Anthroposophy NYC Blog
MEETING OUR TIMES
12 Days of Christmas and the Incorruptible Body
Author: Jonathan Hilton
What is so special about the 12 Days of Christmas? Why 12 days? There is an astronomical basis that can serve as a portal to a deeper spiritual understanding. The lunar year, composed of the annual cycles of full moon to full moon, is 354 days. The solar calendar, based on the Sun’s apparent movement through the zodiac and returning to the same point, is 365 days plus about 5 hours. Therefore, the difference between the solar year and the lunar year is about 12 days. An added interesting phenomenon is the fact that the lunar calendar and the solar calendar, though different rhythms, come into alignment every 33 years. Hence we have this significant Christic number of 33 as the time between when the lunar and solar calendars coincide.
Thus, these 12 Holy Days of Christmas stand as a special time, the time in the solar year that is outside, so to speak, the lunar year. We have 12 days in which the solar forces can be accessible directly without the “filter” or intervening sphere of the Moon influence. One can think of this in the sense that the Moon sphere is connected with the soul world and with the time before birth when we weave our being into the body, the hereditary forces of the Earth. The Moon sphere is connected with our embodiment into Earth existence. The Sun realm is that realm, which is the entrance to the true spiritual world from the soul world. It carries the activity of the higher beings of the Sun sphere. Now these spheres can be viewed from many perspectives in their activity. But for this article we can ask: Who are the solar forces that are so accessible in these Holy Nights? They are the Elohim, also called the Exusiai or the Spirits of Form. They are the beings who shape and form the spiritual life and substance offered by the higher beings of our solar cosmos and beyond. When we think of the Sun we must not think only of the fiery disc in the sky. This is actually the least spiritual aspect of the Sun. The true Sun of the Elohim permeates our entire solar cosmos out to the periphery of our solar system zodiac. So in these Holy Nights, we have a special potential with regard to the Elohim, the Spirits of Form, and to formative forces altogether. It is during these Holy Nights that the seeds, which are now asleep in the Earth, receive the forms that they will unfold as tree, or herb, or grass. They are imprinted with their true form during these nights out of cosmic formative forces. So the rose will unfold into the five-pointed flower, or the lily into the six-pointed flower, etc. All the plants reflect the forms of the heavens, which are impressed into the seed during these 12 days as its spiritual genetic code.
But what then is our human relationship to these Elohim, the Spirits of Form? How can the Holy Nights of Christmas become an ever more conscious and renewed relationship to the cosmic Sun forces, as well as the greater Sun that is now united with the Earth?
To answer, let us begin with the beginning.
In the book of Genesis, the first two chapters tell the Creation story in mighty imaginative pictures. But they tell two stories of Creation. Let us focus on the sections that tell of the creation of Adam. Chapter 1 states that “God created man in his image, in his own image God created him; male and female he created him.” The Hebrew word for God is the plural Elohim. The word for man is the Hebrew word “A-dam,” which means human being, not just a man in the limited gender sense of today. In fact, the text does not say “male and female” implying two beings, but should rather be translated male/female, one being before the separation into gender. And the word “image” in Hebrew can also be translated as “phantom,” “representative form,” “resemblance”.
In Chapter 2 of Genesis, we read also about the creation of A-dam, but a quite different creation story. “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul.” Genesis then later goes on to describe the creation of woman out of the rib of Adam as a separate being. The word Lord God used in Chapter 2 is the Hebrew word Jehovah, or Yahweh, not Elohim as in Chapter 1. This story brings in the “dust of the earth,” whereas the first story only speaks of man as the image of Elohim.
So in Chapter 1, we have the story of the Elohim, the Spirits of Form, creating Adam, a cosmic archetypal Adam. In Chapter 2, at a later time when there was the “dust of the earth,” we have Jehovah (or Yahweh), the god of the Hebrew people, creating Adam from dust of the earth and breathing life and soul into him. Who was Jehovah? Jehovah was the leader of the Elohim on the Sun before the Earth, in cosmic evolution, had to be separated out from the Sun due to its further densification process. The Sun Elohim world was too rarefied to hold the Earth in its evolutionary progression, and thus separated out. However, Jehovah remained with the Earth. Later when the Moon had to separate out from the Earth sphere, Jehovah took his abode in the Moon sphere. From there he served to reflect the higher Sun for the Earth. He became the Moon deity, whereas the Elohim remained as the Sun deities. There are indeed great mysteries in this story, for in Jehovah, we can see the role taken by the Moon in the task of embodiment. We can see the difference between the reflected light and the pure solar light. We can see the role of Jehovah for the Hebrew people in their task to keep the hereditary bloodline pure for the preparation of the eventual bodily vessel of the Messiah. This is of course a profound study, which goes beyond the intent of this article.
Let us now move on with our theme. If the Elohim, the Spirits of Form, created Adam, the cosmic human form, what is the nature of this form and from where does it come?
