Where do the dates of Christian holidays come from? The answer is bound up in first century astronomy and astrology. Word confusion reigns in Christian jargon. While Christians believe the life of Christ was a real event, it was in fact a story written in allegory of the movements of celestial bodies personified as human events. While modern Christians believe that “heaven” implies a supernatural existence. To ancients, it was the same heaven we see every day. To take one case discussed in detail below, when Christians think of Christ as a person ascending to heaven, what early Christians saw was the constellation Orion ascending.
Sometime during the early history of Christian theology, the astrological roots of Christianity were lost. It might have been before the time of Augustine who famously rejected astrology. Or it maybe it was Augustine himself who recognized that if Christianity held to its astrological roots, it would not survive-we can only guess. Anyway, by studying the heavenly path of Orion, we gain insight to the origins of Christian holidays.
For the first three centuries of Christianity, the only real holiday observance was Easter, and to a lesser extent Pentecost. From the fourth century onward, the calendar grew more complex.
Christianity grew out of pagan beliefs in a sun deity, which explains why Sun-day marks the Christian Sabbath. Christ personifies the sun as it passes around the Zodiac. The sun’s spirit is epitomized by the Son of Man and is represented by the Constellation Orion. When the sun dies on the winter solstice, it is reborn three days later on December 25th. Orion begins its ascent on the same day, December 25, with the sun. Orion is located in the house of Taurus, which makes Taurus the heavenly kingdom where Orion sits on his throne (Lepus). Jerusalem is simultaneously a place on earth and the heavenly kingdom in the zodiac. It is the time of righteousness when the sun rises above the equator after the spring equinox.
This diagram gives us a visual reference for explaining the holidays to follow. When the apostles are said to have seen Jesus ascend or descend, it was Orion that they saw.
Orion begins its ascent from the east before sunset on December 25th. It is at its highest point on May 22nd at noon. Then it sets in the west on November 22 before sunset. Orion is not visible when the sun is in Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 24).
In biblespeak, light epitomizes life and goodness, and darkness epitomizes death and evil. It is a time of renewed life when Orion rises with the sun. When the sun crosses the equator (Passover) on the vernal equinox, it has conquered the dark forces. The spring time is the only time of the year when days are longer than the evenings and increasing. This is the time of righteousness, when the sun if free of evil sin. Of note, this is when Mary as epitomized by Virgo, is conceived by the Holy Spirit, nine months before the sun is reborn on December 25.
Gemini is the best time of the year for Orion and the sun. Gemini straddles the solstice on June 22 and Orion’s zenith on May 21. Once the sun passes the summer solstice on June 22, both Orion and the sun lose strength to the dark forces. When the sun enters Sagittarius on November 22, Orion disappears into the underworld, not to reappear until December 25 with the sun.
The astronomical significance of December 25 is that it is three days after the solstice when the days start to lengthen. As ancient Christians would see it, it was the time when the spirit entered Christ.
Figure 2: Orion rises from the east before sunset on December 25
when the days first start to lengthen.
Figure 3: Orion at zenith closest to the sun on May 21
Notice the sun overhead and its throne, Lepus, below.
Figure 4: Orion sets in the west at sunrise on November 22
without its spirit, the sun is in its last throes of death.
Palm Sunday – earliest observance, fourth century
Christ entered Jerusalem on the Sunday before Easter.
This definition confounded me for some time. According to the astronomical dates in Gospel Zodiac, Christ entered Jerusalem when the sun was in Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 24), six months out of phase with the traditional holiday date in the spring. The Passover meal is traditionally celebrated just after the spring equinox in Aries. So how do we get from Libra to Aries?
Matthew 26:18 gives the first clue when Jesus says he will eat at a certain one’s house. That means that it is a different house than the house they are in. Then Mark 14:15 says that the house has a large upper room. If Libra is a lower room, meaning below the equator, then Aries is an upper room, above the equator. Next, the three gospels say they ate in the evening, implying the opposite of daytime. Putting it all together, it means that when Orion is in Libra in the morning, it is in the same position in the sky six months and twelve hours from that time. In short, it means that Christ entered Jerusalem in Aries in the evening when the sun was in Libra in the morning.
