The Christian Mysteries: Christmas
As we approach the period of time leading to Advent and Christmas it is important to understand what the significance of these events of the Birth, Baptism, Trial, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension signify.
Those of us who follow the Inner Path of Initiation known as The Way, must always be on the lookout for areas of our understanding that have not yet been transfused with the knowing that only comes through direct experience of these inner truths. We must not forget that the terms we use and the events in the life of the Master Christ Jesus have been co-opted by the Mass Mind of man and drained of their true import but that these events left for us a living road map to attainment. We should always be challenging our understanding of these “religious” terms and events and not allowing ourselves to settle for shallow understanding based on dogma but rather hunger and thirst after deep ever-unfolding experiences of The Mysteries.
Angelus Selesius, the 17th century mystic-priest expressed the need to have true experiences of these inner-plane initiatory events with the words: “Though Christ in Bethlehem a thousand times be born, and not within thyself, thy soul will be forlorn”.
The four weeks leading up to the Winter Solstice (or Christmas) are known as Advent. This is a preparatory time during which aspirants make room within themselves for the experience of the Birth of Christ. Although there are many ways to approach this time and that your understanding will be ever-deepening, the following explanation is a good place to start:
The week following the first Sunday of Advent is dedicated to the First or Preparatory Degree also known as the Degree of the Annunciation. This is a Degree of Purification exemplified by Mary’s acceptance of the Archangel Gabriel’s announcement that she was to conceive and that her child would be the Messiah with the words “Behold the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to thy word”. This acceptance sets up a field of receptivity within the aspirant that allows a seed of future growth to be planted in us.
The second week is dedicated to the Second Degree known as the Degree of the Immaculate Conception. This degree is described by Corrine Heline in the Mystery of the Christos:
“Here again the Virgin Mary emerges as the supreme embodiment of this sublime attainment. It is during this period that Mary, attended by hosts of Angels, comes close to earth to bestow her blessing upon all mankind. Her chant to the world ‘I am the Immaculate Conception’ carries the promise of an attainment that all aspirants one day will acquire. When the Second Degree is passed, disease is no more and mortal man puts on immortality. While passing through this Degree Mary became the preeminent type-pattern for the Immaculate Conception.”
The Third Degree is assigned to the third and fourth weeks of Advent and is known as the Degree of the Holy Birth. Here is where we travel from Jerusalem, the “City of Peace” (or heart center) to the manger in Bethlehem in which Christ is to be born. The manger scene typically depicts Joseph and Mary looking down adoringly at the Babe in a crib. There are animals on bended knee also in attendance. Also present are shepherds and the Magi or three wise men.
Esoterically this scene holds the keys to a deep mystery. Because of the purification that had previously been discussed we have been made ready to receive the gift of a renewed and strengthened Christ (Solar) impulse. Joseph and Mary represent the Male and Female principles of conscious and subconscious mind that are represented in the physical body in the pineal gland and pituitary body respectively. It is the bridge of Light that exists between these two bodies that paves the way for spiritual illumination and it is Illumination or Christ-hood that this whole business is all about.
The animals on bended knee depict the subjugated “animal nature” that comes with our physical bodies. The lower nature of animal desires, appetites and emotions has been made subject to the higher Presence of our Christ nature.
The shepherds represent that part of us that are simple seekers of truth and because of that simplicity were able to hear the announcement of the Birth from the angels before anyone else.
The three Magi are advanced initiates and are a foreshadowing of our own destiny as we too follow the Star in the East.
Again, these are outline sketches of what your ongoing meditations will reveal and should not themselves become a dogma that replaces the wonder-full experience of this season.