The Star is one of those cards in tarot that feels good when we see it, but we're not always sure why. I see it as a light at the end of the tunnel, a signpost that tells me I'm heading in the right direction, no matter how lost I may feel at the time. The disappointing thing, and probably the only disappointing thing about the Star is that the thing or event that you're heading towards and hoping for is a ways off. It's not going to happen today nor tomorrow, but sometime in the future. For those of us who adore immediate gratification, this can be almost as frustrating as seeing The Hanged Man show up.
The symbolism of the Star is curious. Often there is a naked woman portrayed pouring out two jugs of water, one onto the earth and the other into the water. One immediate sense is that of abundance. But as one friend of mine noted, this woman is pouring herself out to a ridiculous degree: "She's watering the water, for heaven's sake!" my friend said. When we look at what water symbolizes in tarot, the emotions, we can see a dual meaning here. On the one hand, there is emotional healing going on. She's pouring out, releasing her emotions, both for their generative qualities and just for the sake of releasing them. Her nakedness suggests both a vulnerability and a healthy sense of self. Being transparent and not hiding one's feelings is imperative for emotional health and healing. Yet it does leave one vulnerable to further injury, so it takes a good deal of courage to do what this woman is doing. Going back to my friend's observation, women especially tend to overextend themselves emotionally and give rise to the need for the Star's emotional down time. Someone represented by the Star in a reading could signify someone who is an emotional giver, sometimes to their own detriment. The advice then is to take some real time for oneself and attend to one's own emotional waters and dry, parched soul.
The Star is an incredibly peaceful card and brings with it a sense of wholeness. It's a relief, a breather, on a long arduous journey. It reminds us to slow down because any amount of stressing out about when you'll get there isn't going to make the trip go any faster. It quiets those voices in your head that sound like children in the back seat chattering, "Are we there yet?" every five minutes. It answers soothingly, "No, but we will get there at just the right time, now relax and enjoy the scenery." It's the kind of card that makes you stop and experience the present moment in all its peaceful beauty and reminds us that the journey IS the destination.
The Star makes me wonder where is the There we're all trying to get to in life? Does it even exist? How many There's have we had in our life's journey? When we graduate school, then what? When we marry, then what? When we raise our kids, land that job, travel to Indonesia, then what? The Star says, "Oh please, stop fretting about all that." You're There right now. At least you're somewhere, at some There. You don't like where you are? You don't like this There? The Star says, ok, you'll get to another There.
My favorite rendition of The Star is in The Hudes deck. The woman is neck deep in soothing, calming waters and her hair swirls around her. Her eyes are closed and she is immersed in the moment. Traditionally, stars have symbolized a divine source, heavenly guidance, and hope. Stars have figured prominently in religious symbols in most major as well as minor world religions, crests, coats of arms, and national symbols. As humans we've always been fascinated by stars and have divined by them, wished on them, used them for navigation, and attempted to reach them. They remain mysterious and beautiful, unreachable, and indiscernible. The Psalmist in the Bible says that God has counted out the stars and knows each by name. They are a wonder to see, to observe, to simply lie beneath and dream.
Polaris, the North Star, is always a constant in the Northern Hemisphere and hence has been used for ages as a guide for seafarers and nomadic folk. It's not only constant, in that it doesn't dip below the horizon, it is always usually the brightest star in the sky. The Phoenician sailors noticed that the North Star Polaris could be used for celestial navigation and soon Ursa Minor gained in recognition from about 600 BC. The box-like body and tail of the smaller bear constellation pointed to the North Star, making those stars a welcome sight on a foggy night out at sea. The constellation Ursa Minor would speak to the sailors and guide them on their voyages. The constellation Ursa Minor resembles a mountaintop that is at the top of the world. That mountain was considered a place of meditation and calm. The sight of it brought with it the relief of knowing you are headed in the right direction. It symbolized the end of fear and indecision. The pole star gave hope to the sailors who wanted to see their native lands again.
These ancient beliefs continue today as we gaze at the night sky and wish upon a star, usually and often it is Polaris that receives our wish because it shines brightly and is often the first star seen at dusk. The Star in tarot continues to mean we need to keep hoping, keep folloiwing that star of heavenly guidance, look to the future but keep focused on now. It is numbered 17 in the Major Arcana which reduces to 8 and is connected with Strength...the inner strength to persevere and keep going, no matter what. It heals from the wounds of those tangles with lions and gives us our direction when we've lost or think we've lost our way. That light at the end of the tunnel does seem far away, but the Star assures us it's not an oncoming train. It really is going to be ok.