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Ironwing - The Star

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Ironwing - The Star


I was thinking about this card last night before I went to sleep. I want to say I love it but I feel like I’ve said that about every card I’ve written about. It’s true though; I have enormous affection for this card. One of the things that really endears it to me is the woman/women. Sometimes she is two aspects of one woman, sometimes there are two women. Either way, I shall be forever grateful to Lorena that this woman is a squat, rather plump little figure in sensible, warm clothing. So often the woman in this card is a beautiful nude or semi-nude figure and I never have quite seen why. I do like looking at the nude human form and so had no issues on that score but I do appreciate that since this woman is outdoors in a cold place, warm clothing is totally appropriate and the figure would look slightly odd as a nude.

I see the woman as clearly showing us the duality within herself, and how she attains personal harmony. She looks backwards to how things were and forwards to what is yet to come. Or – she looks on the positive and negative aspects of a situation and who knows, the on-rushing meteorite could actually be the positive! The two aspects of the woman come together through that Star/Third Eye. We can see how essential both parts of the woman are – they each connect to the Star with their left hand, and the Star gives each of them precisely what she needs. One woman stands among star shaped fossils on the ground and points outwards towards the meteor. Her other self gets the river of blood – our life fluid, and stands looking squarely at us. To me she says that her life has not been easy but she accepts that it has all been a gift and she acknowledges the gift even though it has been hard to take pleasure in parts of it. Together, through the Star, the woman balances her selves using the Star as a fulcrum. At the point where she is whole, her Third Eye is created. That Star (and Third Eye) is amazing. It draws me in a like a doorway – not to walk through carefully but to dive in headlong and drown in whatever I find there. What would I find in The Star – by our human standards they are immortal. They are fiery but at the same time twinkle merrily at us. Sometimes they look almost cold and uninviting and so, so far away. And yet however far away they are physically they are reachable almost instantly in our thoughts. This says so much about the power and ability of thought itself…..

Stars. We call some people “stars” if they are popular and successful in their field. We get gold stars pinned on our best work when we are little children. All our conditioning tells us that stars are special, good and wonderful. Also, real life stars can support life – indeed, without the power of the stars life could not be sustained for a second. The idea of the intrinsically special nature of “Star” is valid I think and it would be hard to separate our conditioned understanding of “Star” from this card. And so the card entitled “The Star” must echo some of what we have come to associate with “stars”. If not, it makes a nonsense of its name. Now I see nothing wrong in working against accepted tarot meanings in cards but going against ingrained social meanings that are so deeply entrenched would make the card very difficult to work with, and I do not believe it is any tarot author’s intent to deliberately create problems in interpretation. Therefore, for me, the card acknowledges all that I think of when I consider “star”. It points out the good, the wonderful and beautiful and accepts the bad as a concrete reality. The pointing woman says I must remain grounded and appreciate the very real beauty of the world I live in. At the same time her counterpart points to the beauty and wonder of the oncoming meteor shower. I used to think “OMG they’re gonna get wiped out by those meteors – how can I think hope and optimism with this card” but I measured widths and the large meteor will fit between the two little islands. The small meteors, if they continue on their current paths will all miss the little islands too. So despite my thinking that the woman was going “Aaaargh, we’re all doomed” it seems she is pointing to the meteors simply because they are beautiful and she is filled with awe at the sight of them.

Interestingly I see the old “as above, so below” in this card where I never expected to find such symbolism. One self points outward to the heavens, the other points to the ground. That one phrase “As above, so below” opens doors in my mind and possibilities tumble out ready to be picked over later.
It is, however, totally appropriate for this card in that one part of the woman looks at the beauty of the heavens, the other says “Yes, but the land I stand on is just as beautiful. It may be different but it is equally as lovely”. This leads to the need to spend time thinking about how this phrase applies to the card in other ways.

One thing that fascinates me about the lead meteor is the fire spirit riding it. I daresay the artwork isn’t intended as a fire spirit (but may be it is – I really don’t know) – but for me, it’s a fire spirit riding and guiding that meteor safely between the two islands. Of course that means it’s gonna splat the Star but because it’s not a physical Star it won’t be affected. If anything it will be renewed, reinvigorated by the power and fire that runs through it. Is it a coincidence that the Fire Spirit reminds me (strongly) of the Spirit in the Tower? I doubt it very much. Here the Fire Spirit rides the lead meteor. It’s obviously an incredibly exciting ride – her arms are flung high and fire streams joyously from her head. I like this idea – excitement, joy – sheer happiness – hurtling towards me from the skies – unstoppable.

