More people are familiar with the Book of Revelation than any other passage in the Bible. The reasons for this are various. Chief amongst them, however, has to be the way in which the film industry has used Revelation's dramatically doom laden, end of days imagery to create a money-spinning narrative that virtually guarantees a good return on their investment. Armageddon - it would seem - is big business.
Now Hollywood has never been unduly concerned about the accuracy of its forays into the fevered imagination of St John the Divine: Revelation's shadowy (little is known about him) author. With this being the case it is, then, small wonder that most people's perception of his work is totally at variance with what he actually wrote in the dying days of the first century anno domini.
A prime example of this is the popular perception that 'the antichrist' plays a pivotal role in St John's climactic confrontation between good and evil. The simple truth of the matter is this: 'the antichrist' does not appear, at any point, in the Book of Revelation.
Another widespread misconception is that Revelation constitutes a prophecy that has relevance for people living today. Some even go so far as to suggest that ongoing events in the Middle East are St John's precognitions made manifest and that Armageddon now looms large in our collective future. Again this is not borne out by what is actually written in the Book of Revelation which clearly states that it concerns matters for which, 'The time is at hand'. (Chapter 1: verse 2)
So, generally speaking, the overall perception of Revelation's message bears little resemblance to what it is actually saying.
Now interpreting that message is not my main remit here. It is, however, inevitable that some of it will come through in my narrative but, primarily, I will be more concerned with the mode of divination employed to produce this 'prophecy' and the impact that it has had throughout history.
First of all, it has to be said, that no modus operandi of predetermination is explicitly mentioned anywhere in this work. What we do get, though, is conclusive evidence that – despite their indirectly inferred delivery – two methods of divination are present in Revelation.
One of these techniques is more obviously apparent than the other. I am referring to the 'number of the beast' interlude - and the infamous 666. This is pure numerology: the occult practice that involved associating the letters of the alphabet with numbers. These numbers were then, in turn, assigned qualities and attributes: with some of the attributions being considered positive (or good) and some negative (or bad).
Some scholars have, in fact, employed numerology ( or its Hebrew counterpart: gematria) to ascribe the number 666 to the Emperor Nero. I would argue that a far better candidate for such treatment would be a Roman legatus (legionary commander): that served in the Roman province of Judea during the mid AD 90's, called Sextus Hermitidius Campanus. Sextus: which means sixth son, can also be rendered 666 when the letters are given their numerological values (although you have to use a mixture of ancient Greek and Hebrew characters to achieve this).
The problem with numerology is that, whilst it can be used to ascertain propitious – or otherwise - dates and names, it cannot be employed to foretell the future. This required - the ancients believed - knowledge of another branch of arcane lore: astrology.
The references to astrology in Revelation are not as immediately apparent as those for numerology. Once they are recognized and understood, however, their presence becomes indisputable.
First of all though – for us to appreciate why these references were included – we need to look back beyond the biblical era to find the genesis of a belief system that was already old when an unknown Jewish scribe first wrote down the words, 'In the beginning God created the Heaven and the Earth'.
Many scholars now believe that the origins of astrology are as old as the art of writing itself. Some would even argue that it was the need to record the changing relationships of the solar and lunar cycles: against the backdrop of the fixed stars, that inspired our forefathers to begin scratching symbols in organized, repeatable patterns in the first place.
It was this ability to observe and record that allowed them to track events and anticipate the cyclical movements of celestial bodies. The night sky became: for them, a huge, domed clock come calendar. With this mechanism they could begin making correlations between what they saw in the heavens and what transpired down here on Earth.
Over time this enabled them to build up a knowledge base: containing data about river levels, high tides, prevailing winds and even the migratory patterns of birds, that could be written down and transmitted from one generation to the next.
To the uninitiated – the illiterate masses - this was magical knowledge indeed. This is, also, the true nature of power. For the masses were not taught how to read the hieroglyphs engraved upon the temple wall. This knowledge was jealously guarded and kept secret by the new literati. They used it to determine, for instance, the best times to plant and harvest crops. Over longer periods their records enabled them to anticipate cyclic droughts and to develop crop rotation systems. They could now tell a grateful populace: who believed that these literate men had a magical, direct line of communication with the gods, when to feast and when to fast.
Gradually ritualistic observances were extended into the very fabric of everyday life. The purpose here was not: as the now established priests insisted, to appease the capricious nature of the lords of heaven, but to enable the control of the many by the few. The emergence of the first city states: such as fabled Ur in ancient Sumer, was made possible because the citizenry was effectively enslaved - and their collective efforts controlled – by this new ruling class, the priesthood.
For a system of control to be effective it has to have a means of communicating its instruments (laws, decrees, edicts etc) to the masses so the people were required to congregate at certain places, on certain days, to hear the instructions that would govern their daily lives and collective behavior in the coming weeks and months.
Foremost amongst the obligations imposed in this manner was the requirement to pay tithes and taxes for the upkeep of the temple and priesthood. It didn't take long for the priests to realize that their wealth, prestige and power waxed and waned in direct relation to the size of these congregations. So they devised a method by which they could increase their wealth and extend their influence over neighboring tribes and peoples: the method they devised was conquest by war.
To this end they instituted a new warrior class whose sole purpose was to wage war and it was from within the unholy alliance between religion, and the machinery of war, that the supreme expression of the hierarchical society emerged: the king, descended from the gods themselves, who ruled by divine dispensation.
