Reflection December 22: Preparing yourself
We warmly welcome you as a participant in the online program Spiritual Christmas.
This program is an initiative of the Pentagram Bookstore in Haarlem, the Netherlands. It aims to bring the eternal and pure spiritual message to those who inwardly long for life fulfilment.
This is the first of a series of 16 texts you will receive daily by e-mail in the coming Christmas season, from today, December 22 – the day after the winter solstice – until January 6, the day of Epiphany.
The texts allow you to contemplate the esoteric meaning of Christmas and the Christmas season. By focusing your attention on it you create a receptivity to a very spiritual process: the Light-birth within yourself. That is the Christmas miracle of awakening and activating the divine being within you. It is the beginning of a completely new spiritual path that never ends.
In English, the time period following Christmas has a meaningful name: ‘holidays’, which literally means ‘holy days’, days that can be seen as a gift to focus on healing in the broadest sense of the word. These days, when you can be ‘vacant’ from all your usual worries, allow you to be filled with healing powers. The word ‘vacant’ means ’empty’, while the word ‘holy’ is related to ‘being whole’.
According to several traditions the cosmic ‘gates to the divine’ are wide open during the period from December 24 until January 6. This time period from Christmas until Epiphany is also referred to as the twelve holy nights. This idea is not based on historical events of more than two thousand years ago; rather it concerns cosmic processes.
Where did the idea of the twelve nights originate? Long before Christianity arrived in Europe, the Germanic and Celtic peoples celebrated a midwinter feast (or Jul-feast) sometimes lasting eleven days and twelve nights, following the winter solstice. That time period is exactly the difference between twelve revolutions of the moon around the earth, in 29.5 days (354 in total), and the 365 days it takes the earth to complete one rotation around the sun: 365-354 = 11 days and 12 nights.
The number twelve expresses fullness and completeness. Think of the 12 signs of the Zodiac, the 12 hours of the day and the 12 hours of the night. Consider also the 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 disciples of Jesus and the 12 Knights of the Round Table. Twelve is the product of three and four: 3 x 4 = 12. The twelve holy nights can be seen as stages along the path of spiritual development, symbolically indicated in the twelve hours of the Nuctemeron of Apollonius of Tyana, the twelve labours of Hercules and the thirteen songs of repentance in the Gospel of the Pistis Sophia.
In many traditions three is considered a divine number, while four is considered an earthly number. From this point of view the number 12 encompasses both the earthly and the divine.
Humanity also holds both the earthly and the divine within itself. Human beings as we know them are indeed manifestations of the divine, but they themselves are not divine and never will be. Our physical bodies will eventually die. The physical body is dust and will return to dust.
The bridge between time and eternity
Several wisdom teachings speak about an immortal divine principle lying dormant in every human being that is just waiting to wake up and be active. Based on that awakened and active divine principle, the human being can become a bridge between time and eternity. What matters is not that we will enter eternity, but that the eternal being within us may be vivified. That is the core of all Gnostic teachings and also of esoteric Christianity: the human being is twofold.
The daily texts contain reflections inspired by selected chapters of The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ. This book by Levi Dowling was published in 1908.
The Aquarian Gospel was chosen because it expresses the essence of inner Christianity very powerfully and purely. Inner Christianity is also sometimes referred to as original Christianity, esoteric Christianity or Gnostic Christianity. Gnostic Christianity locates the divine within the human being; outer Christianity declares that the divine is only external. Moreover, The Aquarian Gospel considers other world religions as well, all of which express certain aspects of what we may call ‘universal wisdom teachings’.
Various researchers have argued on the basis of solid arguments that, from the historical point of view, The Aquarian Gospel as well as the Gospels in the Bible are incorrect. Probably they are right. For us it does not matter because the narratives are full of deeper meaning. And that is something which will become increasingly apparent in the course of this program.
If you are looking for further content on certain topics in the reflections, you can click on links included in the text. It is recommended that you do this by clicking only after you have first read or listened to the entire text. The links in the texts refer to books or blogs that elaborate on the above subject.
We recommend that you read the daily narrative of The Aquarian Gospel just before bedtime and the accompanying reflection the next day right after getting up. In this way you end and begin every day with focus and openness. You take the narrative along in your sleep, where unconsciously it may open sources of inner knowledge. And you can carry the text of the reflection in your heart throughout the day.
Sleep is most beneficial when the night consciousness can raise itself into an area where the ordinary waking consciousness cannot follow.
“The sleep of the body becomes the sobriety of the soul” are the profound words of Hermes Trismegistus. By directing ourselves inwardly, the quiet of the body can become the freedom of the soul. In the spatiotemporal nature there is no place of rest for the soul. During sleep, however, it may travel to the place where the turmoil of the opposites cannot exist: the Temple of Silence.
In that sacred place, it is nourished with the essence of a higher human life and receives the rich teachings of universal wisdom. Upon awakening, the soul will transfer the inner certainty obtained to the physical human being. In this way sleep can be a blessing for those who seek for the truth. We wish you an inspiring Christmas period.