Talk:Pentacle

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Anonymous Section[edit]

I think that this article should be checked thoroughly for correctness. When I last consulted my dictionary, I saw that pentagram and pentacle were synonymous. This article therefore seems less than factual.--Scott 15:08, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

The reasoning for separating this article was given in Talk:Pentagram#Proposal to split pentacle into a separate article. Currently there is widespread usage of the term as a synonym for pentagram; this misuse has been largely popularised through the huge number of low-quality books on the occult that have proliferated in recent years. Earlier books on magic, up to about the 1960s, use the terms pentagram and pentacle as described in the articles. These include all the most influential works and writers, including the old grimoires, the works of Eliphas Levi, Francis Barrett's The Magus, the Golden Dawn materials and the writings of Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers, Aleister Crowley and Israel Regardie. I would like to move more of this material into the article, but I have limited time and haven't got around to it yet. I see you are right that the Merriam-Webster Online treats the two words as synonyms; this is worth mentioning in the article. I've already got some other words I need to check in the OED when I'm next in the library, so I'll add "pentagram" and "pentacle" to the list. The fact remains, however, that for an occultist (and the term is primarily an occult term), "pentacle" has an entirely different meaning from "pentagram". Fuzzypeg 23:17, 3 August 2006 (UTC)

I think that this should be reverted back to the original redirect. This article add nothing that the Pentagram article does not already include --Leonsimms 18:24, 11 May 2005 (UTC)

Hopefully the article is starting to include more interesting information. I haven't had much time to work on it, so it's progressing slowly. Fuzzypeg 03:26, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

The article isn't describing a pentacle in many instances. It is describing a Hexagram. I'm not an authority on the occult here, but I'm fairly sure that pentacle means 5 of something. I can't find any sources, outside of this wikipedia article, that suggest that a six pointed star is ever referred to as a pentacle.—Preceding unsigned comment added by Synx13 (talkcontribs)

Have you read the article? Particularly the second paragraph in the introduction and the section on etymology. If you're looking for sources outside of this wikipedia article, try the sources cited at the bottom of the article, for a start. I know it's a surprise to many people, but the traditional use of the term is rather different from what Llewellyn's new crop of authors on pseudo-Wicca seem to think it is. Oh, and "pentacle" doesn't imply a hexagram either; that's purely coincidental — a commonly used shape. Fuzzypeg 05:08, 29 August 2006 (UTC)

According to the OED, "pentacle" in fact does originally mean a five-pointed star, and gives a date of 1483 for the Italian pentacolo in that sense, which long predates the 19/20th-century sources mentioned above and in the text. --Macrakis 22:46, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

Ummm, not quite. The OED (most recent edition) says the medieval Latin pentaculum apparently derives from PENTA- five + -culum, diminuitive or instrumental suffix, but actual history is obscure. The Italian pentacolo which you mention is not stated as being a "five-pointed star", but 'any thing or table of five corners', and they note that in 16th C. French pentacle meant something used in necromancy (Godef. says 'a five-branched candlestick').
They move on to state that "As applied to something worn round the neck as an amulet, some would connect it with F. pentacol, pendacol (14th c. in Godef.) a jewel or ornament hung round the neck, f. pend- hang, à to, col, cou neck."
When it comes to the definition, they state that a pentacle is "A certain figure (or a material object, e.g. something folded, or interlaced, of that shape) used as a symbol, especially in magic; apparently properly the same as pentagram; but also used for various other magical symbols, especially the hexagram or six-pointed star formed by two interlaced triangles."
They go on to give examples of usage, none of which lend themselves to the pentagram interpretation. e.g. 1616 B. Jonson: "They haue .. Their rauens wings, their lights, and pentacles, With characters" or 1664 H. More "Their Pentacles which they hang about their necks when they conjure (which they forsooth .. call the Pentacles of Solomon) are adorned and fortified with such transcriptions out of holy Scripture" (an obvious reference to the pentacles in the Key of Solomon, most of which are not pentagrams). One example (1862 Lytton) has "two triangles interlaced and inserted in a circle".
The editors of the OED have stated an uncertain definition, saying it is "apparently properly the same as pentagram", but allowing that it may mean other shapes as well, and that it may indeed derive from something "worn round the neck". They give no examples from the magical grimoires, which most likely didn't form part of their research, yet all the examples they do give lend themselves to the same usage as in the old grimoires, i.e. the definition as currently given in the article. The only exception might perhaps be the 1885 newspaper article they quote: "The sacramental [charm] bore a figure that looked like a rough copy of the pentacle".
The earliest usage they give is Godef. (whoever that is), a usage which supports the "hung round the neck" derivation.
Oh, and I note, the Fourth Book of Occult Philosophy cited in the article is clearly stated to be a 16th century source; the Key of Solomon I have not given a date for, as there have been several versions, the dates of none of which are known, however they date back to at least the 15th/16th centuries, and are thought to originate even earlier, in the middle ages (1000 - 1453). Fuzzypeg 01:23, 29 November 2006 (UTC)

