Was Horus Born on December 25th of a Virgin?
by Acharya S/D.M. Murdock
Jesus Christ is not the only god supposedly born of a virgin on December 25th. So too was
Horus of Egypt.
In my book Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled appears a discussion of the Egyptian
solar deity Horus, who was said to have been born of a virgin on "December 25th" or the winter solstice. As an
example of one writer making this claim, in The Story of Religious Controversy, Joseph McCabe, a
Catholic priest for many years, writes:
…Virginity in goddesses is a relative matter.
Whatever we make of the original myth…Isis seems to have been originally a virgin (or,
perhaps, sexless) goddess, and in the later period of Egyptian religion she was again considered a virgin
goddess, demanding very strict abstinence from her devotees. It is at this period, apparently, that the
birthday of Horus was annually celebrated, about December 25th, in the temples. As both Macrobius and the
Christian writer [of the "Paschal Chronicle"] say, a figure of Horus as a baby was laid in a manger, in a
scenic reconstruction of a stable, and a statue of Isis was placed beside it. Horus was, in a sense, the Savior
of mankind. He was their avenger against the powers of darkness; he was the light of the world. His
birth-festival was a real Christmas before Christ.
"The birthday of Horus was annually celebrated, about
Here we see the contention that Horus's mother, Isis, was a virgin and that the ancient Latin author Macrobius (5th cent.
AD/CE) and the compilers of a text called the "Paschal Chronicle" refer to
the annual Egyptian celebration of the birth of a baby "laid in a manger."
The Chronicon Paschale
As I explain in Suns of God, the Chronicon Paschale, or Paschal Chronicle, also known
as the Chronicle of Alexandria, is a compilation begun in the third century and finalized in the 7th century AD/CE
that seeks to establish a Christian chronology from "creation" to the year 628 CE, focusing on the date of
In establishing Easter, the Christian authors naturally discussed astronomy/astrology, since
such is the basis of the spring celebration, a pre-Christian festival founded upon the vernal equinox, or
spring, when the "sun of God" is resurrected in full from his winter death. Hence, Easter is the resurrection
of the sun.
Concerning the Paschal Chronicle, in The Origin of All Religious
Worship (237), French mythicist scholar Charles Francois Dupuis (1742-1809), a professor at the
Collège de France, states:
…the author of the Chronicle of Alexandria…expresses himself in the following words: "The
Egyptians have consecrated up to this day the child-birth of a virgin and the nativity of her son, who is
exposed in a 'crib' to the adoration of the people. King Ptolemy, having asked the reason of this custom, he
was answered that it was a mystery, taught by a respectable prophet to their fathers."
"The Egyptians have consecrated up to this day the
child-birth of a virgin and the nativity of her son, who is exposed in a 'crib' to the adoration of the
Providing another translation of the pertinent passage, the author of Christian Mythology
Unveiled cites the "most ancient chronicles of Alexandria," which "testify as follows":
"To this day, Egypt has consecrated the pregnancy of a virgin, and the nativity of her son,
whom they annually present in a cradle, to the adoration of the people; and when king Ptolemy, three hundred
and fifty years before our Christian era, demanded of the priests the significance of this religious ceremony,
they told him it was a mystery."
Following up on the numerous and consistent leads, in my book Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection, I include 120 pages on the subjects of
the Egyptian virgin birth on the winter solstice, providing primary sources and the works of highly credentialed
authorities from relevant fields. One original Greek manuscript of this passage in the Chronicon is as
Εως νυν Αιγυπτιοι θεοποιουσιν Παρθενου λοχον και ΒρεΦος εν Φατνη τιθεντες προσκυνουσιν. Και
Πτολεμαιω τω Βασιλει την αιτιαν πυνθανομενω ελεγον, οτι παραδοτον εστι μυστηριον υπο οσιου Προφητου τοις
πατρασιν ημων παραδοθεν.
Preceding this discussion, the Chronicon author(s) contends that the biblical prophet Jeremiah
was in Egypt (seven) centuries before the common era, where he taught the doctrine of the virgin-born savior in a
manger, thus explaining its presence in pre-Christian Egyptian religion. As we know, however, the
virgin-mother motif precedes biblical doctrine and represents a very ancient religious
and spiritual concept.
