The bottle of red wine arrived, and they all lifted their glasses saluting. John’s nostrils started to fill with the fine full bouquet as his lips touched the red drink. It felt refreshing when the dark red fluid, chilled to a room temperature, nibbled in his mouth and then glided down his throat. To his surprise, the wine was excellent. Daniel did not have the same feeling with his first sip, as it washed the unpleasant taste of his stomach acids away, but the second sip was as refreshing as a morning shower.
Sasha started explaining the religion theory. “John, tell me, what do you know about Jesus Christ?”
No longer tensed, John could actually enjoy the conversation. “Well, I know what everybody else knows. To sum it up: he’s the son of God that died on the cross and was resurrected.”
Sasha joyously pointed his index finger upward. “Aha, I’ll stop you right there. How do you know that this is true? How do you know that Jesus is the son of God?”
John seemed a bit caught off guard. “That’s common knowledge. Everybody knows that.”
The sea bass covered with homemade olive oil, garlic, and parsley arrived. It was grilled to perfection in the old wood oven and smelled delicious. All five took a slow enjoyable bite before Sasha continued. “This is what I’m trying to tell you. You take for granted that Jesus Christ is the son of God the same way that you think we should drink only white wine with seafood.”
“I still don’t understand what you’re getting at.”
“How’s the fish? Does it go well with the wine?”
John had to admit that he really enjoyed sipping this red Vranac while chewing on the sea bass. The look on his face was the answer Sasha was looking for, so he continued.
“You see! Until only a few minutes ago, you didn’t even want to try red wine with fish, but now you’re finding out that it isn’t so bad after all. I hope you’ll start to question other beliefs you might have.”
“If you’re aiming at my religion, there’s nothing you can say that will alter my beliefs. It would take a lot more than me admitting I was wrong about the wine.” He let a shy smile escape.
“You’re probably right, but at least I can try to point you in what I think is a right direction.” Sasha was smiling now. “Jesus Christ was not the son of God. He was God Sun.”
John shook his head. “Where did you get this from? It’s ridiculous!”
Sasha calmly insisted. “In order to understand my argument, you have to become familiar with the zodiac and the precession of the equinoxes.”
“What do horoscope signs have to do with Christianity?”
Sasha explained, “The ancient civilisations recognised that approximately every 2150 years, the sunrise on the morning of the spring equinox would occur on a different constellation or sign of the zodiac.” His hands were flying all over the place as he was explaining. “This has to do with the Earth’s slow angular wobble that’s maintained as it rotates on its axis. This occurrence of sunrise at the different zodiac signs is called the precession as the constellations go backwards. The amount of time for the precession to go through all twelve signs is roughly 26,000 years. The ancients called this a great year and the time during which the sunrise would appear at the zodiac sign or constellation they called the Age. So, there are twelve Ages in one Great Year. The ancients put this knowledge into the zodiac spiritual symbol with the sun’s path during a year as the circle in the centre and twelve zodiac signs representing each constellation and each month of the year in the circle around it.
There’s a cross that cuts through the middle of the sun’s path with the vertical line representing solstices and the horizontal line representing equinoxes. This cross that cuts the sun’s path in four equal pieces also represents four seasons, and is not the symbol of Christianity but the pagan adaptation of the spiritual symbol of the zodiac.”
Everyone was now paying attention to what Sasha was saying. He continued after another bite of fish. “The whole Bible story is just the metaphorical story, an adaptation of the zodiac. If you have the knowledge and pay closer attention, it’s obvious.”
John was impatient. “I still don’t get it. How is it obvious?”
“Jesus is the centre of the Christian religion, and he had twelve apostles. The sun is the centre of the zodiac, and it has twelve constellations. As the winter comes closer, the sun rises lower and lower, so that days become shorter and colder. In other words, nature is dying. The sun rises to the lowest point at the horizon on the 22nd of December and rises the next two days at the same low level before it starts ascending again. That’s why the shortest days in the year are the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of December. Pagans believed that the sun dies on 22nd and stays dead for three days. Jesus died and was dead for three days, just like the sun. Pagans believed that the sun is reborn on 25th of December as it rises up one degree higher on this day. Jesus was born on the 25th of December. However, in other pagan religions, the resurrection of the sun and the resurrection of Jesus are not celebrated until spring equinox or Easter. This is because at spring equinox the sun officially overpowers the evil darkness, as daytime thereafter becomes longer than the night and the revitalising conditions of spring emerge.”
