Sunday, March 18, 2012

Newgrange, el Salmón y la Vaca Sagrada ...


...As he spoke, he paused before a great mound grown over with trees, and around it silver clear in the moonlight were immense stones piled, the remains of an original circle, and there was a dark, low, narrow entrance leading within…
‘This was my palace. In days past many a one plucked here the purple flower of magic and the fruit of the tree of life…but look: you will see it is the palace of a god.’
And even as he spoke, a light began to glow and to pervade the cave, and to obliterate the stone walls and the antique hieroglyphics engraved thereon, and to melt the earthen floor into itself like a fiery sun suddenly uprisen within the world, and there was everywhere a wandering ecstasy of sound: Light and sound were one; light had a voice, and the music hung glittering in the air…
‘I am Aengus…men call me the Young. I am the sunlight in the heart, the moonlight in the mind; I am the light at the end of every dream, the voice for ever calling to come away; I am the desire beyond joy or tears. Come with me, come with me: I will make you immortal; for my palace opens into the Gardens of the Sun, and there are the fire-fountains which quench the heart’s desire in rapture.’


  -- by George William Russell, “A Dream of Angus Oge,” 1897


Amanece sobre Newgrange durante el Solsticio, desde el Rio Boyne - Foto de R.C. Ardill


Newgrange  está considerado como el monumento megalítico más complejo de Irlanda, y posiblemente de Europa, pero a pesar del enorme interés que despierta su alineación solar y el espectacular alumbramiento de la camara central en el interior de la tumba de pasadizo durante el solsticio de invierno, poco mas se sabe acerca de las razones que llevaron al establecimiento y desarrollo del monumento en esta ubicación, un milenio antes de la construcción de Stonehenge o 5 siglos antes que lass pirámide de Gizah.


Newgrange, vista alineada con el pasadizo (SSE)


Newgrange, vista aerea desde el sur


Newgrange, plano de planta


El montículo megalítico de Newgrange se asienta a orillas del río Boyne y forma parte del complejo sagrado más famoso de Irlanda, conocido como Brú na Bóinne. ¿Por qué aquí? El río Boyne, o Boand, significa “vaca blanca” y como la diosa del mismo nombre, se dice que el rio refleja a su vez el otro rio celestial, la Vía Láctea. Además, también se dice que las aguas del Boyne conceden un poder de visión sobrenatural, manifestando así su valor no solo sagrado sino también iniciático.

Newgrange es un monumento impresionante, un montículo de piedras construido a partir de unas 200.000 toneladas de granito procedente de la bahía de Dundalk, además de cuarzo blanco traído desde las montañas Wicklow. Estaba rodeada por un círculo de 38 monolitos, de los cuales siguen en pie sólo 12. Pero lo que ha otorgado mayor fama a este complejo es el  intrincado espectáculo solar que concibieron sus diseñadores, que no se limita a Newgrange, si no que se extiende a los demás túmulos (o “cairns”) del complejo.



Newgrange


Newgrange


Newgrange


Durante el solsticio de invierno, después de amanecer en el pasadizo de Newgrange y alcanzar la luz el fondo de la camara, el sol va visitando diferentes túmulos menores durante el día, en particular el conocido como túmulo K al mediodía y por ultimo el gran montículo de Dowth al atardecer. Esto significa que el rayo de sol está “contenido” de manera constante dentro de un túmulo durante todo el día más corto del año, como si "perderlo" supusiera el riesgo de nunca más encontrarlo. 



Newgrange, entrada al pasadizo

 
Newgrange, pasadizo: el desnivel de 2m. permite que la abertura sobre el dintel (roofbox) este alineada con la camara central, pudiendo asi ser iluminada en el solsticio


Newgrange, detalle de los petroglifos en la entrada


Cuál es el papel de Knowth, el tercer gran túmulo de los situados en esta curva del rio Boyne? Knowth es de hecho el mayor túmulo que existe en Irlanda y fue construido 500 años antes que Newgrange, pero a pesar de ello carece de la importancia mitológica que este tiene. Con todo también disfruta de su propio espectáculo solar: su pasadizo se ilumina en los amaneceres de ambos equinoccios, los días 21 de Marzo y Septiembre. Knowth también es conocido por albergar un calendario lunar, la piedra o bordillo 52; en ella aparecen diferentes petroglifos semejantes a medias lunas que sugieren que los antiguos astrónomos que poblaron el Valle del  Boyne pudieron haber determinado la sincronización de las fases de la Luna con el año solar.Gillies MacBain también observa que Knowth tiene un bordillo formado por 127 grandes losas, que es justamente la mitad del total de meses o lunas tropicales (en lugar de meses siderales)  según el ciclo metónico. Habiendo visto como pudieron alinear perfectamente Newgrange con el solsticio de invierno, no debe sorprender que alcanzaran la misma precisión con el ciclo lunar.



