Peeling the Onion: Revelation 12: 1-6

Cut – reframe – new vision:

In heaven

A woman


Clothed with sun

Moon under her feet

Crown of 12 stars


How does she look,

In your vision?

How beautiful?


She is pregnant

(adjust the figure in your image)

and crying out in the agony of birth pains

(so much for ‘Silent Night’ beatific beauty)


Now, add a second figure

Red Dragon

7 heads

10 horns

7 diadems on the 7heads


Got it?

Where did you distribute the horns?

(there is no wrong answer –

I just want you to try the task)


His tail sweeps across the heavens,

Sweeping away 1/3 of all the stars

(so we’re talking constellation scale –

have you spent enough nights watching the sky?

John, and John’s audience, did)


Then position your dragon,

Poised before the woman’s opening womb

Ready to snatch the newborn

And devour it

(got the mouth and teeth to scale?)


She births the newborn

Who is destined to rule

With an iron rod

(remember, temper your ‘god of love

with a ‘god of justice’)


God whisks the child away

To the throne in the celestial court,

With God,

In your familiar scene.


The woman flees away too –

Into wilderness

(leaving the dragon alone –

enraged? Confused?)


Now my vision, I confess,

Puts this wilderness in earth,

In the desert, in Sin,

Resonating with the Exodus cycles

Her scale shrinks in context,

From the heaven to the earth


How do you see her,


Fleeing violence, alone?

How strong is that?


At least she has a place,

Prepared by God,

Safe sanctuary,

For a time, for half a time


At 300 words, this is a time to unpack this

‘half a fullness of time’ idea:


if 7 is a perfect number,

conveying ‘fullness’

it evokes 7 days of creation,

sabbatarian, sabbatical and jubilee rhythms

hebdomadal patterns


Just as a week ends in Sabbath,

Here the 7th seal, the 7th trumpet –

The divine, revealed



a week of weeks

(omitting the Sabbaths)

a fullness of time



in months, 3 ½ years –

half of 7 years

a longer fullness of time,


or ‘a time, a time, and half a time’

these folks didn’t wear Timex

nor confuse kairos time with chromos time


1260 days?

A bit less than half a time


It ain’t over, eh?

But she has recovery time


How many thriller epic action movies work this way?

We could cut away for commercials,

But today, we just stop, to sleep on it all


You may indulge in research,

‘the dragon is Rome, with 7 hills, and 10 provinces’

you may enjoy finally having a hint of gender balance

(though whose fault is it

if your angels, elders, beasts

or even the ineffable One on the throne,

didn’t already include it?)


What transpersonal force,

Bigger than an individual person,

Smaller than Godself,

That is generative,

Creating and birthing life?


That’s on you, really,

But the classics before us had answers

And we might wonder if our Enlightenment,

Modern scientific objectivity,

Conveyed reality better, or flatter…


My quota’s up for the day!


A great portent Appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 

2She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth. 

3Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads.

 4His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born.

5And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. But her child was snatched away and taken to God and to his throne; 

6and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, so that there she can be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days. 

New Jerusalem Bible 

1 Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman, robed with the sun, standing on the moon, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. 

2 She was pregnant, and in labour, crying aloud in the pangs of childbirth. 

Then a second sign appeared in the sky: there was a huge red dragon with seven heads and ten horns, and each of the seven heads crowned with a coronet. 

4 Its tail swept a third of the stars from the sky and hurled them to the ground, and the dragon stopped in front of the woman as she was at the point of giving birth, so that it could eat the child as soon as it was born. 

5 The woman was delivered of a boy, the son who was to rule all the nations with an iron sceptre, and the child was taken straight up to God and to his throne, 

6 while the woman escaped into the desert, where God had prepared a place for her to be looked after for twelve hundred and sixty days.