A Letter To The Dear Readers
This will be the final column we write, dear friends. We have enjoyed quite a following in recent years, and have grown to love helping our friends choose their paths by following the wisdom in the stars. But recent events have moved us to question some of our most basic beliefs, and we have chosen to follow our consciences rather than continue in what we've come to believe is a deception of the very ones who depend on us--you, dear readers.
Rather than tell you of a fortune written in the sky, we have chosen to use this final column to convey to you the events of the past couple months, and to hopefully shine some light on what may seem like a strange decision to you. When you have believed so fervently in the truth of something, and its veracity is unquestionably challenged forever, you have two choices: accept that the belief is a falsehood and adapt, or look the other way and choose blissful ignorance. We have chosen the former when the latter would be easier. Here is why.
Our story begins at the outset of our sabbatical, when we prepared for a long journey to the land of the Jews. Several key passages in certain holy texts that we would otherwise ignore, as they roundly condemn our line of work, seemed to point to a major event happening sometime earlier this year: the birth of a new king, from the ancient bloodline of the kings of Judah. The so-called Herod the Great, truly a political pawn of the Romans, would soon have to step down, and the political intrigue was simply too fascinating to ignore any longer. We planned a trip to Jerusalem to speak with him, and our joy was magnified when we saw what purported to be the young king's star in the Western sky!
When we arrived in Jerusalem we were turned away almost immediately from an audience with Herod himself. Disappointed but unswayed, we began to canvas the town, asking different ones if they knew where the one born King of the Jews was born. It was amazing to us to see so many of these people, such a proud nation for their adherence to an ancient law, that seemed to have no knowledge of the very expressions contained in their writings that pointed to the birth of this new monarch. It caused no small stir in the squares where we surveyed the population.
As we would come to learn later on, the Herod himself was also agitated once news of our investigation reached him. It was only a short time later that the very guards that turned us away initially tracked us down to our inn and told us the king demanded to meet with us. We came to his throne room, so covered in an opulence that only Solomon's descendants would seem fit to inhabit, and when there he asked us at what time we first noticed the star of David. We said such-and-such a time, and he nodded and consulted with some local priests. He then told us that there was a passage in the writings of the lesser prophet Micah that indicated a king would be born in Bethlehem Ephrath. He urged us to find this one, now no longer a mere infant but still a child, and send word of his location back to the palace. Herod said that it was his intention to step away from the throne and turn the matter of ruling as an intermediary to this so-called Christ.
That night something happened that had never in all our days of watching the stars. The star of David appeared once again in the south, and we mounted and rode following the star. However, it seemed to move ever so slightly west the further we rode, and after some miles the star came to rest over a house off the beaten path a ways. For the first time, a star MOVED in the sky. We blessed the gods for this miracle. Deciding that this would be an event worth commemorating, we found lodging and rested from our ride, and the following day headed into the market. Bethlehem is small, a village really, but we managed to find frankincense and myrrh, and with a small amount of gold in hand we returned to the house from the night before.
The people in the house were poor and ragged. This was not even their house; apparently the father of the child was here from a different city entirely, and they were only there temporarily while the child was being weaned. There had been a census some months before, which had precipitated their move when his mother was about to give birth. It seemed cruel to have moved a woman in this condition, but the order to register came from Caesar himself, we found out.
The child himself was small, of a dusky complexion, and while attractive enough, wholly unremarkable. When we showed the family our gifts, we thought we saw them drooling--they may never have seen such a show of wealth in their lives, let alone in their living room. But the child had no idea who he was or what he could mean to the Jews. We almost didn't leave our gifts after all, when it seemed to be such an anti-climactic finish to our "miraculous" journey.
We said our goodbyes and returned to the inn, sleeping in preparation for a day's journey back to Jerusalem. This is where the story takes quite a turn. For all the incredible things we have written about over the years, nothing has ever been so clearly from the heavens as this. That night, while we slept, we all had the same dream. We each one of us remembered what happened with clarity, and the events were all perfectly matched to one another.
Firstly, the dream went like this:
I was on the road to the palace in Jerusalem when a man clad in white, his face shining like fire, appeared before me, holding up his hands.
"You don't want to go this way."
"But I must tell the Herod of the whereabouts of this young king."
"Why do you think Herod wants to find him?"
"He says he wishes to do obeisance to him."
"Why would he wish to do that? He enjoys prestige and power in his position. He tolerates no rivalry--perhaps you heard about the 45 supporters of his rival who were all mysteriously killed? Or of Mariamne the queen, her three sons, her brother, her grandfather Hyrcanus, and several who he had claimed were his best friends? They all died under the weight of his paranoia. No, friend, this Herod, he doesn't wish to bow down to the Christ at all."
"But the star! The star guided us to the child? Surely the gods meant us to find him?"
"A god, to be sure, but not one who means to do good to the king. That god WANTED this child to die. And soon, their whole family will have to flee, when Herod decides to take drastic measures to ensure his death."
"I don't know what to do."
"Return to your homes in the East. There's nothing more any of you can do. Return home and rethink your lives. Stop misleading people, giving them false hope, offering a god they cannot put faith in."
"We give people a sense of calm, of assurance about the future. Our work is important."
"Suit yourself. But don't go back to Herod." And with that the fiery man disappeared.
We weren't about to abandon our astrology practice based on a dream, even if it was a unique coincidence that we'd all had the same one. However, we had no particular fealty to Herod, either, so we did not return to Jerusalem, instead heading straight home. Our sabbatical was nearly up anyway.
It wasn't until a couple weeks later, some few days before this column would be due, that we got the news. There had been an infanticide in Bethlehem. All boys under the age of two were put to death under mysterious circumstances. There were rumors circulating that it was the work of Herod himself, though no one would dare to make such an accusation publicly. And what motivation would he have had to do such a thing anyway? But we knew. We all remembered, with a terrible knot in our stomachs, the dream. It had come true in a way that all our pontificating over the movements of the stars had never done.
So we had to return to the demand made of the fiery man in our dream. And that is why this will be our final column. Whoever comes along behind us, you may feel free to read and follow them. They will probably be very entertaining and you may feel what they have to say holds real promise and wisdom for your lives. But also remember what we've spoken of here. You can choose to believe us or not. It's a fantastic story and it would stand to reason if you simply can't accept it as fact. But if you have been willing to believe in anything else we've spoken of in the past, consider this now.
It has been a pleasure to serve, even if our service has been, in retrospect, a lie. We promise that at no time did we ever attempt to intentionally mislead any of you, dear readers. Those who know what is true and intentionally spread falsehoods are villains of the highest order. Please do not trouble yourselves over where we shall go from here. After years of following the stars, we are now choosing to follow our feet, and we cannot begin to express how happy this makes us.
We love you all, dear readers, and good luck.
--The Three Wise Men
P.S. While we have operated under the collective pen name of The Three Wise Men since our inception, there have always been several of us operating under this banner. More than three, at any rate, and we have all considered our work to be a privilege.
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