All of this was achieved by observing the night sky and recording the changing position of the sun rise and the movements of the planets. We now know that astrological/astronomical alignments were of enormous significance to our forebears. The archaeological evidence for this exists all over the world. What many people fail to realize, however, is that the socio-economic power structures: along with their attendant belief systems, that produced these ancient statements in stone - are still with us. The privileged few that populate the top echelons of the pyramids of power do come and go – over time they are displaced by court intrigues and coup d'tat – but the the pyramids, themselves, remain.
Put simply, those that first cataloged the constellations: some six millennia ago, also made the world that we all still live in today. Incredibly, they have - as well - managed to keep mankind enthralled: for six-thousand-years, with the tales that they wove around the personae that they gave to those constellations. Tales of gods and men-who-became-gods, tales that became myth, legend and the belief systems/religions that – even now in an age of scientific discovery - still govern the minds of men.
Astrology is, then, the unbroken – though often hidden – thread that connects the modern age with the dawn of civilization. This thread's presence in the Book of Revelation proves, therefore, that the New Testament is merely a continuation of what went before: that it was never - in fact - new at all.
Further to this we could even argue that the true meaning of St John's convoluted narrative only becomes clear when it is referenced against the myths and legends of older civilizations: such as Sumeria, Babylon, Egypt and Greece, whose traditions the Jews were exposed to while undergoing conquest, captivity and the dislocation of the diaspora.
So – before we examine the camouflaged astrological references found in Revelation – we first need to arm ourselves with knowledge of the mythological material that both predated, and inspired it. Moreover, because the authors of the New Testament were Greek speaking Jewish exiles living in enclaves scattered across the Roman Empire, the mythology of ancient Greece is where we need to start.
Let 's now examine the pre-existing material that the reader needs to be aware of; material that will provide a sort of de-mystifying filter through which all biblical writing should be viewed. You can think of this filter as being the 'key' with which to unlock Revelation's encryption.
Greek mythology is populated by a long list of gods and demi-gods, heroes, villains and sorely abused damsels in distress. Over the millennia some of these characters seem to have morphed from being mere mortals into gods: with their own cult following and temples dedicated to their divinity. The protagonist that we shall be looking at here seems to have undergone such a transformation: his name was Aesculapius.
Aesculapius was the son of the solar deity Apollo who – besides being entitled, 'The light of the world,' - was also known as the god of medicine and healing. It was these latter attributes: those associated with the physician's art, that Apollo bestowed upon his son.
The son took his father's gifts and improved upon them to the point where he could actually resurrect dead people and bring them back from the underworld: the kingdom of Hades.
Now Hades (the god) was mightily displeased at the prospect of being deprived of new subjects for his dark and dismal realm. So he begged his brother Zeus to kill the upstart and remove the threat to his dominion over death. Zeus reluctantly complied with his brother's wishes and slew Aesculapius: his own nephew, with a thunderbolt.
After the deed was done, however, Zeus became remorseful. So - to alleviate his guilt - he raised Aesculapius' body up to the heavens and immortalized him as the constellation Ophiuchus: the Serpent Bearer.
(NB: it is worth noting, at this point, that the Romans knew this constellation as Serpentarius; and that the words serpent, dragon and worm – all of which appear in Revelation - were used interchangeably throughout much of early history. It is also known that the Germanic tribespeople of Europe referred to a Roman legion on the march: ie a long column of marching men, as a 'worm')
A little astrological/astronomical information is required here. Ophiuchus is regarded by many to be the thirteenth house/sign of the zodiac. If you count along the houses in sequence, however, starting with Aries – and travel West to East; as is customary – then Ophiuchus is found to be in the ninth ordinal position. This places the Serpent Bearer between the constellations of Scorpio and Sagittarius. We are now good to go.
Please read the following bulleted passages carefully. Italicized words indicate direct quotes from Revelation (King James version of The Bible). Words that are both italicized and emboldened are especially significant.
• 'I saw a star fall from heaven: and to him was given the key the key to the bottomless pit.'
From chapter 9 verse 1.
(NB: Please note the correlation between the chapter number and Ophiuchus' ordinal position in the zodiac.)
Aesculapius/Ophiuchus had the power to resurrect the dead. Ergo he possessed, 'the key of (to unlock) the bottomless pit'.
• 'And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose smoke out of the pit.'
From verse 2.
• 'And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the Earth; and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the Earth have power.'
From verse 3.
The constellation of Ophiuchus lies in the ninth ordinal position of the zodiac. The eighth position: immediately to the West of Ophiuchus, is occupied by Scorpio.
• 'And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle...and their faces were as the faces of men.'
From verse 7.
Bodies like horses? Faces of men? We are obviously looking at the legendary centaur of Greek myth here. And there is, as we all know, a centaur residing within the zodiac. This is Sagittarius: who occupies the tenth ordinal position, immediately to the East of the Serpent Bearer.
(NB: given the martial references here, 'horses prepared unto battle', it is worth noting that: in the ancient Sumerian zodiac, Sagittarius was known as, 'the soldier').
Now if you look at a star map depicting the zodiacal houses you will see that Ophiuchus extends above both Scorpio and Sagittarius. It is in this respect that he 'rules' over them.
St John provides us with another three references to astrological/astronomical features associated with his locusts from the bottomless pit.
