Unicursal Hexagram Meaning, Symbolism And Origins Explained

Perhaps you are interested in occult magic or you just watched that Supernatural episode and are wondering what that Men of Letters logo means. In this post, we will examine that very symbol called the universal hexagram, its origins, meaning and uses.

First things first. What does ‘unicursal’ mean? And what is a hexagram exactly?

The word “unicursal” simply means ‘to be able to be traced or drawn using a single continuous line’. So, you can draw a unicursal hexagram using one line only.

So, what is a hexagram?

A hexagram is a six-pointed star created by placing two equilateral triangles onto each other in a concentric manner (in a way that they would have the same central point).

The unicursal hexagram is a little bit different than the ordinary hexagrams as you can see below.

Unicursal Hexagram's Meaning and Origins Explained, Aleister Crowley's Symbol for Thelema Religion
Unicursal Hexagram, Also Known As Aleister Crowley’s Thelema Symbol by Anne Mathiasz on Shutterstock

Now that we got the literal definition of the unicursal hexagram symbol out of the way, let us talk about its origins.

The Origin Of The Unicursal Hexagram – Who Invented The Symbol?

The first documented use of the universal hexagram dates back to the late 16th century, 1588 to be exact, to a document written by Giordano Bruno named Essays Upon the Mathematics of Mordente: One Hundred and Sixty Theses/Articles Against the Mathematicians and Philosophers of this Age.

Giordano Bruno was an Italian-Dominican Hermetic occultist, philosopher, mathematician, cosmological theorist and poet who opposed certain parts of Catholic faith and was imprisoned for it. He was subsequently charged with heresy, blasphemy and immoral conduct and got executed by being hung upside down and being burned at the stake.

Today, he is a symbol of free speech and thought in Rome and he is commemorated every year near the spot where he lost his life.

Later, the unicursal hexagram symbol was adopted by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and subsequently by the leader of the Thelema religion, Aleister Crowley.

Now, let us move on to the meaning and symbolism behind the unicursal hexagram symbol.

What Is The Meaning Of Hexagrams In General And What Are They Used For?

To understand the unicursal hexagram better, it is crucial to know what hexagrams symbolize in general.

The hexagram is a very prominent symbol that has been used commonly across many cultures and religions.

It is featured in the Star of David/Magen David/The Jewish Star accepted as the general symbol of Judaism which you can see on the national flag of Israel.

You can see the hexagram, which is also sometimes called ‘the star of creation’, on the stained-glass windows of some Christian churches.

Mormons (Latter-day Saints) also use it on their buildings and it is assumed that the hexagram represents the union between mankind and God, that is to say, the earth and the Heaven.

The hexagram, also known as the Star of David and the Seal of King Solomon, is important for Islam,too. Muslims revere both of these figures as they are are prophets in Islam. Just like churches, there are some mosques with the Seal of Solomon on their walls.

The most prominent concepts represented by hexagrams are as follows:

  • The unity and harmony between feminine and masculine as opposites.
  • The union of physical and spiritual realities with the physical reality reaching up and the spiritual reality reaching down to unite much like Mormons’ belief in God reaching down to man and vice versa.
  • The Hermetic principle of “As above, so below” suggesting everything that happens in one reality (microcosm) reflects in other realities at all levels (macrocosm) and therefore, you can understand the universe and the larger concepts by understanding the smaller systems comprising it.
  • In Hindu religion, through the combination the Shakti kona (the element of water) and the Shiva kona (the element of fire and also the symbol of Shiva) triangles, the Shatkona (hexagram) is created and it represents the union of male and female.
  • In alchemy, two triangles forming a hexagram represents the two elements; the triangle that is pointing up represents fire while the triangle pointing down represents water. The six tips and the central point of the hexagram represent the seven alchemical metals, namely, copper, mercury, silver, iron, tin, lead and gold.
  • Seven ancient planets, namely, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars and Sun are represented by the seven prongs/tips and the central point of the hexagram in astrology.

Let us continue with the meanings and symbolism attributed to the unicursal hexagram symbol specifically.

Unicursal Hexagram Meaning And Symbolism

The unicursal hexagram symbol was used by three different parties in the past as part of their Hermetic practices and philosophy starting with its first documented use by Giordano Bruno in 1588, although the exact origin of the symbol probably predates the 16th century.

