The Edgar Cayce story of Christmas……Historical and Metaphysical
The additional details and the metaphysical insights that the Edgar Cayce psychic readings (www.edgarcayce.org) bring to the traditional account of the Christmas story combine to give us a more comprehensive and compelling picture of this pivotal event in the history of mankind, and a profound understanding of its personally applicable significance for each of us today.
The birth of the child Jesus in Bethlehem of Judea is presented as an enthralling scene in a cosmic drama, with its interplay of prophecy, supernatural forces and dedicated individuals, enacted in an insignificant corner of the Roman empire. An event that brought to fulfillment the repeated promise of ages past; namely that a great soul would come into the earth who would help us reawaken to our true identity and reunite with the divine source from which we came.
In its totality, the Cayce account is a confirmation of the omnipotent power and presence of divine love, intertwined with human faith, self-sacrifice and commitment to a spiritual ideal. Apart from elaborating on the gospel story of the circumstances leading up to and during this extraordinary event, it also reveals the need for us to reflect on its timeless and transcendental nature, so that the birth of the Christ child becomes a living experience in our own lives. In a reading given to a spiritual study group anxious to have a deeper appreciation and understanding of the birth of Jesus, the Cayce source said, ‘Much has been recorded respecting the circumstance by the writers of the gospel, especially by Luke; but no perfect concept may be gathered except by you as individuals seeking to experience what such an advent meant, or means, to your life as an individual. For the knowledge of a happening or condition, and the wisdom which is presented by that happening, are two different things…..As changes come and we show forth the raising of that consciousness of His presence in our experience, by our dealings and conversations and by our very lives with and among our fellow human beings; so may we hasten the day when He, the Christ, may come into our own hearts, unto His own people, to reign, yes, in our hearts and lives!’ (262-103)
Readings given to Thomas Sugrue, the author of the original Cayce biography There is a River
(A.R.E. Press) and to others, some of whom were told that in a previous life they had participated in the preparation for and arrival of the Christ child, provide most of the details not mentioned in the Gospel accounts. Apart from enhancing the known story of the journey to Bethlehem and the birth in a stable, they reveal the spiritual guidance, education and preparation that Mary, from the age of four to sixteen, underwent in the reclusive Essene community on Mount Carmel in western Galilee.
The Essenes were a Jewish religious sect of both men and women that embraced the teachings of the Jewish prophets from the time of Elijah, followed an ascetic way of life, studied astrology, dreams, numerology and believed in reincarnation as part of a broader understanding of mankind’s purpose and spiritual progression in the earth. As a result of their acquired knowledge the Essenes were aware of the signs and the cyclical timeframe suggested in the several prophecies concerning the coming of a great soul, a Messiah, and of the necessity for creating the spiritual, mental and physical conditions most conducive to the prophecy’s fulfillment.
For that purpose the Essenes on Mount Carmel undertook the care and instruction of a chosen group of young girls who were presented by their parents to the community in the hope that one would become the mother of the Messiah. Mary was only four when her mother Anne presented her to the Essenes. At a later age, along with several of the other novitiates, she freely chose to dedicate herself to this purpose. We learn that she was about twelve when she was chosen, by way of an angelic encounter. As Cayce described it, this happened as the girls climbed the steps leading to the altar on Mount Carmel in preparation for morning prayers. ‘On this day, as they mounted the steps all were bathed in the morning sun; which not only made a beautiful picture but clothed all as if in purple and gold. As Mary reached the top step, then there were the thunder and lightning, and the angel (Gabriel) led the way, taking the child by the hand before the altar. This was the manner of choice, this was the showing of the way; for she led the others on this particular day.’ (5749-8)
As a result Mary received additional care, protection and guidance in preparation for her role as the mother of the Messiah. Soon afterwards Joseph, an Essene associate in his mid-thirties, was chosen to be Mary’s husband. However the marriage did not occur until Mary was sixteen and known to be
with child. In Cayce’s words conception occurred when ‘spirit quickened matter’ in the body of one especially dedicated to and prepared for this purpose. An occurrence, he noted, that was and remains a stumbling block to many worldly-wise. It was in accordance with the principle, often repeated in the Cayce material, that spirit is the life, mind the builder and physical the result.
Following the marriage, which also took place on Mount Carmel, the couple lived for a while in Nazareth. The Cayce account confirms the Gospel version of the visit of Mary with her much older cousin Elizabeth, also a believer in the Essene teachings, in the hills of Judea where the angel Gabriel appeared to her again. Also confirmed is the fact that in the latter days of Mary’s pregnancy the couple traveled south to Bethlehem in order to be registered there for a new Roman tax.
After a physically demanding journey, during which there were delays due to Mary’s advanced condition, they approached the town at evening time. We are told that the weather was cool and that the road to Bethlehem was crowded with shepherds, husbandmen and others coming in from the surrounding Judean hill country to be registered. We also learn that Mary and Joseph were not alone but were accompanied by some of Joseph’s helpers and others.
