The Major Arcana and The Hero’s Journey: The Star, Part I

Stars are bright points in the nighttime. We wish on them, we worship them, and we seek guidance from them. They remind us that even in the darkest dark there is hope and inspiration. The Star is the perfect key to follow the desolation of The Tower.

Venus as the Eventing Star

The brightest star in the heavens is Venus. Actually, Venus is a planet not a star, but she is a very bright point in the nighttime. When she sets just after the sun in the west, she is the Evening Star, which the Greeks called Hesperus. When she rises just before the sun in the east she is the Morning Star, Phosphorus Aster, the Greek title for the reborn Dionysius.*

Radiant Inanna, impress from a Mesopotamian cylinder seal

She is the most ancient Sumerian goddess Inanna, who begins her descent into the underworld as the Evening Star, is hung out to die on a meat hook by her sister Ereshkigal, and is reborn in the east as the Morning Star.

She is Ishtar.

Ishtar, the Babylonian goddess of love

She is Astarte, The Morning Star of Salvation, who wakens Adonis, the eastern version of Dionysius, from his tomb. *

She is Earendel, the Saxon boatman set to shine in the heavens to guide those in greatest darkness. *

Sirius is the brightest “true” star in the heavens. It’s a binary star system consisting of the larger Sirius A and Sirius B, a white dwarf. Of all the stars in the sky, Sirius is the only one whose annual heliacal rising, (the first time it becomes visible before sunrise) matches the length of our solar year, 365.25 days. Because of this the Ancient Egyptians believed that all the cycles of time were based on its annular rising. So, of course, they based their calendar on this event.

Sopdet, who is Isis

But most importantly, Sirius is Sopdet, the great Egyptian goddess Isis. Her annual heliacal rising around midsummer signaled the beginning of the flooding of the Nile in Ancient Egypt. This was the Egyptian New Year, when Hapi, the river goddess, began to overflow her banks, flooding the farmlands with life-giving water and rich silt.(See Alternative Archaeology) It was a time of great rejoicing and hope for abundance in the coming year.

Isis, the one with the throne on her head, guides the boat of the night through Duat

Like Inanna, Isis also makes a journey to the underworld. During her 70-day absence from the night sky, which occurs between her heliacal setting and her heliacal rising, she braves the dangers of Duat, the Egyptian underworld, and resurrects her brother/lover, Osiris. And so, with the rising of Sopdet over the Nile, Osiris, god of life and vegetation, returned.**

I am the one who rises in Sirius,
I am the one called Goddess by women,
I separated the Earth from the Heavens,
I showed the path of the stars.

Polaris, the North Star, marks true north. *** It is the only star in the night sky that never appears to move. All the other stars revolve around it. Every clear night this lovely, easy-to-find star faithfully guides weary travelers to their destinations.

And then there is the mysterious Star of Bethlehem that guided the Three Wise Men to the birthplace of Christ the Savior. It must have been a rare celestial event to cause three magi to pack up and travel for months to the insignificant town of Bethlehem. There are many theories as to what it may have been. They range from comets to novas to planetary conjunctions. My favorite is the exact conjunction of Venus and Jupiter in Leo, which occurred in the early evening of June 17, 2 BCE—a perfect nativity for a newborn king.

Milky Way over Palouse, WA, photo by Putt Sakdhnagool

Since our first ancestors raised awe-struck eyes to the glorious night sky, stars have instilled in us a sense of wonder, hope, and inspiration. The basic meaning of The Star key is obvious. But there is more to be learned from it.

To be continued….

*The Devil’s Picture Book, Paul Huson.
**The Nile doesn’t flood any more because of the Aswan Dam.
*** Not to be confused with magnetic north, which is read from a compass.



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5 responses to “The Major Arcana and The Hero’s Journey: The Star, Part I

  1. Great post. I like all the associations for the Star that you’ve covered here. Nice to see the graphics, too.


  2. Luna

    Lovely post , we need a road trip to Palouse Wa to view the Mikly Way.


  3. Better endings are all about the Hero’s Journey. Have you read the book SOPHIA? Covers similar shared mythologies.

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