Although the word “Christmas” derives from “Christ’s mass,” it is not only a Christian holiday, but one that relates to many traditions around the world. The word Christ originated from the Greek word Kristos (also spelled “Christos”), and represents the illuminated saviour of humanity. So for today’s quote, let’s return to that wonderful encyclopedic book The Secret Teachings of All Ages:
From Manly P. Hall's The Secret Teachings of All Ages (1928):
“This Christos, or divine man in man, is man’s real hope of salvation—the living Mediator between abstract Deity and mortal mankind…Since the Christos was the god-man imprisoned in every creature, it was the first duty of the initiate to liberate, or ‘resurrect,’ this Eternal One within himself. ”
The Kristos can also be seen as the solar power revered by different nations around the world. The Kristos has all the powers of the “Sun,” or the powers of God. For example, we have Ra, the supreme god in Egyptian religion, and Osiris, the son of Ra and the saviour sacrificed for humanity. The Kristos is the mediator between humans and God, and is at the same time, he is a human and God himself, thus representing the perfected human and the latent divinity in every person. So although there were particular incarnations of the Kristos throughout time to lead humanity to the light, his goal is ultimately to bring out that same divinity within us, as the quote says. That is the true “Kristos”: not only one man, but the potential for all of us to assume our true nature and “resurrect” the higher powers within ourselves and become a perfected human.
The celebration of Christmas on December 25 corresponded to the date of the winter solstice on the Roman calendar. Having the birthdate of the Kristos on the shortest day of the year is significant symbolically: the saviour is born on the darkest day of the year, representing the time when humanity needs him most. After his birth, the days begin to get longer, and hope and life will soon be renewed with coming spring (though spring will take a while to come, at least if you’re in Canada…). The martyrdom and resurrection of the Kristos has also been prevalent throughout many religions, and is also related to astronomy, in particular, the Sun, which rises from the “tomb” of winter at the end of every year to illuminate and revive the world. Some of the saviours who are related to the Kristos and the crucifixion doctrine include Jesus, Prometheus, Apollo, Buddha, Atys, Adonis, Bacchus, Osiris, Krishna, Horus, Indra, Ixion, Mithras, Pythagoras, Quetzalcoatl, Semiramis, Jupiter, King Arthur, and Orpheus.
The Kristos is also known as the Divine Mind, which is personified in these saviours. Regarding the Divine Mind, Manly Hall says, “The Divine Mind offered Itself as a living sacrifice and was broken up and eaten by the world. Having given Its spirit and Its body at a secret and sacred supper to the twelve manners of rational creatures, this Divine Mind became a part of every living thing. Man was thereby enabled to use this power as a bridge across which he might pass and attain immortality. He who lifted up his soul to this Divine Mind and served It was righteous and, having attained righteousness, liberated this Divine Mind, which thereupon returned again in glory to Its own divine source.” And so the Divine Mind, or Kristos, is the bridge whereby we can reach the divine, and Christmas is the celebration of his birth into the world, the key to raising humanity to enlightenment.
As mentioned above, there have been many crucified saviours throughout history. Indeed, Thomas Macall Fallow, in the Encyclopedia Britannica, says that “The use of the cross as a religious symbol in pre-Christian times, and among non-Christian people, may probably be regarded as almost universal.” This includes Christians, pagans, druids, Tibetans, the Chinese and Japanese, Egyptians, the Central American Natives, and the Greeks and Romans. Although there is much that can be said about the cross symbolism itself, I’ll just look at how it applies to the universal saviours and their crucifixion.
For example, the first missionaries of the Christian Church, when trying to convert pagan Greeks and Romans to Christianity, tried to emphasize the similarities between Jesus and their own gods (“sons of Jupiter”) so that pagans would be more willing to accept the Christian doctrine.
Indeed, in the New Testament, Jesus is referred to being “called of God an high priest after the order of Melchizedek,” so that, as Manly Hall says, this makes “Jesus one of a line or order of which there must have been others of equal or even superior dignity.” Those of this order were priest-kings in ancient times, though little is known about them. This could very well be referring to the line of Kristos incarnations throughout history, which Jesus was a part of.
King Arthur also represents the Kristos in the Arthurian legends (though the historical Arthur has certainly been mythologized into a greater figure than reality). Various powers are associated with Arthur, including his tutelage under the magician Merlin, and the sword he pulls from the stone that establishes his divine right to rule. The creation of his Round Table and the moral codes and the legacy he left behind is characteristic of the Kristos. It is often portrayed that there were either 12 or 24 Knights of the Round Table, which signifies either the 12 zodiac signs (which also correspond to Jesus’ 12 apostles), or for 24, signifying each of the zodiac signs divided into two parts, one for the day and one for the night. Also, at the centre of the Round Table is a rose, symbolic of the resurrection. Arthur’s untimely death by those who disbelieved him (in this case, his son Mordred killed him) also follows closely with that of other saviours. Thus, Arthur can be seen as the Sun, his knights the zodiac, the Round Table the universe, and his sword Excaliber the sun’s rays with which he vanquishes darkness and evil. As Manly Hall says, drawing the sword out of the stone has alchemical symbolism of “the withdrawal of the sword (spirit) from the anvil of the base metals (his lower nature),” thus attaining the perfected state of the Kristos.
Krishna represents the Kristos figure in the East Indian religions. Krishna, while playing his flute in the forest, was crucified upon a tree by his enemies. He had previously known of his impending death, and had prepared himself for it by bathing in the river Ganges and praying to heaven. After his death, his disciples came to recover his body, but it had disappeared, and the tree upon which he had been crucified was covered with great red flowers.
Quetzalcoatl, the feathered snake god of the Central American Natives, is thought to have come out of the sea bearing a cross, and was also covered with red crosses on his garments. The cross has become a sacred symbol to the Mayas, and Quetzalcoatl was crucified and nailed to a cross (and is often depicted as being crucified along with two thieves). He was then cut into pieces and put into a cauldron. This is also similar to the Egyptian legend of Osiris, who was cut into pieces by Set and scattered about the world. Osiris is later resurrected by Isis, and as seen above, he also symbolizes the Sun.
And so the abbreviation “Xmas” might be a more fitting title for Christmas. “X” stands for the Greek letter chi, which is the first letter in the Greek word for Kristos (Khrīstos), and so with “Xmas” we are able to appreciate all the saviours that have sacrificed themselves so that we might come to attain a higher level of being, and ultimately, the sacrifice that must take place within each of us to become connected to our divine source.
For more posts in my Quotes of Wisdom series, click here.