December marks an extremely important holiday time for billions of people around the globe. In many instances it is an extremely stressful time. Not only are we bombarded by the many advertisements on TV, in stores and now with the wonderful world of the internet our email folder is constantly full, laden with sales and announcements regarding the latest gadgets, toys etc; This can also be very a daunting to many who do not have the extra money to buy presents for their children, family, and friends. In addition, Christmas is a time of sorrow and many are saddened during this season when they think of their loved ones who will not be able to come home or the absence of family members that have passed on and for those who do not have others to celebrate with, it is a very lonely time.
With this in mind, it is important for us to remember why we are celebrating these holidays to begin with. The true meaning has been lost in the shuffle of materialism, expectations and big business. We need to remember that this is a celebration of a very special event.
So what is the real meaning of Christmas? Its not the gifts under the tree, or the lights in the windows, the cards in the mail, turkey dinners with family and friends, snow in the yard, stockings hanging in the living room, or shouts of “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” from those who pass us in the streets.
We have forgotten the true spiritual meaning of this season.
This season marks a time for us to remember God’s great love for us. It is a time of healing, renewed strength and spiritually.
The beginning of a new creation, and rebirth of humanity.
We all know the Story of the birth of Christ, called “the Nativity Story”, but when we look at this story from a metaphysical standpoint, it becomes a personal story. When we decide to walk through the one-way door to spiritual awakening, our lives change forever. Our feminine side, symbolized by Mary, is the initiator. Her job was to accept the change and then nurture it. Femininity is subconsciousness … sensitive, compassionate, creative and receptive. Joseph, of course, represents the our masculine side. His job was to trust what had happened, and then take action. Masculinity is consciousness … rational, aggressive, authoritative and penetrating. It’s a tough job for the masculine to allow the feminine to take the lead in this, but once the feminine is allowed to gestate the metamorphoses then we can use our masculine intellect to assimilate and educate.
The symbolism or the star in the East refers to the sun rising, or new beginnings. The “journey which the 3 kings made to Bethlehem was a spiritual journey, a journey many of us have committed to walk. Spiritual journeys take us way beyond our comfort zone and in many instances, it is long, and hard.. But change IS hard. But each step forward that we take on this path, brings us closer and closer to finding our purpose in life, bringing joy and liberation. It is rising above hopelessness and learning to be in a space of faith, surrender, joy and hope.
The star of David is the illumination for us, just like the full moon. It illuminates our lives, and our path so that we may know the way… But only if we are “seeing”, or what many people have said within the course of their lives at least once, when all of a sudden an a epiphany moment occurs… “I see the Light.” Those are moments of illumination and that is the symbolism of the Star of David that we must remember.
This article was written not to place emphasis on religious aspects, but to emphasize the true spiritual meaning of the season ( in a broader “spiritual” sense ) and what is most important about this season.. Perhaps if we could just remember and keep in mind that it is not about the “getting” and the material “giving”, but about fresh new beginnings and rebirth, then all of the darkness this season may bring for some would be rooted in the presence of light, replaced by the brightest star of light, hope, peace & joy.
So, now in the spirit of renewal, and welcoming the Light of Understanding and Inner Illumination, here are a few thoughts on various Christmas symbols we see this time of year in which you may not have known:
Angels are commonly showcased in the collective consciousness this time of year because, they are beings of light. And, as we are welcoming the renewal of Light (in its many forms) this time of year, it makes sense Angels will accompany our illuminated celebrations. Angels are symbolic of messages from the Divine, and what better time of year than Christmas to open up our channels of understanding to allow for Pristine communication. As Light Beings, what if Angels lived in every light particle? That’s a lot of Divine energy available for our contemplation and access. Divine light meets our awareness at every turn – take advantage of this special time of year to tap in and communicate with the Angels and be sure to listen for their responses, as they will always speak back to you in ways of signs, symbols and messages.
The symbolism of bells chimes the importance of clarity. Bells ringing on a crisp Christmas night can serve as a meditative trigger that can intone our awareness into higher realms of pure potential. Bells are also ancient symbols of protection and ringing them have long been considered a way to ward off negativity. To our ancestral minds, the very shape of the bell is reminiscent to the dome of heaven. In Christianity the ringing of a bell is a sacred announcement to the presence of Christ at mass. In Buddhism, the sounding of a bell is the resonance of pure wisdom – a tonal symbol of perfect harmony & clarity. In Asian, it is also considered a harmonic symbol – the bell itself considered female, the clapper or pendulum within the bell is male. The two working as one to create a beautiful tones symbolic of the union between male and female (yin and yang) to create perfect cooperation and balance.
Candles are a miniaturized version of the behemoth element from which they come: Fire – The Sun. As we are talking about Christmas symbolism, and honoring the return of the light (in terms of the Christ Light, or the Sun’s rays lingering longer upon the body of Earth), it makes sense to use candles as a way to galvanize the passion touching our hearts this time of year. Candles are light bringers, and so they are vessels for pure positive energy in the form of spiritual illumination. It has been said that Angels live within every flame we ignite – so honor the light beings with every candle you light this season. Candles can also speak to our souls because fire is a foundational element of our spiritual combustion. Consider this, and imagine the warmth of your spiritual presence spreading out to all of humankind – light a candle in the name of your brother, in honor of your sister, for the human family – this kind of soul-warming is present within you as the heat is inherent to the candle flame.
