Ever since its release, the movie Zeitgeist has been making waves on the psychology of western society, but having just recently watched it myself, I wondered how real the claims the film made were. While I really have very little interest in if the U.S. government was behind the plot of 9/11, nor do I have much interest in the banking system’s inherent flaws, as an astrologer I do have some stake in some of the claims made in the first part of the film. The section titled “The Greatest Story Ever Told” talks about the development of Jesus and Christianity in general and touches on several astrological and astronomical phenomena and significations to convince the audience that Christianity is simply a personification of the sky. As an astrologer, I was curious as to how accurate some of their statements were, and here’s what I found.
1. Horus and Set represent the Light and Dark in eternal battle, at morning Horus conquers Set, and at evening, Set conquers Horus.
This statement made by the film is half true, but the half that is true is something that astrologers find today in the story of the astrological houses which are themselves given form due to the same solar myth. Firstly, it must be stated that the Egyptian sun god isn’t Horus, it’s Ra, so the film is flawed on that remark. As the sun rises over the Ascendant, it gives its warm and life-giving rays to the world, and so this house has always been seen as fortunate and strong. Conversely, when the suns sets on the Descendant, it is often thought of as “dead” and must begin its journey through the underworld before rising again the next morning. This simple myth accounts for the tale of the horizons and their signification, since the Seventh house hides the life force given by the sun, that house evolved into showing our enemies and people who wish to do us harm.
2. Jesus’ birth is entirely astrological.
Excellent, now the fun can begin.
3. The Star in the East is Sirius, the brightest star in the night-time sky.
While Siruis is the brightest star in the sky, there is no compelling argument as to why Sirius would be considered the Star of the East described in the biblical story. The film also makes no attempt to explain why Sirius is the suspect in being the star of the east. Sirius would probably be considered more of a northern star, as it resides in the area of the sky where the Sun reaches its highest point, but there is really no reason to put it as an eastern star. A better argument could have been made of Aldebaron who was one of the four royal stars that lined up with the equinoxes and solstices in the ancient year. Specifically, Aldebaron was called the Watcher of the East, but the film doesn’t touch on this.
4. On December 24th, Sirius aligns with the three brightest stars in Orion’s Belt called the Three Kings. These four stars point to the position on the horizon where the sun will rise from on the morning of December 25th.
The three stars in Orion’s Belt have only been called the Three Kings in star charts within the last 400 years, certainly not long enough to be around in pre-biblical times. This idea also leads us to suppose that there were only three Magi, when the biblical account of the nativity is silent on the number of guests that night. The rest of the quote is equally disingenuous. Saying that Sirius lines up with these three stars only on December 24th is completely untrue as they draw the same line every day of the year. The film claims that the four stars all line up to point to the sunrise, but it doesn’t go into much detail about when this occurs because the line drawn by the four stars changes to point at different places on the horizon as the night goes on and they move across the sky. It could be argued that Sirius and the Three Kings can point at the sunrise of any day throughout the course of any night where the stars are visible.
5. Mary is the constellation Virgo. Virgo’s glyph is a stylized ‘M’, and is why several mythical Virgin’s names begin with the same letter.
I find this claim a little bit off the wall since it references several mythological virgins from several different cultures; some of which have no cultural notion of either the modern day ‘M’ or the constellation Virgo and its assigned glyph. Such is the case of Buddhist China who neither had an ‘M’ as we know it in the English or other Latin-based languages or a constellation seen as Virgo the Virgin. Chinese astrology was using completely different constellations. While I have no doubt that Mary is seen in Virgo through the glasses of Christian iconography, the fact of the matter is that as the only human female in the Zodiac, Virgo was associated with several female deities some of whom were virgins and some of whom were not such as Aphrodite, Demeter, and Ishtar.
6. Bethlehem literally translates to House of Bread and is a direct link to Virgo who is associated with the season of the harvest and is often depicted holding wheat.
The translation is true, however there is an alternate translation that the film ignores that translates the name into “House of Meat”. Maybe a small thing, but I just thought it was interesting that the film didn’t even attempt to reference the alternate translation. Virgo being represented with wheat is also true, you’ll find several artistic depictions of such a thing, but it wasn’t ever something that was considered especially significant in astrology. This isn’t meant to be taken as attempting to undermine the sign’s connection with the harvest or even wheat, simply pointing out that the film’s focus on the wheat is a bit strange as there is no star or group of stars that specifically form a shaft of wheat, however the brightest star in the constellation, Spica, represents an ear of corn. I find the attention paid to the connection between the artistic inclusion of wheat and the city of Jesus’s reported birth while the obvious astrological corn connection was omitted to be strange.
I also find the reference to Virgo to be completely irrelevant to anything that happens in the sky around the time of December. Sure it can be said that Christian iconography superimposed Mary over Virgo symbolism and pointing it out makes for some interesting thought, but what does that have to do with December 25th and the story of his birth? How does Virgo connect to the rising of the sun on that morning to constitute it symbolizing the mother or city in any way? The film doesn’t talk about it.
