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three wise men

GoodGod!

January, 2019

Meet
the Gods: The Wise Men

Merry meet.

This
month’s column is not about gods. Rather it’s about saints, or,
more correctly, magi, the pagan astrologers who came to worship
Jesus. The word magic came from magi because they dabbled in the dark
arts and were referred to as sorcerers, wizards and magicians.

Tradition
refers to three wise men, but nowhere is a specific number stated; in
Eastern Christianity often there are twelve. They came “from the
east,” which most likely is now Iran. That means they could have
traveled more than 800 miles. The Christmas story has them arriving
twelve days later, but some traditions have the visit occurring as
much as two winters later. (This could explain why Herod commanded
all boys up to the age of two be killed.)

These
Zoroastrian priests, as part of their religion, had great knowledge
of astrology – others say astronomy. According to the Gospel
Matthew, these wise men were guided to look for the “king of the
Jews” by a miraculous stellar event: the Star of Bethlehem. They
brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

As
part of their religion, these traveling missionaries paid particular
attention to the stars and gained an international reputation for
their knowledge of the sky, which at that time was highly regarded as
a science. As Christianity became the religion of the Romans, the
magi were no longer respected, and neither were the Jews.

No
names for the three appear in the New Testament. Legends, however,
give them a variety of different names. Melchior, also spelled
Melichior, was a Persian king, or some say scholar. Caspar, Gaspar or
Jaspar was a king of India. Balthazar, also known as Balthasar and
Balthassar, was a Babylonian scholar or an Arabian king.

Many
sources do no consider them respected kings. Rather, the magi were
uncouth and labeled as sinners because of their stargazing, sorcery
and divination. Still, Catholics and Orthodox Christians celebrate
the festival of The Three Kings, the Epiphany, on January 6. In
Germany, they have become the patron saints of travelers; their feast
day is July 23.

Merry part. And merry meet again.

***

About
the Author:

Lynn
Woike
 was
50 – divorced and living on her own for the first time – before
she consciously began practicing as a self taught solitary witch. She
draws on an eclectic mix of old ways she has studied – from her
Sicilian and Germanic heritage to Zen and astrology, the fae,
Buddhism, Celtic, the Kabbalah, Norse and Native American – pulling
from each as she is guided. She practices yoga, reads Tarot and uses
Reiki. From the time she was little, she has loved stories, making
her job as the editor of two monthly newspapers seem less than the
work it is because of the stories she gets to tell. She lives with
her large white cat, Pyewacket, in central Connecticut. You can
follow her boards on Pinterest,
and write to her at woikelynn at gmail dot com.