Saturday, November 8, 2014

The Significance of Stars

By Walt Whitman
When I heard the learn’d astronomer,
When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me,
When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them,
When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room,
How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick,
Till rising and gliding out I wander’d off by myself,
In the mystical moist night-air, and from time to time,
Look’d up in perfect silence at the stars.
    No rendering can replace, no art can encapsulate the awe and wonder entrenched in the stars themselves. The great heroes and figures of history have peered into the broad expanse of eternity with wonder. The ancients, with their geocentric astronomy, perceived the stars to exist in the eighth heaven, as the closest visible objects to God. Planets were considered "Wandering Stars" by the Greeks. Egyptian worship ceremonies were oriented around Sirius, the brightest star in the sky. The Mayans had stars and constellations which were major pillars in their belief system. A star heralded the birth of Jesus Christ in the Bible. Babylonia originated the tradition that stars and planets influenced the future of an individual—resulting in modern-day astrology.  

Beginning in approximately the 5th century BC, the stars were utilized in recorded myths, many of which are still associated with the constellations we recognize today. Some star-symbols persist in religions and philosophies, including the Star of David as an iconic symbol of Judaism, the pentagram, and the varying astrologies of cultures across the world.

Stars have been nigh-essential to the definition of humanity from the earliest recorded history. From philosophers to artists to the scientists of the modern age, the stars have remained a constant source of inspiration and inquiry into the existentialist ponderings and empirical analyses of all. 

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