Festivals of the Seasons
5. The Christmas Tree: A Symbolic Rendering
21 December 1909, Berlin
On this day when we meet to celebrate our Christmas festival, it may be seasonable to depart from what has been our customary routine and, instead of seeking after knowledge and truth, to withdraw inwardly, foregathering for a time with that world of feeling and sensations which we are endeavouring to awaken by the aid of the light we receive through Anthroposophy.
This festival now approaching, and which for countless persons presents a time of joyousness—joyousness in the best sense of that word—is, nevertheless, when accepted in the way in which it must be accepted in accordance with our anthroposophical conception of the universe, by no means a very old one.
What is known as the ‘Christian Christmas’ is not coeval with the dawn of Christianity in the world—the earliest Christians, indeed, had no such festival. They did not celebrate the Birth of Christ Jesus. Nearly three hundred years went by before the feast of His Nativity began to be kept by Christianity.
During the first centuries, when the Christian belief was spreading throughout the world, there was a feeling within such souls as had responded to the Christ Impulse inclining persons to withdraw themselves more and more from contact with the external aspects of life prevalent in their day—from what had grown forth from archaic times, as well as from what was extant at the inception of the Christ-Impulse. For a vague instinctive feeling possessed these early Christians—a feeling which seemed to tell them that this Impulse should indeed be so fostered as to form anew the things of this earth—so forming them that new feelings, new sensations, and, above all things, fresh hopes and a new confidence in the development of humanity should permeate all, in contradistinction to the feelings which had before held sway—and that what was to dawn over the horizon of the vast world-life should take its point of departure from a spiritual germ—a spiritual germ which, literally speaking, might be considered as within this Earth.
Oft-times, as you will be aware, have we in the spirit transported ourselves to those Roman catacombs where, removed from the life of the time, the early Christians were wont to rejoice their hearts and souls. In the spirit have we sought admittance to these places of devotion. The earlier celebrations kept here were not in honour of His Birth. At most was the Sunday of each week set apart in order that once in every seven days the great event of Golgotha might he pondered; and beyond this, there were others the anniversaries of whose death were kept during that first century. These dead were those who had transmitted with special enthusiasm the account of that event—men whose impressive participation in the trend thus given to the development of humanity had led to their persecution by a world grown old. Thus it came to pass that the days upon which these Martyrs had entered into glory were kept as the birthdays of humanity by these early Christians. As yet there was no such thing as a celebration of the Birth of Christ. Indeed we may say that it is the coming—the introduction—of this Christ-Birth Festival, that can show how we in the present day have the full right to say: ‘Christianity is not the outcome of this or that dogma, it is not dependent upon this or that institution—dogmas and institutions which have been perpetuated from one generation to another—but we have the right to take Christ’s own words for our justification, when He says that He is with us always, and that He fills us with His Spirit all our days.’ And when we feel this Spirit within us we may deem ourselves called to an increasing, never-ceasing development of the Christian Spirit. The anthroposophical development of the Spirit bids us not foster a Christianity which is frozen and dead, but a new and living Christianity—one ever quickening with new wisdom and fresh knowledge, an evolution from within, stretching forward into the development of the future.
Never do we speak of a Christ Who was, but rather of an eternal and a living Christ. And more especially are we permitted to speak of this living and ever-active Christ—this Christ Who works within us—when the time is at hand for dwelling on the Birth-festival of Christ Jesus, for the Christians of the first centuries were alive to the fact that it was given to them to imbue what was, as it were, the organism of the Christian development with a ‘new thing’—that it was given to them to add thereunto that which was actually streaming into them from the Spirit of Christ.
We must therefore regard the Christmas Festival as one which was not known prior to the fourth century; indeed, we may place the date of the first ‘Christ-Birth’ Festival in Rome as having taken place in the year 354, and it should, moreover, be particularly borne in mind that at a time less critical than is the present, those who confessed themselves Christians were, imbued with the true feeling—a feeling which impelled them to be ever seeking and garnering new fruits from the great Christian Tree of Life.
