The public celebration of Christmas has been under serious attack in the last few years. Christmas day is not the real birth date of Christ and many pagan traditions have been borrowed and blended into the Christian traditions. So why worry about a decline in yuletide cheer? It is our opinion that a serious disruption in the public celebration of Christmas would threaten the stability of the turning of the seasons. Since the winter solstice celebration was instigated at the foundation of the world, the pagans did not create it. The winter solstice is a celebration of the birth of all life, which was brought about by the Savior Himself. We are not saying anyone need celebrate the solstice. We do propose that a celebration at this time of year is not only a good idea, but a crucial one. All of the basic criteria for celebrating Christmas assist in bringing about the necessary positive energy to help turn the season. As wickedness grows on the earth, Christmas becomes more important than ever.
The thoughts presented in this fireside chat are purely our own opinion. In this article and in those throughout the coming months, we will confirm the truth of the following assertions by using the scriptures and the logic of science (not to mention plenty of Nibley). In the meantime, we hope our reader can be open minded enough to entertain the possibility that these things may be true and set them on the shelf of the mind for study and time to confirm or reject. We strongly believe this topic to be very important and invite our readers to share these thoughts with friends and family. In fact, when the idea for this site was proposed by our friend and webmaster, Terrie Bradford, we were extremely hesitant. We had tried through years of study and research, to keep our heads down and our perceptions to ourselves. It was the concepts that are offered in this specific article that most convinced us to begin sharing our research. We hope that even in a small way, this will help to smooth the turning of the seasons.
To begin with, we will take a look at the first chapter of Temple and Cosmos. Brother Nibley brought attention to "the second law of thermodynamics: everything runs down."1 He wrote that something is working against this law. Nibley tells what that force is, but in a very careful, subtle way which we will examine closely. The Lord's plan will of course ultimately be fulfilled, but He does need us to assist in this work. We will examine what we can do about maintaining the balance necessary to ease the passage through the changes that will usher in the final dispensation, the part the temple plays, and how a public celebration of Christmas actually helps to keep nature and society healthy. Finally, we will both draw a parallel between the ancient winter solstice celebration and Christmas, and look at the threat to Christmas and what could happen if Christmas was not celebrated sufficiently. A careful reading of our last article, When the Christmas Lights Go Out, is very helpful to prepare a foundation for this article.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics
To begin to understand the need for Christmas, we have to start with the fact that things break down and need to be reordered. The second law of thermodynamics says that everything is in a constant state of breaking down or entropy. There is a balance in nature upon which the stability of the earth depends. When that balance is upset, upheaval results, both in nature and socially. There is something that works against entropy as Nibley points out:
.there is a force that tends toward symmetry and coherence by bringing like and like together. That is a very interesting point. We say that light cleaves unto light, etc. What is that force? Nobody knows. They say it is there because you see it working. Buckminster Fuller calls it syntropy.the second law of thermodynamics is all right, but it doesn't work. Something works against it, something stronger."
[There is] an organizing force in the universe that is very active and runs counter to all we know of the laws of science. [There is an] awareness of great gaps in our knowledge that may account for our failure to discover the source of that force. This takes us directly to the subject of the temple.2
Brother Nibley wrote that the early Christians and ancient Jewish scholars did not believe in creation out of nothing. They understood that creation was accomplished by an organizing force. The matter used already existed.3 He goes on to explain that corruption cannot put on incorruption, as the Book of Mormon teaches.