Knowth, vista area

Knowth, bordillo lateral


Knowth, kerbstone 52


Pero volviendo a Newgrange, el autor Hugh Kearns especula que durante el solsticio, cuando el haz de luz penetraba en el pasadizo, terminaba por iluminar un gran disco de oro colgado en la cámara al final del mismo y a su vez el haz reflejado iluminaba el rio Boyne.  No existe evidencia arqueológica de esto, aunque Kearns comprobó con éxito la viabilidad de esta hipótesis en un modelo a escala. Claro que todo depende de la existencia o no del disco. Lo que si es cierto es que la luz del amanecer,  además de recorrer el pasadizo, alumbraba el cuarzo blanco que recubre el túmulo, haciendo que todo el monumento brillara (y brille hoy en día) con gran intensidad al amanecer. Kearns también creía que las celebraciones del solsticio se acompañaban de música, convirtiendo a  Newgrange en un autentico espectáculo de luz y sonido. Hipótesis en parte apoyada por Paul Devereux, que hizo un análisis acústico de la estructura.


Newgrange, fachada lateral


Newgrange, detalle de la cobertura con piedras de cuarzo


Dejando a un lado esta hipótesis poco fundada, Kearns destaca la gigantesca población de salmón en el Valle del Boyne durante la época del solsticio de invierno.  La mitología celta recoge que los héroes consultaban al salmón como animal sagrado, por su sabiduría y previsión;  ingerir el “Salmón del Conocimiento” o “Eo Feasa” suponía adquirir su sabiduría de manera inmediata.
El salmón aparece con frecuencia en esta mitología: Gwyrhr interroga a una serie de animales sabios, cada una mas que el anterior. El más viejo y sabio de todos es el salmón de Llyn Llyw.  Cúchulainn necesitó  usar el sagrado salto del salmón para cruzar el puente de  Eel’s-Tail y así alcanzar la fortaleza de Scáthach y acceder a su superior conocimiento de las armas.
En general se creía que el salmón otorgaba sabiduría e intelecto y si a eso se le suman los poderes sobrenaturales de las aguas del Boyne, la ingesta de ambos permitiría al iniciado adquirir el conocimiento oculto del mas allá.
Todo ello sugiere que la abundancia de salmón durante el solsticio pudo haber marcado la localización como un lugar sagrado desde mucho antes de la expansión de los pueblos celtas, convirtiéndose milenios después en un importante centro religioso.



Newgrange, vista de la entrada desde el pasadizo y abertura por donde penetra el sol en el solsticio


Newgrange, estrechamiento del pasadizo (L7 en el plano)


Newgrange, plano detallado del pasadizo




Por otra parte el lugar se conocía como la “curva del rio de la diosa Vaca Blanca” o “Boand”. Obviamente la vaca es el origen de la leche lo que lleva fácilmente a la Vía Láctea o la “Vía de la Vaca Blanca”. A su vez, el salmón retorna rio arriba a su lugar de nacimiento, donde dará lugar a nueva vida, cerrando su ciclo. El rio Boyne es uno de estos lugares.
El salmón se identifica con el conocimiento y el ser humano siempre busca el conocimiento divino que se cree procede de las estrellas, allí donde los chamanes fueron. Quizás capturar el rayo del sol en el día mas corto era un símbolo de como el poder del Sol quedaba retenido en esta curva del Boyne? Poder que de alguna manera era traspuesto al salmón? A su vez, aquellos que comían el salmón adquirirían el conocimiento sagrado, con la mediación de la luz solar.

