For the ancient Egyptians, god Osiris represented the Orion constellation. The ancient Greeks equated Osiris with Dionysus (Roman Bacchus). From this, we can conclude that Dionysus also represents Orion.
But what does it have to do with Christianity? Some believe that the tree stars of Orion’s belt are in fact the magi from the Bible. These magi were the three wise men that came from the East to announce the birth of the Christ, the personification of the Sun. Personally, I do believe in this theory, but I also believe that there is much more to this. So let us move to the interesting stuff.
John the Baptist and Dionysus
The beautiful renaissance painting below was painted in the workshop of Leonardo da Vinci, somewhere between 1510–1515. It used to represent John the Baptist, in a typical renaissance style of this period. Also, it used to have Christian imagery… well, apart from the hand gesture that shows the hermetic maxim “as above so below”. However, some 150 years later, in the 17th century, someone transformed John the Baptist into Bacchus. Full story here
Bacchus, (Previously John the Baptist), 1510–1515, Wikipedia Commons
But this was not the first time during the renaissance that John the Baptist had some attributes of Dionysus. Sometimes it is just a subtle leopard skin around his waist. Even the cave motif relates to Dionysus worship, as the ancient authors tell us:
“They came upon a cave of Dionysos; in the cave was an image of the god…” or “They show the cave where Ino nursed him, and call the plain the garden of Dionysos.” – Pausanias, Description of Greece
John the Baptist and Midsummer solstice
So what is the deal here, why would John the Baptist relate to Dionysus / Orion? I used a free, open-source software called Stellarium to show you what astronomical picture may lie behind this allegory. Now we just need a date, so why not pick the most important day of the church calendar related to John the Baptist – St. John’s eve – 23rd of June. This date marks his birth, and it is also a day of Midsummer’s solstice. Long before Christianity, Midsummer’s solstice was one of the most important pagan holidays. It was known as Yule for the Norse, or Kupalo for the Slavs.
The Orion constellation travels from east to west, marking these two cardinal directions so perfectly that it has been used for navigation for millennia. However, the best time to see it in the northern hemisphere is from October to March, as during the summer months, especially during the solstice, it is positioned directly behind the Sun. In other words, it is invisible to the naked eye.
The following picture is a screenshot from Stellarium. It shows the sunrise of the summer solstice of 2016. Once again, we can see this image with the help of a computer, but our naked eye would see only the Sun.
During this period, Orion will remain completely invisible, as it will travel across the sky with the Sun. During the other three most important celestial events – in winter, spring, and autumn, it will be visible in different parts of the sky. Therefore we can say that the summer solstice represents the period of its “resurrection”.
Is it just a coincidence that this date is the “birth” of St. John the Baptist?
But there is more. The only other time of the year when Orion is perfectly aligned to the horizon during the sunrise or sunset is around the winter solstice. This time Oron will appear in the east right after the sunset and set in the west some twelve hours later – right before the sunrise.
Now we all know the importance of these dates – winter solstice between 22-25th of December matches the date of Christmas, no need to go there. It is important to note that in this time of the year, it really looks as if Orion is at the very entrance of the (cosmic) cave, between the night and the day, pointing his hand upwards (and the other one downwards) announcing the birth of the new Sun.
The Milky way flows right past Orion, like some celestial river – another important symbolic related to the ritual of baptism.
However, you may have noticed that I chose another date for the winter image – 27.12. instead of Christmas or winter solstice. This is because this is the day of St. John the Evangelist. For Freemasons, these are two of the most important dates. You can read more about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._John’s_Day,_Masonic_feast
John = Dionysus
Indeed, if we look at the Bible for what it is, a compilation of works of different authors, it wouldn’t be strange to see different allegories. The stories of the Three Kings and St. John the Baptist could both related to Orion.
But most interestingly, even the name John and name Dion(ysus) sound eerily similar. And even the symbolism behind the Christian wine and bread ritual recalls the ancient rituals of Dionysus / Osiris, and their dismembered bodies.
And finally, another extremely important conclusion can be drawn from this. The name of one of the most important characters of the New Testament is not Semitic at all! Neither it is Egyptian. It rather comes from the Romans, who took it from the Greeks, who took it from the Thracians!
Scholars nowadays unanimously agree that Dyonisus is a pre-greek name. And even the ancient authors shared the same opinion. For example, Apollodorus stated: “Orpheus also invented the mysteries of Dionysus” Library, book 1, chapter 3.
Furthermore, typical representations of St. John the Baptist and Dionysus show them with one arm lifted up, reminiscing the “arm” of Orion…