Virgin Births

This motif occurs in all the mythologies of the world.  Consequently, it cannot have referred originally to one extraordinary event that occurred at a certain time and place in Israel.  What it refers to in its inward, mystical sense is the birth in the awakened mind and heart of a realization of the Kingdom of the Father.  The first birth of man, as a physical creature motivated by the animal energies of the body, is biological.  Man’s second, properly human birth, is spiritual, of the heart and mind – or, as represented in the Indian symbolic science of the kundalini, of the heart – a lotus opening to the radiant sound AUM that is the divine creative energy resounding through all things.  

   Teachers of the ways to such a spiritual realization are commonly, in the myths of the world, represented as themselves born of the awakening, since the meaning of their lives and messages to humankind – or to their various tribes – is of this knowledge, not of the “once-born” biological ends of survival, reproduction, and conquest.  Demythologizing a symbol such as the Virgin Birth and reading it as referring to a unique, induplicable historical event of the past, impossible to attain ourselves, deprives it of its psychological force, externalizing its message as institutional of some social establishment, upon which, then, our spiritual life depends.  The mythologies of India abound in incarnations, with the implication always that we are to become such beings ourselves.  And in the Celtic legends also, whether pagan or Christian – of Bran and Brendan, or of Galahad and Parzival, the heroes of the Grail – the accent of the symbolization is typically on the hero life as exceptional indeed, yet paradigmatic of ways to realization that are open to us all.   RG 81

(It) presents a biological, medical problem, far indeed from anything that might properly be regarded as of spiritual interest.  It cannot have referred originally to any specific historical event because we find it in mythologies throughout the world.  It is a prominent motif in the mythologies of mankind, and many examples antedate by millennia that of the Christian legend.  The symbology of religion is, in many of its most essential elements, common to the whole of the human race; so that, no matter to what religion you may turn, you will – if you look long enough – find a precise and often illuminating counterpart to whatever motif of your own tradition you may wish to have explained.   TMD 198

It is my thought that Christianity is far more Greek than Hebrew.  The whole theme of the virgin birth is alien to traditional Judaism; it is absolutely native to the Classical tradition.   G 255


Virgin births may be common among snakes