In his masterful poem One Star in Sight, Aleister Crowley tossed out a few hints about the true meaning of the Star. Here is a non-contiguous fragment:
“One star can summon them to wake
To self; star-souls serene that gleam
On life’s calm lake.
Behold within and not above,
One star in sight!”
The traditional meaning of this card is “Hope, faith, inspiration, bright prospects, unexpected help, selflessness,” also “dreaminess” and “deceived hope,” to which Crowley added “spiritual insight” and “clearness of vision,” and to which I would append “unrealistic expectations.” (Note that Waite is an uncharacteristic outlier here, viewing this card as almost entirely negative.) The overriding assumption in most of these cases is that the Star represents a magnanimous external power that has the seeker’s best interests at heart. Jiminy Cricket in Disney’s animated film Pinocchio, crooning “When You Wish Upon a Star,” could be the poster-child for this optimistic outlook.
Hope is such an inert expression of human desire it’s a wonder that realization of one’s dreams ever occurs. There is a quality of crystalline “otherness” to this card that seems entirely foreign to the naive immediacy of human yearning (Alexander Pope celebrated its persistence: “Hope springs eternal in the human breast”). The remoteness of the Star from earthly observers is the key to its exalted promise, and also to its misapprehension as a harbinger of fulfillment. When the seeker’s rose-colored vision of a glowing future is grossly misaligned with the facts of the matter, hope unsupported by aspiration (aka “elbow grease”) is a false trail that frequently leads to frustration and eventual failure (“dashed hopes”); the way to the Star is often an untracked wilderness that encourages neither wishful “beggars” nor their “horses.” Law of Attraction testimonials aside. it’s usually not enough to merely want something sincerely without taking any kind of concerted action to achieve it. The Star may inspire from afar, but it passes over the horizon all too quickly, as anyone who has ever tried to hold one in the viewfinder of an amateur telescope undoubtedly knows. As Crowley advised, inner work is the answer to substantiating one’s claim on a fulfilling future.
Crowley’s revelation that this card expresses clarity of vision and spiritual insight also assumes an understanding that all natural forces exhibit a spiral nature, and the “illusion of straightness” as a linear link between the observer’s vantage point and the shining destination needs to be re-imagined in non-Euclidean terms: the path to enlightenment can be a circuitous one, as attested to by the awakening of the Kundalini. Having a star in one’s cross-hairs doesn’t automatically bestow the ability to hit the bulls-eye; shooters know that gun-sight elevation and windage must both be taken into account. The antidote to unrealistic expectations is to sharpen one’s awareness of just how much is really needed, how much can be reasonably achieved, and how best to turn lofty inspiration into concrete results through self-application.