In my previous articles, I stated that Orion worship was of the paramount importance to the ancients, all across the Indo-Aryan world (and that even the name “Orion” is perhaps related to the word “Aryan”) During the past year, I have received numerous requests to publish an article on this subject. I hesitated, because some of the facts are already well known to the general public (for example the alignment of Orion’s belt and Egyptian pyramids). But also because it is impossible to tell this story in one single article.
However, I have found the solution. I will write several connected articles, starting not with the most ancient, but with the most well-known religion – Christianity. In order to understand the following text, you do not need any previous knowledge. You need only a few basic facts that can be easily verified online:
- Orion was known as Osiris to the Egyptians
- Ancient Greeks equated Osiris with Dionysus (also known as Bacchus)
- Hence, Dionysus = Orion
But what does it have to do with Christianity, you might ask. Well, there is already a wide-spread theory amongst astrotheologists, that the tree stars of Orion’s belt are in fact the magi from the Bible – the three wise men that came from the East to announce the birth of the Christ, the personification of the Sun. Personally, I do believe in this theory, but I also believe that there is much more to this. So let us move to the interesting stuff.
The beautiful renaissance painting below was painted in the workshop of Leonardo da Vinci, somewhere between 1510–1515. It used to represent John the Baptist, in a typical renaissance style of this period. Also, it used to have Christian imagery… Well, apart from the hand gesture that shows hermetic maxim “as above so below”. However, some 150 years later, in the 17th century, someone decided to transform John the Baptist into Bacchus. Full story here
Bacchus, (Previously John the Baptist) Workshop of Leonardo da Vinci, year 1510–1515, Wikipedia Commons
But even before the painting was altered, this was not the first time during the renaissance that John the Baptist had some attributes of Bacchus / Dionysus. Sometimes it is just a subtle leopard skin around his waist. But even the cave motif is closely related Dionysus worship, as the ancient authors tell us:
“…they came upon a cave of Dionysos; in the cave was an image of the god, and on this occasion wild she-goats had gathered there to escape the storm” … “…they show the cave where Ino nursed him, and call the plain the garden of Dionysos.”
Pausanias, Description of Greece
So what is the deal here, why would John the Baptist be related to Dionysus / Orion? Since the topic is astrotheology, I used a free, open-source software called Stellarium to show you what astronomical picture may lie behind this allegory. Now we just need a date, so why not pick the most important day of the church calendar related to John the Baptist – St. John’s eve – 23rd of June, his birth, and also a day of a Midsummer’s solstice.
Long before Christianity, Midsummer’s solstice was one of the most important pagan holidays. It was known as Yule for the Norse, or Kupalo for the Slavs, but I will not go deeper into this here, as it would divert us from Orion to Sun worship.
What you now need to know about the Orion constellation is that it travels from east to west across the sky, marking these two cardinal directions so perfectly that it has been used for navigation for millennia. However, the best time to see it in the northern hemisphere is from October to March, as during the summer months, especially during the solstice, it is positioned directly behind the Sun, and therefore invisible to the naked eye.
The following picture is a screenshot from Stellarium, depicting East during the sunrise on the summer solstice of 2016.
During this period, Orion will remain completely invisible, as it will travel across the sky with the Sun. During the other three most important celestial events – in winter, spring, and autumn, it will be visible in different parts of the sky. Therefore we can say that the summer solstice represents the period of its “resurrection”.
Is it just a coincidence that this date is the “birth” of St. John the Baptist?
But there is more. The only other time of the year when Orion is perfectly aligned to the horizon during the sunrise or sunset is around the winter solstice. This time Oron will appear in the east right after the sunset and set in the west some twelve hours later – right before the sunrise.
Now we all know the importance of these dates – winter solstice between 22-25th of December and Christmass on the 25th, no need to go there.
It is important to note that in this time of the year, it really looks as if Orion is at the very entrance of the (cosmic) cave, between the night and the day, pointing his hand upwards and announcing the birth of the new Sun.
The Milky way flows right past Orion, like some celestial river – another important symbolic related to the ritual of baptism.
However, you may have noticed that I chose another date for the winter image – 27.12. instead of Christmass or winter solstice. This is because this is the day of St. John the Evangelist. For Freemasons, these are the two of the most important dates. You can read more about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._John’s_Day,_Masonic_feast
Indeed, if we look at the Bible for what it is, a compilation of works of different authors, it wouldn’t be strange to see allegories that are different. The stories of the Three kings, St. John the Baptist could both related to Orion.
But most interestingly, even the name John and name Dion(ysus) sound eerily similar. The same goes for the last supper. The symbolic of wine and bread recalls the ancient rituals of Dionysus and Osiris, and their dismembered bodies.
If we take all of this into consideration, another extremely important conclusion can be drawn from all of this. The name of one of the most important characters of the New Testament is not Semitic at all! Neither it is Egyptian. It rather comes from the Romans, who took it from the Greeks, who took it from the Thracians! Scholars nowadays unanimously agree that Dyonisus is a pre-greek name, but even the ancient authors shared the same opinion. For example, Apollodorus stated: “Orpheus also invented the mysteries of Dionysus” Library, book 1, chapter 3:
Typical representations of St. John the Baptist in Christianity and Dionysus in Greek art show them with the right arm lifted up, reminiscing the “arm” of Orion