Magi2bThroughout history there has been a belief that somewhere in the world (most likely in the East) there exists a brotherhood, or order of initiates, secretly guiding the destiny of mankind. Towards the end of the last century a number of intrepid explorers, mostly Russians and including such well-known esotericists as Madame H.P.Blavatsky, Alexandra David-Neale, P.D. Ouspensky and G.I.Gurdjieff scoured the East in search of these “Masters of Wisdom”.

In 1972, following a pilgrimage to Bethlehem by bicycle, Adrian Gilbert also began searching for the masters. He was convinced that the secret school, if it really existed, was in some way connected with the story of the visiting Magi at the start of St. Matthew’s Gospel. He was sure that this seemingly trivial episode concerning kings and gifts of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh was, if only it could be properly understood, highly significant.

G.I.Gurdjieff who came to the West in 1920 and who opened a mysterious, esoteric school of his own in France, claimed to have tracked down a secret and very ancient organization called the “Sarmoung Brotherhood”. Following up on clues he left behind in his semi-autobiographical work: “Meetings with Remarkable Men”, Gilbert ascertained there was substance to his story and that this brotherhood was probably the last surviving remnant of a Christian Gnostic School that once flourished in Northern Mesopotamia.

The heads from the hierothesion of Antiochus Epiphanes of Commagene
Heads from Hierothesion of Antiochus

He found traces of this lost school, which seems to have been flourishing at the time of Christ, in South-Eastern Turkey at a place called Commagene. Physical evidence exists in the form of monuments built by a king called Antiochus I Epiphanes.

Gilbert believes that this minor king was closely linked with the Sarmoung brotherhood of his day (c.70-30 BC. The monuments left scattered in his little kingdom on the Upper Euphrates indicate his interest in lion (Leo) symbolism.

(lion of Commagene stele)

Atela of the Lion horoscope at Arsameia
Lion of Commagene stele

Antiochus’ funerary monument at Mount Nimrod features this amazing stele which has been shown to be the oldest known horoscope on earth. It shows he knew a great deal both about astrology and the Hermetic tradition. In fact it gives an astronomical date (6 July 62 BC) which Gilbert believes relates to his initiation, when he received the title “epiphanes”. Elsewhere in his kingdom, at Arsameia the winter capital, there is a mysterious shaft leading nowhere. Archaeologists have long been puzzled by this but Gilbert has found that this also was intended to give two significant dates, including the “Royal Birthday” of the Kings of Commagene (28th July).


Shaft at Arsameia
Shaft at Arsameia

The shaft is some 158 metres long and faces west. By using a computer program to back back-track the sky to how it would have looked in c.62 BC, it can be seen that it and would have been illuminated by the sun on precisely two days in the year. This would be in the afternoon when the sun was conjunct with the star Regulus in Leo and the other when it was in the “shake-hands” position above the outstretched hand of Orion.

Hercules shakes hand of the king
shaking hands stele

These two significant dates Gilbert takes to have marked the royal birthday of the kings and the correct date for his soul to an ascend back to the stars. The connection here with Orion seems to be indicated by an enormous stele of the king shaking hands with “Hercules” a god who was similarly turned into a

constellation and who seems to have originally been identifiable with Orion the hunter.

Pillars of Edessa
Pillars of Edessa

Gilbert has also found evidence at the city of Edessa (now called SanliUrfa) for an amazing astrological cult based on the movements of Orion and linked with the Old Testament prophets.


This city was famous in the early days of Christianity for its schools of learning as well as certain sacred relics preserved there. It was again important in the early years of the crusades, whilst its fall to the Moslem armies of first Zengi in 1145 and then his son Nuraddin in 1146, sparked the second crusade.

