Nov 27, 2014

The Symbolism and magick of stars

"The Star Tarot card holds that same twinkly hope and promise we see when we look up at the stars in the night sky. Everything about the card suggests serenity, assurance, and hope."
Avia Venefica, from http://www.tarotteachings.com

     The little shiny dots appearing on firmament in the night, to dispel the pitch black darkness of cold universe, and provide hope, by shining their beautiful light upon Earth, have always been important focus points for humans. Stars were prominent symbols in human culture as long as we can remember writing down that very culture in some way. Pictographs be it. 
"The Great pentacle of Solomon" from the
"Sixth and Seventh Book of Moses",
though in actuality a pentagram, reputed to;
protect from black magick, gives one
freedom from fear, clear mind sunny disposition,
and good judgment in all things, according
to Anna Riva's "Secrets of magickal seals"

     
     They are archetype symbols present in many religious and secular traditions around the globe, both past and present.
     
     In Guatemala and Peru, folklore describes stars as souls of the righteous, dearly departed human beings, while Inks extend the concept to even animals, and believe that every human and animal have a sort of doppelganger  in  the sky, and these are seen at night as stars.  For Siberian Yakutsk shamans, the stars were windows to the space, their opening and closing, enable or prevented entrance to the higher realms.  In the earlier societies, observing the stars was an integral part of the society, and originally, astronomy and astrology  were one, and could not be imagined separated. [1]
     
     Certain stars, even more than others, distinguishing themselves by their size, shape or recurrent and regular appearance, played an extremely important role for the ancients. Such as Morning/Evening star, and Pole star or North star, as the latter is also known.  Another prominent stellar symbol that deserves mention here is the falling star, which unlike the previous two could be any object in the sky, rather than a specific one.

The Morning star
     
     The Ancient Greeks had two names for planet Venus, “Phosphoros” when it was the rising star, which meant “light bearer” , and “Hespheros” when Venus was the “Evening star”. A third most bright object on the sky, after Moon, and Sun, hence, it’s easy to understand why it gained significance that it did. It was sometimes also referred to as  “Kupros”, because this was another name for pagan, Roman goddess Venus,  or the Greek Aphrodite, due to its association with the island Cyprus in Mediterranean sea. Also, the island being one of the first places where copper mines appeared, also links Venus with the metal copper [2]
     
     Hence the very planet, seen in Roman pagan’s mind as a sort of deity embodiment, came to be associated with metal copper, and term Morning/Evening star.
     
     However, the same attributes were used to describe this planet, considered star, in Babylonian and Assyrian traditions, where the star was associated with their pagan goddess Ishtar. While the star would disappear from the nightly sky for a while, only to re-appear before the sunrise, Babylonians believed that’s Ishtar descending on Earth to find a lover, and then returning to sky.
     
     Among the Native Americans the Morning star generally shares good symbolism, illustrating life principle or life, announcing the sunrise.  But to the Mexicans, the Morning star was associated with illness and sometimes misfortune, hence the folk would close the doors and windows in the morning, to prevent its harmful influence to enter their homes. In Mexican folk art, Venus aka the Morning star, is often depicted with bow and arrow, covered with a skull-shaped mask. [3]
     
    In some Christian traditions, this term “morning star”, from the Vulgate Latin: “Lucifer”, is used as another name for the De*il, or Satan. Lucifer is  the archaic ( vulgate ) Latin translation of  the Hebrew Hayel ( transliteration ), and has, under the influence of King James, been translated as “morning star” ( noun ) or “Light-bearing” ( adjective, sometimes also Light-bearer, thus a noun ). This however does not clearly identify the very planet with the concept, as the term “morning star” could be also referring to the Moon, other Biblical figures , or even other things, not planets.
     
    Supporters of such translation, which adhere to King James’ suggestion, consider the “morning star/son of the dawn” from the Old Testament, Isaiah 14:12-17 to be referring to the De*il and speak, about it’s fall from Grace:

How you have fallen from heaven,
    morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
    you who once laid low the nations!
13 You said in your heart,
    “I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
    above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
    on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.[
a]
14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
    I will make myself like the Most High.”
15 But you are brought down to the realm of the dead,
    to the depths of the pit.
16 Those who see you stare at you,
    they ponder your fate:
“Is this the man who shook the earth
    and made kingdoms tremble,
17 the man who made the world a wilderness,
    who overthrew its cities
    and would not let his captives go home?
” [4]

Pole or North Star

     While still being a specific star/planet, pole or north star ( If it refers to the Southern pole star, than it can also be called Southern star , or South star ) does change over the course of time, but has a clear and specific set of characteristics that make it what  such.