Rudolf Steiner reveals answers to the question: What is the central significance of our human form? “The one and only expression for our I, it is the human form… In other words, in all the vast realm of our experience there is one thing — the human form — which is the expression of the human being. It sounds a trivial thing to say, but it is in reality one of the most important utterances that can be made, and one upon which we do well to ponder and meditate” (GA 137, Oslo, June, 1912). Thus the human form is the expression of our true ego, our “I”. It is inseparable from it. Rudolf Steiner then proceeds in these lectures to elaborate this true human form.
But first let us return to Christmas and the birth of Jesus.
As Genesis has two creation stories, so Christmas has two creation stories, two genealogies of Jesus. In Luke, we are told of the poor family in the stable, the birth with the animals, and the shepherds coming. Legends say that this child in the stable radiated light and spoke as soon as he was born. In Matthew, we have a house to which the Magi from the East come to greet the royal child whose birth they foresaw in the stars. In Luke, the genealogy of Jesus goes all the way back to Adam. In Matthew, the genealogy goes back to Abraham. But there is one key distinction to notice, which makes all the difference. The genealogy in Matthew follows the line from David to his son King Solomon and on to the birth of Jesus. The genealogy in Luke also follows the line up to David, but then continues with his son Nathan on to Jesus. Thus we have two streams of ancestors that divide after King David. Historically in Judaism, it is noted that David had several children who include Solomon and Nathan. They were both children born of Bat-Sheba. Here we could develop a whole other research line around the mystery realities underlying the story of David and Bat-Sheba. But for now, only note that both Solomon and Nathan were born of Bat-Sheba and King David. But this child Nathan is nowhere mentioned in the Old Testament, whereas Solomon is featured as the great King Solomon. So Solomon carried the exoteric Kingly line of David. Nathan carried the esoteric Priest stream, the hidden mystery stream. This is a truth in all history — there is the exoteric historical story and the hidden esoteric realities.
So who was Nathan and who was this Jesus, descended from him? In Nathan, is a physical blood line genealogy indicated? Or is it perhaps a spiritual genealogy carried by the Nathan line in the Mysteries? Who is Nathan? In Hebrew, it is Natan, meaning “He gave.” Who is the “He” who gave? The name Natan is also a palindrome, meaning a word that is the same spelled backward and forward, which indicates an association with the Mysteries, with initiates. Is Natan a historical name, or is it a title? Or is it both? An understanding of the nature of the Nathan Jesus can help with this question.
Again Rudolf Steiner provides insight in describing the nature of the Nathan child. He describes when and how our human egos (i.e. form) began the process of incarnating into earthly bodies, the body “made of the dust of the earth,” and through which began our participation in the “Fall,” the decline and separation of our ego, of our form, from the Elohim, from “God.”
“Those Egos who have since continued to incarnate were not present in men on Earth. They were not yet separate from the substance of that hierarchy, which first brought the human Ego into being: the hierarchy of the Spirits of Form… But when in due time man was given over to physical incarnations on the Earth, something was held back. A certain Ego substance was not brought into the stream of physical incarnations… Instead this Ego preserved the form which man had before proceeding to his first earthly incarnation… the Ego of Adam before his first embodiment in the flesh” (GA 131, Karlsruhe, October, 1911).
The Nathan Child brought into incarnation for the first time the Adam of Chapter 1 of Genesis created by the Elohim, the Spirits of Form. Rudolf Steiner goes on to describe how this Ego/Form substance, which was held back, was given into the care of the most Holy Mysteries through Atlantean and post-Atlantean times, “preserved in an important Mystery Center, as in a tabernacle.” (GA 131). This is the genealogy of the Priestly line of Nathan and the sacred Sun Mysteries of the Elohim, which protected the pure human Ego, the human uncorrupted Form, in preparation and readiness for the incarnation of the Logos. In the exoteric Old Testament, the content is focused on the line of the Jehovah stream, the preparation of a body with pure blood lines of the chosen people of Israel. But there are also indications of the Sun Priests in the Old Testament, as in the story of Melchizedek, who brings out bread and wine and blesses Abraham. It is not the offering of the blood sacrifice of the Hebrews, but the offering of the Sun symbols of bread and wine. There are also the two sacred Mounts: Mount Zion and Mount Moriah, on which the Temple in Jerusalem is built and the home of the High Priest Sadducees. Mount Zion is the Sun Mount and Mount Moriah the Moon mount. This is a rich area for further development.
So what is this preserved human Ego Form, the 1st Adam described in Chapter 1 of Genesis?
If we return to the Oslo lecture cycle referred to previously, Rudolf Steiner creates this Form, which has over the evolution taken on more and more material physicality, but which also contains the original uncorrupted ideal. It is the Form of the Zodiac. The Spirits of Form shaped out of the 12 forces of the highest hierarchies, each with its own unique quality, the totality of the Human Form as intended by the Originators of our human evolution. The Zodiac symbols now are a dim shadow picture of the activities of mighty cosmic Beings. This 1st Adam is the same Adam known in the ancient esoteric Hebrew tradition of the Kabbalah as Adam Kadmon.
Let us build this human form. In doing so, I ask that you see both the physical bodily expression and, behind the physical, the living dynamic quality and spiritual power of this Form, which we all share as human beings. Just as we all universally share the human “I”, we also all share the universal human form, in which we are not divided by physical bodies, race, ethnicity, gender, etc. See the image with the symbols and explanations below, and the cover image of this article at the beginning and end of this post.