18He said, “Go into the city to a certain one, and say to him, ‘The Teacher says, My time is at hand; I will keep the passover at your house with my disciples.'”
19And the disciples did as Jesus had directed them, and they prepared the passover. (Matt. 26:18-19)
15And he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready; there prepare for us.”
16And the disciples set out and went to the city, and found it as he had told them; and they prepared the passover.
17And when it was evening he came with the twelve. (Mark 14:15-17; Luke 22:12-14)
20When it was evening, he sat at table with the twelve disciples; (Matt. 26:20)
Lepus symbolizes the colt Christ rode on. (later it became the easter bunny)
7And they brought the colt to Jesus, and threw their garments on it; and he sat upon it.
8And many spread their garments on the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields.
9And those who went before and those who followed cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
10Blessed is the kingdom of our father David that is coming! Hosanna in the highest!”
11And he entered Jerusalem, and went into the temple; and when he had looked round at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. (Mark 11:7-11)
Figure 6: Orion on Palm Sunday
Same position at 7:00 AM, October 10, 0001 and
7:00 PM April 10, 0001
Easter – earliest observance, second century
Christ’s resurrection from the dead is celebrated following the first full moon after the vernal equinox between March 22 and April 25. Easter has the word “east” in it, the direction of the rising sun. It is a time when the sun passes from Pisces the fish and enters Aries, the Lamb of God.
Figure 5: Orion ascending above the horizon from the east on Easter
The book, Sacred Origins of Profound Things, has some interesting tidbits.
It just so happened that Eastre, a fertility goddess (the ancient word eastre means “spring”), had as her earthly symbol the prolific hare, or rabbit, hence, the origin of the Easter bunny.
At the feast to Eastre, an ox was sacrificed and the image of his horns carved into ritual bread-which evolved into the twice-scored Easter biscuits we call hot cross buns. In fact, the word “bun” derives from the Saxon for “sacred ox,” bun. [In the picture above, Taurus the bull sits just above Orion.]
Ascension – earliest observance, perhaps 68 ce
The holiday is observed on the fortieth day after Easter to commemorate Jesus ascent into heaven (Figure 5).
Luke says Jesus ascension took place at Bethany on the same day of his resurrection.
50Then he led them out as far as Bethany, and lifting up his hands he blessed them.
51While he blessed them, he parted from them, and was carried up into heaven.
52And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy,
53and were continually in the temple blessing God. (Luke 24:50-53)
Acts says Christ appeared for forty days from the resurrection at Olivet. The cloud in verse 9 below describes the Milky Way which is just above Orion’s head. The two men in white robes describe Castor and Pollex in the Constellation Gemini the Twins.
3To them he presented himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days, and speaking of the kingdom of God.
9And when he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.
10And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes,
11and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
12Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away (Acts 1:3, 9-12)
Pentacost – earliest observance, early third century
The Pentacost takes place fifty days after Easter and commemorates the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles.
There are 62 days from the vernal equinox on March 21st, to May 22nd. The Holy Spirit descends upon the apostles, fifty days after Easter. The Jewish Day starts at sunup, so the third hour of the day is 9:00 AM (Figure 3 to Figure 4).
1When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.
2And suddenly a sound came from heaven like the rush of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3And there appeared to them tongues as of fire, distributed and resting on each one of them.
4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.
6And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.
15For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day; (Acts 2:1-6, 15)
On May 23, 0001 at 9:00 AM, the Holy Spirit (Orion) begins its descent. With the sun above it, it must have been in impressive appearance. (See Figure 3 moving in the direction of Figure 4)
Sacred Origins of Profound Things by Charles Panati
A superior book on the origins of Christian practices would be:
Two Babylons or the Papal Worship* by Alexander Hislop.