Christmas has been in our eyes and ears and pocket books since the day after Thanksgiving. So I thought to go into the labyrinth of the invention of Christmas and many of its current ramifications in the next few postings. It is a fascinating example of how a story continually told over many years becomes its own evidence. This is Part 1.
It has been told by the Church for some 1700 years now, and those who disagreed with the received version didn’t live very long. The story as it is leaks like a sieve when looked at historically and there are many very interesting and true items mixed up in the smorgasbord of the tale. I expect to deal with the story of the birthday of Jesus, the invention of Santa Claus, and how Alice in Wonderland gets into the idea of flying reindeer pulling a sleigh. I may even get to look at the latest addition to the story…Rudolph of the fiery nose. It’s all connected, though sometimes in unexpected ways that are nothing to do with current views on the subjects involved. So here is number one, mainly about the date and the Magi.
It was not until the Fourth Century AD that the birthday of Jesus was proclaimed to be December 25th, just like most of the other and much older sacrificed gods in the Mediterranean area whose stories were very much the same. Mithras, Dionysus, Osiris, Attis and many others were all born on the 25th of December, and they were all sacrificed gods who rose again around March 25th, some three days after their apparent death.
Some of them had religions based on the story of their lives and several contained a ceremony in which wine and bread represented the body and blood of the god and after the ceremony the devotees considered themselves to be born again as new men and women. But that’s history, documented beyond doubt and known to anyone who has studied the history of religions. It’s why many scholars are certain that Jesus never existed as an historical person but like the other gods existed in stories meant to teach spiritual truths to people who didn’t read much, if at all.
Just keep that vital piece of data in mind…it was three hundred years after the supposed birth of Jesus before any of the stuff that we call Christianity today became formalized by a committee. This is rather like not deciding until 2076 that the American Revolutionaries were the good guys, and then only after an acrimonious debate that sent everyone who disagreed into exile. It would be another seventy years before it became historical dogma that Washington was a good guy. And many things have happened in the couple of centuries since that Revolution, including the destruction of its greatest innovation, the Constitution.
Every year about this time I get asked about the Three Wise Men and the Christmas Star. Here is a brief summary of some of what I know about it, and what many other people have written about it.
The Three thing can be dealt with immediately by saying that nowhere in the Bible does it say the number of the Wise men or magi, any more than it says that the Eden fruit was an apple, or that Joseph was a carpenter. Maybe there were fewer or more than three if the incident happened at all.
There is however an historical account of three Magi coming to see the Emperor Nero. They brought gold, frankincense and myrrh, and came to worship him; as the representative of the god Mithras. That may be a coincidence, though the rituals of Mithras, such as the Eucharist, baptism, the concept of being washed in the blood, and the birthday on December 25th were all taken over by the Christians later as their own, when they made their political deal with the Roman Emperor Constantine, a worshiper of Mithras, and based the organization of their new Church on the hierarchy of the Roman Empire, with the Pope as Emperor, the Cardinals as the great nobles, the bishops as lesser nobles and so on, down to the peasants who believed what they were told, and more importantly, did what they were told.
The guessing games about the Star all began with the great astronomer/astrologer Kepler in 1603. About a week before Christmas Kepler was watching a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the sign Pisces. A conjunction occurs when two or more planets seem very close to, or actually on top of one another. Rather like the hood ornament on your car covering the top of a mountain in the far distance. To say it was in the sign Pisces means that the stars in the constellation known as Pisces formed the background to the movement of the planets, which in those days were regarded as mobile stars.
Kepler was a scholar, and remembered that the Jewish writer Arbarbanel had given great importance to the idea that the Messiah would come when Jupiter and Saturn were in conjunction in the sign Pisces. Many of the Jews had been exiled to Babylon which then contained the best astronomers/astrologers and mathematicians of the day. Kepler was suddenly inspired with the idea that maybe it was a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn, to make a VERY bright star, that attracted the astronomer Magi to travel to Jerusalem.
