What Do Stars Symbolize? Types of Star Symbols & Their Meanings

By David NaarLast Updated Apr 23, 2021 8:29:22 PM ET
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Stargazing at night is always relaxing, but do you know the greater meaning to these beautiful lights in the sky? In general, stars are often associated with positive messages and metaphors, and often represent purity, good luck, and ambitions. In dreams, a shooting star is a sign of self-fulfillment and advancement in life. Stars can also symbolize new beginnings — even those that are still on their way. Moreover, stars, and symbols associated with stars, hold different meanings in various cultures.

North Star Symbol

The North Star, also known as the Polaris Star, is said to be a bright guide for travelers heading north. Though the North Star is pretty bright, it is actually not the brightest star in the sky, but, rather, the 48th brightest. Positioned at almost the exact spot of Earth's geographic North Pole, this constant source of light has been used for centuries by sailors and other wanderers navigating the Northern Hemisphere.

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For Black Americans who were enslaved by white supremacists during the Antebellum era and before, the North Star was a symbol of hope, inspiration, and freedom. When enslaved peoples would try and escape their oppression, the star became an important navigational tool and a means of finding the Underground Railroad as they moved north.

Because of its literal importance to so many, it's not surprising that it would have symbolic significance as well. The North Star is seen as a symbol of personal development and one’s direction in life — it is seen as your own personal mission statement, your life's purpose, and your personal beacon of light. Our inner North Star, which holds our instincts, passion, and purpose, helps to guide us in life, much like the actual North Star.

Psychologist and best-selling author Rick Hanson, Ph.D. shared, "When you find your North Star, you know where you’re headed. That alone feels good. Plus, your North Star is (presumably) wholesome and vital, so aiming toward it will bring more and more happiness and benefit to yourself and others. And you can dream bigger dreams and take more chances in life since if you lose your way, you’ve got a beacon to home in on."

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Spiritual Meaning Of Stars

There are certainly many spiritual meanings behind stars. They are typically tied to inspiration, aspiration, imagination, pursuits, and dreams. If you dream of a star, that’s often considered a representation of your desires, goals, and spirit. It also symbolizes faith, hope, and clearness, further illustrating the potential for a new beginning on your horizon.

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In some cultures, stars are a symbol of divine guidance and protection. According to old Chinese texts, the Chinese character for "star" (xing 星) referred to the actual stars in the night sky. However, the word "star" was also used to refer to several of the Chinese gods. For example, Fu, which means good luck, fortune, blessings, and happiness, refers to the "God of Happiness," or the "Lucky Star" (fuxing). The Chinese people believed that these gods shined over them in real life much like the stars of the night.

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In Hinduism, stars are also believed to be the souls of gods or other ancient seers and celestials beings. These beings are thought to be spiritual teachers who help guide others on Earth. To believers of Hinduism, stars also represent femininity, motherhood, and angelic beauty, and personify the diversity of creation and its immensity.

Stars also represent the afterlife for some cultures. In ancient times, the Egyptians used stars to decorate their temples and the interior of their tombs. It was believed that stars inhabited the Duat, the underworld or the realm of the dead, and that stars descended there each night.

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Types of Star Symbols

In terms of artistic depictions of stars, they vary greatly. Some common star symbols include:

  • The four-pointed star: In Christianity, a four-pointed star is usually styled to resemble a cross and can be used to represent the "star of Bethlehem" which represents the birth of Jesus Christ.
  • The six-pointed star (Pentagram): The five-pointed star has been associated with a sense of oneness through the five elements: spirit, fire, air, water, and earth. Some also believe that it is a connection to humanity (representing two arms, two legs, and the head — or the five physical senses).
  • The six-pointed star (Star of David): Also known as a hexagram, the six-pointed star is known as an important symbol of Judaism as the star of David. It is a reference to King David in the Bible and his legendary shield, which embodies divine protection.
  • The eight-pointed star: In Chinese tradition, this star represented the entirety of the universe and is known to symbolize life from birth to death. In Hindu tradition, it also represents the eight types of wealth: victory, patience, health, knowledge, nourishment, prosperity, mobility, and riches.
  • The nine-pointed star: This star is used by the Ba’hai faith to represent perfection and unity. It is also used to symbolize the Fruits of the Spirit in the Bible. The fruits of the spirit are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
  • The shooting star: A shooting star has always been used for wishes. Spiritually, it represents being close to reaching your life's purpose or destiny. However, it also has negative meanings as well. In Christianity and Judaism, shooting stars symbolize falling angels, while, in other cultures, shooting stars are bad omens of what's to come.
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Photo Courtesy: Philippe Lissac/Getty Images

Ultimately, stars commonly represent positive forces in life, whether those forces be related to the divine or something more internal, like personal growth, hope, or dreams. While it has always been easy to admire the beauty of stars, hopefully they’ll mean just a little bit more to you now when you see them in the sky.

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