Philosophy and Religion

The Islamic faith has five categories of law: duty, recommended, indifferent, disapproved and prohibited. They pray to Mecca five times daily. To the people of Islam, there are “five pillars of faith” or, the five ritual duties that mainstream Muslims view as central to their faith. These are:

Profession of faith
Ritual prayer
Fasting at Ramadan
Pilgrimage to Mecca

The profession of faith is a statement in Arabic which says, “There is no god but the one God, and Muhammed is his Prophet.” The act of ritual prayer is salah, and involves praying five times a day, always facing towards Mecca. Fasting, or saum, during Ramadan is for purification and goes from dawn to dusk, allowing for no food, drink or sexual relations. Almsgiving, or zakat, is that above and beyond taxes, 2.5% of income is to go to the poor. Finally, there is an obligation for all Islamic believers to make the hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca at least once.

The first of the fives in Judaism is the Pentateuch, or the five books of Moses. These books form the basis of Hebrew history and law. They are also represented in the five knots at each end of the tallit, or prayer shawl. The tallit is a highly respected object in Judaism which is a public declaration of one’s love, respect, and devotion to the faith. The knots are joined by a single strand, and together the knots and joining filament are also considered symbolic of first words of the “the Shema. ‘Shema Yisrael Adonai Elohenu Adonai Ecahd,’ or ‘Hear oh Israel, the Lord is Our God, the Lord is One.’ The recitation of this line (Deutoronomy 6:4) is an important part of the morning and evening services. The five knots can be viewed as representing the first five (Hebrew) words of the Shema. The last word, echad, is represented by the winding between the knots. Echad means one.”

There are five major festivals in the Jewish year: Pesach (Passover), Sukkot (Tabernacles, celebrates the harvest), Shabuoth (Weeks, or Pentecost, celebrates the end of the barley harvest), Rosh Hashana (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). The number five appears also in the celebration of Pesach, or Passover. “The first Pesach meal was eaten in haste as our people prepared for flight. On their lintels were painted tau symbols in lamb’s blood as instructed so when the Lord passed over, Egyptian first born males would be struck down instead of our own…during this period before the flight, there was no leaven. This law pertains to five specific grains.”

Building on the above, five was also the number of loaves of bread and fish that Christ used to feed the masses. It is also the number of wounds that he endured in death on the cross: the two hands, the two feet and the spear that pierced his side.

In the Catholic Church, there are surrounding the life of Christ, a series of fives to be remembered: the five joyful mysteries, the five sorrowful mysteries, and the five glorious mysteries. Each mystery is meant to remind believers of various virtues as expressed in the life of Mary and Christ. The five joyful mysteries are the annunciation (love of humility), visitation (charity toward my neighbor), presentation (virtue of obedience), nativity (spirit of poverty), and finding in the temple (virtue of piety). The five sorrowful mysteries are the crowning with thorns (moral courage), agony in the garden (true contrition), carrying of the cross (virtue of patience), scourging at the pillar (virtue of purity), and crucifixion (final perseverance). The final five are the glorious mysteries: the resurrection (virtue of faith), the ascension (virtue of hope), the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (devotion to Mary), the descent of the Holy Spirit (love of God), and the crowning of the Blessed Virgin Mary (eternal happiness).

As we have already seen, the apple and the sand dollar have five-fold symmetry, revealing a star, and in the case of the sand dollar, a star and a floral pattern on the reverse side. Both of these items have Christian legends surrounding their images of five. The apple it is said, “mirrors the spiritual aspects of…idea, sustenance, life, knowledge and the secret mysteries within the earth…the apple to Adam and Eve signified that which we should not attempt to know.” The sand dollar is said to bear holes representing the five wounds of Christ, the star that led the shepherds to the manger, the pattern on the reverse side is said to be a poinsettia, and the five white bones are doves of peace. One can find this myth on postcards along almost any shoreline where sand dollars are found.

Even the song “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” has its own set of fives, the five gold rings. The five gold rings are said to represent the five obligatory sacraments of baptism, communion, confirmation, penance, and last rites.

Manicheism is considered the “Gnostic Lighthouse of the East.” It was started by Mani (216 – 277), and had many followers throughout Mesopotamia, including Augustine before his conversion. Much of what is known about Manicheism is through Augustine’s writings against it, but it is known that there were several core beliefs around the number five. Five was the number of parts of the body, virtues, clerical degrees, vices and elements of light (ether, wind, water, fire, light).

Wicca is commonly referred to as witchcraft. It is an earth-based, Goddess religion that focuses on individual responsibilities and community commitments. Some practice alone and are called solitaries, while others practice in a group referred to as a circle or coven. One of the most identifiable symbols that practitioners wear or utilize for meditation purposes is the pentacle. 

These five points, or the five essences of fire, water, earth, air and spirit are said to be the five points of the star, a common symbol of Wiccan / pagan beliefs. The position of the star and whether it is enclosed or not represents different meanings. Traditionally, with the point up, it is said that the spirit is dominant over material things. Inverted, it is associated with the spirit being subservient to matter, representing carnal desire, as used by Anton LeVay. Inscribed in a circle, the pentacle is contained and is said to be an amulet of protection; without the circle, it is said that the wearer is prepared for change, conflict and active.

Among the other most common are the Feri Tradition Pentacles of Pearl and Iron. These are utilized not only within the Feri Traditions established by the Victor and Cora Anderson, but by the Reclaiming Tradition, based out of San Francisco, CA. Among the other most common are the Feri Tradition Pentacle of Pearl and Iron. These are utilized not only within the Feri Traditions established by the Andersons, but by the Reclaiming Tradition, based out of San Francisco, CA.

There are a myriad of meditations that are associated with the pentacle in the Wiccan traditions. There are examples in the chart at the bottom of the page. The pentacle is a tool which becomes rote and stops thought process and allows for feeling, being and action. The pentacle serves as a mandala for meditation, and a powerful amulet when worn. The pentacle also serves as a connecting point for individuals to a pattern and energy that others have used, are using and will continue to use for generations. It is the witch’s rosary. 

Another tool commonly associated with the Wiccans is the use of the tarot. Tarot cards are seen as a portal to other ways of knowing. One author of this community, Lunaea Weatherstone has written that “the number 5 is usually about the tarot – the four suits of the Minor Arcana and the Major Arcana. The fives in the tarot itself are often about challenge or questioning – adding one more to the balance of four, throwing it off balance. Even numbers are balance, stillness, sometimes stagnation. Odd numbers are movement, change, conflict.” The four suits of the Minor Arcana, though varying from deck to deck, are the elements, while the Majora Arcana are the spirit, seen through archetypal imagery.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: