The term "starstuff" is attributed to astronomer and exobiologist Carl Sagan. Specifically, "The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff." Sagan's great work Cosmos changed the way many people view the universe, and more importantly, their own place within the cosmos. The message has echoed through the decades, even to the point where Cosmos was reimagined and recreated for television in 2014, hosted by contemporary "rock star" astronomer Neil Degrasse Tyson.
But the message is constant. We are made of starstuff, as is everything around us and everything that has ever existed.
Paganism is often described as an earth-honoring philosophy. That same earth is the product of starstuff from the birth of the universe itself.
Welcome to Cosmic Paganism, the expansion and universal reach of Pagan philosophy–a place where all ideas are to be considered and explored, and no mind will be inclined to be closed. Cosmic Paganism is founded on an idea that is both simple and complex, like the universe itself. Science has revealed that everything that ever was, is, or will be in the universe is composed of the very stuff that remains from the birth of the universe. Some folks like to call this matter “starstuff”. What it means is that the earth–that which is revered in Paganism–is itself composed of starstuff, making the study and the celebration of the cosmos as relevant as seasonal changes (which are also astronomical phenomena) and moon phases.
There is opposition to the idea of expanding Pagan notions beyond earthspace itself. But if everything in earthspace is itself starstuff, what limits really need to be applied?
In a strictly formal sense I am newly come to the roundtable of astronomy. That is, my original ride through academia proper took me through the linguistics of Medieval Europe–”Oh no, the HUMANITIES!” But in truth I’ve lived and explored as a scientific being for as long as my brain is telling me I have memories.
But you know, ability tracking through high school brought me to the erroneous conclusion that I had no real aptitude in math or the sciences. Standard testing like the SAT proved that I had equal prowess in any area I chose to pursue. Somehow, that idea that mathscience>Emmie stuck with me, So I launched into the liberal arts–with a healthy exploration of chemistry, physics, astrophysics, and astronomy.
Fast forward 20 years or so. Adulthood seems to have soothed the adolescent crazies from my mind. Suddenly I’m much better at mathematics than ever, and I’m beginning to really grasp the concepts of astrophysics. So I thought hey, I managed to do a doctorate once. Why not go again? This time I’m a non-traditional student setting up a core curriculum with astronomers from the best programs in the country. I’m going at my own pace, which luckily is fast enough. Let’s be clear, the formal end of this program is many years ahead of me, and everything I’m working with now could be entirely reversed.
I call astronomy the science of the mad--I only mean it with affection. In what other discipline does one arrive at theoretical conclusions based upon data that may or may not be provable or observable and relying on math that needs to take the invisible and its effects into account? To the anti-science types, if astronomy isn’t a leap of faith, what is?
And now let me introduce you to the celestial lady who has really gotten the ball rolling for me.
Peggy has incredible cosmological significance. The moonlet, when it is proven, demonstrates that the creation of the universe itself is an ongoing progress–still going and going. The universe wasn’t made once and then tadah, there’s the whole of creation, complete and unchanging. I don’t want to drive this point into the ground, but I suspect you know where I’m headed.
So here are some talking points to take away from this.
1) You’re never too old to jump paths.
2) Your brain at 40 might be far more capable than it was at 20.
3) The universe is constantly expanding.
4) Read Cosmos by Carl Sagan.
5) Ongoing creation is self-evident.
6) Don't put Paganism into an earth-restricted box.
7) Embrace your own starstuff!