Thursday, December 19, 2013

That Star in the East....

A Star in the East by William Ladd Tayor (1854-1926)

Adding to an already well-filled library of conjecture about the origin of the tale of that brilliantly bright Star of Bethlehem, I've copy-typed most of a piece from an old volume I once found in an antique store. I doubt there's anything here not already "out there" on the net in some form or other, still I think it's a piece worth preserving. I've omitted the first few paragraphs of introduction, which simply paraphrase the standard Christmas story:

From: The Star of Nativity, an article by Ann Barkhurst in a volume of The Best of the Illustrated National Astrological Journal 1933 and 1934.

What was the Star? Who were the mysterious strangers?

The Star of Bethlehem has always been a fascinating enigma for modern astrologers. Present day believers (1933) in the star-legend are inclined to think the "Star of the East" might have been one of the transient stars which occasionally flare up in the heavens and then die away, often marking the death throes of a sun. Or, they say, it may have been a variable star; one which flares up for a few days or hours into great brightness, then sinks back into its usual dullness as though nothing had happened.

An increasing number of students, however, do not look to any star not in the usual course of the heavens. Quoting the "Zohar" we find the following: "When the Messiah is to be revealed a star will rise in the east shining in great brightness and will remain in the east fifteen days". So many of these ancient Jewish teachings have a foundation in the Egyptian that it lends corroboration to the claims of a modern school of astrological thought which identifies the Star of Bethlehem with the sacred Star of Egypt, Sirius, which is in the mid-heaven on Christmas Eve, at the time when the constellation Virgo, the Celestial Madonna, stands over the eastern horizon.

According to "Religion of the Stars", Sirius is the star that led the Wise Men from the East to the site of the blessed nativity. For ages prior to the time now allotted to that event, Sirius had been the star that indicated the coming of a Savior. At the present time (1933) Sirius rises on Christmas evening about seven o'clock, taking five hours and three minutes to reach the meridian. Thus now it stands directly overhead at midnight of Christmas Eve. This has not always been the case but for many thousands of years Sirius has been the most conspicuous object in the heavens Christmas night.

Jesus' birth, like that of all the other Messiahs, was the fulfillment of the promise foretold in celestial configuration. It is also stated in the Hebrew legends that a brilliant star shone at the birth of Moses, and was seen by the Magi of Egypt who immediately informed the King. Again it is said that when Abraham was born this star shone in the heavens eclipsing all other stars in glory. In his teachings to the Persians, the great teacher, Zoroaster, foretold the birth of the Christ-child at which time a shining star would be seen in the heavens. The Wise Men always knew precisely the time when the Sun would be in a direct line with that great fixed star, Sirius, the Dog Star.

In the "Celestial Ship of the North" the Magi - commonly call the Wise Men - are shown as astrologers who had pure, unassailable knowledge found in the Zodiacal heavens and the fixed stars. They were said to come from Arabia, but the word Arabia at the time of Jesus' birth meant not only Arabia Felix, but northern India, i.e. the Himalayas. These Magi were Mahatmas or Masters from India who had calculated astrologically the advent of Jesus and journeyed for two years or more to visit him. In the fifth chapter of the "Aquarian Gospel", by Levi Dowling, is found the following confirmation of this statement: "Beyond the River Euphrates the Magians lived; and they were wise, could read the language of the stars and they divined that one, a master soul, was born." Their number, three, is derived from the fact that they offered three gifts, but tradition had it that there were twelve or twenty Magi, and that the entire journey from India and a return took nearly five years. They fully realized that great planetary conjunctions are always coincident with critical periods on earth, at which time Mundane changes take place that are universal.

Kepler claimed positively that all the planets were in conjunction in Pisces when Jesus was born. Every eight hundred years Jupiter and Saturn are in conjunction the same as was thought to be in effect at his birth. The sign, Pisces, was generally connected with the Messiahs - called by the Kabalist "The Constellation of the Messiahs". Sephariel, an English astrologer of the present (20th) century, gives as convincing proof a chart for this birth, placing the Moon and Uranus in conjunction in the sign Pisces, with the Sun in the opposite sign, Virgo, that of the immaculate Mother. Arbanal, in his commentary on the prophet Daniel, claims with others that the Jews, who called their Messiah "Dag" or fish, connected him with the sign of the Fishes "which indicated the land of Judea." He states that his authority is from ancient and reliable sources.

