THEOSOPHY, Vol. 20, No. 2, December, 1931
(Pages 77-79; Size: 10K)

YOUTH-COMPANIONS' FORUM

[Article number (14) in this Q&A Department]

IT is said that all the Solar Gods were born on the 25th of December. What is the significance of this?

The proximity of this date to the time of the winter solstice, which usually falls on December 22nd, is given by H.P.B. as a reason for this belief. From this point on, until June 21st, the days grow longer and the sun, beginning its northward journey, brings a daily increase of light and heat to the earth. In a higher sense this is a rebirth of the sun, marking the cyclic recurrence of both physical and spiritual energy. It is the forward impulse to both nature and man, giving us the opportunity to take advantage of the rising cycle in human evolution. Efforts made during a rising cycle are augmented in strength by the surge forward in nature; and, by taking advantage of this law, we acquire the stamina with which to resist the ebb-tide of spiritual energy which must come later in the year. This done, we start on a higher rung of the ladder when the next rising cycle comes around. May we not say, then, that because we are Solar Gods in reality, we have a rebirth of solar energy in us at every Christmas time?

What is the symbolism of the Christmas Tree?

The custom of celebrating Christmas with an evergreen tree lighted by candles is not, as we might think, original with the relatively recent advent of Christianity. Rather, as so many other rites and festivals of the Christian church, it was borrowed and adapted from pagan faiths which antedate by far the coming of Christ. H.P.B., in her article, "The Origin of the Christmas Tree," tells us that "Fir trees have ever been held in honor by the ancient nations of Europe. As evergreen plants, and symbols of never-dying vegetation, they were sacred to the nature-deities, such as Pan, Isis and others." Long ago, when Germany was peopled with a pagan race, the priests celebrated the beginning of the sun's northward journey with highly ornamented pine boughs, and we may well think that our practice of lighting Christmas Trees with candles grew out of this ancient salutation to the sun on its annual rebirth.

Should Theosophists "celebrate" Christmas? And, if so, why?

Certainly Theosophists should celebrate Christmas, but instead of asking why, let us question "how?" Not, indeed, in the customary ignoble manner of the Christmas season, with overindulgence in eating, drinking, and mad scrambling for gifts which mean nothing, and which plunge people into debt for months afterwards, making of the Christmas season an evil and a bugbear.

The song runs thus:

And this the Christ in all and all men brothers be,
One source of Life and Light and Love
    The Soul's own radiancy.
Christmas is the solar festival of new life throughout all of nature, and, if rightly regarded, marks the spiritual urge of our higher nature to set a higher standard for the new cycle beginning.

What is the significance of New Year's resolutions, and why is it that they are so universally and speedily broken?

Few people are entirely satisfied with their mode of living and feel vaguely now and then that they should do something about it -- reform in some ways, perhaps. But since they do not really pay any serious heed to it or really analyze just what is wrong with them, they soon forget until in its cycle this urge comes again. Due perhaps to the natural cycle of renewal at the New Year and usually as an aftermath of excess at the Yuletide, they join in the making of resolutions for the coming year. It seems a good time to start and -- "everyone else is doing it." But these resolutions are but a passing fad, and since the persons making them seldom consider deeply just what is wrong with their lives and just what is the purpose of life, anyway, the "resolutions" serve only as a temporary stimulus, which is lost all too soon in the more pressing attractions of daily physical living. And so the good resolutions are "shelved" until the next year.

Do Theosophists observe the making of New Year's resolutions?

Can you think that Theosophy is a set form of rules which requires certain forms of observance now and then -- certain gestures such as Catholicism requires in the confession and attendance at Mass? Quite otherwise. Theosophical teachings point to a mode of life, consistent and continuous. Theosophy involves a daily striving toward a higher mode of living and cannot be satisfied with making good resolutions at the New Year.

What in the cycle of the reincarnating ego corresponds to Christmas and New Year?

Theosophically, Christmas and New Year's Day are really one and the same event as regards their spiritual significance. Likewise, the ancients, as well as the early Christians, saw not merely the external form in the celebration of New Years or Christmas. Their celebrations were the expressions of a deep and spiritual thing, and undoubtedly they saw an analogy between the cycle of reincarnation and those festivals. The birth of the year is not an evident thing; it is a secret process. Spring is the open sign of the birth of something new, but the first of the year slips by with no visible change. It is a meta-physical, an inner thing. So with the soul. There is that secret moment of change from the old order to the new. It is not birth; that is the physical manifestation of the idea. But it is an event which takes place in the inner recesses of the spiritual heart, on the plane least material, in which the ego can function. In that supreme moment of union with one's Higher Self -- all of the past personalities are seen as precious beads upon a string. That supreme moment is but a moment. Then the ego loses itself in the vapors of former selves and Karmic environment; it has come to birth. At this very moment, whether in quiet solitude or amid the noises of the city, that supreme moment is occurring for some egos on the innermost planes of this earth.


COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:

DANGERS OF HYPNOTISM

Much comment having appeared in the newspapers of late about dental operations under hypnosis, a few lines written years ago by Mr. Judge will be of value to present day students.

"When the hypnotic process -- or subjugation, as I call it -- is submitted to, a disjunction is made between the soul-man and the astral body, which then is for the time deprived of will, and is the sport of any suggestion coming in unopposed, and those may and do sometimes arise outside of the mind and intention of the operator. From this arises the sensitiveness to suggestion. The idea, or thought, or picture of an act is impressed by suggesting it on the astral body, and then the patient is waked. At the appointed time given by the suggestor a secondary sleep or hypnotic state arises automatically, and then, the disjunction between soul and astral body coming about of itself, the suggested act is performed unless -- as happens rarely -- the soul-man resists sufficiently to prevent it. Hence we point to an element of danger in the fact that at the suggested moment the hypnotic state comes on secondarily by association. I do not know that hypnotizers have perceived this. It indicates that although the subject be dehypnotized the influence of the operator once thrown on the subject will remain until the day of the operator's death."


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(January 1932)
[Article number (15) in this Q&A Department]

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