Wherefore this death and decay 'which came upon man must needs to have remained to an endless duration.'. . . This would spell an end to everything, were it not that another force works against it. 'Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement (2 Nephi 9:7
). . . We could not save ourselves from entropy. Someone else must be there to do it. Notice what atonement means: reversal of the degradative process, a returning to its former state, being integrated or united again-'at-one.' What results when particles break down? They separate. Decay is always from heavier to lighter particles. But 'atonement' brings particles back together again.4
"The temple represents that organizing principle in the universe which brings all things together."5 Breaking this down, Nibley says the atonement is the principle working against chaos and bringing things into one, which maintains order in the cosmos. Then he tells us what represents the atonement. He is very clear here-the prayer circle represents the atonement. He goes on to explain that the Babylonians built their tower because "they thought that technical know-how could save them."6 They were wrong. The Egyptians understood that "by the mind alone, chaos is kept at a distance.7 The Nephites understood this and followed the laws that prevented breakdown for two hundred years. So what went wrong? "... it was too strenuous; it required great mental exertion: they spent their time constantly in meetings and prayer and fasting-in concentrating on things."8 The Egyptians saw themselves as a third force, between the forces that create and the forces that destroy. It was the Egyptian's job to conserve, and keep things in balance. "There is a force that creates and a force that destroys; humans are in between. But he could conserve only by la pensee, thought actualized by symbolic words or gestures."9 Next, Nibley talks about how sacrifice is necessary to make it all work. The Book of Mormon tells us what that sacrifice should be; a broken heart and a contrite spirit (3 Nephi 9:20). At Christmas time, the giving of gifts and sacrifice of time, talents, and resources brings about spiritual energy. These sacrifices put things in motion. Sacrifice, along with concentration, especially on one thing, "can do amazing things."10 "This principle illustrated in the ancient prayer circle in the temples". And there he gives it away. "Concentration of thoughts in a single structure has a definite significance."11 "The temple represents the principle of ordering the universe. It is the hierocentric point around which all things are organized. It is the omphalos (navel) around which the earth was organized" Finally, he tells us that "the temple is a scale model of the universe, boxed to the compass."12 The temple orients us to the center (Christ) and the four quarters of the universe for many reasons, one of which is to help keep all things in proper motion. Mathematics is the language of the universe.
The force that comes from God and is working against this law of decomposition is being threatened by imbalance from negative polarity as wickedness gains strength. Whenever this imbalance occurs, there are consequences in both nature and social structure. What a powerful blessing that our prophet has been directed to build all of these temples which Nibley said bring about "the reversal of the degradative process". This degradative process began with the fall when the Celestial laws of Zion no longer applied in a telestial world. When the people are not of one heart, united in all things, the higher law cannot be in effect. The Adversary fears the coming day when the law of heaven will reclaim this fallen earth and they will be thrust out through the righteousness of the Saints. Thus, they are attempting to strengthen their hold, hoping to thwart or forestall that day. As a result, the balance of the negative and positive polarity upon which this telestial sphere runs is in danger of tipping, especially as the new dispensation begins to come in.
Again we show the caduceus because it is so important in understanding the ascension process. The initiate being birthed from the snake, Fac. 2, fig. 1) being taken by the protective bird (fig. 4) to the head (fig. 2) for the fifth and final curtain, is only a basic overview for how much this symbol can teach us. The double helix of DNA resembles the caduceus and is also crucial in understanding how to read Facsimile 2. The "doctrine of the two-ways" which Nibley refers to so often is all about this concept of spiraling up the central pillar. Nibley wrote that the Adversary became an unwilling participant in this doctrine of providing the alternative path so the initiate can chose between the two ways.13
Snakes have many different meanings in Egyptology so we do not want to imply that the competing good and evil snakes on the caduceus are the only way to define the symbol of the serpent or the caduceus. They also stand for male and female, among other things. Also, the single snake can be the evil one who is forced by the heroes to let the successful initiate exit its mouth. For the purpose of this article, we are interested in the energy created by the competing snakes. The evil serpent travels in a counterclockwise direction and challenges the initiate at every crossroads. He requires a death. Many times, the heroes travel in a boat that is formed like a serpent. Other times the boat is shaped like a scythe on both ends to cut through the curses and challenges of this world in order to rescue the initiate. Always, the struggle between the good and evil bring about the necessary energy to cause growth in the initiate who chooses the right path. The two edged sword found in many early sections of the Doctrine and Covenants, is a powerful image of cutting through the curses of the fall. The heroes metaphorically come down to earth in the solar boat to rescue the initiate. They cut their way through to the temple to carry the initiate to a higher state. They