24 December 2010

THE MEANING OF THE CHRISTMAS STAR


The Star of Bethlehem and the Esoteric
Symbolism In the Legend of Jesus’ Birth


Carlos Cardoso Aveline


"Where is he that is born King of the Jews?
For we have seen his star in the east, and
are come to worship him."  (Matthew, 2:1)


Ancient philosophy teaches that stars are inhabited by divine spirits, and that an intimate relationship exists between them and human souls.

The idea is present in many different works of universal literature, including poetry and philosophy.

In the last lines of folio [41], in his “Timaeus”, Plato refers to the work of the “creator” of the universe, a term which in esoteric philosophy refers to the wide plurality of creative beings.

And Plato says this about the “creator” and the primordial “mixture” of the cosmos:

“(…..) He divided the whole mixture into souls equal in number to the stars, and assigned each soul to a star; and having there placed them as in a chariot, he showed them the nature of the universe, and declared to them the laws of destiny...” [1]

Indeed, according to esoteric philosophy physical stars are but the “chariots”, or vehicles, for star-spirits. A few lines later on - at the beginning of folio [42] - Plato says that such star-souls were “implanted in bodies by necessity”, that is, due to the law of karma, to use modern theosophical terms.

At the end of Timaeus [39] and the beginning of Timaeus [40], Plato mentions the moment when “all the stars which were necessary to creation of time had attained a motion suitable to them, and had become living creatures with bodies fastened by vital chains, and learnt their appointed tasks”. [2]

This teaching is perfectly in line with the esoteric philosophy as taught in the work “The Secret Doctrine”, by Helena P. Blavatsky. 

The topic is also subject to mystery, as its deeper knowledge belongs to initiates. We see at “The Secret Doctrine” references to the direct connection between the Seven Rishis (Sages) of ancient hindu tradition and the Seven Pleiades [3], the famous stars whose “sweet influences” to humanity [4] are mentioned in occult Theosophy.   

Such an intimate relationship between stars and wise men also occurs in the more recent Christian tradition, and in the legends of the New Testament. Chapter 2 in the Gospel according to Matthew opens with the narrative of Jesus’ birth. This occurs in close connection with an Eastern star.

Matthew, 2:1-2, says:

“Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, ‘Where is he that is born King of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him’.”  

As the search of the Wise Men went on, “the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.” (Matt., 2: 9-10)

The content and meaning of this symbolism is universal. In the mystical treatise entitled “The Voice of the Silence”, one sees:

“….The star which is thy goal burns overhead”. 

H.P. Blavatsky comments upon these words in a footnote:

“The star that burns overhead is ‘the star of initiation’.”[5]

According to “The Voice of the Silence”, the Three, or Triad which symbolizes the high chela or advanced disciple becomes “one star, the fire that burns but scorches not”.  That star is related to Atma, the seventh and highest principle of human consciousness.

The relation between individual men and stars is also explained in this paragraph of “The Secret Doctrine”:

“The star under which a human Entity is born, says the Occult teaching, will remain forever its star, throughout the whole cycle of its incarnations in one Manvantara. But this is not his astrological star. The latter is concerned and connected with the personality, the former with the INDIVIDUALITY. The ‘Angel’ of the Star, or the Dhyani-Buddha, will be either the guiding or simply the presiding ‘Angel’, so to say, in every new rebirth of the monad, which is part of his own essence, though his vehicle, man, may remain forever ignorant of this fact. The Adepts have each their Dhyani-Buddha, their elder ‘twin-Soul’, [6] and they know it, calling it ‘Father-Soul’ and ‘Father-Fire’. It is only at the last and supreme initiation, however, that they learn it when placed face to face with the bright ‘Image’. How much has Bulwer-Lytton known of this mystic fact when describing, in one of his highest inspirational moods, Zanoni face to face with his Augoeides?” [7]

These words are clear enough.

As human individuals cross the “strait gate” and strive to follow the “narrow way which leadeth unto life” (Matthew, 7:13-14), they will start to look at stars in a different way.

They will begin to listen to the silent, wordless voice of their sacred “Father in Heaven”.

But danger follows those who look for the narrow sacred Path.  For they must - as Matthew cautiously adds - “beware of false prophets, which come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves” (Matt., 7:15).

Such wolves, just as the king Herod and other probationary threats to the life of the Initiate, exist outside and in the lower realms of Nature, while the birth of Jesus is inner and takes place at the higher levels of consciousness. True Christmas can only occur in the depth of human hearts and minds,  for “Jesus” is in fact a symbol for everyone’s own spiritual soul, which must awaken in due time.  


NOTES:

[1] The first version of the present article was submitted to the Yahoo e-group E-Theosophy. Thanks are due to the member of the e-group who made a reference to Plato. As to this quotation, see “Timaeus”, by Plato, in “Plato - The Dialogues of Plato”, Translated by Benjamin Jowett, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc., Chicago, London, Toronto, 1952, 814 pp., see pp. 452-453.

[2] “Timaeus”, by Plato, in “Plato - The Dialogues of Plato”, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc.,  1952,  p. 451.

[3] “The Secret Doctrine”, Helena Blavatsky, Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, see volume II, p. 551.

[4] On the “sweet influences”, see “The Secret Doctrine”, vol. I, p. 648.

[5] “The Voice of the Silence”, translated and annotated by H.P. Blavatsky, Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, second half of Fragment I, p. 21. A few paragraphs before this passage (p. 19), the text says: “The Pupil must regain the child-state he has lost…”

[6] In connection to this phrase, Helena Blavatsky makes in a footnote several quotations from the Bible, two of them being “Glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matt., 5: 16) and “I ascend to my Father” (John, 20: 17).  See “The Secret Doctrine”, H.P. Blavatsky, Theosophy Co., Los Angeles, vol. I, p. 574.

[7] The Secret Doctrine”, H.P. Blavatsky, Theosophy Co., vol. I, pp. 572-574, especially pp. 572-573.  


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