The Magi Journeying c.1890 James Tissot, Brooklyn Museum
As recorded in Matthew’s gospel, Magi from the east ride to Bethlehem, on having seen Jesus’ star in the east. The star of Bethlehem can have been no star in the narrower sense of the word, since a star cannot pinpoint a stable or even a region, unlike a solar eclipse, which in being a conjunction of the sun and moon stands likewise for the two alternative models of the system of planets, so when was the sun first taken to be possibly the orb at the system’s hub? Where and when were the magi first active?
The Magi are enshrined in the zodiac as the horseman Sagittarius, the goat-man Capricorn and the can-man Aquarius. The latter appears in the Chinese version of the zodiac as a monkey, who in India appears as the can-man and canoe-man Hanuman, bearing a cone of herbs, which shows him to be a medical astrologer, since cross-sections of a cone are ellipses and planets move in ellipses round the sun, but what monkeys are devoted to geometry?
The men most akin to monkeys were not the humans prevalent today but the brainy Neanderthals and their kin, and the cone of herbs is said to be not only the system of planets in the form of the cosmic mountain but also the mountain home of the Pandavas – of Pan and the divas or of canny Pandora with her ellipsoid can of ailments – a gathering of centaurs and cantors, whose names are music to our ears. Should we not hasten to set forth on the high seas under the wheeling stars, to hear the siren songs of the sea-wrens and to enjoy the jesting genius of the jinn?
Phil Stanway, April 2017
Contact the author Phil Stanway