Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lucky Stars

Go down the beach this summer, or any other place where people are half-naked, and you will see stars. Not the tanned celebrity kind of star but on people’s skin. They can go from a little star on a wrist to a long string of stars going down ribs to a whole piece centered around them. Stars are not limited to one sex; women and men both seem to sport the celestial symbol. Stars have been a sign of mystery and fortune for centuries. Their elusiveness can be captivating, even though we know now they’re just burning balls of gas.

The most popular star seems to be the five pointed star, otherwise known as the pentagram. The pentagram's origins go back to the beginning of human history where they were etched on cave walls and in stone. As centuries passed, the pentagram started to take on different meanings for different people. Pythagoras, a Greek philosopher, used the star as a symbol of the five visible planets, while early Christians used the pentagram to represent of the wombs of Christ. The five pointed star has been adopted by military branches and some communist countries. Fifty-nine country flags are adorned by the five point star; America, Turkey, China, and Vietnam are just a few.

Then we have the Pagan stars, with the most popular being the Pentacle. The points of the star are supposed to represent the four elements (earth, wind, fire, water) and the fifth is for spirit. The pentacle has roots in Ancient England, Greece, and Rome. The Roman Goddess Persephone (Kore in Greece), has a story similar to Eve in the Christian religion. She was tempted with an apple and gets taken to be the wife of Hades. She was considered to be the Goddess of fertile land and associated with Spring. According to the story, when she bites into the apple, a star shape was formed. The Pentacle was also originally used in many religions, but now is specific more to Wicca then anything else. In the more modern centuries, Satanists decided that they should invert the Pentacle to be their symbol; in this form, it can sometimes represent a goat head.

Almost just as easily recognizable as the five point star is the six point star. Today people associate the star as a symbol for the Jewish religion, the Star of David. However, this did not come into effect until after the Middle Ages, between the 1600’s and the 1800’s. In the Middle Ages, and in decades before, the hexagram was to represent the unity of a man and a woman. The triangle pointing down represented the woman, the one pointing up the man. Hexagrams were displayed largely on churches but only one a select few synagogues. Like the five pointed star, the hexagram represented some magical elements and protection against demons. When the 20th century finally came,the Holocaust really sealed the identity of the Jewish people to be symbolized by the six pointed star. It was used as an indicator to the Germans on who was Jewish and who wasn’t.

The most popular star tattoo today seems to be the nautical star. There is more than one theory as to what the exact history of this symbol is. It is almost unanimously agreed that the nautical star (given the name) originated with sailors, who navigated the oceans by using the placement of the stars. Another is that the Military popularized the nautical star tattoo as a symbol that sailors will get home safely. Talk to any sailor today, and you will understand how superstitious they are, and in previous centuries this was even more prevalent. No stepping onto the boat with your left foot first, no women aboard the ship (made for a long voyage), swallows were a good sign, and if someone died on the voyage, cannon balls were tied to his ankles so he wouldn’t follow the ship after he was thrown overboard.

The star has also been adopted by the gay community and became a sign of the punk movement. Whether or not people know these legends and historical reference is erroneous. The history behind the meanings of the star shape can be, and is debated upon, greatly. Most see a pretty shape or just a symbol of the peace of the night; which is no way a bad thing. Either way it seems star tattoos are not going to become less popular any time soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment