A symmetrical six-pointed star formed by two overlapping equilateral triangles; a powerful symbol in alchemy and ceremonial magic, it has also been widely accepted as the emblem of Judaism since the 19th century.
The hexagram, also known as the sexagram and the magician’s or sorcerer’s star, is one of the oldest and most universal of spiritual symbols. It is a six-pointed star formed by two overlapping equilateral triangles, one pointing upward and the other downward, the intersection of which forms a regular hexagon. The earliest examples of the hexagram date back to around 700 bc, and according to some legends, King Solomon used it to exorcize negativity; in ritual magic it is therefore known as the Seal of Solomon, and represents Divine Union. For many centuries it was revered in India as a symbol of the perpetual sexual union between the goddess Kali and the god Shiva which represented unity and harmony, and which was believed to maintain life in the universe. Later, it was adopted by medieval alchemists who saw it as uniting the alchemical symbol of fire (an upward-pointing triangle) with that of water (a downward-pointing triangle); it was thus used by them to refer to alcohol, which they believed was water infused with heat, but it was also seen as a symbol representing all four elements, along with the fifth element, Spirit or ‘quintessence’. The hexagram is often used in magic to invoke all four elements and Spirit, and to invoke the powers of six of the seven classical ‘planets’ – Saturn, Venus, Mercury, Mars, the Moon and Jupiter – and medieval grimoires included a number of spells and seals which used it. In the kabbalah, the hexagon formed in the centre of the figure when the six points are connected represents the sephirah tiphareth.
Interlaced patterns which can be drawn in a single, unbroken line are used by magicians for protection, since it is believed that such figures do not allow unwelcome spirits access, and the pentagram is the most popular symbol for this purpose. However, unlike the pentagram, the traditional hexagram is not formed from a single unbroken line, and so a version was devised by the hermetic order of the golden dawn which could be drawn in one continuous movement. This is sometimes known as the Unicursal Hexagram, or the Magic Hexagram.
Since the 19th century, the traditional hexagram has also been widely accepted as the emblem of Judaism. It appears on the coat of arms of the State of Israel, and is referred to as the Star of David or the Star of Zion.