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Virgin Birth



The next stage of the Cosmogonic Cycle is often called "The Virgin Birth".  In Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey, the Cosmogonic is a spiritual reflection of the physical journey taken by the hero.  These stages are more often found out of order because they are often realized or discovered at different parts of the story.  In this case, the virgin birth is usually a discovery that there is something special or unique about the hero of the story.  A hidden truth that upon discovery explains why they were always meant to be the hero.  

In the original Star Wars Trilogy, we follow the path of Luke as the hero, but in the end, it turns out to be Darth Vader that turns against the emperor and fulfils the prophecy of "balancing the force".  We have to go back to the prequels to see the clearest example of the virgin birth.  Darth Vader was born Anakin Skywalker.  When the Jedi found him, he and his mother were slaves to a trader on a planet at the edge of the galaxy.  The Jedi noticed that Anakin's connection to the force was off the chart, so they asked who his father was.  Anakin's mother reported that she had given birth to him and raised him, but that he had no father.  She couldn't explain it, but it was a virgin birth.  The Jedi took him in, thinking that he must be the one that was prophecied to balance out the force.  This little fact is given almost no further attention in the movies, but it is developed further in the comics.  It turns out that Anakin was conceived as the result of Emporer Palpatine's tampering with the powers of life and death.  While Anakin turned to the dark side and became Vader, it is fitting for his character arc that he is the one to finally restore balance to the force and redeem himself in the process.  It was the very special nature of his birth that prepared him to be the hero of the story.  

In the first part of each of the gospels, we learn that Jesus was born to the virgin Mary.  Many traditions explain that this is how Jesus was born fully human, but without the sin inherited from a father.  That being said, there are plenty of other traditions that don't have the same view of original sin inherited paternally, but still hold the doctrine of a virgin birth.  Why is this so important?  Why does it matter? It might be about original sin, or fulfilling prophecy, or even about confirming his divine origin, but I would suggest that at the very least it is a literary device used to explain that there was something special about the circumstances of Jesus, something that prepared him and set him apart as the hero of an epic story.   

The thing about the Hero's Journey is that it is not really about an individual being set aside as the hero, but about how each of us are the hero of our own journey.  Clearly, most of us are not the result of a virgin birth, so how does this apply to us?  I believe that it is an invitation for us to look back to our roots to see what we have been prepared for.  Often, in retrospect, I am able to look back over the narrative of my own life and I see these patterns.  The traumas of my past prepared me for the challenges of my future.  I can see a long narrative arc of how God has guided me to use the tears of my past to be a healer to those in my present.  Can you see these patterns in your life? 

God, help us to see our own virgin birth, the things in our past that prepared us to be something special in this world.  Guide us to the work you have prepared us for.  Give us the confidence and strength to do the work.  Amen.  

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