travel in a clockwise pattern, spiraling up the middle pillar to take the initiate through the ordinances which will prepare him/her for the presence of the Lord. The bad news is that if the initiate breaks the covenants that got him into the ship of Zion, they are tossed out of the ship which is threatened by instability (Jonah) and swallowed by the sea serpent (the opposition can be described in many forms: whale, serpent, crocodile, etc.). They then are carried in a clockwise direction until they repent. Then the heroes come and rescue him/her, forcing the serpent to regurgitate (or birth from the mouth) the penitent initiate. The initiate is then pulled into the solar boat of the feathered serpent, Christ, and those who represent Him. Christ was lifted up as a serpent on the cross because He had to descend below all things and nothing is lower than the serpent that crawls on its belly. These symbols are loaded with meaning but we must remember they are symbols. What is not a symbol is that when Adam and Eve partook of the fruit, the new law for this earth became opposition in all things. Before that happened, travel was in a straight course. In the spiral rescue, as noted above, the course is strait. The word "strait" spelled this way means narrow but winding. D&C 22:2 tells us that the Law of Moses will not get us into the strait gate. This is why when ancient Israel rejected the higher law, they had to meander in the wilderness. Because of the fall, we have to work out our salvation with care. The strait way is narrow and difficult but leads to God. We believe this refers to the spiral path through spiritual rebirths up the center pillar. Thus, the initiate who has entered into the way (the terrestrial state of the temple), travels in a strait course. Once a person has finished their course, including the sent ones, they begin their kingdoms like Abraham has. This is when Facsimile 2 is put back the way it was before the fall. Figures 6 and 7 switch back to normal and the new god travels in his open boat (fig. 3) to collect his plantings (people, plants and animals) to assist in their redemptive process and take them aloft to begin his new creation. The celestial law of time is called straight, ( Alma 7:9) but time is not linear, it is circular so going straight means to move in a smooth orbit.
It is up to us to keep the solar boat (ship of Zion on a firm foundation) moving in the right direction. The most powerful force in this balancing act is the effects of worthy Saints, full of faith, going often to the temple. We believe that what we do in there literally creates positive energy in us, and in nature, and helps balance all things. The more knowledge, faith, hope, and charity we gain will increase that power tremendously.14
A study of the Herweben Papyri depicts the solar boat of the heroes fighting the world serpent. At the winter solstice, the new child is seated on the boat, protected and the serpent defeated. The enthronement of the child as king in place of his father happens on the New Year Celebration. "Creation is the theme."15
The Key Ingredients
The righteousness of the good people of the earth, both members and non-members is the key. Christmas time is not the correct date for the birth of Christ, so is it a mistake to celebrate the season? We feel it is not a mistake, but a crucial part of the plan.
Why winter solstice and not the spring equinox? Because Christ is the foundation stone and we believe the birth of creation and time itself was put into motion in the stillness of the beginning of what would have been the first solstice, the stirring and winding up of creation. The foundation of the creation was when the Sons of God shouted for joy and the Morning Stars sang. The solstice is slowly brought forth, the sun appearing to stand still in its elliptic movement for about five days. Many ancient civilizations believed it needed help from us to get it moving again. Nibley wrote that "the towing of the Sokar-bark took place at the time of the winter solstice, the true turn of the year, the moment at which the sun is lowest and all is darkest.they represent the completion of a life cycle, at the end of the king's years..this is the moment when everything seems deadest, and hope and vitality are at their lowest ebb. Towing is emphasized because the ship can no longer proceed on its way otherwise.in a snake-filled desert."16 "The ship represents the ever-forward motion of creation and of the world itself."17 The prayer circle, or at least positive actions given and received at Christmas time tow the boat.
We desperately need to continue the public celebration of Christmas and the principles that are common to the season. Sacrifice, singing and dancing, goodwill toward men, concentration on Christ as a people, and then the new day is brought forth. Order reigns and chaos is kept at bay for another year. Earthquakes are quieted, tsunamis are stilled.
The celebration of Christmas at the time of the winter solstice brings about four major results. The final point shows the superiority of Christmas over the solstice holiday:
1) It is a time of coming together in public unity. Peace and goodwill abound.
2) It is a time of music and dancing, and feasting that puts good cheer and positive thoughts into motion. In a temple dedication, the singing reminds us of when all the Morning Stars sang together (Job 38:7), probably in a circle, and the Hosannas shout reminds us of the telestial walls of the Adversary coming down so the squared land now belongs to the Lord and is terrestrial. Then God puts up His own gates for entrance (Psalms 24:7). Those white handkerchiefs are our palms that bear witness that here is the water of life in the desert to give life to those who have meandered but now have found the strait course in the desert.
3) Christmas is a season of sacrifice. The giving of gifts strains most pocket books but hearts are turned to those we love and the unselfish desire is there to lift others and give them joy.
