St. George Decoded - Decoding the Legend, page 11

Decoding the Legend

I said at the beginning that I was trying to make a star chart that took precession into account. It was just when I 'precessed' the spring equinox back to the beginning of the Age of Pisces, about 2000 years ago, that I noticed an interesting configuration amongst other constellations.

Freeing the virgin from the dragon

The insight came as I was marking the new spring and autumn equinox positions for that year and noticed what constellation was moving into the autumn equinox position. It was Virgo. Now look across the pole and you'll see the celestial north pole is in empty space just off the tail of Draco, the Dragon or Serpent.

Virgo, Draco, and Perseus

Figure 8. Virgo, Draco, and Perseus

The movement out of Draco, caused by precession, must have been a major event for ancient priest-astronomers of any religion. After thousands of years the Dragon no longer held the pole star position in its grip, and Virgo, the Virgin, became the defining constellation of the autumn equinox, see Figure 9 below. Virgo is a long constellation, so outside of the 30° system it could be argued that she had already been the autumn equinox for centuries. This doesn't matter because the point is that she couldn't mark the equinox until the axis was released from Draco.


Virgo carrying the sun into the autumn equinox dawn 7BC

Figure 9. Virgo carrying the sun into the autumn equinox dawn 7BC

Here comes the hero

Only a mighty and powerful warrior could have defeated the Dragon to bring this all about, but where is he? Look on the other side of Draco from the Virgin and you come across a warrior powerful enough to defeat fearsome monsters - the Greek demigod Perseus. One of his feats was to rescue the goddess Andromeda who had been chained to a rock as a sacrifice to a sea monster. But the ancient world knew him for another great feat.

David Ulansey, in his 'The Origins of Mithraic Mysteries';, showed that Perseus was also the hidden godhead of the Roman cult of Mithras. The core mystery of that cult was the precessional force that shifts the celestial pole and the equinoxes around, and they represented that process by Perseus in battle with Taurus the Bull. Now we have a hero and an existing precessional battle. But what does this have to do with a Christian knight? We'll see later, but for now bear in mind that the cult of Mithras was widespread in the Roman Empire at the time of the early Christian church.

Sacrificing the sheep

Before the princess was given up to feed the dragon, the townspeople offered up two sheep. Does this have any astronomical significance in the scheme? Indeed it does, for just as the spring equinox was moving into the Age of Pisces, it was moving out of the Age of Aries (the Ram), the male counterpart to the sacrificed sheep, see Figure 10 below.

The stake as world axis

There is one more element in this mythic event that I haven't covered, and that is the place of the stake/rock to which the princess had been chained. According to the technical language of myth, a pole, a stake, or a rock represents the Earth's axis. In many myths the stake is moved, uprooted, or otherwise operated upon with dire consequences for the whole world, bringing destruction of the old world order, and necessitating the creation of a new world order with new gods.

The allegorical tying of the princess to the stake states that the fate of the princess (Virgo) is tied to that of the world axis. She cannot become the constellation of the autumn equinox until the celestial north pole, the extension of the earth's axis on the polar skies, has precessed away from the constellation of Draco (the Dragon).

St. George in all his glory

We now have an astronomical reading for the complete legend:

  1. Two sheep had been fed to the dragon every day, to no avail. The Age of Aries was passing and was losing its power to influence matters.
  2. The princess (constellation of Virgo) is chained to the stake (Earth axis). Her fate is literally tied up with that of the axis. They are inseparably in thrall to the dragon (constellation of Draco). The celestial north pole has spent thousands of years precessing through Draco.
  3. Along comes our hero St. George (in the persona of the constellation of Perseus). He defeats the dragon. The Earth's axis, and hence the celestial north pole, is freed from the grip of the constellation of Draco.
  4. This also frees the princess (Virgo) to gain her position as the dominating constellation of the autumn equinox.

It cannot be coincidence that each element of the legend yields to an astronomical reading. It cannot be coincidence that together these elements amount to a complete system. Nor can it be coincidence that this precessional battle was also the inner mystery of the early Church's great rival, the cult of Mithras.

My contention is that the legend has been constructed to commemorate the autumn equinox constellation at the opening of the Age of Pisces. Figure 10 below shows the relationship between the equinoxes and their zodiacal constellations at that time.

Spring Equinox moving into Pisces, Autumn Equinox moving into Virgo 7BC

Figure 10. Spring equinox moving into Pisces, autumn equinox moving into Virgo 7BC

A king is also born

These celestial events were tremendously significant to people of the time. For example, the early Christians, during the days of persecution, used the sign of the fish (Pisces) to recognise one another. It cannot have escaped the notice of educated people that there had been a triple conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces in 7 BC, see Figure 11 below. In mythic terms this was a heavenly sign of great importance. One conjunction would have heralded the birth of a king, but a triple conjunction could only have meant that a `king of kings' would be born who would dominate the coming Age of Pisces itself. Although we cannot be certain, this event may have been the defining moment opening the Age of Pisces. On top of this, a virgin gave birth to this demigod, so why not commemorate her through the constellation of the autumn equinox?.


Dawn, Spring Equinox 7BC, Saturn and Jupiter in Pisces

Figure 11. Dawn, Spring Equinox 7BC, Saturn and Jupiter in Pisces

A sky show

If you have an astronomy program, set it for the spring equinox, 21st March, in the year 7 BC, dawn at 06:00, and centre on Jupiter or Saturn. Roll forward a few days at a time until either of the planets leaves Pisces. Due to the relative motions and positions of the Earth, Jupiter, and Saturn, the whole series of conjunctions lasted into 6BC.