Masonic Reflection on Christmas

Each one reaches the truth
that he is able to bear

 

 

Jacques Lacan

 

[Translated from the Spanish]

Christmas is a dogma derived from previous pagan dogmas, since Christmas is nothing more than the Christianization of the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere, whose origin dates back to pagan festivals such as the Old Norse Jul festivals, which took place every winter solstice.

Illustration of an ancient Nordic Yule festival (Die Gartenlaube, 1880) PD
IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Yule, or Jul, symbolizes light and fertility, it is a new beginning of the cycle of life; a celebration of life and death, in which the solar symbol – the wheel – was asked to bring the sun – life – and move winter – death.

The Persian culture, for its part, worshiped Mithra, the solar god who was adopted by the Romans around 62 BC, giving rise to Mithraism.

Late 4th-century Sasanian relief of Mithra

 

IMAGE LINKED:  wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

In ancient Egypt, the birth of Osiris was celebrated; he was the inventor of agriculture and religion, lord of the dead and king of the afterlife, a god known as ‘the one who wears the eye’.

For the Greeks, Mithra was the solar God Helios; the personification of the sun, source of light and life, who protects humanity from the dangers of darkness.

Given the influence and power of the Roman Empire, it was the emperors Heliogabalus and Aurelian, who established 25 December as Natalis Solis Invicti: birth of the Undefeated Sun.

It was the Romans with their pagan festival dedicated to the God Saturn, who established the closest celebrations to what we celebrate today as Christmas.

Saturn with his scythe, riding in his chariot. Engraving by C. Lasinio after Raphael, 1516..
IMAGE LINKED:  wellcome collection Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

In the Saturnalia festivals of ancient Rome, Saturn was honoured as one of the main gods of the pantheon. Saturn was related to the renewal of light, the Undefeated Sun that defeated death.

At present, every 25 December, the Christian world celebrates the official date of the birth of Jesus, the son of God the Father, thus worshiping a Christian dogma imposed during the pontificate of Liberius (352 – 366) on which the date of the night is from 24-25 December.

For Christianity, Jesus is the mythical character who is born and presented as the lamb of the greatest filicide in biblical mythology; the victim of a father with a sinister personality and one that Richard Dawkins describes with remarkable clarity in the following words:

The God of the Old Testament is possibly the most annoying character in all of fiction: jealous and proud of it; a mean, unjust and implacable monster; a vengeful, bloodthirsty and ethnic cleanser; a misogynist, homophobic, racist, infanticidal. Genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniac, sadomasochistic; a capriciously malevolent bully.

Beyond the mythological-biblical account of the birth of the son and subsequent cosmic filicide, the ‘Nativitas’ is not the birth of any god, much less Jesus, but rather symbolizes the birth of sunlight, as it is the Sun who sovereignly presides over all the life of man, all the life of the planet, all the life of his system. This cosmic phenomenon is called Solstice.

Solstice from the Latin solstitium means ‘still Sun’, because for several days the height of the Sun at noon does not change. This astronomical phenomenon happens when the Sun is closer or farther from one of the terrestrial hemispheres, which occurs twice a year in the months of June and December, hence the solstices mark the beginning of the astronomical summer and the beginning of the astronomical winter.

The dogma of Christmas is related to the solstice that takes place during the month of December, but this is different depending on whether we are in the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice [Midwinter] takes place, and it is the shortest day of the year and the longest night, and from that date the days have lengthened little by little.

It marks the passage from Autumn to Winter.

At noon, the Sun reaches its lowest point of the whole year.

In the Southern Hemisphere, the summer solstice [Midsummer]takes place, and it is the longest day of the year and the shortest night, and from that date the days begin to shorten little by little.

It marks the passage from Spring to Summer.

At noon, the Sun reaches the highest point of the whole year.

Solstice at Stonehenge, UK
IMAGE By: Nanou22 from Pixabay Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

The Christmas festival, which takes place during the December solstice, symbolizes for the layman a dogmatic celebration that worships the biblical myth of the birth – and subsequent filicide – of the redeemer of humanity, but for the Mason, for the son of light and reason, whose framework of action is Nature, must symbolize, following initiatory solar symbolism, the triumph of reason over ignorance of dogma.

The summer solstice – Southern Hemisphere – was dedicated to Recognition; and the winter solstice – Northern Hemisphere – to Hope, both solstices represent Nativitas by wisdom in the recognition of the light, and of the hope of approaching the truth.

If the lodge is the representation of the Universe, and even more so of the Cosmos, that is, of the time-space in which we think and develop our Cogito Ergo Sum [I think, therefore I am] and our Nosce te Ipsum [know thyself], then the solstice that takes place in the month of December, either when the Sun reaches its lowest point – northern hemisphere – or its highest point – southern hemisphere – symbolizes for the Mason the personification of the idea of ​​Janus, the door of the solstice of Capricorn that crosses the soul of the immortal reason of the man who leads him to become the God of his own evolution: Man hatching to become his own God through the light of reason: Nativitas Homo Deus.

A memento mori mosaic from excavations in the convent of San Gregorio in Rome, featuring the Greek motto. The artist is unknown. – Lessing Photo Archive:
IMAGE LINKED: wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

The December solstice, Nativitas, whether the Sun reaches at noon its lowest point of the whole year – northern hemisphere – or reaches its highest point of the whole year – southern hemisphere – has for the Mason a symbolism in the Nadir and the Zenith in the Celestial Vault.

