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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Two - The First Initiation - The Birth at Bethlehem
It is also interesting to remember that:

"The Venerable Bede" Bede, (De Temp. rat., xiii.) writing in the early part of the Eighth [63] Century, says that 'the ancient people of the Anglian nation', by which he means the pagan English before their settlement in Britain about A.D. 500, 'began the year on December 25t , when we now celebrate the birthday of our Lord'; and he tells us that the night of December 24th-25th 'which is the very night now so holy to us was called in their tongue Modranecht, that is to say "Mother's Night," by reason of the ceremonies which in that night long vigil they performed.' He does not mention what those ceremonies were, but it is clear that they were connected with the birth of the Sungod. At the time when the English were converted to Christianity in the Sixth and Seventh Centuries the festival of the Nativity on December 25th had been already long established in Rome as a solemn celebration; but in England its identification with the joyous old pagan Yule - a word apparently meaning a 'jollification' - gave it a merry character which it did not possess in the south. This character has survived, and is in marked contrast to its nature amongst the Latin races, with whom the northern custom of feasting and giving Christmas presents was unknown until recent years."
- The Paganism in Our Christianity, by Arthur Weigall, pp. 236, 237.

At the time of the birth of Christ, Sirius, the Star in the East, was on the meridian line, Orion, called "The Three Kings" by oriental astronomers, was in proximity; therefore the constellation Virgo, the Virgin, was rising in the east, and the line of the ecliptic, of the equator and of the horizon all met in that constellation. It is interesting also to note that the brightest and largest star in the constellation Virgo is called Spica; it is to be found in the "ear of corn" (sign of fertility) which the Virgin holds. Bethlehem means the "house of bread," and there is therefore an obvious connection between these two words. This constellation is also composed of three stars in the shape of a cup. This is the true Holy Grail, that which contains the life blood, the repository of the sacred and the holy, and that which conceals divinity. These are astronomical facts. The interpretation of the symbolism attached from ancient days to these constellations is as old as religion itself. Whence came the signs, and how the [64] meanings and symbols associated with them came into being, is lost in the night of time. They have existed in men's minds and thoughts and writings for thousands of years, and are our joint heritage today. The ancient zodiac of Denderah (antedating Christianity by several thousand years) is ample proof of this. In the sun's journey around the zodiac, this "Man of the Heavens" eventually arrives at Pisces; this sign is exactly opposite the sign Virgo, and is the sign of all world Saviors. We have already seen that the age of Christianity is the Piscean Age, and Christ came to the Holy Land when our sun transited into that sign. Therefore that which was started and had its being in Virgo (the birth of the Christ Child) is consummated in Pisces when that Christ Child, having attained maturity, comes forth as the world Savior.

One other astronomical fact is of interest in this connection. Closely associated with the constellation Virgo, and to be found in the same section of the Heavens, are three other constellations, and in these three there is portrayed for us symbolically the story of the Child which shall be born, suffer and die and come again. There is the group of stars called Coma Berenice, the Woman with the Child. There is Centaurus, the Centaur, and Bo÷tes, whose name in the Hebrew language means the "Coming One." First, the child born of the woman and that woman a virgin; then the centaur, ever the symbol of humanity in the ancient mythologies, for man is an animal, plus a god, and therefore a human being. Then He Who shall come looms over them all, over-shadowing them, pointing to the fulfilment which shall come through birth and human incarnation. Truly the picture book of the heavens holds eternal truth for those who have eyes to see and the intuition developed rightly to interpret. Prophecy is not confined to the Bible, but has ever been held before men's eyes in the vault of heaven.

Thus as "the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth His handiwork," (Psalm XIX, 1.) we have the prophecy [65] of that world event which took place when Christ was born in Bethlehem, the "house of bread," and Virgo rose above the horizon, whilst the Star in the East shone forth.

Christ came, then, to His Own flesh and blood because the world of men drew Him and the love of the Father impelled Him. He came to give to life a purpose and fulfilment, and to indicate to us the Way: He came to give us an example, so that we could be galvanized by the hope that "maketh not ashamed" (Rom., V, 5.) to "press toward the mark for the prize of our high calling." (Phil., III, 14.)

It should be noted here that the journey, preceding the birth, is also a part of the life-story of other teachers sent from God. For instance, we read:

"Among the thirty-two signs which were to be fulfiled by the mother of the expected Messiah (Buddha), the fifth sign was recorded to be, 'that she would be on a journey at the time of her child's birth.' Therefore, 'that it might be fulfiled which was spoken by the prophets' the virgin Maya, in the tenth month after her heavenly conception, was on a journey to her father, when lo, the birth of the Messiah took place under a tree. One account says that 'she had alighted at an inn when Buddha was born.'

"The mother of Lao-tse, the Virgin-born Chinese sage, was away from home when her child was born. She stopped to rest under a tree, and there, like the virgin Maya, gave birth to her son."
- Bible Myths, by T. W. Doane, p. 5.

We are told in the Gospel story that the Virgin Mary, with her husband Joseph and bearing within herself the Christ Child, went up from Nazareth in Galilee to Bethlehem. Sometimes, through a study of the significances of the names we meet in the Bible and in tradition, we can throw much light on the episode itself and unveil some of its hidden meaning. In the study of the Bible story, I have used only the Bible itself and Cruden's Concordance. The interpretation of the names is taken from Cruden's Concordance. [66] Therein we find that "Nazareth" means "that which is consecrated" or set apart. "Galilee" means the "turning of the wheel" - that wheel of life and of death which turns continuously, carrying us all with it and keeping us upon the "wheel of existence," as the Buddhists call it, until we have learnt life's lessons and have become "a vessel unto honor, sanctified, and meet for the Master's use." (II Tim., II, 21.)

The long journey of existence lies behind the Christ, and He, with His Mother, journeys the last part of the way. Consecrated from past aeons to this very work of world salvage, He has first of all to submit Himself to the ordinary processes of birth and childhood. Christ came forth from Nazareth, the place of consecration, and went up to Bethlehem, the House of Bread, where in a peculiar way He Himself was to become the "Bread of Life" (St. John, VI, 33, 35, 41, 58) to a hungry world. He was set apart, or set Himself apart (as do all awakened sons of God) for the work of redemption. He came to feed the hungry, and in this connection two verses in the Bible convey light upon His task and its preparation. Isaiah tells us that "Bread corn is bruised," (Isaiah, XXVIII, 28) and Christ Himself told us that "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." (St. John, XII, 24.) This was the destiny awaiting Him when He came to the Birth in Bethlehem. Then He entered upon the career which eventually "bruised" Him and led Him to his death.

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