He did his calculations, (without calculator, computer or logarithms remember) and found that in the historical year 6 BC, there had been THREE such conjunctions. And at the first one, on February 25th in 6 BC the two close planets were also joined by Mars in a triple conjunction. This would be as bright as a nova, and occurs every 805 years or so, not only when Messiahs are born. In early February of that year, Jupiter began to move from Aquarius towards an 8° conjunction with Saturn in Pisces. The effect wasn't visible in the sky because the Sun was also in Pisces, and is so bright that the stars can't be seen.
They don't just come out only at night. They are always there, but obscured by the bright Sun.
I have heard that if you go down a deep well or mine shaft and look up you can see the stars in daytime. A friend tells me that you can do that in places in New York if you stand between two monster skyscrapers and look up.
At the end of May the Sun was out of the way and the two planets were within 1° of each other, and visible in the morning sky as a single bright light for about two hours. Then Jupiter apparently overtook Saturn for a few months and came back again to have another conjunction in the first week in October. Then in the first week of December there was a final and very close conjunction before Jupiter wandered off into Aries at the end of January. These are facts of astronomy. Anyone who can follow the proper algorithms can calculate this. It is not secret knowledge.
In 1925 the German orientalist Schnabel translated the records of one of the most famous schools in the ancient world, the Institute of Astrology at Sippar in Babylon. He came across a set of notes by one of the scientists of the institute that gave a set of readings, showing that the conjunctions had been recorded as they happened over a five month period in the historical year 6 BC.
This is the astronomical year 7 BC, because astronomy has a year 0, being scientific, and history doesn't, because when the currently accepted birth date of Jesus was first worked out at the orders of the Pope, the Western world did not yet have a zero in their mathematics. This was given them later by the Hindus and the Arabs centuries after the birth, if indeed it was an historical event.
The King James version says "We have seen his star in the east." The learned scholars of 17th century England did not know then what we know now, that as the Greek was in the singular form it meant "In the first rays of dawn." This is one of the problems of fundamentalists who just ‘know’ that the translators were inspired and infallible from the beginning, we know better than the previous translators did what the words mean, having had centuries of discoveries and study that were not available to them.
The Babylonian astrologers considered that a planet had its greatest influence when it rose in the east as the Sun set in the west. This is called acronychal rising. So important was this matter that the acronychal risings of Saturn, Jupiter and Mars were calculated for decades ahead to be used in predictions. How many people who think that the ancients were primitives could do that now with or without a computer? These people had intellects. And they lived in ancient Iraq, the cradle of civilization, now destroyed by the American army and Air Force.
American troops stood by and watched as the world famous Museum and Library of Baghdad were looted by people paid by Japanese and American collectors of antiquities. Thousands of clay tablets and scrolls of priceless historical value were stolen. Both places were on the list of places to be protected because they formed a major part of the history of the human race. The Ministry of Oil however was heavily defended against any intrusion. Just to make a point about what is of value to certain folks in this modern age.
Back to the astrology. The sign of the West was Pisces. In the Jewish tradition it was the sign of Israel, and of the Messiah. Jupiter was always considered a most propitious and regal star in those days, and Saturn was the protector of Israel. The great Roman historian Tacitus gives the god Saturn equal status with the god of the Jews for this reason.
Now Babylon was the home of thousands of Jews after the reign of Nebuchadnezzar. It is not at all unlikely given the Jewish predilection for book learning, that many of them eventually studied at the Institute of Sippar.
The conjunctions of Jupiter and Saturn would have been exciting news for any Jewish star-gazers. It could only be interpreted astrologically as the signal for the birth of a mighty king in the land of their fathers. At the end of May they could have done their calculations for October and found that the next conjunction was on right on the Day of Atonement, the Holiest Day of the Jewish year. Total validation, if you start off with their assumptions of course.
If some of the astrologers had started out after the hottest part of the summer, they would have arrived at Jerusalem about the end of November in time to ask the very politically naïve and famous question of Herod. In modern vernacular “Where can we find the kid who is going to take over your job?”
