Did the star of Bethlehem exist or was it merely poetic metaphor?
This question has been asked by scholars, scientists, and christians for centuries. However it has only been until the past century that we have had sufficient information to be able to answer this question. Let’s start by first looking at the only place in the Bible where the Star of Bethlehem is mentioned, in the book of Matthew.
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’”
Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him.”
bq. After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
The Star is preceded by the appearance of the three magi, or wise men as they are often called now. What do we know of the three Magi presented in the book of matthew. Well we could surmise that the Magi all saw the star because they were astrologers. As such considering the times astrologers played a great roll in societies. They were responsible for tracking the stars for calendar days, to determine the cycle of crops. Over time these magi whose abilities to read the stars were held in high esteem in the east came to consult and represent houses of royalty. It is also believed that these Magi practiced the teachings of Zoroaster, who was a persian religious teacher and leader. The teachings of Zoroaster promoted monotheism and even told of a king that would be born some day that would be descended from Abraham.
Taking that as a cue we can assume that these Magi were ambassadors of their respected kingdoms. It becomes only logical that they would all stop to pay Herod royal respects, even if his plans for the “New King” were scrupulous.
What astrological event could have triggered the wise men to seek the new born king? There have been some assumptions that it may have been a passing comet. But comets in the area of Christ were noted as portents of doom and bad times. Also there weren’t any comets passing at the time of Christ’s birth. During 2 B.C. there were many different planetary alignments and conjunctions that occurred in August. These planet gatherings could have been seen as the portent of a new time. Despite these several alignments and rotations there really was no record of a “Star” appearing.
It is at this point that given there is only a single account of the star of Bethlehem, combined with only the magi knowing of this star it becomes a matter of faith. According to the Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, a book detailing Christian Mysticism, it is indeed only visible to those with the spiritual site.
The night between the 24th and the 25th of December is The Holy Night, par excellence, of the entire year. The Zodiacal sign of the immaculate celestial Virgin stands upon the eastern horizon near midnight, the Sun of the New Year is then born and starts upon his journey from the southernmost point toward the northern hemisphere, to save that part of humanity (physically) from the darkness and famine which would inevitably result if he were to remain permanently south of the equator.
To the people of the northern hemisphere, where all our present day religions originated, the Sun is directly below the Earth; and the spiritual influences are strongest, in the north, at midnight of the 24th of December.
That being the case, it follows as a matter of course that it would then be easiest for those who wished to take a definite step toward Initiation to get in conscious touch with the spiritual Sun especially for the first time.
Therefore the pupils who were ready for Initiation were taken in hand by the Hierophants of the Mysteries, and be means of ceremonies performed in the Temple, were raised to a state of exaltation wherein they transcended physical conditions. To their spiritual vision, the solid Earth become transparent and they was the Sun at midnight–“The Star!” It was not the physical Sun they saw with spiritual eyes, however, but the Spirit in the Sun–The Christ–their Spiritual Savior, as the physical Sun was their physical Savior.
This is the Star that shone on that Holy Night and that still shines for the mystic in the darkness of night. When the noise and confusion of physical activity are quieted, he enters into his closet and seeks the way to the King of Peace. The Blazing Star is ever there to guide him and his soul hears the prophetic song, “On earth Peace, Goodwill toward men.”