7. Jesus (the Sun) died on the cross (the constellation Crux) and was resurrected three days later, with the three day period symbolzing the sun’s apparent lack of motion for three days upon reaching the winter solstice point.
The film is pretty much correct when it discusses the duration of the death of the solar deity. It is indeed connected to the three day still period where the sun appears to not move. It’s not a far throw for the imagination to make, linking the still sun to the mythological death of the person who symbolizes the sun. This is reflected a lot in ancient mythology and several neo-pagan religions continue to use the three day reference in their year myth. However, the film completely misleads the audience with the idea that the sun is anywhere near the constellation of Crux during the winter solstice. The images that the film uses couldn’t be farther from the true positions of the sun and Crux during this time. Below are the actual images of the Sun on December 24th in relation to the constellation Crux.
The snap shot taken was calculated with the skies on December 24th of the year 1 C.E. so as to account for precession.
As you can see, Crux is a long way away from the Sun during the solstice, so the film presents a mischaracterized and skewed depiction of what actually occurs.
8. Easter is celebrated as the rebirth of the sun because of the conquering of the darkness. The Spring Equinox marks the time of the year when the daylight hours last longer than the night, showing the sun’s rise to power.
All true. Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox symbolism is mixed together and separated oddly in several religions revolving around solar symbolism. A good example would be the Neo-Pagan religion Wicca which holds that while the God (often represented by the sun) is born again on the Winter Solstice, he doesn’t really take an active role until the Spring Equinox when he leaves his infant state behind and takes on the symbolism of youth and growth associated with Spring as he ages into a young man. A parallel can instantly be drawn to Jesus who having been born a mortal man on the Winter Solstice, becomes a god during the Spring Equinox.
9. The Christian Cross is a shorthand Pagan Cross to represent the cross of the zodiac and Jesus is depicted with a cross in art due to this association.
This is more or less true, I just don’t think the image shown with the cross having the bottom line the longest is a very honest representation. The lines would all be the same length and may or may not be accompanied with a circle. Nitpicky perhaps, but something that bugged me nonetheless. I don’t, however, agree to the notion that Jesus is depicted in art with a cross due to these associations between himself and the sun and the cross and the zodiac cross. It’s probably more of a reference to the instrument of his death, but that’s probably more of an opinion than a fact of any kind. Can’t think of a way to prove or disprove it.
10. Jesus’s twelve disciples are directly connected to the twelve signs of the zodiac.
This is something that several people choose to believe, but the film doesn’t give any reasoning behind the assertion. It just says it and expects us to take it on face value.
11. When the Bible references “Ages”, it is speaking about astrological ages which occur when the Vernal Equinox point occurs in a different sign of the zodiac.
Completely possible, but really no evidence to show that this is what it is referring to, however, I don’t think it’s a bad conclusion to draw.
12. The Bible narrates through three astrological ages while alluding to a fourth. The first being represented by the Gold Bull (signifying Taurus), Moses represents the second (Aries), Jesus represents the third (Pisces), and allusions are made to a fourth (Aquarius)
We’ll tackle this one in a few parts. The video presents the idea that the Golden Calf was a symbol for Taurus, which it very well could have been as bull worship was a pretty far-reaching form of worship and it wouldn’t be inconceivable for it to be written this way. Moses is said to represent the Age of Aries, but no real reason is given as to why except for that Jews blow the ram’s horn, which may or may not have anything to do with anything. Many more ideas are offered up to connect Jesus with the Age of Pisces, his miracle involving the bread and fish, his recruiting fisherman near the sea of Galilee, his symbol of the Jesus Fish, and even his supposed birth date being around the start of the Age of Pisces. All the fish symbolism aside, there is just as much, if not more symbolism available that links Jesus with lambs and thus Aries. Jesus is often called the “lamb of God” and the “sacrificial lamb”, being “washed in the blood of the lamb” is the metaphor behind baptism in most Christian denominations. However, the abundance of lamb and thus Arian associations to Jesus are omitted. Also, I find problems with the idea of Jesus being born around the start of the Age of Pisces; it’s too clean cut. There’s no way the Age of Pisces started around 1 A.D., it’s a childish estimation at a calculation that several respectable associations disagree about. Case in point, one calculation says the Age of Pisces began around 498 A.D., another says 1 A.D., and a third says around 90 B.C. Jesus representing Pisces, the age supplanting Aries represented by Moses does make sense in some theological instances however, such as the doing away with old Jewish law. The book of Galatians tells us that we no longer have to follow the laws written in Leviticus, and this is a perfect example of a “new age” of Christianity beginning.
After this statement, the film goes on to draw parallels between Christianity and Egyptian mythology and Old Testament and New Testament characters, subjects I have no interest of getting into as they are outside of my bounds as an astrologer. Hopefully this has been as fun to read as it was to think about and write.