted and generous. If we immediately judge the sociopath as a “bad” person rather than as a person who may be capable of harm we do not allow that person the chance to reform. It is a subtle but important distinction. If a person knows that she has antisocial characteristics in her personality but also knows that she is capable of working through or beyond any social phobias, she will be more likely to take charge of her own life. As Pagans we know that we are free to make our own choices. We do not blame the universe or a deity for being the person we are and we understand that there are consequences to every choice and action that we take.
Another important concept for Pagans is in honoring the cycles of life and the universe. Part of personality development is honoring that we are constantly in a process of change. Each phase of our life has its own challenges to our personal and spiritual development. We understand that we can be an important of creating and making our own lives. We can encourage positive change for ourselves and others. I call this process of willful transformation “magick.”
This essay was adapted from the introduction to Shanddaramon's upcoming book – Just Becoming: A Pagan Guide to Discovering and Expressing Your Authentic Self.
Wednesday, July 13, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
In the beginning this may not be very clear. There may just be a vague sense of longing or desire. There maybe a general sense of, “Oh, I would like to do something more meaningful in my life.” Or in many cases it is felt not as a feeling of calling, but as a feeling of dissatisfaction. You are unhappy with a mundane life, with living in a box. And even that is not often very clear; it may be just felt as restlessness or a general dissatisfaction, or perhaps a light depression.
In whatever way it is felt, this sense of meaning is at the core of who you are. You cannot just live your life without meaning and purpose. You cannot just live selfishly. You can certainly live a “normal” life (“normal” meaning having a family, going to work, and so on), but within this situation there is a need for doing things in a way that uplifts your spirit and that matters to your heart. Things have to have a higher value that gives you the feeling that you are contributing to making the world a little bit better.
That sense of making the world better is core to your purpose and your calling. Perhaps your way of making the world better is simple: not doing other people harm, or helping people be a little happier. Or perhaps your sense of purpose takes a more powerful form: You desire to work in a profession that helps people, or to work with the environment, or a charity, or research for the greater good. There is a fundamental desire to make a positive contribution. That feeling becomes more and more powerful over time.
Some people are born with it as a powerful passion. In other people it gradually unfolds. In either case your life becomes measured according to that standard. If you are living your life according to your calling, it brings a certain fulfillment. There is a feeling of “I am living a right life; I am living what I am here for.” If you are not living according to that, there is an emptiness, as if there is something missing—an “existential dissatisfaction.”
A related theme that is often very challenging is that many Indigo Souls have a sense of purpose and direction, but cannot find a form or an outlet for it that satisfies them. This can be a source of great suffering. It’s as if you sense that there is so much that you have in you, so much that you would like to do, but you don’t know what to do with it. Or perhaps you know what to do with it but you can’t seem to bring it through.
We’ve spoken about this before, that your consciousness is of the new, of the future, but your personality is of the old. You hold images and feelings of new ways of being, but the personality that exists within is a Piscean personality—not only Piscean but also a personality formed from instincts that go back millions of years and is still very primitive. It has a lot of lower chakra activity in it: It is selfish, power-orientated and competitive (third chakra), fearful (base chakra), and greedy (second chakra). It has a closed and judgmental mind (sixth chakra), and the emotions are very strong and volatile (dominant emotional body).
Many Indigo Souls are excruciatingly aware that there are two people in them: their higher consciousness, which is more open, vital, vibrant, and uplifted; and their personality, which is dense, emotional, limited, and closed. Being an Indigo Soul in a Piscean personality and body is not easy! This is a huge discrepancy: What you know in your innermost consciousness is not what you can live in your normal thinking, emotions, or behavior.
To picture this, imagine that you are a world-class racing driver, and you are given an old, beat-up car that hardly moves anymore. You know what you are capable of doing and should be able to do with it, but with that car you are not very successful when you try to drive it.
This is the root cause of a lot of our struggle: We are not living or being the person that we know we can be and that we want to be. This can create a deep inner anguish. In addition, your Critic points a finger at all your faults and then beats you up. Most Indigo Souls have strong Critics, with the result that they suffer from a sense of inferiority. You feel as you are not enough, that you are not doing enough, that you are not good enough. And then your Pusher, your “Spiritual Pusher,” complicates it even more by making you work even harder. The result is that you end up with a lot of tensions. And no matter how hard you work, you never fully succeed. What a vicious circle! The Critic finds fault, the Pusher pushes, the Critic finds it not enough, you push more….
