The 4 Kings Of Christmas

The Christmas story certainly isn’t short of a king or two or three or even four kings of Christmas, so who exactly were these kings !?! and what are the parallels between the 4 kings in the nativity story and the four kings in the Tarot … 

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Three Kings Bearing Things


The three kings also referred to as the three wise men or the magi (meaning astronomer, magician or sorcerer) are perhaps the best known kings in the biblical Christmas narrative. As Bible lore has it, the 3 wise men saw a star in the east which heralded the birth of the Messiah and hence journeyed from their respective kingly dominions to Judea in search of baby Jesus. Who they famously found in a stable in Bethlehem with his mother Mary and her husband Joseph, wrapped (as all newborns traditionally were) in swaddling cloth laying in a lowly humble manger; where they bowed down and worshipped the little mewling Messiah and presented him with gifts … 


The King Of Cups, King Melchior of Arabia And The Gift Of Gold


The suit of cups in the Tarot represents among other things matters of the heart, love, compassion and emotions. The King of Cups signifies an older person whose best qualities are kindness, generosity, emotional acceptance and peacefulness. He wears a crown adorned with sea creatures and a gold coloured cloak on top of his blue stately robe and has a gold coloured ornamental fish on his necklace. The King of Cups is certainly not puffed up with pride and indeed considers himself to be equal to – as opposed to above – his subjects !  


Historical accounts of King Melchior of Arabia (some scholars contend that Melchior was the King of Persia, which today is Iran) tend to portray him as being a well learned man, astronomer and astrologer in his twilight years, who had a crown of white hair upon his head and a long beard – many antiquated artworks depict him as wearing a gold coloured cloak. Physically speaking King Melchior and the King of Cups share visual similarities and King Melchior would likely have also had natural kindly disposition similar to the King of Cups in the Tarot … 


Bible scholars believe that it was King Melchior who gifted the baby Jesus Christ with the treasure of gold. Gold then as it now, is virtually the most highly esteemed of all the precious metals. Biblically gold symbolises power, status and abundance – these high ranking aspects were surely imbued by not only the gift bearer himself – King Melchior but also by Jesus throughout his lifetime and his legacy forever after and let’s not forget that the King of Cups also encompasses abundant emotional wellness, much influence and prestige !


The King Of Wands, King Caspar of Sheeba And The Gift Of Frankincense 


Wands is the Tarot suit that concentrates on trade, work, creative endeavours and pushing forward with plans – the suit of Wands in short incites us to action ! It stands to reason that the King of Wands most important positive traits are wisdom, decisiveness and determination. The King of Wands is a middle aged man seated sideways on his throne and looks yonder towards the horizon. The wOrld is his oyster and he is not fazed by travel, indeed he embraces it as a projection of forward movement ! His golden crown is decorated with flame motifs and it sits on his head of fiery red hair, he wears a green cloak over his orange tunic and he holds onto a long staff or wand which is clearly alive as four green buds sprout forth from it ! 


King Casper of Sheba (now Ethiopia) presided over much natural mineral wealth in his kingdom in the horn of Africa. Physically speaking King Caspar wouldn’t have born a resemblance to the King of Wands depicted on the Rider Waite Tarot. King Casper would have had dark brown or blue black skin. Some works of art detail King Caspar wearing a green cloak and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to imagine the regal and well travelled and adventuresome King Casper holding onto a budding fertile and lush staff which he could have transported with him by camel to that stable in Bethlehem!     


Most scholars and historians agree that out of the three wise men, King Casper was the statesman who most likely presented the newly born Jesus with frankincense. Frankincense would have been used during religious rituals and ceremonies and just as the crown on the King of Wands head incorporates the representation of fire, King Casper added a fiery element to the gifts bestowed to the most famous baby to have ever been born in to this wOrld ! Frankincense made a most appropriate present for the Christ, after all it is written in the Bible (New Testament Luke 12:49) that Jesus said “I have come to bring fire to the earth”.  Furthermore pleasant smelling frankincense represented the spiritual aroma of Jesus’s sanctity. 


