Advent and Christmas 

Margarete van den Brink

Blessing and Trial

At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Jesus-Christ two thousand years ago. Besides celebrating the festivity that commemorates what happened at the beginning of our era, we can also lead it to an event where we create in our soul an inner space and sphere in which something of the essence of Christ can be revealed. This however, requires a vow of openness and devotion to allow that to happen. Or, as Angelus Silesius said:

“I must be Maria and let God be born in me”.

Blessing by the angels

Not only 2000 years ago, also nowadays on Christmas Eve, during the Holy Night, the angels emerge from the divine realms, become closer and pour into us humans and the earth their powers and energies. Thus they consecrate everything that exists. Consecrating means to touch and to bless. By the touching and blessing of these superior angelic beings the connection with the divine world is reestablished.

Has the connection then become broken? Not at all. The connection with the spiritual world is provided by Christ ever since the events at Golgotha. But there are ruptures, breaches. The breaches that appear during the course of the year are caused by the negative thoughts, feelings and actions from us, human beings. Through this behaviour the negative spiritual forces in the creation get the opportunity to carry out their destructive work and to drive wedges between God and humans. This is how they try to break and ultimately try to destroy the alliance between heaven and earth, humans and God.

The knowledge that during the Christmas time nights the earth and all life on it becomes blessed from the celestial spheres has been preserved in the German name for Christmas: 'Weihnachten'. Weihnachten stands for 'blessed nights', the twelve holy nights in which the blessing by the angels takes place. They last from the night of the 24th to the 25th of December till the 6th of January, the Epiphany.

We still find this ancient knowledge about the blessing by the angels in the Netherlands, namely in the tradition to dig gardens and to plough fields before Christmas, in order to allow what radiates from the heavenly spheres at that time, to deeply penetrate the earth and all that live on it.

Two thousand years ago, when the “Gloria in Excelsis Deo”, the “Glory to God in the Highest”, sounded in the revelation of the angels and the consecration began, was the moment when Jesus-Christ was born in Palestine.

Feelings of awe and devotion

When you slowly take into your heart what is pictured here and let it permeate inwardly, you notice that something happens inside. You feel that you enter deeper into your soul. You become still and feel that an inner space is created. A space that is filled with feelings of awe and devotion. That is the atmosphere we need if we want to experience in our hearts something of the being of Christ. Only in the crib of our deepest being can we become Maria and receive the true Christmas present.

Such a disposition and mood is not so easy to achieve. We must put an effort into it and create the right conditions. Which are these conditions? In the first place, to make time in our tight daily schedule.
Secondly we must take time to turn inside, to purify the atmosphere in our soul and to create a sphere of quietness, concentration and devotion.

Inner trial

Anyone who has tried this knows how difficult it is to achieve. It looks quite obvious and easy, but to do it and to do it regularly, requires a lot of willpower and strength. Especially in the time of Advent.

Why especially during Advent? The esoteric tradition reveals that the time between the festivity of Saint Michael, on the 29th of September, and Christmas is a time of inner trial. The sunlight decreases and the leaves become yellow and fall of. The branches and bushes become bare. Nature shows that the spiritual forces that brought light and warmth to the earth during spring and summer are withdrawing. With the withdrawal of the light and warmth, the forces of the night, the powers of darkness, gain ground. It becomes cold. A time has come in which we are thrown back upon ourselves. Nature, and the warmth and light of the summer don't surround and support us anymore. We now have to do it ourselves. The impulse has to come out of ourselves in order to inwardly connect with the world of warmth and light, the divine, the world of God.

Dark forces

Like in fairy tales and other initiation situations, these dark days represent the moment in which the negative forces of creation increasingly generate an influx on us, and try to capture us. The more we approach Christmas the more they try to strengthen their grip on us. Why is that ?

That is because the negative spiritual forces try to prevent at all costs that we make an inner connection with Christ and absorb his strengths in us. For when that happens they would no longer have a hold on that part of us that is connected with the forces of Christ. If this is the case they can - for that part – no longer draw strengths out of us to reinforce themselves.

It is therefore not surprising that, especially during Advent, everything in our society, in our environment and in ourselves, seems to distract from opening up to the holiness that is approaching us.
Think of the noise, the commerce and the turmoil that it characteristic for the time before Christmas, around us as well as inside us.

That is how the negative forces try to prevent to prepare for and connected with the atmosphere of blessing and enlightenment that comes from the heavenly worlds at Christmas time.

Be awake

As modern people we are hardly, if not at all, aware of the reality of the negative forces and the way they act upon us. However in the mystery schools in ancient Greece, in the times before Christ, people were. During the time span between the end of September and the Solstice's time at the end of the year, during those dark times, the pupils at these schools were urged to be awake and to take responsibility against the influx of and temptations by the forces of evil.

Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy, explained that in the mystery schools, pupils each season received a certain task formulated in a motto. For the summer this motto was: “Know yourself”.
For the autumn the mystery words were: “Be on guard against evil”. Thus they were constantly aware to be on their guard during that time. Not only against what happened in themselves but also in their relationships with other people.

The forces of evil can only be overcome when they are recognized, when we learn how to deal with them and moreover, by developing in oneself moral qualities. The Greek philosopher Plato named in his work 'Politeia' four qualities or virtues the mystery pupil should develop in order to be able to cope with the dark forces and have access to the good. These virtues are:

  1. Wisdom
  2. Justice
  3. Courage
  4. Moderation (Self-control)

They are fundamental qualities that serve the spiritual development in all religions over the world.
All four, completed by the three virtues mentioned in the Bible: faith, hope and love, can be recognized in the seven virtues formulated in the Christian church during the Middle Ages.

Transforming effect

Rudolf Steiner indicated that actively pursuing these virtues, as well as any positive quality, has a transforming effect not only on the physical and astral body, but also on the etheric body and the I.

Those who regularly practice introspection, face their negative traits, and practice doing something about them, will harvest endless benefits. Notice for example, he said, how you get carried away time and again by certain cravings and longings, or things you do too often or too long. For example in the use we make of our time: watching tv, internet, talk, drink or the use of drugs. When you learn – by trial and error – to know where to draw the line, this will cause a wholesome effect on your etheric or live body.

Something similar happens when we review the fears, insecurities and inappropriateness in ourselves and in our relationships with other people. When we practice to work on that consciously, we develop the virtue of courage. And that in turn works in a transformative and wholesome manner on the astral body or feeling body. In the same way as proper service rendered to others works as a transformative and purifying force on the I and the personality.

By working on yourself in this way you develop moral qualities. These moral qualities then create the right inner attitude and atmosphere in which the renewing forces of Christ and the blessings of the angels reach you inwardly.

The challenges of Advent

The dark time, particularly the Advent's period, is the time where we meet all the challenges mentioned here. However, when we take time, for instance to practice certain virtues, when we recognize the distractions, the resistance and obstacles generated by the dark forces, but also open ourselves time and again to what comes towards us from the higher heavenly worlds, we create an enormous lot of good.

For then we support the influx of peace brought about by the consecration of the high angelic beings. Not only into our own soul, but also into the souls of other people on earth.

Thus we contribute to the strengthening of the divine forces of peace and good in the world.

Source: Sergej O. Prokofieff “The Cycle of the Year as a Path of Initiation Leading to an Experience of the Christ Being”. Temple Lodge Publishing, 2014.

 

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