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
Friday, July 1, 2011
One reason we did not inherit lengthy explanations of the symbols in the flag is because the Revolutionary generation had a far greater level of familiarity with heraldry, symbols, and art than is commonplace today. Minute interpretations seemed unnecessary to most of them to whom reading symbols and designs would have been as simple as reading in a foreign language. There are obvious practical reasons why they chose the colors and designs that they did, but our founders were also aware of some of the ancient correspondences attached to these colors, numbers, and shapes. Symbols that express fundamental, archetypal truths can transmit the same message generation after generation without guidebooks.
The design for the Great Seal (1782) and the design for the American flag (1777) are interrelated, having been created and approved by many of the same people. Unlike the Great Seal, however, the flag was very casually described, and continued to significantly transform in design long after the 1777 resolution. Because of their similarities, many of the interpretations we all take for granted about the flag were actually written to describe the symbols in the Great Seal, and are only assumed to apply also to the flag.
A different look at the flag. Ginny Holmes modeling a version of the flag in 1967. Painting bodies was a fad in the late 1960s and early ’70s, and I enjoyed this opportunity to paint on another type of moving canvas—a startling and new way to send art and symbolic messages out into the world. With painted bodies, there are obvious distractions to the art, and thus I always painted in symbols to speak directly to the subconscious. See a photo of my biodiesel Founding Fathers Artcar on page TK for another moving canvas.
Vexillologists mostly say that the colors red, white, and blue were chosen for the American flag because they were the most available, and because they were the same colors used in the Union Jack of the Mother Country. Whitney Smith points out that “in heraldry, there were only the basic colors of red, blue, green, and black. There was also yellow, gold, silver, and white, but they were used mostly to separate the other colors…. There weren’t any good green dyes in those days….
There is a common prejudice that only the physical, material world with documentary evidence should be considered. A higher state of awareness reveals that man is more than just a physical body. Though we have no documents from the Founding Fathers giving us their symbolic interpretations of the flag, if we accept a “Divine Providence” overshadowing their decisions, an archetypal rendering of these symbols can be most revealing. It is my hope that a deeper appreciation of these symbols will lead Americans once again to recognize themselves as a nation of one people, and our diversity can be our strength when we rally around the flag of unity.
The Rectangle Is a Temple
3 Colors: A Trinity
When I last counted, nearly 30 countries used the same three colors of red, white, and blue in their flags, and another 20 used predominantly these three. Examples include: Cuba, Costa Rica, Chile, Norway, France, Ukraine, Nepal, Thailand, South Korea, and Australia. Why so many flags carrying the same colors? Is there some kind of unrecognized law at work here, or maybe a karmic relationship between these countries? Or are there just too few colors to choose from?
The color white in the Seal “signifies purity and innocence.” But in heraldry, white is also used to symbolize silver, which is linked to the moon, and therefore to the feminine. White is symbolically the combination of all colors, or the rainbow. We have unity expressed in at least two places in the canton. First, in the early versions of the flag, all 13 states were placed equally in a circle. Unity is also expressed in making the stars white. It says, “out of many, one.” All the states are equal to each other, and all the people within each state are equal to each other. We are all one.
In heraldry blue has always been used to represent the heavens, where one looks for wisdom. Blue is also related to the planet Jupiter, standing for justice, knowledge, honor and nobility. Jupiter is the symbol for expansiveness, all-inclusiveness, and a breaking down of barriers and limitations. Thomson said the color blue signified “vigilance, perseverance and justice.” We can also read into the symbols to see white stars on a field of blue, suggesting that our country is designed to be in line with the spiritual elements of the heaven worlds, as above, so below. It depicts a place where the spiritual world and the physical world are in alignment, and therefore a state of perfection.
Triskaidekaphobia Is Not the American Way
Before all of these theories, however, in many ancient cultures, 13 was seen as a number of transformation, symbolizing renewal, rebirth, and regeneration. This interpretation may have resulted from the fact that 13 follows the nice, round, complete number of a dozen. Thirteen is the number of the Zodiac when you include the sun as it travels through them in the year. Thirteen is the initiate, the one regenerating himself. Often associated with the number 13 is the zodiacal sign of Scorpio, the sign that is also linked to themes of regeneration and rebirth. One could conclude that in order for America as a nation to reflect the 13 in our flag, many trials and errors over many lifetimes, many rebirths and regenerations will be required for the ultimate success. When we add together the numbers one and three to assess the number 13 numerologically, we arrive at the number four. Four can refer to the four elements of the physical world: air, earth, fire, and water. It is in the physical world where rebirth and regeneration must take place to be reborn in spirit or attain spiritual vision. In the I Ching, the 13th hexagram is T’ung Jen, or “fellowship with men” that “must be based upon a concern that is universal.”
