Re: the six pointed star --
Originally Posted by Bat Chicken
Then there is the 6 pointed star on her dress. I have come across this before and thought I’d repeat part of the quote here from J.E. Cirlot's Dictionary of Symbols:
… it is a symbol of the human soul as a 'conjunction' of consciousness and the unconscious…
In most depictions of the symbol, the center of the symbol is implied. In this one (also seen on the hand of the Emperor) the center is marked by lines and is actually there. The word that comes up under similar symbols in the alchemical term ‘coniunctio’
Coniunctio is synonymous with the red and white rose, the snake or dragon that bites its own tail and the sun and the moon that are united.
These are all images that appear in the Mary El Tarot and the last one seems to predict the two following cards.
I'm not sure I completely follow all of this. It's a little over my head, but it's good for my brain to stretch a bit.
When you say in most depictions of this symbol, the center is implied -- do you mean the Star of David style hexagram? Two triangles overlapping, with a hexagonal center space?
The star-symbol on her dress appears to me to be a unicursal hexagram, drawn with one continuous line. I've read many places that this version of the six-pointed star was devised by A. Crowley, and he may have invented it independently, I don't know. But I've seen a version drawn by Giordano Bruno in the sixteenth century, called by him Figura Amoris
. It's part of a trio of talisman-like figures, depicting the Hermetic trinity of Mind (mens
), Intellect (intellectus
), and Light or Love.
Bruno says, "Mens
sits above all; intellectus
sees and distributes all; love makes and disposes all. This last is light or fulgor
which fills all things and is diffused through all. Whence it is called the anima mundi
and spiritus universorum
, and is that of which Virgil spoke when he said 'spiritus intus alit'."
Talk about a brain-stretcher
But when I read this, I can see the whole Star painting as a sort of illustration of the third part of the Hermetic trinity, disposing or disseminating light and love to the peoples below.
Just a quick note on sources: I'm getting this from Dame Frances Yates' Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition
; the work of Bruno's that she is writing about is (I believe) Articuli centum et sexaginta adversus huius tempestatis mathematicos atque philosophos
; and Bruno in turn is drawing on the Corpus Hermeticum
which is a collection of gnostic/neo-Platonic writings which, in Bruno's time, where thought to be of ancient Egyptian origin but are actually 2nd-3rd century. The Hermetica are the source for much of Western occultism, right down through the Golden Dawn and Thelema and our beloved esoteric tarot decks.
On a "weird coincidence" note, when I opened my copy of Frances Yate's book this morning, it fell open to a page where years ago I had underlined this sentence: "All religious persecution and all war in the name of religion breaks the law of love." I immediately thought about the link between this card and the Hierophant. As pointed out by Eyebright, the Star was the Hierophant in the earlier majors-only deck. In the full deck, we have the harsher Hierophant, who some of us see as the negative side of religion, the source of religious persecution, the overbearing and controlling Mother Church. I feel this Star is linked to the Hierophant, as the flip side, the positive side of religion -- the side that offers hope and upholds the law of love. The Christ associations that Eyebright brought up are very relevant here.
I just realized something -- I've been puzzling over why this card is so overwhelmingly red, rather than a deep dark starry sky. Perhaps it's to suggest the power of blood to wash us clean -- thanks Eyebright!
One more for weird coincidences -- yesterday I changed my signature to a line from U2's song "One" (Love is a temple, Love the higher law) before
reading this line about the law of love, today. A nice little synch!
Originally Posted by Debra
Four of the points on the Star's belly star are labelled with Roman numerals.
Originally Posted by Bat Chicken
OK - an idea. 5 numbers - 5 elements? Why the 6th point with no numeral?
I'm not sure about the numbers, though if you follow them I think they go in the order in which one draws a unicursal hexagram. It's hard for me to make them out, exactly.
A thought on why the 6th point has no number, though -- if you superimpose a unicursal hexagram on the Tree of Life, so that the bottom point rests on Yesod, then the top point will rest on the Abyss...