"We Are Made of Stardust"
A Meditative, Participatory Ritual
(for adults)

by Connie Barlow
February 2003
(revised November 2003)


This webpage provides guidance for a MEDITATIVE STARDUST RITUAL created by Connie Barlow.

Another (highly recommended! version) created and facilitated in New England by Beth Fitzgerald, and that utilizes "The Buddha Bowl" parable as part of the ceremony, can be accessed in pdf form by clicking BUDDHA BOWL - STARDUST RITUAL.

INTENTION: To help participants deeply experience their connection to ancestral stars, and to easily and joyously learn the wonders of chemical creation inside the fiery furnaces of stars.

MATERIALS: At least one Candle. Glitter (available at crafts stores or children's departments), along with a shell or other object to hold the glitter and for passage hand to hand. Water in a lovely bowl or container. chime or bell. Other relevant or seasonal altar objects.

SIZE OF GROUP: This ritual is adaptable to any size of group, but it is most profound when it can be conducted in the round, with a circle of seats around a central altar table or cloth.

TEACHING THE UNDERLYING SCIENCE: This ritual has been written with the expectation that participants will already have had at least a brief instructional introduction to the grounding science of chemical formation in stars. So you may need to spend the first 20 minutes to half hour providing this foundation for all. All this background science can be learned easily by going to Stardust Background on this website. You may wish to create a "Periodic Table" of your own, based on the chart you will see in this file. You may also wish to purchase a book or posters (www.nasa.gov) of Hubble Space Telescope photographs and hold these up to show examples of Red Giant emissions and of the atom-rich remnants of supernova explosions.

OTHER PREPARATIONS: Ideally the ritual can be conducted in a darkened room, in which the candle or candles cast the most light. Optional: Encourage participants in advance to bring a meaningful piece of jewelry, a symbol of an elder/mentor they wish to hold in mind, and one altar object.

WELCOME, INTRODUCTIONS, OUTLINE WHAT IS TO COME. (Do this part however works best for your group.) You may ask each person, for their introduction, to include a brief explanation of their altar object, if they so choose.

INVOCATION. You may wish to give several participants a chance to choose to read to the group one of the "Classic Quotes" of the Epic of Evolution, downloadable in PDF format available HERE. We highly recommend the pair of 1988 quotes by Joanna Macy and by John Seed. For Buddhist or ecumenical groups, you may wish to do a dramatic (perhaps acted-out) reading of Paula Hirschboeck's "Buddha Bowl" evolutionary parable, or a short duet reading written by Connie Barlow, "Who Am I".

STARDUST PRELUDE. You may wish to quickly review the science in a dramatic way by choosing 2 to 8 readers to present an 8-part STARDUST PRELUDE that can be used before a ritual or to dramatically accompany a lesson, workshop, or sermon on the stardust theme.

The Stardust Ritual

NOTE: An outline of content notes is printed here below, encouraging you to develop your own ritual by reflection ahead of time, spontaneity, and by referring to the Stardust Background document. Alternatively, you may download in pdf form A FULL RITUAL SCRIPT, easily performed by 6 volunteer leaders/readers. Choose a SCRIPT either with the universe as the source of creativity, or God as the source.

  • STARDUST SCRIPT for 6 volunteers (Universe version)
  • STARDUST SCRIPT for 6 volunteers (God version)

    Outline of Content for One Person Leading Stardust Ritual

    1. THE GREAT RADIANCE (Big Bang) Light central candle; turn off house lights. 13.7 billion years ago.

    2. EMERGENCE OF HYDROGEN and the formation of great clouds of hydrogen gas. Commune with hydrogen by anointing ourselves with WATER (H2O), recognizing that each hydrogen atom is a true elder: 13.7 billion years old. While doing so, one by one, we may each speak of an ELDER, a mentor dear to us, whose legacy we carry with us and commit to further.

    3. CREATION OF CARBON, NITROGEN, OXYGEN in Red Giant Stars (as our own sun will become), and the giving away of those elements crucial for life in the exhalations of such stars. Here we focus on our BREATH: the in-breath of oxygen (from plants), and our out-breath of carbon dioxide (given back to plants), and the vast supply of nitrogen that comprises the atmosphere. All these (especially nitrogen) are the gifts of Red Giant stars.

    4. CREATION OF SILICON, CALCIUM, ETC. in hot blue, massive stars. Here we reflect on how the structural frame of our bodies (calcium of bone) is born within stars when the structural frame of rocks (silicon) is fused with more helium. Participants will feel their bones holding them upright, and may choose to speak the names of rock formations that have been meaningful in their lives.

    5. CREATION OF COPPER, GOLD, AND SILVER in the explosion phase of hot blue stars, when these stars become supernovas. At the start of the ritual, and in anticipation of this part, some participants may have placed rings or other jewelry on the altar, which will be ritualistically taken back at this time, one by one, while each person may choose to speak of their significance.

    6. BLACK HOLES, DARK MATTER, AND DARK ENERGY. Let us not neglect the 96% of the Universe that we know almost nothing about (23% dark matter and 73% dark energy), while honoring the generative "darkness" that periodically comes into our own lives.

    7. GLITTER AND SONG. Close the ritual by anointing the foreheads of one another, in turn, with stardust (glitter), while the group repeatedly sings a chant-song, "You are made of stardust, every single atom, of carbon and of oxygen, calcium and iron." When all are anointed, rise, all join hands, while still singing, but change the "You" to "We".

    POEM. You may wish to use a poem:

    1. by Joy Harjo
        I can hear the sizzle of a newborn star
    and know that anything of meaning,
    of fierce magic, is emerging here.
    I am witness to flexible eternity, the evolving past.
    And I know we will live forever,
    as dust or breath in the face of stars,
    in the shifting pattern of winds.

    2. "All My Life" by Joyce Keller
        All my life I've wanted to believe in God,
    gone to church, followed every spiritual teacher in town,
    meditated and prayed, attended 12-step programs,
    but still I felt abandoned and alone in the universe.
        All my life I've wanted to see the face of God.
    Is he really just a mean old man in the sky?
    Perhaps God is a chubby Buddha,
    or maybe the Dalai Lama, always laughing.
    Or is She a woman, the green Tara, weeping pearl tears,
    the Virgin of Guadalupe, crowned with roses?
        All my life I've tried to solve that old mystery,
    Who are we? Where did we come from? Why are we here?
    Then one day I saw the pictures
    sent back by the Hubble Telescope:
    Hot blue stars born out of the red glow of galaxies,
    a pulsating firestorm of fluorescent clouds,
    the obsidian sky of deep space.
    Spirals of comets, like swirling diamond necklaces.
    Black holes, exploding supernovas,
    a hundred thousand light-years away,
    endless, unimaginable, eternal.
    And I knew that finally I had seen the face of God.

  • Click to go to "STARDUST BACKGROUND" for a helpful guide for teachers and ritual leaders to learn the exciting details as well as the broad outline of how the chemical elements were created in stars.

  • Click to visit EXUBERANT AND PLAYFUL forms of stardust rituals for adults and children.

  • Click to return to Stardust MAIN PAGE.

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