Two of them occur in the following passage.
• 'And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions.'
From verse 8.
The first of the emboldened words here refer to the constellation Coma Berenices: literally, Berenice's hair. Berenice was the wife of the Greek Pharaoh Ptolemy the Third. When her husband led an Egyptian army to fight against the Seleucids: during the Third Syrian War of 243 BC, Berenice – fearing that he would not return alive – cut off her hair as a sacrifice to Aphrodite and so secure the goddess' protection for her king. It was the court astrologer at Alexandria: Conon, who named the constellation after his queen's shorn tresses.
However, some astrologers/astronomers considered Coma Berenices to be merely an asterism; not a true constellation. An asterism is a sub-section of a much larger grouping of stars and – in their view – Coma Berenices represented only the tuft of hair at the end of Leo the Lion's tail.
(NB: the Jews hated the Greeks as much as they despised the Romans. Greece had been the occupying power in Judea – until displaced by the Romans – since the days of Alexander the Great. Further to this, Berenice was also the name of Herod Agrippa's sister. Agrippa was the last of the Herodian client kings of Judea. He was forced to flee Jerusalem, along with his sister, at the outset of The Jewish Revolt: against Rome, in AD 66.)
Now if there is anybody – reading this – that still has doubts about the connections between the Book of Revelation and Greek mythology this next extract should go some way toward convincing them otherwise.
• 'And they (the locusts) had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit...in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon.'
From verse 11.
Apollo. Apollyon. Get it? How obvious does St John have to make it?
All of this does, however, pose a very pertinent question. Why do people associate, 'the star that fell to Earth,' with Satan/Lucifer?
To find an answer to this we need to flip back through the pages of the Bible until we come to the Book of Isaiah in the Old Testament. It is in this book that we find the following:
• 'How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer son of the morning! How art thou cut down to the ground...'
From chapter 14 verse 12.
Now there is a problem, here, with the name Lucifer which was the Latin name for the planet Venus. This relates to the historical time scale over which the events described in the Book of Isaiah actually occurred. All the historical evidence points to these events happening through the course of the eighth century BC. The problem is that Rome only became established – as a recognizable city state – around 800 BC and that: throughout the eighth century, Rome was busy subduing its neighboring city states and extending its control over the region that would, one day, become Italy. The Roman Empire, at this point in time, did not exist and would not for several centuries. So to place the name Lucifer in Isaiah's vocabulary in this particular period is patently absurd. Isaiah would not have used this name.
So who was he referring to?
Reading on through chapter 14 we come to this:
• '...Is this the man that made the Earth to tremble, that did shake the kingdoms?'.
From verse 16.
A man? Yes we are looking at a man here (not the devil incarnate). This particular man was, however, obviously a 'big cheese' of some description at the time.
We need to put the Bible aside for a moment now and turn, instead, to recorded history and ask – who was the 'big (perhaps biggest) cheese' throughout the Middle East during this period?
There is really only one candidate who fits the bill here. He was an Assyrian king who ruled over Babylon and conquered the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. His, rather grandiose, title was: 'Tiglath Pileser the Third'. This was the guy that resurrected, and substantially extended upon, the Assyrian Empire: first empire known to history.
His title, when translated into Hebrew, can be rendered, 'My trust is in the son of Esharra (Esarra)'.
Now I didn't have much luck googling the name Esharra, to find out who this person was, so I switched to looking up ancient names for the planet Venus. Given the Lucifer, Venus connection - this seemed a logical course of action at the time.
And so it was.
I found that Venus: otherwise known as the 'morning star' ( and also 'evening star', 'day star'), had variously been named:
• Ishtar : in the Akkadian language (spoken by the Assyrians, Babylonians etc).
• Ashtoreth/Astarte : by the Phoenicians/Canaanites. Ashtoreth appears, as a goddess, in the Bible.
• Ostara/Eostre : by the Germanic peoples (including the Anglo-Saxons). It is from Eostre that we get the name 'Easter': the pagan festival of Spring and the resurrection of the Sun God.
• Hesperus and Eospherous: these are both from the Hellenic. The Greeks thought that the morning star (Eospherous) and evening star (Hesperus) were two separate celestial entities
• Esther : from Hebraic (Hadassah). This one is interesting – it comes from a proto-semitic root that means morning star.
Esharra/Esarra, Ishtar, Ashtoreth/Astarte, Ostara/Eostre, Hesperus/Eospherous and Esther. The linguistic connections between these names are quite plain. It is obvious that they all originate from a common Indo-European source – which was probably Hausos: primordial goddess of the dawn.
So when Isaiah uses the phrase, 'Son of the morning,' he is - without doubt - referring to Tiglath Pileser the Third: bane of Israel and Judah, who placed his faith in the, 'Son of the Morning Star'.
(NB – I am aware of the debate surrounding the authorship of the Book of Isaiah: whether there was just the one contributor or many. I have chosen not to pursue this here to keep the length of this article within reasonable limits. I should also mention that – in my estimation - Revelation itself appears to have been written by a committee.)
We can now return to the Book of Revelation. But – before moving on to explore further evidence of the astrological/mythological thread running through it – we still need to answer a question relating to Ophiuchus. The question being – why did St John connect Ophiuchus to the imagery of a star falling to earth?