John was resisting, but deep inside he knew he had never really questioned his religious beliefs and had just taken them for granted. He remembered his conversation with Aleksandra about the fact that winners write history. I should definitely get a reading list for enlightenment, but this can’t be true! It’s too much. “Are these your main arguments?”
“No, I’m just preparing you slowly. The Bible story only reflects symbolic movement through three Ages while foreshadowing the fourth. Let’s take a look at the story in the Old Testament for the moment. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the Ten Commandments from God, he was very upset to find his people worshipping the golden calf idol. He asked them to relinquish their idol and then ordered the slaying of all who refused to do so. This was symbolically saying that the Taurus Age, represented by the Golden Calf, was ending, and the Age of Aries had begun, which was represented by Moses.”
John was curious. “How does it show that the Age of Aries had begun? There’s no mention of a ram or goat in the story.”
“Jewish people even to this day blow into a ram’s horn. Moses represented the new Age of Aries. Other religions also symbolically represented the end of the Taurus era. For example, God Mithra is depicted killing a bull.
“But that still doesn’t prove anything.”
“It doesn’t, but these are interesting coincidences, aren’t they? On the other hand, what proofs do you have for the Bible story? There were many known historians that lived at the time of Jesus, but none of them mentions his existence. Don’t you think it’s a bit strange?”
John had no answer to this, so Sasha continued. “Let’s get back to the story of Jesus now. He appears in the age that comes after Aries—the Age of Pisces or Two Fish. Fish symbolism is abundant in the New Testament as Jesus fed five thousand people with bread and two fish and he was known to be a great fisherman. Also, during his ministry years, he became friends with fishermen. Even the pope’s hat looks like a fish’s head.
The most obvious fact is that Jesus’ assumed birthday is the actual start of the Pisces Age. In the Bible, Jesus was asked by his followers, when he is gone, where the next Passover would be. He answered: ‘When you enter the city, a man bearing a pitcher of water will meet you. Follow him into the house where he enters.’ This is more than obvious that Jesus is saying that after the Age of Pisces, the next Age of Aquarius is coming up.”
Sasha took another sip of wine and then continued, “You’re all familiar with the biblical concept of the end of the world. You see, that’s just an unfortunate mistranslation from the original Hebrew. The original says: ‘I will be with you till the end of the aeon,’ meaning Age, but this was mistranslated into ‘till the end of the world.’”
Daniel exclaimed, “This is fascinating! And I’m so relieved that finally you’re talking about a subject that doesn’t make me feel inferior to you.” He continued where Sasha had left off. “John, you believe today that Jesus Christ is the son of God only because of the political interests of Roman Emperor Constantine, who was by the way born in Nis, a Serbian city just a few hundred kilometres up north from here.”
“Political interests? Come on!” John was still shaking his head.
Aleksandra got involved. “Constantine lived many years after Christ, didn’t he?”
Nikola was also listening carefully now.
Daniel continued, “Yes, he did! That’s even more interesting! Around the year AD 300, the might of the Roman Empire was shaken and falling apart. Great armies and many soldiers were needed to hold its conquered and overstretched territories. The wealth of the empire was great, but not great enough to sustain the state’s existence. Faced with difficulties, Emperor Constantine had the inspiration that changed the world.”
John was still not buying it and sarcastically said, “Divine inspiration, maybe?”
Daniel seemed to enjoy John’s sense of humour for the first time since they met in Alexandria. “Hmm, maybe. Constantine acknowledged that one in ten of his subjects were Christians and that Christianity blossomed into the most widespread religion through the whole of his empire. There were unrests and warring between pagans and Christians. The emperor had to do something. He was to make the most important decision in his life. If he made Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire, he would have supporters in every town and village, but at the same time he could not afford to lose support from his pagan servants.”