This perhaps is the reason why we too feel that at such a season we may do well to rejoice in an outward symbol of the Christ’s Birth—in the symbol of the Christmas-tree now before us and around which through the coming days countless people will gather, a symbol whose true meaning it is the mission of Anthroposophy with ever deepening seriousness to impress upon the hearts and souls of men.
We should indeed almost be coming to loggerheads with the evolution of the times were we to take our stand by this symbol—for it is a mistake to imagine it to be an old one. It would be, however, quite easy to imagine that some such poetic belief giving credence to the Christmas-tree being a venerable institution, might arise in the soul of present-day humanity.
There exists a picture which presents the Christmas-tree in Luther’s family parlour. This picture, which was of course painted during the nineteenth century, perpetuates an error, for not only in Germany during Luther’s days, but also amid the surrounding European countries, there were as yet no such trees at Christmas.
May we perhaps not say, that the Christmas-tree of to-day is something which should be taken rather as the prophetic sign of times to come?—that this Tree may, as the years roll on, be regarded ever more and more as the symbol of something stupendous in its meaning—in its importance? Then, indeed, being trammelled by no illusions as regards its historical age, we may let our eyes rest on this Christmas-tree the while we call before our souls an oft-repeated memory—that of the so-called ‘Sacred Legend.’ It runs as follows: When Adam was driven forth from Paradise (this Legend, I should add, is told after many fashions, and I shall here only put the matter as shortly as possible)—when therefore Adam was driven forth from Paradise, he took with him three seeds belonging to the Tree of Life—the tree of which man had been forbidden to eat after he had once eaten of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. And when Adam died, Seth took the three seeds, and placed them in Adam’s grave, and thus there grew from out the grave a tree. The wood of this tree—so runs the legend—has served many purposes: From it Moses is said to have fashioned his staff; while later on, it is said, this wood was taken to form the Cross which was raised upon Golgotha.
In this way does a legend significantly remind us of that other Tree of Paradise, the one which stood second. Man had tasted of the Tree of Knowledge: enjoyment of the Tree of Life was withheld from him.
Yet within the heart of man has remained for evermore a longing, a desire for that Tree.
Driven forth from the Spiritual Worlds—which are signified by ‘Paradise’ —into an external world of appearances, men have felt within their hearts that yearning for the Tree of Life.
But what man was denied unearned and in his undeveloped state, was nevertheless to be his through the struggle of attainment when with the aid of cognition he should in the course of time and through his work upon the physical plane, have made himself ripe to receive and capable of using the fruits of the Tree of Life. In those three seeds we have presented to us man’s longing for the Tree of Life.
The Legend tells us that in the wood of the Cross was contained that which came from the Tree of Life, and through the entire development there has been a feeling, a consciousness that the dry wood of the Cross did nevertheless contain the germ of the new spiritual life—that there had been ordained to grow forth from it that which, provided man enjoyed it in the right way, would enable him to unite his soul with the fruit of the Tree of Life—that fruit which should bestow upon him immortality, in the truer sense of the word, giving light to the soul, illumining it in such manner as to enable it to find the way from the dark depths of this physical world to the translucent heights of spiritual existence, there to feel itself as indeed participator in a deathless life.
Without, therefore, giving way to any illusion, we—as beings filled with emotion (rather than as historians)—may well stand before the tree which represents to us the tree of Christmas-tide, and feel the while we do so, something in it symbolical of that light which should dawn in our innermost souls, in order to gain for us immortality in the spiritual existence; and turning our gaze within we feel how the spiritual tendency of anthroposophical thought permeates us with a force which permits of our raising our eyes to behold the World of the Spirit. Therefore, in looking upon this outward symbol—the tree of Christmas-tide—we may indeed say: ‘May it be a symbol to us for that which is destined to illumine and burn within our souls, in order to raise us thither—even to the realms of the Spirit.’
