• Category: Stars Clipart
  • Amount: 25+
  • Date: December 16, 2017

Fixed stars light the HEAVENS at night and are considered symbols of cosmic order because of the regularity of their movement around the pole star (see AXIS MUNDI) they also stand for the light from above, which is not always discernible. In many mythic traditions the stars are understood as resulting from metamorphoses of those who have died. Jewish speculative cosmology believed that every star had a guardian ANGEL and that constellations were harmonious groups of heavenly spirits. In Christian iconography the presence of stars indicated heavenly occurrences. The ceilings of ancient Egyptian burial chambers were adorned with depictions of a starry firmament. The VIRGIN Mary was often depicted not only standing on the lunar crescent but also surrounded by a halo (see NIMBUS) in the form of a star-studded CROWN. The great number of stars in the sky was used to symbolize the countless descendants of ABRAHAM. Christ proclaims himself the bright and morning star [Revelation 22: 16]. The Star of Bethlehem, usually surrounded by eight beams, is of particular importance: it guided the Wise Men from the East to the manger where the Christ child lay. The six-pointed star (today called the Star of Zion or Star of David), made up of two triangles, was known as the sigillum Salomonis (Solomon's seal) or scutum Davidis (David's shield). (See HEXAGRAM.) The five-pointed star, or PENTACLE, played a major role in the tradition of magic it is considered a favorable symbol when one of its points is at the apex, and in the inverted position a sign of BLACK magic. In ancient China the stars were closely observed (11,520 had been counted by the second century after Christ), and they play a major role in Chinese legends and customs. On New Year's Day, for example, everyone offered a sacrifice to his or her star. In the symbolism of FREEMASONRY the blazing star (usually five-pointed, surrounded by beams, and with a G in the middle, for geometry, God, or Gnosis) is of particular significance: it symbolizes the LIGHT of the spirit. The PLANETS (literally wanderers) are distinguished from the fixed stars throughout the tradition of symbology. (See PLANETS, CIRCLE.) The Incas of Peru believed that the stars were the handmaidens of the moon, and therefore gave them the chamber next to their mistress (in the temple of Cuzco), so that they might be at her beck and call. They believed that the stars moved through the heavens with the moon, as her servants, and not those of the sun: after all, they were visible at night, not during the day [Garcilaso de la Vega]. The Aztecs of Mexico viewed the stars as heavenly manifestations of the first fallen or sacrificed warriors this is why they are sometimes represented in Aztec art by empty skulls. Ancient cultures had differing interpretations for shooting stars-they marked the death of important men (ancient China) or the birth of a child, whose soul was descending from heaven to earth, where it would come to life. Colloquial references to a person's lucky star, or to something as not being in the stars (i.e., not meant to be), indicate the widespread acceptance of certain astrological themes. To reach for the stars is to attempt to bring about the apparently impossible. If we see stars we are perceiving flashes of light after sustaining a blow to the head or some comparable experience. Stars (or luminaries) are also illustrious celebrities, especially from the world of show business. The symbolism of constellations is not always easily explained. Only a few of them clearly form connect-the-dot images of the figures for which they are named. Without a considerable leap of the imagination it is difficult to recognize a SWAN, lyre, maiden, and LION in the constellations Cygnus, Lyra, Virgo, and Leo, respectively indeed, it is only the rare constellation (e.g., Orion, Cassiopeia) whose stars can be readily seen as forming a separate entity. This is why old maps of the heavens superimpose drawings of figures over the stars themselves the drawings often seem to have little connection to the actual constellations. In fact, other cultures refer to the constellations by different names from those used in the Western European tradition, or even group the stars differently. The earliest use of constellations was as a navigational guide for the first seafarers it was at this time that they were linked to legends and myths. The most important constellations were those that seemed to disappear, in tum and according to the time of year, at dusk and reappear with the sun at dawn. These were organized into a system based on the number 12 and referred to as a circle of animals, the zodiac (from Greek zoidion, diminutive of zoion, animal), which divides the apparent path of the sun into 12 houses: Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius, and Pisces (see RAM, BULL, TWINS, CRAB, LION, VIRGIN, SCALES, SCORPION, CENTAUR, CAPRICORN, WATER SPIRITS, and FISH). Some of these names were already in use in the ancient civilizations of Mesopotamia and were taken over or altered by the Egyptians and the Greeks. The sun is associated with each constellation for the approximate duration of one lunar cycle (one month). Popular astrology attributes to each sign characteristics generally derived from the symbolic tradition of