To answer this we need to understand a little about the complexities of the Jewish calendar. Jewish people, basically, organize their lives around two calendars. Their everyday lives are lived according to the rhythm of a solar calender that has a lot in common with the Gregorian Calendar with which we are all familiar.
Their religious lives: IE when they celebrate festivals such as Rosh Hashanah, Pesach (Passover) etc - on the other hand – revolve around a calendar based on the cycles of the moon.
This arrangement leads to a problem with the synchronicity of the two because the solar year is approximately 11 days longer than a lunar year consisting of 12 lunar cycles (lunations). Over time the two calendars will drift more and more out of 'sync' so, to correct this, the Jews simply added an extra month to each of seven years that they interspersed throughout every nineteen year (metonic) cycle.
Now astrologers – if they are to cast horoscopes for people born in these added months – will, of course, require a zodiac that consists of thirteen houses. This was especially true of Jewish practitioners of the art. So it should come as no surprise that Nostradamus: the most famous astrologer of all, used a zodiac that included the sign of the Serpent Bearer; his grandfather and mentor, Guy Gassonet, was – after all - a Jew that had converted to Catholicism.
At this point you might be wondering: where is he going with all of this?
Well the symbolism of the falling star is of paramount importance because it illustrates – actually helps us define - the motivations of the small coterie of men that created the New Testament and what they hoped to achieve by its creation.
The falling star was to represent the demotion of Ophiuchus from the zodiac altogether. His demise would also signify an end to the practice of inserting seven extra, intercalary months into the nineteen year metonic cycle.
Indeed, what we are looking at here is an attempt – by those responsible for the New Testament – to replace the age old calender of Jewish tradition with a radical new design of their own.
We can, with a bit of detective work, even deduce what this calendar would look like.
Consider this: the Book of Revelation is, essentially, structured around four sequences of seven.
I'll place these sequences in the order in which they appear.
1. The seven churches (which art in Asia) sequence.
2. The opening of the seven seals sequence.
3. The blowing of the seven trumpets sequence.
4. The pouring of the seven vials (bowls in some versions of the Bible) sequence.
Now four multiplied by seven equals twenty-eight. We already know that the number seven was significant to the Jews as it represented the seven days in which God created the World in Genesis. So all of these sequences represent a period of twenty eight days right? Hmm, I hear you ponder.
OK. Consider this.
In chapter four St John introduces us to four beasts and twenty four elders that are positioned around God's throne in heaven. Again four plus twenty four equals twenty eight. Now the beasts and the elders are mentioned quite a few times in Revelation. But it is only in four chapters that we find seven verses wherein the beasts and the elders are featured together.
Here comes the clincher. Remember the nineteen year metonic cycle that I mentioned earlier? Well the last of the seven verses in which the four beasts and twenty four elders are featured together occurs in chapter nineteen.
So St John and his band of radical thinkers and activists were planning on replacing the age old calendar of Jewish tradition with one of their own. Their calendar would be based solely on the cycles of the Sun with a year only ever consisting of twelve months – never thirteen – with each month consisting of, a uniform, twenty eight days.
The implications of what these guys were attempting would be far-reaching and profound.
It should be understood that the cycles of the moon were deeply woven into the fabric of Jewish life by a calendar which dictated the timing of all their religious observances. So important were these cycles that is was customary for a rabbi to only declare a new moon 'valid' after it had been actually 'witnessed' three times in the sky, and the sightings reported to him, by three separate, adult men. In effect this meant that the beginning of each calendar month was defined by religious authority.
St John - and his co-revolutionaries – intended to usurp this authority. They were planning nothing less than an all out assault on the apex of the Judaic power pyramid. They were going to displace the priests that preached in, 'the synagogues of Satan' (Revelation: chapter 2, verse 9) and seize control of the heart and soul of Judaism.
Now these men were not just power hungry megalomaniacs. They had a perfectly understandable reason for wanting to seize control of their religion.
Some background information would be helpful here.
Worshiping idols and 'graven images' was expressly forbidden under the laws of Moses. Despite this there were, throughout the first and second centuries AD, such images to be found in Jewish temples. These effigies depicted roman gods: such as Jupiter, and emperors who had been deified under the practices of the 'Imperial Cult'. Normally an emperor would only be elevated to 'god' status: by an enactment of the Roman senate, after death. However, when Revelation was written: around AD 95, the then emperor: Domitian, demanded that he be worshiped as a 'living god' while yet he lived.
So when St John uses the phrase, 'synagogues of Satan' he is directly describing the high priests (and the Jewish elite) that had ingratiated themselves with the enemy for personal gain.
Indeed, rank and file Jews had every reason to despise their imperial overlords - along with the priests and Jewish administrators that facilitated Roman rule.
In AD 70 the legions had destroyed the Temple of Solomon, and raised Jerusalem to the ground. Jews were prohibited from approaching within thirty miles of where their capital had once stood. They were also forced to pay taxes to the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus in Rome; and made to prostrate themselves before the marble simulacra of Roman gods, and emperors, blasphemously installed in their own synagogues.
Worst of all, they were driven from the land and forcibly re-settled in communities scattered across the Eastern provinces of the empire. Many thousands had become exiles from the land promised them by their god.
With all this injustice piled upon them, it is unsurprising that – around the turn of the second century AD – the Jews: ever a fractious nation, were ripe for rebellion.
