THE COSMIC SIGNIFICANCE OF CHRISTMAS
Once more in the course of a year we are upon the eve of Christmas. The view which each of us takes of this festival is dissimilar to that of every one else. To the devout religionist it is a season hallowed, sacred, and fraught with mystery, none the less sublime because uncomprehended. To the atheist it is a silly superstition. To the purely intellectual it is a puzzle, for it is beyond reason.
In the churches the story is recited of how upon this, the holiest night of the year, our Lord and Saviour, immaculately conceived, was born of a virgin. No further explanation is made; the matter is left to acceptance or rejection by the hearer according to his temperament. If mind and reason dominate him to the exclusion of faith, if he can believe nothing which cannot be demonstrated to the senses at any moment, he is forced to reject the tale as absurd and out of consonance with various immutable laws of nature.
Various interpretations have been given to satisfy the mind, these principally of an astronomical nature. They have set forth how, on the night between the 24th and the 25th of December, the sun commences its journey from the south to the north. He is the "Light of the World." Cold and famine would inevitably exterminate the human race if the sun remained always in the south. Therefore it is a cause for great rejoicing when he commences his northward journey. He is then hailed as "saviour," for he comes "to save the world," to give it "the bread of life," as he ripens grain and grape. Thus "he gives his life" upon the cross(ing) of the equator (at the spring equinox), and then commences his ascent into the (northern) heaven. On the night when he commences his northward journey the zodiacal sign Virgo, the celestial virgin, the "Queen of Heaven," stands upon the eastern horizon at midnight, and is therefore, astrologically speaking, his "rising sign." Thus he is "born of a virgin" without other intermediary, hence, "immaculately conceived."
This explanation may satisfy the mind regarding the ORIGIN of the supposed superstition, but the aching void which is in the heart of every sceptic, whether he is aware of the fact or not, must remain until the spiritual illumination is attained which shall furnish an explanation acceptable to both heart and mind. To shed such light upon this sublime mystery shall be our endeavour in the following pages. The immaculate conception will form the topic of a future lesson; just now we will show how the material and spiritual forces alternately ebb and flow in the course of the year, and why Christmas is truly a "holy day."
Let us say that we subscribe to the astronomical interpretation as being as valid from its point of view, as the following is true when viewing the mystery-birth from another angle. The sun is born from year to year in the darkest night. The world-saving Christ are also born when the spiritual darkness of mankind is the greatest. There is a third aspect of supreme importance, namely, that it is no mere idle foolishness when Paul speaks of Christ being "formed in you." It is a sublime fact that we are all Christs-in-the-making, and the sooner we realize that we must cultivate the Christ WITHIN before we can perceive the Christ without, the more we shall hasten the day of our spiritual illumination. In this connection we again quote our favourite aphorism from Angelus Silesius, whose sublime spiritual perception caused him to say:
Though Christ a thousand times in Bethlehem be born,
And not within thyself, thy soul will be forlorn;
The Cross on Golgotha thou lookest to in vain,
Unless within thyself it be set up again.
At the SUMMER SOLSTICE in June the earth is furthest from the sun, but the solar ray strikes the earth at nearly RIGHT ANGLES to its axis in the Northern Hemisphere, hence the high degree of PHYSICAL ACTIVITY resulting. Then the SPIRITUAL radiations from the sun are OBLIQUE to this part of the earth, and are as weak as the physical rays when they are oblique.
At the WINTER SOLSTICE, on the other hand, the earth is nearest the sun. The spiritual rays then fall at right angles to the earth's surface in the Northern Hemisphere, PROMOTING SPIRITUALITY, while physical activities are held in abeyance on account of the oblique angle at which the solar rays strike the surface of the earth. On this principle, the physical activities are at their lowest ebb and the spiritual forces reach their highest tidal flow on the night between the 24th and 25th of December, which is therefore the most "holy night" of the year. Midsummer, on the other hand, is the sporting time of the earth-goblins and similar entities concerned in the material development of our planet, as shown by Shakespeare in his MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM.
If we swim with the tide at the time when it is strongest, we shall cover a greater distance with less effort than at any other time. It is of great importance to the esoteric student to know and understand the particularly favourable conditions which prevail at Yule-tide. Let us follow Paul's exhortation in the 12th chapter of Hebrews and throw aside every hampering weight as do men who are running a race. Let us strike while the iron is hot; let us specially bend all our energies at this time to spiritual endeavour, and we shall reap a harvest such as we cannot obtain at any other time of the year.
Let us remember also that self-improvement is not our first consideration. We are disciples of Christ. If we aspire to distinction, let us remember that He said: "Let him who would be the greatest among you be THE SERVANT of all." There are much sorrow and suffering around us; there are many lonely and aching hearts in our circle of acquaintances. Let us seek them out in an unobtrusive manner. At no time of the year will they be more amenable to our advances than just now. Let us strive to spread sunshine in their path. Thus we shall earn their blessings and the blessings of our Elder Brothers. The resulting vibrations in turn will cause a spiritual growth not to be attained in any other way.
The Mystical Interpretation of Christmas by Max Heindel