For this tree, too, has, so to speak, sprouted forth from the depths of darkness, and only such persons might be inclined to cavil at so unhistorical a view, who are unaware that the thing which external physical knowledge does not recognise has nevertheless its deep spiritual foundations. To the physical eye it may not be apparent how gradually this Christmas-tree grows, as it were, to be a part of the outward life of humanity. In a comparatively short time, indeed, it has come to be a custom that brings happiness to man, one which has come to affect the world’s intercourse in general. This, as I have said, may pass unrecognised, yet those who know that external events are but impressions of a spiritual process, are bound to fee? that there may possibly have been some very deep meaning at work, responsible for the appearance of the Christmas-tree upon the external physical plane; that its appearance has emanated from out the depths of some great spiritual impulse— an impulse leading men invisibly onward—that indeed this lighted tree may have been the means of sending to some specially sensitive souls that inspiration of the inward light whereof it furnishes so beautiful an external symbol. And when such cognition awakens to wisdom, then indeed does this tree—by reason of our will—also become an external symbol for that which is Divine.
If Anthroposophy is to be knowledge, then it must be knowledge in an active sense and permeated with wisdom—that is to say, it must ‘gild’—external customs and impressions. And so even as Anthroposophy warms and illumines the hearts and souls of men, present and future, so too must the Christmas-tree which has become so ‘material’ a custom recover its ‘golden glint,’ and in the. light of this true knowledge rise once more to illustrate its true symbolical meaning in life, after having spent so long a time amid the darkened depths of men’s souls in these latter days.
And if we delve down even a little further and presuppose a deep spiritual guidance to have placed this impulse within the human heart, does this not also prove that thoughts bestowed upon man by the aid of the Spirit can attain to even greater depths of feeling when brought into connection with this luminant tree?
It used to be ancient custom common in many parts of Europe to go ou into the woods some time before Christmas and collect sprigs from all kinds o plants, but more especially from foliage trees, and then seek to make these twigs bear leaf in time for Christmas Eve. And to many a soul the dim belief in ‘Life unconquerable’—in that life which shall be the vanquisher of all death—would thrill exultantly at the sight of all this sprouting greenery, branches artificially forced to unfold their tender leaves over-night at a time of year when the sun stands at its lowest. This was a very old custom—our Christmas-tree is of far more recent date. Where, then, have we in the first place to look for this custom?
We know how earnest was the language used by the great German mystics, more especially the impression created by the words of Johannes Tauler, who laboured so assiduously in Alsace; and anyone who allows the sermons of Johannes Tauler to ‘work upon him’ with the sincerity so peculiar to them will understand how at that time—a time when Tauler was more especially concerned in deepening the feeling of men for all that lay hidden within the Christian Belief—a peculiar, unique spirit must have prevailed, a spirit which of a truth was suffused with the Mystery of Golgotha. In those days when Johannes Tauler was preaching his sermons in Strasbourg, the passionate sincerity with which he delivered his ‘words of fire’ may well have sunk into the soul of many a listener, leaving there a lasting impression, and many such impressions may well have been caused by what Tauler was wont to say in his wondrously beautiful Christmas sermons. ‘Three times,’ said Tauler, ‘is God bom unto men: Firstly, when He descends from the Father—from the Great All-World; again, when having reached humanity He descends into flesh; and thirdly, when the Christ is born within the human soul, and enables it to attain to the possibility of uniting itself to that which is the Wisdom of God—enabling it thus to give birth to the higher man.’
At all such seasons when the gracious habit of celebrating the Festivals prevailed, Johannes Tauler might be found round about the neighbourhood of Strasbourg dwelling earnestly upon the meaning of these deep verities, and more especially did he do this at the Christmas season. Indeed the words sinking at such times into receptive souls may have echoed on—for feelings, too, have their traditions—and what was felt within some soul’s depths in the hush of such an hour may—who knows?—still stir responsive chords from one century to the other. And so the feeling once possessing souls passed to the eye, and gave to this a capability of perceiving in that external symbol the resurrection—the birth of man’s spiritual light.