John sipped his wine. “So, Constantine became Christian?”
“No, he never accepted Christianity. He remained a worshipper of the sun god Sol Invictus.”
Sasha jumped in. “Do you see the parallel? Sol Invictus is the Sun God, but so is Jesus Christ!”
Nikola wanted to know more. “But he did make Christianity the religion of the empire?”
“Yes indeed, he did make it the main religion, but he also blended Christianity with pagan religions. He adjusted it to incorporate most of the pagan traditions, symbolism, dates, and beliefs. By doing so, he made it more acceptable for pagans to convert to.”
John was still finding it hard to believe. “What do you mean pagan dates, traditions, and beliefs?”
Aleksandra seemed to know a bit about the subject and it was more acceptable to John when it came from her mouth. “The holy day was changed from Saturday to Sunday. Christianity started as a Jewish sect, and for Jews the holy day is Saturday/Sabbath. Constantine changed it to Sunday, which was the day of sun worship.”
John said, “Hmm, even the name of it says it all—Sun Day.”
Sasha took over the explanation. “Another example is the incorporation of pagan gods under the names of Christian saints. Egyptian goddess Isis, who conceived her son Horus by divine intervention, became the Virgin Mary who conceived Jesus by divine intervention. Krishna was also conceived the same way a few thousand years before that. Jesus was not the only divinity apparently born on 25th of December. There are others like Adonis, Dionysus, Mithra, Sol Invictus, Attis, and Horus. Many of those resurrected three days after they died or had twelve disciples. The ceremony of dividing bread and sharing the wine representing the body and blood of Mithra became the body and blood of Jesus.”
“Holy blood!” Bloody Hell! John’s beliefs started to shake slowly under the pressure of facts, but it was all so difficult to accept. The emotions connected with his beliefs had been imprinted on his mind from childhood, and it would be a next-to-impossible job for his reasoning to win over those. “We started our conversation with wine, and it seems that us sharing the wine …” he looked at the red liquid in his glass, “… sharing this holy blood is a kind of a ceremony in which I am supposed to change my views, to be converted.” I will never take things for granted again, including what I just heard today. “But I’m still convinced that Christianity is a religion that changed people for better throughout the centuries.”
Daniel thrived on the subject. “As you said, maybe it was divine inspiration—because Constantine succeeded. He blended together paganism and Christianity and helped the so-called civilised world survive under the Roman Empire for another two centuries.”
“What happened then?” Nikola jumped in just before the bells started to chime from the south and the west of the square.
“By then, the Christian Church took over the reins of power.” It sounded more dramatic as the deafening sound of the hammering bells filled the square.
Nikola said, “I’m Christian. I believe in the true Christian values of love, compassion, truth, respect, and courage.”
Sasha nodded agreeably. “These are all very fine values.”
John was happy to hear this as Nikola continued. “I don’t really approve of Christian dogma, and I don’t believe in the fairytales of Jesus and the saints, but I do respect and live by the true Christian values.”
Daniel corrected him. “Jesus’ story has been changed and amended so many times, that it seems to have very little of the original story now.”
Sasha added, “And the original was not very original at all.”
Nikola persisted, saying, “What I want to say is that, at the time, the introduction of dogma was a necessary evil. Don’t you agree that humanity was a bunch of wild gangs that lived by no rules, killing and stealing whenever they felt like it? Christianity came to this world to teach us righteous ways. The only way to teach those wild gangs the proper rules was to make them fear God. This is how dogma was born and all the stories that go with it.”
Sasha took a sip of wine before he spoke again. “That’s another ‘white wine’ assumption. There might have been some wild tribes and regions that needed a fear of God in order to be controlled and manipulated, but have they really been cultivated and converted to believe in the so-called Christian values or just to obey rules out of fear?”
Aleksandra added, “On the other hand, who built the Great Giza Pyramids, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and The Colossus of Rhodes? It certainly was not some bunch of wild murderers. Also, don’t forget the Dark Medieval Ages, Crusades, and Inquisition. It’s not all so black and white.”
