I never wanted my blog to be an encyclopedia of symbols. First of all, I am not an expert and encyclopedias are written by experts. But more importantly, I think talking about symbols should rather resemble telling stories, showing images, letting the symbols shimmer and glitter, like, well, stars. I have been struggling with tags, categories and a general lack of neatness. But I have decided to find an orientation mark, the one symbol that would guide my wandering bark through the symbolic deep seas. The choice was not hard because the eight-point star is a symbol that strikes me at the core level. I shall try to delineate its possible meanings in short chapters, trying to be systematic if only for once.
I. The eight-pointed star of Ishtar
For the Sumerians the eight point star (the octagram) represented the goddess Inanna (Ishtar in Babylon). Eight years is also the length of a full cycle of Venus in relation to the Sun with all her morning and evening star curves. Venus, the Lightbringer, is much brighter than any other planet visible in the sky. It does look like a star. It has a huge reflecting ability, reflecting as much as 70% of sunlight striking it. I was born at the time when Venus was the evening star, a few weeks before it achieves maximum distance from the Sun. Symbolically, it is connected with the need to “integrate large bodies of knowledge and experience into important theories and systems of philosophy, science and religion.” (Michael R. Meyer). The evening star feels best in the depths of the collective unconscious and dealing with large, collective and universal system of ideas. I could certainly integrate this into my mission statement. Ishtar and Inanna were associated with the planet Venus and the Sacred Feminine. The name Ishtar may have been derived from the Sanskrit ush, meaning “fire,” but also east, dawn, creation and fertility. All of this information comes from a wonderful book, Conversations with the Planets by Anthony Aveni.
Star of Ishtar
The picture below, which I chose as my blog image is connected to my natal chart, where Venus resides in the twelfth house. The image comes from the incredibly mysterious Margate Shell Grotto in Kent. Its walls are covered in mosaics created of seashells. What I find unbelievable is that scientists have been unable to determine the age of this creation. Also its purpose is unknown, so we are just left with the haunting beauty of its meandering passageway and the mysterious large rectangular room. The twelfth house in astrology is associated with Neptune and his watery realm, the collective unconscious, mysticism, all things eternal, including symbols and images. I connect with the image of the eight-pointed star made of seashells because it unites the Venus archetype with her twelfth house placement.
The cave is also quite an important symbol for me. For Jung it signified the spiritual centre and the security and the impregnability of the unconscious. They are wombs where archetypes are born, the most famous being the one in Lascaux with Paleolithic images that are over 17,000 years old.
Photos of Margate Shell Grotto
II. The Symbolism of Number Eight
In his Dictionary of Symbols Cirlot writes that the octonary is a stage between a square and a circle, i.e. between the earthly plane symbolized by the square and the eternal order symbolized by the circle. This makes number eight symbolic of regeneration because regeneration can only happen through the vitalizing power of symbols and archetypes. Interestingly, in the Middle Ages number eight symbolized the waters of baptism. Eight is also the lemniscate, the infinity symbol. Perhaps surprisingly, it is also associated with the caduceus, a wand with two serpents twined around it. It is a symbol of balanced duality, “emphasizing the supreme state of strength and self-control (and consequently health) which can be achieved both on the lower plane of the instincts (symbolized by the serpents) and on the higher level of the spirit (symbolized by the wings).” (Cirlot)
In Kabbalah eight is linked to Hod, the eighth Sefira. Its keywords are splendor, thoughts, communication and absolute intelligence. It was striking to me to find out that the magical image associated with this sefira is Hermaphrodite, the child of Hermes and Aphrodite, the god of communication and the goddess of beauty. Also, it is a powerful alchemical symbol of the integration of opposites. I have recently been contacted by a reader of this blog, who kindly pointed out to me that we should distinguish between “Hermaphrodite” and “Androgyn.” In Hermaphrodite, two entities are combined in duality while Androgyn is one entity in unity. I believe the number eight resonated strongly with Hermaphrodite and the theme of duality. Even the image of number eight is suggestive of that.
The Hermaphrodite in alchemy
In numerology, my soul number is eight. In the great book, The Life You Were Born to Live: A Guide to Finding Your Life Purpose, Dan Millman associates number eight with abundance and power. “Individuals working 8 as their life purpose are here to work with abundance, power, and recognition, and to apply their success in the service of the common good.” I believe number eight cannot have any success unless he or she works for the common good. “At the highest level, 8s feel the inherent abundance of life, of nature, of Spirit, and feel moved to share with others, whom they see as family. Their sense of power or control changes to grateful and loving surrender to a higher authority and higher power as manifested in the intricate intelligence and web of life as it unfolds.” These powerful words resonate deeply with me.