Taken from the point of view of material thought the coincidence may be deemed a pretty one: but for those who know the manner in which spiritual guidance permeates all that is physical it becomes far more than a coincidence to learn that the first record of a Christmas-tree having stood in a German room comes from Alsace, and indeed from Strasbourg in Alsace, while the date may be given as 1642.
How ill German Mysticism has fared at the hands of a Christianity wedded to outward forms may be seen in what happened to the memory of Master Eckhard, the great forerunner of Johannes Tauler, since posterity branded him a heretic after death—having omitted to do so while he lived!
Nor did the burning words of Johannes Tauler, words which flamed up from a heart fired with Christian passion, meet with much response; the outward Christianity of the times lacked the spiritual depth of the teachings proclaimed by these men, and this may fully account for the fact that in recording the news of this first Christmas-tree the ‘eye-witness’ alludes to it as ‘child’s play,’ and observes that ‘people would do better by going to places where the right Christian teachings could be proclaimed to them.’
The further progress of the Christmas-tree was a slow one. We see it figuring here and there about Middle Germany during the eighteenth century, but not till the nineteenth century did it become practically a regular ‘spiritual’ decoration intimately associated with the Christmas season—a new symbol of something that had survived throughout the centuries of time.
In such hearts, therefore, where the glory of all things can he truly felt— not in the sense implied by a Christianity ‘made up of words,’ but by the force of a true, a spiritual Christianity—sentiments of the highest human kind were ever prone to kindle in the tree’s illumined presence.
Another reason for placing the advent of the Christmas-tree at so recent a date may be seen in the fact that Germany’s greatest poets had left it unsung: had it been known in earlier times we may be sure that Klopstock, to mention only one, would have chosen this symbol for poetic treatment. And we may, therefore, gather additional certainty from this omission to strengthen our statement as to its being a comparative innovation.
More especially might we then dwell upon this symbol when the feeling of the spiritual truth of the awakening Ego wells up within our souls—that Ego which senses the spiritual bond ’twixt soul and soul, feeling it with intensified strength where noble human beings are striving in a common cause. And I will but mention one instance of how the fight of the Christmas-tree has streamed in to illumine the soul of one of humanity’s great leaders.
It was in the year 1821 that Goethe (whom we so often meet wherever we regard the life of the spirit in the light of Anthroposophy) was bringing his Faust to its close, and in so doing he came to find how essential the Christian symbols were in order to present his poetic intentions—that, in fact, they became the only possible ones. Goethe, indeed, experienced at this time most intensely the way in which Christianity weaves the noblest bond for joining soul to soul; and how this bond has to lay the foundations of a brotherly love not dependent upon the tie of blood, but on that of souls united in the spirit. And when we dwell on the close of the Gospels we are able to feel the impulse yet dormant within Christianity.
Gazing downward from the Cross upon Golgotha, Christ beholds the mother—beholds the son; and in that moment did He found that community which hitherto had only existed through the blood.
Up to that time no mother had had a son, no son a mother, without the tie being that of blood relationship. Nor were blood ties to be eliminated by Christianity; but to these were to be added spiritual ties, diffusing with their spiritual light those ties created by the blood.
It was to these ends, then, that Christ Jesus on the Cross spoke the words: ‘Woman! behold thy son !’, and to the disciple: ‘Behold thy mother!’ What had been instituted as a blood-tie became through the mediation of the Cross a bond of the spirit.
