the tree of light

There is no part of a Christmas Tree that I do not like: its pungent scent, its perpetual greenness, its spiraling shape pointing towards heaven, its tenacious will for life even after being cut away from Mother Earth, and its wonderful compliment of colored garlands and ornaments amid the sparkling, multicolored lights. What a wonderful sight!

The affection I have for the Christmas Tree runs back to the very beginning of my memories, and all of my remembrances are associated with feelings of peace and joy. I remember that on the first night of the day my family “put up” the Christmas Tree, I would get out of bed, while every one else was sleeping, and “plug in” the tree’s lights. Then I would sit in front of the tree for hours absorbing its celestial radiance. I was especially attracted to the lights on the tree. The reds, violets, golds, greens, and blues, spiraled around the tree, from its top to its bottom, awakening the night in a dazzling display of twinkles. I felt such comfort, peace, and joy just sitting there next to the Christmas Tree. Even now, so many years later, I still get those same feelings when ever I am near a Christmas Tree.

As I got older I came to understand that my deep feelings associated with Christmas Trees were not unique. Many people the world over are deeply affected by Christmas Trees. A tree and lights are powerful symbols in and of themselves, but combining them and placing them in reference to a sacred season greatly expands their power to affect.

Trees have been powerful symbols used by human beings in all cultures, ancient and modern, to represent endurance,wisdom, transformation, and high aspiration. There is the Tree of Knowledge, who’s fruit, when ingested, transforms one from unconsciousness, to knowledge of good and evil- ego life, awareness and responsibility. There is the World Tree, a symbol used by humans in describing the connection between the spiritual and material sides of life. It was recorded in the ancient symbols of Hindu scripture, in the symbols of ancient Maya, Inca, Toltec civilizations, found also in the symbols of ancient Europe, and preserved to this day in the Scandinavian Eddas.

Light is an essential part of our living experience. In the light we are more aware and confident. The light brings clarity and hope to our souls, and as such provides us with direction and aim. When this powerful force of light is related to the sacred season of the Winter Solstice we can get a glimpse at its most quintessential aspect. The Winter Solstice is a part of the year where the Sun’s light is at its shortest exposure. That is, the number of hours in a day that the Sun is exposed, relative to night, is its lowest. This position of the Sun at its most southern point, represents the end of its yearly cycle. Night is in its fullest domination over light at the Winter Solstice. The old year, and all of its trials and conquests has burnt out, and in great hope and anticipation, the birth of a new year is ushered in with the beginning of the Sun’s journey back north. From the point of the Winter Solstice on, the Sun’s light will slowly begin to overtake night, culminating with the Summer Solstice in June.

The Christmas Tree wraps those powerful archetypal symbols, (tree, light, Winter Solstice), together in an irresistible display of endurance, hope, and continuity. Is there any wonder why Jesus the Christ’s, the light and the hope of all humanity, birth was assigned to the period of the Winter Solstice? Is there any wonder why the Christmas Tree fills me with such peace and joy?

Have a wonderful holiday season, and may the light of the new year fill your hearts with beautiful dreams and joy.

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