Day 226: The Pentacle, Crafting Your Own

While most metaphysical stores offer at least some small variety of pentacles for purchase, the pentacle–like the wand–is a tool that most practitioners make themselves.  It’s dead easy.  All you need to really do is figure out the substance you want to make your pentacle from and modify from there.

A rather impressive example of a wax pentacle.

A rather impressive example of a wax pentacle.

According to BTW practices, pentacles were made of wax tablets in days of yore, for they could easily be melted and remade if inquisitors came a-calling.  I’m not entirely certain how much I believe this since beeswax was a prized commodity back in the day and would look quite suspicious if a peasant had a plate-sized quantity of the stuff lying about.  I don’t think there’s much need to have a wax tablet today, and I’m not sure I’d want one:  wax is very good at getting grime and dirt embedded into its surface.  Still, if wax is what you want, all you really need is wax, a double boiler, a pie plate, and a knife.  You melt the wax, pour the wax in, pop it out a couple days later once it’s hard and cured, and carve a star into the top.

A very sweet ceramic pentacle.

A very sweet ceramic pentacle.

Since the pentacle corresponds to the element of earth, I’m a big fan of actually making the pentacle from earth.  Again, it’s a fairly simple thing to mold clay into a disk and carve, paint, or glaze a star into its surface.  Roderick suggest rolling out the clay with a rolling pin into a sheet, then using something like an empty coffee tin to stamp out a circle, then rulers and such to cut a star into the clay.  If you use an air drying clay (or homemade salt dough!), you’re essentially done at that point.  If you need to fire the pentacle in a kiln, it’s a pretty simple thing to contact the high schools, colleges, and art studios in your area to see if anyone would mind you slipping your project into the next firing.  (In fact, if you contact them ahead of time, you can often get pointers, a lesson, or materials from these resources.)  Another great option is those “paint your own pottery” places.  They have loads of plates and platters on hand, as well as everything you need to create a great, durable design without going broke buying a ton of specialty products.  No matter what you do, though, you need to pay attention to the materials you use.  For awhile, I knew of many friends who had used polymer clays to make ritual ware.  These are clays that you can ‘fire’ in your home oven, they’re really popular among crafters, and they come in a variety of tantalizing colors.  However, they’re made of synthetic materials and give off a noxious smell when they’re baking.  I’d steer clear of them for magical crafting.

I can't stop drooling over these beauties.  Each is handcrafted by the exceptionally skilled witch, Sarah Lawless, of the blog "The Witch of Forest Grove."

I can’t stop drooling over these beauties. Each is handcrafted by the exceptionally skilled witch, Sarah Lawless, of the blog “The Witch of Forest Grove.”

Another exceptionally popular option among today’s Pagan set is woodburning or painting (or both!) a design into a disk of wood.  My first pentacle (you can see it in this picture of a college altar) was actually a stock wooden plaque I got at a craft store.  I stained it with some leftover stain of my Dad’s, then painted a silver star encircled by green leaves on the surface with fifty-cent acrylic paints.  I ended up gluing some wool felt to the back, too.  The entire project probably cost me less than $5 back in the late 1990s.  It served me pretty well for many years, though as I progressed in my work I realized that my tools felt unbalanced and the wood felt too ‘airy’ for my new tastes.  However, the pentacle did work, and it worked well.

As my teenage crafting can attest, painted or woodburned pentacles do not have to be elaborate or terribly intricate.  However, since the media do lend themselves to intricate work more readily than ceramics, wax, and most anything else, some Pagan artisans have made jaw-dropping wooden pentacles.  I can’t, for example, get enough of Sarah Lawless’s work (pictured above) and would be very proud indeed to own one of her pieces.

This isn't my acquaintance's table, but it is a lovely example of crafting a pentacle from mosaics.

This isn’t my acquaintance’s table, but it is a lovely example of crafting a pentacle from mosaics.

Another great way to craft your own pentacle is to affix tile or ceramic chips to a hard backer and make a mosaic piece.  One acquaintance of mine went to her local Habitat for Humanity ReStore and purchased a lot of brightly colored tiles at a rock bottom price.  After she broke them up into pieces, it was a simple matter of filling in the guidelines she’d drawn on her wooden backer with some tile mastic and the pieces.  She later grouted and sealed her mosaic.  It was very heavy and ended up becoming a table top in later years (she did make it very large, though), but it was gorgeous and worked wonderfully.

Finally, though I think that crafting the pentacle of a hard disks increases what you can physically do with it during ritual (you can move it and items placed on it a lot more easily and soundly), it really doesn’t have to be if you don’t want it to be.  I’ve seen gorgeous examples of pentacles batik-dyed or embroidered onto silks, or crocheted into lace doilies.  Some people make very elaborate altar cloths adorned with different colored pentacles for each season or Sabbat.

The sky is clearly the limit when it comes to creating your pentacle.  Of course, there’s no shame in buying one from a pagan artist either.  That’s what I did for my current pentacle, and I certainly don’t regret it.

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