Also known as octagrams, eight-pointed stars are ancient symbols that were used by many cultures for various purposes throughout history.
Hindus, Buddhists, Chinese people, Babylonians, Native Americans, Christians and Muslims all made use of the symbol. Even neo-Pagans and Wiccans of the modern age are still using it.
In this article, we will examine the meaning and symbolism behind the 8-pointed star and how it was used in these cultures one by one.
Eight-pointed Star In Hinduism – The Star of Lakshmi
Hindus believe that Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, beauty, love, fortune, joy and wealth, who is one of the main female deities of Hinduism, is represented by a symbol called the Star of Lakshmi.
This symbol is an octagram representing the eight emanations/the eight secondary manifestations/powers of Lakshmi known as Ashtalakshmi/Ashta Lakshmi (which translates as ‘the Eightfold Lakshmi’).
To emanate means to originate from, to flow from.
The eight emanations of Lakshmi, also called the eight kinds/forms of wealth of Lakshmi, represented by the eight-pointed star are family, health and nourishment, material wealth, endless prosperity, patience, victory, knowledge and the ability to transport.
Buddhism, The Eightfold Path And The Dharma Wheel
As one of the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism, the eight-spoked Dharma wheel is an important piece of Buddhist symbolism.
It represents the eightfold path that one needs to follow in order to break free from one’s worldly attachments and escape suffering. These are known as right intention, right mindfulness, right concentration, right view, right action, right effort, right livelihood and right speech.
Eight-pointed Star In Ancient China
Ancient Chinese people believed that Heaven was divided into eight parts and they were ruled by Sky God/Emperor Taiyi who lived in a palace at the center of Heaven. This palace was believed to be built on the axis point of an octagram.
In general, the octagrams represented the course of life and the universe as a whole.
The Star of Ishtar, The Babylonian Goddess
One of the most important goddesses in Babylonian religion, Ishtar, also known as Inanna, was represented by a symbol called the Star of Ishtar.
Ishtar, who is a symbol of rebirth, war, fertility, sexuality and lust, was associated with goddesses Venus and Aphrodite throughout history.
The Star of Ishtar is one of the two main symbols of the goddess along with the lion and was used several times on the flags of Iraq during the 20th century.
The 8-pointed Star In Islam
Along with five-pointed and six-pointed stars, 8-pointed stars are very common symbols in Islamic traditions.
Also known as khatim-sulayman and khatim (and it is even mentioned in the Quran that way), to be translated as “the seal of prophets”, the origin of this geometric shape is associated with the Seal of Solomon in Judaism by some people.
It is also suggested that the eight points of the star represent the eight angels that will surround Allah’s throne on the Judgement Day.
When it is drawn as two overlapping squares with a circle in the center, it is also known as the Rub-el-Hizb and used to make it easier to memorize and recite the Quran.
Christian Symbolism And The Eight-pointed Star
The number eight is of special importance for Christianity for several reasons. Jesus was eight days old when he was named and circumcised (as a Jew) and the New Testament suggests that circumcision is the Jewish equivalent of baptism.
Also known as the Star of Redemption (and sometimes Regeneration as eight is known to represent regeneration in general) the eight-pointed star represents the act of baptism in Christianity. This is considered to be the reason why octagonal bases have been used while building many of the baptismal fonts.
God commanded Abraham to circumcise his son Isaac and he did so when Isaac was eight days old. Circumcision is a tradition in Jewish faith to ensure a male child enters the Covenant of God on the eighth day of his life.
The number eight is generally considered to be a symbol of salvation, redemption and new beginnings. For instance, as stated in the Old Testament, eight people were taken to the ark of Noah during the flood.
Native Americans And The Hope Symbol
Native American symbol for hope and guidance is an eight-pointed star with two circles; one right at the center of the star and another surrounding it.
The outer circle is believed to represent protection as is the case with some other Native American symbols while the points of the star are believed to represent the four cardinal points, summer and winter solstices and equinoxes.
On an important side note, the same goes for the astrological symbolism behind the 8-point star; the symbol has been used to represent the four cardinal points, solstices and equinoxes in astrology.
Wiccan Wheel of The Year
Wiccans use an 8-pointed star or a circle with eight spokes in it to represent their annual cycle of festivals/holidays.
Each point of the star represents a different major holiday called a sabbat; Imbolc/Imbolg, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lughnasadh, Mabon, Samhain and Yule, respectively.
The Chaos Star
Also known by many different names such as the Chaos Cross, the Symbol of Eight, the Star of Discord, the Arrows of Chaos and the Arms of Chaos, the chaos star is another modern variation of the eight-pointed star.
It was created by the famous fantasy and science-fiction writer Michael Moorcock and is used to represent chaos and possibilities of any kind/any direction.
Also used in some occult practices today, the chaos star has made its way into pop culture and is used in RPG games like Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 series.