Complicated Polygons and Stars

Enneagram, decagram, endekagram, and dodekagram

Various pentagram designs, Enneagram, Decagram, Endekagram, and Dodekagram
yuliabikirova​/Getty Images

The more simple a shape, the more often it is used symbolically. As such, you find lots of cultures, religions, and organizations using circles and triangles, but far less using heptagrams and octagrams. Once we get past eight-sided stars and shapes, usage becomes increasingly specific and limited.

While I discuss these shapes as stars (polygrams), the same general logic can apply to the polygon form as well. For example, a decagon (10-sided enclosed polygon) can mean the same as a decagram (10-pointed star), but for simplicity I only reference decagrams, in part because stars are more commonly used.

Enneagram – 9 Pointed Star

The term enneagram today is actually most associated with an approach to personality analyzing and development. It centers of the idea of there being nine personality types which are diagrammed into an irregular nine-pointed shape. The lines represent connections and relationships between the types and locations around the circle give additional insight.

That same nine-pointed shape was used in a branch of thought known as the Fourth Way, which developed in the mid 20th century.

The Baha'i Faith uses a nine-pointed star as its symbol.

When the enneagram is formed by three overlapping triangles, it may represent a trinity of trinities and, thus, be a symbol of holiness or spiritual completion.

It is possible someone might use an enneagram as a symbol of universal wholeness with each point representing a planet, although the downgrading of Pluto from planet to plutoid now complicates such symbolism. one might substitute the sun or moon for Pluto, or remove the earth from the mix (since it is the one planet not in our sky) and replace the earth and Pluto with the sun and moon.

9-pointed stars are also sometimes called nonagrams.

Dekagram/Decagram – 10 Pointed Star

For those working within a Kabbalistic system, the decagram can represent the 10 sephirot of the Tree of Life.

A decagram can specifically be formed by overlapping two pentagrams. This can reflect the union of opposites, as point-up and point-down pentagrams can each have their own meanings. A pentagram can represent the five elements, and some see each element as having a positive and negative aspect. As such, any decagram (not just one made by overlapping pentagrams) might also represent the positive and negative aspects of the five elements.

Endekagram – 11 Pointed Star

Endekagrams are exceedingly rare. The only use I am aware of is within the Golden Dawn system, where it has highly technical and specific meaning.

Dodekagram – 12 Pointed Star

The number twelve has a lot of potential meanings. It is the number of months in the year, thus representing a yearly cycle and its completion and wholeness. It is the number of disciples of Jesus, which makes it a common number in Christianity, and the original number of Hebrew tribes, which makes it a common number in Judaism.

But a twelve-sided figure most commonly represents the zodiac, which is divided into twelve signs. Those twelve signs are further divided into four groups identified by element (three fire signs, three water signs, etc.), so a dodekagram made up of four overlapping triangles works particularly well. A dodekagram made up of two overlapping hexagons can be used to divide the zodiac symbols by male and female qualities. (You can't overlap hexagrams, since hexagrams are overlapping triangles. It's the same thing as a dodekagram made up of four triangles.)

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Beyer, Catherine. "Complicated Polygons and Stars." Learn Religions, Apr. 5, 2023, Beyer, Catherine. (2023, April 5). Complicated Polygons and Stars. Retrieved from Beyer, Catherine. "Complicated Polygons and Stars." Learn Religions. (accessed June 10, 2023).