Christmas, the holiday of all holidays, is the supreme event that it is for very specific reasons. The art, poetry, pageantry, and public focus all celebrate the most wonderful of all human events, the birth of a baby. Indeed, we celebrate life on Christmas Day.
The poetic moment: the normal made significant. From
Yet, it seems the more intense our celebrations, the more we reveal our hidden doubts, uncertainties, and even protests about life. We need affirmation, some loud, dramatic vote of confidence. In the simple Christmas story, we find the perfect salute to ourselves, our individual lives, and the hope of humanity.
Of course, Carl Jung has it that Christ Crucified is the real archetype of the Western Collective, Conscious and Unconscious.
The Self is a circle whose centre is everywhere and whose circumfrerence is nowhere…And do you know what the Self is for Western man? It is Christ, for Christ is the archetype of the hero, representing man’s highest aspiration. All this is very mysterious and at times frightening.
This statement is found in Miguel Serrano’s C. G. Jung and Hermann Hesse: A Record of Two Friendships (1966), p.56.
Carl Jung, 1875-1961
Indeed, in the baby Jesus, we find our greatest hero in the most simple, most vulnerable moments–in the arms of a teen-age mother, in a barn, in a small rural village. Homeless, known only of the angels, and the few herdsmen they told, here lay ineffable significance. Here, in human nothingness, lay the pinnacle of hierarchy.
In this rich irony, this golden agony of reversals, every human consciousness can find itself, and the balm for its every ill. Every human soul has a place in the circle. The vortext is so very powerful that it aggrandizes every detail of existence. The wild flowers are magnified. The mountains are humbled. In a very real sense, psychologically, we are made free men. All hierarchy is dissolved. Nothing is insignificant. All is significant. The Divine was here, with us, as us, and for us. Direction and focus are retired. The wind is born. Romance is alive, and adventure is sanctifed. All is home. There is no foreign place. We go where none have gone before, in full confidence.
The Christmas spirit is a consuming passion. It is overwhelming. If allowed its moment, through art, music, or some cherished act or memory, it surges within soul. The home is glorified, however humble. Family is loved and honored, no matter how dysfunctional or tragic. So many stories, films, dramas, and works of music and art have explored the emotional effects of the Christmas story that human fascination with it is abundantly clear. Though not much has been produced in recent years, the only reason is that Christ has been removed from the season. Thus, the world is robbed of itself, of its own birthright. “No room in the Inn,” it seems. The self-righteousness of politicians and other egalitarians hold a wicked sway these days. Enemies of of the Baby Jesus. How cruel. How heartless. They insult every bedtime story in the world.
This season, BadEagle.com will examine various aspects of the socio-psychological realities of the Christmas story and its season. We will ponder the inevitabilites, the impossibilities, and the potentials of such a time. Such aspects are legion, and as varied as human experience. Liberal Jews, atheists, Muslims, and all others who find Christmas offensive, or its public celebration intrusive, or its association with any governmental authority outrageous, will be given consideration.
Today is the last day of Hannukah this season. As long as Hannukah is understood to be what it really is–a celebration of the survival of national identity under extreme duress, I think Hannukah deserves a place in all nations, and certainly among American Indians and all Americans. Hannukah is an kind of archetypal notice of nationhood, a very basic human instinct. It isn’t really a religious holiday at all. Every nation should celebrate it, even though it is ethno-specific, and it does celebrate the key aspect of religion in nationhood, this is all the more reason Hannukah should be acknowledged.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882.
So we move to Christmas time now. the opposite end of the spectrum–the individual, rather than the nation. But, as said by the poets and philosophers, the individual’s integrity is the elixer of humanity. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote in “Self-Reliance” (1841),
Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind. Absolve you to yourself, and you shall have the suffrage of the world…Trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string.
This is another pre-Jungian testimony of the Collective Unconcious. The history of literature is replete with such testimony. On the basis of this phenomenon, this universality born in the individual–if he will but acknowlege it, we shall begin this season’s meditations on the story of stories, Bethlehem, and the charm of the Incarnation.