I could continue my analysis by focusing on the trigrams of the I-Ching or the incredible significance the eight-point star carries in Islam. Also the Pagan Wheel of the Year has eight elements, celebrating the cyclic order of the universe.
Khatim, the eight-point star of Islam
The Pagan Wheel of the Year
In essence, number eight and the eight-point star symbolize the eternal intelligent order that underlies the manifest reality. It shows harmony and interconnectedness lying at the heart of all creation, and it is a symbol of the wisdom of the cycles. It encompasses learning and beauty and hopefully will give me the strength and power to share them with this community of readers.
illuminating – loved the cave and the mosaic – 8 is also the number for perfection and infinity
I did mention infinity (the lemniscate) but perfection is new and it sure resonates, also numerologically. Thanks for bringing this up.
This is way better than going to University. Just as overwhelming for a freshman.
Hey Jim, to overwhelm you even more, look here:
I decided to skip it in order to be succinct. Also learning…
ooo biblical numbers. you know my weakness for them.’
Nice. I have reading now.
Monika I loved this article.
The Margate shell grotto and its treasures are remarkable. Where is Kent?
I also enjoyed how you intertwined different elements in an organized fashion that permits readers like me to digest the banquet of material. I adore both shells and mosaics and have been enamored by your blog image for some time. Do you have an astrology practice? If not, perhaps you should consider it as you have a lovely gift for interpretation!
FYI, I will be getting back to you soon with my interpretation 🙂
Thank you very much, Linda. Margate is a town in England, Kent is the name of the county, I think. I haven’t been there but it is certainly on my to do list. As for astrological practice, no I do not have one but I have done charts for a number of people and quite enjoyed it although I am not terribly methodical about it. Another thing is that in Zurich people are not really into astrology, but maybe I am wrong and just haven’t met the right sort. I am also glad you noticed how I tried to introduce some order into my usual chaos today. All my best.
I was just looking at Venus in relation to eight year cycles in my chart. Like you referenced, we all have a Venus return every eight years on our birthday, and there seems to be a resonance with cycles of eight for each Venus return that happens every year in our chart. So the Venus return at 8, 16, 24, 32, . . . could have similar seems, like the Venus return at ages 2, 10, 18, 25, . . . There is also a birthday in the first eight years in which Venus is pretty much at the same degree as our Sun on our birthday, and so that could also be an interesting eight year pattern to look at.
Also, i believe this could be the connection with the Celtic calendar, but in astrology we break the moon cycle as well as the main phasal gates of every planet up into eight stages: conjunction, semi-square, first quarter square, sesquiquadrate, opposition, sesquiquadrate, last quarter square, and the balsamic semi-square . . .
It’s neat to see all the other connections you bring up.
Thank you very much for bringing high level astrology into this. I will check my Venus cycle as well. I also wondered if number 8 resonates with Pluto and the eighth house because I remember that in numerology 8 is connected with Saturn. When I had my numerology reading done I was told that Saturn was my ruling planet.
Was noticing that this year you and I both had our Venus returns near our birthday, and 40 is divisible by 8. with love, Gray
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40 has been a totally transformative time too. In a great way.
Kinda random, but ive just realised that ages 8, 16, 24, 32 etc equals if u sum up the numbers 8, 7, 6, 5… Until 64 wich equals 1… Maybe a life path? Maybe people in this cycle will die between 64 and 72? Idk interesting
Hmm Monika, I’m afraid I’m loosing it a bit. Think I’m too practical having a busy life with my family, three children growing up, healthcare-management-job, friends… Why not focus your great knowledge, insights and talents more on real-life questions? I think your ‘symbolic’ reflections are very usable and valuable for that. Now I get the impression that you are goging to focus on a more ‘academical’ theme. Of course its your good right. Its your blog. But as a ‘practiceman’ I was regulary inspired bij your posts till now. Hope it will stay like that.
Kind regards, Mart.
To be honest, I do not know myself what my next topic will be and I do not think I have a clear focus. I like symbols, have always been fascinated by them and would definitely like to explore symbolism deeper. I am not sure what is academic or real life in your understanding. Thanks for your input, it is always welcome.
