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The Path from Advent to Epiphany

There is an inner pathway that leads from Advent through Epiphany. It spirals inward, dwells for twelve days in the light of Christmas, and turns to spiral outward again at Epiphany, January 6.

The path already began to turn inward at Michaelmas, for the dragon that we were meant to conquer is the rapacity of our own natural selfishness, the dragon of our own lower nature. This is, of course, not a one-time victory. The battles continue. And as we traverse the land of the dead in November, through the mighty pictures of the future from the Apocalypse, they warn us that we are to continue with the tasks and trials of cleansing.

In December and Advent, we continue to prepare for the future. And inwardness increases both in our own soul and in the mood of the darkening natural world. The inwardness of both worlds finds its expression in the blue of the altar — a deep blue of infinite calm like the sky before sunrise. This is most appropriate, for in preparing for Christmas we are preparing for and awaiting the birth of the Sun God within us.

This inward turning from Michaelmas to Christmas is a picture for the development of all humankind. Each of us repeats this path in our own development. So just as the history of earthly man began with that fateful apple, each of us is given the apple of our destiny before entering this earthly life. On top of that destiny there rests the potential to ignite a higher self.

In the Advent Garden for children, this potential is symbolized by the candle in the apple that each child carries on the spiral path toward the large central candle that the angel has lighted. We all spiral inward on our path through life, looking for the true center, led by our angel who has gone there before us. Each of us moves toward this center in his own characteristic way. Some of us, like some children, stride quickly and blithely, interested in everything there is to see in earth’s garden. Others are more cautious, anxious to protect their light, and to find just the right place for it.

But eventually we all finally arrive at the center. This center is Christ’s deed on earth. It is a deed that began its visible course with the birth of Jesus at Christmas, prepared by the illuminating plan of the Holy Spirit. At Christmas the altar is illuminated, clothed in the pure white sunrise of spirit light and the pale lilac of new beginnings.

The tender brightness of the twelve holy days of Christmas is a time set apart from the rest of the year. Its twelve days mark the difference between the solar year and the lunar year. Day by day, the Christmas light shines into each of the twelve months of the coming year. It illuminates our future. It is a time that brings special blessings into our coming lives when we work with its deepening and enlivening. Participating in the act of humankind’s consecration during each of these twelve days helps to bring special blessings for the coming year. It helps His light to illuminate us, to be ignited within us.

Then on January 6, at Epiphany, the light from the altar deepens into a warmly incarnated magenta red-violet, a red that faces the darkness of the future with love and trust. Humankind’s future was illuminated by the star of Jesus’ birth. Just as the children have lit their candles in the center of the Advent garden, we have again ignited our higher self at the altar, letting it shine in the center of our being, during this twelve-day season. Now at Epiphany we begin to spiral outward again, out into the world, to illuminate what is still dark, once again to face Herod’s forces of evil that result from human selfishness.

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This article appears in the most recent North American Newsletter, which you can find in its entirety here.

Visit our festival page for more about Christmas in the Christian Community.

 

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