Passion of the People – 1.3.1

 Stargazing in the World Religions

The stars that shine night after night in the firmament have fascinated people since the beginning of time, have become the object of fascination and superstition, and have been regarded as gods and fulfillers of prophecies. Thus, many interpretations and symbols have developed in the different world religions

Almost every religion uses some form of astrology as a way of thinking about the sun, moon, stars, and planets and how they hold significance for human lives on earth. In the mythologies of the people, stars symbolise higher powers and are part of different religions. For example, according to Egyptian belief, the dead live on in the stars. The main constellation of the southern sky, Orion, was equated with Osiris, the ruler of the dead. Soul birds carry the souls of the deceased up into the night sky to the stars. Eagles, ravens, swans, and peacocks can be these soul-bearers. The peacock, or the peacock feathers with the “eyes”, is a star symbol. In the Old Testament Hebrew, the term ‘star’ referred to all heavenly bodies, except for the sun and moon. 

In the Christian religion, stars are mainly connected with the light Christ brings, angels and leadership. However, stars have various meanings, for example in the symbolism of Mary in images of Mary wearing a wreath of stars. In ancient Christian sarcophagus sculptures stars are a decorative pattern and symbol of eternal bliss. Stars are often seen as symbols of divine guidance, enlightenment or light in the darkness. There are countless biblical passages that refer to the meaning and power of the stars, from the creation story in Genesis to their appearance in Revelation.  The Star of Bethlehem which leads the three holy kings to the birthplace of Jesus is a good example of the symbolic divine guidance role of a star.

The holy kings following the star of Bethlehem – Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay
Maria sculpture with star wreath – Image by Albrecht Fietz from Pixabay
Maria crowned by stars – Image by Jose Conejo Saenz from Pixabay

Further Resources

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Religion and Astronomy – Let there be Light!

 Vatican Observatory

 Religion Comes From Ancient Astrology and Sun Worship

Der Urknall

La Stella di Betlemme: cos’era in realtà? – Melody on Time

Online Resources


Herrnhuter Sterne

Astral Religion

Science and Religion

The Holy See

Religione – le comete e le stelle nella religione – Astrofilaonline

Sciamanesimo e Astronomia: Le Stelle Come Guida Spirituale – Giosuè Stavros

La complessa simbologia delle stelle nella Bibbia – Simone Venturini

Astronomia nell’antico egitto: calendario lunare, divinità e stelle – Online Star Register

Cos’era la stella di Betlemme? Le possibili spiegazioni astronomiche – Geopop

Further Readings

 Astronomy in the origins of religions

Astrology and Cosmology in the World’s Religions

Teaching Material

American Astronomical Society

Resources for educators

 Education resources and program

 Catholic University of America

For Kids