La Vía Láctea y el rio Boyne formaban por tanto el camino iniciático, y el salmón era el Chaman, el viajero, en busca de su origen, pero también de su destino. El salmón adquiría el conocimiento tras ingerir las nueve avellanas de la sabiduría que cayeron a la Fuente de “Segais”, la fuente primaria del saber en la tradición Celta.
Nechtán era uno de los guardianes de la fuente de Segais, junto con sus hermanos Flesc, Lám y Luam. Nadie más podía acceder a ella, ni siquiera los dioses. Pero, al igual que Eva se dejo cautivar por la serpiente, la esposa de Nechtán, Boand, decidió desobedecer la orden y por su culpa, el conocimiento sagrado vio la luz: ya no se podía detener el agua que manaba de la fuente y así nació el rio Boyne. Y al igual que con Adán y Eva, llego el castigo y Boan pereció ahogada, aunque el rio tomó de ella su nombre.  De esta manera se convierte en el símbolo perfecto del Chaman, que va en busca del conocimiento sagrado al otro mundo, y lo trae de vuelta divulgándolo.



Newgrange, camara central, vista hacia el pasadizo y petroglifos espirales

Newgrange, detalle de la boveda sobre la camara central


El camino que recorre el Chaman se identifica con la Vía Láctea, al igual que Boan, que a su vez también se identifica con el rio Boyne.
Por otra parte, William Battersby, autor de "The Age of Newgrange" defiende que Nechtán, el marido de Boan, se identifica con la constelación de Orión. A Nechtán también se le conocía como “El Brazo de Plata”, por el brazo levantado de Orión, a quien se consideraba el protector de la Vía Láctea.


Las aguas de la fuente de Segais crearon el rio Boyne, en cuya orilla descansan los misteriosos túmulos de Brú na Boinne (Newgrange), Cnogba (Knowth), y Dubgad (Dowth), donde se creía que los dioses vivían. Los túmulos eran sus mansiones, y probablemente los mismos dioses fueron representados con monolitos sagrados, ahora perdidos. Las piedras iluminadas por el sol durante los solsticios o equinoccios representan las entradas a ese otro universo donde los dioses realmente vivían. Hoy solo quedan las moradas vacías, pero el Sol las sigue visitando cada año en busca de sus iguales.



Newgrange en la niebla, foto de Kerem Gogus

  Algunos links:             Voices from the Dawn
           
                                    World Heritage Ireland: Bru Na Boinne



                              


                                   

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Unicorns, Christ and Mary Magdalene



Early versions of the myth of the Unicorn are from Ctesias, Greek physician and historian from the 5th century B.C., who, during his expeditions to India, described it as a wild animal with the appearance of a horse, pure white body, purple head and intense blue eyes.
The Horn of this prodigious beast, according to his description, was black with red tip and a white base, and had medicinal properties that allowed healing stomach problems, epilepsy or poisoning.



Genesis, The Creation of Animals - Oxford MS. Douce 135 fol-017


Harleian Bestiary - Unicorn - c.13th

During the Middle Ages, the unicorn was widely accepted as a symbol for Jesus Christ. In the Scriptures we find images of the “monoceros” ("one-horned mammal") that are associated with power: “But my horn shalt thou exalt like the horn of an unicorn: I shall be anointed with fresh oil” (Psalms 92:10) sings the David, blessing God for His continued support.
The horn is the symbol for masculine power and virility, celebrated in ancient rites of anointing of a lingham stone or glass representing the Life Force. Anointing of the “horn” is found also in Psalm 23: “Thou has anointed my head with oil; my cup overflows.” This assertion echoes ancient pagan rites of the “sacred marriage”  uniting the king with the princess or priestess who represented her land and people. It was the role of the “Bride” to anoint the Sacred King and to be united with him in the bridal chamber, where the consummation of their marriage brought blessings of life and fertility to the people, crops, and herds of the realm.

Various exotic legends are attached to the mythical unicorn. In the popular Physiologus, a bestiary compiled in the 3rd c. in Alexandria, we find the ferocious unicorn, which can only be captured when he is lured to seek refuge with his head in the lap of a maiden. The powder ground from the unicorn’s horn was believed to be a powerful aphrodisiac and his horn was further reputed to purify polluted or poisonous waters.

“He is a small animal, like a kid, but surprisingly fierce for his size, with one very sharp horn on his head, and no hunter is able to catch him by force.  Yet there is a trick by which he is taken.  Men lead a virgin to the place where he most resorts and leave her there alone.  As soon as he sees this virgin he runs and lays his head in her lap. She fondles him and he falls asleep.  Then hunters then approach and capture him and lead him to the palace of the king.”


