The Mystical Meaning of Christmas

by Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov

The Holy Family

The birth of Jesus is a mystical event that can occur in everyone. If you keep in mind this image of the manger with Joseph, Mary and the Child between the ox and the ass and the Star shining above the stable, you will in time understand its meaning.  The birth of Jesus must be understood in all three worlds: as an historical phenomenon, as a psychic, mystical phenomenon, and as a Cosmic phenomenon. Today I am concerned with the mystical phenomenon.

St Luke was the most scholarly of the Evangelists. In his telling of the birth of Jesus, he revealed the events that take place in the soul of every human being in the form of images. It is these symbolic images that I want to show you now.

Conception and birth
For the Christ Child to be born, there must be parents, a father and mother: the father, Joseph, is the mind, the spirit; the mother, Mary, is the heart, the soul. When the heart and soul are pure, then the Child is born, not of the mind and spirit, but of the Universal Soul, the Holy Spirit in the form of Fire, or Divine Love... a pure flame that invades and fertilizes the human heart and soul. The soul and heart represent the feminine receptive principle, whereas the mind and spirit represent the masculine principle, and together they prepare the conditions for the Holy Spirit, Universal Soul, or Fire, to take possession of the soul of Mary. That is when the Christ Child is born. But as this birth must take place in all three worlds, the child must also be born on the physical plane. You see, it is much more complex than you imagined.

You must understand that Mary and Joseph are symbols of the inner life: those who deny Mary are dry and cold, their mind is critical, discontented, destructive... Joseph was not this way, on the contrary, he respected Mary and kept her with him, saying to himself, 'Oh, she is expecting a child... I will protect her because she needs my help.'

No room at the inn
When Mary and Joseph sought refuge at the inn, there was no room for them, that is, human beings who are too busy eating and drinking and amusing themselves, have no room for the Initiate who has received the Child. This Divine Child which is conceived in him as a Light may be an ideal he has long cherished and nourished, but where can he go with It? No one will open the door to him, that is, no one understands him. But wait, yonder is a stable. The stable and its manger are symbolic, first of all, of poverty, of difficulty with material conditions. Yes, for one who is inhabited by the Spirit it will always be thus: humans will never appreciate him, they will always refuse to receive him, but thanks to the Light projected by him around the manger, he will be seen from afar by others who will come and visit him.

The five-pointed star
This Light represented by a star with five points is an absolute reality: it shines above the head of every Initiate whose feminine principle (that is, whose heart and soul) has given birth to the Christ Child, conceived by the Holy Spirit. Then the mind, Joseph, instead of being jealous and repudiating Mary as a gross man might ('This child you have given birth to is not mine, get out!'), must bow before her and say, 'It must be God Himself who has brought this efflorescence to the heart and soul of Mary. I am not capable of that.' The mind must not be resentful or angry, but rather be understanding and think, 'This is something beyond my understanding...,' and be willing to shelter and protect Mary. To repudiate Mary is to repudiate half one's being, to become like those who are purely intellectual and rational, having banished all emotion, all receptivity, all gentleness, humility, and kindness. Many people have repudiated Mary because she chose to receive the Holy Spirit.

And what is the Star? It is a phenomenon that inevitably occurs in the life of a true mystic, a true Initiate. Above his head appears a star, a luminous pentacle. 'That which is above is like that which is below, and that which is below is like that which is above': the pentacle must therefore exist doubly for man is himself a living pentacle, and when he has fully developed the five virtues of kindness, justice, love, wisdom and truth, another pentacle appears in the form of light, to represent him in the higher spheres.

This light, this Star that shines above the stable means that every Initiate who has in him the Living Christ, shines with a light that appeases and nourishes, a comforting, healing, purifying, revitalizing light. When this light shines brightly enough to be seen from afar by others, they know that something special is manifesting itself through that being. It is the Christ.

The stable
Now let us go back to the stable. In this stable there were neither shepherds nor flocks, only the ox and the ass. Why? The story has been repeated again and again over the centuries without being understood, because the knowledge of universal symbolism has been lost. The stable represents the physical body, and we know that in ancient days, the ox, the bull, stood for the principle of generation. In Egypt, for instance, the bull Apis was the symbol of fertility and fecundity. The bull is under the influence of Venus and represents sexual force; the ass is under the influence of Saturn and represents the personality, man's lower nature, the old Adam, headstrong and stubborn but a good servant. Here are the two animals, waiting to serve Jesus. But serve him how? I will now reveal a tremendous mystery to you.

