November 19, 20165 Comments

“Connecting the Seen and the Unseen Worlds,” by Deborah Smith Parker

This is a story about one of the most historically significant occurrences our planet has experienced, and how astrology was an indicator of the timing of that occurrence. It is the story of the Christmas Star. It won’t be told in most churches—if in fact it’s told in any—but it is a story that many scholars, believers and astrologers hold close.

I grew up in a family in which those from generations before me were well-studied and well-educated (there is a difference) and, in fact, didn’t trust conclusions drawn from only one stream of recorded events unless analyzed against competing and even conflicting renditions. It is in that spirit that I offer this piece for your consideration.

Christmas Star story from two perspectives:
• First as the story was originally recorded two thousand years ago, and
• Second, from an astrologer’s viewpoint (with much biblical scholarly support), how the root meaning of the words recording the story put astrology center stage. I also get to let out my English Major word-nerd fascination with word origins.

We hear this story in its original form and we retell it every Christmas, about the journey of the very pregnant young couple desperately seeking lodging, the stable the baby was born in, the shepherds, the wise men and especially the star that led everybody to that place. We are surrounded by these images not just in churches but in seasonal merchandising, advertising, decorations and music.

The Gospel of Luke is traditionally read at Christmas services all over the world. To reenact the tale, children dressed as all the characters (I was a sheep in my first Christmas pageant) parade up church aisles wrapped in beach towels, tripping on over-sized bathrobes belonging to parents and older siblings, always following a star.

How the star is referenced in Gospels: And that’s the problem with this story as we retell it—that pesky star. Because how we tell the story and how the story is originally written don’t really jive.

For starters, there is no mention of a star in Luke. There is no mention of a star in Mark or John. In fact, it is only mentioned in Matthew. If you read Matthew 2:1-16 carefully you will see that the only ones who appeared to be aware of the star were the wise men. So, boys and girls let’s now open our Bibles and turn to Matthew.

How the star is described and recorded: The wise men were astrologers. This we know because the Greek word the Gospel writer used to describe them is magos, translated as wise men or magi. According to Strong’s Concordance (an exhaustive cross-reference of every word in the King James Bible back to the original Aramaic, Greek, or other languages in the original biblical text) magos means “the name given by the Babylonians, Chaldeans, Persians, and others, to wise men, teachers, priests, physicians, astrologers . . .”

These may sound like discreet “professions” but in the context of the times constitute a pretty accurate job description of the duties of an astrologer. These few verses in Matthew are the only ones in the Gospels that use the word magos and it only applies to the wise men.

Clearly the wise men were important enough to ride right up to King Herod’s palace and gain an audience with him, which only happens with someone of great stature like another king or king’s emissary. The wise men could also have been kings because that was another possible combination of professions for astrologers. In fact, in Christian tradition they’re often referred to as kings.

In any event, they came into Jerusalem, following a star that heralded the birth of a king, saying, “We have seen his star in the east,” (King James Version) or, “We have observed his star at its rising” (New Revised Standard Version).

The word used for star, anatole, according to Strong’s, means “rising (of the sun and stars)” and as you can see is interpreted slightly differently in both versions, but here’s the difference. It’s simple physics that heavenly bodies appear to rise in the east due to the rotation of the earth.

• If non-astrologers say they witnessed a star rising, they more than likely are describing watching it physically rise in the night sky.
• Astrologers, on the other hand, know the term ‘rising” refers to culminating dynamics within an astrological chart. Furthermore, the stars that astrologers see are on paper. They don’t have to look at the sky because they have all the information of the stars’ movements and locations in charts, including where the stars are during the day and can’t be seen from earth.

We read on.

Who actually saw the star? The wise men asked Herod where in his kingdom the King of the Jews (Messiah) has been born. The King James Version says, “Where is the child who is born King of the Jews,” and the New Revised Standard Version says, “has been born. . .” So we now know two things:

1. Jesus had already been born, and
2. One may assume from Herod’s initial response that neither he nor any of his advisors had seen the star, nor knew of the birth of another king. . . (To find out more, look for Part II to be posted shortly–and while you’re at it, try to find references to who else saw the star.)

Deborah Smith Parker is a professional astrologer and writer on many subjects. She is author of the newly released (2014) “The Horse that Haunts My Heart” and (2010) “Humanus Astrologicus,” both available in paperback and Kindle. To sign up to receive her blog or follow her on Twitter (@astro_logicus) and Facebook click to the right of this post.

About author:

Deborah Smith Parker is re-writing the often impenetrable language of astrology into a much friendlier form. She has spent her 30 plus years as an astrological consultant, writer, teacher and lecturer freeing the rich astrological images and their descriptions increasingly buried under modern clinical and technological descriptions. Her additional work in public policy has provided many outlets for demonstrating her ability to break down highly complex systems into information that’s easily understood.

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  1. Barbara says:

    I like the job description for a Middle Eastern astrologer 2,000 years ago.

    Sounds as if Herod’s astrologers were asleep at the switch.

    Eagerly awaiting Part II.

  2. Nancy Maples says:

    Love this addition to the story of Christmas. What a nice diversion, based on science, to the commercialism and religious connotations of this holiday.

  3. Katherine says:

    Love your wisdom. Thanks for writing and I can’t wait to ready your Part II. I’ve been on a research recently… and was wondering what time of year Taxes were in need of being paid….seem to get different ideas.

    Merry Christmas!

  4. Natori Moore says:

    I liked this detailed focus on the gospels as they relate to astrology and star lore. Thanks for focusing our attention on the interface between these topics, Deborah, especially at the holiday time of year.

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