     “A pole star is a visible star, preferably a prominent one, that is approximately aligned with the Earth's axis of rotation; that is, a star whose apparent position is close to one of the celestial poles, and which lies approximately directly overhead when viewed from the Earth's North Pole or South Pole. A similar concept also applies to other planets than the Earth. In practice, the term pole star usually refers to Polaris, which is the current northern pole star, also known as the North Star.” [5]

     Other than being, a guiding and orienteering   referent point, the pole star berries important symbolism and folkloric meaning particular among Northern Asians and Europeans.

     Mongols see it as a “golden pillar” and for the Sami people, of Northern Norway, Pole star is world’s pillar. To people in Northern Asia, the North Star marks the top of the World’s mountain, on which the supreme creator God resigns, and hence why, in the Northern Asian regions altars are placed on North. In China, the Pole star, seen as, top of the sky, as it were, is illustrative of social hierarchy, representing the emperor as the central figure in human societies. The star also “appears” in some Vedic martial ceremonies, sometimes symbolizing the groom. [6]

The Falling star

     Any given shooting star, or falling star, hence, a meteor that appears falling down on Earth, or actually falling on Earth, can be called that.

     No matter culture, or tradition, globe-wise they are seen as ominous.  Most of the time, these are seen as sparks of Heavenly fire, and are messengers of G’d, somewhat similar to the Angels. Though sometimes they are harbingers of great catastrophes, calamities or misfortune.

     And in Christianity, the term Fallen Star or Falling star, is what more properly, and specifically refers to Adversary ( the De*il ) as opposed to the Morning star. Sometimes this falls is perceived as shooting star fall, because the De*il was cast down much like star, or lighting also:

“And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”” [7]
     
     There is a widespread superstition, around the world, to wish upon a falling star , to have You wish come true.

     Falling stars should not be confused though, with stars that appear to fly slowly across the sky and guide people, as was the case with star who showed the way  for the Three Magi, leading them to the infant Jesus, to whom they have brought gifts in gold, frankincense and myrrh. This star was however, in reality, the Archangel Gabriel.

Star shapes, symbols and their magickal properties

     Star shapes, ideograms and symbols, by their innate form possess, carry and channel magical energy, of difference vibrations, depending on the numbers of “rays” and other.  They are religious symbols and ambles ( like Pentagram and Hexagram ), and often form crucial part of the magickal seals, amulets and pentacles. Some often used in magick variations include;   those with five, six, seven, eight and nine points.

     A pentagram, a well-known five pointed star, drawn unicursaly ( without lifting the pen ), is a religious symbol of Neo-Pagans, and Wiccans respectively. But it’s really a magical symbol that predates both. It’s symbolizes unity of four classical elements; Earth, Air, Fire and Water with the Spirt or Ether.

In order of appearance, from left to right: Five pointed star, without the lines crossing,
it was at some point used as symbol of Ishtar, next; a classic, regular or positive Pentagram,
Last Salus-Hygiea pentacle talisman

In western occultism, a pentagram is often identified with pentacle, which is a pentagram carved into gold or silver disc, or rarely copper one. In essence, any seal consisting of a circle with geometrical figure inscribed in it, touching the circumference, is a pentacle. Solomon’s pentacles attest to this.So these metal discs, pentacles, with the pentagram inscribed ( mostly from the “noble” metals, silver and gold ) are considered  magickal seals with extraordinary qualities, such as augmenting magickal, and spiritual powers, protection from and exorcism of evil, even enticing earthquakes,  inducing love, or casting spells.   Some also contained Divine Names, or magickal words and formulas inscribed on them.

For example, the Pentagram with inscribed words: “Salus; Hygiea” was commonly worn inscribed on rings during Middleage, as a talisman to draw good health and longevity, often covered with a Garnet faceted stone. Such pentacle was also believed to encompasses the five Platonic solids, with its five points.