From Native American wisdom to Greco-Roman ,the Holly has long held itself as a miraculous evergreen. In fact, it’s status as an ever green (keeping green even in the stark winter months) is a testimony to its symbolism of renewal, immortality and rejuvenation. In ancient Rome, Holly was an attribute to the sun gods. Appropriately, holly adorned Roman halls during the celebrations during Saturnalia to represent health, joviality and good faith. Early Christians recognized deeper symbolism in Holly by associating the leaves as the “crown of thorns” and the red berries as the blood of Christ. By many ancient European cultures, Holly is a protective agent and is carried into the home to ward of negative energy during the winter months. Druidic wisdom regards the Holly as the king of winter (very male in gender)- the ruler of the dark half of the year.
Where Holly is the King of the winter months, Ivy is his Queen. Both Holly and Ivy are common companions during the winter months because of their evergreen status. They keep their beauty & splendor in the austerity of winter which is symbolic of endurance, promise, hope and vitality – even in the most challenging environments. It is a beautiful spiritual lesson in the fact that- the Ivy encourages one to maintain health and growth even when our circumstances are less than optimal and the Ivy weaving its way in every nook and cranny to further secure its placement. Beautiful lessons this time of year: Remain flexible, be resourceful – there’s always another way to climb – another opportunity to be had to obtain maximum potential. The Holly and Ivy seen this time of year is symbolic of harmony – just like the bell. The suggestion of duality (male/female, light/dark, active/passive) encourages us to take a look at complimentary elements within and around ourselves. Even unorthodox matches can sometimes be a “perfect fit.” Look for partnerships and strive to match up polarities to achieve classic combinations of endless potential.
Keeping in-theme with renewal and the promise of illumination re-entering our awareness, it’s not surprising to learn mistletoe is a representative of an illumined life. Neither shrub, nor tree and suspended in the air – Mistletoe is a powerful symbol of freedom. It is limitless in its capacity for growth, and indeed, it chooses the Chieftain of the forest, the Oak as its home. This intensifies Mistletoe symbolism as the Oak is vastly powerful to the Druidic arboreal realms of wisdom. Mistletoe is considered female (the Oak is male) and so conveys a message of fertility and renewal born from a partnership of solidity and strength – especially during the winter months. Mistletoe was considered to have tremendous healing properties, largely because of its association with the Oak. Why do we kiss beneath the Mistletoe? It’s a sacred plant of peace, so anytime it was spotted in the forests, honor was paid to it. This was done by warriors too. Ancient Europeans and warring Celtic clans dropped their weapons if Mistletoe was spotted in the forests where they fought. Peace was called at that moment. In a way, Mistletoe served as a “white flag” of surrender to warring clans. Today, this peace-loving behavior is carried out by kissing beneath the Mistletoe.
As far as symbolism goes, there is an abundant amount in reference to this beautiful flower. Starting with the Ancient Aztecs. They called the plant Cuitlaxochitl, which means “star flower”. The Aztecs have unique flower meanings of their own, and they deemed the poinsettia to symbolize purity. Interestingly enough, red is also a color of purity in Aztec wisdom. They used the red tops of the poinsettia flower as a dye for skin and clothing – thus marking the bearer as clean, pure and sacred. Did you know a poinsettia can grow up to 15 feet!? Absolutely! This brings me to a personal symbolic observation. Because it’s often looked at as a disposable plant, the poinsettia is painfully underestimated. With just a little bit of care and tenderness this plant can grow gigantic and into its full majestic potential. So symbolically we could say this reminds us to never overlook the magic in life – even when it seems insignificant. It’s also a reminder to take care of life – how a little love can certainly go a long way.
So who elected Reindeer to pull Santa’s Sled?? It could have just been easy for horses or moose to to the same and get the job done.. This legendary scenario makes its public appearance in the 1800s in the poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas, “also known as the “Night Before Christmas” where we are enchanted by the eight tiny reindeer Santa calls out by name. But they may have come from the early Norse myths in which Thor, the thunderous One was transported by a chariot pulled by goat who later morphed into reindeer as the legend was retold over time.
Reindeer are symbolic of savvy knowing and they are cunning survivalists able to live in brutal environments. Indigenous people would have observed the reindeer pawing beneath packed snow to access nutritive greens. From this observation, our ancestors would have known where to go for medicinal herbs. Reindeer are one of the first beasts of provision – meaning the first animal humankind relied upon for food, supplies, warm clothing, tools. This puts the Reindeer on high status – worthy of honoring – and so it is an animal of nobility, worthiness and is very symbolic of sustaining life for many tribes. So what about reindeer’s taking flight… How do they fly? ( and can they? )
Reindeer have been known to have a taste for certain hallucinogenic mushrooms, and have been seen to act pretty loopy after consuming them. Apparently they were “flying high” in a hallucinogenic kind of way..
Of course this season has much more to speak about with regards to symbolism and interesting meanings & histories that go along with them. These are just a few that I thought interesting to share.
May this holiday season bring you peace, love & joy and the gift of inner sight to see the potential for renewal & illumination ~ Katherine Mongiello