None of this was lost on St John. He intended to exploit all this pent-up, seething resentment by channeling it toward achieving his objectives - to redefine Judaism and unite the Israelites under the banner of a new solar deity: Jesus Christ. Once their power base was established among the Jews, the new elite would then seek alliances with the Gentile nations: the Kings of the East, and launch all out war against the Roman Empire.
This is why the Book of Revelation was written in such a cryptic fashion: if what these men were planning had been discovered by the authorities, they would have all been executed.
I am now going to present further evidence of the astrological/astronomical thread – along with its mythological provenance – present in the Book of Revelation.
Here, however, I will be drawing on background material from a wider range of ancient cultures: such as the Greco-Roman and Egyptian etc.
Again, direct quotes from the Bible – and other sources – will be italicized. I will also use bullets to separate the purely mythological from my own explanations and arguments.
Please read the following:
• I beheld a great wonder in heaven, a woman clothed with the Sun, with the Moon at her feet. And on her head was a diadem of the twelve stars.
From the Invocation to Isis.
Compare this with:
• And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.
From Revelation chapter 12: verse 1.
The similarities between these two passages make it obvious that one is a direct copy of the other. So which is the copy – and which the original? Usually – where there is a clear connection between mythological and biblical material - it can be demonstrated that the former preceded the latter by at least several centuries. This was the case for the Codex Hammurabi: which was plagiarized to become Deuteronomy (the Laws of Moses). It was also the case for the Egyptian Book of the Dead: which later became the Ten Commandments. In this instance, however, I could not find any reliable date for when the Invocation to Isis was written.
What we can be sure of, though, is that both passages refer to the same constellation in the sky; both reference the Virgin Mother of the Gods: Virgo.
Let's have a look at some more background material here. I'll start with the Egyptian Goddess Isis: whose name means, 'she of the throne'. This particular deity is arguably one of the most successful ever worshiped. Her divinity can be traced back to the pre-dynastic period - before the unification of the Upper and Lower Kingdoms of the Nile around three-thousand-years BC - and continued into the sixth century AD.
(NB: When researching this deity on the web I got the firm impression that she is – in fact – still worshiped today; the sites [shrines] dedicated to her just go on and on.)
The Egyptians revered Isis as it was her tears for her slain husband that, they believed, caused the annual flooding of the Nile: an event which was crucial to the prosperity of the nation state of Egypt.
After The Greeks defeated the Persians, to become the dominant power in the Middle East, worship of Isis spread throughout Europe where she became identified with Demeter and, later, Ceres.
(NB: Demeter was the Greek goddess of the harvest and the fertility of the Earth, she was also the final arbiter of the divine law and governed the eternal cycles of life and death. Ceres: from whom we get the word cereal, was Demeter's Roman equivalent.)
Isis (Asert) was often depicted wearing the 'throne crown' - with her wings enfolded protectively around her husband Osiris or seated, Madonna-like, with the infant Horus on her lap. Now the way in which her son Horus was conceived is highly significant. Isis took her dead husband's dismembered phallus and impregnated herself. This scenario: of a 'god child' being born purely maternally - without any direct contribution from a mortal, paternal father - has many variants. It is present in most - if not all - of the ancient, pre-Christian religions. The Greek myths, for instance, abound with tales of the shape-shifting Zeus seducing and impregnating women in the forms of a shower-of- gold, a swan, a white bull and a myriad other guises.
We can now turn our attention to the Star Maiden: Virgo.
To the ancient Babylonians, what we know as the constellation of Virgo, was made up of two distinct celestial entities. The collection of stars in the eastern sector of The Virgin was called 'The Furrow' (a direct reference to the farming of crops) and the western grouping, 'The Frond of Erua'. Erua was the Assyrian/Babylonian goddess of pregnancy and childbirth; she was usually depicted as a naked maiden demurely holding a frond from the date palm: this depiction survived her reincarnation as Virgo.
(NB: Erua is also linked to the Semitic goddess Ashera: whose name was invoked at childbirth, and when planting crops. Her symbol was a stylized tree – The Tree of Life: a motif that St John uses repeatedly in Revelation. Please note that the name Ashera, itself, appears to share its linguistic origins with the Esarra/Ostara/Venus sequence of names that we looked at earlier. When spelt Asherah this name becomes truly remarkable. For this was the name of the wife of the Hebrew God: Yahweh. Asherah's effigy once stood enshrined in the Temple of Solomon at Jerusalem. This is historical fact; Christian's take note.)
In all the mythologies, across all the cultures of the ancient world The Virgin – often portrayed holding a sheaf of wheat cradled in the crook of her arm - was associated with food and agriculture. The Israelites, for instance, called her, 'the House of Bread,' which translated – rather tellingly - into Hebrew as Beth Le' Hem. This connection really should not surprise us; the Sun rises in Virgo throughout the harvest season, a time of year that was vitally important to the agrarian societies of old. Without Virgo's blessing, during this period, survival through the following winter: 'The Great Dying', could not be guaranteed.