Sasha welcomed her support with a smiling glance. “Also, the main reason for development of any dogma is always desire for control, manipulation, and power. What you mentioned as a reason for dogma arrival is actually the excuse. Something like what they use today when they disguise looting, fighting for oil, and drug control under names such as humanitarian intervention, operation freedom, fight for democracy, and similar bullshit.”
Nikola finished his glass of wine and then poured some more. “I agree that dogma is wrong, but still I think the Christian values are good and they brought our civilisation to its greatest heights ever.”
Aleksandra couldn’t agree less. “In my opinion, one of the biggest deceptions is believing that our civilisation is the greatest that ever walked the earth. The great pyramids at Giza and the Mayan structures in Machu Picchu are just some of the architectural wonders that we’re still not able to build with today’s technology. Another great deception is believing that societies and civilisation are ever progressing. Old Mesopotamia’s society was organised to have upper and lower parliaments. Their art and culture were greater than that of ancient Greece and the Roman Empire that came many centuries later.”
John could not help but feel jealous again because Aleksandra was supporting Sasha’s view, not his. He cut in, saying, “I wasn’t brought up religious. I’m not dogmatic, but I experienced something recently that stirred me towards religion. I was clinically dead and had an out-of-body experience. I was a spirit, a soul. I was separated from my body but was still alive. If you don’t believe in God and religion, how can you explain this to me?”
Sasha pointed his index finger up again. “You see! You were not brought up as a religious person, so your beliefs were more open, but you have Christian background. When you experienced something out of the ordinary that you couldn’t explain, it was only logical for you to look for an answer in the next most familiar belief—Christianity. You channelled your thoughts and beliefs in the wrong direction. Don’t get me wrong! I have nothing against Christianity. Its true values, that by the way have deep roots in much older civilisations, are very good and honest, but its dogma is like any other dogma. No religion or science has all the answers. Spirituality just might show us the right path. Don’t stop at the hurdle of religion. Go further. Never stop learning. Look for answers. Be above both atheism and religion since both dogmas are preventing you from being closer to God, The One, or Higher Purpose, or however you call it, depending on your familiarity.”
John was left speechless. His eyes pleaded at Aleksandra. Why don’t you mention your incarnation experience now? Help me here!
She smiled back at him with her eyes. It immediately made the Englishman feel better. My love, Christianity does not approve of reincarnation. It promotes the concept of heaven and hell. It teaches you that there is no other chance, only reward and punishment for your doings in the one life you’re granted. It’s also considered blasphemy to talk about reincarnation according to Christianity. If you were supporting the view of Vedic Rishis, I would have mentioned it. Stop being such a fool! I love you. Her eyes were not lying.
Daniel said, “Correct me if I’m wrong, but the subject of this conversation was supposed to be: is Jesus the son of God?”
Sasha raised his index finger again. “You’re right! We drifted away a little bit. It all happened at the Council of Nicaea.”
“The Council of Nicaea?” John had never heard of it.
“In AD 325, Christian high priests from every corner of the Roman Empire gathered to decide on many rules, laws, obligations, and rights of the church. One of the important decisions to be made was to proclaim whether Jesus was just a Messiah or the son of God. The vote was very close, but ever since then and never before, Jesus was known as the son of God.”
John looked devastated. “Astonishing! The vote of clerics decided our faith? It’s unacceptable!”
Sasha was looking somewhere back in time. His eyes were cloudy. “The Church needed to strengthen the religion, to show others that Christianity had the God of meat and bones that lived amongst us, not some abstract Supreme Being. Once, Pope Leo X said: ‘It served us well, this myth of Christ.’”
Everybody dropped deep in their thoughts, digesting both the story and the delicious food and wine. The sun was high up, pleasantly tanning their scalps and faces. With every sip of wine, John digested more and more of the conversation. He looked straight into the sun until his eyes started to hurt. As he turned away and closed his eyelids, images of blue, red, and green circles moved frantically in his mind. Sol Invictus—the Invincible Sun!