Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star
Magically appearing every night with the fall of darkness, the stars in the heavens --constant, eternal, and unattainable--inspired great reverence in the ancients, who saw divinity embodied in their twinkling light. Today, however, the glare of city lights obscures our view of the stars, but a glimmering memory of their past glory is preserved in phrases like "a guiding star" and "wish upon a star".
These concepts of hope and inspiration are also expressed by the Star card (the Tarot's seventeenth Major Arcana card) whose image expresses a profound sense of peace and tranquility. In the foreground of this card, an ethereal woman (perhaps representing the "Anima Mundi" -- the soul of the world) kneels by a pond as she pours water from two jugs. Above her, the heavens are dominated by one large, brilliant star surrounded by seven lesser ones.
This card reminds me of a little poem I used to recite when I was a child whenever I saw the first star in the evening sky.
First star I see tonight!
I wish I may, I wish I might
Have this wish I wish tonight.
Then I would silently make a wish. Although it was rare that these wishes came true, I continued to make them, for this simple ritual was an expression of my faith that there is always hope for a better and brighter future. Sometimes just having that innocent hope was enough to sustain me, while at other times, my wishes sparked my imagination, which then lifted me into a happier world. After all, our imagination gives wings to our wishes, which can help us make them come true.
And so it is for all of us, young and old. Hope sustains us, and our wishes help us create the future that we envision through them. But although we reach for the stars, we must also keep our feet on the ground. In other words, hopes that have no basis in reality are mere illusions and fantasies through which we try to escape reality rather than improve it. Reasonable hopes, on the other hand, lift us up and empower us as long as we don't use them as an excuse not to take action to help ourselves.
The Star card also represents the quiet awe we feel when we stand in the silent darkness of night staring up at a star-filled sky. (If you live in a big city, take a trip into the countryside some moonless night to see what I mean.) Through meditation, we can achieve a similar experience of divine communion, inner peace, and renewal of the soul. If you have not been able to do this, step outside some night and just look up at the stars. Soon you will catch a glimpse of the state of being for which you are striving, and as a result, you will find it more easily when you meditate.
Finally, this card signifies the divine inspiration and guidance that is commonly symbolized in religions and folklore by a guiding star, the best-known example of which is the star of Bethlehem. Some of us find such guidance by wishing for it with sincere hope and faith (which many people call "prayer"), while others find it though other means, like meditation. In any case, we can recognize this inspiration as being true when it comes from a place of love, not fear. So when you hear the soft voice of divine inspiration, take heed. As Dante said, "If you follow your star, you cannot fail of glorious heaven."
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James Ricklef is a Tarot reader, lecturer, and writer. He has been a frequent workshop presenter at Tarot conferences and symposia from Los Angeles to New York. He is the author of several Tarot books, including Tarot Tells the Tale which was first runner up in the General Interest category for the 2004 Coalition of Visionary Resources (COVR) Awards. (A revised version of that book is now available as Tarot Reading Explained.) He is also the creator of the acclaimed Tarot of the Masters deck.