The Maiden and the Unicorn - Domenichino


Ormesby Psalter - Bodleian Library MS. Douce-366


Wildweibchen mit Einhorn

However, not all copies of Physiologus agree on the symbology of the unicorn.  In Syriac and Provencal versions of it, the unicorn becomes not the symbol of Jesus but the symbol of the Devil.  Its capture by a virgin reinforces the idea at the time: evil can only be overcome by virtue.  This is the Syriac version:

“There is an animal called dajja, extremely gentle, which the hunters are unable to capture
because of its great strength.  It has in the middle of its brow a single horn.  But
observe the ruse by which the huntsmen take it.  They lead forth a young virgin, pure and
chaste, to whom, when the animal sees her, he approaches, throwing himself upon her.  Then
the girl offers him her breasts, and the animal begins to suck the breasts of the maiden
and to conduct himself familiarly with her.  Then the girl, while sitting quietly, reaches
forth her hand and grasps the horn on the animal’s brow, and at this point the huntsmen
come up and take the beast and go away with him to the king. – Likewise the Lord Christ has
raised up for us a horn of salvation in the midst of Jerusalem, in the house of God, by the
intercession of the Mother of God, a virgin pure, chaste, full of mercy, immaculate,
inviolate.”

British Library, Royal MS 2 B. vii, Folio 101r
British Library, Royal MS 12 F. xiii, Folio 10v


The attributions given to the horn in regards to virility and the capacity to purify are related to the image of the Unicorn as the “Bridegroom King” of Israel (Rev 19:11-21), of the lineage of King David and heir to the Bible’s promises made by Yahweh that his descendants would rule forever. The truth that Jesus was fully human, a husband and father, was denied by the tradition of the medieval Roman Church that Jesus was the celibate son of God, ruling with power and might from a throne in heaven. The “waters of spirit and truth” which were to have flowed through the Christian realm, nurturing the land and people, had been tragically distorted and perverted. Only the “horn” of the Unicorn (the symbol for his virility) could purify the polluted waters.

This 15th c. illumination from a Medical journal illustrated by Robin Tessart depicts the Unicorn, the “Maiden” and the purification of the stream.


                          
Robin Tessart - c.15th.



The roses above the head of the maiden are symbolic of the eternal “feminine.” The Maiden is wearing the red commonly worn by medieval brides, while the lacing of the bodice is a style associated with pregnancy (since it enables the gown to be adjusted).


The Church fathers, who recognized the Unicorn as a symbol for Jesus Christ explain his head in the lap of the maiden by explaining that Jesus is trying to return to the womb of his mother. Clearly this is a stretch, an attempt by the Church patriarchs to co-opt the popular symbol of the unicorn, but taking away any sexual connotation of his horn. The representation of the “anointed one” in the lap of the maiden comes straight out of the ancient rites of the hieros gamos in which the Bride chooses her consort and anoints him in a ceremony foreshadowing the “anointing” that occurs in the Bridal Chamber when the nuptials are consummated.

The famous unicorn tapestries “La Dame à la licorne” celebrate the Bride in the garden awaiting this consummation of her nuptials in the final panel depicting the Bridal tent. Each panel represents one of the five senses, while the sixth celebrates the “union” of the beloveds. 

In the first panel, “Sight,” the unicorn has lifted the skirt of the Bride with his hooves and is gazing at his image in the mirror she holds.


La Licorne de Cluny Tapestries

  
The Bride in these tapestries is dressed in gold brocade, the wedding gown of the Bride of the Messianic king described in Psalm 45: “All glorious is the king’s daughter within; her clothing is wrought of gold; in embroidered raiment she is brought into the king.”

In numerous medieval paintings, Mary Magdalene appears dressed in gold brocade, and the passage from Psalm 45 was, for centuries until 1969, part of the liturgy for her feast day, celebrated on 22 July.


                                           

 
 
In his book about the tapestries “La Dame à la licorne,” their long time curator reports a suggestion that the tapestries represent tenets of the Cathar heresy. We have the assertion of the 13th c. chronicler, Pier vaux de Chernay, that the holocaust of the Cathars and their friends who sought sanctuary in the village church at Beziers on her feast day in 1209 as “divine providence” punishing them for their slanderous assertion that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were lovers. Apparently the belief was widely disseminated in that century, but distorted and repudiated. The Pope and the French king collaborated to launch the Albigensian Crusade in 1209, reducing the towns of Provence to rubble.

