Photography by Hawkinson Photography

How long ago did we humans first begin gazing at the stars?  There are at least 100 hundred thousand million stars in our galaxy alone, and at least the same number of galaxies in the universe.  Each of these stars has life cycles from millions to billions of years.  And all this was created for us to enjoy.

These were the thoughts coming into my head as I was reading about and contemplating Al Mutakabbir, The Greatest.  How did my ancestors react when they began to appreciate the heavens and the stars?  A lot of work went into making structures like Stonehenge and Teotihuacan, and building their components to line up and celebrate the cycles of the heavens.  There is a wealth of symbolism and story as the ancients of many cultures recorded their astrological and astronomical observations, cataloged the effects stars and their emanations have on terrestrial existence, and theorized regarding their findings.

The structure used is a dodecahedron, the Platonic solid representing the fundamental medium of existence, aether, or quiddity.  I then layered alchemical and allegorical symbols representing the role the stars, the constellations, and their associated emanations have in our lives and etched them onto the inner surface of each face.  Around the rim of each facet are etched petroglyph-style depictions of the sun, stars, and cycles of the moon.  Pigments of purple and blue to suggest the rich indigo of the night sky were mixed, then painted on each panel after etching the surface and protecting points representing the stars of twelve zodiac constellations as would be seen from the inside of the structure.  As I was etching, painting, and tying the pieces, I tried to imagine and appreciate the wonder people through the ages have felt as they were lost in the night sky.

I found three wonderful quotes from others who had very similar thoughts:

God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.

Martin Luther

God who is eternally complete, who directs the stars, who is the master of fates, who elevates man from his lowliness to Himself, who speaks from the cosmos to every single human soul, is the most brilliant manifestation of the goal of perfection.

Alfred Adler

And perhaps my favorite:

Look out into the universe and contemplate the glory of God.  Observe the stars, millions of them, twinkling in the night sky, all with a message of unity, part of the very nature of God.

Sai Baba

(All quotes found on

Swan Nebula Image from Wikimedia Commons This and other images may be found at European Southern Observatory

Swan Nebula
Image from Wikimedia Commons
This and other images may be found at European Southern Observatory

It is simply impossible to comprehend how ancient and vast the universe is.  It is astounding to contemplate how all this was made for humans, unique among the thinking creatures.  And it is amazing to know God has pinned such marvelous hopes in us, beings made of mere clay.