If you’re feeling a bit jaded about Christmas, you don’t have to dig too far underneath all the bling and glitz – and the Judaic narrative – to discover that it’s actually a real and very potent time of year for Earth magic, as the fiery arrow of Sagittarius flies towards the Taurus bull of fertility and the Horned One of Capricorn springs into action at the Birth of the Radiant Child on the Winter Solstice today.
The Birth of the Radiant Child has been celebrated across all the Three Worlds – the Underworld, the Bright World of Earth, and the Upper World – from time immemorial, because the divine child’s conception involves the co-operation of and communion between all three realms.
Our ancestors painted stories in the stars to tell this metaphorical tale about how Nature magically recreates itself and builds new worlds. The Nativity is sparked from what’s known as the Marriage of the Sun and the Moon, otherwise known as the Alchemical Marriage between Father Sun and Mother Moon, with the Earth as the generative organ.
Alchemically, it’s found in the conjunction of Salt and Sulphur, with Mercury playing Cupid! It’s also shown in the vesica piscis, in which the two circles, male and female, overlap to produce the Seed of Life, which is why you often find paintings of Jesus seated within this shape.
However, the story of the birth of the Radiant Child long predates the Nativity of Jesus in the stable at Bethlehem, although it seems to be a requisite in these ancient myths, across all cultures, for the Radiant Child to be born, or raised, in humble circumstances – like the Celtic Radiant Child Culwych (sounds like Kilhook) who was raised in a pig pen.
Another common feature of these old myths is that the Radiant Child is raised by people other than his parents – foster parents – or in a foreign land.
For instance, in the story about the baby Moses, he was found by an Egyptian princess in the bulrushes, who went on to secretly raise him. Jesus was also secreted away in Egypt after his birth. Both of them, Moses and Jesus, were being hidden to protect them from what is another common theme – a jealous king’s “massacre of the innocents”.
This same theme is found in the myth about Krishna in the Srimad Bhagavatham, who is closeted away from a massacre of the innocents being waged by King Kamsa. We also find it in the myth about the birth of Zeus – his mother, Rhea, has to hide all her children from their murderous father, Chronos.
So what is the “massacre of the innocents” really about, in terms of astronomical metaphor? Well, most mythologists agree that it’s about the old ruler, the old Sun that ‘dies’ on the Winter Solstice, and who feels challenged by the new and future king (the new Sun that will rise again after three days) and so the Old Sun tries to have the New Sun killed.
Of course, it never works – thank goodness, because the new Sun is always reborn!
The Winter Solstice marks the furthest point away from us that the Sun travels from the Earth, and thus we experience the longest night. From our perspective, it seems as if the Old Sun stands still or ‘dies’ for three days – ‘solstice’ means ‘Sun standing still’ in Latin. But after three days, the Sun begins its journey back towards us and the new Sun is born again as the Radiant Child.
The Radiant Child is actually an existential stage of spiritual evolution in the journey of the zodiac hero who has passed all his or her trials and challenges. These challenges include dying at the Death Gate of Scorpio, and then going down into the Underworld to win the Hallows of Sovereignty during the stage of Sagittarius. If the hero or heroine is successful, they are reborn under the sun in Capricorn on the Winter Solstice, and the moon in Cancer.
The Bright World of the Gods
In my new book, The Bright World of the Gods, I weave together stories from the Three Worlds into a triskele knot to show how they blend together to produce the birth of the Radiant Child.
In this extract from that book, the teacher Parmenides is explaining the process to Bridie who is my zodiac heroine who has gone down to the Underworld to win the Hallows of Sovereignty.
Parmenides begins with:
“The purpose of the coupling between humankind and the gods is to seed the birth of the Radiant Child, the faery child that allows the spirit of Sovereignty to gush forth from the land.”
Bridie suddenly remembered her homework about Hercules and interrupted him:
“Hercules was born in the same way,” she said.
Then realising who she was talking to, she added: “But I’m sure you already know … he was the son of the mortal woman, Alcmene, but was fathered by the Greek god Zeus?”
“That’s right, most zodiac heroes are conceived like that,” Parmenides replied.
“There are dozens of such examples, you’ll find, scattered throughout the ancient myths. But they’re largely not recognised by mythologists because people are no longer taught what to look for when excavating the bones of these stories – hence the tragedy.”
Just then, Bride suddenly sat up with a shock of recognition. The Rosetta Stone for the Mysteries was now suddenly falling into place.