In a recent article in the "Psychical Research Journal" is a statement "that the birth of the Babe at Bethlehem took place in the late summer, probably a few years BC. The form of the constellation was that of a cross, the shaft of which was formed by three planets in a vertical line - the Moon at the head, Mars at the center, and Venus at the foot. These were seen in the sign of the Crab (Cancer) whose principal stars formed the two arms of the cross. The sign of the Crab was visible before dawn in the eastern skies over Jerusalem, and the configuration reached exactness about one hour before dawn. The group of stars to the right or southern side of the cross were most important. It was called by the Romans the "Praesepe" or "Manger". From this description it is assumed that the moment of the birth would be the moment at which the Moon would come to a right line with the other two planets, Mars lying centrally between two clusters in the Crab. One of America's leading astronomers has checked all these details and made the following report:
"This configuration actually took place on September 27th BC6-7. It is a recurrent combination and liable to occur on the average once in thirty-one and four-tenths years; though not always with equal perfection. This "constellation" may probably have been seen in recognizable form some sixty times since the date first given. It is interesting to note that it occurs again this year, and will be seen in very perfect form on the morning of the 28th of August 1932."


mike said...

Well, forever a mystery, Twilight! We'll need to find the current reincarnations of the Magi and have them submit to past-life regressions, I suppose.

Here's another explanation:

"The Star" was an episode of the Twilight Zone during its run in the 1980s, based on a science fiction short story by English writer Arthur C. Clarke.

"On an interstellar journey, far in the future, a medical doctor and a priest debate about the existence of God in the wonders of the universe. Dr. Chandler, believes in the random patterns, but the priest, Father Matthew Costigan—also an astrophysicist—believes it is God's grand design. While having their friendly debate and wishing each other a merry Christmas, their ship picks up a subspace signal from a long-dead world. Father Matthew claims it is impossible that a civilization could have survived its star going supernova. The planet was so far from the star when it exploded that it escaped the worst.

Upon landing on the now-dead planet, the explorers discover that the planet holds the last remains of a race which was destroyed when the supernova hit. Their civilization was quite advanced, with remnants of art and other pieces of their culture. Along with a computer record of their entire history comes evidence that they had had a thousand years of peace before their extinction. The captain requests Father Matthew to determine when the star went supernova. He calculates that the star exploded in the year 3120 B.C.

To his dismay, however, Father Matthew realizes that it would have taken 3120 years for the light from this explosion to reach Earth, in the Eastern Hemisphere. This star was the same star that shone down on Earth the day Jesus was born, "The Star of Bethlehem". In front of Dr. Chandler, Father Matthew cries out to God, to question why it had to be these people who had to lose their lives, why it could not have been a star with no life around it. Dr. Chandler attempts to comfort him by reading a poem he found among the archives of the advanced culture. It says that no one should mourn for them, for they lived in peace and love and saw the beauty of the universe. It says to grieve for those who live in pain and those who never see the light of peace. Dr. Chandler says that "whatever destiny was theirs, they fulfilled it. Their time had come, and in their passing, they passed their light on to another world. A balance was struck, and perhaps one day, whenever we've fulfilled whatever destiny we have, maybe we too will light the way for another world." The doctor's words and this quiet artifact consoles and encourages the priest."

mike (again) said...

The above quote from Wiki:

Twilight said...

mike ~ That's a good story - I like it a lot! Not surprised it originated with Arthur C. Clarke - I always enjoy his imaginings.

I like the note at the end of the Wiki page, explaining that an optimistic twist was added in the Twilight Zone version at the end of the tale. At this time of year, especially, ending on a depressing note isn't helpful. A point I've been trying to keep in mind myself, and staying away from politics and news stories. ;-)