Was the Star of Bethlehem a Great Conjunction? And What Meaning Do They Carry?
Recently my friend Sherrill and I were talking on the phone. “I’ve been hearing that this conjunction might be the same one that the Magi saw. Do you think this conjunction is the Star of Bethlehem?” she asked. I had been hearing that too, but I didn’t want to give an answer because I hadn’t yet done the research.
I must tell you that research makes me happy. It ties me right back into to the scholarly part of me that loved being a professor. So I’ve been happily reading widely to see what I might find. It’s surprising!
Spoiler alert — the actual Star of Bethlehem was almost certainly not a Great Conjunction. However, that doesn’t take one iota away from the importance of this conjunction. If Johannes Kepler was right, a Great Conjunction played a big role in the story of the Magi who followed a star to Bethlehem. There are a number of important parallels. If you would like to see the Great Conjunction as the Christmas Star, you wouldn’t be wrong.
Johannes Kepler, the Great Conjunction, and The Star of Bethlehem.
You may have heard of Johannes Kepler, a great astronomer in the 1600’s who discovered three planetary laws of motion. In fact, the whole idea that the Star of Bethlehem was actually a Saturn-Jupiter Great Conjunction goes back to a misreading of his work.
So how did he become interested in the Star of Bethlehem and how did it get connected with the Great Conjunction in the first place?
In June 1604, there was a Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. That year, it was a triple conjunction with Mars, which would have been even brighter and rarer than the Great Conjunction. There were lots of prophecies surrounding that triple conjunction too.
Then, all of a sudden in October 1604, one of Kepler’s students noticed a brand-new star that hadn’t been there the night before! Due to cloud cover, it took Kepler a few days before he could find it, but when he next looked, there it was. Pretty soon news started coming in from other astronomers, both near and far, that they were seeing this new star too. From then on, it became Kepler’s star (it’s even named after him now). About a year later, it had disappeared completely from the sky.
What Kepler and his associates saw is categorized in astronomical terms as a nova, which is “a transient astronomical event that causes the sudden appearance of a bright, apparently ‘new’ star, that slowly fades over several weeks or many months.” The nova that Kepler and his associates saw and studied is still characterized as the 2nd brightest nova ever recorded. In fact, it was what astronomers call a Supernova. It was visible even in the day sky for more than 3 weeks; there are records of sightings all over the world.
Coming so close to the Jupiter Saturn conjunction, Kepler’s star got him thinking about the Bethlehem star. His actual theory, for which he did a huge number of mathematical calculations, is that at, or shortly after, the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in 7 BCE, a nova appeared in the sky. It moved from the East to the West in the sky, and this was the star that the Magi followed to Bethlehem.
Here is where people misread him. He was certain that the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction was not the Star of Bethlehem. As astrologers, the Magi would have been watching just as many have been doing these past few weeks (except they would have known it was coming and would have been watching for months). They would have seen these two planets converging on each other, and they would not have been fooled into thinking that this was the star that had been prophesied.
Kepler reminds us that the Magi were from Chaldea, the place where astrology was born. They had extraordinary experience and wisdom about what was going on in the night sky. He continues by saying that there is a very ancient astrological tradition that says that great conjunctions of planets in cardinal points “signify a universal change of affairs….” He then suggests that a star that appeared at the very same time that “tells of the rise of a king….”
The Magi and the Star of Bethlehem
Kepler’s conclusion from his research, which I think is the most plausible explanation, was that the prophecies around a coming bright star that would bring a rule of light were related to the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction of 7 BCE (his mathematical calculations work whether you believe Jesus was born in 6 or 2 BCE, as most scholars believe, partially based on the death of Herod mentioned in the Christian Bible).
He also believed that the Magi saw a new star that appeared around the same time and in the same part of the sky. He writes, “What else could the Chaldeans conclude from this, and the still existing rules of their art [of astrology], but that some event of the greatest moment was imminent?”
The Power of this Great Conjunction
If the Great Conjunction isn’t the Star of Bethlehem, does that take away from its power? Absolutely not! There are actually a lot of parallels between the story of the star of Bethlehem and this particular Great Conjunction that just took place in the first degree of Aquarius. Both herald a new era. They both birth an era of light and love and inclusion. Both are also associated with a rise in Unity and Christ Consciousness.
Let’s look at the Christ event first. In every religious tradition, Jesus, about whom the story of the Star of Bethlehem is told, is renowned as a great prophet and teacher. He brought something completely new to the world. If you go back to the records of his life and his teachings, he brought light into the world. He also taught a way of love and inclusiveness. In short, he taught a way of being in the world that is very akin to what we are moving into now. Indeed, many have talked about this Conjunction as a shift into Christ Consciousness.
This is the connection between the Christmas star, the Solstice (which in the Northern Hemisphere is the Winter Solstice, which means the return of the light), and this Great Conjunction. Capricorn, where Jupiter and Saturn have been hanging out until just a few days ago, is the sign of the government, “might makes right,” and top-down power. In contrast, Aquarius, where they just met, and where they will be for some time to come, is the sign of the people, and the sign of Unity and Christ Consciousness. It’s also the sign of inclusiveness and collaboration.
A Shift of the Ages
This is a real sea change. As I’ve been writing, it’s not only a shift of an era (they won’t meet again for 20 years), but it’s a shift of the ages, as Jupiter and Saturn will meet in air signs for the next 200 years. After that, they will cycle through the other elements, only coming back to meet again in air signs 800 years from now.
Adding to this shift is the fact that our planet is currently traveling through a big photon belt which is literally bringing more light into us. This is literally a time of light breaking into the world and changing our very DNA. This is adding to the power and impact of this Great Conjunction.
This is a time of immense importance. It’s a time where we have the opportunity to shift as individuals and as a planet. It’s a time when we can come together to bring into being the true Christ Consciousness that first came into the world, if Kepler is right, on the heels of another Great Conjunction between Jupiter and Saturn about 2000 years ago.
Now remember, this is just the beginning of the actual shift. We are going to continue to see the old power structures trying to hold on to power with both hands. We’re also going to see the people rising up and saying no. We will still see the rhetoric of hatred and division, but the voices of unity and harmony will grow and become stronger.
There is still a lot of unraveling that has to happen, so please don’t expect that it will all be smooth sailing from here. While we are coming out of the chrysalis, there is a lot of transformation that still needs to happen in us and around us, and all over our planet.
In many ways, now the true work begins. Having experienced the light and the transformation, you are now called to do the true work of embodying that transformation. You are called to commit to work for light, love and unity consciousness individually, and to support them collectively. I believe we’re up to the task. And the planetary energies will support us in that task as well.
May the bright light of this season bring you many blessings. May you experience light even in this very difficult time. May you choose to be the light and contribute to this shift to Unity and Christ consciousness that we are all a part of.
Much love to you in this holiday season,
PS: Because the Great Conjunction was such a powerful event, and because it will have such an impact on all of us not only in the coming year, but in the decades to come, if you missed the Solstice Celebration, and Attunement and Healing Session for the Great Conjunction, I have been guided to offer the teaching and recording. When you sign up, you will receive the attunements and healing work. You will also be attuned to the powerful full moon coming up on December 29th. For more information on the attunement and healing session, click here. To sign up to receive the attunement and healing session yourself contact me here.
Note: the quotes and much of the research for this post came from the article “Kepler and the Star of Bethlehem,” by W. Burke-Gaffney in the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol 31 (1937), pp. 417-425.
The quotes are Burke-Gaffney’s translation of Kepler’s writing about the Star of Bethlehem, and come from Kepleri opera omnia IV, p. 347).