Magic Square vs. Word Square[edit]

The current sentence links to magic square which is about mathematical magic squares. Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas is not a mathematical magic square, so the link, at least, is wrong. Is there an article on Wikipedia about the kind of magic squares you're thinking of? DenisMoskowitz 14:51, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

Unfortunately, there's not. I had a bit of a look around and could see nothing. There's not even a single mention of the planetary Kameas, which are well-known planetary magic squares, used (amongst other things) for constructing sigils. Each of these Kameas is a different order of "magic square" in the mathematical sense. Magic squares appear quite often in old grimoires — they seem to have originated in Arabic magic. Some are composed of numbers (or characters substituted for numbers, such as in Hebrew squares, where there was no separate numerical system), some of letters. Of those composed of letters, some follow the pattern of "word squares", but many don't. Some are not even square!
My proposal is that I create a new section in the Magic square article describing this alternate (and original) meaning of the word, and then change the link here to point to it. The new section will probably be brief at first, and I'd prefer to put it into the existing article rather than create a new Magic square (magic) article. If it grows significantly it may at some stage deserve to be split, but we can cross that bridge when we come to it. Fuzzypeg 04:57, 31 July 2006 (UTC)
That's a great proposal. I'll go ahead and add magic square to my watchlist so I can help out. DenisMoskowitz 17:59, 31 July 2006 (UTC)

pentaculum[edit]

I can't seem to find [pentaculum] in any of the online Latin dictionaries. Could it be vulgar Latin or something similar that wouldn't make it into a dictionary? Boris B 07:52, 6 December 2006 (UTC)

It's an obscure word that appears in specialised magical manuscripts, and therefore may well not appear in most dictionaries. From what the OED says, it sounds like it may be the latinisation of a French word, and thus "vulgar". I've searched the esotericarchives site that has a few magical texts in Latin, but I didn't get any hits. They used to have more Latin texts, but they've been gradually finding English translations for them... Fuzzypeg 05:03, 7 December 2006 (UTC)
Oh, I've found one example! Don't know how I missed it... In Peter de Abano's Heptameron, under the heading De veste & pentaculo. Fuzzypeg 23:48, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

It may as weel be from Penta (five Greek) And occulum (Basicaly Latin for Eye) It indeed may be intepreted as that..

Apart from the fact that there's no evidence to support that etymology, which seems to be entirely based on free association. Fuzzypeg 23:48, 25 April 2007 (UTC)

Occult tarot[edit]

I've taken out some extra wording labouring the point that the tarot we're talking about is occult tarot. I think more to the point it is modern tarot (i.e. after Eliphas Levi's theories). There are plenty of tarot decks out there that in my opinion aren't "occult" in the slightest, but still follow the modern conventions and put pentagrams on the coins, and even call them "pentacles". And there are people who use highly occult decks for non-occult purposes. "Occult" is too hard a distinction to make, and opens up a kettle of fish we don't really need to discuss here. Lets stick with "modern". Fuzzypeg 20:32, 13 December 2006 (UTC)

Etymologie[edit]

It appears clearly to me that a pentacle si supposed to be a fifth star pointed circle. As French Pentagone comes from greek and Cercle. A six pointed star is a hexagram, not a pentacle.

