Symbol Series: 8-pointed star

Symbols fascinate me. I imagine they fascinate a lot of you readers as well.  To share my symbol enthrallment with you, I’m starting a blog mini-series. In this series, a symbol will be featured with its variations, meanings, and pertinent facts.

Today, I start with a star symbol: the 8-pointed star. This graphic is the simplest version of the 8-pointed star.8-pointed star

Interestingly, this particular symbol has been part of my life for a long time. An inveterate note-taker, I often draw certain symbols alongside my notes. They serve as signals designating which notes, insights, or quotes are 1) important, 2) very important, or 3) simply stellar for me.  (Do most people do this?  I hope so.)

I use this version of the 8-pointed star as my personal note-taking graphic for “very important”.

Mind you, I have been drawing this symbol for years, decades actually. I had no idea why I chose it or why it became one of the ones I will always draw, but with mythological insights it has become ever more special to me.

Okay, on with the symbol series! The 8-pointed star, obviously, identifies eight stations.  But eight stations of what? The simplest answer is stations of planetary cycles — the Moon’s phases, the daylight ratio during Earth’s sojourn around the sun, Venus’ phases (similar to the Moon’s), and Venus’ eight year celestial pattern. In a similar vein, it also symbolizes the most common eight directional points on a compass: E, SE, S, SW, W, NW, N, NE.

Upright cross-equal length arms.
Upright cross-equal length arms.

As you can tell from the graphic, or by drawing this symbol yourself, it is literally two types of crosses with arms of equal length. Both are extremely ancient ideograms found all over the world.The upright cross has long been a symbol of the four primary directions, North, East, South and West. Other meanings are: boundary, our earthly plane of existence, the four foundations of our Earth, the Tree of Life, and the four winds (corresponding to the main directions).

Diagonal cross-equal length arms.
Diagonal cross-equal length arms.

 

 

The diagonal cross, equally as ancient and prolific, was used by ancient Egyptians as the symbol for counting, dividing, or breaking into parts. We commonly use it as the sign for multiplication: x. We also still use it as a sign designating that “this is the place,” i.e., “X marks the spot!” As a part of the Nordic rune alphabet, the diagonal cross called Gyfu means “gift” or “offering.” In Greek and Roman mythology, it stood for the planet Saturn. In Hindu mythology, it has been a symbol of vajra meaning thunderbolt or jewel that is itself part of a larger complex mythological metaphor contained in the sacred phrase, Om mani padme hum.

Combined, the two crosses of equal length arms create a symbol pointing to the Wheel of Life, the cycles of time, and even the cakras, or chakras, the “wheels” of energy. The eight-pointed star symbol gives us a very concise ideogram of calendars both lunar and solar. Many goddess of time, fate, as well as calendars have a connection to the 8-pointed star: Kali, Arianrhod, Vortumna, the Fates, Aphrodite, Laima, Baba Yaga, the ancient Juno, Savitri, and Unelanuhi. In my next post, I’ll talk about the lunar 8-pointed star and the solar 8-pointed star.