(NB: In pagan societies Virgo – and the deities that she represented – played an important role in the twelve day Festival of Yule which was celebrated around the Winter Solstice on the 25 December: the first day of the New Year. Our pagan forbears knew that a child conceived during these festivities would be born – nine months later - in the harvest season when food was plentiful, and Virgo ruled the Heavens. This was why they decorated their homes with holly and mistletoe; both of which bore berries at this time. The red berries of the holly represented droplets of menstrual blood and the white berries of the mistletoe semen. When these two sacred substances are combined - in the womb of the eternal mother - life begins anew, even in the depths of the dead season. Furthermore, there is a tradition – still observed to this day – that can be traced back to the worship of the Virgoan Deities at the Solstice. Next time you are decorating your Christmas tree look very carefully at the fairy that you place atop this 'stand-in' for the 'Axis Munde': the Axis of the Earth, the World Tree. That demure looking little female figure – wearing a white dress to indicate purity, holding a harp that should really be a sheaf of wheat, with a halo that should really be a diadem of twelve stars - is not an angel: there are no female angels mentioned anywhere in the Bible. That little figurine represents Virgo.)
In some depictions of Virgo you will see her holding, aloft, The Scales of Justice: Libra. This connects her with Isis who was present at the ceremony of Maat: when the hearts of the dead were weighed, in judgment, against a feather before the throne of Osiris. It also links her to the Greek goddess of truth and purity: the incorruptible Astrea (again note the likely linguistic origin of this name), inspiration for the statues of Blind Justice that stand above courthouses all over the world.
So - above all her other attributes and associations - Virgo personified the cyclic nature of man's very existence. Everything flowed from her. Ultimately, it was only through her that the father: whether he be a man or a god, could be reincarnated, reborn or resurrected as the son.
There is one last attribute, that Virgo possesses, that I have yet to mention. I'll be coming to it shortly.
We can now return to St John's narrative.. I have bulleted the verses separately for the sake of clarity. As before I will intersperse my explanations throughout. Verse one appears here again simply for the reader's convenience.
• And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars.
From verse 1
• And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
From verse 2
It is pretty obvious, here, that St John expects the reader of these passages to infer - for themselves – that he is portraying the pregnant Virgin Mary in her guise as the Holy Mother.
Also, please note that these passages occur in chapter twelve; this correlates with his new solar deity: Jesus Christ, being born in the twelfth month.
• And there appeared another wonder in Heaven...a great red dragon, having seven heads...
From verse 3
• And his tail drew the third part of the stars of Heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
From verse 4
Directly beneath Virgo, lies the constellation of Hydra: the Water Snake. Remember, the words dragon and serpent were interchangeable in antiquity. Hydra is the largest of the constellations. Besides Virgo it extends beneath Cancer and Leo to the West and Libra to the East. These four houses (from twelve) of the zodiac constitute a third part of the stars of Heaven.
(NB: Hydra is also the name of the many headed monster/serpent that the demi-god Heracles: the Roman Hercules, slew as the second of his twelve labors in Greek mythology.)
• ...and she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
From verse 5
Again St John leaves us to make our own inferences here. The most obvious assumption being that he is referring to the infant Jesus. He isn't – at least - not directly. Why does he use the term man child? He uses it because the constellation to which he is directly referring has always been depicted, from time immemorial, as an adult male. Not just any old male either. He is referring directly to the constellation of Heracles/Hercules.
And here he is.
Notice that, besides his customary club, Hercules is carrying a rod of iron. This rod, however, isn't a weapon: it is a measuring rod complete with calibrated markings. So when St John uses the phrase, 'rule all nations,' he isn't talking about governance: he is talking about judgment.
The rod also has serpents entwined around it. Serpents entwined around a rod or staff - as an emblem (such as the caduceus of Hermes) - have always signified the medical profession and can be traced back to the staff of Aesculapius and even further.
As for the throne that Hercules was 'caught up to': this was probably the constellation of Ursa Minor minus Polaris (the Axis Munde: the point around which the Earth, sky and all the hosts of heaven rotate). The Little Bear was also the probable inspiration for the empty 'throne crown' that Isis (Virgo) wore upon her head.
(NB: There is another connection/correlation with Hercules to be found elsewhere in Revelation. First, though, a little background information. At the time of writing: in the mid to late nineties AD, the Romans were seen as the oppressor in Judea and throughout the Middle East. So when St John describes his sequence of four beasts – the enemy - he is mainly referring to the Roman Empire: along with its gods, its emperors and military power. Three of the beasts in this sequence are described as having seven heads. Among these: the second - the beast from the sea - bears a grievous wound, to one of its heads, that should have proved fatal. Yet it lived. Now, as every student of geography knows, the city of Rome (described - in Revelation - as the Harlot of Babylon) is built on seven hills. And, believe it or not, one of those prominences: the Palatine Hill, bears the scar from a most grievous blow. That legendary blow was struck by Hercules in his mythic battle – fought on Mons Palatinus - against the fire breathing giant (dragon?) Cacus: the evil one. Hercules hit Cacus so hard that it gouged out a huge cleft in the brow of the hill that can be seen to this very day.)
• And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the devil and Satan...
From verse 9
The name Satan comes from the Hebrew, Sa'Tarn: which originally meant adversary and sometimes the accuser. Nothing more.
In Numbers 22:22 you will find this:
• '...and the angel of the Lord stood in the way for an adversary against him...'
In the original Hebrew Bible the word Sa'Tarn would have been used here instead of adversary. Does this sound like some kind of demonic entity to you?
Again in 1 Kings 11:14 we find:
• ' And the Lord raised up an adversary (Sa'Tarn) against Solomon, Hadad the Edomite.'
