How We Create an Atmosphere for the Future
Carlos Cardoso Aveline
The following article was first published at the
electronic magazine “The Aquarian Theosophist”,
December 2005 edition, pp. 1-5. Original title:
“Christmas Eve and the Creation of
The Atmosphere for a New Year”.
“The Dial of Time marks off another of the
world’s Hours. And, as the Old Year passes into Eternity,
like a raindrop falling into the Ocean, its vacant place on
the calendar is occupied by a successor... ”.
H.P. Blavatsky 
Christmas and New Year’s season may have a strong inner meaning for those who have eyes to see. The 12 months’ round corresponds to a whole cycle in our existence. A page is turned in the book of life, and some people get tempted to make the time-honoured Pythagorean examination:
“What good have I done? What mistakes? Will I renew and keep my vows to act in the best way I can in the next year?”
Indeed, the end of any cycle and the beginning of a new one is always a good occasion to evaluate our progress in learning and to make new resolutions. H.P.B. wrote: “And let no one imagine that it is a mere fancy, the attaching of importance to the birth of the year.”
“The earth passes through its definite phases and man with it; and as a day can be coloured so can a year. The astral life of the earth is young and strong between Christmas and Easter. Those who form their wishes now [id est, in December-January] will have added strength to fulfill them consistently.”
Our perception of time expands at every end of a cycle. It seems we get face to face with other similar moments, past and future. While you turn over a leaf in the book of your life, you get a sense of what were the previous pages, and you have a dialogue with the seeds of future. Christmas’ time leads you into a different dimension in time. In some cases a repetition of the same old celebrations around us cause a strange sense of déjà vu which expands our perception. It brings us recollections of the past and perhaps some feelings about times yet-to-be.
It is true that any attachment to past things is dangerous, and H.P.B. made a warning, while writing about an ending year:
“Let it go, with its joys and triumphs, its badness and bitterness, if it but leave behind for our instruction the memory of our experience and the lesson of our mistakes. Wise is he who lets ‘the dead Past bury its dead’ and turns with courage to meet the fresher duties of the New Year; only the weak and foolish bemoan the irrevocable.” 
A thoughtful examination of the past can give us valuable lessons and clues as to future patterns of vibrations, in a much bigger dimension of time – and perhaps a glimpse of eternity itself. In 1879 H.P.B. wrote an article on Christmas which remains fundamentally valid today, both as a historical account and as a philosophical reflection. She said:
“We are reaching the time of the year when the whole Christian world is preparing the most noted of its solemnities – the birth of the Founder of its religion. When this paper reaches its Western subscribers there will be festivity and rejoicing in every house. In North-Western Europe and in America the holly and ivy will decorate each home, and the churches be decked with evergreens; a custom derived from the ancient practices of the pagan Druids ‘that sylvan spirits might flock to the evergreens, and remain unnipped by frost till a milder season’. In Roman Catholic countries large crowds flock during the whole evening and night of ‘Christmas Eve’ to the churches, to salute waxen images of the divine Infant, and his Virgin mother, in her garb of ‘Queen of Heaven’. To an analytical mind, this bravery of rich gold and lace, pearl-broidered satin and velvet, and the bejewelled cradle do seem rather paradoxical. When one thinks of the poor, worm-eaten, dirty manger of the Jewish country-inn, in which, if we must credit the Gospel, the future ‘Redeemer’ was placed at his birth for lack of a better shelter, we cannot help suspecting that before the dazzled eyes of the unsophisticated devotee the Bethlehem stable vanishes altogether. To put it in the mildest terms, this gaudy display tallies ill with the democratic feelings and the truly divine contempt for riches of the ‘Son of Man’ , who had ‘not where to lay his head’.
HPB’s critical analysis goes on, not without an irony:
“It makes it all the harder for the average Christian to regard the explicit statement that – ‘it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven,’ as anything more than a rhetorical threat. The Roman Church acted wisely in severely forbidding her parishioners to either read or interpret the Gospels for themselves, and leaving the Book, as long as it was possible, to proclaim its truths in Latin – ‘the voice of one crying in the wilderness’. In that, she but followed the wisdom of the ages – the wisdom of the old Aryans, which is also ‘justified of her children’; for, as neither the modern Hindu devotee understands a word of Sanskrit, nor the modern Parsi one syllable of the Zend, so for the average Roman Catholic the Latin is no better than Hieroglyphics. The result is that all the three – Brahmanical High Priest, Zoroastrian Mobed, and Roman Catholic Pontiff, are allowed unlimited opportunities for evolving new religious dogmas out of the depths of their own fancy, for the benefit of their own churches.” 
