It is both mystery and magic.
This is a re-share from last year because I’m still really, really in love with the stories of the Three Wise Men and the Nativity. One doesn’t need to be specifically Christian to find deep meaning to reflect on.
When searching around to refresh my memory about the 3 Wisemen and to obtain a variety of insights, I wasn’t let down. With this story, you have to dig around a bit and get creative on what to type in—otherwise all you’ll find are pages and pages of interpretations from Biblical scholars who super badly want the story to validate what they’ve been taught. Still, each piece I read offered some little twist of intrigue, perspective, and heartfelt thought. Some had provided some fine detective work with well-done speculations about the reality of the times and what was likely. And for sure, I too was looking for something—mine just happened to be a search for meaning beyond the typical agenda. I feel that when dogma is in the way, the real points can often be missed.
I also wanted to know more about the properties and significance of the gold, frankincense and myrrh without the religious application. I am fascinated by this Nativity parable. When one combines all viewpoints and versions—the religious and the not, what you’re left with is a truly rich and multi-layered, multi-dimensional teaching to chew on. For me, all spiritual conveyances in the form of written and oral traditions from ALL practices contain metaphors meant to be used as tools for our medicine chest to access as we walk this life journey.
It’s important to note that apparently the original scriptures make no mention of who or how many people brought gifts to the sacred family, but only that there were three presents: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. From there, based on some pretty good historical guessing, profiles were developed as to WHO the bearers of these gifts were: three wise, major players who traveled from foreign lands to witness and support the “Messiah”. Eventually they were given names. While it was a great opportunity to make one or more a woman, I feel it was unlikely that the times or the storytellers would have allowed that. It is also suggested that it’s possible these journeyers might not have shown up immediately, but instead, a couple of years later. After all, they were traveling from afar based on where the gold, frankincense, and myrrh would be naturally coming from.
Most agree that these pilgrims were “Magi”—men who held great status, and most likely prophets and mystics; sages; astrologers or astronomers bringing vision, science, mentoring, and very expensive physical and spiritual medicine to the scene.
So, basically, they were shamans.
Over the years, the thing that I’ve learned about shamans, male or female, is that they have always tended to believe that if someone or something is sick in the physical, they are first unwell in spirit.
So, the three gifts, it seems to me, were tools to protect, support, and guide this child-of-light. I believe the shamans brought gifts of wholeness; a trinity of gifts for the mind, body, and spirit.
No one is really sure whether actual gold was brought or whether it was perhaps the golden spice, turmeric. Yet, there seems to be more agreement around the idea that gold, indeed, was the more likely. It sounds right that gold was brought to honor and convey the status of this child.
Gold is also a strong element of the earth and part of the magnetic force that we are all anchored to. I believe the gold gift represents the physical presence of the spiritual body on this Earth-plane and a reminder of the value of earth/spirit alignment. The gold is the gift of grounded experience, of the physical body as the vehicle.
Frankincense and myrrh are precious resins used for a variety of medicinal reasons, again, physically and spiritually, so both are quite good to have in one’s home in the form of a resin, incense, or oil. Resins are used to heal and seal wounds, oils have anti-inflammatory and other supercharged healing powers, and incense is used for personal resonance and ritual. My first thought about the gift of Frankincense was that it was for prayer. Frankincense has properties that bring out intuition and communication. When burned, symbolically one can send their prayers and communication through the smoke to the higher, outer realms and to also open their own channels to listening. This is the gift of air and fire, of the connection to Source and one’s spirit.
The most interesting and unique thing about the resin of Myrrh is that in addition to the healing traits mentioned above, it was, of all things, used as an embalming agent during that time period. It’s possible this gift was brought as information: a warning, an insight, as well as protection. I mainly see this gift as an emissary for preparing the mind for death in order to use time wisely. I believe it is a lesson here, for all of us to see and know that our personal physical time on this planet is limited, so we must walk the truth of our purpose and help others as we go—to be kind and forgiving, even when it’s hardest to do so. This is the gift of the conscious mind.
So, it is my way of thinking that the gold is body, the myrrh is mind, and the frankincense is spirit.
The Symbolic Mary Christmas:
The final piece of symbolism that I feel is worth mentioning (that has been—since I was a teen—my personal takeaway on the entire Nativity) is the manger story of Mary and Joseph.
Jesus was recognized as the Prince of Peace—and was delivered through Mary, a young virgin woman. To me, this is a story that has little to do with physical virginity, but the need for a new and clean era—about Peace being delivered directly through the pure and blessed Feminine path, protected by the Masculine. Joseph made sure he guided her to safety and found sanctuary among sacred beings: the animals.
When the Female Way is revered and honored, rather than intruded upon, criticized, dominated, and/or destroyed by societal systems that reject it (or refuse to give a room at the Inn); when we take care of the things we think of as female, such as home and hearth issues (environment, hunger, and health) AND the Male Way supports, protects, and co-navigates, all is balanced. Balance is what the healthy Earthly experience depends on. It is what our bodies, our communities, our planet, and our universe is always attempting to achieve for a peaceful state.
Peace is achievable. It is birthed through the path and guidance of the Feminine, protected by the Masculine. The Nativity is repeated with every human birth, but only when the women are held at high status and recognized as the bearers of Peace will we get it right as a People and achieve that balance.
I believe the stories of the Magi and the Nativity together are teachings about how to achieve inner peace for our selves and outer peace for the planet. Peace, balance, caring, and unconditional love, in my view, are the attributes of Jesus. To me, it’s not the story of the man, but the message that he represents that is the Savior— and only through peace and love will we manifest a heavenly existence—now and throughout time eternal.
Merry Christmas from my home to yours, and wishing us all a 2018 filled with gifts that nurture our mind, body, spirit, and futures.
“The Magi” by Henry Siddons Mowbray, 1915