Also, another famous example is “The Pentagram of Solomon” from “Clavicula Solomonis” which has to be engraved on Gold or Silver plate, and worn on chest to protect from spirits during invocations in Ceremonial magick, according to Greater Key of King Solomon:

THIS is the Form of Pentagram of Solomon, the figure whereof is to be made in Sol or Luna (Gold or Silver), and worn upon thy breast; having the Seal of the Spirit required upon the other side thereof. It is to preserve thee from danger, and also to command the Spirits by.” [8]

Pentagram is also associated with Archangel Samael, and is along with the sword, one of his symbols, which is befitting for an Angel of Mars, as five is the correspondent to Mars.

This is probably needless to say, as the popular media have made the following notion widespread; upright, or upwards pentagram, where the singular point is up, is the symbol of protection and positive magick, and embodies a concept of “spirit over matter”. Inverted, with the two points facing upwards, and one, singular, pointing down,  is oftentimes used in theistic Satanism, and luciferianism, as a symbol of  ( black magick ) sabbatic goat, or plainly the De*il, with the two points up symbolizing the horns. One of such forms is the so called; “Seal/Sigil of Baphomet” popularized by Antoan La Vey, but originating from a 19th century French occultist’s writings. Whatmore the very symbol is copyrighted and acts as religious ambled/ symbol. Ironically, the very symbol makes little or no sense at all, having the names Samael and Lilith inscribed, of which one is, as we know, an Angel ( not a fallen one ) in Christianity and Judaism, and other is a demon, but neither of two being the De**l. Also according to the canonical literature, the two (Samael and Lilith) are unrelated, and can rather be seen as opposed forces than consorts. Here is what Eliphas Levi says about inverted pentagram in his famous work “Transcendental magick, its doctrines and ritual”:

"A reversed pentagram, with two points projecting upwards, is a symbol of evil and attracts sinister forces because it overturns the proper order of things and demonstrates the triumph of matter over spirit. It is the goat of lust attacking the heavens with its horns, a sign execrated by initiates."
For Levi, Pentagram was symbolic of microcosmos, that is human, as he saw it, so it’s not unlike Agrippa’s conceptualism of Pentagram ( see picture ). In Christianity, pentagram is seen as either symbol of Five wounds of Christ, or Five joys of Mary  in Catholic Christianity, and can be seen as pattern in Christian art and architecture.

    The Hexagram, of the six pointed star, is another familiar symbol, which can be seen on the flag of Israel. Hexagram with a black dot inside the center is an old, archaic-German symbol for the verb: ‘”to boil”.
A true Hexagram with equidistant points, cannot be drawn unicrusaly, in fact, it’s made of two interlacing triangles.  And this fact lends to symbolism of Hexagram, also known as Magen David and Star of David in occultism
·         Being that it combines an upward and downward facing triangle, Hexagram represents unity of opposing principles, male and female, sometimes also, physical and spiritual.
·         In Alchemy Hexagram combines all four classical elements, even symbolically, being that the symbols for elements are four triangles, for air and fire facing upwards, water and earth opposite.

In order of appearance, from  left to right: Hexagram, Hexagon and
Hexagram with Tetragrammaton in the center

      The Hexagram in the circle, touching the circumference at six cardinal points is a traditional symbol of Alchemy. It has also later been used as symbol of Rudolph Steiner’s Anthroposophy movement
·         This intertwining of triangles, and worlds they represent (physical and   spiritual) also illustrates the Hermetic principle:  “As above, so bellow!” [9]

Hexagram is also present in Christian though and art, due to prominent triangle symbolism in Christianity, an example being Robert Flaud’s hexagram from XVII century, although that particular pentacle is not equidistant. Similar Hexagram is created in the XIX century by the famous scholar, and mystic Eliphas Levi.
Eliphas Levi's "pentacle of Solomon"


Another common example is the Hexagram with the unutterable, infallible name of G’d written/inscribed in center, which is believed  to ( in the hands of the believing ) confers the wearer power to defy evil spirits, and cause both good and evil spirits to appear during invocations, and  make them obedient. In fact, some magick practitioners use the Hexagram (and sometimes Hexagon) shape to create magickal portals.

Also, Hexagram can be inscribed in, or even expanded to Hexagon, a six sided, equidistantly sided geometrical polygon, associated magically with number six and; communication, interfacing, balance, union. [10] Hexagon is a common pattern in nature found in bee combs, and is considered in architecture to be one of the most perfect shapes to work with to form different, complex shapes, without decrease of stability of the resulting structure.