Unicursal Hexagram in Aleister Crowley Thelema Symbol
Aleister Crowley’s Thelema Symbol Featuring a Unicursal Hexagram by Vectorshop

Giordano Bruno, Hermetic Trinity And Figura Amoris Featuring The Unicursal Hexagram

In his work titled Essays Upon the Mathematics of Mordente: One Hundred and Sixty Theses/Articles Against the Mathematicians and Philosophers of this Age, Italian cosmological theorist Giordano Bruno used the unicursal hexagram in the third part of the Hermetic trinity in his mathesis.

Bruno suggested that from the mind comes the intellect and from the intellect comes affection and love. He represented these three concepts in his drawings named Figura Mentis, Figura Intellectus and Figura Amoris, the figures of mind, intellect and love, respectively.

He used the unicursal hexagram in Figura Amoris, the figure of love. You can check his work below.

Universal Hexagram in Giordano Bruno's Figura Amoris, the Figure of Love from 1588
Universal Hexagram in Giordano Bruno’s Figura Amoris, the Figure of Love

The Hermetic Order Of The Golden Dawn And the Unicursal Hexagram

While there is no solid proof about how the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn used the unicursal hexagram symbol, there are a few interpretations made by hermeticists who did some research on the subject.

One theory suggests that the Golden Dawn used the unicursal hexagram for invoking and banishing spells involving planets.

The other theory, on the other hand, says that it is an alchemical symbol rather than a planetary one and that is why it should not be used as an ordinary hexagram in the Ritual of the Hexagram.

If you are interested in alchemy and alchemical symbols, you will surely enjoy reading our detailed article here.

In page 77 of the Golden Dawn document called Polygons and Polygrams, the unicursal hexagram is called as“the irregular third form” and “pseudo-hexagram”.

The symbol is also described in the same document as “Denotes the presidency of the Sun and Moon over the Four Elements, united in, and proceeding from, the Spirit.”

Aleister Crowley, Thelema Religion And The Unicursal Hexagram As Its Symbol

Aleister Crowley, an English mystic and magician, founded the religion of Thelema in the early 1900s claiming that a higher being named Aiwass contacted him through Rose Edith Kelly, his wife, when they were in Egypt together and dictated him a sacred text titled Liber AL vel Legis (The Book of Law) explaining the core tenets of the faith.

The word ‘Thelema’ is the anglicized version of the Koine Greek word θέλημα (pronounced as ‘thelema’) which means ‘the will’, ‘the purpose’ and ‘to wish/will something’. And ‘finding one’s own true path/true purpose in the Universe’ is the ultimate goal of the Thelema.

But how does the Thelema relate to the unicursal hexagram? Why is it called the Aleister Crowley symbol?

The unicursal hexagram was one of the most prominent symbols, if not the most prominent one, in the Thelema religion.

Aleister Crowley placed a rose with five petals right at the center of the unicursal hexagram and created a unique symbol for the Thelema religion.

According to some Thelemites, Crowley’s unicursal hexagram represents the union of mankind and God. The five-petal rose in the middle, which can be interpreted as the pentagram/pentacle, represents mankind while the hexagram with its six corners represents God.

It could also be interpreted that the union of God and man has already happened as the unicursal hexagram can be drawn in one continuous line. One of the Thelema religion’s main teachings in the Book of the Law is “Every man and every woman is a star”.

Therefore, it could even be said that the man/woman in Crowley’s version of the unicursal hexagram has already become God as the Great Work, the Magnum Opus in the Thelema is about a man becoming fully integrated taking a spiritual path of transcendence.

Similarly, according to the Enchiridion of Thelema, Aleister Crowley’s unicursal hexagram represents the union of the microcosm and the macrocosm within the Neoplatonic system, that is to say, the realm of humankind and the Heaven, respectively. The number six represented Heaven while the number five represented humankind in medieval numerology and philosophy.

It is also important to note that Aleister Crowley believed the number eleven (the combination of the pentagram and the hexagram, as in 5 plus 6 equals 11) to be the number of magick.

The Use of The Unicursal Hexagram Symbol

The symbol is simply used to banish and invoke elemental forces by some magicians.

And of course, like many other occult symbols, it was used in television. Perhaps, the most prominent use of the symbol on television happened on the famous TV series Supernatural.

Aquarian Star In Supernatural

The unicursal hexagram was featured in the 8th season of Supernatural as the Aquarian Star, the symbol of the Men of Letters, a secret organization researching supernatural phenomena all around the world.

It also represents great magic and power and is rumored to be found at the gates of Atlantis according to the show’s story.

Unicursal Hexagram Meaning And Origins

This wraps up our piece on the unicursal hexagram symbol, its meaning and origin. Hope you liked the article, don’t forget to check out other articles we have on ancient symbols through the main menu, if you did.

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