The word of God is not of any private interpretation (2 Pet. 1:20), meaning man is not to place any of his own interpretation upon God's word. Scripture interprets scripture, and the origin of all of the NT books including Revelation are to be found in the OT.
The key to understanding Revelation is to find the first references from the OT and to recognize the time texts. There are many scriptures in the book that tie it to the events of the first century AD. The book of Revelation is not a future fortune-telling device. It is a record of a prophesy given to John to tell the people that Christ was coming "soon" to relieve them of the persecution and tribulation under which they suffered - in the first century AD. He was returning - coming back - appearing a second time in that same generation in which He had been manifested on earth.
"So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." (Heb. 9:28, KJV)
Christ's first manifestation (appearance) was for salvation from sin and death. That was the time of His ministry upon the earth of Judea and Jerusalem - the pleasant land (Psa. 106:24; Dan. 8:9). His second appearance was then not for salvation as He had already fulfilled that part of His mission. His second appearance was for judgment of those wicked who crucified Him, denied Him as the promised Messiah, and for the full establishment of His spiritual kingdom (Luke 17:20-21).
The only generation that could possibly have a second appearance was the same generation that saw His first appearance. No other generation saw His crucifixion. No other generation walked with Him, witnessed His miracles, nor His resurrection, nor His ascension. Only the people of the first century AD could be said to have that second coming of Christ.
Rev. 1:7 said that those who pierced Him would see Him. Those who pierced Him were the Romans in about AD 30 - 31, and the Sanhedrin that delivered Him up to Pilate. That puts any other generation completely out of the picture. The vision of the throne scene in Rev. ch. 4-5 depicted the ascension of Christ which was a flash back for John as John had seen Christ physically ascend as related in Acts 1:9. Rev. 11:8 identified the city being called spiritually Sodom and Gomarrah where He was crucified as the city to be destroyed - Jerusalem.
As the book begins with the statement and purpose in Rev. 1:1 to show the things which must shortly come to pass, and ends in chap. 22 with five statements repeating that those things must shortly be done (vs. 6), that He was coming quickly (vs. 7, 12, 20), and that the time was at hand (vs. 10); then there is no support for moving the prophesy of the judgment of this book out of the first century AD. The time is book-ended, first chapter and last chapter with those time statements, and includes all of the prophesy. All of the things between those first and last chapters were to "shortly be done" during John's lifetime - before he died.
As Christ told John that he was to prophesy AGAIN before kings and nations (Rev. 10:11), the entire prophesy was to happen after John told the people of those seven churches, and after He gave the prophesy to the people, nations, and kings of that first century AD.
Having supported the position that we can absolutely know and understand this prophesy, we can know who the woman of Rev. chap 12 represented.
The woman had the sun at her head, the representation of the light of the world - Christ. With the moon at her feet and the twelve stars in her crown, she was the very representation of the nation Israel. We look back to Gen. 37:6-10 with Joseph's dream where Jacob understood the imagery of him as the sun, Rachel as the moon, and his 12 children as the stars. This also sets the imagery of the stars falling from heaven as the 12 tribes falling from their position of rule and authority over Israel.
Rev. 12:1-5 was another flash back vision for John as it represented the birth of Christ. The first representation of the woman is therefore that of Mary giving birth to Christ, and as Mary was of the nation of Judea it was the remnant of Israel out of which Christ appeared and was manifested. She is also representing the birth of the church of Christ on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem.
Rev. 12: 6 was the flash back to Mary and Joseph fleeing to Egypt to avoid the slaughter of the children by Herod's decree, which occurred approx. 2 BC, and again ties this prophesy to the first century AD.
Rev. 12:11 is still part of the flash back as it references Christ's crucifixion and sacrifice. In. vs. 12 the dragon or serpent - the representation of evil and tyranny - being cast down to earth is being removed from authority and power. He persecutes the woman that brought forth the man child - Israel / Judea. This is the vision of the persecutions which the believers that followed Christ endured under Caesar Nero and also from the Sanhedrin who sent Christ to the Romans to be crucified, and also persecuted His followers.
Rev. 12:14-17 shows what would happen soon to the woman - the believing remnant of Israel, the church of Christ that had been born on the day of Pentecost was going to have to flee Jerusalem before the day of the battle, the flood of the army of the Romans that would over run Jerusalem in AD 70. Eusebius recorded that the believers and followers of Christ heard a voice telling them to leave the temple and Jerusalem which would have been in about November AD 66 under Cestius' retreat. History records that they fled to Pella and the regions around those mountains before the siege in AD 70. (1) (2)
The woman represented the believing Israel of both the OT congregation with the 12 tribes of Israel - the moon at her feet, and the NT congregation with the 12 apostles in her crown under the sun - Christ. She fled from the adversary (Herod) who ordered the death of the children in 2-3 BC which would have killed the Messiah, and she fled from the adversary (the Roman army - Luke 21:20-22) to survive the destruction of Jerusalem.
The book of Revelation is our record and assurance that Christ did return just as He told His disciples He would; that He kept His word. It is also our example that He will judge every nation that rebels against God.
See more evidences from scripture at my blog (ShreddingTheVeil.org) in the posts "The Signs of Revelation:..." Parts 1 - VIII beginning here.
1) The Flight to Pella - here
2) Flavius Josephus Describes the Destruction of Jerusalem - here