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Astrology and Pagan Symbolism in Christianity
First of all we shall start the definitions of the key words as used in the research question.
Astrology can be defined as the study of how events on earth correspond to the positions and movements of astronomical bodies which are the moon, sun, planets and the stars.
Paganism in general is a term for the ancient and modern religions which identify nature as the body of the divine e.g. Taoism is the paganism of China, Hinduism is the Paganism of India, Shinto the paganism of Japan and Santeria, Voudon & Macumba are the paganisms of the African Diaspora; etc
On the other hand symbolism is the applied use of symbols i.e iconic representations that carry particular conventional meanings. Symbolism also refers to a way of choosing representative symbols that are in line with the abstract rather than literal properties, allowing for the broader interpretation of a carried meaning than more literal concept-representations can allow. A religion can be described as a language of concepts related to human spirituality. Symbolism hence is an important aspect of most religions.
Christianity is the monotheistic system of beliefs and practices that are based on the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus as embodied in the New Testament and that emphasizes the role of Jesus as savior and Christ.
Zodiac is one of the oldest conceptual images in human history. It reflects the sun as it figuratively passes through the 12 major constellations over the course of a year. It also reflects the 12 months of the year, the 4 seasons, and the solstices and equinoxes. The term Zodiac relates to the fact that constellations were anthropomorphized, or personified, as figures, or animals.
Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary on December 25th/a> in Bethlehem, his birth was symbolized by a star in the east which three kings or magi followed to locate and adorn the new savior. He was a child teacher at age 12 and at the age of 30 he was baptized by John the Baptist, and thus began the ministry. Jesus had 12 disciples whom he traveled about with performing miracles such as healing the sick, raising the dead, walking on water, he was also known as the King of Kings, the Son of God, the Light of the World, the Alpha and Omega, the Lamb of God e.g. After being betrayed by Judas his disciple and sold for 30 pieces of silver, he was crucified, placed in a tomb and after 3 days resurrected and ascended to Heaven.
The birth sequence of Jesus is completely astrological. The star in the east is Sirius, the brightest star in the sky at night, which on December 24th aligns with the three brightest stars in Orion's Belt. These three bright stars are referred today what they were called in ancient times, The Three Kings. The Three Kings and the brightest star Sirius, all point to the place of the sunrise on December 25th. This is why the Three Kings follow the star in the east, in order to locate the sunrise or the birth of the sun.
Virgin Mary is the constellation Virgo, also known as the Virgo the Virgin which in Latin means virgin. The ancient glyph for Virgo is the altered "m". This is why Mary with other virgin mothers, such as Adonis's mother Myrrha and Buddha's mother Maya begin with an M. Virgo is also referred to as the House of Bread, and the represents of virgin holding a sheaf of wheat. The House of Bread and its symbol of wheat represent August and September, the time of harvest. In turn, Bethlehem literally translates to "house of bread". Bethlehem therefore refers to the constellation Virgo, a place in the sky, not on Earth.
Another very interesting phenomenon that occurs around December 25th is that from the summer solstice to the winter solstice, the days become shorter and colder. From the northern hemisphere perspective, the sun appears to move south gets smaller and more scarce. The shortening of days and the expiration of the crops when approaching the winter solstice symbolizes the process of death to the ancients. By December 22nd, the Sun's demise was fully realized, for the Sun having moved south continually for 6 months, makes it to its lowest point in the sky. And here a curious thing occurs, the Sun stops moving south, at least for 3 days. In the three day pause, the Sun stays in the vicinity of the Southern Cross, or Crux, the constellation. After this time on December 25th, the Sun moves 1 degree, this time north, foreshadowing longer days, spring and warmth. And thus it was said, the Sun died on the cross, was dead for 3 days, only to be resurrected or born again. This is why Jesus and numerous other Sun Gods share the crucifixion, 3 day death, and resurrection concept. It’s the Sun's transition period before it shifts its direction back towards the Northern Hemisphere bringing spring and thus salvation.
However, they didn’t celebrate the resurrection of the Sun until the spring equinox, or Easter. This is because at the spring equinox, the Sun officially overpowers the evil darkness, as daytime thereafter becomes longer in duration than night, and the revitalizing conditions of spring emerge.
Therefore the obvious astrological symbolism around Jesus regards the 12 disciples. They are simply the 12 constellations of the Zodiac, which Jesus, being the Sun, travels about with.
In fact, the number 12 is seen more often throughout the Bible which has more to do with astrology than anything else.
Looking at the cross of the Zodiac, the figurative life of the Sun, this was not an artistic expression or tool to track the Sun's movements. It is a Pagan adaptation of the cross of the Zodiac. That is why Jesus in early occult art is shown with his head on the cross the Sun of God, the Light of the World, the Risen Savior, who will "come again," as it is every morning, the Glory of God who battles against the works of darkness, as he is born again every morning, and can be seen coming in the clouds, up in Heaven, with his Crown of Thorns, or, sun rays.
