The star of David has been associated with the Jewish people very firmly for just over a century, more loosely for five or six centuries, and with occasional references for possibly two millennia. The original hexagram shape, however, has many wider and more ancient connections. The Hindu religion and the occult or esoteric Western traditions both used it to depict the heiros gamos, the sacred marriage between the male and the female divinities. These traditions have their roots many millennia ago: in the case of Western esotericism, well into the ancient Egyptian period (dating back to 5,000 years ago or more).
Even these relatively “ancient” traditions pale in significance as compared to the much older hints at the symbolic significance of the triangle which makes up the hexagram and its associations with male and female sexuality.
Until recently, the prehistoric rock art found in France and Spain was seen as the first signs of human artistic expression. Since then, new findings have updated our understanding of the origins of human abstract graphic design, such as led eventually to writing and to explicit representations.In 2008, the scientific world was intrigued by the finding of small ocher stones with zigzag engravings. These were dated to 77,000 BP (or 77,000 years old).
photo credit: Cheryl Carlin via SmithsonianMag
More recently, in 2014, new engravings, this time on shells, were discovered and dated to between 540,000 and 430,000 years old.
photo credit: Wim Lustenhouwer, VU University Amsterdam via SmithsonianMag
In both cases, we see a fascination with simple straight lines and triangulations. In the more recent work, we see overlapping triangles that are beginning to suggest hexagrams of the type we are studying.
No one knows what these designs meant to their designers. However, it would seem plausible to suggest that the simple designs suggested important elements of the lives of the designers. For one thing, they suggest a kind of tallying or counting of some sort. But, as later rock art suggests, they also suggest features of the world that are important to the humans who inhabit it.
photo credit: Geneviève Pinçon via catalogue-roc-aux-sorciers
In the pink ocher rock of a mere 77,000 years ago, there are elements that point toward to a hexagram symbol. These were used to inspire the sixth Magen Passion postcard, as follows.