"Pentagone" is not the same word as "pentacle". I don't understand what you mean by mentioning "Cercle". What is this word, and what relationship does it have to the article? The fact that "it appears clear" to you is not sufficient basis for changing the article (see Wikipedia's No original research policy). However if you have verifiable information that extends or contradicts what is already in the article, then add it, by all means. Cheers, Fuzzypeg 20:15, 16 January 2007 (UTC)
I appologize, but as long as I'll be French and from my knowledge of what is Occulaire and Pentagone. For me Pentacle will always come frome Five and Circle. (Was it too hard to understand that circle and cercle are common sensed???) And I'm sorry for the no original research. But all this discussion page is an orginal origin research. Moreover, all wikipedia is Origin Research...

I just re-checked the most recent on-line edition of the OED (DRAFT REVISION Sept. 2005) and also checked the last official edition (SECOND EDITION 1989), and neither says anything like "As applied to something worn round the neck as an amulet, some would connect it with F. pentacol, pendacol...". That language does appear in the first edition of the OED (edited around 1906), but apparently that etymology is no longer accepted. --Macrakis 22:05, 16 January 2007 (UTC)

That's nice. Does that etymological explanation change that there are pentacles (by that name) in old texts, that are NOT five pointed? It's not interpretive to say that, it's sourced where they exist. Additionally, OED does NOT treat them os ONLY synonymous, and to suggest so is disingeuous. See the online versions saying Also, in extended use: any similar magical symbol (freq. applied to a hexagram formed by two intersecting or interlaced equilateral triangles)--Vidkun 17:25, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
The etymology is one thing. Usage is another, and I don't doubt that there are extended uses. I think the etymology section as I wrote it is OK. I have updated the 2nd paragraph to make clearer, I hope. Take a look and see if you think that is a reasonable way to express the situation. --Macrakis 17:49, 19 January 2007 (UTC)
If you really want, I can check the editions of the OED that I looked at. They had relatively recent looking bindings, like they were printed in the last ten years; I checked the OED at the University of Auckland main library, and then photocopied the relevant page at the central Auckland public library, where my photocopying card works. I wouldn't think either of these establishments would allow their OED to get out of date. I have the photocopy in front of me right now, and I can quote the section exactly:
As applied to something worn round the neck as an amulet, some would connect it with F. pentacol, pendacol (14th c. in Godef.) a jewel or ornament hung round the neck, f. pend- hang, à to, col, cou neck.
In fact, looking at the same photocopied page, it gives a reference from 1972 under the entry for pentaerythritol, so it obviously dates from some time after 1906!!! I would suggest to you that it is the most recent published version. I seem to remember I also checked the "new research" supplement that accompanies the OED and is updated from time to time, and didn't find any changes. OK, now lets see what you've done to the article... Fuzzypeg 19:45, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

OK, I can see several recent edits that look dodgy. I'm going to type out the entire entry for pentacle. I'll come back later to confirm that it is, indeed, the OED second edition!

pentacle, entry from the OED (edition?)[edit]

pentacle (ˈpɛntək(ə)l). [In med.L. pentaculum, app. f. PENTA- five + -culum, dim. or instrumental suffix, but actual history obscure. It. had pentacolo 'any thing or table of five corners' (Florio), F. had (16th c.) pentacle, something used in necromancy (Godef. says 'a five-branched candlestick').
As applied to something worn round the neck as an amulet, some would connect it with F. pentacol, pendacol (14th c. in Godef.) a jewel or ornament hung round the neck, f. pend- hang, à to, col, cou neck.]
A certain figure (or a material object, e.g. something folded or interlaced, of that shape) used as a symbol, esp. in magic; app. properly the same as PENTAGRAM; but also used for various other magical symbols, esp. the hexagram or six-pointed star formed by two interlaced triangles. (See also PENTANGLE I.)
The pentacle of Solomon, in H. More 1664, is the same as the pentangle of Solomon of Sir Gawayne c 1340, Sir Thomas Browne 1646, and others.
1594 CHAPMAN Shadow Nt., Hymnus in Cynthiam Wks. (1875) 16/2 Then in thy clear and icy pentacle, Now execute a magic miracle. 1607 DEKKER Wh. of Babylon Wks. 1873 II. 200 Take Periapts, Pentacles, and potent Charmes To coniure downe foule fiends. 1616 B. JONSON Devil an Ass I. ii, They haue..Their rauens wings, their lights, and pentacles, With characters; I ha' seene all these. 1664 H. MORE Myst. Iniq. I. xviii. §3 Their Pentacles which they hang about their necks when they conjure (which they forsooth..call the Pentacles of Solomon) are adorned and fortified with such transcriptions out of holy Scripture. [1668-70 M. CASAUBON Credulity & Incred. (1672) 71 By certain pentacula, and seals and characters to fence themselves and to make themselves invisible against all kinds of arms and musquet bullets.] 1808 SCOTT Marm. III. xx, His shoes were marked with cross and spell; Upon his breast a pentacle. 1862 LYTTON Str. Story 1, You observe two triangles interlaced and inserted in a circle? The Pentacle in short. 1885 Sat. Rev. 19 Sept. 380/2 The sacramental [charm] bore a figure that looked like a rough copy of the pentacle.
Hence penˈtacular a., of, pertaining to, or of the nature of a pentacle.
In mod. Dicts.

