December is the time of year when we give and receive gifts from friends, family and associates. Homes, neighborhoods, churches and shopping malls are decorated for the celebration of Christmas and display nativity scenes of the Magi visiting the manger after Jesus’ birth.
Around the world, the magi are regular figures in the nativity scenes and are an important part of Christian tradition. Although the biblical account does not mention the exact number of magi, the three gifts has led to the widespread assumption that there were three men. Today, the magi are often referred to as the (Three) Kings or (Three) Wise Men.
Who were these distinguished foreigners, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh? What made them so kingly and wise? Few biblical stories are as well known, yet so shrouded by myth and tradition.
Research into the traditional nativity story reveals that these kings, accompanied by shepherds and angels, visited the infant Jesus in a manger on the night of his birth is actually an artistic convention allowing the two separate scenes of the Adoration of the Shepherds on the birth night and the later Adoration of the Magi to be combined for convenience. The biblical account in Gospel of Matthew simply presents an event at an unspecified point after Christ’s birth in which an unnumbered party of unnamed “wise men” visits him in a house, not a stable, with only “his mother” mentioned as being present.
In Matthew, we are not told the number of magi, their names, their means of transportation to Palestine, or the specific country or countries from which they came. The magi first appear in history in the 7th century BCE as a tribe within the Median nation in eastern Mesopotamia. Many historians consider them to have been Semites, which if so, made them–with the Jews and Arabs–descendants of Noah’s son Shem. It may also be that, like Abraham, the magi came from ancient Ur in Chaldea. The name magi was later associated solely with the hereditary priesthood within that tribe. The magi became skilled in astronomy and astrology (which, in that day, were closely associated). They were also involved in various occult practices, including sorcery, and noted for their ability to interpret dreams. It is from their name magi that our words magic and magician are derived.
Because of their combined knowledge of science, agriculture, mathematics, history, and the occult, their religious and political influence grew until they became the most prominent and powerful group of advisors in the Medo-Persian and subsequently the Babylonian empire. It is not strange, therefore, that they often were referred to as “wise men.” Historians claim that no Persian was ever able to become king without mastering the scientific and religious disciplines of the magi and then being approved and crowned by them, and that this group also largely controlled judicial appointments.
More recently, in the late 1800s, Grand Master of the Order of the Magi, Olney H. Richmond, claimed that the Order of the Magi was the star religion of the ancient Chaldeans and said that this tradition existed 20,000 years before the birth of Christ. Indeed, it was held that the (Three) Magi of the Bible were members of this Order and that Christ himself later became an initiate.
Reviewing the rich and varied history of the magi, it appears that even today the magi are still giving their gifts and have given a gift far more valuable than gold and more powerful than either frankincense or myrrh. They have generously given everyone on Earth the gift of life…the cards of life.
These wise and kingly men have given us, you and me, the ancient mystical system of knowledge of self-discovery and transformation. They have given us Cardology, the most accurate system there is for knowing who we are, why we are here, our life story from birth to death, and our script for every moment of every day for every year of our lives.
These wise men brilliantly combined the simplicity of numerology and the basics of astrology/astronomy with a highly accurate calendar. Thousands of years ago, the magi created the greatest gift of all time, secretly encoded with the colors, numbers and symbols of playing cards. What a gift we have been given from the wise and kingly Magi. Are you ready to receive and open their magical gift?
(This article appeared in the December 2016 The Cards of Life Newsletter)
Gina E. Jones is an award-winning author, screenwriter, producer, Cardologer, Certified Magi Counselor, and Founder of The Cards of Life. She is also the Founder of Cardology Community: The Official International Online Forum for Cardology.
To learn more about Gina E. Jones, the Founder of the International Association of Cardology, go to: Gina E. Jones