4) Most importantly of all, our thoughts are turned to our Creator. Reverence for life and an acknowledgement of our dependence upon Him who gave life to all brings positive results. By far the strongest results come from specifically thinking of Christ. So, Christmas as a pagan holiday? The winter solstice was understood anciently to be the time when all things were put into motion to begin the birth of creation. Jesus, as the pre-existent Jehovah was the one who brought about that birth in a way that amazingly parallels His own birth as we will see in our next article. The more we learn, the more beautiful the Christmas season should become to us.
The Prayer Circle
The prayer circles help keep the earth stable, keep boats moving. As wickedness grows, that job is getting more challenging. In Nibley's book Abraham in Egypt , in a section titled: "Let it Begin With Me", Nibley clarifies an important point of why righteous Saints must be proactive in their upward path. Again, the science of the cosmos comes into play: ".with all the world going in one direction, he [Abraham] steadily pursued his course in the opposite."18 Again, we run into his hints about the reversal of order in nature and that a celestial law goes in the opposite direction as we explained with the Caduceus. Nibley says Abraham "got things moving". Then Nibley gives a good explanation of the religion of Humanism that has taken over our society: "When all the inhabitants of the earth had been led astray in their own pride and self-sufficiency, Abraham still believed on the Lord, who then made a covenant with him". Now we come to the real crux of the matter and how the prayer circle can act upon the cosmos: "Speaking of him [Abraham], the Zohar says, "the prophetic spirit rests upon man only when he has first bestirred himself to receive it." Again, "the stirring below is accompanied by a stirring above, for there is no stirring above till there is a stirring below." Abraham single-handedly (through the power of God) brought about the spiritual and social change necessary to balance nature. The symbolic chorus and dance of the prayer circle cause this stirring.
A visual demonstration of the power of a prayer circle was given to the Nephites:
And as they looked to behold they cast their eyes towards heaven, and they saw the heavens open, and they saw angels descending out of heaven as it were in the midst of fire; and they came down and encircled those little ones about with fire; and the angels did minister unto them.
(3 Nephi 17:24)
The angels encircling the children in the middle, the dancing fire, and probably the singing produced is the perfect symbol. We all have to become like children, not only in humility and obedience, but in the sense of symbolic, sacrificial sense death and rebirth also. The fire-like energy produced in that prayer circle could be seen like a dance. Nibley has a lot to say about dancing.
The caduceus normally is shown with three circles. There are three parts to the central pillar of Fac. 2, figures 5, 1, and 2. Each circle is like a womb with a crossroad of challenge, death and rebirth. The spiraling upward is shown in the following example from the Hopis as quoted by Nibley:
If you want to go back to primitive societies, what about their rites and their dances? They are very impressive. The Hopi dance cycle will begin around March 15 this year. The snake dance is purely cosmic. The dancing is done by the antelope clan, and they form the cosmic spiral. They spiral around three times, and then when the dance is over, they unspiral. It's the winding up of the universe. The thing is very much aware not only of the elements-the rain, the clouds, and the earth (the snakes go back to the underworld)-but also of the stars in their courses. They are very important. In the kivas at particular rites they observe stars, especially Sirius, but they make special observations of the stars. The kivas are set up to align and to sight along certain stars. This is just one example; there are many. Throughout the world you find the great megalithic sites. A megalith is a big stone, and you find these giant stone monumental establishments.19
Of course the dancing has to have music, and not just a single voice, it has to be a chorus:
Well what does chorus
mean? It's a ring dance; it's a circle. Same as our word curve; Latin: curvus
; going around. The chorus sings, and the chorus of the muses sings the poiema
, the creation song. Remember, the blind muses. Each one is in charge of describing and studying one department of the creation. So they all get together. When they sing together, it's the poiema
, the song of the creation. It's a glorious thing. It's a round dance like the Egyptian maypole. And it's the music of the spheres and those things we have heard about in literature.20
The following quote suggests the idea that the prayer circle does depict the birth of all things including the light of the world:
Let's not forget the Shabako Stone
there. Let's not forget the Enuma Elish
, but especially the Memphite Theology