END OF ENTRY

This is a post-1972 edition (as noted above), most likely the current (second) edition. I will confirm the edition shortly, as well as checking that there are no alterations to be found in the "new research" companion volume. Fuzzypeg 20:41, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

I've just confirmed it is indeed the 2nd edition, published 1989. In light of that, I'm going to revert the recent changes made to the etymology section. Fuzzypeg 21:13, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for taking the trouble to check the text of the 2nd edition. I apologize for having been sloppy in my citation -- the online edition is actually the "Draft revision, September 2005", and reads:

[< Middle French pentacle talisman, most often in the form of a five-pointed star (a1555; French pentacle (now hist.)) and its etymon post-classical Latin pentaculum (1531 in the passage translated in quot. 1569) < penta- PENTA- + -culum -CULUM. Cf. Italian pentacolo, pentaculo five-pointed star (1483). Cf. PENTANGLE n.]
A pentagram, esp. one enclosed in a circle; a talisman or magical symbol in the shape of or inscribed with a pentagram. Also, in extended use: any similar magical symbol (freq. applied to a hexagram formed by two intersecting or interlaced equilateral triangles).

pentacle of Solomon = pentangle of Solomon s.v. PENTANGLE n. 1.

What's the best way to take that into account? --Macrakis 21:39, 21 January 2007 (UTC)

I dunno; perhaps email them and set them straight? (I'm kind of serious about that) Well, how does the draft version work? How set-in-stone are the entries? They've clearly already published it in a sense, although it's for subscribers only, but how often does the version change? I think we could operate under the assumption that the draft version will not change much (or at all); therefore we can note their revision at the end of the etymology section. In the mean-time I'll be contacting them to make sure they've given due attention to the actual literature of magic! Fuzzypeg 04:21, 22 January 2007 (UTC)

Pentacle in mathematics[edit]

A five sided figure isn't a pentacle, it's a pentagon.

Godef, who he is . . .[edit]

GODEF. -- le Dictionnaire de l'ancienne langue française de M. Godefroy.--Vidkun 20:22, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Thanks, Vidkun! Fuzzypeg 23:43, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
The usage was starting to annoy the hell out of me, so i googled it. I'm surprised none of us did it earlier (including me).--Vidkun 23:57, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Pantacle?[edit]

Why is this misspelling in the article? I can't find it in the dictionary, and if it were a real spelling, it would mean something very different as 'pan' means all.--Jcvamp 16:07, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

It's not a misspelling - just a Thelemic rarity. I've added a reference. Kim Dent-Brown (Talk to me) 19:07, 21 June 2007 (UTC)
Not even a thelemic rarity. You'll find it in the OED, as well as in various old writings on magic. Fuzzypeg 03:15, 25 June 2007 (UTC)
And now that I go back to the OED I see I'm wrong. Also, it's not very common in the old texts. It appears in the French translation of John Dee's Heiroglyphic Monad (De Givry) and in Manly Palmer Hall's Secret Teachings and Albert Pike's Morals and Dogma; my searches so far don't reveal much else. I'm fairly happy to leave the article stating that it's a Thelemic innovation. Fuzzypeg 05:21, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Information[edit]