Putting other pieces of the jig-saw together and carrying out further “on the ground” researches, Gilbert has found traces linking this lost brotherhood with the Magi story of Matthew’s Gospel. Evidence suggests that the Magi were expecting the birth of a King/Messiah not on our so-called Christmas Day of 25th of December, (which is in any case based on the old pagan festival of the Birth of Mithras) but rather on 29th July 7 BC. On this day there was a special configuration in the sky. Each year at that time the Sun would rise in the “King’s Birthday” position: conjunct with the “Little King” or “Lion Heart” star of Regulus in Leo. At the same time, just prior to the dawn, Sirius, the brightest star in the sky, would make its first appearance after a period of invisibility. According to the mythology of Egypt, Sirius was the special star of the goddess Isis. Her reappearance represented the goddess coming out of confinement to give birth, at dawn. to her son Horus, represented by the Sun-conjunct-Regulus.

The mythology behind this arrangement of stars was Christianised by the early church so that Sirius now represented Mary giving birth not to Horus but to her own son, Jesus, symbolised as the sawn sun. Other stars visible at dawn on that day are also significant. Orion, which in Egypt represented Osiris, the consort of Isis now became Joseph. The star Procyon, which like Sirius rises after Orion, had probably represented Isis’s sister Nephthys. It now became the ‘mid-wife’, who also appears in some of the Nativity stories.

The stable is represented by the zodiac: the place of animals. Visible in it are the Ox (Taurus) and sheep (Aries). The manger in which the baby Jesus is laid is the place where the animals get their food. In Hebrew ‘Bethlehem’ means “Place of Bread”. It was also a city in the province of Judah, the Lion tribe of Israel, and is therefore represented by the star Regulus in the Leo or Lion constellation. The sun conjunct Regulus is therefore symbolic of Jesus in the Manger.

The three shepherds are also symbolized in the sky. They are stars that “lead the way” and are represented by the stars Procyon, Castor and Pollux which all rise before Sirius and therefore, like shepherds, lead the way for the rising sun.

The three kings are something different. Gilbert believes that the “Star of the Magi” which supposedly guided them to the stable in Bethlehem was really the great conjunction of the two large planets Jupiter and Saturn. This conjunction lasted on and off for several months and took place in Pisces, the sign of the fish and symbolic of both Christianity and the then new age. On July 28-9th these planets would rise about 9.30 in the evening and then, as the brightest stars in the sky, be visible until shortly after the dawn. They represent two of the kings: Melchior (Jupiter, the king bringing gold) and Caspar ( Saturn, the king bringing myrrh). This is because Jupiter is the planet of wealth (gold) whilst Saturn is concerned with death and graveyards but also longevity. Myrrh was primarily used for mummifaction and is therefore emblematic of Saturn. The third planet was Mercury, which on that day was the closest to the Sun. He is Balthasar (or Belteshazzar) and his name means “Lord’s leader”. He rises just before the Sun and, like a vizier, is in close attendance. His gift was Frankincense, symbolic of the priestly or magical functions always associated with this planet.

Thus it is that the story of the Magi visiting the stable of Bethlehem, when read correctly, gives us Jesus’s horoscope. The stars indicate that he was born to be a king (like a Magi king of Commagene) and receives, as we all do, the appropriate gifts from the planet’s of his birth. To illustrate all of the above Gilbert commissioned a picture froman old friend, the gifted Swedish artist Bengt Alfredson. As the stars concerned span nearly half of the sky, they have had to be compressed, into a “fish-eye lens” projection. However, if you take account of the curving horizon, this is how the stars would indeed have appeared. This is probably the first time that a anyone has attempted to paint an authentic “star-correct” adoration of the Magi. To make this clearer we have also included underneath a screen print from the SKYGLOBE program, showing the stars and constellations as they would appear at dawn on 29th July 7 BC.


Star-correct adoration of the Magi
Star-correct adoration of the Magi by Bengt Alfredson

magstarsa(The ‘Nativity stars’ on 29 July 7 BC at Bethlehem)

This book covers very much more than the Christmas story, interesting as this is. It reveals for the first time who the Magi really were, where they came from and how their knowledge was preserved and passed back to the West at the time of the crusades. It also gives a lot of interesting information concerning the Mediaeval cathedrals, the “secret history” of Europe and much else besides”. All this is based on serious and scrupulous research. If you are the sort of person who is interested in mysteries, then you are sure to find it fascinating.

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