Electric Pentacle

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Title: Electric Pentacle

Origin: William Hope Hodgson's series of supernatural detective short stories, Carnacki: the Ghost-Finder


Carnacki's Electric Pentacle as depicted in "The Horse of the Invisible (1971 short)".

"I came across Professor Garder's 'Experiments with a Medium.' When they surrounded the Medium with a current, in vacuum, he lost his power—almost as if it cut him off from the Immaterial. That made me think a lot; and that is how I came to make the Electric Pentacle, which is a most marvelous 'Defense' against certain manifestations. I used the shape of the defensive star for this protection, because I have, personally, no doubt at all but that there is some extraordinary virtue in the old magic figure. Curious thing for a Twentieth Century man to admit, is it not? But, then, as you all know, I never did, and never will, allow myself to be blinded by the little cheap laughter. I ask questions, and keep my eyes open. In this last case I had little doubt that I had run up against a supernatural monster, and I meant to take every possible care; for the danger is abominable. I turned-to now to fit the Electric Pentacle, setting it so that each of its 'points' and 'vales' coincided exactly with the 'points' and 'vales' of the drawn pentagram upon the floor. Then I connected up the battery, and the next instant the pale blue glare from the intertwining vacuum tubes shone out.... [The Pentacle] must be made afresh and around the one to be protected... for neither 'yarbs nor fyre nor water' must be used a second time...."
William Hope Hodgson, "The Gateway of the Monster"

Carnacki's Electric Pentacle

"I got the men well together, and began to fit the Electric Pentacle right around us, so that the five points of the Defensive Star came just within the Hair Circle. This did not take me long, and a minute later I had connected up the batteries, and the weak blue glare of the intertwining vacuum tubes shone all around us. I felt happier then; for this Pentacle is, as you all know, a wonderful 'Defense.' I have told you before, how the idea came to me, after reading Professor Garder's 'Experiments with a Medium.' He found that a current, of a certain number of vibrations, in vacuo, 'insulated' the medium.... I looked over my shoulder at the men, and cautioned them, in a low voice, not to move outside of the Barriers, whatever happened; not even though the house should seem to be rocking and about to tumble on to them; for well I knew what some of the great Forces are capable of doing. Yet, unless it should prove to be one of the cases of the more terrible Saiitii Manifestation, we were almost certain of safety, so long as we kept to our order within the Pentacle.... I turned half 'round, and told them, quietly but plainly, that they were safe only so long as they stayed within the Pentacle, in the position in which I had put them. If they once broke, and went outside of the Barrier, no knowledge of mine could state the full extent of the dreadfulness of the danger. I steadied them up by this quiet, straight reminder; but if they had known, as I knew, that there is no certainty in any 'Protection,' they would have suffered a great deal more, and probably have broken the 'Defense,' and made a mad, foolish run for an impossible safety...."
William Hope Hodgson, "The House of the Laurels"

An invention of Thomas Carnacki. Carnacki's original Electric Pentacle is a defensive device, in the shape of a five-pointed star, inspired by a description of an experiment conducted on a medium in Garder's Lectures which resulted in the medium's temporary loss of connection to the unnatural world. This original pentacle is constructed from intertwined tubes emitting a pale-blue glow, repellent to ab-natural spirits, from a battery-powered electric current passing through a vacuum. The device does not harm or repel powerful Elemental spirits, but it does act as an imperfect "insulation against the ab-normal".

The defensive capability of the Electric Pentacle may result mainly from the unique "vibrations" of the blue light and electric currents, but Carnacki, ever the pragmatist, chose to construct his electric defense in the occult five-pointed figure, in the belief that the very shape of the figure held a defensive power of its own, and would commonly combine the use of his Electric Pentacle with more traditional occult defenses, such as chalk-drawn pentacles, bowls of holy water, blessed candles, and a "hair circle" (a long, braided twine of human hair looped into a circle with both silver-jacketed ends embedded in the wax of a defensive candle), so that the combined scientific and occult effects would reinforce each other's defensive capabilities. Similarly, based on his occult studies, Carnacki advises that, like other materials used in defensive occult rituals, the Electric Pentacle not be directly re-used: instead, between each individual use (generally at dawn following a night of uninterrupted use) the Electric Pentacle must be disassembled, then reconstructed anew around the person or object or area to be protected.

