The Singapore Lodge Theosophical Society
The following articles are reproduced from the December 2020 Newsletter to members. Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
The Occult Significance of Christmas
By Geoffrey Hodson
An Extract from Sharing the Light
THE Bible stories, it has been stated, not only contain a record of historical events, they also reveal eternal truths and interior experiences and attainments of individual men and women. The central figure in the Gospel story, the Christ, mystically represents also the Divine in Nature and in man, the Christos within. The story which is told of the Christ is a universal one, being enacted within and by the Soul of every human being.
Christmas is a thanksgiving, and a remembrance of the birth in Palestine 2,000 years ago of Him who became known as Jesus the Christ. It is also the story of the birth of the Christ, age by age, within the human heart; it is a festival of spiritual birth, a call to the spiritual life. For humanity, the beautiful story of the Nativity describes in symbol the entry by the spiritually awakened man and woman upon the Path or way of holiness, the adoption of the selfless, dedicated, spiritual life. The Nativity of Christ represents the beginning of a new cycle, of whatever order.
There are three main interpretations of the Bible story — the cosmic, the Monadic and the occult or initiatory. In the cosmos, it describes the birth of a universe at the dawn of the Creative Day. In man, it describes his spiritual ascent or birth into a higher level of consciousness, and so a new and spiritual ideal of life. The festival of Christmas has been interpreted as a call to enter upon the ‘strait and narrow way’ (Matthew 7:14) which leads to life eternal. There are said to be four main keys and one clue to an understanding of the symbology used in the story of the Nativity. The four keys are: All true spiritual and intuitive perceptions first occur within oneself. Each parable dramatises experiences of the Soul. People described therein are personifications of the principles of man. All objects have a symbolical meaning. A clue is the impossibility of a physical virgin birth which is a cover or blind to turn away the profane from the great Mystery, concealing its inner meaning, and yet it is a clue which reveals the inner spiritual truth to those who can follow it. In making the impossible seem to occur, the authors arrest the attention of the student, warning him to interpret, not literally but allegorically — not as a physical event but as a spiritual revelation. The awakening to power of spiritual vision of Divine Love and Wisdom from within the Soul, is indeed the result of an immaculate conception and a virgin birth.
How to Interpret
Let us now look at the main actors in the great drama and the main objects stressed in in the story, but in order to interpret them and understand fully the meaning, we must remember that man is sevenfold — a threefold immortal, spiritual being, the Microcosmic Trinity, the Triple Self of man, manifesting through four mortal bodies of mind, emotion, vitality and flesh. Each of these seven parts of man is personified in the story of the Nativity.
Gabriel, the Angel of the Annunciation, represents the innermost spirit in man, the Divine Spark or Monad. The Creative Will descending from the Monad is symbolised by the lily in Gabriel’s hand. Mary represents the divine intelligence, the spiritual soul or Ego, which alone is able to hear the voice of the indwelling spirit. The Christ Child, who is ‘born’ after this inwardly fructifying power has descended, represents love and intuition. Since it is wholly spiritual, this interior ‘birth’ is indeed immaculate. These three then, Gabriel, Mary and the Christ represent the three-fold spiritual Self of man.
Joseph stands for the formal logical mind, and valuable though this power of the intellect may be, it cannot by itself give birth to the intuition. The tame, domesticated animals in the manger represent the emotions — purified, controlled and harmonised. When these are wild and untamed they endanger the Soul of man, but when tamed and trained they are well represented by docile domestic beasts of burden. The manger in the stable of the inn is the source of life and nutriment. It represents the Etheric Double of man, the container of the vital forces that keep the physical body alive, the latter being represented by the stable. These four then, Joseph, the animals, the manger and the stable symbolise the four-fold mortal aspect of man.
Let us now look at aspects of the Nativity in greater detail, and using keys of the Sacred Language, see what other truths are hidden beneath the veil of allegory and symbol. Bethlehem, where Christ was born, may be regarded as symbolical of the whole world of men, material and spiritual, and the inn the accentuation of personal material interest. It is thus correctly described as being ‘full’. Accordingly, ‘there was no room for them in the inn’ (Luke 2:7). The wondrous birth of the Christ consciousness cannot occur in the realm of the worldly mind, dominated — not unnaturally — by the pursuit of personal pleasures and the attribute of possessiveness.