where the oldest record of the human race tells us about this Council in Heaven. And here we have it again. ".he thought he saw God sitting upon his throne surrounded with numerous concourses of angels." A concourse is a circle. Of course "numerous concourses" means circles within circles and reminds you of dancing. And what were they doing? Surrounded means "all around." It's the angel chorus ".in the attitude of singing and praising their God." It was a choral dance. "And it came to pass that he saw one descending out of the midst of heaven, and he beheld that his luster was above that of the sun at noon-day."21
Quoting Kepler, Nibley draws attention again to the singing, creative powers of the prayer circle: "Kepler accepted Copernicanism in preference to Aristotelianism, since he viewed God as "an ever-active and an ever-generative God diffusing his power into all things."22 "Kepler's famous Third Law came from a search "for the 'music of the spheres.'"23
We have discussed the water of the womb of the temple (Ezekiel, Out of the Wilderness). That water is energy and can be seen as fire. "Fire and water qualify equally well as swallowers, and in the Book of Gates what is fire for one person may be water for another.24 The swallower is the Adversary who will destroy those not prepared for the test at the crossroad. Water can drown or cleanse. Fire can burn or purify. Still waters can be fire when one is not spiritually, thus physically prepared for that light. Mortals cannot bear the Lord's presence without the overshadowing of the Holy Ghost. The Bible Dictionary tells us that the Holy Ghost is "More powerful than that which is available before baptism, it acts as a cleansing agent to purify a person and sanctify him from all sin."25 If all the dross of corruption is not burned out, the glory of the Lord would be too much for people. His beauty was hidden, or a better translation, His glory was hidden when He was in mortality (Isaiah 53:2). The sign of the dove carrying the olive branch is powerful. The Holy Spirit brings the oil to the lamps of those who qualify so that when the lamp is lit, they do not burn up in the presence of the Bridegroom.
Adding up all of the evidence above, we will outline what we feel is accomplished in a prayer circle if the participants are righteous and enough faith, hope, charity, and knowledge is brought to bear upon the center point, the altar:
1) The circle acts as a protector. Fire purifies and burns up the corruption for in the creation process, there must be perfect unity and cleanness for corruption cannot put on incorruption. The people in the circle must come to it prepared, having already singly gone through a process of cleansing, and investiture of power.
2) The circle acts as a midwife. The energy created in this circle of fire-like water helps to bring about the new birth. This can be applied to many kinds of birth but for our purpose, we are talking about the birth of a new year, a new cycle of creation for plants and animals. The planet becomes wobbly on its axis with wickedness as we will see below when we look at Abraham's life. A people need to be prepared, led by a strong center to help restore smooth movement through time.
3) The circle acts as a nursing mother. The water-like energy stirred up by the prayer circle nourishes the baby.
4) The circle acts as a teacher. The water of knowledge guides the new born in the way it should go.
For those who study Egyptology, there are many teachings, hieroglyphics and pictures that support the above ideas, and make sense of them.
There are various words for circle in Hebrew. A study of those with similar roots all bring up the same ideas: circle, ring, course, round, pregnant, balanced, and encouraging.26
Stonehenge was set up along the same lines as the Greek temples called "House of Life". It was an observatory, a great megalithic complex of standing stones (later columns and pylons), with amazingly sophisticated devices for observing and recording the motions of the heavens. A study of Stonehenge shows that it was a computer of great accuracy, a university set in the midst of sacred groves-botanical and geological gardens and groves; it was a "paradise," a Garden of Eden, where all life is sacrosanct. It has often been said the temple is the source of all civilization.27
Nibley goes on to talk of the temple in regards to the creation of the world, with singing performed in a sacred circle or chorus, so that poetry, music and dance go together in the sacred round dance in the temple.28 The Greeks called the yearly gathering at the temple "a panegyris - an assembly of the entire human race in a circle."29 No one supposed that the whole human race was present but those there represented the whole world in a giant prayer circle to help bring about the creation of a new year. The sun had to turn toward warmth. The celebration of Christmas helps bring about the same conditions of sacrifice, song, dance, and joyous celebration as was celebrated at Stonehenge and other ancient temples. Only, Christmas is better because Christ is in the center place. This needs to be a public celebration, not just a quiet time in private homes. It is the unity of the prayer circle, with the focus on Christ at the center that creates the power of at-one-ment.