They arrived at the inn at twilight, just as Mary’s time drew near. Here the Cayce account of what happened next differs from the traditional one. Although accommodation had been arranged for them at the inn, it had already become crowded with a noisy gathering of other travellers and officials. Laughter and jeers from among the drunken crowd greeted Joseph on his arrival with his much younger, beautiful and very pregnant wife. So the innkeeper Apsafar, who we learn was also an associate of the Essenes and had been expecting the couple’s arrival, hastened to turn them away so as to protect them from any further abuse and the disturbing conditions inside. Disappointment and consternation was felt by those Essene followers who, on hearing of the arrival of Mary and Joseph, had gathered outside the inn. Immediately some of those who had travelled with the couple, and were aware of the urgency involved, started looking for a place where shelter and privacy could be quickly found. As a result Mary and Joseph were taken to the innkeeper’s stable set in a hillside cave nearby. Cayce, in trance, provided this evocative description of what happened next.
‘Then, when hope seemed gone, the herald angels sang. The star appeared that made the wonderment to the shepherds, that caused the awe and consternation to all of those about the inn; some making fun, some smitten with conviction that those unkind things said must needs be readjusted in relationship to things coming to pass. All were in awe as the brightness of His star appeared and shone, as the music of the spheres brought that joyful choir, PEACE ON EARTH1 GOOD WILL TO MEN OF GOOD FAITH. All felt the vibrations and saw a great light, not only the shepherds above the stable but those in the inn as well. To be sure those conditions were later to be dispelled by the doubters, who told the people they had been overcome with wine or what not. Just as the midnight hour came, there was the birth of the Master.’ (5749-15)
The innkeeper’s wife and daughter were soon on the scene, as were the shepherds who had been on the hillside and had seen and heard the unusual occurrences. We are also told in another Cayce commentary that Sara, the innkeeper’s daughter, who was of a similar age as Mary and knew of the prophecy, was the first person to hold the infant Jesus after the mother, and that the experience had a profound effect on her for the rest of her life. We also learn that, although all kinds of assistance was offered, Mary preferred to remain in the stable until after there had been the circumcision and the customary Jewish period of purification had passed.
So while confirming that the historical event was the result of the desire of the soul that was Jesus to manifest God’s love in the world, to help the rest of us regain our true identity as spiritual beings, the Cayce material also brings to light the roles played by others, most especially Mary, in making this possible. Throughout the telling we are also made aware of the need for us to undertake the soul
journey involved in bringing about the birth within ourselves of divine consciousness.
In considering this aspect of the Christmas story we may feel prompted to ask ourselves some of the following questions. Do we take ourselves apart from the world from time to time in ways that help us feel closer to the divine? Are we endeavoring to balance the spiritual, mental and physical aspects of ourselves? Are we conscious of the need to purify and strengthen the body? Do we practise daily prayer and meditation? Are we involved in a spiritual discipline or study that feeds our soul? Do we take the time to reflect on our attitudes and behaviour towards others? Do we spend time close to nature, appreciating and being refreshed by its beauty and bounty? Do we pay attention to our dreams as means of inner guidance in relation to the choices we make and challenges we face in our lives? Do we reach out to and help others on the way as part of our own soul’s journey? Time and again the individuals that sought information from Cayce about the birth of Jesus were advised and encouraged to endeavour in their own lives to be channels of blessings to others, each according to their respective abilities and circumstances. ‘For He was thy Elder Brother, He is the babe in thy heart, in thy life, to be even now, as then, nourished in the heart, in body, in mind….For as He chose to enter, so ye have entered. As He chose to live, so may ye live….And as these changes come about and as ye make known that as has been the raising of that consciousness of His presence in thine experience, by thy dealings with, by thy conversation with, by thy life with thy fellow man, so may ye hasten the day when He, Christ, may come into thine own heart, unto His own peoples, to reign; yes, in the hearts and lives….Then what are ye doing about it in thy daily life, thy daily conversation? For not by might, nor in power, but in the still small voice that speaks within, ye may know as He hath given so oft, ‘Peace, it is I! Be not afraid, it is I, thy Saviour, thy Christ; yea, THYSELF meeting that BABE in thine own inner self that may grow even as He to be a channel of blessings to others.’(262-103)
The Cayce readings repeatedly remind us that the birth of the Christ did not just occur some 2000 years ago but continues to be a living reality again and again in the lives of individuals ever since and that today we too can be participants in this great unfolding drama that is the coming into the earth of the universal Christ consciousness. So, as we celebrate this sacred season and reacquaint ourselves anew with this remarkable story, we may find it helpful to our own progress on the spiritual path to meditate on the simple faith, high ideal, commitment, dedication and courage that brought Joseph and Mary to a time and place in a distant land where, when hope seemed gone, His light appeared and He, our elder brother, chose to be born into this world to show us how to live.
Mark W. Finnan