Now, of the many astrological-astronomical metaphors in the Bible, the most important has to do with the ages. In the scriptures there are numerous references ‘Age’. To understand this, we need to familiarize with the phenomenon called the precession of the equinoxes. Ancient Egyptians along with cultures long before them recognized that approximately for every 2150 years the sunrise on the morning of the spring equinox would occur at a different sign of the Zodiac. This is concerned with the slow angular wobble that the Earth maintains as it rotates on its axis. It’s called a precession because the constellations go backwards, rather than through the normal annual cycle. The time that it takes for the precession to go through all 12 signs is roughly 25 to 765 years. This is also called the Great Year, and ancient societies were very aware of this. Each 2150 year period was called an age. From 4300 b.c. to 2150 b.c., it was called the Age of Taurus, the Bull. From 2150 b.c. to 1 a.d., it was called the Age of Aries, the Ram, and from 1 a.d. to 2150 a.d. it was called the Age of Pisces, the age we are still in to date, and in and around 2150, we shall enter the new age called the Age of Aquarius.
The Bible reflects a symbolic movement through 3 ages, while foreshadowing a 4th. In the Old Testament when Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the 10 Commandments, he was very upset to see his people worshiping a golden bull calf. He reacted by shattering the stone tablets and instructing his people to kill each other in order to purify themselves. I would attribute this anger to the fact that the Israelites were worshiping a false idol or something to that effect. The fact is that the golden bull is Taurus the Bull, and Moses represents the new Age of Aries the Ram. That is why Jews even today still blow the Ram's horn. Moses represents the new Age of Aries, and upon the new age, everyone should shed the old age. Other deities mark these transitions as well, a pre-Christian god who kills the bull, in the same symbol.
Jesus is the figure who ushers in the age following Aries, the Age of Pisces the two Fish. Fish symbolism is very repetitive in the New Testament. Jesus fed 5000 people with bread and 2 fish. When he began his ministry walking along Galilee, he befriends 2 fishermen, who followed him. I have seen Jesus-fish on the backs of people's cars. Yet they do not know what it actually means. It is a Pagan astrological symbolism for the Sun's Kingdom during the Age of Pisces. Also, Jesus' assumed birth date is essentially the start of this age.
In Luke 22:10 when Jesus is asked by his disciples where the next Passover will be, Jesus replied ‘Behold, when ye are entered into the city, there shall a man meet you bearing a pitcher of water... follow him into the house where he entereth in.’ this scripture is one of the most revealing of all the astrological references. The man carrying a pitcher of water is Aquarius, the water bearer, who is always seen as a man pouring out a pitcher of water. He represents the age after Pisces, and when the Sun leaves the Age of Pisces (Jesus), it will go into the House of Aquarius, as Aquarius follows Pisces in the precession of the equinoxes. Also what Jesus is that after the Age of Pisces will come the Age of Aquarius.
We have all heard about the end times and the end of the world. Apart from the depictions in the Book of Revelation, the main source of this idea comes from Matthew 28:20, where Jesus says ‘I will be with you even to the end of the world.’ Otherwise, in King James Version, ‘the world’ is a mistranslation, among many mistranslations. The actual word being used is "aeon", which means ‘age.’ ‘I will be with you even to the end of the age.’ Which is true, as Jesus' Solar Piscean representation will end when the Sun enters the Age of Aquarius. The entire concept of end times and the end of the world is a misinterpreted astrological allegation. Let's tell that to the approximately 100 million people in America who believe the end of the world is coming.
Furthermore, Jesus character, a literary and astrological hybrid, is most explicitly similar to the Egyptian Sun god Horus e.g., inscribed about 3500 years ago on the walls of the Temple of Luxor in Egypt are images of the enunciation of the immaculate conception, the birth, and the adoration of Horus. The images begin with Thaw announcing to the virgin Isis that she will conceive Horus, then Nef the holy ghost shall impregnant the virgin Isis, and then the virgin birth and the adoration. This exactly entails Jesus’ miracle conception. In fact, the literary similarities between the Egyptian religion and the Christian religion are staggering.
The plagiarism is continuous. The story of Noah and the Ark is taken directly from the traditions. The concept of a Great Flood is common throughout the ancient world, with over 200 different cited claims in different periods and times. However, one needs look no further for a pre-Christian source than the Epic of Gilgamesh, written in 2600 b.c. In this story is told of a Great Flood commanded by God, an Ark with saved animals on it, and even the release and return of a dove, all held in common with the biblical story, among many other similar occurrences.
Then there is the plagiarized story of Moses. Upon Moses' birth, it is said that he was placed in a reed basket and set adrift in a river in order to avoid infanticide. He was later rescued by a daughter of a king and raised by her as a Prince. This baby in a basket story was lifted directly from the myth of Sargon of Akkad of around 2250 b.c. Sargon was born, placed in a reed basket in order to avoid infanticide, and set adrift in a river. He was in turn rescued and raised by Akki, a royal mid-wife.