As classically trained scholars, some of the Founding Fathers were probably aware of the association of thirteen with rebirth. The number of colonies uniting in 1776 as 13 was fortuitous, when an attempt to coerce Canada into becoming a 14th state failed miserably early on. But once they were the Thirteen Colonies the founders really played up that number in their propaganda and symbolism. By doing so, they very well may have been consciously emphasizing rebirth and renewal as much as the number of united colonies. When the artists depicted them as stripes, or stars, or tiers on the pyramid, or arrows in the eagle’s claw, or berries on the olive branch, it meant the 13 individual states were united as one in their effort of renewal.
6 White and 7 Red
Seven is a very popular biblical number. It appears many times in the Book of Revelation (for example, in the seven sealed scrolls, the seven golden lampstands, and the seven-horned lamb). In the Kabbalah seven symbolizes victory of spirit over matter. It took seven days for the creation. On the seventh day God rested. He was victorious over matter. Seven combined with the red (Son) stripes could symbolize the Son’s victory of spirit over matter, of consciousness over unconsciousness. Seven is considered a holy number, but is also related to time, expressing the rhythm of evolution in the changing positions of the sun, creating a seven-day week.
The ageless wisdom teachings suggest that the human is not one body, but seven, ranging from the lowest, the physical body, to the highest, or divine body. Six has often been related to Venus, meaning harmony and balance. When you add six and seven, you could be indicating that all seven bodies are aligned harmoniously, as in a perfected human, so that the fly of 13 stripes is relating not just to America, but to all humans in all nations.
Red for Mars stands for activity and masculine energy. It is the color of power and ambition. The color white is astrologically linked to the moon, or the feminine energies. White symbolizes purity without and within. External and internal, above and below. Once again we have a demonstration of symbolic balance on the American flag. Linking the number 6 with the color white (the feminine side of the human), and the number 7 with the color red (the masculine aspect), we have an alchemical combination known as the hermaphrodite. The word hermaphrodite is itself a balance between the names of Hermes (Mercury or the messenger) with Aphrodite (Venus or the higher mind) and the hermaphrodite is a balance between masculine and feminine energies. It is the natural evolution of spirit. The red and white stripes could thus be translated: Victory (7) is assured through the Son (red) by the balance and harmony (6) of the Holy Spirit, or power of God (white).
There is no existing documentation that explains why or when the five-pointed star came into use on the American flag. It was possibly influenced by the 1841 new steel die for the Great Seal cut by John Peter Van Ness Throop. The original 1782 die had become worn, which may explain why Throop mistakenly gave the eagle only six arrows and the stars only five points. Many of the earliest depictions of the Stars and Stripes flag show it with six-pointed stars, though seven-, eight-, and five-pointed stars also make appearances early on. The explanation may be as simple as the practical decision of seamstresses in upholstery shops around the Union (or perhaps one in particular in Philadelphia) that it was easier to cut out five-pointed stars. The symbolic difference is significant, but it does not appear that anyone was giving it that much thought.
By stitching together $157 worth of dollar bills into this familiar shape, artist Ray Beldner made the statement in 1997 that America is built on the almighty dollar. (Illustration from Hinrichs and Hirasuna’s Long May She Wave.) Used with permission.
Today, through long identification, the five-pointed star is strongly associated with the U.S. military, which began using it based on its use in the American flag. A pentagram is a five-pointed star made by drawing intersecting lines in one stroke with equal angles at all five points. It is thought to have first been deemed sacred by the ancients tracing the path that Venus makes as it traverses the Zodiac. The pentagram has a long history as a magical symbol for many cultures and religions, including the Babylonians, Egyptians, early Christians, and Freemasons. In the last century the pentagram became associated with Satanism, possibly due to a misunderstanding of ceremonial magic. Even if Satanists do use a pentagram, that is just one possible level of interpretation for this popular symbol. Magical historian Eliphas Lévi was responsible in the 19th century for incorrectly identifying the difference between an inverted pentagram, calling it negative, and an upright pentagram, calling it positive. Before Lévi’s ideas were published the pentagram was used by early Christians and everyone else with the points facing both up and down without any distinction.