When some people see a practioner publicly displaying this symbol their mind probably flashes to some scenes from a horror movie, or some unsavory characters in dark robes doing gods knows what in the woods at the midnight hour.
As long as there will be Pagans or any minority group around no one takes time to learn about and understand there will always be social stigma and sterotypes.
Does the whole of Christendom get critisized for White Supremists/KKK members who burn crosses, a symbol of Christianity and that of redemption? Before the Nazi's used the swastika, did you know it was an acient symbol of peace? These are extreme examples, but it is to demonstrate that a symbol is just that a symbol and it means nothing unless someone gives it meaning and a purpose.
So what does the Pentacle/Pentagram mean to modern Pagans?
For one, it is a symbol of empowerment, some see it as a protection symbol, some as a symbol of the goddess, in short there is no straightforward meaning, it could mean anything depending on the individual practioner. While some people use it for their own gain, and the purpose of this article and this site is not to pass judgment on anothers path, but to empower the community to find commonground in our diversity, and to reach out and help others unfamilar with our beliefs to understand them better.
Typically to most Pagans especially those that Follow a Wiccan or Wiccan inspired path and also those practioners of Witchcraft out there, the Pentacle represents the four classic elements.
Some see the top point as representing the "fifth element" - Spirit. Or our connection to the divine.
When the five point star is encircled it creates the Pentagram, which is seen as a symbol of protection, the star representing humanity being encircled and protected by the divine as represented by the circle.
Historic fun fact: Some Ancient Christians used the Pentacle to represent the five wounds of Christ, and looked at depictions of the Star of Bethleham recently? Yup, Pentacle.
What does the Pentacle/Pentagram mean to you?