Allegorically, the Nadir allows the Mason to continue inquiring from the bottom: V.I.T.R.I.O.L. to project himself vertically into infinite space in search of the ultimate and absolute truth represented by Zenith.

Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum Lapidem [Visit the interior of the earth, and by rectifying (correcting or purifying) what you find there, you will discover the hidden stone]   it is the alchemical symbol that represents the transmutation of lead into gold, it is the Nativitas of the December Solstice that symbolizes a birth from the darkness of reason to a state of light that allows the Mason to become a thinker.

A memento mori mosaic from excavations in the convent of San Gregorio in Rome, featuring the Greek motto. The artist is unknown. – Lessing Photo Archive:
IMAGE LINKED: wikimedia Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

The Nativitas of the December solstice invites the Mason to reflection and recollection in the depths of his own internal chamber of reflection; to remember his death as a profane, and his birth into the life of the Masonic light.

Memento Mori
IMAGE LINKED: wellcome collection Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Article by: Carlos Francisco Ortiz

Carlos  was initiated in 2015 in Equality Lodge No. 88.  Joined Fraternal Action Lodge No. 42 in 2018. (under the regular Grand Lodge of Chile) 

During his university life, and before receiving Masonic light, he participated in the reorganization and foundation of Clans of the Youth Fraternity. Alpha Pi Epsilon.

 

Recent Articles: by Carlos Francisco Ortiz

Q∴H∴ Jaime Galté Carré

Dear Brother – Q∴H∴ Jaime Galté Carré  …read more

Development of the Emulation Ritual

Relevant historical background in the evolutionary development of the Emulation Ritual  …read more

The First Degree Retejador

What is Retejador? And why is it so important?  …read more

Further reading:

The Chamber of Reflection: A revitalized and Misunderstood Masonic Practice

by Roberto M. Sanchez 

The Chamber of Reflection is an amazing preparatory tool for the degree of Freemasonry.

Its history and existence date back to the very beginning, unfortunately most Masons have never heard of it. The only place you will ever see it in American Freemasonry as an accepted practiced rite is in the Templar Orders. However, traditionally it was seen as early as the Entered Apprentice degree.

The main purpose of the Chamber is to help the candidate prepare himself for the solemn ceremonies he is about to undertake.

Today, the Chamber of Reflection would serve as an even bigger tool to make sure said ceremony stays solemn. It would prevent members who chooses to haze or tease the candidate about riding a goat or other such clichés that are said.

This piece was originally published in the Transaction of Texas Lodge of Research, and later used in my book, The True Masonic Experience.

However, I was encouraged to publish this as a single book for those lodges who wish to have this readily available for their members.

I hope you enjoy learning about one of the most misunderstood Masonic practices of our history.

 

Deus Sol Invictus: The Persian Sun God Mithras and the Conquering God of Rome

by Minou Reeves 

The sun god Mithra was worshiped extensively in pre-Zoroastrian Persia; at the height of the Roman Empire, during the second and third centuries, he was venerated as Mithras, Deus Sol Invictus (“The Unconquered Sun God”).

The emperors of Ancient Rome ascribed the success of imperial Persia – which they failed to subdue – to the latter’s belief in Mithras. Hence the Romans adopted Mithras themselves, believing him to be key to acquiring such invincibility.

Thus the cult of the sun god became a full state religion.For over four hundred years, Mithras was revered by emperors, governors, procurators, commanding generals, legionaries and centurions all across Roman Europe, and many Mithraic temples were built in his name.

Elite Mithraists were initiated into special rites and ceremonies – called the Mysteries – by Mithraic high priests.

A major competitor to early Christianity within the Roman Empire, Mithraism saw many of its rites and doctrines adopted by the Church, and many a Christian church would be erected on the site of a former Mithraeum.

Extensively illustrated and researched, Deus Sol Invictus reaches back into the earliest Persian origins of Mithraism until the last vestiges of the religion in Rome, and provides exquisite detail on every facet of this once-pervasive belief system.

 

Mithras: Mysteries and Inititation Rediscovered

by D. Jason Cooper 

Known as Mitra to the Indians, Mithra and Zarathustra (Zoroaster in Greek) to the Iranians, and Mithras to the Romans, this is the oldest of all living deities.

Mithras was recognized as the greatest rival of Christianity, a greater threat even than the religion of Isis. If Rome had not become Christian, it would have become Mithrasian.

Mithraisians had a sacrament that included wine as a symbol of sacrificial blood.

Bread in wafers, or small loaves marked with a cross, was used to symbolize flesh.

The priestly symbols were a staff, a ring, a hat, and a hooked sword; members were called brothers, and priests were called “Father.” Mithras was born on December 25th.

He offered salvation based on faith, compassion, knowledge, and valor. He appealed to the poor, the slave and the freeman, as well as to the Roman aristocracy, the militia, and even to some emperors.

The Christians sacked his temples, burned his books, and attacked his followers; they desecrated his temples, and built their own churches on the same foundations as the old Mithraic temples.

Cooper examines Mithras and his religion in the most complete study ever done.

He explores the various forms of this god–worshiped from Lisbon to modrn Bangladesh, from the Scottish border to the Russian Steppes–and investigates the worship.

This is an exciting journey into living mythology, the history of a living god, and will fascinate modern Western readers who want to know more about the spiritual path–whether they want to better understand contemporary Christianity, the basis of many contemporary ideaologies, mythology, or the Western Mystery Tradition.

 

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