HUMANS may forever try to analyse, explain, prove or debunk the mysticism surrounding the Christian story behind Christmas.
Was the Star of Bethlehem actually a star? Or was it a comet? A new star (nova)? A rare conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter in the Pisces constellation?
Does knowing prove or disprove anything? Perhaps when we focus on finding truth in the details, we lose sight of the bigger truth in the message of compassion and goodwill.
The Christmas story begins with three very special wise men, or Magi, who followed a prophetic ‘star’ through the rigours of the Persian, Syrian and Judean desert, to attend the birth of Jesus.
As is the way with all historical mystics, the three magis’ story is shrouded in mystery, yet there is much speculation about them.
We too can make some reasonable assumptions that they were indeed ‘wise men’. Interestingly, the Magi most likely were ‘Magupati’, a title given to a priestly caste of the ancient Persian religions such as Zoroastrianism.
They were the ‘learned’ class - similar to the Druids in the West - and spiritual custodians studied in the sciences of astrology and magic, who performed sacred rites.
The magi would have followed the patterns of the stars religiously and today we might call them astrologers, however back then astronomy and astrology were part of the same overall studies and ‘science’.
The magi were seers and highly revered by the people and wielded great influence.
By the 1st Century AD, magi were more broadly known as men who studied sacred writings and dabbled with occult practices.
The Gift of Gold
The wise men showed that they did indeed consider Jesus a king by bringing gold, which was particularly associated with royalty and nobility.
Gold was a prized commodity and the highest measure of wealth in the ancient world because of its scarcity and high cost.
Gold in its physical golden state, by its very nature, denotes wealth and prestige in every country, culture and market. In today’s world it is probably the most valuable and easily traded commodity available in the global market place.
Gold has long been associated with Divinity in both pre-Christian and Christian religion.
It embodied divine qualities that humans venerated with its luminosity and indestructible nature, but also its covetable pliability and scarceness.
Accordingly, temples, shrines and churches were decorated lavishly with golden or gilded statues and images to honour Gods. Liturgical vessels, reliquaries, crosses, objects needed for performances of sacred rituals were all made in gold.
Explore any Buddhist temple or sanctuary and you’ll see gold; this has been the case for as long as the Buddhist faith has existed.
Statues in particular have always been adorned with gold. In these cases, some are either covered in very fine gold leaf or are completely gilded in gold. The golden colour signifies the purity of one’s belief.
Ancient Egyptians believed that gold was an indestructible and heavenly metal. The sun god Ra was often referred to as a mountain of gold.
Bright sun-like gold adds richness and warmth to everything with which it is associated, illuminating and enhancing other things around it. It is connected with abundance, success and prosperity.
Spiritually, it represents higher ideals of self-understanding, self-worth, wisdom, compassion and love. At the uppermost level, gold the most precious metal is the symbol of the realised immortal Self, enlightenment, ascension and transcendence.
For the alchemist, it represents the pure transformation of the Self; the perfection of all matter on any level, including that of the mind, spirit, and soul.
The alchemist’s ‘living gold’ is the pure fire that is in the philosopher’s stone or in quicksilver or in the root humidity of nature that is completely penetrated by the fire.
It is a light that is clothed by a perfect, pure ethereal body that is pure consciousness or pure awareness.
Alchemical gold is described as the divine, creative influence present in all matter.
The Gift of Frankincense
Frankincense is an aromatic gum resin that is produced by scraping the bark of certain native species of trees that grow in the Middle East and then harvesting the beads of resin after they have dried.
Frankincense has long been treasured by civilisations that existed for thousands of years before the birth of one enlightened being.
It was always considered a most holy scent and was used as holy anointing oil and burned as incense in religious ceremonies.
Frankincense oil has been used since the times of the ancient Egyptians as a key ingredient in medicines, cosmetics and embalming mixtures.
This oil was capable of preserving dead bodies for tens of thousands of years, which demonstrates its remarkable anti-microbial activity and why it is still relevant and valuable for therapeutic and anti-ageing skincare.
Wafting to heaven as incense in sacred sites and raising spiritual consciousness, it was even used to fumigate the sick in order to banish possessing evil spirits.
Today we still value the essential oil’s anti-microbial and psychotherapeutic properties and to which its rising cost is testimony.
The tonic effect of frankincense on the nervous and endocrine systems is one of this oil’s most potent gifts; as it deeply relaxes, yet simultaneously revitalises the whole organism in a very integrated way.
The sesquiterpenes enable frankincense to go beyond the blood-brain barrier, where it is remarkably elevating to the mind and helps to overcome anxiety, stress and despair.
This kind of holistic uplifting is of sincere value when combatting depressive states of mind and stagnant Qi energy.
Frankincense increases spiritual awareness and subdues mental chatter and is thus excellent to use for spiritual practice, contemplation and prayer.
It is of genuine help for meditation and yoga in that it slows us down, deepens the breath and facilitates the desired state of single-pointed concentration. This eventually leads to a true, absorbed meditative state that reconnects us with our true Self.
The smoky mystical scent of frankincense carries us to the very still core of who we are; swaying neither here nor there with desires and aversions but urging us to abide in our true nature of pure Being, unattached to worldly concerns.
Of course frankincense was an inspired choice to be offered to the Christ child in recognition of his divinity. We can use it in the same spirit to reunite us with that intrinsic spark within that is eternal and divine.
Indeed frankincense is a fragrant reminder of our Divine origins.
The Gift of Myrrh
Myrrh was not only one of the precious gifts the three Wise Men brought to honour the baby Jesus, but also it was present at his death to anoint his body.
