In the last section we examined how the basic biographical details of Jesus Christ can be traced to an ancient story about the sun. For many Christians, however, the biography of Jesus is not the important part anyway – it is his role as mediator, his divine sonship, and his sacrifice for our sins that sum up the real purpose and message of Christ’s ministry. These are powerful spiritual ideas which cannot be removed even by questioning the historical Jesus. Luckily, there is another way. Like the details of the sun myth, the spiritual essence of Christian salvation can also be found in many pre-Christian belief systems. When we explore the roots of these other systems, we find that they are also based on astrology.
In the biblical story of Genesis, God created the earth, the stars, the trees and animals before creating the first humans, Adam and Eve. Everything was made perfectly, according to his plan, and he announced that it was all very good. In the world he created, there was no death and no suffering, which suggests that Time, and the basic laws of physics which usually come with it, hadn’t yet been installed. It is only after the snake tempted Eve that the real world, with the moving planets and consequential seasons, came into being. This is farther demonstrated by the penalties incurred from the fall. They are the characteristics of the natural world: humanity would be cold and hungry, and there would be pain and death. They were given clothes to protect themselves from the weather and told that they must provide for themselves by the sweat of their brow.
Adam and Eve may have begun as symbols for the sun and moon. It is the moon, like Eve, that falls first into darkness, and it is the sun, like Adam, who follows her. Adam, like the sun, becomes an eternal enemy of the snake, and begins the daily cycle of light and darkness.
“I shall put enmity between you and the woman, and between her offspring and hers; it will bruise your head and you will strike its heel.” Genesis 3:1539
The Christian interpretation of the story is that God must be obeyed at all costs, and that the snake is a liar and deceiver. Another interpretation, however, is that the snake was the real creator of the world. Death and suffering may be scary, but without them we would never experience joy and happiness. It seems that Adam and Eve even gained self-consciousness from eating the apple – they became aware that they were naked, and felt fear for the first time. They covered themselves with leaves and hid from God.
While some Christians would still like to view the garden story as recorded history, the biblical creation myth is not unique to the Christian tradition. Early explorers to the Middle and Far East were shocked to find ancient relief carvings and paintings of a very similar story, including a man, a woman, a snake and a tree. In fact, creation stories about a man and a woman and a snake are universal in world mythology. Unlike Christianity, most other religions treated the serpent as a sacred icon, and he can be found in temples everywhere, from Mexico to Japan to ancient Egypt. This doesn’t mean that the snake was always seen as good – only that he was a very important spiritual icon. Generally, the snake was a symbol for this world, sickness and death, and the desires of the physical body. Many heroes or gods are shown stepping on, clutching or killing snakes, to demonstrate their power to transcend the snares of the flesh.)
Associate Professor Sheila Coulson, from the University of Oslo, recently discovered that the San people of Botswana worshiped a python diety in a little cave around 70,000 years ago – making it the world’s oldest known ritual. Where did the symbol of the snake really come from? Why is it always found in conjunction with stories about the beginning of the physical world and the end of a balanced unity? Many Christians identify the snake of the Genesis story with the devil, but if the snake is a symbol of evil, why give him such a powerful role in creation?
The only thing that these early people had in common was the night sky, shared among them equally. And in the very center of all those whirling stars and planets, there was one constellation that always stayed in the middle. As the heavens spin around, the point in the sky that is above the North Pole seems to remain in place, while the other stars revolve around it. This led to the idea that this spot was the center and birthplace of the universe.
Today, the North Pole points roughly towards the star Polaris, but because of the precession of the equinoxes, the North Pole wobbles and changes its orientation. About 4,000 years ago it was pointing at the star Thuban, which is in the tail of the S-shaped constellation, Draco the Dragon.
In the Greek myth about Draco, Minerva the Goddess of Wisdom seized the great dragon by its tail and hurled it from the Earth. As the dragon sailed away into the void of Heaven, it started to spin and got itself twisted up in knots. The dragon struck the dome of the stars and became tangled in the rotation of the heavens. Before it had time to undo all the knots in its body, the dragon froze because it was so close to the North Celestial Pole where it is always very cold.
In India, in order to produce a liquid of immortality, the gods wound the snake Visiku around a mountain and began to spin him, gods at the tail, and demons at the head. They spun until venom began to pour downwards towards the earth out of his mouth. To save the world from destruction, Siva drank the poison. The venom became a sea of milk, and produced many things, including the world. This story is remarkably similar to the account in the biblical book of Revelations:
“As soon as the dragon found himself hurdled down to the earth, he sprang in pursuit of the woman, the mother of the male child, but she was given a pair of the great eagle’s wings to fly away from the serpent into the desert, to the place where she was to be looked after for a time, two times and half a time. So the serpent vomited water from his mouth, like a river, after the woman, to sweep her away in the current, but the earth came to her rescue; it opened its mouth and swallowed the river spewed from the dragon’s mouth.” Revelations 12:1
Draco used to spin around the Celestial North Pole like the hands of a giant clock. In its central location it looked like Draco was actually causing the rotation of the other fixed stars. Because of this, Draco was made the epicenter of all ancient star charts, and given the role of creating the cosmos and time.
The spinning Draco may have been the inspiration for one of humanity’s oldest symbols, the swastika. Draco would complete a full revolution every 24 hours, which, given its shape, would appear as a cross with its arms bent at right angles. A spiritual symbol since pre-history, the equal armed cross with arms at right angles is still considered a holy icon by Hindus, Jainists and Buddhists. The swastika symbolizes prosperity and well-being, but also represents the wheel of time.