From what I've seen, the word pentacle is used to refer to an altar tool in Witchcraft that has sometimes been used to refer to altar bowls as it was common to put a pentagram symbol in the bowl.--Jcvamp 16:22, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

I've not seen a bowl referred to as a pentacle - though it would not be unusual for a five-pointed interlaced star to decorate a bowl or chalice. But if you can find a reference to a bowl being called a pentacle, include it by all means. My own experience is just WP:OR after all! Kim Dent-Brown (Talk to me) 19:10, 21 June 2007 (UTC)

I've got a reference to the pentacle being the name of the altar tool in 'Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner' page 33 which says 'The pentacle is a flat piece of brass, gold, silver, wood, wax or clay, inscribed with certain symbols. The most common, and indeed the only necessary one, is the pentagram, the five-pointed star which has been used in magic for millenia.'

I haven't been able to find any reference to the pentacle as a bowl, though I do remember seeing it somewhere. Either way, the bowl idea evidently isn't as widespread as the idea of the pentacle as an altar tool. I'm just not sure how to include this idea in the article.--Jcvamp 19:00, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

The pentacle is mentioned in the article as a tool in Wicca. I have not come across it as a bowl. Also, I would note that Cunningham's comments about the pentacle are not representative of traditional Wicca. If quoting him, I would say "Cunningham says ...". Fuzzypeg 23:11, 24 June 2007 (UTC)

Yes, but not specifically as an altar tool which is how it is usually used in Wicca. Also, what do you mean by 'traditional Wicca'? Are you using the term Wicca synonymously with Witchcraft, and trying to argue that his views don't represent those of Traditional Witchcraft?--Jcvamp 01:19, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

No, I'm using the term 'traditional Wicca' to mean initiatory Wicca, Wicca in the lineage of the New Forest coven, as opposed to eclectic, Ravenwolf-Grimassi "whatever takes your fancy" Wicca. Cunningham is an initiate, but has departed quite substantially from the traditional forms. Fuzzypeg 02:58, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Oh sorry. Usually people say 'initiatory Wicca' or 'coven Wicca' to me, and I've only ever heard people use the term 'traditional Wicca' incorrectly. Sorry for the misunderstanding, I meant no offence; I'm just used to dealing with people who claim to be Wiccans without knowing anything about it.

Do you have any good sources for the Wicca practised by actual traditions? I'd imagine it would be hard to find due to the secracy aspect.--Jcvamp 19:46, 25 June 2007 (UTC)

Can I just note that on sites that claim to have the Gardnerian and Alexandrian books of shadows, the mention laying tools on the pentacle on the altar, which indicates that the pentacle is being used to refer to an altar tool; though it doesn't say directly that this is what a pentacle is, and therefore may not be viable as a citation, though it does contest your argument that Cunningham's view of the pentacle is different from that of iniatory Wicca. The same sites[1] also mention the penacle as a symbol too.--Jcvamp 00:05, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

Secrecy makes it problematic, yes. Anyway, my exception was to his statement "The most common [symbol], and indeed the only necessary one, is the pentagram". That's his own rather ideosynchratic view, and a load of cobblers in fact. I'd prefer it if the article didn't go into details regarding the actual design of Wiccan pentacles though. If people are really keen and have a bit of nous, they should be able to figure it out from the various published books. Lets leave it at that. Fuzzypeg 02:33, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

I didn't realise you'd taken exception specifically to the statement about the pentagram being the most common/only necessary symbol and I actually agree with you. I didn't intend to put the quote into the article, I was showing it here for reference so that changes could be made to the article, reflecting the idea that the pentacle can be an altar tool. When it came to the article, I was merely going to cite the book where appropriate.--Jcvamp 07:26, 26 June 2007 (UTC)

Pentacle approved as religious symbol on soldiers' tombstones[edit]

Reference 19 currently links to a nonexistant page. Might be worth mentioning that it's US service members or a legal battle in the US or whatever, for better context? -masa 02:17, 12 November 2007 (UTC)

Edits by Nihthasu[edit]

