The Christmas tree as we know it today started as tradition in 16th Century Europe, and is now a symbol for this holy time of year. It is universally adopted, but what is the deep significance to the elements that go to make it up?
The depiction of a tree as a metaphor for life is one that occurs innumerable times in many cultures, ancient civilizations, mythology, and various faith traditions. As the ‘Tree of Life’ it can represent the family of humanity – all the leaves representing the souls of the earth living together; as the variety of religions – each ‘branch’ emanates from the same seed.
Firstly, the tree is wonderfully decorated with wonderful ornaments of all kinds, each one representing a spiritual virtue or good quality. The real glory of a human being is not in the adornment of the body, but the beauty of our honesty, our love, kindness and purity… in short, all the gifts that came from the Creator, and which we are encouraged to display to the world.
Secondly, what bring the whole tree to life are the lights. Before the advent of electric lights, candles were used. The candles represent each of us. We have a physical form, but we cannot reach our potential and shine our light to the world until the soul is alight and sustained by the Eternal Flame of Truth. Today’s trend is for lights that flicker, but our aim should be to remain constantly awake to the greater truth, especially in this dark time of the world. How alive and bright is your light? And does it remain constantly lit?
At Christmas, An evergreen tree is always used, reminding us that life is not just the here and now, but it is eternal. The seed of any tree is hidden away, it does its work silently, unseen, and yet from it springs the whole miraculous creation with its beauty and diversity and its different functions; the roots, branches, twigs, leaves and ultimately, its fruit. Again, the seed is a symbolic reminder of the One Almighty who is the creator of all. We are all leaves on the branches of this creation.
Once the seed is sown, and creation has begun, the seed is unseen until the tree has reached maturity, has borne its fruit, and is ready to go back to the earth. Likewise, the Supreme will also reveal Himself at the end, when it’s time for us all to go back.
And at the top of the tree we often find a star, again a reminder of the One Light that stands over all creation, the one that we will ultimately go back to. It also represents the sign of the nativity, of new life, new hope, when the ‘Light of the World’ brings newness… light into the World.
Angels abound at Christmas, representing the embodiment of a pure form, the highest virtues, to which we should all aspire. Angels are always flying. An angel’s feet should never touch the ‘mud’ of the earth, they are eternally conscious of who they are, spirits, rather than matter. So too, we should remember our divine nature, and not simply be engrossed in all things physical. Angels are shown as neither male nor female, but an embodiment of all masculine and feminine qualities, such as courage, power and steadfastness, and benevolence, love and loyalty. There is a saying that there is a saint in every sinner and a sinner in every saint. All beauty and mastery lies within us, we simply have to emerge it.
Whether one is a Christian or not, the Supreme comes in the dark night, laden with gifts for all of us. Santa is not only a reminder of the generosity of the Supreme, embracing all the souls of the world, and also of our current time, the dark night.
And as Christmas carols are sung to herald the silent holy night, let us awaken our consciousness to the fact that a new age is dawning. After the night surely comes the dawn and so this is the dawn of the era of deepening our spiritual consciousness.
It’s time… to recognize the true gifts that we have been given and to use them to realize our fuller potential. Let’s make sure that we are constantly decorated with virtues, and that the light of awareness remains constantly lit within us. Remember that you are as evergreen as the Christmas tree and then it will become easy to spread joy, peace and goodwill to all mankind!
© Aruna Ladva (It’s Time)