Patricia Nell Warren

Another pagan tweak on Christmas

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | December 16, 2007 1:38 PM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: birth of Jesus, Christmas, pagan wisdom, star

I love tweaking the fundies' noses on the pagan stuff that lies buried in what they call "Christianity." Here's more on December 25th as the so-called "birthday of Jesus." It has to do with Sirius, the most beloved of all the stars by our pagan ancients.

Civilizations have always tracked time by logging the movements of various heavenly bodies across the skies. We've had several choices, including the lunar calendar, the solar calendar, and the sidereal, or star, calendar. A sidereal year can be defined in different ways. One way is the time that it takes a specific star, in relation to the sun's movement, to come back to a specific apparent position in our skies. The Egyptians, especially, loved Sirius, and made it the hub of their most important calendar -- and not just because it's the brightest star in the sky.

On December 24-25 the ancient astronomers may have noticed that Sirius always migrates back to true north in our skies...and had evidently done so for many countless thousands of years. The "precession of equinoxes" was first noted by Greek scientists -- it's the result of Earth's slow rotational wobble on its axis, and causes the apparent position of most stars to shift very slowly throughout a cycle of around 25,800 years. But Sirius may be unique -- an "axis star" that doesn't change its position relative to the precession of equinoxes.

The Sirius Research Group, who are working on observations to refine our understanding of this phenomenon, are positing a radical idea: that Sirius may be the center of our solar system's position within our galaxy, meaning that our sun rotates around Sirius. In their view, this is why many ancient civilizations gave Sirius a central status as a star that they equated with divinity.

Fast forward to a moment early in Christian history, when church organizers were trying to decide how their dogmas would interface with the old calendars that everybody still lived by. They wanted Christianity to replace the old ways, but they also wanted to build on the old ways and appropriate the old symbols. No wonder they decided to have the "divine" Jesus born on December 25. In my opinion, they chose this moment in the sidereal year because north is the key direction for navigators, and Christianity was intended to be a "new direction." The New Testament even mentions that a "star that appeared in the sky, and the Wise Men traveled towards the star until they found the divine child." But this story may be more of a symbol than a historical fact.

Christian historians and archeologists always knock themselves out to prove, beyond any doubt, that there is an absolute historical foundation for anything they say about Jesus's life. Their reasoning is this: if they can prove a historical reality, then they can prove that the Gospels are really historical documents, and God really did put the Church in charge of the "truth." Later on, the Catholics and Protestants had a big falling about the guardianship of "truth." But it isn't hard to see how both religions try to tweak things their way.

It's time for the U.S. media to tweak back -- to start asking the Catholic and Protestant fundies some courageous historical questions. And yes, it's humbling to realize that the pagan ancients knew a lot more about science than many people today are willing to admit.

Copyright (c) by Patricia Nell Warren. All rights reserved.

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Well, that's crackpotty, isn't it.

And I say that as a pagan.

Many years ago I went to a planetarium in Virginia, and they told the same story about the Winter Equinox and that the Christian leaders were trying to make the new Christianity more palatable for the pagan masses. As far as the "truth" goes - that's pretty subjective, isn't it?

The winter solstice is Dec. 20-21, so the question is, why did they pick Dec. 25? There's a precision about these things. As astronomy goes, the 25th had a more specific application for the Church's purpose.

And as far as truth goes, yes, you and I can say that truth is subjective...but the Church didn't see it that way. Which is why they killed people who disagreed with them. And the Protestant reformationists killed a few too.


Christianity has such a sordid history of infiltrating other holidays like a parasite and slowly taking them over.

In Gnosis Of The Cosmic Christ: A Gnostic Christian Kabbalah by Tau Malachi, the author tells of a myth that circulates among Christian Kabbalists that Jesus of Nazareth was the re-incarnation of a soul that achieved spiritual purification and enlightenment while living on a planet that orbits the star Sirius --- and I wondered how such an odd tale might have originated. Now, Patricia, I know! Here's another example of the Christians taking the pagan interest in the star Sirius and re-appropriating it for themselves!

And Patrick is right on: Crackpotty, isn't it?

Also, Patricia, you mention the Wise Men ... and only rarely are we allowed in Christian circles to mention that the Wise Men were not Jews, nor could they have possibly yet been Christians in any meaningful sense --- in other words, they were pagans from a foreign land! Many scholars believe that the Magi traveled from Babylonia, since it is known that there was a collection of religious scholars there who were knowledgeable of the sacred texts of many Middle Eastern religions of their time --- including, obviously, Judaism. The story of the Magi has glaring astronomical inconsistencies: How could the Magi be from the East, and why travel west, if the mysterious star itself appeared in the East? How can one travel west by following an object that is seen in the East? Why did none of King Herod's very knowledgeable astronomers know of the new mysterious star, if indeed it was a true star that anyone might be able to see? Which leads to this question: Did the Wise Men see the star via normal vision, or was it an "inner" mystical vision? Anyone who studies this story thoughtfully ultimately doesn't know what to think!

Later in the story, God supposedly tells the Wise Men, in a mystical dream, to return to their country via a different route in order to avoid the wrath of King Herod --- another instance of Yahweh's grace assisting this group of "pagans" --- who obviously had great favor with the God of the Jews!

Thus, a bottom line of the Wise Men's Story is this: They came to pay homage to the baby Jewish Messiah, Yahweh clearly aided them in their sojourn, their gifts and worship were gladly accepted, and Luke clearly means for us to venerate them for their dedication and worship --- what else could this possibly mean other than: Pagans can't be all bad. The True God of the Jews communicates --- mystically or via normal reality --- even with at least some "pagans" of good heart.