Hexagram and Hexagon also make for the basic patterns used in creation of complex sacred geometry shapes such as Fruit of life.
     
Heptagram and Octagram, various forms

     Seven pointed star or Septagram, or Heptagram, embodies the same spiritual qualities that the number 7 does. It’s a symbols of spirit, power, mystery, luck, and sometimes is associated with Seven Archangels. It can also be a planetary symbol, for either drawing or banishing a specific planetary influence of seven different planets, depending on how drawn, that is from which point the operator starts. A notable examples are “The great pentacle” appearing in the Key of Solomon, and in the Legemton ( Goetia ), of which the Key of Solomon speaks:

It should be written on sheepskin paper or virgin parchment, the which paper should be tinted green. The circle with the 72 divine letters should be red or the letters may be gold. The letters within the pentacle should be the same red, or sky blue everywhere, with the great name of God in gold. It serves to convene all spirits; when shown to them they will bow and obey you”  [11]

Another prominent example is “Sigilum Dei Aemeth” (lit. The Seal of G-d’s truth) or the Seal of
John Dee's "Sigilum Dei Aemeth" in gold,
on display in British museum, not the
Hepagram, heptagon and pentagram
in the center 

British museum, note septagram, septagon and pentagram in the center 
Truth of Dr Dee, which was primarily constructed from a large Heptagram and Heptagon, inscribed with Divine names and symbols.  Dr. John Dee would make five of these, inscribed in waxen discs,  four placed under the legs of his ritual table, and one bellow a shrew stone, placed on them middle of the table. This was done during   his Enochian workings, to enable him (along with other things) communication with Angelic beings.  [12] It’s similar to “The Great pentacle of Solomon”.
Seven pointed star, especially with sharp pointed, narrow rays, is also called an “Elven star” and is used both as an amulet or charm, and in workings of Fairy magick, where it is believed to attract and favors Fae. It’s sometimes inscribed on purple candles which are then burnt for spiritual growth and developing gifts.

     Octagram, or eight pointed stars was used to represent pagan goddess Ishtar. There were two basic versions Babylonian one, which was encircled and the Phoenician one, which was not.  In the form of Octagram of creation, image of which I have posted in one of my previous articles dealing with Samhain, is a symbol of materialization, creation, collecting/accumulating magickal power, and invocation of protection among the Gnostics and Nordic people.

     Enneagram, also Nonagram, or the nine pointed star, in Christianity, is a symbol of nine gifts or fruits of the Holy Spirit. [13]



NOTES: This article was written and composed by myself, If You wish to use any parts of it, elsewhere online,  feel free, but add credits,   Shadow of Shadows magick place, Shadow-333@hotmail.com  or a direct link to this post

CREDITS AND REFERENCES:
[1] As stated in:  “Illustrated Encyclopedia of signs and symbols” by Marc O’ Connell and Raje Airey
[3] According to the same source as listed under [1]
[4] Retrieved from: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+14:12-17 , for educational and explanatory purposes
[5] Wikipedia’s definition, retrieved from Wikipedia’s entry on Pole star; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pole_star , posted here for explanatory and educational purposes, without any ill will
[6] According to the source listed under [1], adapted
[7] Retrieved form:     for explanatory and educational   purposes: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+10%3A18&version=ESV
[8] As stated in the “Greater Key of King Solomon” ( or “Clavicula Solomonis” ), retrieved from :   http://www.sacred-texts.com/grim/lks/lks11.htm
[9] Hexagram symbolizing “As above so bellow” principle, as stated here:  http://altreligion.about.com/od/westernocculttradition/a/The-Hexagram.htm
[11] Retrieved from: http://www.esotericarchives.com/solomon/ksol.htm , for explanatory  and educational purposes without any ill will

IMAGE CREDITS: First image is a pentacle from “Sixth and Seventh book of Moses”, edited digitally by myself here, used for illustrative purposes. Second image is created by myself.   Third image is created by   myself. Fourth image is from http://eden-saga.com/img/images/sceau-de-salomon-200po.gif  used here for illustrative, and explanatory purposes, with no ill will. Fifth image is by myself. Sixth image is in public domain, retrieved from here  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_Dee%27s_Seal_of_God_British_Museum_26_07_2013.jpg

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