The Star of Bethlehem: Introduction (part 1)

Almost twenty years ago, I wrote an “Astrological Portrait of Jesus of Nazareth”. This is the introductory chapter. In the words of Paul McCartney, ‘Venus and Mars are alright tonight.’

The ‘Point of Death’

While searching for a new approach to astrology, I came across this entry in the Dictionary of Astrology by Fred Gettings:

The ‘point of death’, which is not to be confused with the “Anaretic“, is one of the so-called Arabian PARS. If the degree of the Moon in a natal chart is revolved to the Ascendant, the cusp of the adjusted 8th house marks the death point.

Now, on its own, this little tidbit seems insignificant, but it did spur my thinking into pathways which led me to some interesting discoveries. But more on that later. At the time I read that, I only had one set of birth/death dates with which I could experiment: while preparing my manuscript for At This Point in Time, I calculated Jesus of Nazareth’s birth at 12:01 am local time on 25th of December 7 BC, and his crucifixion at 11:41 am local time on AD 7th April 30. So, when I compared the two charts, I began to see connections beyond the simple ‘point of death’. This book is the result of that journey of discovery.

Should there even be a birth chart for Jesus?

Now, I am very aware that erecting any chart to do with the life of Jesus is considered wrong by a great many Christians. In fact, A History of Astrology records that a certain Girolamo Cardano (1501-76), the physician, mathematician and astrologer from Milan, was imprisoned towards the end of his life for attempting to cast the horoscope of Christ.

But I think that the information gleaned from Jesus’ birth and crucifixion/death charts is too important to keep hidden away from public scrutiny, just because some people do not believe in astrology or cannot agree with its tenets. The 13th-century astrologer, Bonatti, claimed that astrologers knew a great deal more about the stars than theologians knew about God, that Abraham had taught astrology to the Egyptians, and Christ had used (or at least approved of using) astrology to choose propitious moments for certain tasks (“Are there not twelve hours in a day?” he had asked the disciples {John 11:9}, obviously meaning that one could choose a fortunate time within them).

But the Roman Catholic Church may have suppressed any reference to astrology, in order to prevent the ‘unwashed’ masses from learning the truth about Jesus and his plan of salvation for them.

Jung and the Lost Gospels

What we know now about Jesus’ life and death has been altered out of recognition. Stephan A. Hoeller in his amazing book, Jung and the Lost Gospels, came to grips with the altering image we have of Jesus through the last two millennia by stating:

And where in all this is Jesus? He is still present, but he has been dethroned. The sevententh and eighteenth centuries use him as a sentimental object of maudlin devotion and little more. He becomes a sentimental comforter, a friend on whose shoulder the bereaved may cry and the downtrodden hope but never quite find complete consolation. What a far cry is this pale, sentimentalized image from the fierce defender of the outcasts of society who appears in the New Testament! And also, how far removed from the majestic, transcendental universal king of the Byzantine mosaics, not to mention the mysterious, ubiquitous well of the living waters that once flowed from the Gnostic figure of Christ in the first few centuries A.D.

The Gnostics, an oriental religious movement which played a part in early Christianity, spawning many sects, believed that when Jesus ascended into heaven after the crucifixion, he changed the influences and even the movement of the planets, and determined how they shaped a new soul, controlled the process of conception and the formation of the embryo in the womb, and every event of life from cradle to tomb. Their beliefs evolved from the Essenes’ and spawned a ‘heresy’ known as Catharism in the middle ages. In my opinion, their ‘truth’ is resurfacing at the present time as a ‘Return of the Christ’.

Hoeller continues: God is dead, religion is the opiate of the people, and Jesus does not exist. Or does he? Comparative mythologists appear on the scene who are not so sure. Behind the vague and uncertain historical data surrounding the figure of the founder of Christianity they begin to discover a powerful mythic reality no less impressive for being at least in part remote from physical history. The historical Jesus gives way to the Jesus of myth. Scholarship discovers that the image of the crucified Nazarene is intimately connected with a large number of savior gods of antiquity: Osiris, Horus, Tammuz, Mithra, Orpheus, and many others. Upon the heels of the mythologists appear the representatives of modern depth psychology, among them C.G. Jung

By recognizing Jesus as the greatest and latest symbolic representative of the archetype of the Self, Jung has given us an invaluable tool to be utilized in the study of Christian origins and indeed all concerns and disciplines that address themselves to the religious problems of Western culture. Jung’s recognitions may also be taken as signs of hope, indicating that the era of negative and confused attitudes regarding this most significant archetype of our culture may be coming to an end.

The Metaphor of God Incarnate

In his book, The Metaphor of God Incarnate, John Hick advances a couple of thought-provoking suggestions. I think they lend credence to my work:

But for the most modern Western Christians (including myself), it remains difficult to accept myth as myth. Returning to the crib, and the Christmas story as a whole, we know that it is historically unlikely that Jesus was born on 25 December (the date of a pre-Christian pagan winter festival which Christianity inherited), that the year of his birth was 1 CE (it was more probably about 5 BCE); unlikely that he was born in Bethlehem (which was probably adopted into the story to fulfill prophecy), that he had no human father (a mythic theme that became attached to a number of great figures in antiquity); and we have seen reasons to reject the dogma that he was God incarnate (a dogma that Jesus himself would probably have regarded as blasphemous). In view of all this, how does one participate in Christmas?