What does this obviously say about tolerance toward religions other than Christianity? Clearly, this is a message right in the Bible itself that the vast majority of modern Christians have failed to grasp --- in so many circles, the notion that God can be properly approached via other religious traditions is demonized as the dreaded syncretism that one finds in human secularism. But long before human secularism came to be, we found hints in the Bible itself that God's favor does not always travel along Judeo-Christian pathways. Even Jesus of Nazareth is said to have observed, "I have other sheep who are not of this fold."

These are great questions, about the Wise Men and other aspects. Anybody who is interested in exploring this whole question, can do a web search under "Sirius" and add "mythology," "Egyptians," etc.

Whoever the Wise Men were, they probably saw the heliacal rising of Sirius in the east. In its sidereal year, this is the moment when the star reappears over the horizon just before dawn, after dipping below it and being invisible for 65-66 days. This was an important marker in the ancient Egyptian calendar.

The three stars of Orion's Belt were important to the Egyptians too, and a line drawn through them served (and still does) as a pointer to Sirius. A matter of importance, since Sirius is a key star for navigators. I recall mention that, in some spots of the Middle East, they were called the Three Kings. So...did the three stars leading to Sirius become a symbolic tale for travels in the Jesus birth myth?

Since the ancient Egyptians saw Sirius as a node of divinity, they believed that the spirit of the Pharoah went to Sirius when he died. At least one of the pyramids is known to contain a tiny channel from the King's burial chamber to the outside, with a line of sight on Sirius.

One of the things that traditional Christian and Jewish historians don't care to discuss is the vast degree of influences and borrowing by Christianity and Judaism. Their official story is that the core beliefs came directly to them by divine revelation. But if you have the patience to wade through all of Scottish historian Laurence Gardner's books about the Jesus/Mary Magdalene thing, they're full of information on how influenced by ancient Egypt the Hebrews and early Christians were.

These books can all be found on I've read them all, and found them very illuminating.


After I posted this, my mind kept working on the question, putting things together on the Three Kings.

Egyptian archeologists have recently realized that the alignment of the three greatest pyramids in the Giza Desert is a mirror image of the three stars in Orion's Belt, with one of them being slightly off the line, as the stars are. Each of the pyramids represents the pharoah (king) that it was built for. So...three kings. The three stars of the Belt lead to Sirius, source of divinity. The Two Kingdoms of Egypt abounded in gold, frankincense and myrrh -- all of them were big trade items. the tale in the Gospel telling us that the Jewish royal heritage (remember, Jesus was heir to the throne of Judah) acknowledges receipt of "gifts" of ancient wisdom from Egypt? That's a possibility to consider, especially since Moses was born in Egypt and educated in that tradition...even his name is Egyptian.


Interesting post. I don't know many people who think that the 12/25 is actually Jesus' birthday, but then again, as Don has pointed out, I hang out with people who think a bit more than average. Or maybe we just never talk about this.

Just looking to history though does a lot to destabilize fundamentalisms. It's like you have to take an idea outside of its current context, often constructed around that idea, to see that its truth isn't absolute.

Probably why Foucault was so interested in genealogies....

Well, if the Magi were from Egypt instead of Babylonia, that would at least resolve a few of the East vs. West issues --- and possibly bring up a few others.

The info about the placement of the Great Pyramids corresponding to the placement of the three stars in Onion's Belt is fascinating. As was all the rest. Thanks, Patricia!

Come on now Jesus wasn’t born in December more like the spring of the year. This time of year was co-opted buy the church to appease the newly converted after all Yule was celebrated and the church couldn’t kill it they stole it lock stalk and mistletoe and Yule log. The 12 days of Christmas are really the 12 days of Yule. In case you cant figure it out I am a pagan Asatru to set the record straight so enjoy which ever holiday you celebrate this time of year.

So Merry Yule everyone


Jewish historians often write about Judaism's pagan borrowings. You might want to invest in the Plaut Chumash and Hayyim Schauss's old book on the Jewish holidays.

Want to know the truth about Christianity? Check out this movie:

Some very eye and mind opening revelations!

Patricia, thanks for the post and your follow up comments. As I slowly make the transition from Christianity to Wicca, I enjoy learning more about the ancient traditions. Thanks for giving me more insight.

I also really like AJ's comment.

Happy Yule, everyone!

I just read yesterday about another god Mithras whose virgin birth along with songs of the heavens, shepherds, a cave or grotto happened on December 25. A god who had 12 followers was killed and resurrected and performed miracles. Read what the church says about him. In Rome he became Sol Invictus. Information It is a very interesting site.

Karen Collett | December 5, 2008 12:05 PM
The Sirius Research Group, who are working on observations to refine our understanding of this phenomenon, are positing a radical idea: that Sirius may be the center of our solar system's position within our galaxy, meaning that our sun rotates around Sirius. In their view, this is why many ancient civilizations gave Sirius a central status as a star that they equated with divinity.

This would be a really neat, but it looks like it is not the case. From the Ursa Major Moving Group Wikipedia page:

The bright, nearby star Sirius was long believed to be a member of the group, but may not be, according to research in 2003 by Jeremy King et al. at Clemson University. This research seems to indicate that it is too young to be a member.

Our Solar System is in the outskirts of this stream, but is not a member, being about 10 times older. Our Sun merely drifted in along its 250 million year galactic orbit, and 40 million years ago was nowhere near these stars.