Now the twilight of the year
Comes, and Christmas draweth near.
See, across the Advent sky
How the clouds move slowly by.
Earth is waiting, wrapped in sleep,
Waiting in a slumber deep.
Waiting for the Christmas birth,
The birth that blesses Heaven and Earth.
As I walked on my favorite river trail this morning, the skies were gray and promising to bring rain soon. The salmon were running in the rivers, their silver tales flashing through the waters. Their spawning would be followed by their natural death, which would in turn bring food to the gulls and the vultures waiting on the shore and in the trees. And in the spring, the salmon eggs will hatch, and the river will be filled with fingerlings.
Now, in the dark and dead part of the year, the seeds of new life are being laid into the earth. All the kingdoms of nature take part in the dying and the birth, as the earth inhales her life forces and wraps herself in blankets of leaves and drifts of snow.
And even as the outer world is getting ready for the madness of pre-holiday shopping and feasting, another sacred festival is being prepared. The mid-winter festival is a festival of communion for the universe and the earth. The sacrament of birth is celebrated every year anew, in the humble place of the manger, in the listening human heart, in the deep center of the earth .
The four weeks preceding Christmas are called Advent, meaning “Coming towards.” The great Sun-Spirit of the Macrocosm “comes towards” the earth every Christmas, to be born in the Microcosm of the earth, in the microcosmic heart of the human being. And just as a mother must wait through a pregnancy until she gives gift to her child, so we must wait through the season of Advent as a kind of world-pregnancy. This is a season of waiting and envisioning, a season to prepare ourselves to connect with the spirit who wills to connect with the earth.
And in the four weeks of Advent, the four kingdoms of Nature are each blessed, one by one, as the earth inhales, the seeds are laid beneath the ground, and the Spirit draws near, approaching from the heights of heaven to the depths of earth.
This, the first week of Advent is sacred to the kingdom of the minerals. These form the foundation of all our life, forming the bedrock of the planet, the scaffolding and skeleton for our existence.
In this first week, as we learn to cultivate our inner quiet, we can take time to give thanks and gratitude to the mineral kingdom. We can honor the selfless strength of the rocks, stones, crystals, bones, seashells and more: to the light and wisdom of their shape and form.
The first light of Advent,
It is the light of stones,
Light that dwells in seashells,
In crystals and in bone.
Many people choose to create a quiet ritual for Advent season, by preparing a table with four candles to notate the four weeks of Advent. In the first week, one single candle is lit daily to signify the mineral kingdom. In the second week, a second candle is also lit, for the plant kingdom; in the third week, a third is lit for the animal kingdom; and in the fourth week, a fourth is lit for the human kingdom.
This simple ritual prepares us then for the darkness of the midnight hour, Christmas Eve, when those who understand the esoteric nature of Christmas listen at the midnight hour for the sacred marriage of heaven and earth. At Christmas, the cosmic spirit of the heights enters into the non-physical space of the human heart.
In the deep darkness of a winter night, in the dark of the cave where the child is born, the mystery of birth will be celebrated. Christmas is the season to celebrate the birth of light in the darkness, the birth of spirit being in the darkness of matter.
Consider the great vastness of the universe: the spiritual beings in the depths of space, expressing themselves through the great multitude of lights in the star-spangled sky. Consider our own solar system, where planets dance around the great sun. Consider the earth, our home, and how the life on the earth swells and subsides in accordance with her yearly journey around the sun.
Since the beginning of earth-time, human beings have marked the seasons of the year with song, dance and ritual. We experience the intimate dance of the sun and the earth as the inescapable backdrop of our lives. In response, druids and wisdom-keepers, priestesses and priests, have taught humanity to seek the blessings of the harmony between sun and earth in ancient seasonal ceremonies, marking the summer and winter solstices and the spring and fall equinoxes.
Since the birth of Jesus on earth, the Christian festivals have also been placed on this cross of the year. It can be a source of deep nourishment to uncover the deep meanings behind these mysteries.
Since the beginning of earth time, human beings have marked the seasons of the year with song, dance and ritual. The seasons each have their own power, their own gesture. Indeed, the seasons seem to show the very soul of the earth as she reveals herself in light and darkness, softness and brittleness.
And if the seasons are the soul of the earth, what is her spirit?
Esoteric Christianity reveals that the spirit of the earth is the spirit of the Sun-God Himself, come to earth so that it can in time become a new sun, a source of light for the new round of Creation.
What, then, is Christmas? In the season of mid-winter, the earth wraps herself in blankets of sleep. Leaves fall from the trees and cover her over, until the snows of winter lay themselves down. The sky bends low to the earth as the sun winds its winter course over the southern hemisphere, and the days are dark and nights are long. Plants concentrate their forces in root and seed, and animals head south or hibernate in holes and caves.
The natural world becomes still.
The name of this season is Advent, the time to celebrate what is coming near: ad-venire. Advent is the season of anticipation, of expectation. The season of Advent is the beginning of the new spiritual year for the earth, and begins with the four weeks before Christmas. In these weeks, we humans have too much to do: the world becomes loud and demanding with commercials and consumerism.
Yet in the silence of nature, another sacred year is being born. The world begins to listen with spiritual ears to the approach of the Spirit-Sun, who is reborn on earth every year. And over the course of four weeks, the kingdoms of nature will celebrate Christmas, one by one.
It is the mineral kingdom that first hears the promise. The spiritual beings that carry the consciousness of the minerals exist far above the earth. From lofty heights, they sense that the spirit light of the sun is beginning to contract and descend to the earth far below. The minerals hear this, and rejoice in the silence.
In the second week of Advent, it will be the heavenly spirits who hold the wisdom of the plants who hear the promise of Christmas, and the seeds implanted in the earth ring in response.
In the third week, the spirits of the animals, closer to the earth than the spirits of rocks and plants, sense the coming promise, and the animals kingdom is also blessed.
And in the fourth week, we humans beings, in whom matter and spirit are woven into a unity of self-consciousness, sense that the purpose and promise of our earth existence is drawing physically near.
And so, in the deep darkness of a winter night, in the dark of the cave where the child is born, the mystery of birth will be celebrated. Christmas is the season to celebrate the birth of light in the darkness, the birth of spirit being in the darkness of matter.
And so we will meet every week and light a candle together, in reverence for and gratitude to the four kingdoms of nature and our journey of evolution on the earth.
be blessed with the archetypes of the coming year. From the stars high above to the rocks and crystals far below, the mineral hears the approach of the spirit sun
The Sacred Season of Preparation and Anticipation.
Even in the midst of the hectic pace of December, you can choose to walk consciously towards the depth of winter, the shortest and darkest time of the year. In this season, the