On the Record: We are all made of stardust

Carol Quaintance

As the season of Advent is upon us, we remember the biblical wise men following the star.

Entering into the magical world of childhood, we experience the awe and fantasy of the other world. Every culture has its own myths and enchanting stories.

Why is there a commonality among the cultures? Storytellers unite with the listener through the intuition of both partners capturing the collective consciousness of human thought. It began as oral tradition, humans telling the stories of life, the quest, the awe and the interconnectedness of life that is written on the human heart.

These ancient stories have been captured in books, film and other art forms dating back to the cave man, the Greeks and the early philosophers. From Aesop’s Fables to Grimm’s Fairy Tales, they often seek the magical and the mystical, reaching to the heavens, the sun, the moon and the stars as the dance of life unfolds.

Walt Disney captured in films the fairy godmother sprinkling magical dust transforming Cinderella into a beautiful princess, and Tinker Bell flitting around with a magic wand spreading fairy dust. In many of these old fables and fairytales conceived before the age of science and discovery, one has to ponder, has a concealed fragment of our minds always known that we came from the dust of stars? According to the late Morgan Freeman on the television science program Nova, there is some solid science behind this statement.

Almost every element on Earth was formed at the heart of a star. They owe their light to the heavens as gas released by nuclear fusion reactions at their core, the very same reactions which created chemical elements like carbon or iron – the building blocks which make up the world around us. The tips of my toes are made of the same matter as the tips of your toes and the tips of the mountaintops.

When a massive star explodes at the end of its life, the resulting high energy environment enables the creation of some of the heaviest elements, including iron and nickel. The explosion also disperses the different elements across the universe, scattering the stardust which now makes up planets including Earth. Stars contain the same basic elements or matter as our bodies do. This act of their complete destruction, a supernova, gives birth to the tiniest particles of planets and our life. The heavenly stars are the essence of what runs through our veins.

The ancient tradition of making a wish on a shooting star is the act of projecting our deepest of desires into the universe, just as the act of prayer unites Christians with the Creator. The Creation of all things including our Spirit is found in the creation story in the Judeo-Christian tradition, in the Old Testament, stories that were originally told through oral tradition inspired by the Holy Spirit. These varying accounts of our origins aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive.

Did the wise men really follow that star? Is it strange to believe? We are a complex mixture of matter that evolved from one of the most extraordinary of things: stars.

What do you think? I am listening on and off the record. Email your reply with name and town to quaintancecarol@gmail.com and your response could end up in next week’s issue!