Pagan Symbolism and Astrology in Christianity
Obviously, we need to start with definitions of these specific terms. Astrology is a system of beliefs which states that movements of stars and planets are capable of affecting different events in our lives. According to astrology, even our characters and habits are determined by cosmic objects.
Paganism is a term for many religions which explain real nature as a part of the divine nature. There are a lot of ancient and modern Pagan religions. In Japan, such a religion is Shinto; in China, it is Taoism, in India – Hinduism, and so on.
Symbolism is the use of symbols, which are images or signs that represent certain abstract ideas or hidden meanings. Symbolism is opposite to literal means of representation, and symbolism allows us to interpret each image broader, in a context of concepts. Given that religions often focus on hidden senses and seek for deep meaning in obvious things, which is a characteristic feature of mysticism, symbolism is often used in most religions. Symbols serve as conceptual images that illustrate non-existent things and philosophic ideas.
During many ages of human history, Zodiac became one of the most common symbols, being used worldwide by different religions. Ancient people observed how the sun passes through constellations, so it was reflected in the very structure of the calendar. Twelve constellations, twelve months, four seasons. Ancient people loved to imagine these constellations as common objects, such as humans, animals, or figures.
According to Christian mythology, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, on December 25, when three kings saw a star in the sky. He became a teacher and was baptized at the age of 30, by John the Baptist. Then Jesus found twelve disciples who have always been with him. He travelled and performed many miracles, turning water into wine, waking up the dead, walking on water, and so on. Christians believe that he was betrayed by one of his closest followers, Judas. He was executed and resurrected three days later. Christians call Jesus the Lamb of God, the Light of the World, the Alpha and Omega, and many other names. These names are nothing but different symbols which help Christians put more meaning in each name, talking about their object of worship.
Considering the story of Jesus’ birth, we see a clear astrological picture. Three kings saw a star; this is the brightest star in the sky, Sirius. On December 24, this star appears along with three other stars, which are the Orion’s Belt. Thousands years ago, these stars were called the Three Kings, which makes this story a symbolic description of astrological events. In turn, the Three Kings move to Bethlehem from the east, therefore symbolizing the sunrise, which comes on December, 25.
Everyone has heard about Virgin Mary. There is also a constellation called Virgo, also known as Virgin. An interesting fact about letter V is that thousands years ago this glyph was used also for “m” sound. There are many virgin mothers in world’s mythology, and many of them have names that begin with M. For example, mother of Adonis was called Myrra, and mother of Buddha was called Maya. Talking about Virgo, we must mention that this constellation is also called the House of Bread, since this constellation associates with the end of summer and harvest. Therefore, it’s no surprise that virgin mothers are often depicted with a sheaf of wheat. Actually, Bethlehem can be literally translated as “house of bread” too. Therefore, this place may mean not an actual town, but a place in the sky, namely, Virgo constellation.
Starting from the summer solstice, until the winter solstice, days become shorter, and night becomes longer. Living in the northern hemisphere, people also notice how the Sun becomes smaller. For ancient people, this process, along with the onset of winter, symbolized death. Until December 22nd, the Sun moves south during six months. Then it reaches the lowest point, and stops. This is really interesting thing, since it doesn’t move south for at least three days. It stays beside the Southern Cross constellation, and then moves one degree in northern direction. Starting from December 25, the Sun starts moving back, and days become longer. This perfectly fits Christian story about Jesus, who dies on the cross, and resurrects in three days. Moreover, it’s not the only story based on the trajectory of the sun. There are many other gods who die at the end of the year and resurrect in three days. The sun resurrects and so brings salvation to people who are tired of long, cold winter.
However, Christians wait until spring to celebrate such a resurrection. Easter symbolizes the complete defeat of evil winter, and beginning of a new spring. Days become longer, weather becomes warmer, and people start planting crops again.
Obviously, twelve disciples represent twelve constellations. Moreover, the New Testament is not the only place in the Bible where this number plays an important role. Let’s just recall twelve knees of Israel – this number can be seen most often in the Bible.
Thus, the story about Jesus represents the Zodiac, and the year cycle of the Sun. However, it’s not an artistic expression of such events, but a Pagan attempt to describe these events. Jesus is called the Light of the World, as well as the Risen Savior. Christians still wait for Jesus to come back, because the Sun always comes back in the morning. The Sun, just like Jesus, fights the darkness, and wins this fight every morning, coming out of clouds with the Crown of Thorns, which represents sun rays.
