A star is born

Dr Gabrielle Hosein -
Dr Gabrielle Hosein -


ONCE UPON a time, the stars were scattered across the heavens, like shells strewn across an immeasurable uneven beach of black volcanic sand. How did they come to be formed, as they are now, in cosmic patterns of order and predictability? Perhaps you haven’t heard this story.

Two spirits, now older than memory, were nearing the end of their first life together. Unwilling to hand over their future to the vagaries of destiny, they wondered how they could find each other in their new incarnations when reborn. They lay entwined under the night sky, their bones translucent with age, trying to find meaning in the traverse of the universe.

In soft breaths, they talked about the trajectory of their years, like a yellow poui blossoming before falling bare. We all are born, grow, bloom and eventually return to earth and air as the energy of atoms and molecules before being moulded in some new form. Even spirits accept that this is an infinite cycle with no escape.

By their next journey, in the clay of different bodies, the planet would have revolved on its axis and orbited the sun, and all of the solar system would have shifted like a sparkle of fireflies lighting in erratic motion. How would they recognise each other? How could they meet again?

The expanse of stars above them roamed haphazardly at light speed, as indifferent as storms at sea to the creatures that live beneath. It was very dark and clear, as the moon had not yet glinted its crescent eye toward those, like them, who marked time by the fullness of its face toward the sun.

If you are lost on a dense blue night or need the kind of map that can help you to navigate across lives, how do you find yourself where you need to be and with whom you belong? The spirits looked around, seeing the geometry of ant colonies, honeycombs and spider webs, degrees repeated in the angles of starfish, reflectional symmetry in butterflies, echoing fractals in ferns and sunflowers, and exact spirals in the exoskeletons of snails and resting chameleons’ tails.

They wondered whether such mathematics could solve questions of sweetness and sorrow quietly nursed in the nebula of the heart, where desire to love over lifetimes is born, when even angels can’t help but want another sacred chance.

Reaching up, they began to rearrange the stars, tugging at comets, moons, meteors, suns, planets and swirls of cloud and gas. From their time wandering among nature, and studying the art and science of endlessly inventive flowers and precisely-evolving animals, the two spirits began to name their own magical creations. This one they twisted like the water snake. That one they bent like the scorpion with a red eye. They pinned some together like a kite or a cross and others into the shape of dogs, together stitching their memories of the horse, crow, lion and bear with starlight.

It felt like writing music in a language of symbols and signs or drawing directions with hieroglyphics. It was as if they embroidered constellations out of distant soaring objects, landscaping familiar points and pathways from the night sky’s tumultuous anarchic array. They gave these new assemblages names, as we do for towns, streets and families, so that the journey back to each other would be familiar, soothing their aching and uncertainties.

Each configuration gave direction; go left and keep travelling past the lion’s heart, turn south when you arrive at the dragon, then look for the centaur to be your guide. They knotted space with time such that Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, Venus and Mercury would appear strung like a celestial necklace, with a crescent moon as its pendant jewel on only designated nights, like a love letter that finally arrives to puncture the heartache of unplanned solitude. They would meet on an open field underneath, recognising each other’s heart in who expectantly arrived.

So, now you know how and why the universe was once ordered in ways later relied upon by sailors and explorers, nomads and royalty for so many thousands of years. Now you know why Jupiter, Saturn, the moon and the sun seemed to lock and shine together in the constellation of the ram at a moment of birth that has become so mythological today.

Is there ever any explanation other than love? Love that created a cartography of stars to guide where we are meant to be, to decide or maybe to defy our spirits’ destiny.

Diary of a mothering worker

Entry 446



"A star is born"

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