Orion and the Zoroastrian Magi

Anders Hutgård, in his book "The Magi and the Star: The Persian Background in Texts and Iconography", concluded that the Gospel story of the Magi was influenced by an Iranian legend concerning magi and a star, which was connected with Persian beliefs in the rise of a star predicting the birth of a ruler and with myths describing the manifestation of a divine figure in fire and light. Indeed, the word "magi" is a Persian word meaning astrologer or sorcerer who follows Zoroastrian teachings.

In ancient times, the three bright stars known as Orion's Belt in the constellation Orion were called the Three Kings. They form a straight line in the middle of an hourglass constellation of The Hunter who battles Taurus the Bull. In particular, his belt of Three Kings point directly at Canis Major, which contains Sirius, nicknamed the "Dog Star."

In Persia, The Hunter was part of the "Taurobollum of Mithra," including Taurus, Orion, and Canis Major/ Sirius, that was believed to depict Mithra (son of the Zoroastrian sun/sky god Ahura Mazda) sacrificing the Bull. This was a central story for the cults of Mithra and the Great Mother Goddess Cybele (Morning Star of Venus).

As this story was adopted by the Babylonians, Sirius was believed to be the birth place of the fish god Dogon. As discussed in an earlier post, Dogon was associated with many other fish gods born from the sea, ultimately associated with Jonah, Noah and Jesus the Fisherman (see link in comments). This story is believed to have originated from the fact that the Sun appears to be born out of the eastern horizon of the sea under the resurrection power of Venus, the Morning Star. This celestial birth or incarnation is very old and first described in the Vedic Hymn to Vena.

Thus, what we find in the Roman Epiphany celebration is an old Persian Zoroastrian myth (descended from the Rig-Veda) that prophesied the birth of a son of the sun/sky god Ahura Mazda. His name was Mithra, descended from Mitra, the Vedic god of light. The Three Kings (Orion's Belt pointing at Sirus or Dogon) can then be understood as an astrological prophecy for the birth of Mithra, later Christianized as Jesus.

As for the star that the Three Kings followed, we might identify it as either the Dog Star Sirius (itself a group of three bright stars) or the Morning Star of Venus that rises before the Sun at dawn. To Christians it would become the Star of Bethlehem pointing to the virgin birth of God's son incarnate.