By now, you might be wondering why would the sun be depicted with 8 points? The sun, being the center of our solar system, doesn’t orbit around any of the visible or far-flung planets. So what time period, i.e. what calendrical length, makes sense of the sun being symbolized as a star with 8 points? You might be surprised to know it’s the solar year.
The Mesopotamian solar symbol to the left is similar to the Sumerian sun symbol pictured above. I wanted to show you this one because it’s obvious in this symbol that there are four main points of this star symbol together with four sets of wavy lines that don’t seem to represent a point at all. Some scholars have interpreted this particular symbol as the sun with lightening bolts. As you’ll soon see, that’s just not correct.
Again, the solar meaning of the 8-pointed star refers to calendrical time, and specifically, to the solar year. Here’s my illustration that will show you why the solar year is referenced by a symbol like the Mesopotamian one.
Looking at the illustration of the 8-part path of the Sun from our perspective, you’re probably saying “Right! Got it!” Again, in our culture, we tend to concentrate on four main points or axis because we tend to associate the four seasons with them: the winter solstice, the spring equinox, the summer solstice, and the fall equinox. The other four points are known as the cross-quarter days: Imbolc (Feb. 1), Beltane (May 1), Lammas (August 1), and Samhain (Nov. 1).
We knew when the sunlight was at its peak, its decline and its balance points together with its “crescent” points of the cross-quarter days. Like the Moon’s phases, the solar path is the dance between light and dark. In many ancient cultures, humans viewed the approximately 99/100 days of the moon’s eight phases throughout the year together with the eight days which marked major stations in the Sun’s “path” as holy days.
Now you can see that all three of these planets create celestial patterns that incorporate the number 8. These patterns were (and are) observable markers of time as well as location, i.e. time and space. The Venusian, lunar, and solar 8-pointed star symbols helped us to orient ourselves–physically, mentally, psychically, and cosmically. By incorporating these patterns and the shortcut metaphor of the 8-pointed star symbol, we accepted the invitation to dance with the rhythms of the Earth and these planets.Now, through knowing about the 8-pointed star symbol, we can once again prepare to participate in the “light fantastic” dance of life, stars, time, and the cosmos.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this installment in my MythWoman Symbol Series. Please let me know what you think! Until next time, have fun looking at the 8-pointed star symbol in a deeper (and I think, infinitely more fun) way.