Furthermore, Moses is known as the giver of the Ten Commandments. However, the idea of a Law being passed from God to a prophet on a mountain is also a very old motif. Moses is just a law giver in a series of law givers in mythological history. In India, Manou was the great law giver. In Crete, Minos ascended Mount Dicta, where Zeus gave him the sacred laws. While in Egypt there was Mises, who carried stone tablets and upon them the laws of god were written.
The Ten Commandments are taken outright from Spell 125 of the Egyptian Book of the Dead. What the Book of the Dead phrased "I have not killed "Thou shall not kill," "I have not told lies" became "Thou shall not bear false witness" "I have not stolen" became "Thou shall not steal,” and so forth. In fact, the Egyptian religion is likely the primary foundational basis for the Judeo-Christian theology. Baptism, afterlife, final judgment, virgin birth and resurrection, crucifixion, the Ark of the Covenant, circumcision, saviors, Holy Communion, the great flood, Easter, Christmas, Passover, and many more, are all attributes of Egyptian ideas, long predating Christianity and Judaism.
Justin Martyr, one of the first Christian historians and defenders, said: "When we say that Jesus Christ, our teacher, was produced without sexual union, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into Heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those who you esteem Sons of Jupiter." In a different writing, Justin Martyr said "He was born of a virgin; accept this in similarity with what you believe of Perseus."
It's quite obvious that Justin and other early Christians knew how similar Christianity was to the Pagan religions and practices. However, Justin had a solution, as far as he was concerned, the Devil did it. The Devil had the foresight to come before Christ, and create these characteristics in the Pagan world.
The Bible is just but an astro-theological literary fold hybrid, just like nearly all religious myths before it. In fact, the aspect of transference, of one character's attributes to a new character, can be found within the bible itself. In the Old Testament there's the story of Joseph. Joseph was a prototype for Jesus. Joseph was born of a miracle birth; Jesus was born of a miracle birth. Joseph was of 12 brothers, Jesus had 12 disciples. Joseph was sold for 20 pieces of silver; Jesus was sold for 30 pieces of silver. Brother "Judah" suggests the sale of Joseph, disciple "Judas" suggests the sale of Jesus. Joseph began his work at the age of 30; Jesus began his work at the age of 30. The parallels go on and on.
At the time of Jesus, the Mediterranean world was ruled by the Roman Empire. The Romans were pagans, who had their own gods namely; Jupiter, Venus, Mercury and so on. The names of these gods have survived to date in the names of the planets, the days of the week, names of months and general linguistic usage. The other cultures in the area also had their own gods and goddesses, who corresponded more or less to the Roman pantheon. Greek was the language of culture in the Middle East; the main centre was Alexandria in Egypt and the Roman world was one in which trade and religion passed rapidly between the cities and towns along the marvello.
Celebrating the Solstice was forbidden by the Church, but many customs survived anyway. In the 4th Century, Pope Julius I declared that 25th December was Jesus' birthday and so celebrations were in order. This effectively transformed the Pagan occasion into a Christian holy day (holiday). This was not, however, merely a convenient way to 'Christianize' a Pagan celebration. There is no historical evidence to prove what date Jesus was born on, or the season, or even the year. But after many years of calculation, contemplation and argument, 25th December was assigned. And since the 'why' is more important than the 'when', that date has been good enough for Christians ever since.
Paganism has a wider influence on our lives than we might care to think. Take for example, the simple wedding ring. This has profound Pagan origins yet is considered an essential part of the wedding ceremony by many Christians. Overemphasizing the relevance and importance of religious symbols can lead to conflict. Consider the tensions that rose in France during 2004/5, following the banning of Muslim headscarves, Sikh turbans, Jewish skullcaps, large Christian crucifixes, and other conspicuous religious symbols that don't blend into secular state schools5. The 'headscarf issue' resulted in just a handful of school expulsions but more damagingly generated ill-feeling, divided the country and achieved nothing positive.
Paganism has had a wide influence on Christianity given the many examples of rites and regalia that support this assertion. And this raises the question: So what? Christians should be cautious about condemning practices as Pagan, just because of their origins. The origins may be interesting, but not so important. What is really important, however, is what we do with these things.
- J. G. Frazer (1993) The Golden Bough, Macmillan & Co. Ltd, London
- R. Graves (1961) the white Goddess, Faber & Faber, London
- A. His lop: (1990) The Two Babylon’s, Loizeaux Brothers; 2nd edition.
- M. D. Magee Sun Gods as Atoning Saviors an online resource investigating the origins of Christian and Jewish teachings
- Strabo:( 1982) The Geography of Strabo, Loeb Classical Library
- Tertullian:( 870) Adversus Judaeos, trans. Rev. S. Thelwall, 1870
- B. G. Walker :( 1983) the Woman's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets, Harper & Row, NY