Here God was punishing Solomon - for worshiping other deities - by sending an Edomite army against him.
Time and again in the Hebrew Bible the name Satan was used to denote both the king and chief deity of an enemy: often sent by God, that comes against the Jews and defeats them in battle.
This is the sense in which this title should be understood here.
The word devil comes down to us from the Greek: diabolos, it means 'slanderer' or 'prosecutor'. Moreover, in Greek versions of the Bible Satan was also often rendered as diabolos.
I'm going to hazard a guess here and propose that this word originally became popular as an insult among Greek speaking Jews in the first half of the first century AD. At this time, and throughout the period, there were a great many claimants to the title of Messiah ('anointed one': which becomes Christos in Greek) wandering around Judea – preaching, performing magic tricks and making outlandish pronouncements about their divinity. The Nazarene – if ever he actually existed - was merely one voice among many. Some of these – such as 'the Egyptian Messiah', mentioned by the historian Josephus – could muster followings that numbered in the tens of thousands. It's not hard to imagine how the adherents of these different messianic individuals would have addressed one another. Calling out, slanderer! – accompanied by the appropriate gesticulations – would have been the order of the day.
(NB: the Roman historian Suetonius wrote that the emperor Claudius was forced to expel the Jews from Rome for making, '...constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus...'. Claudius ruled from AD 41 to 50. Jesus could not have been present in Rome at this time. So who was this Chrestus? Furthermore, if the Jews had been attacking Roman citizens during these disturbances they would have received a far harsher punishment than mere expulsion. They were obviously fighting among themselves. But what about?)
What we can be sure about is that this word – along with its definition as a demonic entity – doesn't appear anywhere in Hebrew versions of the Old Testament. The Jews, even today, do not believe in such an entity. In the New Testament, on the other hand, it appears alongside the word Satan more than sixty times. Again I should stress, here, that the New Testament was written by a coterie of revolutionaries that included St John, and that these men constituted only one small group amongst a plethora of diverse factions: each led by a charismatic, self-styled Messiah. These people bandied the term diabolos about with such wild abandon that it became virtually meaningless.
So once more, I am forced to conclude, that the word devil: as it is used here, does not – necessarily – indicate the presence of a supernatural enemy of the Hebrew God. Moreover, the concept that this word is used to convey: that evil is a palpable force personified by The Devil, was a purely Christian construct introduced, by them, to meet the religio-political expediences of the day.
We now come to old serpent and dragon. It is with these words that St John really begins to give the game away.
First though, we have to decide, when St John uses the adjective old – is he applying it to the oldest serpent that appears in the Bible – or is he referring to a serpent deity that is much older still?
Let me explain. The book that we know as the Old Testament first began to take shape in the sixth century when most of the Jews were forced to live in exile in Babylon. Their captivity lasted from 597 to 538 BC: when the Persians, led by King Cyrus, invaded Babylon and freed them. Contrary to popular belief – however – the period spent in exile was not a particularly onerous time for the majority of Jews. So much so that – when they were given the opportunity to return to the land of Judah – a great many chose, instead, to remain. It is, therefore, perfectly logical to assume that – when the scribes: many of whom would have been born in Babylon, sat down and began work on the Old Testament – what they wrote would be heavily influenced by the customs and beliefs of their captors. The beliefs of their captors, it should be noted, were – in their turn – directly inspired by the belief systems of ancient Sumer.
Now the Sumerians and Babylonians did, indeed, worship two heavenly serpent dragons: Mushussu (meaning: furious snake) and Ningishzida (meaning: lord of the good tree). These were not the evil, maiden-devouring-monsters of medieval myth, they were the guardians of the palace of Anu: the sky god. Mushussu was represented by the constellation of Hydra and Ningishzida by Draco. Please be aware that I am speculating a bit here - 'the lord of the good tree' rendition of his name suggests that Ningishzida was associated with the tree of life/knowledge that was, itself, represented by the Pole Star (the Axis Munde). Draco partially encircles – ergo he protects - both the North Star and the Throne of Heaven: Ursa Minor.
There is, of course, a serpent – closely associated with a certain tree – to be found in the Bible. In Genesis chapter 3 we learn that this speaking snake/serpent was, '...more subtil (sic) than any beast of the field...'. This generic snake (he is never given a proper name anywhere in Genesis) then famously tempts Adam and Eve to eat of, '... the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden...': the tree of knowledge. He explains to them that, '...God doth know that in the day you eat thereof...ye shall be as gods'. Now 'be as gods' is quite a hefty phrase – it seems to imply much more than just the acquisition of knowledge. Please bear this in mind.
Once they had eaten of the tree of knowledge God expels the wayward pair from paradise to prevent them eating the fruit of another tree that grew in the garden: the tree of life, which would have enabled them 'to live forever'.
At this point we have to ask ourselves a couple of questions. God did not place any injunction upon Adam and Eve with regard to this tree, nor did the serpent tempt them to eat from it, why not? Furthermore, wouldn't being immortal – forever - make them more god-like than being merely knowledgeable for the span of a single life-time?