Rising up from the bottom of the card is a strange image. My first thought was that it is a Tree, an amazing Tree. It reminds me very much of a brain and the connection to the Star is the brain stem. That would make sense to me – the Star contains/surrounds the Third Eye and forms the brain stem of the Tree. It is in the brain stem that the things we bury deepest – our oldest, most primitive selves – are hidden. That part of us that operates purely on instinct and reaction and ignores the logical, thinking parts of our oh-so-developed brains.

As a Tree there are so many possibilities that come with the image. The World Tree, Tree of Life, Tree of Knowledge (of good and evil). I spent a few years working with the Qabalistic Tree of Life and this still resonates within me. At the same time I think of Odin hanging from Yggdrasil, undergoing his personal trial as he waited for clarity and brought back to us the gift of writing! Also I think of Jesus, hanging from his own tree and enduring the sacrifice that so many of the Enlightened Ones make. And finally I came to the Hanged One – and the tie in of that card with this is quite breathtaking in what it produces. Sacrifice, endurance – hope, joy, renewal. And that inevitably brings in the Wheel as the one that dictates or reflects the stage of the cycle we are on.

As I do this study I am not in a good place emotionally; almost everything flicks or flays me on the raw – it will pass (because these things always do) but in the meantime it’s great for looking at the more negative aspects of cards And, I feel that at times I completely understand the two women shown on this card whether seen either as one woman or two sisters, friends or strangers. I note that both women are totally ignoring the Tree – like it’s not there …. Each wrapped in her own world – to the point of each standing on her own island. At this point, all I could think of was John Donne’s magnificent poem

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manner of thine own
Or of thine friend's were.
Each man's death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.


This poem goes so well with the spirit of Ironwing but I think it very important to understand that the word “man” refers to everything around us – we are all vitally connected to each other. How sad that the woman/women in this card ignore the connection and don’t see each other or the Tree. They remain ignorant of the Star created by and for them, the Tree created by the Star and the connections offered by the Web of Life.

This card portrays human nature so clearly. We tend very much to be divided into the “cup half full” or “cup half empty” camps. Here it couldn’t be seen more clearly. One reaches for the stars in wonder, the other points at the ground as if to say “This is good enough for her and should be enough for anyone! Nothing good is gonna come flying in from the stars, you mark my words”…. And here I stopped and thought for a long time about the divisions between people and the totally stupid reasons for them. Skin!!! Sexuality religion but however odd I think others for allowing differences to divide man from brother they are very real to the divided. Then I went back to the two woman – they are alone – absolutely no-one else in sight and they still don’t manage a direct, personal connection.



At that point I turned away from the more negative aspects of the card and understood that maybe the two women are so deeply connected through the Spirit and the Star that that is all they need? They are in fact each watching out for the other’s back as they stare in opposite directions. The connection between them, their islands, the Tree and the Star is real and vital. They don’t need the hand holding type of connection at all.

Now, the Tree that I have thought about so much is actually an illustration of a Basket Starfish. They are incredibly beautiful and are starfish where the usual five arms/legs have branched so much that the creatures genuinely look like Lorena’s image. The women in the card are in contact with the Basket Starfish through the Star itself. The Starfish has many branched arms, all of which are capable of moving, so it can therefore reach out and touch many other beings all at the same time. It is an apt creature for a card depicting a cold environment as it is native to arctic waters. For me the image works in all its incarnations – Tree, brain or as its intended depiction of the Basket Starfish. I really enjoy the fact that the Star itself is a physically living creature and that I also have the Star focusing the energy between the women and the land they stand on. It is good to have both on the card offering such rich alternatives for interpretation in readings.

I think I’m done this time around; there is a lot of research to be done into Basket Starfish and crinoids, and there are a lot of areas of thought I want to follow up but I don’t believe they are relevant to the card generally. For this reason I will write about the results of my meditations in my person Ironwing journal and not post them.

I should be re-visiting this card about this time next year, I hope . I’d like it to be sooner but I have so many other cards to study first….
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Without having read what Wendywu wrote...