The King Of Pentacles, King Balthazar of Egypt And The Gift Of Myrhh  


The suit of Pentacles in the Tarot is concerned with money, wealth and abundance, therefore it’s no surprise that the King of Pentacles best characteristics are entrepreneurship, kindness, generosity and self control. The King of Pentacles is a well accomplished mature man who has spent his life time acquiring and building his good fortune. He wears a gold crown which sits on top of a wreath that has living red flowers in bloom growing from it. The King of Pentacles wears a long stately robe which is decorated with lush green leaves and purple ripe grapes and his left hand rests on top of a coin and he grasps a scepter with his right hand.


King Balthazar of Egypt ruled over one of the greatest and richest ancient civilisations the wOrld has ever known ! Like the fictional but very symbolic King of Pentacles, King Balthazar would have spent much of his kingship helping to continue to build up the wealth and good fortune of Egypt through trade and commerce. Many artists portrayed King Balthazar in their paintings as being brown skinned, so he wouldn’t have resembled the King of Pentacles in the Rider Waite physically. In paintings King Balthazar is often represented wearing a plain purple coloured robe. 


Like the King of Pentacles there would be no gift beyond the affordability of King Balthazar. The third gift awarded by the third King – Balthazar – to little Jesus Christ was Myrrh. Back in those times, Myrrh an expensive ointment, and was often used to embalm kings and other highly esteemed and wealthy peoples in ancient times. Though it could be said that by modern day standards, the giving of Myrrh to a newborn was a slightly macabre present – but hey birth and death aren’t so different ! Myrrh also foreshadowed the fact that the death of Jesus would be as important as his life.  


The King Of Swords, Jesus Christ King Of The Jews And The Gift Of Christmas


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The final suit in the Tarot is the swords, which is centred around state of mind and matters of the conscious and subconscious as well as power, status and also conflict. The King of Swords denotes a man or person who is very powerful and has much authority and if needs be is prepared to rule by the sword and who is quite prepared to defend his people and kingdom. The King of Swords wears a gold crown with a winged creature engraved on it and he wears a bluish long tunic and a purple cloak is draped across his shoulders and in his right hand he holds a long sword upright.


Jesus Christ King of the Jews is perhaps the most well known spiritual master there is, this side of the universe anyway !!! He is the last of the four Kings of Christmas – but hey the last shall be first (the Bible New Testament Mathew 20:16) … Unlike most non fictional kings, or fictional kings such as the King of Swords, instead of a wearing a golden crown, Jesus is often depicted as having a crown of thorns on his head. However there is one strikingly but subtle parallel between Jesus King of the Jews and the Tarot King of Swords and here is that one thing – Jesus did not shy away from the sword. Admittedly the sword Jesus possessed was of the metaphorical mental and spiritual realm, King Jesus once said “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth, I have not come to bring peace but a sword …” (the Bible New Testament Mathew 10:34), this essay wont try to qualify, quantify or justify these interestingly divisive words that King Jesus Christ uttered …


King Jesus gave the wOrld some thing not explicitly expressed in the Old Testament or the New Testament either before, during or after Jesus’s lifetime – and that present is the very gift of Christmas !


We don’t often automatically think of Christmas and Yuletide as being a present but really it is because the ability to buy a Christmas present means we have money and sustenance, it also means we have been granted another 12 months of precious life since last Christmas and it’s also a time when we tend to step out of our own egos and put others before our selves – and in this new age of the internet and social media and smart phones with cameras and selfies – it’s even more important to take a break from the sweeping and socially acceptable absorption of me, myself and I.


The act of giving is exceedingly therapeutic, cathartic and uplifting – and Saint Paul wrote that Jesus encouraged the act of giving, he stated that Jesus had taught – “It’s better to give than receive” (The Bible New Testament Acts 20:35). So even if you give a present or something else of emotional value to someone and you don’t receive any thing in return from the recipient of your generosity – you nevertheless receive soulful and spiritual fulfilment from the very same place that King Jesus Christ the last King of Christmas and the first King of Christmas often times spoke from … the heart …   XI/XII/MMXVII


Quote By


Khalil Gibran Yesterday we obeyed kings and bent our necks before emperors but today we kneel only to truth, follow only beauty and obey only love 


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