The reasons why December 25th is the day now set for the celebration of Jesus’ birth are more related to old pagan customs than to any Christian tradition. As HPB explains, in the same text:
“Though now universally observed by Christian nations as the anniversary of the birth of Jesus, the 25th of December was not originally so accepted. The most movable of the Christian feast days, during the early centuries, Christmas was often confounded with the Epiphany, and celebrated in the months of April and May. As there never was any authentic record, or proof of its identification, whether in secular or ecclesiastical history, the selection of that day long remained optional; and it was only during the fourth century that, urged by Cyril of Jerusalem, the Pope (Julius I) ordered the bishops to make an investigation and come finally to some agreement as to the presumable date of the nativity of Christ. Their choice fell upon the 25th day of December – and a most unfortunate it has since proved! It was Dupuis, followed by Volney, who aimed, the first shots at this natal anniversary. They proved that for incalculable periods before our era, upon very clear astronomical data, nearly all the ancient peoples had celebrated the births of their sun-gods on that very day. ‘Dupuis says, that the celestial sign of the VIRGIN AND CHILD was in existence several thousand years before the birth of Christ’ – remarks Higgins in his Anacalypsis . As Dupuis, Volney and Higgins have all been passed over to posterity as infidels, and enemies to Christianity, it may be as well to quote, in this relation, the confessions of the Christian Bishop of Ratisbone, ‘the most learned man that the Middle Ages produced’ – the Dominican, Albertus Magnus. ‘The sign of the celestial virgin rises above the horizon at the moment in which we fix the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ’, he says . So Adonis, Bacchus, Osiris, Apollo, etc., were all born on the 25th of December. Christmas comes just at the time of the winter solstice; the days then are the shortest, and Darkness is more upon the face of the earth than ever. All the sun-gods were believed to be annually born at that epoch; for from this time its Light dispels more and more darkness with each succeeding day, and the power of the Sun begins to increase.”
HPB dismantles the collective fancy according to which Christianity has its own independent source of inspiration, as a religion. She describes the pagan roots of Christ birth celebrations:
“However it may be, the Christmas festivities that were held by the Christians for nearly fifteen centuries were of a particular pagan character. Nay, we are afraid that even the present ceremonies of the Church can hardly escape the reproach of being almost literally copied from the mysteries of Egypt and Greece, held in honor of Osiris and Horus, Apollo and Bacchus. Both Isis and Ceres were called “Holy Virgins”, and a DIVINE BABE may be found in every ‘heathen’ religion.” 
So what happens if a modern esotericist looks at the Christmas celebrations taking place around him? Perhaps he will be able to see under the surface. Behind the Christian mask of present day, he may feel the strength of sun-god celebrations made since the dawn of time in the different religious traditions, eastern and western.
So, HPB says:
“Let us, by all means, exchange wishes and gifts (étrennes), but let us not be ungrateful, Theosophists! Let us not forget that these customs come to us from paganism; and that felicitations and gifts also came to us from the same source. As a matter of fact, gifts (étrennes) are but the strenae, the presents exchanged by the Latins on the first of January.” 
In a footnote, HPB explains that the word “January” comes from “Janua”, which means “door” or any kind of entrance; “the door that opens up the year”.
Doors happen to have two faces. And that leads us to another example, for Saint Peter, the doorkeeper of heaven, is in fact a baptized and christianized version of the old pagan god Janus, the double-faced janitor who opens the gates of heaven so that the Sun can appear every morning, and who also opens its gates every new year, while closing the doors for the old days and years. HPB writes:
“Neither a false nose nor a mask could prevent an old pagan from recognizing his double-faced Janus in the Apostle who denied his Master. The two are identical, and everybody has the right to take what is his own, wherever he finds it. Saint Peter is the coeli Janitor merely because Janus was that too. The old doorkeeper of heaven, who pulled the door cord at the palace of the Sun, and closed it again when ushering them out, is but too easily recognizable in his new role. (...) Solomon has said: ‘There is nothing new under the sun’; and he was right.” 
The fact that we recognize Christianity as a pagan religion in its core is certainly not a reason for us to reject it. Probably the opposite. We do not have to go to Mass to see this western religion as it is, an amalgam of ignorance and tradition with some wisdom inside which can still be rescued from its curtain of ritualistic blind-belief. Besides, we ourselves are probably not so far distant from spiritual blindness that we must feed in ourselves a purified sense of intellectual contempt for such popular beliefs. And sages do not feel contempt for ignorance. They experience compassion.
Once we get free from automatic and instinctive rejection or adherence, we can see that Christmas’ time does have an inner side. It is a celebration of universal brotherhood, a sun-celebration, a homage to the spiritual light within and outside our hearts. As we know, human heart identifies itself with the sun and with the Christ within, Chrestos. And as we change ourselves and accept the expansion of our consciousness, we also help change the atmosphere around us.
