The Christmas story is such a beautiful recounting of the beginning of Jesus’ life and ministry, and the influence it has had over the human family. I have recently discovered that there is a definite connection between this story and the ancient practice of astrology. The ancient writers referred to the three individuals, who sought out Jesus at his birth, by identifying them, not as Wise men but as Magi.
But, who were the Magi? “…Magi (/ˈmeɪdʒaɪ/; singular magus /ˈmeɪɡəs/; from Latin magus) were priests in Zoroastrianism and the earlier religions of the western Iranians.” These priests were trained in many disciplines, including astrological calculations and predictions of significant events. From what I can determine, the original descriptions of these men does not include their names. “The earliest known use of the word magi is in the trilingual inscription written by Darius the Great, known as the Behistun Inscription.” en.wikipedia.com. “The plural "magi" entered the English language around 1200, in reference to the Biblical magi of Matthew 2:1.” mtholyoke.edu
It is not until the eighth century CE that their names first appear. Their names are recorded in a writing entitled the Excerpta Latina Barbari as being Bithisarea, Melichior, and Gathaspa; later transformed into Balthasar, Melchior, and Gaspar. So, what is the meaning and significance of the Star of Bethlehem? Matthew of the New Testament describes it as the brightest star in the East, which at that time of year is certainly the star, Sirius. “…[o]n Dec. 24, Sirius aligns with the three stars in Orion’s belt (the three kings). The alignment of these stars consequently points to the location where the Sun will rise on December 25. In traditional mythology, “…[t]his line points to the birth of the Sun, just after the winter solstice when days start to get longer.” patheos.com.
To follow the analogy, Mother Mary is represented by the constellation of Virgo the virgin. “… The astrological symbol for Virgo is the “altered M,” which is why we see saviors’ mothers’ names start with that letter, such as Jesus’s mother Mary, Adonis’s mother Myrra, and Buddha’s mother Maya.” The constellation Virgo is also referred to as the house of bread which translates as Beth le hem (בית לחם) in Hebrew. If I understand this correctly, the Magi were not seeking a town, but a constellation. Considering that they were astrologers, this makes sense. For most folks I know that facts and beliefs do not mix very well. But, to my way of thinking, this correlation of stories and explanations warrants further investigation and consideration of their significance to each other.
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