Brother Nibley wrote that "In the time of the gathering of all things together, we gather everything good that ever was-not just people-that nothing be lost, but everything be restored in this last dispensation."30 He was concerned that these important concepts from the temple that gave us birth are missing from modern civilization.31 "In an all-embracing relationship, nothing is ever really dead or forgotten. Every detail belongs in the picture, which would be incomplete without it. Lacking such a synthesizing principle, our present-day knowledge becomes ever more fragmented."32 We should not fear the fragments held by others and the pointing, mocking fingers of those who call us pagan because we are restoring the original picture. In light of these understandings, Nibley's writings begin to take on a plea for us to understand. He told us to get the knowledge necessary for salvation from the Book of Mormon and then apply it to the lab, the temple.33 This article is our attempt to help him accomplish that. Please teach these principles to those who are open minded and understand scripture.
Please do not run away when we quickly mention a strange topic. We have no interest in examining the truth or relevance of the possible existence of extra-terrestrials, but a small item of interest directly relates to our current topic; crop circles. Whether they are all man-made or some come from another source is beside the point. A nuclear physicist in Colorado named Daniel Sewell, has done extensive research on the sacred geometry behind some of the crop circles and has hired experts in the field to create a circle out of wheat in order to research the results. The fields are created based on exacting mathematical precision. He, along with many other scientists believe that when the wheat heads are bent in a circle to touch each other, their crystalline structure (similar structure to humans) creates a measurable energy. The current runs in a circle of increasing voltage over the period of a few days and has knocked out powerful electronics including two fifty thousand dollar cameras owned by the BBC.34 The residual effects can last a year.
Abraham in the Center
During Abraham's day, men built towers to attempt to reorder the cosmos that was undergoing great disturbance. It was "...by observing the planets that Abraham was able to calculate that the earth itself was behaving erratically on its axis. (The need for a smooth turning of the axis is what this article attempts to address.) Nibley wrote that "This [Abraham's day] is supposed to be the first time that the planets had been disturbed since the days of Adam. Nature used to work on celestial principles but, as Nibley taught; "Because men had perverted the order of life, God altered the order of nature."35
The night Abraham was born, there was a great sign in the heavens. His father had hosted a party to celebrate his birth. He and his guests were astonished to see "a great fireball that came from the east at great speed and devoured four stars that converged from the four quarters of the heavenly firmament."36 Perhaps this foretold the need for Abraham to stand at the center place to help bring nature back into order. Abraham traveled widely, and more than once ended up on the lion couch that we believe represents the altar in the temple, the center place (Fac. 2, fig. 1). That symbolic sacrifice started things in motion. Abraham taught people everywhere he went and spread kindness and service. He and Sarah converted many to the Lord. The earth did stabilize as Nibley wrote: "That such disturbances reached a peak in Abraham's lifetime is implied by the tradition that after him and because of him the state of nature has remained more stable."37 This pattern repeats often, though less dramatically; for example in the days of Joseph of Egypt, and Moses. The conditions that bring about this upheaval and famine are the worship of idols38 and general wickedness, especially unkindness.
In one account described by Nibley, Abraham is again on an altar of sacrifice when ".a great earthquake occurred and fire gushed forth out of the furnace and broke out into flames and sparks of fire and consumed all them. But upon Abraham there was not the least injury from the burning of the fire."39 This story brings to mind other accounts of fire not burning the righteous. Sometimes the innocent do burn but spiritually they become a diamond.
The Winter Solstice
The following quotes are taken from NATURAL LAW and NAVAJO RELIGION/WAY OF LIFE, April 21, 1995:
When the sun is at its northeastern horizon (summer solstice) and southeastern horizon (winter solstice), it appears to slow both top and bottom like a pendulum. [It needs our faith and ordered energy for its return trip.] All tribe members greet father sun on the solstice with gifts. [Sacrifice seems to be the key to creating energy. Gifts, dancing and chanting around the fire was how the Native Americans attempted to bring order to the universe.]