Wherever Goethe perceived a noble effort in furtherance of this spiritual union being made, he was moved to turn towards the true Christian spirit, and what possessed the heart soon yearned for outward expression. The year 1821 gave him a special opportunity for giving utterance to this desire. The residents of the little Duchy of Saxe-Weimar, to the interests of which Goethe dedicated so great a measure of his powers, had united forces in order to found a ‘Bürger-schule’. The undertaking was, in fact, to be a ‘gift,’ as it were, to the Grand Duke of Saxe-Weimar, and Goethe, desirous of celebrating in some suitable manner the spiritual impulse that had led to so progressive a step, called upon various members to give poetic expression to thoughts respecting this undertaking they all had at heart. These verses Goethe then collected in a volume for which he himself wrote an introductory poem which was recited by Prince (later Grand Duke) Karl Alexander, then three years old, who presented the book to his father, Grand Duke Karl August—this little ceremony taking place beneath the Christmas-tree. So we see that the tree was, by the year 1821, already a customary symbol of the season and by this act did Goethe indicate the Christmas-tree as being the symbol of a feeling and sentiment for spiritual progress in things both great and small. His introductory poem written for this little volume is still preserved in the Weimar Library and runs as follows:
‘Bäume leuchtend, Bäume blendend,
Uberall das Süsse spendend,
In dem Glanze sich bewegend,
Alt—und junges Herz erregend—
Solch ein Fest ist uns bescheret,
Mancher Gaben Schmuck verehret;
Staunend schaun wir auf und nieder,
Hin und her und immer wieder.
Aber, Furst, wenn dir’s begegnet,
Und ein Abend so dich segnet,
Dass als Lichter, dass als Flammen
Vor dir glänzten allzusammen
Alles, was du ausgerichtet,
Alle, die sich dir verpflichtet:
Mit erhöhten Geistesblicken
Fühltest herrliches Entzücken.’ 1 The first verse is descriptive of the earthly joys—the union, of friends and the gifts interchanged at Christmas; while the second hints at the spiritual significance of the ceremony, the flames of light giving rise to feelings and sentiments which respond to Higher Planes. —Translator's Note.
The above verses of Goethe are the first of what we might call Christmas poems, and when in connection with Anthroposophy we speak of ‘symbols’ we may well say that such symbols, which in the course of time surge up involuntarily within men’s souls, are indeed gilded over with the gold of wisdom.
We have seen that the first Christian Christmas was celebrated during the fourth century in Rome. It would seem, furthermore, a matter of divine dispensation that this Feast of Christ’s Birth has—as far as Middle and Northern Europe are concerned—been introduced at the very time when a most ancient feast—that of the Winter Sun, when the shortest days are chronicled—was also wont to be celebrated.
Now it must not be imagined that this change of the old time-honoured Festival into the new Feast, the Christmas Festival, was brought about in order, as it were, to conciliate the nations. Christmas was born purely and simply out of Christianity, and we may say that the way in which it became accepted by the more Northern lands was a proof of the deeply spiritual relationship connecting these peoples as well as their symbols with Christianity.
In Armenia, for instance, the Christmas Festival has never become customary, and even in Palestine the Christians were for a long time averse to its celebration, and yet it soon found a home in Europe.
And now we will try to understand in the right way the Christmas Feast itself when taken from the anthroposophical view—doing so in order that we may also be enabled to apprehend the Christmas-tree in its symbolic sense.
When, during the course of the year, we meet together, we allow those words—which should not be mere words, but rather forces—to permeate our soul in order that the soul may become a citizen of eternity. Throughout the year do we thus assemble allowing these words—this Logos—to sound upon our ears in the most varied manner, telling us that Christ is with us always, and that when we are thus assembled together the Spirit of Christ works in upon us, so that our words become impregnated with the Spirit of Christ. If only we enunciate these things being conscious that the word becomes a ‘carrier on wings,’ bearing revelations to humanity, then indeed do we let that flow in upon our souls which is the Word of the Spirit. Yet we know that the Word of the Spirit cannot entirely be taken up by us—cannot become all it should be to us if we have only received it as an outward and abstract form of knowledge. We know that it can only become to us that which it should be if it gives rise to that inner warmth through which the soul becomes expanded—through which it senses itself as gushing forth amid all the phenomena of world-existence— in which it feels itself one with the Spirit—that Spirit which itself permeates all that is outwardly apparent.
Let us, therefore, feel the Word of the Spirit must become to us a power— a life-force—so that when the season is at hand at which we place that symbol before us, it may proclaim to our souls: ‘Let a new thing be born within you. Let that which giving warmth can spread the Light—even the Word—rising from those spiritual sources, those spiritual depths—be born within you— born as Spirit-Man!’