In "Love in the Western World", Denis de Rougemont suggests that the unicorn represented the Cathar faith, hounded and eventually destroyed by the Catholic Church. Each of the early panels of the “Hunt of the Unicorn” tapestries displayed at the “Cloisters” in New York City depicts a phase of the hunt
culminating in the extermination of the “Unicorn” (representing the “Bridegroom Christ” and the tenet of the Cathars). But the final panel shows the unicorn in the garden of delights, where each flower represents an aspect of love and fertility, and the blood-red juice from the pomegranate tree above drips on his pure white coat. The word “paradise” comes from the Persian word for garden, and in the Song of Songs, the Bride is likened to a “garden enclosed.”



The Unicorn in Captivity - Tapestries at The Cloisters

                  
Among the watermarks found in the vernacular Bibles written on paper manufactured in small paper mills throughout the “Languedoc,” unicorns are the most popular of the images. Of approximately 13,000 watermarks collected in the early 20th century from antique bibles and other medieval literary
works (notably the "Romance of the Rose" and "Song of Roland'), nearly 10% are images of unicorns. 

M.L. Starbird's "The Woman with the Alabaster Jar" discusses the faith of the Cathars as revealed in the symbols they hid in sheets of paper after the faith was forced "underground" by the Inquisition and the Albigensian Crusade (1209-1250). One charming unicorn is very suggestive of the “Bloodline heresy” of the “Sang Real” which asserts that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were parents of a child whose descendants survived to become the peers of European noble families. This unicorn watermark clearly depicts the unicorn as associated by blood with the royal french “fleur de lis.”

                                                       
LEAD Technologies Inc. V1.01


Interestingly, this same distinctive flower appears to be growing in front of the fence of the enclosed garden in the “Captured Unicorn” panel of the “Hunt” tapestries. Both the watermark and the tapestries are dated c. 1500. It appears that the “heresy” of the bloodline of Jesus was widespread at that period of European history. Other watermarks depicting the “Lion of Judah” show a similar theme as illustrated below:


File written by Adobe Photoshop® 4.0


Since both the Lion and the Unicorn are symbols for the legitimate King of Israel, it’s easy to conclude that this "fleur de lis" in the heraldic animal's tail refers to the bloodline of the heirs of Israel's King David.

There is no verifiable proof that Jesus, the “Bridegroom King” and his beloved Mary Magdalene had a child and that heirs of this “Sang Real” bloodline survived in Western Europe. What can be proved is that this belief was widespread in the Middle Ages, supported by art, artifact and legend in an underground stream of esoteric wisdom, brutally suppressed by the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic Church.



La Licorne de |Cluny Tapestries


Note: A large part of this text is adapted from Margaret Starbird's website  (link here).
Margaret is the author of "The Woman with the Alabaster Jar"

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Star: the card of hope

 
Original Rider-Waite Tarot
 

INTERPRETATION



Under an illuminated night sky a naked woman is kneeling at the edge of a small pool. The woman holds two containers of water. She pours the water out to nourish the earth and to continue the cycle of fertility, represented by the lush greenery around her. The other container pours the water onto dry land in five rivulets, representing the five senses.
The woman has one foot on the ground, representing her practical abilities and good common sense, and the other foot in the water, representing her intuition and inner resources, and listening to her inner voice.
This is the same woman that appears in the Temperance card who was carefully balancing her emotions. Now the emotional waters are emptied and her nakedness is a symbol of her acceptance that any pretence is over and that she must now face the world as she truly is without any artifice. 
Once she has finished her emotional release, represented by letting of the water, she will be free to turn and see the new wonders that life now offers.
Behind her, shines one large star and seven smaller stars and each star has eight points. The bird in the tree in the background is the sacred ibis of thought, roosting in the tree of the mind. The astrological sign of the Star is Aquarius.

The Star brings renewed hope and faith and a sense that you are truly blessed by the Universe at this time. Courage, fulfilment, and inspiration are in your life. You are entering a new phase in your life, filled with calm energy, mental stability and deeper understanding of both yourself and others around you. This card is saying to that, over the long-term, you should have faith and trust in the Universe. A better future is waiting for you but in order to reach it you must trust that it is indeed possible.