“Soooooo … the Virgin Mary then?” she asked, raising her eyebrows at Parmenides in mock shock.
“Exactly,” said Parmenides, beaming now that they were making such good progress.
“Mary wasn’t a virgin in the modern meaning of the term,” he went on. “The word ‘virgin’ comes from Virgo, which represents, on the zodiac of fixed stars, the human woman who makes love with the god, or Upper World spirit.”
Bridie’s face suddenly brightened with realisation.
“Hmmm … Gabriel?” she asked.
“The very same,” replied Parmenides. “He was the Upper World god, in that story, who fathered the zodiac hero, Jesus, who had twelve ‘disciples’.
Bride began to intone the first lines from The Magnificat.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour
For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
The Almighty has done great things for me,
And holy is his Name.
“I used to love the Magnificat,” she explained, smiling with the memory of once singing a highly uplifting version by J. S. Bach in a choir. “No wonder Mary was so joyful!”
Parmenides smiled, pleased that she was getting it.
“And it can sometimes be the other way round,” he went on. “This interdimensional coupling can take the form of a human male making love with an Upper World goddess. For instance, the Sumerian Gilgamesh’s mother was named Ninsun, the Heavenly Cow – no doubt representing the Milky Way – and his father was the king of Uruk, Lugulbanda.
“We know that at least as far back as 4,000 years ago, the Sovereignty rites would take place on the night of a king’s coronation with a high priestess representing the Virgo aspect. In these rites, the Virgo goddess that the high priestess represented would have been Ishtar, Inanna or Isis.
“But within the Celtic tribes, she was known as Arianrhod and she would sexually initiate the king into the Mysteries.
“This is the true meaning of the Welsh story about Arianrhod being king Math’s virginal footholder, and why the guardians of the Sovereignty of the Isles of the Blessed are known as the Three Golden Shoemakers. Feet fitting into shoes are a feature of old European faery stories, like Cinderella, because they are a metaphor for the Sovereignty rites. But that’s another story … and not for today.”
End of extract.
The gods over Glastonbury
This nativity tale of the Radiant Child is told right across the gigantic earthwork Temple of the Stars on the Somerset Levels, which is about 30-miles in circumference around a circle of effigies, otherwise known as the Glastonbury Zodiac.
On the day of the Winter Solstice, the saga being played out by the gods in the sky over the Glastonbury Zodiac is mirrored three times on the ground below.
At four hours before sunrise, the Sun aligns with the Sun in Underworld at the Well of the Stars, in the centre of the circle, at Park Wood.
Then at sunrise, we watch the Sun climbing the ‘staircase’ of Glastonbury Tor.
At midday, the ecliptic of the Sun crosses the Milky Way and forms a Vesica Piscis – the symbol of the Alchemical Marriage – over the Tor.
Later, at nightfall, the Three Wise Men of Orion’s Belt appear over the effigy of Orion the Hunter, whose head is near Compton Dundon, and whose feet are in the boat of Cancer, on Street Moor.
The Cancer constellation is otherwise known as the Gate of Men through which souls descend from the Heavens into human bodies, and so it’s appropriate that the Son of Man should be born there.
Here, in the night skies, we also find the ox and ass overlooking the manger.
The ox and the ass are not mentioned in the orthodoxy but they do feature in the Infancy Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament Apocrypha as:
“Therefore, the animals, the ox and the ass, with him in their midst incessantly adored him. Then was fulfilled that which was said by Habakkuk the prophet, saying, “Between two animals you are made manifest.”
So why the ox and the ass?
The ancient Greeks told in their story about Hercules about how the asses helped the zodiac hero in a battle with the crab at Cancer. As a reward, the asses were placed in the Heavens to overlook the manger – the remarkably bright cluster of stars at the centre of Cancer named Praesepe, which is Latin for ‘manger’.
Praesepe – the Manger
I don’t know what the ox represents in the heavens, but it could be a reference to the horned bull of Taurus whose Eye, on the Glastonbury Zodiac, is penetrated by the phallic arrow of fertility from the archer of Sagittarius.
So if you were feeling a bit jaded about this time of year, now that you know the real cosmological meaning of Solstice (on Wednesday) and Yule (on Sunday) – or at least how our earliest ancestors thought about it – you might a feel a bit more like putting some real Christ-mass spirit into it! On top of that, Mercury goes retrograde tomorrow (Monday), and so the whole festival season will be a good time for diving down deep into the other worlds of the gods.