Basic Witchcraft

Invoking and Banishing Pentagrams

Pentagram symbols are one of the first that most witches learn but what do we use them for? For calling the quarters, most commonly but also when needed for specific spells or rituals. There are many different ways to call the quarters and none are any better than any others, it’s just a matter of what works best for you.

Using these symbols is a more formal method, most commonly these symbols are drawn in the soil or sand using a wand or stick to invoke and banish those elements from the circle. Many witches simply prefer to call them by name or by using physical representations of the elements (ash, incense, water bowl, etc) in the elements corresponding direction; north, south, east and west.

When we call the quarters into our circle, we are summoning them. We are commanding their presence. While we politely invite spirits, ancestors and Goddess’ or Gods – the elements must be told when to come and when to leave. You do not want to invoke the elements without banishing them afterward because they won’t always leave on their own and letting them hang around can have some pretty harsh consequences.

That is not to say the elements are dangerous or negative entities but elementals are entities of raw power, they often do not think like we as humans do or rationalize the same way – they simply are. They have free will like all other beings and if you don’t tell them to leave, well they might just hang around with you and there is such a thing as too much a good thing.

Ask elder witches and many will have stories, either their own or of others, where elementals were left to their own devices and chose to stick around long after the ritual ended. As a result the home of the witch who did not banish the elements home caught fire, or perhaps was damaged in a thunderstorm or a tornado spawned nearby.

 “Elemental” includes gnomes, sylphs, salamanders, and undines. Some Elementals can also be creatures that are spirit-like in nature and human-like in appearance. While each elemental is different and has a different personality, they tend to share characteristics with other Elementals in their element. For instance, a fire elemental is passionate and easily angered while an earth elemental is grounded and takes a lot of time to think/reflect or act. Often, Elementals are found close to a certain area where their element is most prominent, however, over the past few years they have been seen less and less. For all Elementals, it is very dangerous to your and your bloodlines’ health to misuse their aid or deserve them.


So as you can see, when calling the elements, the more specific you are, the better. This is why formal and traditional methods like using the actions of the Invoking and Banishing Pentagrams in addition to clear language are often preferred by many practitioners.

Each element has a specific pentagram that invokes and banishes its elemental energy.  There are a couple of rules about invoking and banishing elemental pentagrams with which you should become acquainted prior to beginning this practice.

Traditionally, Witches only use invoking pentagrams while they are standing within the magic circle.  This is an important point to consider.  The elemental forces that you summon during calling the quarters are high-voltage energies.  The circle itself, once cast, acts as a buffer to these raw, wild energies.  It is never a good practice to call quarters when you do not have all three layers of your circle cast.

Banishing pentagrams can be done at any time.  In fact, Witches often use banishing pentagrams to dismiss imbalanced energies that they sense in their immediate vicinity.

A year and a day book by Timothy Roderick

Invoking and Banishing Pentagrams as we know them today come from the Golden Dawn system of ceremonial magic.  According to the Golden Dawn system, the top point of the pentacle represents spirit, the upper-left point to air, the upper-right point to water, the bottom-left point to earth, and the bottom right point to fire.

Notice that each elements first line when being invoked, is drawn going toward the element’s point that corresponds with the Golden Dawn system.  Now notice that the element when being banished has the first line of the pentacle being drawn away from that element’s corresponding point. Makes more sense now, doesn’t it?

It is worth noting that many practitioners overtime and through differing traditions have developed other Invoking/Banishing pentagrams and some are not even related to the elements at all or more often used for the “element” spirit or universal energies.

Wiccan Moonsong: Invoking Pentagram, and Banishing Pentagram

The most common example of this version of pentagram is drawn for invoking starting at the top-point and down to the left and for banishing starting at the bottom-most left and up toward the top-point. These pentagrams have their uses too – I use them for invoking the Gods and other spirits. No matter what you choose to use them for, it’s important to know all the different variations. There is a time and a place for everything.


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