Stars and Sin Cooties to Bake Your Noodle

Stars and Sin Cooties to Bake Your Noodle January 6, 2020

by Cindy Kunsman

In a recent post, I sought to illustrate the problem of many Christians who are taught to fear anything that is not expressly ‘Christian approved.’ One of the first online recovery forums for people who had followed the teachings of Bill Gothard) coined the lighthearted term “sin cooties” to describe this superstition. Young children use ‘cooties’ to refer to infectious microbes, but those who followed the teachings will recall the days when anything could be like a hidden pathogen that would lead to doom. When thinking of the way some Christians protest Christmas as pagan, I thought of another colorful example of a sin cootie idea that should bake some noodles.

The Litugical church celebrates Epiphany on January 6th to remember the Magi – the wise men who traveled under the guidance of the Star of Bethlehem to present gifts to Jesus. Many people trust the way Christmas cards merge the Epiphany (‘the revealing’) of Jesus to the Magi with nativity scenes, but it took place as long as two years later. Scripture tells us that the wise men knew of the birth because of astronomical/astrological signs, yet we are told nothing of this process. Many Evangelicals gloss over this because it seems like an unholy convergence of the sacred and the profane.

Our modern astronomy charts still bear witness to the names that the Magi knew for the stars, reflecting their own astrology. It is said that Seth, the son of Adam (the first man), taught them to Enoch, and Enoch who communed with God knew all of their meanings. The Syriac Magi studied, interpreted and preserved this knowledge which most people call the Zodiac (a ‘circle of animals’) and what Job called the Mazzaroth (the ‘twelve signs’). This tradition asserts that the stars told us parables about the drama of life, the promise and the Life of Jesus, His Crucifixion and Resurrection, and the final defeat of evil.

The writings of Seiss and Bullinger about the Mazzaroth remind me that if God is indeed who the Evangelical believes Him to be, such things should be celebrated rather than feared or avoided. Years after we walk away from these superstitious systems, irrational fears still linger inside of us. Thinking through ideas like those the Magi pose can offer an opportunity to shift us away from a fearful perspective. Anyone familiar with the language of the Bible will recognize the references captured in these ancient names of the stars. What if changes in the constellation of Virgo communicated to the Magi that Jesus had been born? If the Magi’s tradition was evil, why do the Scriptures even mention them?

I left my Quiverfull church and in winter, and every evening for the first few months, I could clearly see the constellation of Orion. I remembered that Orion’s heel was named Siaph which meant ‘wounded.’ Its counterpart named Rigel meant ‘the foot that crushes.’ I knew these references well from the first promise of a Savior in Genesis 3:15. The significance of the serpent’s hatred for the woman contained in that passage was not lost on me either, as there was so much hatred of the strength of determined women in the church I had left.

I cannot tell you of the fortifying peace that I gleaned from the silent sky that season, especially when so little else in life consoled me then. But if the sky itself spoke to me with the mighty hope that evil would one day be crushed, I could carry on without fearing sin cooties everywhere. If God is who the Evangelical claims, we need not fear any truth, as it all should belong to God.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Cindy is a nurse who was raised in Word of Faith, a Second Generation Adult of cultic Christianity. She and her husband dabbled in Calvinism and Theonomy as a foil to Christian anti-intellectualism, and they were exit counseled together when the walked away from a church that embraced Gothard’s teachings. Cindy escaped many Quiverfull pitfalls but became a social pariah for failing to birth a family. She’s been decrying the abuses of the Patriarchy Movement since 2004, and she writes about spiritual abuse at her blog, Under Much Grace. Read more about her here.

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  • SAO

    Frankly, if your faith can’t survive some challenges, what kind of faith is it? If I raise and homeschool my kids to believe in the Egyptian Gods and prevent them from contact with others, is their belief in Amon-Ra faith? Or is it just ignorance of other beliefs/facts/science?

    I’ve never heard of Rigel as the ‘foot that crushes’ rather ‘the leg of the giant’ or simply ‘ankle’. Google Translate says that ‘leg’ in Arabic is ‘rajul’, which sounds like Rigel, with some changes as it moved from language to language. Makes me think that Rigel probably just means ‘leg’ and additions like “of the giant” or “that crushes” are added by Orion’s mythmakers.

