This post is the third post in a three-post series about the meaning of the pentagram.
A pentagram is a five-pointed star, while a pentacle is the same star enclosed in a circle. Often the two terms are used interchangeably, though many also treat them as distinct.
PART THREE: CURRENT TIMES
Today, the pentagram and pentacle are largely symbols of pagan beliefs, whether Wiccan, general pagan, or other. However, because of misunderstandings and misrepresentations, there is often a negative meaning assigned to the pentagram by people outside of the wide umbrella of Paganism. For some, the pentagram is an object of fear because they think it represents the devil or black magic. In large part this is because an inverted pentacle is the symbol associated with Satanism, which is often assigned the label of Pagan although the majority of Pagans and Satanists would not consider Satanism to be a part of Paganism.
For some people, the pentagram is one of the symbols of life. This is because of its association with the apple, often considered the fruit of life, which has a star-shaped core when cut horizontally rather than vertically.
In Morocco, the pentagram is the only symbol on the national flag. Although the symbol used to be the Star of David, it was changed around WWI to a pentagram. The reasons for this are historically murky, but most people accept that the pentagram adorns the flag as a representation of the five pillars of Islam.
The most common meaning given to the pentacle among Pagans is that of the five elements. The points represent fire, water, earth, air, and ether/spirit, and the circle represents the unification of those elements as well as the universe, the goddess, infinity, and other connotations. As a whole, the pentacle is a symbol of the integration of body and spirit. However, there is disagreement among various orders of Paganism about where the elements fall on the pentacle. It is pretty much universally agreed that spirit is the top point, but the other four points are often debated.