If they had then set out for Bethlehem, which would then have been the old Judean village of Bet Lahm, they would have followed the road to Hebron from Jerusalem, which road goes almost due north-south. On the December 4th conjunction the two planets would have appeared to them as a great double star in the southern sky. And so, indeed, the star would have gone before them all the way to Bet Lahm, which, as a small village would make it easy to search for a newly born or very young child.
Now if all this happened, then the Magi certainly didn't find Jesus as the arithmetic shows. Herod wanted to know when the star appeared. It had appeared three times. Zacharias had news of his wife's conception on a Day of Atonement. So if John (the Baptist) was conceived in the previous October, he would have been born in July, the most unbearably hot time in Mesopotamia, when the Magi would not have traveled. He would have been five or six months old when they found him in December, and Herod's idea of killing all the kids under two makes Holocaust type sense, because the star had been seen for about a year.
Now Jesus was six months younger than his cousin John, according to the scriptures, so he might indeed have been born in December, but the Talmudic law has the flocks brought in under cover in November to avoid the winter cold. So there weren't any shepherds abiding in the fields, looking after their flocks if he was born in December.
It looks as if it was John that the Wise Men were looking for, if this happened at all.
The Mandeans were an ancient sect, which still has descendants today, and they were adamant in their view that John was the legitimate Messiah and that Jesus was a fake. Their commentaries were removed in the sanitization of the scriptures after the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD, which was the year in which Jesus officially became the Savior, the Messiah, and the Son of God. Three centuries after the alleged event, and by a committee vote, as I mentioned before, and may do so again.
Incidentally, it was unanimous because those who disagreed with the motion were exiled. Shades of future political chicanery. It was at this Council that the Jews were blamed for the death of Jesus. This was a lie, and known to be a lie. It was invented because the Emperor of Rome was present at the Council and to have pointed out to him that Jesus was executed by Romans, as a political activist against Rome, would not have been an idea that enhanced the survival value of the committee.
From this lie came the seventeen centuries of Church lies about the Jews killing Jesus. The Pope did apologize to the Jews a few years ago, but the damage has been done.
Historically then, the story of the birth of Jesus as told in the New Testament just doesn’t add up. Christians see the names Augustus and Cyrenius in the account by Luke, and think that because these were historical persons the case is closed. It is true that Augustus gave orders for a census to do with taxation around the years B.C. 7 and 6. But it was only for Roman citizens. And yes Cyrenius was governor of Syria. But that was in B.C.. 6.
Historically the story may not hold much water, but symbolically it's right on the button, which is a point in favor of the allegory theory of the story of Jesus. A person who could say truly "I am the Light of the World" according to the report, would be likely to have a symbolic birth in a place called Bethlehem. This is two words in Hebrew and means "House of Bread."
The is the name given by alchemists and magicians to the small intestines, which are ruled by Virgo in astrology. It is from this region that alchemists use a specially learned form of digestion to pull every bit of solar energy from their food. All the food we eat is modified sunlight in some form or other. So the Virgin is the place where the light is created. There is no problem with the symbolism, though it could apply to many more people than just one, and was meant to do so.
I have gone into the historical details in some depth in my book Who was Jesus Really? details available by clicking on the title on the right hand column of this page. It is very likely that there was no historical Jesus at all as a person. But if there was, then it is possible to deduce even from the current, heavily edited and altered gospels, and Roman and Jewish history, who he was and how he avoided death on the cross and died many years later in an amazing standoff with the 10th Roman legion. And this story fits all the historically known data together. The Christian version makes no historical sense.
The Christmas cards have an ox and an ass and a stable as their subjects. Well, that is because most people nowadays don’t even think of sharing their houses with farm animals. They don’t have farm animals. Why should they even consider the matter? But people then often protected their valuable livestock from the cold by having them inside in a separate part of the house, often a lower part. This also helped to keep the sleeping humans above them warmer as the animal heat rose upwards.
It is a more likely scenario, if it happened at all, that Joseph and Mary came to stay with relatives and the house was already full of other visitors. They then, without any particular problems, would sleep in the same area as the animals, which would have a stone manger for the animal food. The reason for the ox and the ass is pure convention, like the Three Wise Men. There is no other basis for it other than constant repetition.
