The Introversion Star

From Max Vasilatos on Facebook yesterday, her report of a 9-pointed star (you don’t see a lot of them) in a notice for a meeting (the details of which are not relevant here): octagrams with rewards for attending — snacks! prizes! — plus a central enneagram, with the inducement of introvert-friendliness; presumably, no one will be pushed or prodded into participating actively in anything that would make them uncomfortable. Ah, the Introvert, or Introversion,  Star!

(#1) It’s ok, you can just sit on the sidelines and watch (Nora Ephron’s 1970 collection of essays, Wallflower at the Orgy, leaps to my mind)

Now it turns out that a 9-pointed star is a symbol of the Baháʼí faith. But before you get all excited by that, let me remind you that the most neutral of stars, the 5-pointed star — which little kids in my country learn to draw rapidly as “a picture of a star” and which older kids here learn to fold as “paper stars”, especially for Christmas — is also the pentagram, the symbol of Satan and his powers; and that 9-pointed stars could be taken to stand for a vast number of things in different contexts (I’ll provide a sample below), not just for Faith and the Godhood in Baháʼí. The enneagram doesn’t intrinsically mean these Baháʼí notions, or introversion, or whatever; it’s just a shape. It’s Just Stuff, as I’m given to saying. (There’s a Page on this blog about my postings on It’s Just Stuff.)

The Bahai Star. From Wikipedia:

(#2) A Bahai Star (from the Wikipedia page)

According to the Abjad system of isopsephy [AZ: links in the Wikipedia article], the word Baháʼ has a numerical equivalence of 9, and thus there is frequent use of the number 9 in Baháʼí symbols. The most commonly used symbol connected to the number 9 is the nine-pointed star; there is no particular design of the nine-pointed star that is used more often than others.

On the meanings of the Bahai Star, from the outofstress site on 6/1/23: “7 Powerful Meanings of the 9-Pointed Star…”

(#3) The interconnected enneagram

The 9-pointed star (also known as enneagram/nonagram) is a sacred symbol that encompasses a wealth of wisdom and profound truths about life. It represents a multitude of concepts, including spiritual enlightenment, creation, divine completeness, divine symmetry, and the interconnectedness of diverse elements within the universe. Remarkably, this symbol has even been equated to God or Source energy itself, emphasizing its immense significance and the divine insights it holds.

Symbolizing nineness and its associations. A 9-pointed star could be taken as standing for an extraordinary number of things, among them:

pregnancy (9 months); completeness (the whole nine yards); the workday (9 to 5); whipping or, by extension, punishment, or S&M (cat o’ nine tails); cats (9 lives), bell-ringing, or maybe East Anglia (Dorothy Sayers’s 1934 mystery novel The Nine Tailors); avant-garde noise, or maybe pretentiousness, or unbearable noise (the Beatles’ “Revolution 9” from the 1968 “White Album”)

Some of these may seem far-fetched, but it’s amazing what associations can be established in context, as a lightning dip into the attested associations of n-pointed stars will show.

The stars from 3 to 9.

the trigram, with 3 points: the Mercedes-Benz symbol, but also of course the Trinity in Christianity and the genital triad

the tetragram: the 4-pointed star is often used to represent stars in the sky; also the principal points of the compass; and, in Christian contexts,  the Crucifixion

the pentagram — the most ordinary of stars, with 5 points: see above (Christmas / Epiphany and Satan)

the hexagram: the star of David, symbolizing Judaism; but also a Christian symbol (since it’s twice the Trinity)

the heptagram: “a traditional symbol for warding off evil in Catholicism” (Wikipedia); used as the badge in many sheriff’s departments and some police departments, so serving as a symbol of local law enforcement

the octagram: the compass rose (with its 4 principal and 4 secondary points), but also the Star of Ishtar

Meanwhile, essentially all of these associations get carried over into the botanical world, as associations of the number of petals on various flowers (Trinitarian trilliums, 4-petaled dogwood flowers as symbols of the Crucifixion, and all that).

(#4) Trillium grandiflorum, the great white trillium

(#5) Cornus florida, the flowering dogwood

3 Responses to “The Introversion Star”

  1. Mark Mandel Says:

    Nice to read. I frequently doodle various n-grams when listening to a talk, or bored.

  2. Max Vasilatos Says:

    I’m surprised because in at least a couple of contexts I know of, the five-pointed star is associated with the USA (it’s the version on our flag) and can even be pushed in less pleasant direction as it’s emphatically NOT the Magen David, if one is choosing a “star” for jewelry or elsewhere. After a request for a 5-pointed pendant, I have cast quite a few 5-armed starfish, which are fun and interesting as pendants.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Why *surprised*, because in a very brief run-through of some n-pointed conventional star associations I failed to mention one (when there are dozens, or for 5-pointed stars, probably hundreds)? I could easily have written a posting of several thousand words on 5-pointed stars alone; there might even be whole books on the topic, for all I know.

      For the run-through, I was satisfied to give at least two divergent associations for 3 to 8 points. Why slam me because I failed to give one association (even if it’s a big one for Americans)?

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