  • I’m a translation major with an Arabic concentration. In Arabic, رِجل (rijl) means “leg”, but refers to the entire limb: leg, foot, ankle, etc. (The word قدم [qadam] means specifically foot.) A while back, there was a protest against mandatory veiling in Saudi Arabia called النقاب تحت رجلي (an-niqaab tahtu rijli), meaning “the niqab [a type of veil] is under my foot”, with rijl meaning foot here.

    However, رَجُل (rajul) means “man” (in the sense of “adult male human”; the word for human being is إنسان [insaan]).

    So, yeah, “of the giant” or “that crushes” are added, unless Rigel is just the short form of a longer name.

  • The initial interest in this came about through the writings of the Frances Rollerston of England — something of a Victorian era, British polymath. She spent decades studying ancient texts, including Egyptian mythology and any such tradition of the Zodiac in ancient cultures. I was impressed at the way that the root words in different language parallel and compliment one another in their meanings for these names. I remember reading the phrase, “the mythology of the nations” as a descriptor of the parallel meanings.

    In her studies of Egyptian writings, she claimed that Seth was credited for inventing astronomy, and he is represented by (an) Hermes, but I don’t recall which one. I do remember that she said that writings of Plutarch indicated that Seth was venerated in Egyptian mythology because of his contribution to their belief system.

    I recall that often when a name is introduced, the comparison in other ancient languages adds depth to the meaning. It was really quite a lovely thing. Perhaps that is why that meaning is ascribed to that star’s name. Hebrew,Arabic, Persian, Egyptian, Estrscan, and even the development of the modern language traced through Latin is sometimes cited.

    And again, I use this as an example of the ignorant arrogance of many Christians who find anything from a particular source to be repulsive or something to be feared. And so many Evangelicals will not even read a book or an article about something that might give them sin cooties, but I enjoy tracing the cords of truth in a word origin and how its usage came to be. It may be little more than science fiction, but those who exited quiver full can tell you much about how such writings were decried. I wish I’d kept one of Doug Phillips’ reviews of CS Lewis’ writings.

  • Friend

    Maybe it’s simpler. In youth football, kickers were taught about the plant foot and the kicking foot. Is this just a slight elaboration of what Orion is doing?

  • SAO

    I hope not, at least if Rigel is the kicking foot. Because then he’d be kicking the dogs, canis major and minor. Unless I’m mistaken, which I could be.

  • SAO

    In Russian, too, the words for arm (рука/ruka) and leg (нога/noga) include hand and foot to the extent that I don’t know of a common word. It’s odd, given that in general, Russian is a more specific language than English, with 2 words with slightly different meaning where there is one in English. For example, blue and indigo are separate and exclusive words and part of the set of general colors, like red and green are. You don’t put something somewhere, you stand it or lay it, requiring your brain to know the orientation of the object. I struggle with this, since my brain doesn’t automatically think about whether I am going to stand or lay the pen or the glass of milk on the table when I say, ‘put it there’.

  • Friend

    Aw, no! Orion would never kick a dog! How about “foot on the ground” and “foot not on the ground”? 😉

  • Suzanne Harper Titkemeyer

    I have to say I am impressed you picked up Russian so well. My husband was a Russian linguist with the Army for some years, tried futilely to teach me. My brain keeps defaulting to German, even when I have to speak Spanish here sometimes German comes out. You must have a gift for languages.

  • SAO

    Yep, they are his hunting dogs, I don’t think he’d kick them.

  • SAO

    I studied French for 10 years, but my brain defaults to Russian when the French word doesn’t come fast enough. I was going through Charles De Gaulle airport once and I kept saying, “Spasibo, I mean, Merci”.

  • Cynthia

    Regel in Hebrew is the same word and meaning, with the same leg/foot thing.

    Fun fact: Hebrew also has totally different words for Man (as in, a human, which is adam) and man (as in, a male person, which is ish). These both get translated as “man” in the Bible, but if you look at a version with transliteration, you suddenly notice the two separate words and the fact that the word ish doesn’t get used until the creation of woman. Changes the entire meaning of things – the whole teaching that it was man that was created first is actually based on a mistranslation.