In a deeper occult sense, then, the manger is the secret place of the Soul, where wonderful transformations occur. It is here that the birth of the Christ Child takes place.
Every world religion has as its heart its sanctuaries or centres of the Great Mysteries. To these, every earnest aspirant whose motive is utterly selfless, whose heart is pure, can find his or her way. There spiritual wisdom is imparted, the Soul is enlightened, its unfoldment is quickened and, when the time is ripe, the Great Initiations are bestowed. In this sense then the manger of the inn typifies a secret sanctuary, despised by the world as a resting place, yet it is there that the mystic birth occurs in the presence of the august assembly of the Adepts Who are the Shepherds of Souls, and it is there that the Wise Men come.
This story of the birth of the Christ Child in feebleness and poverty in the manger of a stable of an inn, symbolises the surrender of all earthly possessions and powers, for the Initiate surrenders all, lays aside all personal desires and emotions, and gives up for ever all pride of possession. Thus is taught the great lesson of renunciation. Everyone who is spiritually newborn is selfless, detached and symbolically a child. The Lord of Love himself voluntarily chose to appear in the most helpless guise, an infant, and in the humblest of all places, a stable, surrounded by domestic animals. Yet the kings of the earth, the three Wise Men of the Bible story, came to visit the Babe in the stable and to lay their treasures — gold, frankincense and myrrh — at the Christ Child’s feet. Mystically interpreted, there are present at the First Initiation Adept sponsors (the Wise Men), and there then occurs a descent of Atma, Buddhi and Manas and the powers of each — symbolised by gold, frankincense and myrrh, the gifts of the Wise Men.
Symbol of the Star
The Wise Men were led to the inn by a star. The symbol of the star has many meanings, but in the initiatory sense it represents the Atma, the spiritual will, the forthshining spiritual power of the Initiate, and the shining symbol of the world’s great King, the One Initiator on this earth, in Whose name and by Whose power all Initiations are conferred. When a candidate reaches the portals of Initiation, the Star flashes forth to indicate the approval of this great Ruler of the world under the Solar Deity, the Great One Who is in charge of evolution on this earth.
This year we can all attend the annual international convention without going to Adyar! Indeed, you can stay right at home and be in the convention which will be completely online. The 145th International Convention will be a four-day online event from 27 to 30 December 2020 with the theme Cycles of Awareness. Each day is dedicated to regions of the world which have different time zones. This will permit Convention participants from around the globe to attend at suitable hours for them. The regions are Adyar/Asia (27th & 30th), the Americas (28th), and Europe/Africa (29th). Of course, you are welcome to tune in to other time zones as you wish.
For more information of the program, go to https://tsconvention.com/
Registration is required to attend the Convention. The registration fee is voluntary. However, the HQ would appreciate a contribution of USD$10 or so. Obviously higher amounts are most welcome.
To donate, go to: https://ts-adyar.org/content/donations
To register, go to:https://tsconvention.com/register-page/
A Difficult Year
2020 will remain in history as the year when the world was stricken by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first human cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19, subsequently named SARS-CoV-2 were first reported by officials in Wuhan City, China, in December 2019. It spread worldwide early in the year 2020. As of end November 2020, there were about 60 million confirmed cases worldwide. Almost 1.4 million lives were lost by this time.
COVID-19 affected the lives of many, some irreversibly. To control the spread of the virus most countries had to resort to total lockdown severely affecting the economy and the livelihood of its people. Few escaped unscathed.
Work from home and safe-distancing became our new norms. Social distancing severely restricts gatherings whether at a wedding or a funeral. For many, life at best, is most inconvenient.
The Theosophical Movement is likewise affected. COVID-19 precautionary measures prevented members from meeting in person. The Singapore Lodge was closed for four months, from April to July 2020. When we reopened in August we had to reduce our capacity to allow for safe-distancing and introduced a space booking system restricting attendees to the reduced capacity. Online meetings via Zoom became popular in the international community.
Even now the COVID-19 virus shows no sign of abating, with countries bracing for second, third and even fourth waves of infection. We can only hope for a better New Year.
May we all rejoice in the spirit of Christmas
of giving and celebrating
of you find peace and joy in the