The Badge of the Magi explained



            Seen here for the first time is the Badge of the Magi.  The Magi of the Anderheim wear this badge as a symbol of their order.  It's vaguely described as a triangle with some gems on it in the books.  Here for the first time we get a good look at it and a detailed explanation of what the symbols all mean.          

            The outer ring has an inscription in ancient Greek :

            “Eidomen  gar  autou  ton  astera  en    anatolē  kai  ēlthomen  proskunēsai  autō.”

            This is from Matthew 2:2.  It's important to use the original Greek here as there is a translation issue.  Matthew 2 starts out as follows in the King James Version:

 1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

            Just the last bit is used for brevity, i.e. “for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” The trouble is that bit about “we have seen his star in the east.”  A more accurate translation is : “For we saw his star at the rising and have come to worship him.”            

            The exact wording here becomes very important if you're trying to track down what the ancient Magi actually saw in the sky.  After due consideration and looking at numerous translations, the only thing that makes any sense to use here is the original language.  As to the passage, I think it basically speaks for itself and who the Magi think that they are. “By our learning we have seen the message and we move to follow the Christ.”

            Next we have a standard zodiac wheel.  I realize the idea of the “Magi” being any sort of  “Astrologers” is controversial, but for the purposes of explaining this badge I will note that it is beyond question that the Magi were familiar with astronomy and that the Zodiac wheel is also used in astronomy, especially the astronomy of the time of the birth of Christ. 

            For the rest of this you also need to have some idea of what the Star of Bethlehem was.  There are many theories, but most likely it was either some form of subtle planetary conjunction or an astrological sign, rather than a spectacular celestial event, for the simple reason that we know no one saw a giant fireball in the sky.  We have records from Chinese Astronomer and even King Herod himself wasn't sitting around wondering “What the heck is that big fireball in the sky?” as we know from the text above.  Compare this to other incidents, like the famous handwriting on the wall incident, where everyone saw it and no one knew what it meant. 

            The badge shows a stylized way that the stars are all focused on the sign of Judea, Ares the Ram.  This is why the triangle points to the sign of the Ram and why the other “Stars” are clustered beneath the sign of the Ram.  It's left somewhat ambiguous as to which stars the gems represent as this way the badge works for both planetary conjunction theories and for the astrological theories.  [For the record the book “The Star of Bethlehem: The Legacy of the Magi” by Michael R. Molnar is highly recommended.]  The gems most likely represent Jupiter and Saturn, but Regulus and Jupiter is another possibility. 

            In the center itself we have the sign of the Christ, the Chi Rho which is an ancient symbol of Christ and comes from the first two letters of Christs name spelled in Greek.  The Alpha and the Omega on either side are common additions to the Chi Rho acknowledging that Christ is the Alpha and the Omega.  The star sapphire is placed in the center to show the star of Bethlehem points us to God, which brings  us back to the description on the out side of the badge.

       “for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.”

            Three sapphires are used in the badge.  Three being another symbol of of the Trinity.  Sapphires, in addition to being available in the right colors, are traditionally a protection against black magic and the evil eye.  It doesn't hurt that there are “Star Sapphires” either.  The real badge is made out of silver and has a pin on the back so it can be used to fasten a cloak.  


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