The answer is that we are not really looking at two trees here but one. The trees of knowledge and life, although found separately in the Bible, are both manifestations of a particular motif that permeates all pre-Christian mythologies. This motif has been – at different times and by different religions - represented as: the 'World Tree', the 'Axis Munde' and the 'Tree of the Summit'. In Egyptian myth it becomes the Djed Pillar: the pillar that supports the vault of heaven. It has come down to us through the ages as the Maypole: a symbol of fertility, around which people have danced for millennia. It is also the Yule Tree: decorated with holly and mistletoe, that presages the coming of Spring. Its origins lie in ancient Sumer.
The picture above: an impression made 4500 years ago on a clay tablet from Sumeria, shows a male and female, seated, with the Tree of Life between them. If you look carefully you will see a serpent directly behind the woman. Is the serpent whispering something in her ear?
Achieving immortality by the simple expedient of eating, or drinking something that has magical properties is also a theme common to all myth and legend. In the Greco-Roman world it was nectar and ambrosia. In the Hindu religions it was amrit. The Norse Gods owed their longevity to a diet of golden apples and in the Sumerian/Babylonian mythologies eating almost anything in heaven conferred everlasting life.
This theme is also present in the Book of Revelation. St John uses it to recruit would-be martyrs to his cause: his war on Rome. In chapter 2 verse 7 we find:
• '...To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life; which is in the midst of the paradise of God.'
So the words Old Serpent and Dragon, as used by John, do – indeed – refer to the snake of Genesis. But, more importantly, they also allude to the serpent/dragon deities of the Babylonians who he identifies alongside more recent enemies: the Greeks and Romans.
• '...and the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly...'
From verse 15
And here she is: the Virgin Mother Virgo, with the wings she inherited from Isis and – before her – Ishtar. In her right hand she holds a frond from the date palm which connects her to Erua and Asherah: the wife of Yahweh the Father. Whilst in her left she carries a sheaf of wheat: the emblem of the House of Bread (Bethlehem) from whence came the Son.
(NB: there is also another purely astro-mythological connection here. The constellation of Corvus: the Raven, lies directly behind Virgo. In times past, some astrologer/storytellers might well have grafted the Raven's wings directly on to her back in much the same way as they often depicted her holding the Libran Scales.)
• '...the serpent cast water out of his mouth after the woman...'
From verse 15
The emboldened word puts it beyond all possible doubt; we are – most definitely - looking at Hydra: the water snake, here.
• 'And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.'
From verse 17
We need to look at the all of this verse very carefully. First, though, I'm going to start with the emboldened type.
The choice of words used in this fragment are very curious indeed. The words, 'remnant of her seed' suggest that St John is referring to the Virgin Mary's direct offspring. This begs the question: did she have any? There are different schools of thought here. Some believe that Mary gave birth to Jesus but then remained a virgin for the rest of her life. This would mean that his brothers and sisters were Joseph's children from a prior marriage. Others think that Jesus was Mary's first born son and that his siblings appeared on the scene, thereafter, in the normal fashion.
Let us surmise that Mary did go on to have more children after the nativity. This would give us four more sons: James, Joseph, Simon and Jude, and possibly two daughters (the Bible isn't very clear about Christ's sister siblings). Now let 's extend the meaning of 'her seed' to include any grandchildren. We can be generous here. For the sake of argument we will assume that all of Mary's surviving children each had ten children of their own. This gives us sixty souls all told. Now sixty people might amount to a decent turnout at a wedding or funereal; but it isn't really a lot of people is it? So ask yourself this: is it possible to, 'make war' on such a small group?
To me the phrase, 'make war,' conjures up images of armies on the march: with baggage trains and mounted cavalry, fighting pitched battles and walled cities under siege. No, St John is not referring to the persecution of a few people here. He is, as usual, thinking on a far grander scale; he is thinking in terms of tens – maybe hundreds - of thousands of people.
Now we need to look very carefully at the the last two clauses of this single sentence verse. Both of these qualify (or modify) the words remnant of her seed. Please read the verse again with this in mind. Now read it once more starting from the word remnant. Now think very hard about what you have just read. What does it really mean? What – precisely – is St John saying to us here? Is he saying: '...which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ...' because there are other 'remnants of her seed' that do not?
If this really is the case – and it really is – then we cannot be not looking at the Virgin Mary here at all. We can only be looking at Virgo: the All Mother, who – in ages past – had been known by many names. For millenia she had loomed so large in the sky, and in the minds of men – across all religions - that St John could not ignore her. So he simply gave her yet another name.
And there is, of course, another reason why St John could not leave Virgo out of the equation; he was – as I think I have proven here – an astrologer. He was, indeed, a follower of the thread that stretches throughout all of human history.
Furthermore, when Saint John the Divine wrote Revelation, he was living on the island of Patmos. Many scholars now believe that he was exiled there by the authorities for practicing the black art of astral horoscopy. Roman law explicitly forbade such prophetical practices; and guess what folks, Papal Law still does. Now those that occupy the highest echelons of the pyramids of power, aren't worried about you learning how to foretell the future. But they are worried about you spotting all the hidden astrological references in their, 'How to Prevent People from Exercising Critical Thought,' manual: also known as 'The Holy Bible'. If enough people become aware of their age-old scam; and realize what this book truly represents, then the foundations of the power pyramids that control our world will begin to crumble. They will crumble because the common people will realize that they are – themselves – the very foundations of those pyramids of power.
To find out what, 'those that occupy the top eschelons of the pyramids of power,' are up to - in your world; right now - please follow the link below and read: 'Democracy is Dead: Long Live Democracy.'