Myrrh is a fragrant resin derived from the sap of a tree native to the Near East. Myrrh derives its name from the Arabic murr meaning bitter; its origins are native to northeast Africa, in particular the Red Sea area, and to southwest Asia.
Myrrh was highly prized in ancient times and was often worth more than its weight in gold.
Like frankincense, it can be used as incense, but in the ancient world it had wider usage as a perfume, anointing oil and was even imbibed as a medicinal tonic.
The Chinese used it as a medicine and the Egyptians used it to for mummification.
Myrrh was burned in ancient Roman funerals to mask the smell of charring corpses. It was said that the Roman Emperor Nero burned a year’s worth of myrrh at the funeral of his wife, Poppaea.
The Arabs used myrrh in cosmetics by to treat skin conditions such as wrinkles and cracked skin. Greek soldiers took a phial of Myrrh oil with them into battle, to stop bleeding wounds.
Myrrh was a key ingredient in the mixture of spices that were used to prepare bodies for burial.
Perhaps the three Magi intended this gift as an indication of Jesus’ humanity because they already foresaw that he would die to his mortal self in the ultimate sacrifice and gift for his people.
Myrrh is symbolic of death that once transformed, becomes resurrection, no longer a sign of death but of eternal life.
In other Eastern philosophies including the yogic, death here is the death to oneself, to one’s own ego, to one’s past; it means forsaking one’s will to drink the bitter cup which will bring one everlasting peace.
The true bitterness, the true pain, the true death to oneself is there. Like myrrh is starts bitter; like myrrh it brings us joy and peace
Universally, myrrh features at funerals to honour the dead because it eases sorrow and grief.
It also helps dispel feelings of sorrow about humanity’s direction; by disengaging us from the mass consciousness conditioning.
Myrrh unites the physical with the spiritual, creating a bridge between ‘heaven and earth,’ linking the base and crown chakras at the base of the spine and the top of the head.
It thus helps us raise our consciousness and transcend and transform aspects of material existence.
Clarifying and grounding in nature, myrrh is one of the foremost oils for over-thinking, worry and mental distraction; it will lead the way to inner stillness and peace. This oil embodies the soothing power of solitude empowering us to trust in the Self.
WE CAN easily understand why gold would have been an obvious choice as a precious gift for the arrival of one who was considered spiritual royalty.
The reasons for gifting the fragrant herbal resins of frankincense and myrrh however are less discernible; apart from their evident value as sacred offerings to enhance spirituality and honour holiness.
Their extreme value becomes more manifest if we consider how in ancient times people lived in seriously unsanitary conditions with all its incumbent foul odours, rampant disease and pestilence.
Of course with no medicine, as we know it today, potently anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving herbs like frankincense and myrrh would have been highly covetable.
Furthermore their beautiful scent only added to their intense desirability.
THREE very special gifts arrived miraculously from very far away, carried by three mysterious sages in time to honour the birth of Jesus.
The three gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh - besides being prized treasures of huge cost and value - all held great spiritual significance.
These valuable gifts were clearly intended to honour Jesus, but it is highly probable that they carried deeper mystical significance.
Gold symbolised Christ’s sovereignty, frankincense his divinity and myrrh his death or transformation.
All three gifts reveal thought-provoking implications related to Jesus’ life and ministry but also to other awakened avatars from different cultures and in modern times for our own quest for God-realisation.
Frankincense, Myrrh and Gold
Collectively, these three treasures make the quintessential Christmas gift; the gift of gifts that restores human faith and illuminates our own intrinsic spiritual nature and preordained destiny to wake up from the illusion of conditioned existence.
We are reminded how the light of one human being who discovered the truth has been lighting existence for thousands of years, such is the power of a human being who realises the truth of who they are.
The three gifts represent the Divine trinity, consisting of the creative force, the preserving force and the dissolving force. The universe comes into being, stays for a time and then is dissolved.
Furthermore, it is said that these three phases of universal existence are in operation at all times: The universe is constantly being created, constantly being preserved, and constantly being dissolved again.
These three forces co-exist; they are not opposing energies, but are all part of the natural order. Energy, matter and consciousness come together to form the cosmos and all that we experience.
The same cyclic nature of the cosmic energies can be perceived within the Christian Trinity.
Christian belief holds that there is one God who is three: father, son and Holy Ghost.
Within this belief, the Father produces or creates; the Son (Jesus Christ) is created and can empathise with humanity and the Holy Spirit advances or does the work of the Father in the world.
Myrrh becomes the link between the gold of humanity and the frankincense of divinity; the perfect union of human and God in the wonder of transfigured light.
The three special gifts continue to bestow upon us today the possibility that the limited scope for what we believe to be humanly possible is massively expanded. We come to realise that the skin is not the boundary between ourselves and everything else; there is no separation.
The Tinderbox Three Sacred Gifts of Christmas is our humble offering that captures the essence and Universal spiritual symbolism of frankincense, gold and myrrh.
We offer three precious substances that have become synonymous with the birth of a great-enlightened avatar, or an incarnate divine teacher.
• Frankincense pure essential oil and raw resin in cold-pressed macadamia oil
• Myrrh pure essential oil and raw resin in macadamia
• 24-karat gold leaf in pure plant Christmas scent
The real frankincense, myrrh and gold aromas may be worn altogether as a personal honouring ritual, to honour the Earth that provided the cherished plants and metal, to honour Jesus, Buddha, the Divine, higher Self, Source or whatever God/Gods, Deity is your Spiritual expression.
It can also be a sacred rite of honouring the Divine spark within our selves.
The ritual, with its consciousness-raising smell, opens up the psychic faculty to connect the human being with Divine, and to see the Divine in everything as our true spiritual nature.