When man begins the work of making himself more perfect, he comes into conflict with his personality and his sensuality. The Initiate is one who has been able to master these two forces and put them to work for him, not by annihilating them... the two beasts are not chased away or killed... they are there, present at the Birth, but what do they do? They breathe on the Christ Child and warm him with their breath! When the Initiate is able to transform the ass and the ox within himself by putting them to work for him they warm the newborn child with their breath. The forces are no longer there to torment him, lead him astray or cause him suffering... no, they are now life-giving forces. Breath is life! You see, the breath of the ass and ox is reminiscent of the Breath of God which brought Life to the first man. The ox and the ass serve the Christ Child, meaning that all who have the Christ within them will be served by their personality and sensuality, and once you put them to work, these are extraordinarily useful forces.

The angel, the shepherds and the lambs
Now an Angel appears to the shepherds whose stable it is, as they watch their sheep in the fields, and announces the birth of Jesus. They are amazed and prostrate themselves before picking up their lambs and bringing them to Jesus as an offering. This means that all who have a share in our physical body, that is, our family spirits (incarnated or not) and our worldly goods (symbolically represented by the sheep, dogs and lambs) are warned of what has happened. They are warned because they have participated in the formation of this stable (the physical body) and they come running, exclaiming to themselves, 'Oh, my! Never did we dream such an honour would be bestowed on our stable!'

Everyone is eager to serve the Child. When the familiar spirits on earth and in the beyond are told the news of the splendid event that has occurred in your heart and soul, they come to bring you gifts and bow down before you. Yes, everyone in the world is eager to serve the Child. But as long as you have not given birth to it, do not count on any help... the Angels are there to serve those in whom the Christ Child is born, not you yourself, but the Divine Principle, the Christ, the Son of God.

The manger
Now let us look at the symbolism of the manger. Yes, why was Jesus born in a manger on a pile of straw, and not in a palace or a magnificent temple? Everything is symbolic about the Gospel tale of the birth of Jesus in a manger, but few people suspect the deeper meaning. You will understand where, in what part of your body this manger is, if you recall my talks on the Hara centre in which I explained the role it plays in the spiritual life of the Initiate, once he knows how to work with it. Hara signifies the belly, the centre a few centimetres below the navel known principally to the Japanese. In the past it was known by every Initiate; Jesus referred to it when he said, '...out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water...' This is the Hara centre, the manger in which Christ is born, between the bull and the ass... or the liver and the spleen.

I see you are astonished. You think that Jesus should be born in the head, the mind. Have you ever seen a baby born from its mother's head? No one thinks of that, the stomach and intestines, the belly, are considered dirty and disgusting places but the fact remains that God chose that place for the perpetuation of mankind. There, in the Hara center, the disciple must bring his new consciousness, the Christ Child, to birth. Nothing is more important, nothing is higher than to work for the birth of the Divine Child within you. When you reach your goal, Heaven and earth will sing for joy, from the four corners of the earth Beings will see that a new Light is born and will bring you presents.

Of course, Herod (for there is always a Herod) will be furious and will try to kill the Child, he will tell the Wise Men, 'Go and search diligently for the young child, and when ye have found him, bring me word again that I may come and worship him also.' Happily, there will be Angels to warn you as the Angel warned Joseph, 'Arise, and take the young child and his mother and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.' The Wise Men also received an order not to return to Herod, and they left for their own country by another route. This means that all who are near Jesus, near to the Christ Principle, will no longer be able to follow the same road as before, they will have to take another direction. You had not thought of that had you? Everything is so profound, so mysterious! To me, it is unbelievably extraordinary! And believe me, I do not invent anything, I am transmitting the Science exactly as I received it, the veritable Science. The Gospel stories satisfy the majority of people with a more or less superficial, limited point of view, but the contents of the stories, the meaning, is for Initiates.

I will not interpret the entire chapter of St Luke for you. I simply want to enlighten a corner of your inner life, to show you that the birth of Jesus is a mystical event that can occur in everyone. If you keep in mind this image of the manger with Joseph, Mary and the Child between the ox and the ass and the Star shining above the stable, you will in time understand its meaning". Extract from the book Christmas and Easter in the Initiatic Tradition


About Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov

Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov was a Bulgarian master and spiritual teacher who lived between 1900 and 1986. His oral teachings on many spiritual topics, ranging from the importance of meditating upon the sun to commentary on the Book of Revelation, have been transcribed into publications by his students and are now available in English. Excerpts from his book of daily meditations are read at the beginning of each Hearts Center morning broadcast service. To order books

Further Study

Christmas & Easter in the Initiatic Tradition

The fact that the Feasts of Christmas and Easter coincide with the winter solstice and the spring equinox is evidence of their cosmic significance. So we learn that the human being, who is part of the universe, participates intimately in the natural process of gestation and blossoming. These two feasts are two different ways of celebrating the regeneration of men and women and their birth into the spiritual world.

More Christmas (related gift ideas)