Before compasses, finding north at night would have been nearly impossible without the fixed stars over the North Pole. In hundreds of thousands of jade carvings found throughout asia, Draco is presented in the center of a small disk, with the constellations spinning around him. Sometimes there is a hole in the center of these discs, which are always decorated with dragons. This may have been used for navigational purposes – by placing Thuban or Draco in the hole, you would be able to find north. In the most rudimentary jade carvings, Draco is depicted as a simple S-shaped line in the center of a circle, an image which is probably the origin of the modern “Yin-Yang” symbol.
Most people know that Yin and Yang represent forces of positive and negative energy, which balance each other and sustain the universe – but an older myth gives the same role to the serpent. Many stories tell how the serpent was divided in half – given a male, positive head and a female, negative tail. (However, in many versions the tail has been completely severed and thus appears as entirely feminine.) This is why Draco is always spinning, or “chasing its tail”. Draco had been divided and was trying to get back together. The sun often become a symbol for the dragon’s head while the moon became a symbol for the tail.
The Tao and the Logos
In Chinese, “Yin” literally means “moon”. The dark patch, with the white sphere inside, represents the moon (often portrayed as a woman with a snake’s body, as in the picture of the garden of Eden above). Yang literally means “sun”, and is represented by a Tiger (similar to the Western sun-symbol, the lion. The interplay and balance of these two forces is known in the East as the Tao.
“The Tao begot one. One begot two. Two begot three. And three begot the ten thousand things.” Tao Te Ching, 42
The Tao was the original unity that expanded into all things. A similar idea can be found in early Western creation stories. They begin with an original unity, that somehow made a perfect copy of itself. Greeks, Romans and Egyptians referred to these two powers as the Father and the Son. Together, they created a third, and from the three emerged the physical world.
Around the 6th century BC, a philosopher from the Ephesian school named Heraclitus associated the ultimate unity, and specifically the 2nd person or Son, with the Greek word Logos. He described the Logos as a kind of divine logic which created and sustained the universe, in language that is almost identical with Eastern concepts of the Tao.
Heraclitus taught that the Logos was a common truth, a voice of wisdom inherent in every person. Equating the Logos with fire, he saw this wisdom as a kind of divine spark. He complains, however, that most people do not even recognize that it is there.
“Men have no comprehension of the Logos, as I’ve described it, just as much after they hear about it as they did before they heard about it. Even though all things occur according to the Logos, men seem to have no experience whatsoever, even when they experience the words and deeds which I use to explain physics, of how the Logos applies to each thing, and what it is.” Quoted in Sextus Empiricus
The Logos is a mysterious, unknown force, a piece of divine energy which resides inside us. It is the fire that Prometheus stole from the gods and brought to humanity, but it is ignored by most people. Philo of Alexandria later equated the Logos with the sun, and almost all of the resurrecting sun-saviors, including Mithras and Osiris, were identified as the 2nd person in the Trinity as well as with the concept of the Logos. Christian theologians borrowed terms from this philosophical tradition to clarify the cosmic nature of their own savior, Jesus Christ. The gospel of John in particular relies heavily on the concept of Logos, which is usually translated into English as “The Word”.
“In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning, through him all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through him.” John 1:1
Jesus became not only a sacrificial offering, crucified on the cross of heaven, but also a super transcendent, eternal force. He was a pre-existent quality of the Father, that created and sustained the universe, and also came into the physical world.
“The Word was the real light that gives light to everyone, he was coming into the world. He was in the world that had come into being through him, and the world did not recognize him. He came to his own and his own people did not accept him.” John 1:9
Something that comes with time, of course, is death. With the division of the polarities, the expansion of matter into the universe (which Draco was given credit for) there is constant change, uncertainty, instability. Draco was up there spinning the seasons and the years like a conductor – so he became seen as the cause of suffering. In the West, myths were created about gallant knights who would go out and slay dragons. In the East, the dragon is our spiritual energy, winding upwards to be reunited with the universal Tao or Logos.
The secret meaning in both traditions is that the masculine and feminine principles had been divided – this caused what Heraclitus called “Love and Strife”, the two polar energies. (Imagine them like two magnets that either repel or attract.)
Yearning for immortality, the serpent became seen as the enemy of goodness and the lord of evil. She was the inevitable beast of time and the earthly passions which led men into death. Even the constellations once worshiped became symbols of evil. In Persia, Draco was called Ashdehj, the Man-eating Serpent, and Arabian astronomers referred to it as the Poisonous Dragon.
Sun gods no longer slayed dragons in order to end winter; now they fought them as symbols of darkness in general. The literal battle between light and dark became a symbolic battle between good and evil. Despite the shift, the symbols and language used in the story have continued to this day. In the mythological paradigm of contemporary culture, Harry Potter faces his nemesis, Malfoy Draco.
To cheat death and achieve immortality, mystics and spiritualists began to try and unite the divided polarities within themselves, in this lifetime. The male had to seek out and rejoin the female; the sun had to catch up with the moon. As above, so below. Draco became the guardian of immortality, as in the Greek myth of Heracles and the golden apples, where he has to defeat the dragon Ladon in the garden of Hesperides. In the next chapter, we will explore how most religious traditions, all based on the same background, focus on reuniting these divided energies.
The articles in this section are part of a 50,000 word treatise on the historical Jesus and Christ Myth Theory, dealing with Christian history, the mystical significance of Christian symbols, and the mistaken belief that Jesus Christ was a historical person. You can download the entire collection for free as a PDF file ebook by clicking here!