Follow what intrigues you, all things do not travel in a straight line.
Thank you, lovely thought. Perhaps what I needed to hear.
This is amazing.Thank you for sharing. Eight happens to be my favourite number.
Very glad you enjoyed it, Aliera.
I learn something with every post. Thank you, Monika!
Likewise, Donna! Thank you for being here.
I’m wondering now about 8 as a design function. Usually it’s said that odd-numbered groupings of items is more pleasing to the eye than even, but when I looked at the star in the first image, it seemed familiar to me. It took me a couple of minutes to run it down: There are flowers scattered all over the cross-stitch project I’m working on. Those that are more daisy-like than rose-like in form nearly all are 8-petaled (and therefore look much like that star). Is there something about 8 that breaks the design “rule”?
I am not familiar with that rule. But writing about 8 I also wondered at how very special that number is and how universal also in art and design. Also, I think stars are very special with their unique symbolic value, notably the pentagram, the hexagram, the septegram and the octagram. You stitched it for a reason, I believe.
Wow, brilliant! Thank you. I love the profoundity of your posts for one thing. And a wonderful pick for a symbol.
I share on the sidebar of my blog that seven pointed star/heptagram/Mystic Star is the symbol of my life purpose. I received it during a meditation several years ago. Alongside with five seven is my favorite number. There are other important numbers to me, too, and eight is among them, and so is eleven. There is much symbolism concerning the Mystic Star, but in short (to me): it heals, lifts and inspires. From the astrological point of view, the 7th house is most occupied by planets in my natal chart. I have Sun and Neptune conjoining in Scorpio, and Pluto and Uranus conjoining in Virgo there. I use symbols more intuitively than intellectually, but am interested in all the stories and meanings (collective and individual). If you are ever drawn to write about the Mystic Star, too, I´d love it (but am not of course obligating you in any sense. 🙂
Dear Soulmagnitude, thank you very much for reading it. I was really happy about your comment. I did see the star on your blog and I think it is fascinating what you say about the role it plays in your life. I am also fascinated by the number seven and who knows, maybe I will write about it in future. All my best, Monika
Reblogged this on Soul Magnitude.
I will be back to re-read…
I enjoyed the connections you made…here…I died once and instead of the tunnel and light
my spirit wandered in a cave of crystals…I am a Jung follower though much is way over my head
and I took an astrology course for 2 years….eventually I will retain what I learned…
Wonderful post…..I will read again..and again, for I suspect I will hear something more each time
Thank you for sharing
( I really want to make the 8pointed Star with shells….it is breathtaking)
I can sense that you already have a deep understanding of Jung’s ideas and a connection with your higher self. I think that all the detailed information we can find in his writing is not necessary for everyone and there will be people who will just live his ideas. That crystal cave must have been wonderful.
This reminded i recently read some news about a cave of crystals. They re opening it to the public in 2019. Here s the link with photos, sorry its in spanish: https://www.traveler.es/naturaleza/articulos/visita-geoda-gigante-de-pulpi-jaravia-en-almeria-que-hacer-que-ver/14955
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AWESOME!!! Thank you for your insight and diligent research…this is enlightening. Wutajua! (Highest blessings be upon us all) .
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Thanks a lot!
Hi! Im just gonna throw it all here sorry if its confusing or it has no point haha.
Soo my life path is also 8! And i ve been to the grotto but getting into this kind of stuff, so its surprising for me, maybe we re connected or something.
Also kinda interesting how i got here, i pulled out a ‘card of the day’ in tarot and it was XVII the star, and recently ive been seeing lots of 17s so i looked it up, its connected to the 8 pointed star so i ended up here, and more things started connecting. First of all my life path number, 8. Also seeing the 8 years life cycle made me realise im 16, in the 2nd life cycle and just realised yes ive started a new one things have changed. Also I draw and recently ive been drawing 4 point stars like the basis of ishtar, interesting. so idk im just throwing this out here i dont know why haha.
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Hi Ailis, good for you and I am very happy you have been discovering all those synchronicities. Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment.
Great work.let me help you put this i video form.if you are interested. Such a rich information. I am connected to the eight pointed star order.They is no information like this in the video format.let me know if you are interested🤴
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Interesting – I’ve never geard of the 8-pointed star order. I am happy you found the information useful