Field Guide

Star

A star or stars lighting the heavens is a symbol of divine guidance. A single star is almost always a symbol of the Star of the East that guided the Magi to Bethlehem. Twelve stars are a symbol of the Twelve Apostles or the Twelve Tribes of Israel. A crown with twelve stars refers to a description of the Queen of Heaven in Revelation 12:1 -- And there appeared a great wonder in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars...

Other cultures, of course, abound with star symbology, which is often used to symbolize the highest attainment. The two stars most often referenced are the Pole Star, or North Star, and Venus, which is a planet and not a star. Venus is attributed with warfare and life energy when seen as a morning star and with sexuality and fertility when seen as an evening star. After death, Egyptian Pharaohs were identified with the Pole Star. The Chinese depict spiritual wisdom using a combination of stars, Sun, and Moon. In Greco-Roman mythology, planetary gods are depicted with a star on their forehead. Islamic symbolism depicts a star with a crescent as a sign of divinity and supremacy.

Taken from Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography written and photographed by Douglas Keister, published by Gibbs Smith, Salt Lake City, 2004.