The moon, like the sun, reaches a time of staying still. It happens when the moon rises and sets on approximately same position on horizon for 5 days. The standstill cycle takes 18.61 years to repeat exactly the same way. The moon's monthly pendulum movement in its rising and setting gradually increases from minimum swing of 45 degrees (inside sun's elliptic) to a max swing of 72 degrees (outside of sun's elliptic). When it is in a 45 degree angle, there is a minor standstill and every 9.3 years later the rise and set at 72 degrees is a major lunar standstill. Chimney Rock Pueblo in Colorado track these events
Orion is clear in the night sky during winter. Navajo star lore is very rich. The Milky Way is the starry path or starry river. To them Orion means 'long sash'. Indians danced and chanted around the fire with spears, rattles etc. [Relate to Egyptians being given staff of life, ankh of life, shepherd crook and flail, and weapons of defense among other things.] Dances, foot races and Kiva ceremonies give strength back to father sun. "In him is impregnated the whole of the Universe, the solar system of all life."
The sun is lit by Christ, which light is in around and through all things (D&C 88: 7). The reason we spend a lot of time establishing a basis for the difference between the science of heaven and that of earth, is that slowly, we want to lay the foundation to explain the science, or law, of heaven and how it relates to us preparing for the second coming. The initiate, once endowed, no longer has to meander in the desert. He/she now is privileged to join the prayer circle and encourage the clockwise rotation of the cosmos. The next quote shows that the Native Americans do retain a semblance of the above principal in their beliefs:
"The Bear boy is 'spun around sunwise' as part of the ceremony to redeem him." Sunrise balances everything, day and night, summer and winter."40
[Clockwise rotation] Failing to observe and imitate this universal order is an infraction of natural law, resulting in mental and physical illness for the individual and their family and will ultimately lead to the world's demise. Maintaining this equilibrium is a religious obligation they must meet by living a life that is in balance and harmonious with creation. Thus, the people who live according to the teachings are not so much concerned with a hereafter, but with the here and now, and with keeping themselves and the world in balance for future generations. They truly believe that if they abandon the practice of their religion the Hopi, the Dine and the entire world is in danger of destruction perhaps by fire.
In the traditional Navajo view, life is a constant cycle of growth, death and new life that flows in a circular motion-all things must begin and end at the same point. For instance, a person's umbilical cord is buried at birth and when that person passes away he is returned to the Earth the same way. The religious teachings offer a guide for daily living that flows with the cycles of the days and seasons.
The land in which the Navajo Nation lives is defined and bound by four sacred mountains and four rivers. Their land within these boundaries is the place they call "Din'e Be keyah," meaning "Navajo land." This land within the four sacred mountains is their Jerusalem , Mecca or Bethlehem . Din'e Be keyah, like these great religious centers, is truly beloved by the people, yet it is not sufficient for the Navajos to make an occasional pilgrimage to it. Their teachings dictate that they must live on this land and care for it, as well as the plants and animals which were bestowed upon them as gifts from the creator and other holy beings.
Everything about the way the traditional people live strives to recognize and repeat the order they see in the universe. All of the people, for example once lived in the circular structures now generally reserved for ceremonies. Called a hogan (meaning house) these structures replicate Din'e Be keyah in its entirety. Just as Dine'tah has four mountains, one in each of the cardinal directions, the hogan has four main posts to correspond with each mountain. The door to the hogan faces east, where things begin, and has a fire place in the center, from which life emerges. Safely hidden in each hogan is a 'medicine bundle' containing soil and the sacred minerals from the four boundary mountains.
Their religious obligations to the earth and to their family and community are their purposes in life. All of these things that are important to them spiral back to the land itself. The land is the center of their orientation in experience and the base of their sense of reality and identity. To separate them from it would cause them to lose contact with all that is sacred and holy to them.
Astronomically, the winter solstice sun represents the turning point in the sun's migration south of the equator. It has reached its southernmost extreme distance from the equator, or if you like, its farthest point south along the horizon before heading back north. The winter solstice is the day of least sunlight, the shortest day of the year, but marks the beginning of increasing daylight and warmth. Nature will soon begin to wake up from her sleep and life will renew itself.
The following ideas came from NATURAL LAW and NAVAJO RELIGION/WAY OF LIFE, April 21, 1995 . Those in quotation marks are directly taken from the paper, those without are what we put in our own words after reading the material.
Regarding the Mayans, their calendars concerned the definition and ordering of space as well as time. Also the union of space and time.
"Indian purpose of rites: to integrate the individual into his society and society into the field of nature."
"Ceremonies ensure that gods keep the world going."