I've pulled the Star several times now, and it still keeps puzzling me. So let's see what I make of it outside of a specific reading...

A meteor is falling, zooming from the sky. On it sits a dragon-like figure. Will it bring luck or destruction? Will it be enlightening or devastating?

The central meteor is also the center of a flower of fire that rises up from the curly roots deep below. It's leaves reach out to the two islands and to the two women on the islands. Something is connecting. The eye is wide open and aware.

To me, this card feels a bit like traditional Tower cards, with the ambiguous impact of enlightenment/destruction.

I also think of Star Trek and "to boldly go where no one has gone before" - this is about discovery, curiosity, awareness. (I know the book says the lower part of the card is the deep sea, but to me it's all outer space.)

The two women are two sides of the same coin. They remind me to both pay attention to what's happening 'out there' and coming closer, and to remember where we stand so we can determine how to apply the new insights and not just have them burn out without consequence like a shooting star.

We need our roots to grow from them up into the 'outer space' of ideas/thoughts/concepts. They anchor us when our minds go off to "discover strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations"...

Shared ideas can also build a bridge between seeming opposites, they can make us see what we have in common and how we might complement (and complete?) each other instead of seeing our differences only.

The smaller meteors also look like seeds that are blowing away from the central plant to me, shining their light to other places. To me, this speaks of ideas breeding ideas, once you have started to let your mind go wander.

It's a card that speaks of the beauty of coincidences, of things coming together in a unique way that creates energy/something way beyond the sum of the parts. In that way, it is indeed a lucky star that is at work here.

It's funny - this is the first Star card that makes me understand why the Golden Dawn tradition associates the Star with Aquarius, a choice that has never made any sense to me before. And the Ironwing doesn't even care for astrological associations or anything like that... But still, here I see the creative mind at work, moving around concepts and ideas, theories and philosophies - and sometimes forgetting that such castles in the air may be beautiful, challenging, and satisfying, but that real life still happens down on earth where a great thought doesn't necessarily translate into a great thing to DO. As such, it reminds us of the importance to come back to earth eventually to actually apply our ideas and philosophies, to actually make the concept work.

But we also need the shooting off into space, because without the courage to dream, to spin ideas out of thin air, to brainstorm, to wonder "what if", we'd never create anything new. Ultimately, and the two women on their two islands depict this quite clearly, we need a balance of both.

The knowledge that the curly thing in the lower half is a deep-sea creature (a kind of starfish) offers another piece of this card: Don't forget the emotions that often drive our dreams and fantasies, our thoughts and philosophies. They may not be obvious, they may even be denied, but what would any great explorer, scientist, philosopher be without the passion for finding out more, of going deeper?

As someone with an academic background, this fits very well to my conviction that emotions (which here implies values/beliefs we are emotionally attached to very strongly) need to be considered in every discipline because they influence what questions we ask, what answers we see, what methods we use, and what results we get. (Yes, that's also true for the natural sciences.) You can't have objective, neutral, detached science.

Actually, bringing our emotions to the light of our inquiries may just be exactly what we need to finally SEE how it all fits together, how it all is connected.

The gestures of the women remind me of the RWS Magician and his gesture. The message "as above, so below; as below, so above; as without, so within; as within, so without" seems appropriate here as well. If any idea/theory/concept only works for the large picture but not for the macro vision (or vice versa), it may just not be the right one.

Finally, the two smaller 'arms' of the central flower look as if it's shrugging its shoulders, as if to say "You can't understand or control everything in the Universe. Make your peace with the unpredictable, the unexpected, the coincidental, and embrace them when they appear."

Which ultimately is a message of trust and hope.

P.S. One more thing, which I already mentioned in my post about the Death card. Apparently, meteors were the source of some of the first metal humans have forged. There's more about this here. So a falling meteor seems to indeed have had a Tower-like enlightening effect on humans! Which also fits in nicely with what I said about lucky strokes, the unexpected, and such things.
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How fascinating that you also arrived at "as above, so below" and at a Tower association, Wendy!

I won't quote your post but I wanted to say that it's beautifully written, and it's been an enlightening pleasure to follow the path of your thoughts. Thank you so much for sharing them here! I now have an even better understanding of many aspects of this card.

I also love that you actually measured the distance to see if the meteor would hit the islands or not!
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