Macrobius (395–423 AD/CE)
Confirming the contentions in the Chronicon, ancient Latin writer Macrobius
(Saturnalia, I, XVIII:10) also reported on the annual Egyptian "Christmas" celebration, specifying
the time as the winter solstice or "December 25th":
…at the winter solstice the sun would seem to be a little child, like that which the
Egyptians bring forth from a shrine on an appointed day, since the day is then at its shortest and the god is
accordingly shown as a tiny infant.
Here we can see the precise meaning of the theme of the newborn sun at the winter solstice, a
motif representing the lengthening of days after the darkest time of the year. Egyptologist Dr. Bojana Mojsov
explains further the significance in Egypt: "The symbol of the savior-child was the eye of the sun newly born every
year at the winter solstice."
"At the winter solstice, the sun would seem to be a little
child, like that which the Egyptians bring forth from a shrine on an appointed day, since the day is then at its
Epiphanius (c. 310-403 AD/CE)
In Christ in Egypt appears a lengthy analysis of the works of early Church father
Epiphanius, including his discussion of the Egyptian winter-solstice celebration, which in Panarion adversus
Haereses (51, 22.4-11) he names as "Chronia" and "Cicellia." Intriguingly, Epiphanius's account is
censored in the Migne Greek edition to remove the parts about the winter solstice reverence of a babe in a manger
born to a virgin. With difficulty, I was able to find the original, uncensored Greek passage and reference it in
Christ in Egypt (84ff).
Epiphanius discusses the Kikellia or winter-solstice festival as taking place in the large
Egyptian city of Alexandria "at the so-called Virgin's shrine." Railing against "those who guilefully preside
over the cult of idols" and who "in many places deceitfully celebrate a very great festival on the very night
of the Epiphany" (51, 22.8), Epiphanius next describes this festival as follows (51, 22.9-10):
First, at Alexandria, in the Coreum, as they call it; it is a very large temple, the shrine
of Core. They stay up all night singing hymns to the idol with a flute accompaniment. And when they have
concluded their nightlong vigil torchbearers descend into an underground shrine after cockcrow...and bring up a
wooden image which is seated naked a litter. It has a sign of the cross inlaid with gold on its forehead, two
other such signs, [one] on each hand, and two other signs, [one] actually [on each of] its two knees—altogether
five signs with a gold impress. And they carry the image itself seven times round the innermost shrine with
flutes, tambourines and hymns, hold a feast, and take it back down to its place underground. And when you ask
them what this mystery means they reply that today at this hour Core—that is, the virgin—gave birth to Aeo.
"This sacred image in Egypt constitutes the divine
son of the holy virgin mother within Paganism."
Here we find a Pagan sacred icon with a cross on its forehead, like that made by Catholic
priests on the heads of Christian worshippers. We also discover this sacred image constitutes the divine son of
the holy virgin mother within Paganism! This Pagan virgin mother was styled Core or Kore, meaning "maiden," as
another name for the Greek nature goddess Persephone, who descended each year into the underworld, to return at
springtime, bringing life back with her.
The Virgin Birth at Petra
This same event of the Pagan virgin
goddess giving birth to the divine son was celebrated also by Arabs at the ancient site of Petra in
Jordan, as likewise recounted by Epiphanius (51, 22.11):
This also goes on in the city of Petra, in the idolatrous temple there. (Petra is the
capital city of Arabia, the scriptural Edom.) They praise the virgin with hymns in the Arab language and call
her Chaamu—that is, Core, or virgin—in Arabic. And the child who is born of her they call Dusares, that is,
"only son of the Lord." And this is also done that night in the city of Elusa, as it is there in Petra, and in
Regarding Epiphanius's account, in a chapter entitled "The Virgin Birth," Joseph Campbell
We learn from the fourth-century saint and churchman Epiphanius (ca. 315-402), for example,
of an annual festival observed in Alexandria on January 6, the date assigned to the Epiphany and
(originally) the Nativity of Christ, and to his Baptism as well. The pagan occasion was in celebration of
the birth of the year-god Aion to the virgin goddess Kore, a Hellenized transformation of Isis.
