Theosophy Northwest View

The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
December 1998 Vol. 1 Issue 10

The Christmas Tree

The Christmas tree, dotted with lights and bright with tinsel that reflects those lights and multiplies them manifold, is an old pre-Christian symbol used by the peoples of northern Europe at the time of the winter solstice; and here is the inner significance of it:

Have you never heard of the World Tree with its roots in the realms of spirit and whose branches are the great suns and systems of suns? This World Tree began in the beginning of this cosmic age to bring forth all the stellar hosts. The winter solstice is the beginning of the cosmic New Year, and so these northern peoples, knowing some of the ancient truths, celebrated this cosmic event with the Christmas tree. It symbolizes the World Tree, and the lights are the suns that bestrew the deeps of space, hinting to us the message from the divinities who constantly give us the light of love, the light of mind, the light of hope eternal. -- G. de Purucker

Monthly Discussion Group

This month "Can We Reach Perfection?" is our subject.

Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.

Upcoming Topics
January 14: What Is the Origin of Life?
February 11: Psychic Powers -- Beneficial or Dangerous?

The Inner Nativity

And it came to pass in those days that a woman conceived a new life within her soul.
As her reason would not have it, she put it from her mind.
But her heart sent a messenger, saying,
"Do not fear the inner life, for it is conceived of your own Holy Spirit.
And you shall bring forth a living expression of your higher self.
And your mind shall call this spirit-child its Savior."
And when the woman was great with child, great was her belief:
She would be one with her true nature, that her inner Christ should be delivered.
No longer would she seek the comforts of a separate self --there was no room for them in her innermost desire.
For she would know her kinship with all, even at the lowest station and the humblest abode.
And lo, a star went before her, guiding her with the one Light to the sages of all time.
This Light has always stood over knowledge of things divine, and it opened her to the treasures in the human soul: the truth of the stars reflected in every mind.
Within her also were the silent servants of her virtue, watching over her deepest reflections.
Wisdom and compassion, patience and understanding -- these were the shepherds of her nobler nature.
They called forth a message of love that cast out every fear.
They gave her the vision to behold the Divine in all her fellow beings, to care for them as they were, and to trust in the greatness they would become.
These were the good tidings she brought to all the people she met, for unto her was born that day the Savior of her humanity -- her inner Christ became the Lord of her life.
And this shall be a sign unto us: We ourselves shall find the divine child within us, clothed with the Sun that shines equally on all.
Our own compassion will praise God in the highest, and shed light on the god-wisdom in everyone we care for.
And the quintessence of this praise shall be: "Glory to the godspark within us.
Peace on Earth be our nature, and goodwill to all that lives." -- Jim Belderis

From Sunrise, December 1996/January 1997

Theosophical Views

Winter Solstice -- Gift of Illumination

by Dorothea Hamann

Christmas is here again, and there is good reason for joy because the sun, now far away in the south, begins to travel north at the winter solstice, bringing the wintry earth a new promise of light and warmth. On the night of December 21/22, the sun reaches its southernmost point. Were it to remain in the south, it would mean death for living beings in the northern hemisphere. Thus we greet the returning sun as a "savior." On the night when it begins its northward journey, the constellation Virgo, the celestial virgin, appears on the eastern horizon at midnight and is therefore, astrologically, the ascendant. This coordinates with the myth of the various saviors of humanity, immaculately conceived and born from a virgin. Later, the sun symbolically sacrifices its life on the cross when it passes over the equinoctial point at the spring equinox, an apparent descent as seen from the southern hemisphere and an ascent in the northern sky. The focal points of the year -- the four sacred seasons of the solstices and equinoxes -- affect the consciousness of all humanity; and no matter on which day the festivals fall, they can provide gateways for the properly attuned heart and mind, allowing us to enter the forecourt of the temple of learning and life.

The word solstice means "the standing still of the sun." As a result of the inclination of the earth's axis, the sun reaches at December 22-24 its southernmost point, when it rises in the southeast and sets in the southwest. The poles of the earth and sun then lie in the same vertical plane, as they do at the summer solstice in June, when the sun reaches its northernmost point, and rises in the northeast and sets in the northwest. At the two solstices the sun appears to stand still for a day before beginning its return journey in the opposite direction.

At the winter solstice the universal currents of life help human consciousness to enter divine spheres. At the same time spiritual energy can descend from higher worlds into the human arena: the gods "descend into hell" to garner experience in their underworld (our own world), thereby bringing inspiration and enlightenment to humanity. At this time we also may undergo a new birth. Nature has opened the door, and it is up to us to recognize this and take a step further.

At this solstice two different initiations can take place, depending on the time and individuals in question. The lesser initiation allows the initiant to travel to the portals of the sun and, if successful, to catch a glimpse of the essence of the solar divinity before returning after three days. By analogy, there must surely be initiations of less intensity extending down to ourselves. These lesser initiations, nevertheless very influential, are part of nature and of ourselves. In our everyday life we are preparing ourselves for initiation and so participate to some extent in the experience of those who have been chosen for greater tests at one of the sacred seasons. The more we understand the wonderful opportunity of these grand initiations, the more we shall recognize -- in the thoughts flowing through our consciousness -- that our higher self or divinity within is preparing us to take that step one day.

The highest initiation, which occurs once in a Messianic cycle of 2,160 years, is one of the sublimest experiences imaginable. In the lesser initiations the initiant frees himself from his psycho-physical principles so that his spiritual-human principles can advance to the portals of the sun and then return. In the higher initiation the initiant has gained the ability to consciously free his divine self so that it can follow the spiritual-magnetic pathways through the planetary spheres. After fourteen days the initiant returns as a bodhisattva, savior, or christ.

On January 5/6, about two weeks after the winter solstice, comes Twelfth Night or Epiphany, in which the "wise men" bring their gifts to the newborn initiate, the christ child, born from the awakened human soul. Each wise man gives his own particular quality to the soul experiencing the mystic birth at the darkest hour of the year. They are a veiled reference to a planetary alignment connected with the "virgin birth" of a savior: an alignment of Mercury and Venus with the sun, moon, and earth -- a recurring event marking a critical point in human evolution. Interestingly, when Venus and Mercury lie between the earth and sun, the side of the earth facing them is also facing the sun. It is therefore daylight and the planets cannot be seen. The new moon is also invisible, unless it causes an eclipse of the sun. The Biblical wise men are said to correspond to the moon, Venus, and Mercury, which at rare intervals lie in a straight line with, and provide a pathway to, the sun. The liberated soul is then able to pass through these planets and, if successful, to enter the heart of the spiritual sun -- the culmination of the initiation experience.

(from Sunrise, December 1993/January 1994)

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