Either one opts out, on the grounds that the Christmas story is literally false; or one opts in, accepting the myth as evocative poetry, stirring the emotions, expanding the imagination, warming the heart — and all in the direction of an enhanced sense of the gracious, loving, benign character of the Ultimate in relationship to human life.

But it must be admitted that for many of us this remains difficult; and unless and until sensibilities change we shall have to live with this unresolved problem. It is particularly difficult for those who are called to lead the worship of the church, knowing that many in their congregation regard the mythic story as literally true. It must have been equally difficult a hundred years ago when reading, for example, the story of Adam and Eve as the scripture of the day, and understanding it as truth in mythic form, whilst knowing that many in the pews could only see it as literal history. The same words were being understood in different ways by different people.

And so it is today. ‘The Word was made flesh’ entails for some that Jesus, uniquely, had two natures, divine and human, and is accordingly to be worshiped as God; whilst it means for others, both that Jesus’ life embodied a love that is a reflection of divine love, and that the ideal of humanity living in response to God was, to a startling extent, embodied, incarnated, in his life, so that we may take him as our lord, guru, spiritual leader.

The Purpose of Jesus’ Death

I totally agree with the sentiment of John Hick’s thoughts, but not with the facts, as I will demonstrate throughout this book that we can know when Jesus was actually born and what that meant to him then, and what that means to us now. For one thing, his death’s purpose was not atonement alone but something more significant:

Jesus’ death has indeed played no small part in this influence {for salvific transformation}. Although the meaning of that death was pictured during most of the first Christian millennium in the bizarre ransom imagery, and during most of the second millennium in terms of morally questionable satisfaction and penal-substitution theories, the cross has continued throughout as our central Christian symbol because it stirs deeper and more complex emotions than are captured by any of these official doctrines.

It is for many people a self-evident intuition that an authentic religious leader is willing, if necessary, to be martyred by those who reject the challenging truths that he or she embodies. It is indeed because true prophets and gurus embody, or live out, or incarnate, their teachings that to oppose the message is to oppose the messenger; and the most emphatic form of rejection is by inflicting death.

To illustrate this from recent history, in the moral and political conflicts of India and the United States there was a certain tragic appropriateness in the fact that Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, teaching the universal requirement of love and justice, were assassinated by fanatics motivated by religious and racial prejudice. There is likewise a tragic appropriateness in the death of Jesus. He taught the way of life of God’s kingdom and the imminent coming of that kingdom on earth. This was to the ruling Roman power a potential incitement to rise up against it in the name of God, as was to happen in 66-70 and again in 135 CE.

He also prophesied the destruction of the Jerusalem temple, thus deeply antagonizing its priestly guardians, who collaborated in his arrest and trial. But these historical factors were soon submerged in the Christian consciousness by a religious interpretation of the crucifixion. The acceptance of Jesus’ death as having a positive meaning inevitably evoked, in the thought-world of that time, the universal language of sacrifice. In the Judaism of Jesus’ period a sacrifice made as a sin offering to God involved the shedding of blood as a giving of the life essence.

However, as a cumulative result of the teaching of Jesus, as well as of Hosea and Amos before him and many others after him, can we not now see that the sacrifice of animal or human blood pointed, in a crude and inadequate way, to the much deeper sacrifice of the ego point of view in becoming a channel of divine grace on earth?

The real meaning of Jesus’ death was not that his blood was shed — indeed crucifixion did not involve a great deal of bloodshed — but that he gave himself utterly to God in faith and trust. His cross was thus a powerful manifestation and continuing symbol of the divine kingdom in this present world, as a way of life in which one turns the other cheek, forgives one’s enemies ‘unto seventy times seven’, trusts God even in the darkness of pain, horror and tragedy, and is continally raised again to the new life of faith.

I think that puts this whole concept of ego denial into perspective.

Picture credits

To be continued…

Picture credits: Star of Bethlehem courtesy of http://www.clipartbest.com;
Girolamo Cardano courtesy of wikipedia;
Jung and the Lost Gospels courtesy of http://www.amazon.it;
The Metaphor of God Incarnate courtesy of http://www.amazon.com;
Jesus Christ on the Cross with Clouds courtesy of http://www.123rf.com

About cdsmiller17

I am an Astrologer who also writes about world events. My first eBook "At This Point in Time" is available through most on-line book stores. I have now serialized my second book "The Star of Bethlehem" here. And to give my blog pages something lighter, I'm sharing some of my personal photographs, too.
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12 Responses to The Star of Bethlehem: Introduction (part 1)

  1. Grandtrines says:

    Reblogged this on Lost Dudeist Astrology.

    Liked by 1 person

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