Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

And her months were fulfilled, and in the ninth month Anna brought forth. And she said unto the midwife, “What have I brought forth?” and she said, “A girl.” And Anna said, “My soul has been magnified this day. And she laid her down. And the days having been fulfilled, Anna was purified, and gave suck to the child, and called her name Mary.
(Protoevangelium of James, V 2)

Mary was born of Anna (Hannah), whose name means, in Hebrew, grace or gracious. In Hurrian, a Middle Eastern language spoken in parts of ancient and nearby Syria, Anna means mother. Yet the name is remarkably similar to the ancient Sumerian An or Anu, which  meant the “heavenly one,” or simply, “the heavens.”

The feast of Mary’s birth is celebrated on September 8th, mid-way through the astrological sign of Virgo. We now use the Gregorian calendar, but by the old Julian calendar this date would have been August 29th, which was celebrated in Egypt as the feast of the Nativity of Hathor, and also as new year’s day in the fixed Alexandrian Calendar that was used by the Egyptians from 30 B.C. onward. (James Frazier, The Golden Bough).

September was a time of harvest; the association of the sign of Virgo with harvest time is well known: she is depicted as a winged woman holding sheaves of grain. This woman is Hathor, Isis, other goddesses of the harvest, and for the last couple thousand years, the Virgin Mary.

What is not so well known is that Hathor was associated early on with the Milky Way Galaxy —  she was said to be a personification of the milk that flowed from the divine Heavenly Cow, Nuit.

Hathor’s name means House of (i.e. womb that birthed) Horus. Horus was associated with the sun, as later Jesus would be, and his birth was, like that of Jesus, celebrated at the Winter Solstice. It was also said that Hathor gave birth to Horus each morning, and as he died each night accepted him back into her womb to be born again at the following sunrise.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, which means “House of Bread.”  Bread is, of course, made of grain, which ties us back into Virgo, the Virgin Mother, and the harvest.

Many of Hathor’s functions were later absorbed by Isis, including her motherhood of Horus and her association with the Milky Way. And, “since Isis was, at the advent of Christianity 2000 years ago, the most popular goddess of the ancient Middle Eastern and Western European world, it is not surprising that her successor, Mary, Mother of the Piscean Age avatar Jesus, should fall heir to many of her titles and attributes.” (Margie McArthur, Lady of the Sea: 2012 and the Mother Who Births the New Age)

As the river of stars that comprised the Milky Way, Hathor represented the earliest expression of the life force of the heavens manifesting itself in the form of stars. The heavens gave birth to the stars –  the light – just as Hathor gave birth to Horus, the light of Sun, and Mary gave birth to Jesus, the Son/Sun and Light of the World.

In addition to being seen as the nourishing starry milk of the Mother Goddess in her form as the Heavenly Cow, the Milky Way was also seen as a river of stars—which is yet another form of nourishment as the lands are nourished and made fertile by the rivers that flow and flood through them. The Nile was seen as the earthly counterpart of the Milky Way. Since Hathor was this heavenly river, this flow of nourishing essence from the sky, the Milky Way, she was also linked to the waters of the earth. Mary’s iconography and lore depict similar resonances. She is Queen of Heaven, Queen of the Angels, Star of the Sea.

The sun is a star, part of that heavenly river of stars that is the Milky Way, and is our very own heavenly messenger.

Why were Hathor and Mary said to be born in the sign of Virgo, the time of the harvest and beginning of the new year?

The harvest marked the end of a cycle. The time just after the harvest/birth of these divine mothers was, in Egypt, the Time of the Inundation – the time when the Nile flooded the lands, leaving the soil fertile. It was also the time of the rains in other parts of the Middle East; the beginning of the Hebrew new year, which celebrated the beginning of creation, was celebrated less than a month later.

In all ways, Hathor and Mary represented the birthing, mothering, and nourishing of the “child” that was life and light.

Mythologically speaking, stars are equivalent to angels, whose very name means “messengers of God.” The stars shine down upon us from above, their brilliance and beauty beaming us the message of light and life from their vast, dark, heavenly source.

In Canaanite and early Hebrew mythology, Asherah was seen as the Mother of 70 sons. These “sons” became the 72 angels of later Hebrew mythology, and were still linked with Asherah till her shrines were destroyed and her cult in the temple ended by the Hebrew reformer, Josiah.

But later on, the divine feminine, in the form of Mary, was hailed as Queen of the Angels and Queen of Heaven, just as her divine feminine predecessors had been....

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