Symbolism of Star in Literature
Star as a symbolism holds particular significance in Eastern and Middle Eastern cultures like Judaism and Hinduism. Stars are a universal subject of fascination in both mythology and science. Apart from being sacred symbols, stars have been used in the art, including flags of 35 countries. Stars are believed to be made of five elements that make up matter and sustain life. They are earth, fire, water, air, and harmony. Scientifically, stars are celestial bodies or luminous balls of gas, just like the sun. However, they are symbols of guidance, encouragement, and the divine in all literary texts. The word star is probably derived from the Proto-Germanic word ‘sternan’ and the Dutch word ‘ster’, and the old English word ‘steorra’. A few symbolisms and descriptions of stars are given below.
Stars as a symbol of the divine are common in most cultures and traditions In both modern and ancient times. In Hinduism, stars are great divines and also gods who guide and protect their believers us. Ancient Egyptians worshipped the sun, which is also a star, as a symbol of the divine. The five-pointed star is a symbol of knowledge and god or divine power, according to Mayans, Greeks, Egyptians, Indians, etc. According to Australian Indigenous people, stars are symbols of divine gifts which help a person to go to heaven.
Star is a symbol of hope to reach goals and dreams. One of the Russian ministries of emergency situation uses a star as a symbol of hope and defense. Ancient Polynesians believed that stars represented hope and could guide them in their journey in darkness. In Christianity, a star is a symbol of hope as it guides the wise men to the birthplace of their messiah born in Bethlehem. According to the Native American tribes, stars are symbols of hope and protection as they also believe that when feeling powerless, stars provide hope to increase their strength. In addition, the shooting star is also a symbol of hope with power to grant wishes.
Stars represent great excellence and achievements. Stars are symbols of excellence in life and beliefs in both eastern and western religions. Hence, stars as insignia are used for designing medals and rewards for achievements to signify excellence in many areas. Here, achieving a ‘star’ or ‘a medal with star’ refers to excellence which means he or she has achieved a remarkable place among their peers. According to ancient philosophers, geometrical five-point stars are symbols of excellence because stars are made of the same elements of the universe: air, water, fire, earth, and harmony. The fifth element is Quintessence. Teachers give gold or silver stars to children for their achievements and worth as a symbol of excellence.
Star is a symbol of life and represents motivation, protection, wishes, and spirituality in life. A shooting star is a symbol of self-fulfillment and advancement in life. The North star is known to represent personal development and one’s direction in life. Egyptians used stars to decorate their temples and the interior of their tombs. According to Chinese culture, a star is a symbol of God of happiness in life, and it represents good luck, blessings, and happiness. The Chinese also believe the star is the entirety of the universe of life from birth to death. In Arabic calligraphy Islamic star is considered a symbol of life which is used at the end of a chapter in the Quran. Additionally, in Hinduism star represents the goddess of wealth, Lakshmi, who also grants life.
Shooting Stars is one of the most mesmerizing sights across the world, which is also a rare phenomenon. A shooting star is a symbol of the right path. A Shooting star is also a sign of fertility and good luck around the world. The significance of the shooting star became prominent through the Greek philosopher Ptolemy, which is dated between 127 and 157 AD. It is also a symbol of ‘solus’ or ‘loneliness’ and a sign from someone that passed away. Thus reminding the viewer that shooting stars always give hope for tomorrow, even in the darkest of times. In Christianity, shooting stars symbol of wishes and represent falling angels. It is also believed that shooting stars can grant wishes when asked before it disappears and that a person is fortunate to see them.
Star is a symbol of faith and divine protection. The star of David is the symbol of the Jewish faith and divine protection. According to Christianity, a four-Pointed star represent the star of Bethlehem. The bottom point is usually longer than the other 3 points. Stars are powerful symbols of faith and worshiped as gods. Hence Christians consider the six-pointed star symbol of faith and are called the creator’s star. The Bahai faith uses a nine-pointed star as a symbol of faith.
