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The Star

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Tarot 17 – The Star

By James Donahue

Put yourself in the place of the fool at this stage of his strange journey through life. After his encounters with the great teachers, his decisions to follow a spiritual path to enlightenment, and having to deal with issues of love and all of the other worldly issues that come along, he has just been through some very bad times.

The last cards to come up were Death, Temperance, The Devil and the worst of them all, The Tower which involved the destruction of everything the Fool thought he had made of his life, including every stitch of his ego. Now he is in a wretched state, thinking that all is lost.

But wait. Card Number 17 appears. This is proclaimed to be the wonderful card of hope.

The symbolism on this card is everywhere. We have a fair unclothed woman pouring liquid, we assume water from pitchers held in both hands. One foot is in a pool of water and from her right hand she pours water into the pool. Her knee rests on the earth and from her left pitcher the water flows on the ground.

Around her the earth is green and there are signs of new life. A bird rests in a tree in the background. Above the maiden’s head is a large eight-pointed star. Circling this are seven smaller stars, each of these with eight points.

So what are we seeing here? Remember that in the Ryder-Waite Tarot decks, flowing water represents a universal subconscious, or psychic energy. The woman is pouring more of this precious water into the pool. She also is pouring it onto the dry land and it separates into five rivulets, representing the five senses. The land represents the material world.

She is balanced with her feet on both dry land and the pool. The bent leg on the earth supports her weight while her right foot rests on the water of the subconscious. Thus she is balanced while also remaining grounded. She appears in her natural state. What you see is complete. There are no hidden secrets under her robes.

The star has always been symbolic of an important message of hope. It was a star that brought the message of the birth of Jesus in the Bible story. Notice that all of the stars radiate eight points. The eighth card in the Tarot deck is the Strength card. The number 17 also points to Strength (7 + 1 = 8). The seven smaller stars represent the seven chakras, thus calling upon the Fool to open his chakras and cleanse his aura.

Everything in the card has a message. The bird in the tree in the background is the sacred ibis of thought, roosting in the tree of the mind.

To summarize, The Star is a card of hope, harmony and balance. Because it follows the Tower card, it represents the end of a period of change and turmoil.

Like the woman in the Temperance card, this woman holds containers of water in both hands. But she is pouring the water out to nourish the earth and continue the cycle of fertility. The waters pouring from the pitchers are never-ending.

The sky is clear blue, a symbol of inspiration, creativity and aspiration. The maiden is surrounded by green, a color of healing.

Our Fool thus finds himself at an oasis of creative inspiration, a place of healing and renewal. 

The Mind of James Donahue