is an excerpt from StarIQ co-founder Rick Levine's inspiring book
about the astrological origins of Christianity.
Star of Bethlehem
Christmas is a holy day in the Christian tradition, it has become even
more than a Christian holiday. The Christmas season has become infused
into our culture everywhere we look. At this time of year, it really
doesn’t matter whether you’re Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Buddhist.
During the deepening of winter, the Christmas spirit permeates the air.
story of the Christmas Star is shrouded in mystery. There are things
that are illusion and there are things that are real. We’re taught through
religious metaphor that something very magical happened at the time
of this star. There was a signal from God, a brilliance in the heavens
that stopped people in their tracks. It signified the Holy of Holies.
As we look back through historical records, however, we realize that
no one even noticed this awesome event. No one, that is, except for
some Persian magi. The Chinese have been avid sky watchers for thousands
of years. They recorded comets and novae, yet they didn’t notice anything
in the sky at that time. Other cultures didn’t record anything either.
So the question is, if there was a magical star really shining in the
heavens, why didn't everyone notice?
Bible tells us that three wise men were present to witness the birth
of the baby Jesus. Newer translations correctly identify these three
cosmically invited guests as astrologers. The word magi has the same
origination as the word magician, not to be confused here with a modern
stage magician or entertainer. Magi is used interchangeably with wise
men. Just as rabbi is the title of a Jewish teacher, so magus is the
title of a Zoroastrian priest.
to the east of Israel is the magical, mystical land of India. Between
India and the Holy Land is an area that was, in ancient times, called
Chaldea. Chaldea was the home of a great and ancient sacred knowledge
called astrology. Chaldea became Babylon, which later became Persia.
Five centuries before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Zoroaster brought
a new religion to this land. Zoroastrianism played a significant role
in this ancient world. Zoroastrian priests were astronomer-priests.
The ancient Persian temples, ziggurats, were astronomical observatories.
In these observatory-temples, the ancient Persian priests spent the
nights watching the divine magic unfold. Around the time of the Jesus’
birth, Zoroastrian magi undoubtedly practiced astrology. They carefully
watched the movements of peculiar stars that seemed to wander through
the zodiac. These wandering stars, that we now call planets, helped
them better understand events on earth.
Ancient Astronomical Mindset
reconstruct the mindset of several thousand years ago, we must look
at the word star. Stars are hot gases, like our Sun. There are many
kinds of stars, including neutron stars, red giants, blue dwarfs, black
holes, binary stars, quasars and pulsars. Stars are basically nuclear
reactors, giving off light energy, as does our own yellow Sun. What
kind of star was the Christmas Star? As represented in literature and
in illustrations, the Christmas Star has always been shown as some sort
of brilliant supernova. Stars have been historically recorded to be
so bright that they were even seen during daylight hours! But the Christmas
star was not recorded like that. Remember, it was not observed outside
of Persia. A star was anything in the sky that gave off light.
the ancient scientists who looked up, the planets were stars. Today,
we think of a planet as a body that goes around the Sun, but to the
ancients, the word planet meant “star that wanders.” Some stars wandered.
Some stars were fixed. But they were all stars.
astrological metaphor in ancient times was deeply ingrained. Everything
was integrated and connected. The things that happened in the heavens
corresponded to the same events on Earth. The astronomer-priests were
considered among the wisest people of their time because they knew how
to read the signs in the divine realms of the night sky.
original Aramaic text quotes the magi as saying they had seen “his star
in heliacal rising.” Heliacal rising means that it is the last star
that is seen in the sky before the Sun rises and makes the other stars
invisible in the brightness of daylight. This was a common observation
technique for astrologers of those days.
astrology, the slowest moving planets are the most serious of the celestial
wanderers. Slower moving planets have the most impact upon earthly events.
The ancient astrologers observed the apparent movement of the Sun, the
Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn against the backdrop
of the fixed stars in the zodiac. All these wanderers were visible to
the naked eye. It would be centuries before the telescope would bring
additional planets into view.
The greatest planetary rhythm that was observable to the ancient astronomer-priest
was the rhythm of the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction. A conjunction occurs
when two planets line up on their individual journeys around the Sun.
The Jupiter/Saturn conjunction is a regular planetary rhythm that happens
every 20 years. However, because of its peculiar nature, it actually
jumps from astrological sign to sign with great regularity. Although
Jupiter and Saturn align every twenty years, the movement of this alignment
through the zodiac is a centuries-long process. It is the combination
of astrologically rare events that created the Star of Bethlehem.