As I also discuss in Suns of God, Christ in Egypt and elsewhere, the date
of January 6th was one of several winter-solstice festivals in antiquity, likewise celebrated by the Orthodox
Church as Christ's "birthday." As we can see, the esteemed mythologist Campbell comprehended that this
"Christmas" celebration predates Christianity and revolves around the virgin birth of the "year god." This "only
son of the Lord" Aeo or Aion is also a "light god" and is identified with the Greek god Dionysus and other solar deities. Moreover, here we see the identification of
this virgin with the goddess Isis, whose son is Horus. (For more information and citations, see
Christ in Egypt.)
Plutarch (46-120 AD/CE)
As concerns Horus in particular serving as the "light god," it should be noted that he was
syncretized often with the sun god Ra as "Ra-Horakhty" or "Horus of the Two Horizons," representing the rising
and setting sun. This "Horus the Child" was also known to the Greeks as Harpocrates. In this form, Horus thus is born daily, including and especially at the winter
"About the time of the winter solstice,
Isis gave birth to Harpocrates, imperfect and
In this regard, we learn from one of the most famous historians of the first century, Plutarch,
that Horus the Child/Harpocrates was "born about the winter solstice, unfinished and infant-like..."
(Isis and Osiris (65, 387C); Babbitt, 153) Plurarch's original Greek is as follows:
τίκτεσθαι δὲ τὸν Ἁρποκράτην περὶ τροπὰς χειμερινὰς ἀτελῆ καὶ νεαρὸν ἐν τοῖς προανθοῦσι καὶ
In this same passage, we learn further from Plutarch that the Egyptians "observe the festival of
her child-birth after the vernal equinox." This mythical motif of the two births of Horus at these times of the
winter solstice and vernal equinox makes sense when one considers that we are discussing nature and solar
deities. The astrotheological meaning of these two solar "births" connotes the increasing light after
the solstice and the final triumph of day over night at the vernal equinox, after which the days begin to become
longer than the night.
Other indications of the Egyptian observation of the winter solstice can be found in
hieroglyphs, as I relate in Christ in Egypt (94): As Egyptologist Dr. Heinrich Brugsch explains, the
Egyptians not only abundantly recorded and revered the time of the winter solstice, they also created a number of
hieroglyphs to depict it, including and image of the goddess-sisters Isis and Nephthys with the solar disc floating
above their hands over a lifegiving ankh - the looped Egyptian cross - as the sun's rays extend down to the cross
Isis and Nephthys holding the baby sun
over the life-giving ankh,
representing the winter solstice
This image of the sun between Isis and Nephthys, which is sometimes depicted without the ankh,
is described in an inscription at Edfu regarding Ptolemy VII (fl. 145 BCE?) and applied to the winter solstice,
translated as: "The sun coming out of the sky-ocean into the hands of the siblings Isis and Nephthys." This image
very much looks like the sun being born, which is sensible, since, again, Horus the Child or Harpocrates, the
morning sun, was born every day, including at the winter solstice.
"Horus the Child, the
morning sun, was born every day, including at the winter solstice."
There are many other artifacts in Egypt that demonstrate Horus's association with the winter
solstice, including his temples aligned to the rising sun at that time of the year. Indeed, the
Horus/winter-solstice data is so extensive that I was compelled to include a 40-page chapter in Christ in
Egypt entitled "Born on December 25th."
The Feast of Sokar
In the winter-solstice chapter in CIE also appears a discussion of the feast of the Egyptian god Sokar or
Seker, syncretized with both Osiris and Horus, appearing as the newborn sun in the shape of a baby falcon or
hawk, a solar symbol because the bird flies highest in the sky. Like Osiris, Sokar is considered a
form of the sun god as he passes through the underworld, to be born as Horus at the dawn. As such, he is
represented as a triune god Ptah-Sokar-Osiris, who is present at the birth of the baby Sokar
during the winter solstice.