Star, as a symbol for the occult, is used in various practices and depends on the shape of ceremonial magic. The six-pointed represents the seal of Solomon and is also used to summon the spirits. A pentagram or five-pointed star is also a major symbol in occult practices. While the positive meaning of the five-pointed star is protection, in the occult, it means ‘the devil’ as used in most western occultism. The same is also expanded as tetragrammaton in the occult as well as astrological practices. It is depicted with Hebrew letters. As per Christianity, the devil is represented by a goat with a horn, known as Baphomet. Wiccans also use a five-pointed star for a similar representation. If the one-point faces upwards, it means ascension. However, it is a symbol of Satan if the one-point faces downwards or an upside-down pentagram. The six-pointed star, also known as the star of David, is used as a symbol of occult practices by druids. In Hinduism, it is a symbol of the occult and signifies protection from evil spirits.
In Eastern cultures, especially India, stars are related to astrology as well as astronomy. In Hinduism, stars represent for the astrological guide, which can describe a person’s personality and future. According to the Hindu Vedic system, 27 stars called nakshatras are explanations of astrology, and it has 120-year-long cycle of planetary periods based on the birth of stars. The Greeks connected stars with non-zodiac astrology and named them by their shapes or anatomical parts. The ancient cultures of Mesopotamia, Maya, and Inca also used stars as a symbol of astrology to study the sky and understand the major events across their land. In western culture, the stars are a symbol of astrology for horoscopes.
Examples of Star Symbolism in Literature
Star of the Nativity by Joseph Brodsky
In the cold season, in a locality accustomed to heat more than
to cold, to horizontality more than to a mountain,
a child was born in a cave in order to save the world;
it blew as only in deserts in winter it blows, athwart.
To Him, all things seemed enormous: His mother’s breast, the steam
out of the ox’s nostrils, Caspar, Balthazar, Melchior—the team
of Magi, their presents heaped by the door, ajar.
He was but a dot, and a dot was the star.
The poem is written about Christmas and how a star that looks like a dot represents hope in Christianity and guides the Magis to baby Jesus. Hence here, the star is a symbol of hope and guidance.
Star light, star bright by Anonymous
Star light, star bright,
First star I see tonight,
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have this wish I wish tonight.
In this example, the star is a symbol of beauty, hope, and desire.
Stars over the Dordogne by Sylvia Plath
Stars are dropping thick as stones into the twiggy
Picket of trees whose silhoutte is darker
Than the dark of the sky because it is quite starless.
The woods are a well. The stars drop silently.
They seem large, yet they drop, and no gap is visible
Nor do they send up fires where they fall
Or any signal of distress or anxiousness.
They are eaten immediately by the pines
In this example, the poet is describing a shooting star. Here the shooting star also represents patience, renewal, or end of life and wish.
Star Song by Gladys Cromwell
There are twisted root that grow
Even from a fragile whole anemone
But a star has no roots; to and fro
It floats in the light of the sky, like a water-lily,
And fades on the blue flood of day.
In this poem, the star is described as a moving and lonely element or entity. It is also personified and compared to a delicate flower. Here the star is a symbol of solitude and journey.
Song of a Nature Lover by Michael Bassey Johnson,
Stars are meant to shine in the night sky. Be among the stars. Shine bright!
In this above example, the star is a symbol of hope, success, and integrity.
Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
“When he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun.”
The above example is one of the famous words spoken by Juliet when she expresses her love for Romeo. Here the star represents love and hope.
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami
Not just beautiful, though–the stars are like the trees in the forest, alive and breathing. And they’re watching me.
Here the stars are personified by the author as if they can breathe and observe humans. Here stars are symbols of divine and guidance.
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
I believe the stars align so souls can find one another. Whether they are meant to be souls in love or souls in life remains to be seen.
In this example, the author has used the star as a symbol for astrology and guidance.