 Golden II Tarot                                                                            Touchstote Tarot

Archeon Tarot                                                                                       Eatpoo Tarot


As it follows the Tower, the Star indicates that you have endured life’s challenges and have been through a difficult time but you are now open to healing and transformation. Your ability to let go of damaging memories has been strengthened by contact with your true self through these difficult times. Hatred, envy, bitterness, and revenge have burned themselves out and no longer shadow your life or get in the way of your potential for future happiness. You are now also able to forgive and forget so that you can embrace new opportunities.

When the Star appears, be open to new ideas and growth. Listen to the still small voice within. You have a strong desire now to find or rediscover a sense of meaning, inspiration, or purpose in your life. You are making some significant changes in your life, transforming yourself from the old you to the new you, and in doing this you are bringing about a fresh perspective on life. You may also be feeling that you are finally honouring the person who you truly are or want to be, rather than simply following a routine that has little meaning to you. There is a deeper spiritual journey that you are going through which is all about bringing greater meaning and purpose into your life and renewing your inner energy. You hope your future will be better than your past. This card is the call of destiny that motivates you or compels you to go on. Your desire is not in vain as you will ultimately find what you are yearning for.


Grun Tarot                                                                                           Lunatic Tarot


Design by Sanja                                                                    Mystic Dreamer Tarot


When the Star is reversed, it suggests that your spiritual mission is distorted. Instead of hope, you are feeling despair or discouragement. Instead of being filled with positive possibilities, you find yourself dwelling on negative issues. Negative thoughts will wear away at you to the point where you may give up control of the situation and concede defeat.
The Star reversed may reflect a loss of faith in a particular situation, resulting in you waiting for a sign to proceed further. You may need reassurance that you are still on the right path, particularly if you have been experiencing setbacks or challenges along the journey.

Remember the advice of the Tower, which is to see these setbacks as opportunities to change and grow. Know that even if you are feeling uncertain or fatalistic about whether you will ever achieve your goal, this is just a momentary setback and you will soon see that it was an important part of your journey forward. Oftentimes, the reversed Star is more about a test of faith than it is an indication of a negative outcome. Sometimes you need to go through an incredibly trying time in order to come to a point of personal transformation and awakening. You need to keep believing in the Universe and know that it will do what is best for all. This is a test of your faith and you will no doubt come out of this a stronger person.



Silver Era Tarot                                                                                Quantum Tarot



Fournier's Tarot de Marseille                                                               Universal Rider-Waite


The stars above us, govern our conditions
--   (King Lear, William Shakespeare)


These––the bright symbols of man's hope and fame,
In which he reads his blessing or his curse––
Are syllables with which God speaks His name
In the vast utterance of the universe.
--   (The Stars, Madison Cawein)



There, peeping above the cloud wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shat, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.
--   (The Return of the King, J.R.R. Tolkien)

       Black Ibis Tarot                                           Labyrinth Tarot                                      The Sepia Stains Tarot

     Cosmic Tribe Tarot                                         Shadowscapes Tarot                              Tarot of the Spirit World

On the bleak landscape where the Tower stood, the Fool sits, empty, despairing. He hoped to find himself on this spiritual journey, but now he feels he's lost everything, even himself. Sitting on the cold stones, he gazes up at the night sky wondering what's left. And that is when he notices, nearby, a beautiful girl with two water urns. As he watches, she kneels by a pool of water illuminated with reflected starlight. She empties the urns, one into the pool, one onto the thirsty ground.
"What are you doing," he asks her. She looks up at  him, her eyes twinkling like stars. "I am refilling this pool,  so that those who are thirsty may drink, and I am also watering the earth so that, come spring, the seeds will grow," she tells him. And then she adds, "Come. Drink." The Fool comes to kneel with her by the pool and drink. The water tastes wonderful, like liquid starlight. "I can see you are sad," the girl continues, "and I know why. But you must remember that you have not lost all. Knowledge, possibilities, and hope, you still have all of these. Like stars, they can lead you to a new future." 
Even as she says this, she began to fade away, like dew, vanishing. All that remains is a gleam that was at the center of her forehead. This rises up and up, until it settles in the night sky as a shining star. "Follow your star," the woman's voice seems to sing from that light, "and have hope." The Fool takes in a breath and rises. It is a dark night, a desolate land. But for the first time, he has a guiding light to show him the way. Distant as it is, it heals his heart, and restores his faith.
--   (from The Aeclectic Tarot)