Egyptian god(s) Ptah-Osiris-Sokar approaches the baby sun god Sokar at the winter
"In Egypt, the festival of the baby sun god Sokar occurs on
26 Khoiak, corresponding to December
As I also state in Christ in Egypt, Sokar's festival occurs on 26 Khoiak, as related in the
Calendar of Hathor at Dendera, corresponding at the turn of the common era to December 22nd. The longstanding
ritual of Sokar being carried out of the temple on this day in an "ark" closely resembles the commentary by
Epiphanius, the Paschal Chronicle and Macrobius concerning the Egyptians bringing forth the baby sun born of a
virgin at the winter solstice.
This Egyptian "Christmas" celebration - again, styled by Epiphanius the "Kikellia" - has also
been called the "Rites of Isis" and has been asserted elsewhere to begin a few days earlier than December 25th,
such as the "true" solstice of the 21st or 22nd, corresponding to the Sokar festival.
The 3,400-Year-Old Reborn Sun
Sokar/Seker as the "reborn sun" was conceived at least 3,400 years ago, as related by famed
astronomer Dr. Gerald Hawkins:
In Kherouef’s tomb, circa 1400 B.C., it says, "The doors of the underworld are open, O
Sokaris, sun in the sky. O reborn one, you are seen brilliant on the horizon and you give back Egypt her beauty
each time the sky is pierced with rays..."
Regarding the "feast of Sokar," Amanda-Alice Maravelia states, "The festival of Sokar was
celebrated with considerable pomp, probably rivaling the festival of Opet; it was the continuity of the cult
of the divine king connected with the resurrection of the god." Furthermore, it was claimed that Osiris died
during the feast of Sokar, in other words, around the winter solstice.
"The festival was connected with the winter solstice, with
the 'little sun,' as the Egyptians
called it at that time."
Concerning this feast, John Gardner Wilkinson remarks:
At the festival of the god his bark was borne in solemn procession round the walls of the
temple of Sokaris.... The festival was connected with the winter solstice, with the "little sun," as the
Egyptians called it at that time. In the Ptolemaic period it fell on the morning of the 26th of Khoiak (22nd
December), while in earlier times it would seem to have been held in the evening....
Brugsch likewise discusses the fest of Sokar, which was held on the 26th of Koiak, equivalent to
December 22nd in the Julian calendar and December 25th in the calendar of Eudoxus (410/408-355/347 BCE). In the
temple of Dendera, Brugsch relates, we find a description of the 26th of Koiak—December 22nd also in the
Alexandrian calendar—as representing the day of the winter solstice and of the "Rising of Osiris as the sun and
"December 22nd (26
Koiak) represents the day
of the winter solstice and of the 'Rising of Osiris as the sun and
Moreover, like Horus, one of Sokar's major roles is that of the resurrected Osiris; hence, the
baby sun as a hawk/falcon emerges at the winter solstice as the resurrected Osiris. Thus, we can state once more
that the Egyptian sun god dies and is reborn at the winter solstice, precisely as we find in other cultures. (For
more information on Sokar, as well as citations, see Christ in Egypt.)
Other Solstice Celebrations
The winter-solstice celebrations were so important that at times they exceeded the one or two
days of the actual solstice in the Gregorian calendar, i.e., December 21st or 22nd. Solstice celebrations therefore
do not necessarily fall on the traditional time of the solstice - "solstice" meaning "sun stands still" - but may
occur up to several days before or after, such as is exemplified by the Roman celebration of Saturnalia, which
began on the December 17th and ended on the 23rd.
As demonstrated in my 2010 Astrotheology Calendar, the entire month of December, along with a couple
of weeks before and after, has been filled with winter celebrations of sun and light deities in cultures
globally. In my calendar, I converted the dates of the Egyptian wandering calendar to when these festivities
would have occurred in the year 1 AD/CE.
As we can see, around the year 1 AD/CE the death and resurrection of Osiris were aligned in the
wandering Egyptian calendar to the winter solstice, when the birth of Sokar also occurred. Both of these gods are
syncretized with Horus.
"Around the year 1 AD/CE, the death and resurrection of
Osiris were aligned to the winter solstice, as was the birth of Sokar, both
of whom were identified with Horus."