I reverted a series of edits by this person, but s/he has immediately undone my reversion - see this diff. I am going to revert a second time but do not intend to disobey the 3 revert rule if s/he overturns this again. I have asked Nihthasu to discuss this here. Comments from anyone? Kim Dent-Brown (Talk to me) 21:17, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

OED on pentacle/pentangle of Solomon[edit]

Fuzzypeg removed the information about the alternate names "pentacle" and "pentangle" of Solomon sourced to OED. Here is what the OED says in various recent editions:

s.v. pentacle (Draft Revision, Dec. 2007, current online edition)
A pentagram, esp. one enclosed in a circle; a talisman or magical symbol in the shape of or inscribed with a pentagram. Also, in extended use: any similar magical symbol (freq. applied to a hexagram formed by two intersecting or interlaced equilateral triangles).
pentacle of Solomon = pentangle of Solomon n. at PENTANGLE n. 1.
s.v. pentacle (second edition, 1989)
A certain figure (or a material object, e.g. something folded or interlaced, of that shape) used as a symbol, esp. in magic; app. properly the same as PENTAGRAM; but also used for various other magical symbols, esp. the hexagram or six-pointed star formed by two interlaced triangles. (See also PENTANGLE 1.)
The pentacle of Solomon, in H. More 1664, is the same as the pentangle of Solomon of Sir Gawayne c1340, Sir Thomas Browne 1646, and others.
s.v. pentangle (Draft Revision, March 2008, current online edition)
1. A pentagram; a talisman or magical symbol in the shape of or inscribed with a pentagram.
pentangle of Solomon a pentagram enclosed in a circle, credited with magical powers and supposed to have been used as Solomon's seal. Cf. PENTACLE n., PENTALPHA n.
s.v. pentangle (second edition, 1989)
1. = PENTACLE, PENTAGRAM, PENTALPHA.

So in both the current (draft) edition and the second edition, the OED says that the pentangle or pentacle of Solomon refer to the Seal of Solomon. --Macrakis (talk) 12:39, 8 May 2008 (UTC)

OK, so the 2008 Draft revision provides the link: "supposed to have been used as Solomon's seal". That's not stated in the 1989 non-draft version, but fair enough. I still think the link they're stating is slightly tenuous, since the Seal of Solomon is more commonly a hexagram than a pentagram (and the 'pentangle' in Sir Gawayne is very explicitly a pentangle — synonym for pentagram). True, the seal of solomon is often considered to be the same as the pentacle of solomon, but when you start bringing pentangles into it everything goes pear shaped... I haven't yet managed to read H. More, so I don't know why they think his pentacle of Solomon is the same as a pentangle...
I was in contact with the OED a little while ago, offering evidence regarding early uses of the word 'pentacle' in medieval grimoires; they responded by pretty much telling me that those were obscure works not in the public realm, and they don't consider them worthy of investigation. Despite the fact that some of the mentions I found are very early. But that's just my original research. They may be a pack of idiots, but if that's what they say, then that's what goes in the article. Fuzzypeg 01:43, 9 May 2008 (UTC)

Uh, that's not the PoS...[edit]

Ok, the image on the front of the page, supposedly the "famous Pentacle of Solomon?" That's actually the Secret Seal of Solomon, two very different things. 67.60.46.57 (talk) 08:00, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

why has this articile been destroyed[edit]

this used to be a great article wich went in to deatail about the fact that the pentacle is an extremely old symbol used long before wicca . or other "magic" groups used by Christians and jews . — Preceding unsigned comment added by 208.118.205.78 (talk) 02:13, 18 June 2012 (UTC)

I agree. This article has been censored of anything doing with the actual history of the symbol for an obvious pagan bias. Not sure if it was the Christians or the Pagans who did it but it's an utter shame. 68.225.236.91 (talk) 20:27, 7 April 2013 (UTC)

"used to be"? "censored"? How far back are you going? It hasn't changed much since 2008 (the farthest back I checked). I think you're looking for pentagram, which is the symbol. This article is about the physical amulet/talisman, which uses the shape of the pentagram (two very different things, which is--sigh--specifically mentioned in this article's lead). Huntster (t @ c) 21:30, 7 April 2013 (UTC)