The Greek word used by Luke means ‘cave,’ not stable. Another possible story there that fits well with the births of other gods by virgin mothers. The cave in symbolism represents the entrance of the womb of Mother Earth from which all are born, and to which all return.
I have gone into this story about the date at some length because it fits my own views about John and Jesus. But there are many others. Here are a few.
The astronomer Menke says that the evidence points to April 6, 6BC because of the amazing line up of planets with Venus, Saturn, Jupiter, Mercury, Sun and Mars all tightly packed together in Pisces and Aries, in a line up that occurs once every 5 billion years. He seems to think that Jesus must be the great exception, not the great example.
The astronomer Hughes works on the acronychal rising concept and gives his date as September 15th 7 BC. The astronomer Don Jacobs proposes 1st March 7 BC with six planets in Pisces.
Some of you may have seen the monstrous tome the Urantia Book, said to have been channeled by aliens who call our planet Urantia. They gave the dates of many world events including the birth of Jesus at noon on August 21st 7 BC. This has Jupiter and Saturn both retrograde and conjunct in Pisces.
Zipporah Dobyns, one of the finest astrologers around, favors September 5, 7 BC because of her conception of Christianity as a Virgo-Pisces religion. She describes her chart fully in The Mutable Dilemma of December 1985, and explains all the ways in which the chart represents a spiritual healer. The same article gives her chart for the crucifixion, which is based on more definite data because it was supposed to have happened just before Passover and on a Friday, in the afternoon. Paul mentioned darkness in connection with the event. There are only two years that work, 30 and 33 AD. Adding in the eclipse that actually occurred, the consensus is that the crucifixion took place on the 3rd of April in 33 AD, at about 2:45 in the afternoon. This tallies with Luke's mention of 3 p.m. as the time of death.
Edgar Cayce, in reading 5749-15 said that Jesus was born on January 6th at midnight, Mary was 16 and Joseph 36. In other readings he gave the birth as March 19th and 24th or 25th of December. It is unlikely that Jesus was born several times in the same year isn’t it? Even faith would have a hard time with that concept. Maybe parallel universes might help, but it's still a difficult sell.
Brad Steiger's Words from the Source says that the birth was at midnight, the month was May, Mary was 16 and Joseph 38.
Mark Penfield uses the hint from a Jesuit that He was born not of a Virgin but of the Virgin. This lets in the concept of the sign Virgo, and Mark gives the date as September 2nd 7 BC at about 10:30 pm. That puts the Sun in Virgo in the 4th House.
There is an old tradition based on the Talmud that Jesus was born on April 12, 7 BC.
John Addey worked from an early Christian tradition that Jesus was born the day after the Jewish Sabbath, and he comes up with August 22, 7 B.C.
The newest idea I know of is the Craig Chester idea that Jesus was born at the conjunction of Jupiter, Venus and the star Regulus. He gives the year as 2 BC, which I don't buy for a moment because we know for sure that Herod died in 4 B.C.
And there are plenty of scholars who think that Jesus was not an historical figure at all, but a character around which allegories were woven for spiritual purposes. This was true for all the other sacrificed and resurrected gods of the Mediterranean area. And there were many, and most of them died for three days and were resurrected around the feast of Oestera that the Christians took over and called Easter. And nearly all of them were born in humble circumstance around December 25th, another date taken over by the Christians.
These were the very familiar ideas preached by Paul who had tremendous success doing so. Later on the Church tried to dilute his teachings and make them counter the views he expressed. They did this in their usual way, by forgery. The letters to Timothy and Titus which contradict the Paul who says that Christ is within him, are forgeries. Only seven of the Pauline epistles, the very first writings about the new faith can be considered genuine. These you have noticed are cleverly placed AFTER the gospels prepared by the winners of the debate, to give the impression that the gospels were first. They weren’t, by many decades.
Whatever your views, Happy Yuletide, Happy Christmas, and Happy Kwanza. If another feast day has been invented since last year and I missed it just chalk it up to my ignorance. I did not mean to offend.