ARIES: orientation to uprightness. A fundamental quality of humanness. Notice how the toddler thrills at standing upright. It is the joy of the emerging ego experience. The ego experience and the upright human form go together. In the symbol for Aries, we also see the line of the brow and nose, the downward thrust of the form, and so the association with the head and thought. In this, we can explore also the relation to thinking and uprightness.
TAURUS: orientation to speech, in the broad sense of the word speech, meaning the expression of the inner life in sounding, but not simply sound as the animal can make, but sound that shapes meaning, logos. This has evolved to physical speech, in which lies the germ of the future power of the word as creative force. The symbol for Taurus shows the area of the throat and larynx, including the ear canals also associated with speech/hearing.
GEMINI: symmetry in the broad sense, as we experience it now in our relationship to left and right, and the symmetry reflected in our bodily form. It is our means of orientation in the outer environment. In the symbol, we see the two lines parallel, like the long spinal column dividing us into left and right sides.
CANCER: the enclosure into itself, the gesture towards self-containment. In the first three, we have a relation to the outer environment, but now the gesture turns towards the inner with the orientation to enclosure within. It is reflected now in our thorax, our rib cage, which is the house of our inner organs, inner life.
LEO: rhythmical interrelation between the inner and outer, or the active inner forms (organs), which have both an inner quality as well as a relation to the outer environment. These are reflected bodily in our organs of lungs and heart.
VIRGO: the true inside. With Virgo, we have now gone deeply into the enclosure, the inner world of our form and come to the inner mysteries. Here is where the mysteries of transubstantiation take place. In our bodies now, it is the area of digestion and the intestines and the transformation of material foods into life and energy and consciousness.
LIBRA: the Scales. Here we turn now outward again in the capacity for balance in the broad sense. In the form, we have the region of the above and below, and our balance between them in order to orient ourselves to the lower world of walking, the limbs. Physically, it is our pelvic area, the joint of the waist that divides our upper from our lower body.
SCORPIO: Continuing in the relation to the outer world again, this is the region of procreation out of the self. It is opposite Taurus, and thus the mysteries of creation, of the word, and of procreative forces now physically expressed in our bodies with the sexual organs of procreation.
SAGITTARIUS: the force of movement outward into the environment through the will. It is connected bodily with the thighs and the upper arms through which we move our limbs forward/outward into the environment.
CAPRICORN: flexibility in meeting the outer environment. Joints in the broad sense, reflected bodily in our elbows and knees. It gives us the capacity to meet the environment not rigidly, but to adapt and meet it with flexibility.
AQUARIUS: the meeting with the periphery; the touching point expanded now to the periphery in the broadest sense. This is reflected bodily in the calves and the forearms. It is this region where the blood comes nearest to the surface of the skin. One can think of how a mother tests the heat of a baby bottle milk by sprinkling it on the forearm.
PISCES: encountering and taking up the periphery. Here we now work with the periphery, engage with it, but in two very distinct ways. The one in moving through the environment, the walking of destiny. The other expresses through taking up the environment creatively to mold and shape it through the hands. Pisces in the human form could be an entire article.
This is Adam as created by the Elohim. This is the human form before incarnation into the “dust of the earth” and which has evolved over time into our personal physical body with the fruits of many incarnations and karmic consequences. Yet, this 1st Adam, Adam Kadmon, the original protected Ego/Form substance, incarnated for the first time in Jesus, described by Luke, and took on bodily material form for 30 years until the Christ Ego, from beyond our Solar universe, from the most High Trinity, united with this form. Here we have the Holy 12 of the Christmas Days as a unity, which then meets the 13th day, Epiphany, when the Christ enters the 12-fold form. The 13 Days are then the 12 + 1.
This then is culmination of the Holy Nights and Epiphany, which then leads us to the greatest of events, the Resurrection and the resurrection body. This is the essence of Easter and a study in itself. The incorruptible body is restored for humanity and accessible to us now through the deed of resurrection. The resurrection, not the cross, is the symbol of Christianity. It is the deed, which is Christianity.
So over these 12 Holy Days of Christmas, the Sun sphere is open to us in ways not possible in the rest of the year. We can take this time to ponder the human form, the zodiac human ego substance, the twelve-fold periphery, which is the expression for our Ego, “the one and only expression.” And since the deed of Christ, we can ponder what we “give” to the stars through our union with the transformed body that indwells us now. This “is in reality one of the most important utterances that can be made, and one upon which we do well to ponder and meditate.”
A presentation given at Anthroposophy NYC on December 26, 2018
Jonathan Hilton is currently the President of the Council of New York City Branch of the Anthroposophical Society in America. He has been working with anthroposophy in various ways for over 40 years. His work includes a new approach to star wisdom, arising out of anthroposophy, as developed by Willi Sucher, with a particular focus on the cycle of the year as a path to the new Sun mysteries. astrosophy.com
This article is available in the PDF format for the followers of astrosophy.com.
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