"Quetzalcoatl [Christ] is the plumed serpent, creator God, God of water and wind, and the breath in living things."
"Continuation of life is a negotiated contract according to Mayans, the present world age began Aug. 12, 3114 B.C. " [the time of Noah.]
Just as Father Abraham blazed the way for the balancing of nature, it would seem very appropriate for the head of this dispensation to lead out in the prayer circle at the time of winter solstice. Someone as faithful and powerful as Joseph Smith, who was reserved for the Restoration would be an effective force in the battle to reestablish the correct flow of creation. That is why it is interesting to note that his birthday falls on Dec. 23. Recently, an email has circulated stating that we should not worry about trying to keep Christmas a public celebration and should simply keep it in our homes. The thoughts behind the email were noble and well-intentioned. The above article describes quite clearly however, that we feel it is crucial to keep it a public celebration. This should not be done by force or in a pushy, nasty way. There are many positive things we can do to make sure the holiday still creates good cheer, a spirit of giving and celebration. The aforementioned email suggests it does not matter to God if the celebration happens since it comes from a pagan holiday. It also says that God does not need anyone to help Him since He is all-powerful. It is true that Heavenly Father is all-powerful, however, He has prepared a plan that accommodates our growth and progress to bring to pass our eternal life. We want to become like Him and the only way this is done is by us assisting Him in His work. The plan is already laid, it cannot be turned back now. He must have our assistance. Please, let us all do what we can to bring peace to the hearts of others, thereby achieving that great gift for ourselves. Merry Christmas to everyone.
The Voice of Conference
we stand on the
edge of seasons.
Spring soon scorches
How will we survive
famines our security?
What cool bowery will
shelter our confidence?
Come, assemble together.
We see leaves turning,
How will we endure?
When commotion blows
cold as winter winds,
what will keep us warm,
be our covert from the storm?
Come, let us counsel together.
Sharon Price Anderson
And Sharon shall be a fold of flocks (Isaiah 65:10).
Not far from summer green
of Ethan Allen's mountains
and granite quarries
that will yield monuments
to famous men,
maples with bare branches,
in crimson leaves,
stand with torpid sap
waiting for spring.
Where August berries
will bleed purple and scarlet
on hungry fingers,
and fields now sleep,
dreaming of new grass
and bleating lambs.
White River ice
reflects a feeble sun.
Vermont lies frozen
deep in weeks
of wool-white winter.
In the lowest rays of
December's shortest days,
a baby boy is born
and Earth bends toward light.
Published in Praising the Prophet:
Joseph Smith and the Restoration in History and Verse. www.praisingtheprophet.com
Joseph Smith was born 23 December 1805 at the time of the winter solstice. He was born in the township of Sharon, which is located in the central part of Vermont not far from New Hampshire. This area of the state is known for granite quarries and berries. Vermont is also the largest producer of maple syrup in the United States. The White River , tributary to the Connecticut River, runs through the township. The Green Mountains, about 20 miles to the west, became famous during the American War for Independence when the fiercely patriotic Ethan Allen and his Green Mountain boys took Fort Ticonderoga in May of 1775. Washington used the cannon taken from the fort to drive the British from Boston in 1776.
1Nibley, Temple and Cosmos, p. 2
2Temple and Cosmos, p. 6-8
3Ibid p. 9
4Ibid pp. 9-10
5Ibid p. 11
6Ibid p. 13
84 Nephi 1:12
9T & C p. 14
12Ibid p. 15
13T&C p. 195
14J.S.P. p. 530
15Ibid p. 92
16Ibid p. 416
17Ibid p. 417
18Abraham in Egypt p. 201
19Hugh Nibley, Ancient Documents and the Pearl of Great Price, edited by Robert Smith and Robert Smythe, p. 1
21Ibid p. 6
22T&C p. 412
24Nibley, The Message of the Joseph Smith Papayri, p. 393
25Bible Dictionary, p. 704
26The New Bantam-Megiddo Hebrew & English Dictionary
27Nibley, T&C p. 22
29Ibid p. 23
30Ibid p. 25
33Ibid p. 26
35A in E p. 168
36Ibid p. 167
37Ibid p. 173
38Ibid p. 170
39Ibid p. 169
40NATURAL LAW and NAVAJO RELIGION/WAY OF LIFE April 21, 1995