Then shall we feel what is the meaning of that which passes over to us as the Word of the Spirit. Let us earnestly feel, at such a moment as the present, what Anthroposophy gives to us as warmth, as light for the soul, and let us try to feel it somewhat in.the following manner:
Look at the material world of to-day with all its perpetual activity, consider the way in which men hurry and worry from morning till evening, and the way in which they judge everything from the materialistic standpoint, according to the measure laid down by this outward physical plane—how utterly oblivious they are that behind all there lives and works the Spirit. At night people sink to sleep oblivious of aught else than that ‘unconsciousness’ enwraps them, and in the morning they similarly return to a sense of the consciousness of this physical plane. Thoughtlessly, ignorantly, man sinks to sleep after all his labours and worries of the day—never even seeking enlightenment as to the meaning of life.
When the anthroposophist has become imbued with the Words of the Spirit he knows that which is no mere theory or dogma: he then knows what can give warmth as well as light to his soul. He knows that were he day by day to take up naught but the presentments of the physical life, he would inevitably wither—his life would be empty and void. All he came by would die away were he to have no other presentments than such as the physical plane is able to place before him. For when of an evening you lie down to sleep you pass over to a world of the Spirit—the forces of your soul rise to a world of higher spiritual entities, to whose level you must gradually raise your own being. And when of a morning you wake again, you do so newly strengthened from out that spiritual world, and thus do you shed spiritual life over all that approaches you upon this physical plane, be it done consciously or unconsciously. From the Eternal do you yourself rejuvenate your temporal existence each morning.
What we should do is to change into feeling this Word of the Spirit, so that we may when evening comes be able to say: ‘I shall not merely pass over to unconsciousness, but I shall dip into a world where dwell the beings of eternity—entities whom my own entity is to resemble. I therefore fall asleep with the feeling, ‘Away to the Spirit !’, and I awaken with the feeling, ‘Back—from the Spirit!’ In doing this we become permeated with that feeling into which the Word of the Spirit is to transform itself, that Word which from day to day, from week to week, has been taken up by us here. Let us feel ourselves connected with the Spirit of the Universe—let us feel that we are missionaries of the World-Spirit which permeates and interweaves all outward existence—for then we also feel when the sun stands high in summer and directs its life-giving rays earthward that then too is the Spirit active, manifesting itself in an outward manner, and how—in that we then perceive His external mien, His outward countenance, mirrored by the external rays of the sun—His inner Being may be said to have retired beyond these outer phenomena.
Where do we behold this Spirit of the Universe—this Spirit whom Zoroaster already proclaimed—when only the outward and physical rays of the sun stream in upon us? We behold this Spirit when we are able to recognise where it is He beholds Himself. Verily does this Spirit of the Universe create during summer-time those organs through which He may behold Himself. He creates external sense organs I Let us learn to understand what it is that from Springtime forward decks the earth with its carpet of verdant plants giving to it a renewed countenance. What is it?’Tis a mirror for the World-Spirit of the sun! For when the sun pours forth its rays upon us, it is the World-Spirit Who is gazing down on earth. All plant-life—bud, blossom and leaf—are but images which present the pure World-Spirit, reflected in His works as they shoot forth upon this earth:—this carpet of plants contains the sense-organs of the World-Spirit.
When in the autumn the external power of the sun declines, we see how this plant life disappears—how the countenance of the World-Spirit is withdrawn— and if we have been prepared in the right manner we may then feel how the Spirit which pulsates throughout the universe is now within ourselves. So that we can follow the World-Spirit even when He is withdrawn from external sight, for we then feel that though our gaze no longer rests upon that verdant cover, yet has the Spirit been roused in us to so great a measure that He withdraws Himself from the external presentments of the world. And so the awakening Spirit becomes our guide to those depths whither Spirit life retires and to where we deliver over to the keeping of the Spirit germs for the coming Spring. There do we learn to see with our spiritual sight, learning to say to ourselves:
‘When external life begins gradually to become invisible for the external senses, when the melancholy of Autumn creeps in upon our soul, then does the soul follow the Spirit—even amid the lifeless stones, in order that it may draw thence those forces which in the Spring will once more furnish new sense organs for the Spirit of the World.’