Another important term from the Bible is “Age”. To better understand this specific word, we must consider such thing as the precession of the equinoxes. The people of Ancient Egypt noticed that, every 2150 years, in spring, the equinox occurs in different Zodiac zones, corresponding to different signs of the Zodiac. This happens due to the rotation of the Earth, which causes a slow wobble. Precession means that twelve constellations don’t move according to the usual cycle. They start moving a little backwards, and the precession goes through all twelve constellations during different periods of time, from 25 to 765 years. Ancient people always took such a period very serious, calling it the Great Year. Therefore, 2150 years were called an age. For example, they called the period from 4300 BC to 2150 BS the Age of Taurus, which is the bull. Then there was the Age of Aries (from 2150 BC to 1 AD). Now we are living in the Age of Pisces, which will end only in 2150. It will be a beginning of the Age of Aquarius.
We can see how ages change in the Bible. One of the most vivid illustrations is a moment when Moses comes down from Sinai, and sees how Jews worship the statue of a golden bull. This episode reflects a lot of symbols, for example, the Bull was a key symbol in Babylonian religion, but it also gives us a hint on the Age of Taurus. Seeing that, Moses becomes mad and crushes stone tablets. Starting from this moment, Jews no longer worship golden idols, and the Age of Taurus changes to the Age of Aries. Until now, during religious celebrations, Jews blow the Ram’s horn. Moses symbolizes the Age of Aries, and people get rid of beliefs of the Age of Taurus. This event was also reflected in other religions, where gods kill the bull.
In turn, Jesus represents the next age, called the Age of Pisces. Pisces are two fish, and the fish is a very popular symbol in Christian mythology. Jesus finds two of his disciples fishing, and then they follow him, after his promise that he will teach them how to catch humans. Another moment in the New Testament tells how Jesus fed five thousand people with two fish and bread. Until now, many Christians decorate their cars with Jesus-Fish stickers, even though many of them don’t have any idea about where this symbol came from. In Pagan astrology, the Age of Pisces is also called the Kingdom of the Sun, and the birth of Jesus occurs exactly when a new age replaces the old one.
Another moment from the Bible, namely, Luke 22:10, tells us a story about Jesus and his disciples, who ask him where the new Passover will be. Jesus tells them that they must meet a man with a pitcher of water, and follow him into the house that he enters. This episode illustrates astrological system better than everything else. This stranger with a pitcher of water is another Zodiac sign, Aquarius. It’s always depicted as a man with a pitch of water, and given that Jesus represents the Age of Pisces, then the sun moves into the Age of Aquarius. The Age of Aquarius is often described in different occult literature, and sometimes it associates with the end of the world, since the age of Jesus ends.
Talking about the end of the world, we must recall the Book of Revelation, as well as Matthew 28:20. Jesus says that he will be with his disciples until the end of the world, but it’s a King James Version. Historians know how many mistranslations this version contains, and “the end of the world” is just one of them. The original word “aeon” was translated as “the world”, but literally it means “age”. It’s easy to see how the story of Jesus represents the astrological cycle of ages, but despite that, about 100 million Americans still believe in the end of the world.
Jesus is not the only god who represented such a cycle. A lot of details from the story about Jesus correlate with another ancient god, Horus. 3500 years ago, it was an Egyptian Sun god, and the Temple of Luxor has many images that depict Horus. Looking at these images, we see how virgin goddess Isis was impregnated by another holy ghost, Nef. It’s just a one of many stories from Egyptian mythology that correlates with the story of Jesus.
Given that ancient people couldn’t communicate with each other like we do, the same story often was told in different parts of the world, with new details, characters, or ideas. For example, the story about a Great Flood is a common story all around the world. More than 200 sources from different countries contain information about the flood, and we will consider the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is dated 2600 BC. According to the Epic of Gilgamesh, God commanded a Great Flood, and animals were saved on an Ark. It even tells about a dove that returned back, which makes this story almost identical to the story from the Bible.
