After nine years, the Department of Veterans Affairs today agreed to include the pentagram on its list of approved religious symbols for veteran gravestones: http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/hm/hmemb.asp
Make no mistake: I'm thrilled at this development. While I'm not so much into the conspiracy theories some Wiccans have accepted in explaining the delay, I certainly do believe that it is time for the symbol to be included in the list, especially considering that atheists and humanists already have their own approved symbols as well as several groups less known and less numerous in this country than Wiccans.
At the end of the AP article reporting on this event, however, is the following explanation:
Wicca is a nature-based religion based on respect for the earth, nature and the cycle of the seasons. Variations of the pentacle not accepted by Wiccans have been used in horror movies as a sign of the devil.
Wiccans constantly complain about being compared with Satanism, yet at the same time these sorts of explanations and/or disclaimers continue to compare the two groups - even if in the negative - when no comparison is called for. The last sentence doesn't even make a lot of sense... perhaps especially to someone not very familiar with Wicca or uses of pentagrams. Dictionaries generally consider pentacle and pentagram to be synonymous. A pentagram is a five-pointed geometric shape. By that definition, not accepting a pentagram makes as much sense as not accepting a rectangle; something either is rectangular or it isn't. Which also begs the question of how one can vary a pentagram. Put a happy face in the center of it, I suppose.
What I am guessing the writer means when he says pentacle is a point-up pentagram enclosed by a circle, which is the standard way Wiccans display a pentagram as representative of their faith. From that assumption, I will continue to guess that a non-accepted variation would be a point-down pentagram, as is frequently used by Satanists. But this is a guess on my part, able to be made only because I have a decent idea of the subject already: in short, I'm not the audience member for whom this statement was written.
But even with this explanation, it makes little sense in relation to horror movies. In my experience, movie makers display both orientations about equally. Perhaps even more often, however, they display a pentagram painted on the floor which is where the sacrifice is bound and/or the demon is going to be summoned. On the floor, there is no up or down. It's simply a five-pointed star.
To further confuse matters, Wiccans do NOT exclusively use one design of a point up pentagram. There are a variety of pentagram designs that can be found on the web such as in jewelry, for example. Even the point-down pentagram is not excluded. Traditional covens use it to represent second degree initiation, for example. Others use it to represent spirit descending into matter, as opposed to the point-up representation, which traditionally symbolizes the triumph of spirit over matter (an idea more at home in Christian Occultism than Wicca, IMHO).
The fact that he decided to compare the symbol solely with horror movie representations is almost a trivialization of the entire issue. Far more damaging than horror movies - which very few people take seriously to begin with - are the Christian fundamentalists who display point-up pentagrams (apparently the "approved" version of pentagrams for Wiccans) as a symbol of Satanism, evil, and general unpleasantness. If the author really felt compelled to address the Wicca/Satanism confusion, he could have at least addressed the serious side of it. But even better would have been to not mention it at all, to define us by what we are instead of what we are not and to stop inviting confusion when there wasn't any to begin with.