It is thus that those who having in their spirit conceived the Spirit come to feel that they too can follow this World-Spirit down to where the grains of seed repose in winter-time.
When the power of the sun is weakest and when its rays are at their faintest—when outer darkness is at its strongest—it is then that the Spirit within us united to the Spirit of the Universe feels and proclaims that union in greatest clearness, by filling the grains of seed with a new life. In this way we may indeed say quite literally that by the power of the seed we also live within and permeate—as it were—the Earth. In Summer-time we turn to the bright atmosphere about us, to the budding fruits of the earth, but now we turn to the lifeless stones, yet knowing that beneath them reposes that which shall in its turn again enjoy external life, and our soul follows in the spirit those budding germinating forces which, withdrawing themselves from outward view, lie dormant amid the stones in Winter-time.
And when Winter-time has reached its central point—when the darkness is deepest—then is the time at hand when we may feel that the exterior world is nevertheless not capable of counteracting our union with the Spirit—when within those depths to which we have withdrawn we feel the flashes of the Spirit-light—that light of the Spirit for which the greatest Impulse received by humanity was given by Christ Jesus. In this way we are enabled to sense what the Ancients felt when they spoke of descending to where the grain of seed lay dormant in Winter-time in order that they might learn to know the hidden powers of the Spirit.
We then come to feel that Christ has to be sought for amid that which is hidden—there where all is dark and obscure, unless we ourselves kindle the light in the Soul—that Soul which becomes clear and illumined when penetrated by the Light of Christ. At Christmas-tide, therefore, we may well feel an ever-increasing sense of strength—strength due to that Impulse which, grace to the Mystery enacted on Golgotha, has permeated the human race. If truly experienced in this way the Christ Impulse becomes for us indeed the most powerful incentive, strengthening year by year this life which is leading us into the Spiritual Worlds where death—as known in the physical world—does not exist.
It is in this way that we are enabled to spiritualise a symbol which to present-day materialistic-thinking persons is no more than a token of material joy and pleasure, and we thus may also feel within our hearts what Johannes Tauler really meant when he spoke of Christ having to be born three times: once as God the Father Who permeates the world—once as Man, at the time when Christianity was founded—and since then again and again, within the souls of those who can awaken the Word of the Spirit within their innermost being. For without this last birth Christianity would not be complete, nor would Anthroposophy be capable of grasping the Christian Spirit did it not understand that the Word brought home to us year after year is not intended to remain theory and dogma, but is to become both Light and Life—a force, indeed, by which we may contribute spirituality to life in this world as well as gather spirituality for ourselves—and so be one with the other—incorporated with the Spirit for all Eternity.
No matter the step of evolution upon which we stand—we can nevertheless feel what was felt at all times by those who had been initiated and who therefore really did in this Holy Night descend at the midnight hour to gaze upon the spiritual Sun in the darkness of the Christmas Night—when that spiritual Sun could call forth from apparently dead surroundings and waken into life all budding nature, bidding it burst forth and proclaim a new Springtide.
This is the Christ Sun we should feel behind the physical sun: to it we ourselves must rise—rise to experience and see that which, by grace of those new forces man may develop, shall unite him with the Spirit—then shall it also be for us to
See the Sun
About the midnight hour,
And build with stones
Amid the lifeless clay,
Finding that as we pass
To the dark night of Death
Creations new come forth—
Young morns arise to power—
The heights above reveal
The Gods’ eternal Word,
And depths below shall guard
The peaceful Place of Rest.
Dwelling in Darkness,
Oh! create a Sun!
And while ye weave the web,
Oh I recognise
The blissfulness of Spirit.