  Vertigo Tarot                                                Stars Tarot                                        Legacy of the Divine Tarot


HISTORY OF THE CARD


The Star card in most decks is the first "celestial" trump, preceding the Moon and the Sun. It is present in the earliest tarot decks, and its imagery, remarkably unchanged since the 16th century, shows the influence of Neoplatonism, Astrology and the Book of Revelation.In the Visconti-Sforza tarot, this card shows a woman, dressed in blue, holding a star aloft. The woman is probably Urania, the muse of astronomy. A similar, contemporaneous image appears in the Vatican's Gallery della Segnatura, where Raphael painted the "Prima Causa" as a woman in blue, holding a starry orb.


Prima Causa - Raphael - c.1511

Visconti-Sforza Tarot - c.1450


Though almost all early tarot decks include the Star, the card's design varies from deck to deck. Some tarot decks show three men looking at a star, a clear allusion to the three wise men. The Rosenwald sheet shows an eight-pointed star by itself. As the Tarot de Marseille pattern spread throughout Europe, its design for the Star card was widely adopted.

The Cary Sheet, a 16th century, uncut sheet of tarot cards, gives us our first example of this design. Five stars, one larger than the rest, shine over a naked woman. This woman, kneeling, pours two pitchers of water into the sea. She has a tattoo of a star on her shoulder.


The Cary Sheet - 15th century





A 17th century Marseilles tarot deck shows a similar image, with a few changes: the woman is facing left instead of right, and the stream is on her left, she is pouring water from one pitcher only and onto land, she has no tattoo, and finally there are eight stars in the sky instead of five.
The Jean Dodal deck, a similar deck from the early 18th century, adds a black bird to one of the background trees.



Jean Noblet Tarot - c.1650

The Jean Dodal card - c.1715



This image, though unique to the tarot, has some obvious precedents. The medieval symbol for Aquarius was a man pouring a pitcher of water into a stream. A naked woman was sometimes used as a symbol of the soul, or the soul of the world. A detail from a 15th century Shepherd's Calendar shows Aquarius in much the same pose as our woman of the star:



Aquarius - Shephers's Calendar - 15th century


Robert M. Place compares the Star tarot card to the mermaid Melusine, alchemical symbol for union of opposites, expressing milk from one breast and blood from the other.





Melusine


In The Book of Thoth, Aleister Crowley describes this card along very similar lines:


From the golden cup she pours this ethereal water, which is also milk and oil and blood, upon her own head, indicating the eternal renewal of the categories, the inexhaustible possibilities of existence.
The left hand, lowered, holds a silver cup, from which also she pours the immortal liquor of her life...upon the junction of land and water.
Crowley describe this liquor as, among other things, "the Blood of the Holy Grail; or, rather, the nectar which is the mother of that blood."

This image echoes several passages in the Bible's Book of Revelation:

And I saw another mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud...
And he had in his hand a little book open: and he set his right foot upon the sea, and his left foot on the earth
(Revelation 10:1-2)

Later in the book, we find angels pouring vials of "the wrath of God upon the earth," with apocalyptic results:
And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image.
And the second angel poured out his vial upon the sea; and it became as the blood of a dead man: and every living soul died in the sea.
And the third angel poured out his vial upon the rivers and fountains of waters; and they became blood.
(Revelation 16:2-4)

Interestingly, the Book of Revelation mention God holding seven stars which are "the angels of the seven churches" (Revelations 1:20).

Marseilles decks show seven small stars around a large, eight-pointed star.


****

Ideals are like stars,
you will not succeed in touching them with your hands,
but like the seafaring man on the desert of waters,
you choose them as your guide,
and following them, you reach your destiny.

--   (Carl Schurz)


Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.

--  (Tennyson, "Ulysses")


It is He who maketh the stars (as beacons) for you, that ye may guide yourselves, with their help, through the dark spaces of land and sea: We detail Our signs for people who know.
-- (The Holy Qur'an 006:097 Al-An'am, Yusuf Ali Translation)


For my part I know nothing with any certainty but the sight of the stars makes me dream.
-- (Vincent Van Gogh)


******