Carnacki's Spectrum Defense

"'Now Bains' I called, 'come and stand over here by this table. Don't move about. I've got to erect a protective 'barrier' round us, and on no account must either of us cross over it by even so much as a hand or foot, once it is built.' We went over to the middle of the room, and he stood by the glass-legged table while I began to fit the vacuum tubing together round us. I intended to use the new spectrum 'defense' which I have been perfecting lately. This, I must tell you, consists of seven glass vacuum circles with the red on the outside, and the colour circles lying inside it, in the order of orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.... The Sigsand Manuscript puts it something like this: 'Avoid diversities of colour; nor stand ye within the barrier of the colour lights; for in colour hath Satan a delight. Nor can he abide in the Deep if ye adventure against him armed with red purple. So be warned. Neither forget that in blue, which is God's colour in the Heavens, ye have safety.' You see, from that statement... I got my first notion for this new 'defense' of mine. I have aimed to make it a 'defense' and yet have 'focusing' or 'drawing' qualities such as the Sigsand hints at. I have experimented enormously, and I've proved that reds and purples - the two extreme colours of the spectrum - are fairly dangerous; so much so that I suspect they actually 'draw' or 'focus' the outside forces. Any action or 'meddling' on the part of the experimentalist is tremendously enhanced in its effect if the action is taken within barriers composed of these colours, in certain proportions and tints. In the same way, blue is distinctly a 'general defense.' Yellow appears to be neutral, and green a wonderful protection within limits. Orange, as far as I can tell, is slightly attractive and indigo is dangerous by itself in a limited way, but in certain combinations with the other colours it becomes a very powerful 'defense'. I've not yet discovered a tenth of the possibilities of these circles of mine. It's a kind of colour organ upon which I seem to play a tune of colour combinations that can be either safe or infernal in its effects. You know I have a keyboard with a separate switch to each of the colour circles....

"The pentacle is simply 'defensive' and I wished to have the power to make a 'focus' during the early part of the experiment, and then, at the critical moment, to change the combination of the colours so as to have a 'defense' against the results of the 'focus'... there can be no 'focus' within an [Electric Pentacle]. It is just of a 'defensive' nature. Even if I had switched the current out of the electric pentacle I should still have had to contend with the peculiar and undoubtedly 'defensive' power that its form seems to exert, and this would have been sufficient to 'blur' the focus. In this new research work I'm doing, I'm bound to use a 'focus' and so the pentacle is barred. But I'm not sure it matters: I'm convinced this new spectrum 'defense' of mine will prove absolutely invulnerable when I've learnt how to use it; but it will take me some time. This last case has taught me something new. I had never thought of combining green with blue; but the three bands of green in the blue of that dome has set me thinking. If only I knew the right combinations! It's the combinations I've got to learn. You'll understand better the importance of these combinations when I remind you that green by itself is, in a very limited way, more deadly than red itself - and red is the danger colour of all."
William Hope Hodgson, "The Gateway of the Monster"

Carnacki modified his original Electric Pentacle design, based on a combination of the information gleaned from the Sigsand Manuscript, Garder's Lectures and Harzan's Monograph, in the form of a series of rings of electrical tubes that emit combinations of coloured light controlled by a keyboard chosen by Carnacki to attract, weaken, control, or repel ab-natural spirits.

Unlike the Electric Pentacle, which is designed as a more purely defensive device, the Spectrum Defense is a more versatile but difficult-to-use device better suited to unique situations, and generally requiring a great deal of trial-and-error to find exactly the right combination of coloured rings to fit the specific defensive requirements of the situation. The Spectrum Defense is, perhaps, best suited to function as an experimental device, or as a last-ditch defense requiring the investigator to use trial-and-error in the field, while under siege by ab-natural forces, to use.

The Carnacki Institute

The Carnacki Institute, of course, has continued using and improving on the inventions of its founder. New, improved, more powerful, and more portable versions of the Electric Pentacle are issued to teams of field agents as part of their routine equipment, and powerful, enhanced versions of the "Spectrum Defense" have been rumoured to be in use in the Institute's laboratories for defensive use, experimental use, and, according to darker rumours, more sinister purposes their founder would probably have never approved of.


Associated Mythos Elements

Heresies and Controversies

  • An Elder Sign (symbol) works on a similar premise to the Electric Pentacle, the very stone itself providing the minimal natural, elemental earth energy and crystal power needed to energize the protective symbols carved into the object's surface; an Elder Sign is no mere design carved in an inert but lucky rock - an Elder Sign is a complex and powerful machine. (fan theory)

Keeper Notes