The King's Star and the Star of David
is much evidence to suggest that what we call the Star of David was
an alignment of the giant planets Jupiter and Saturn. In ancient Jewish
tradition, Jupiter was the planet called the “King's Star.” Even later
in Greek mythology, Jupiter, or Jove, was the king of the gods. Every
20 years, when the King’s Star lined up with Saturn, the star of final
authority, the ancient Jews called this the Star of David.
is a Greek word for king. A king was one who was literally born under
the cosmic signature of the King’s Star. Jesus, as we know, was born
in the lineage of the House of David. But to be born in the lineage
of David didn’t only mean that you had parents in that lineage. It also
meant that you were born under the Star of David, which occurred when
Jupiter, the King’s Star, aligned with Saturn.
centuries after the birth of Jesus, German-born Johannes Kepler enters
our story. Kepler is considered the "Father of Modern Astronomy." He
was also a brilliant astrologer. He uncovered the mathematics of the
cosmos and discovered the laws of planetary motion. He also figured
out the recurring patterns of conjunctions for Jupiter and Saturn.
moved by his own observation of a Jupiter/Saturn conjunction in 1603,
just before Christmas, Kepler mused over the meaning of the Christmas
star. He did some calculations and figured out that there was a Jupiter/Saturn
conjunction in the years 7 and 6 BC.
Jupiter and Saturn reach conjunction every twenty years, on occasion
they actually conjunct three times within a year, from earth's point
of view. This phenomena is called a triple conjunction. According to
Kepler's calculations, there was, in fact, a triple conjunction of Jupiter
and Saturn, in the sign of Pisces, in the years 7-6 BC. Kepler also
learned from the writings of a medieval scholar, Rabbi Abarbonel, the
extreme importance of the Jupiter/Saturn conjunction in the sign of
Pisces for the Jewish people. This whole concept intrigued Johannes
Kepler. So Kepler was the first person of our era to realize that the
Star of Bethlehem was a lineup of Jupiter and Saturn, based on an Old
Testament prophecy of the coming of the King of Kings. The Prophets
said that the arrival of this messiah would be associated with a celestial
event as a sign from God.
Changing of the Ages
The word age is a very specific astrological word. An age is the time
that it takes the Earth's axis to precess through one sign of the zodiac.
If you spin a top, it start to wobble backward as it slows down. The
spin rotates one way, yet the wobble moves the opposite way the top
is spinning. The Earth does this, too. It wobbles like a top. The Earth
is spinning around one way, and also wobbling backward. The earth's
polar axis completes one full wobble once every 25,920 years. This backward
wobble of the North Pole creates what astrologers call the Precession
of the Equinox. Every 72 years at the first moment of spring, the Vernal
Equinox point slips backward against the zodiac by one degree. Every
2160 years it slips back 30 degrees, or one whole sign of the astrological
the last couple of thousand years, the North Pole of the Earth has been
pointing to that area in the sky we call Pisces. This means that, astrologically,
we have been in the Age of Pisces, or the Age of the Fish! Note the
connections between the fish and Christianity. Christ was a fisher among
men. The vesica pisces, the vessel of the soul, became a symbol
for the church. Fish represent apparent multiplicity, and in the Age
of the Fish, it was reserved for the religious mystic to see how all
the individual fishes are, in truth, one.
these times, we have talk now of another new age, The Age of Aquarius.
Because the equinox slips backward, it goes from Pisces to Aquarius,
rather than Aries. It is the resonance between the changing of the ages
two thousand years ago and the changing of the ages in modern times
that captures our attention as this story unfolds.
gift of the magi was really the gift of the changing of civilization.
It doesn’t matter what religion you are; the last two thousand years
have been the age of Christianity.
magi are so central to the Christmas story that in the Eastern Orthodox
Church, Epiphany celebrates the arrival of the gift-bearing magi at
the birth place of the baby Jesus. The Three Wise Men sought out the
birth of a baby to play a role in the founding of a religion that has
been dominant for two thousand years. The birth of Jesus may have been
the single most important event in the last two thousand years, because
it so altered the course of history worldwide. The magi were the first
people who recognized the event. If these astrologers hadn’t properly
identified that event, apparently no one would have even known that
there was a star!
suppressed origins of Christianity date back to these magi who recognized
the signs of their times. The magi showed the sign of the Star of Bethlehem
to King Herod, and he was amazed and he became fearful of the power
of change. The magi were undoubtedly the founders of Christmas, and
to some extent the founders of Christianity.
Alignments Then and Now
story of the Star of Bethlehem tells us that cosmic alignments herald
earthly events. The Lord’s Prayer tells us that “it is done on earth
as it is in heaven.” The words are clear even if we, in our scientific
mindset, shirk from the true meaning. Ancient prophecy was often astrological.
will the stars of the late twentieth century mean to the big historical
picture? What will these times bring? The Christmas Star brings us an
answer, or at least a perspective. Even if we were alive during the
ministry of Jesus and were personally touched by his spiritual magic,
we could not, in our wildest imagination, have predicted what was to
follow. By the same token, even if we accept that these are times of
great proportion, and that we are at the edge of a new world, we cannot
know what is around the bend of history.
we can do is pay attention to what is happening and uncover as much
truth as we can about our past. All we can do is remind ourselves and
those close to us that love is stronger than fear, and that truth is
more powerful than deception.