Another common story is a story about the birth of Moses. According to the Bible, he was placed in a basket which drifted down the river and then was found by a daughter of a king. He was raised as a new prince. We can meet all these details in another story, dated 2250 BC. It’s a myth of Sargon of Akkad, who was saved from infanticide exactly the same way, and his basket was found by Akki, who was a royal mid-wife.
However, the most interesting story about Moses is a story of God giving Moses Ten Commandments. Moses was not the only prophet who took a Law from gods on a mountain. For example, Indian mythology has a story about Manou, called the law giver. In ancient Greece, Minos took sacred laws from Zeus on Mount Dica. Another Egyptian hero, Mises, also had stone tables with engraved laws of gods.
Talking about Ten Commandments, let’s take a look at the Egyptian Book of the Dead. In Spell 125, there is a phrase “I haven’t killed”, which later turned into well-known “Thou shall not kill”. We also see “I haven’t told lies”, and “I haven’t stolen” there. Generally, Judeo-Christian theology includes a lot of analogies with the Egyptian religion. Virgin mother, resurrection, final judgement, life after death, the Ark of the Covenant, Easter, the Great Flood, Passover – these all are stories mentioned both in Egyptian scrolls and the Bible.
One of the first historians who devoted his live to studying Christianity, Justin Martyr, said that Jesus, born from a virgin woman, who was killed and died, and then resurrected, is no different from Sons of Jupiter. He said that those who believe in Perseus are able to easily accept exactly the same story of Jesus.
Actually, early Christians knew how similar Christianity was to other Pagan religions, and they often mentioned such common features. It was really hard to deny such correlations, so Justin Martyr said that the Devil himself moved to the past, to write the story of Jesus in Pagan books. It was his only solution, and some Christians may accept it even now.
Generally, the Bible is just a hybrid of many astrological and Pagan myths, just like any religious sources written before it. The same stories were written and told over and over again, with new characters, new events and new details. We even can see how the same story develops and repeats in the Bible. Joseph is a character from the Old Testament, and Jesus is the main character of the New Testament. Joseph and Jesus have a lot in common. For example, both of them were born as a result of miracle. Joseph had twelve brothers, and Jesus had the same number of disciples. Both of them started working at the same age, which is 30 years. Both of them were sold, Joseph – for 20 pieces of silver, and Jesus – for 30. Moreover, both of them were betrayed: Joseph – by one of his brothers, and Jesus – by one of his disciples.
Thousands years ago, the Roman Empire dominated in the Mediterranean region. Their religion was based on Greek religion, with the same myths about same gods. Only names of these gods were changed, and until now we know these names as names of planets, such as Mercury, Jupiter, Mars or Saturn. Many religions of that time corresponded to the Roman and Greek religions, which is understood, since the Roman Empire had the most significant political power, and Greek was a common language in the Middle East, mostly used by people engaged in art and science. Alexandria was an Egyptian town which served as a cultural center of the Roman civilization, and Roman religion spread across the world along with merchants.
The Christian church forbidden celebrations of Solstice, but many people continued celebrating Pagan holidays. Thus, in the IV century, Pope Julius I established a new Christian holiday – the birth of Jesus, on December 25. Since then, Pagan holiday became legal again, even though we have no evidences that prove that Jesus was born this day. We even don’t know a season or a year when he was born, but such a date was accepted by most believers, as a well-known Pagan holiday, rebranded in a Christian manner. Until now, Christians celebrate Christmas on December 25, continuing the ancient Pagan tradition.
Many of us don’t know how much Pagan religions affect our lives even today. We give each other wedding rings, which is an ancient Pagan tradition, accepted and revised by Christians. However, each time we pay special attention to religious symbols, we get nothing but conflicts that divide nations. Recall events in France, where Muslim headscarves, along with Jewish yarmulkes, and Sikh turbans, were banned in 2004. Obviously, such religious symbols don’t fit the modern secular state, but this ban raised a lot of hot discussions and protests, dividing the country and increasing the level of violence.
We already considered many evidences of Pagan influence on Christianity, but these facts raise a simple question: what we shall do with such knowledge? Even though such a scenario looks unreal, we think that Christians could study their own history better, to stop condemning various Pagan practices. Muslims have a lot in common with Jews, worshipping the same God, and honoring the same characters, such as Abraham or Moses. If people paid more attention to common roots, they could do a lot to stop violence against each other.