The Second Half of the Apocalypse ~ The Wondrous Woman is she Virgin Mary?
The Second Half of the Apocalypse
The Wondrous Woman
Is she Virgin Mary?
And a great sign appeared in the sky. A woman arrayed with the sun. the moon was beneath her feet, and upon her head was a crown of twelve stars. And she was pregnant, and cried out in her labor because of the agony of her delivery.” Revelation 12:1,2
The Esoteric interpreters see the vision of the Woman as the Secret Doctrine giving birth to the “initiate” or perfected human being. The Great Dragon of Evil attempts to slay the Woman in order to gain control of mankind, a feat that can only be accomplished if the illumination provided by the followers of Truth and Wisdom is extinguished.
“Wings were given to the Mysteries (the Virgin) and they flew into the wilderness; and the evil Dragon tried to destroy them with a flood (of false doctrine) but the earth (oblivion) swallowed up the false doctrines and the Mysteries endured.”
Others seek clues to the correct interpretation in astronomy or astrology. In such a context, the Woman can only be Virgo, the Virgin Mother.
“Virgo figures as the Virgin Mother, who immediately conceives and gives birth to the Son of God….As the World-Mother, the White Virgin of the Skies….She is the pure Ether, the Logos-Light, or primordial force-substance.”
There is some interesting support for this hypothesis in the symbols themselves. Virgo travels through space with the constellations Leo, the Sun, Cancer, the Moon, and Hydra, the Great Serpent of the Deep whom Hercules vanquished. The Woman’s’ coronet of twelve stars “goes back ultimately to the Twelve Signs of the Zodiac.” Another significant correlation is the fact that Virgo is always pictured with wings.
“And to the woman was given two wings of a great eagle….” Revelation 12:14
This certainly seems to be enough evidence to suggest that if any actual, physical phenomenon is intimated in Chapter 12 it must occur in the specific region of space occupied by these constellations.
If the reader is a little bewildered by all this he should remember, at all times, that the theories mentioned thus far are all a priori assumptions with no objective basis in fact. When the door of allegorical interpretation is thrown open we cannot be selective about what enters the room. It is no holds barred and may the best subjective conjecture win. In order to preserve ourselves from this tendency toward individualism we will adopt the following criterion in our analysis of these Visions.
We will accept no interpretation that does not have a basis in reality, be it on the psychic, physical or historic plane.
We will accept no interpretation that does not include a harmonious, self-evident, consist explanation of all the symbols.
We will accept no interpretation that does not offer logical proof for its conclusions.
With these precepts in mind let us proceed to the claims of the more widely held interpretations. There are four in all.
This is an opinion that appeared fairly early in the theological debates of the Church and has endured until the present time. The Coptics were the first to artistically depict the wondrous Woman as Mary, doing so in a frescoed apsidiole in a chapel at Bawit in the Nile Valley. Such representations were common in Christian religious art through the centuries. Bartoleme Esteban Murillo, the Seventeenth Century head of the Seville school of painting, did fifteen magnificent canvases of the Immaculate Conception using the symbols of Chapter 12 to enhance the Virgin.
Such artistic depictions are the result of an attempt by Christian thinkers to re-interpret certain ancient symbols in terms of Christian metaphysics. Thus, the Queen of Heaven of ancient paganism, the protectress of the sacred mysteries of generation, became the Virgin Mother of the world, who “stands by the horned moon and awaits the rebirth of the world.” The basis for this theological transformation is said to be inherent in the symbolism itself. The universal myth of the Great Cosmic Mother is thought to have found its ultimate fulfillment in the nativity of Jesus.
“When Mary gave birth to her son in Bethlehem and carried Him on her arm, the heavenly picture which was living in all ages as a cosmic truth was projected into the sphere of humanity.”
Wherever the Catholic Church prospered the ancient generational mysteries were simply converted to fit the figure of Mary. This kind of adaptation is seen in almost all cultures. The mysterious pre-Christian Black Madonna’s of Africa, Eastern Europe, Spain, France, and Italy, for instance, were simply adapted to fit the Virgin Mary, despite their color and pre-existence to Christianity. Even Carl Jung, who was not a Christian, took them to be psychological symbols of the dark side of the Mother of Christ. The same kind of symbolic transformation occurred in Finno-Ugric mythology.
“The peoples of the Volga and the Ob speak in their sacrificial prayers of a female deity, the “Mother of Heaven”, regarded as the guardian spirit of Child-Birth. And as such later merged into the Virgin Mary.”
The adaptation of pagan symbolism by the Roman Catholic Church has been wide-spread and continuous throughout its history.