Thinking of New Years, the main expounder of modern esoteric philosophy wrote:
“Thoreau pointed out that there are artists in life, persons who can change the colour of a day and make it beautiful to those with whom they come in contact. We claim that there are adepts, masters in life who make it divine, as in all other arts. Is it not the greatest art of all, this which affects the very atmosphere in which we live? That it is the most important is seen at once, when we remember that every person who draws the breath of life affects the mental and moral atmosphere of the world, and helps to colour the day for those about him.”
In the same text, H.P.Blavatsky said that Epictetus the Stoic became sublime because he “recognized his own absolute responsibility and did not try to evade it”. And she added: “The occultist fully recognizes the responsibility and claims his title by having both tried and acquired knowledge of his own possibilities.” For her, man’s life is in his own hands, his fate is ordered by himself, and there is no reason why each new year must not be a year of greater spiritual development “than any we have lived through”. It depends on ourselves to make it so:
“This is an actual fact, not a religious sentiment. In a garden of sunflowers every flower turns towards the light. Why not so with us?” 
We do possess a center of eternal peace and love in our hearts, and since we have some unavoidable responsibilities as students of the esoteric philosophy, we may choose to send good wishes to all sentient beings, all the more so in some special occasions. Blavatsky wrote:
“A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL! This seems easy enough to say, and everyone expects some such greeting. Yet, whether the wish, though it may proceed from a sincere heart, is likely to be realized – is more difficult to decide. According to our theosophical tenets, every man or woman is endowed, more or less, with a magnetic potentiality, which when helped by a sincere, and especially by a intense and indomitable will – is the most effective of magic levers placed by Nature in human hands – for woe as for weal. Let us then, Theosophists, use that will to send a sincere greeting and a wish of good luck for the New Year to every creature under the sun – enemies and relentless traducers as well.” 
When should we do that? From the esoteric viewpoint, perhaps the best day to make such a celebration is not January the first., says H.P.B. January 3rd, for instance, was in the old times dedicated to Minerva-Athênê, the goddess of wisdom.  And then we have the special date of January 4th:
“To be brief, it is January the 4th which ought to be selected by the Theosophists – the esotericists especially – as their New Year. January is under the sign of Capricornus, the mysterious Makara of the hindu mystics – the ‘Kumaras’, it being stated, having being incarnated in mankind under the tenth sign of the Zodiac. For ages the 4th of January has been sacred to Mercury-Budha, or Thot-Hermes. Thus everything combines to make of it a festival to be held by those who study ancient Wisdom. Whether called Budh or Budhi by its Aryan name, Mercurios, the son of Caelus and Hecate truly, or of the divine (white) and infernal (black) magic, by its Hellenic, or again Hermes or Thot, its Greco-Egyptian name, the day seems in every way more appropriate for us than January 1, the day of Janus, the double-faced ‘god of the time’-servers.” 
Regardless of its exact day, esoteric or exoteric, each New Year is born under the sign of Capricorn, whose regent is Saturn. This is the planet of karma, the master of time, the builder, destroyer and rebuilder of structures both subtle and material, the lord of the rings, the co-regent of the now dawning Aquarius Age.
 “A Year of Theosophy”, H. P. B., in “Collected Writings”, TPH, vol. III, 1995, p. 01.
 H.P. Blavatsky, in the article “1888”, published in the pamphlet “Theosophical Objects, Program and Organization”, The Theosophy Company, L. Angeles, USA, 37 pp., see p. 9. The article “1888” was also published in the “H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings”, TPH, volume IX, pp. 3-5 (see p. 5).
 “H. P. B. Collected Writings”, TPH, vol. III, 1995, p. 01.
 “H. P. B. Collected Writings”, TPH, vol. III, 1995, p. 01.
 Boris de Zirkoff, editor of “H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings”, adds: “Book I, p. 313”.
 Boriz de Zirkoff adds: “This passage is from Godfrey Higgins’ Anacalypsis, Vol I, p. 314, where he ascribes these words to Albertus Magnus and gives as reference ‘Lib de Univers’.”
 “The Theosophist”, Bombay, India, December, 1879, pp. 58-59. “H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings”, TPH, Volume II, pp. 163-165.
 “H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings”, TPH, volume XII, 1987, text entitled “Thoughts on the New Year”, see p. 98.
 “H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings”, TPH, volume XII, 1987, text entitled “Thoughts on the New Year”, see p. 99.
 H.P. Blavatsky, in the pamphlet “Theosophical Objects, Program and Organization”, Theosophy Company, L. Angeles, USA, 37 pp., see pp. 8-9, text entitled “1888”. See also “H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings”, volume IX, pp. 3-5.
 “Collected Writings”, TPH, H.P. Blavatsky, volume XII, TPH, p. 67.
 “Collected Writings”, H.P. Blavatsky, volume XII, TPH, p. 75.
 “Collected Writings”, H.P. Blavatsky, volume XII, TPH, p. 76.