Tuesday, December 20, 2011
The First Day of Christmas
We are in the last few days before Christmas, and the city is nearly impassable due to all of the people madly rushing to another store to get another gift for another person on their list. This has got me thinking about the true meaning of the season. So I have been taking it easy today, trying to avoid any place that sells anything, and thinking about the old story I learned as a small boy in Sunday School. We all know it. A virgin is with child, there is no room at the inn, the King of Kings born in a lowly stable below a shining star in the East. So, what does this have to do with shopping? It has set me on a day long Google search that has left me tired and confused. I feel like I have to share.
First I found out that Jesus was not the only son of God that was born of a virgin on Dec. 25. Around 3000BC Horus was born of the virgin, Isis, below a star in the East, and was visited by 3 kings. He later had 12 disciples, was baptized at age 30, walked on water, was crucified and raised from the dead three days later. But this is Christmas, not Easter so I will try to stay with the point. Next was Attis of Greece born Dec 25 around 1200 BC of a virgin, again crucified and raised from the dead three days later. Lord Krishna was born in northern India around 900 BC. His mother was also a virgin, he was born under an eastern star and resurrected. Dyonysus, also was born of a virgin on Dec 25 around 500 BC. He was also resurrected. There was also a persian god named Mithra who was born Dec 25 around 1200 BC who had 12 disciples, and was dead for three days before resurrecting.
This got my head spinning a bit so I dug a bit further. What is up with Dec 25? It seems to be astrological. As we all know, this time of year the sun is sinking to our south, and the days are painfully short. If we were to observe carefully, we would notice the sun would appear to remain stationary for three days around the winter solstice. Dec 22, 23 and 24 the sun is at its lowest point, and on the 25th it begins to visibly rise. To the ancients this signified the new birth or the raising from the dead. The star in the east is Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky. On Dec 24 it aligns with the three stars of the constellation Orion's belt. These three stars have been known since the Egyptians as the three Kings. If you were to draw a line through the four stars as they align on the 24th the line would intersect perfectly with the place of the rising of the sun the morning of the 25th, thus pointing to the birthplace of God's Sun, or son as we have come to spell it. This story is ancient and repetitious because of the constant fascination with astrology throughout the ages. The lord Jesus ushered us into the age of Pisces and promised to be with us until the end of the age (Matt 28:20). At that time, around 2050, will begin the new age of Aquarius. Perhaps then there will be created a new holiday to celebrate the start of this new age.
So why all of the presents, and tree decorating and lights? This began as a roman Pagan holiday called Saturnalia, which was celebrated every year from Dec 17-25. This was a week of lawlessness and outrageous behavior, that included rape and murder. Not unlike what happens in department stores the week before Christmas. They decorated themselves and gave each other gifts of cakes shaped like people. (much like Gingerbread men) The early church wanted an end to all of this paganism so they decided to let people think they could still celebrate the same way if they converted to Christianity. Likewise the Christmas tree is a leftover from pagan worship of the Asheira cult. This group worshipped trees in the forest and often brought them into their homes and decorated them. They were converted by the church and their tradition lives on to this day.
The ancient season of Yule was a time of both reflection and celebration, a time to connect in a relational way with one's own inner wisdom and with the people that surrounded them. Many different cultures from the Nordic Vikings to the Celtic Druids, Egyptians to the Hopi ritualized this sacred time to promote spiritual unity and attunement. It was believed that the veil between this world and the next was thin at this time, and the ancestors were invited to partake in the celebrations. The Nordics believed this was the time that Thor would ride his chariot in the night skies, pulled by two Reindeer, named Donner and Blitzen. (History of yule taken from www.bellaonline.com)
I could go on, but I won't bore you any further. I just thought it would be fun for us all to be reminded of the spirit of this season. So, I am going to look at this Christmas in a new way. It is a time to reflect on the year that has passed, share good cheer and gifts with the people I love the most, but never see enough, and look foreword to the coming year as a gift of new life, with limitless possibilities. Maybe this is how I should have been looking at it all along. Anyway, have a great holiday season! Pour yourself an extra stout glass of eggnog from me. I'll be keeping mine virgin, just like Isis, the mother of Horus.
P.S. This is not meant to discredit anyones religious beliefs of spiritual truths in any way. If anything is should cement the realization of the amazing power of the one who sustains us all, to unify people throughout the ages and around the world to an unshakable truth of hope and salvation. Thanks for reading.