Quilt Notes: MYSTIC STAR is not unique. All geometric quilt designs are mystic emblems in the same way that mandalas and labyrinths have been used, since ancient times for meditation, balance, and self-discovery. Patrick Conty, in his finely illustrated book on "THE GENESIS AND GEOMETRY OF THE LABYRINTH," says that "The inscription above the gate of Pythagorus's school — 'No one may enter here who does not know geometry' — is a sort of complement to that other dictum — 'know thyself.'"
According to Jinny Beyer's QUILTER'S ALBUM (#173-2), MYSTIC STAR was first illustrated by Nancy Cabot, in the Chicago Tribune and in timely fashion — in the dark of winter, nearing the solstice on December 18, 1937. Geometric quilt designs explore the inner sanctum, simultaneous with their shining as handicraft in the other world. During the Renaissance, the Spanish mystic, St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582), once wrote a masterpiece called THE INTERIOR CASTLE, which is constructed partly like a labyrinth, moving from room to room inward, but she also describes it like a magnificent star or sun-shining crystal, with innumerable facets, above, below and to the sides. Like our own, St. Teresa's deepest residence of the psyche is the most beautiful and joyful of all places to abide. (More on quilt designs and St. Teresa at THE CASTLE WALL.
As regards geometry, note that the star points of MYSTIC STAR are formed by pressing two right-angle triangles together, as is evident in Cabot's exquisite drawing: the resulting configuration happens to be a demonstration (as diagrammed here) of the teachings of Pythagorus / Πυθαγόρας. See at Wikipedia, notes on the Pythagorean Theorem.
For more reflections on the ancient Greeks and/or the mystical properties of quilt designs, compare with ALPHA and AURORA STARS also the POLARIS STAR, ANTIQUE TILE BLOCK,
YREKA SQUARE and GREEK LABYRINTH also SNAKE'S TRAIL,
and HOMESPUN BlOCK (much resembling St. Teresa's Castle), MYSTIC MAZE and BIRDS IN THE AIR. For an illustrated book on geometry in art as the ultimate spiritual path, see THE MYSTIC SPIRAL : JOURNEY OF THE SOUL, by Jill Purce. At this site, take a look at a list of recommended BOOKS, focusing on the history and appreciation of geometric quilt designs.