The Sun Born of the Celestial Virgin
One of the meanings behind the virgin-born solar-deity myth is the pristine dawn birthing the
new sun, while it was also said that the moon reflecting the sun's rays likewise gave birth to the solar entity.
Another connotation is the constellation of Virgo, in Ptolemaic times identified with Isis: "According to
[Pseudo-]Eratosthenes, the celestial Virgin was supposed to be Isis, that is, the symbol of the returning
In a text called The Katasterismoi or Catasterismi, "Pseudo-Eratosthenes"
includes an essay on the constellation of Virgo called Παρθένος or "Parthenos," a Greek word usually rendered
"virgin." According to this text, which dates to the 1st to 2nd centuries AD/CE but purports to
be an epitome of the (lost) writings of the Greek astronomer Eratosthenes (276-194 BCE), Isis appears among
other deities represented by this virginal figure:
Hesiod in the Theogony says this figure is Dike, the daughter of Zeus [Dios] and Themis...
Some say it is Demeter because of the sheaf of grain she holds, others say it is Isis, others Atagartis, others
Tyche...and for that reason they represent her as headless.
This Greek word parthenos used to describe these various goddesses, including
Isis, is the identical term by which Jesus's mother, Mary, is called decades to centuries later
(Mt 1:23; Lk 1:27). Also like Isis, Mary too is called virgo, in Jerome's Latin Vulgate Bible. In antiquity, therefore, both in
Egyptian hieroglyphs and in Greek texts, Isis is styled the "Great Virgin."
"The Greek word parthenos used to describe Isis as a
'virgin' is the identical term by which Jesus's mother, Mary, is called decades to
The virgin-mother motif predates Christianity by thousands of years and revolves around the
Goddess parthenogenetically reproducing the universe. This motif of parthenogenesis was applied to Isis's very
ancient alter ego, Neith, possibly 7,000 or more years ago. (For more information on the Egyptian virgin-mother
goddess, see the chapter "The Virgin Isis-Mery" in Christ in Egypt.)
Explaining the astrotheological theme regarding Isis and her baby, Count Volney remarks:
It is the sun which, under the name of Horus, was born, like your [Christian] God, at the
winter solstice, in the arms of the celestial virgin, and who passed a childhood of obscurity, indigence, and
want, answering to the season of cold and frost.
Regarding the astrotheological nature of the gospel story, including the virgin birth, the
famous Christian theologian and saint Albertus Magnus, or Albert the Great, (1193?-1280) purportedly stated:
"We know that the sign of the celestial Virgin did come to the horizon at the moment where
we have fixed the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. All the mysteries of the incarnation of our Saviour
Christ; and all the circumstances of his marvellous life, from his conception to his ascension, are to be
traced out in the constellations, and are figured in the stars."
"The sign of the celestial Virgin did come to the
horizon at the moment where we have fixed the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ."
As Albert the Great acknowledged, the virgin-birth motif is astrotheological, referring to the
hour of midnight, December 25th, when the constellation of Virgo rises on the horizon. The
Assumption of the Virgin, celebrated in Catholicism on August 15th, represents the summer sun's
brightness blotting out Virgo. Mary's Nativity, celebrated on September 8th, occurs when the
constellation is visible again. Such is what these "Christian" motifs and holidays represent, as has obviously
been known by the more erudite of the Catholic clergy. Hence, the virgin who will conceive and bring forth is
Virgo, and her son is the sun.
"The mythical motif of the sun god born at the winter
solstice of a virgin precedes the common era by many centuries."
The mythical motif of the sun god born at the winter solstice of a virgin precedes the common
era by many centuries. As demonstrated here, its presence in the myths of Sokar, a form of both Osiris and Horus,
dates back over 3,000 years. The same motif was celebrated as applied to Aion, Horus and other virgin-born solar
deities around the globe for millennia.
ISIS IS A VIRGIN MOTHER
HORUS IS A SUN GOD
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Egyptian hieroglyphs showing Isis as the 'Great Virgin'
Dionysus: Born of a Virgin on December 25th
Attis: Born of a Virgin on December 25th
Mithra: Born of a Virgin on December 25th