the constellation the sun sign is thought to determine, or at least influence, the character of those who are born under it. (The ancient Chinese zodiac is made up of entirely different signs: RAT, ox, TIGER, HARE, DRAGON, SNAKE, HORSE, SHEEP, MONKEY, ROOSTER, DOG, and PIG. Each year is associated with one of these animals, and the year of a person's birth determines which animal's characteristics he or she shares.) Incidentally, the region of the heavens associated with a sign of the Western zodiac is no longer the same as the region in which the corresponding constellation is actually to be found the zodiac is in this sense regularly displaced as a function of time. The signs and the constellations were perfectly aligned some 2500 years ago, which suggests that the signs of the zodiac were first defined around that time. A Babylonian text from the year 420 B.C. referred to them as Laborer (for Aries), Pleiades (for Taurus), Twins (Gemini), Crab (Cancer), Lion (Leo), EAR OF GRAIN (held by a maiden, or Virgo), Scales (Libra), Scorpion (Scorpio), Centaur (as an archer, hence Sagittarius), GoatFish (for Capricorn), Gula (for Aquarius), and Two Tails (for Pisces). The 12 signs of the zodiac have been grouped in a variety of ways, e.g., in three crosses, to each of which four signs belong: the cardinal cross (Aries, Cancer, Libra, and Capricorn, associated with the four archangels Gabriel, Raphae l, Michael, and Uriel) the fixed cross (Taurus, Leo, Scorpio, and Aquarius, associated with the ancient guardians of the four corners of the earth and thus with the four EVANGELISTS: Luke/bull, Mark/lion, JOhn/EAGLE, MattheW/ ANGEL [or -/manJ) and the movable cross (Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces) . They were also grouped in threes, with one of the four ELEMENTS associated with each group (fire: Aries, Leo, Sagittarius earth: Taurus, Virgo, Capricorn air: Gemini, Libra, Aquarius water: Cancer, Scorpio, Pisces). In classical antiquity the individual signs had already been associated symbolically with the same characteristics as today, as the text Trimalchio's Banquet by Petronius (d. A.D. 66) indicates. (It was also said that nomina sunt omina [names are portents] parents took great care in selecting names for their children, as is still the case today.) The basis of the entire doctrine of correspondences between signs of the zodiac and personality traits seems to have been formulated and promulgated most significantly in Hellenistic Alexandria in the second century after Christ. The rejection of traditional star worship, as it was still practiced in historical times by the Sabeans in Harran, is grounded in Islamic tradition in the legend of the patriarch ABRAHAM, who, it is said, spent the first 15 years of his life hidden in a CAVE and eating from Allah's hand. (Abraham was evading the pursuit of King NIMROD, who feared the loss of his kingdom.) Then his mother led him out into the open, under the protection of the ANGEL Gibreel (Gabriel). When Abraham glimpsed the evening star, the sole light in the night sky, he thought that it was the supreme being and wanted to worship it but the star grew dim , and Abraham swore never to worship anything that dropped from sight. He had the same experience with the rising moon and with the early-morning sun. Each time he was tempted to view them as supreme and worship them. But when they had dropped below the horizon he was saddened and thus came to see that he must worship only the one who had created these lights and put them in orbit [Beltz). In strict monotheistic doctrine the lights in the heavens are only symbols of the Creator. The search for the ultimate master has a different manifestation in the Christian legend of St. CHRISTOPHER. In Christian systems, the signs of the zodiac, being 12 in number, were readily associated with the 12 Apostles: Aries with Peter, Taurus with Andrew, Gemini with James the Greater, Cancer with John, Leo with Thomas, Virgo with James the Less, Libra with Philip, Scorpio with Bartholomew, Sagittarius with Matthew, Capricorn with Simon, Aquarius with Jude, and Pisces with Matthias. (See also PRECIOUS STONES.) The traditional number of the planets, SEVEN, takes on special symbolic associations through the reference in the Book of Revelation to seven stars which are the angels of the seven churches in Asia to which John's message is specifically addressed [1:16, 20). The number of signs of the zodiac, 12, appears in the form of 12 stars, which crown the heavenly woman in Revelation 12: l. Stars falling from the heavens are harbingers of the END OF THE WORLD. The Christmas star, which the three Magi (astrologers) followed to Bethlehem, is often portrayed in art as a comet. Stars appear frequently in coats of arms: in German HERALDRY often in the form of six-pointed stars, in English five- (or, less frequently, eight-) pointed. Goethe chose as his coat of arms a six-pointed star on a BLUE field, in memory of the appearance of the morning star (VENUS) in a clear sky (1775 recognized 1782). A constellation (the Southern Cross) has adorned the arms of Brazil since 1889. White stars on the flag of the United States, symbolize the individual fifty states. In the arms of Singapore there are five stars, standing for democracy, peace, progress, law, and equality.

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