Sadly mainstream Christianity will observe in wrong day in Tuesdays which of course is not 14th of Nisan but 15th of Nisan.
Part of this article addresses the additional Torah reading chanted on special occasions. Many liberal congregations that do not read from an additional “maftir” Torah scroll will still note the special Shabbatot of the year by reading the appropriate haftarah, prophetic reading, for the occasion.
The spiritual cycle of the Jewish year depends on an interaction among the flow of holidays, the marking of Rosh Chodesh (the new month) and the weekly Shabbat (Sabbath) observance. The holidays and fast days sometimes permeate the surrounding Shabbatot (plural of Shabbat) with holiday themes. These special Shabbatot may create the mood for an upcoming festival, reflect or enhance festival themes, or ease the transition from a festival back into the weekly flow of Shabbatot.calendar
A special Shabbat usually includes a special Torah or haftarah [prophetic] reading that either replaces the standard weekly reading or is read in addition to it. The Torah reading on a Shabbat morning is chanted in seven sections [in traditional congregations], each introduced and closed by blessings of a congregant during an aliyah–literally a “going up” to the Torah. After these seven aliyot is a maftir or final, aliyah, which usually repeats a short section from the end of the portion. However, on holidays and certain of the special Shabbatot, the maftir is an additional reading that reflects the day’s theme and is usually read from a different Torah scroll.
Although not designated as “special Shabbatot” per se, the Shabbatot surrounding Rosh Chodesh do have distinctive titles and readings. Shabbat Mevarkhim, the Sabbath of the Blessing of the New Moon (for the upcoming month), is the last Shabbat of the previous month. During the Torah service, a special “blessing for the new month” identifies the new month by name, specifies the day or days on which it begins, and asks God for a life of blessing during the upcoming month.
If the new month actually begins on a Shabbat, that Shabbat is called Shabbat Rosh Chodesh, and the special maftir reading, Numbers 28:9-15, describes the special Rosh Chodesh offerings; the special haftarah reading, Isaiah 66:1-24, prophesies a special pilgrimage to Jerusalem on Rosh Chodesh in the future.
If Rosh Chodesh occurs the day after Shabbat, then the Shabbat is termed Shabbat Machar Chodesh–literally, “tomorrow is the [new] month”–and has a special haftarah, I Samuel 20:18-42, that relates an episode with David and Jonathan involving the new moon.
The first special Shabbat of the Jewish year–Shabbat Shuvah, the Sabbath of Return–occurs between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur; it receives its name from a verse in the day’s haftarah: “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have fallen because of your sin” (Hosea 14:2).
Some call the day Shabbat Teshuvah, the Sabbath of Repentance, because it is observed during the Ten Days of Repentance. The defining custom of this Shabbat is an admonitory sermon by the rabbi designed to inspire and awaken listeners to examine their deeds and return to God. The rabbi may also review the laws of Yom Kippur. Some communities add readings from Joel 2:15-27 and Micah 7:18-20 that elaborate the Yom Kippur themes of repentance and forgiveness. Joel focuses on purification and fasting by the people and Micah on God’s promise to forgive the people: “He will take us back in love; He will cover up our iniquities, You will hurl all our sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19).
The Shabbat that falls before or on Tu Bishvat (a minor Jewish festival celebrating trees) is called Shabbat Shira, because the week’s parashah [weekly Torah reading], B’shalah, includes Shirat Hayam, the song the Israelites sang after they crossed the Red Sea. It opens with the words, “I will sing to the Lord, for the Lord has triumphed gloriously; horse and driver the Lord has hurled into the sea” and ends with “Adonai will reign forever and ever.”
During the month or so before Passover, four Shabbatot are characterized by special maftir readings, called the Arba Parshiot [four Torah portions], which relate thematically to Purim or Passover: Shabbat Shekalim, Shabbat Zachor, Shabbat Parah, and Shabbat Hachodesh.
Shabbat Shekalim–which takes place the Shabbat prior to Rosh Chodesh for the month of Adar or on Shabbat Rosh Chodesh Adar itself–is named for the maftir reading, Exodus 30:11. The maftir describes a census requiring every Israelite man to contribute a half shekel to support communal sacrifices in the portable tent of meeting and later at the Temple. The egalitarian nature of this contribution is emphasized–“the rich shall not pay more, and the poor shall not pay less than half a shekel.” The requirement that all individuals contribute equally to the community helped develop a sense of unity crucial to the new nation created by the Exodus.
In the special haftarah, 2 Kings 11:17-12:17, King Yehoash commanded that all money brought to the Temple be used for its repairs and renovations–both the required contributions and the free-will offerings. Shabbat Shekalim occurs about a month before Passover as a reminder that the due date for the half-shekel contributions was approaching, on 1 Nisan, a month later. Some people contribute to an institution of Jewish learning in remembrance of the half shekel.
The next of the Arba Parashiot is Shabbat Zakhor, whose maftir reading, Deuteronomy 25:17-19, is an admonition to remember Amalek, the nation that surprised the Israelites wandering in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt with a rear attack on the stragglers. The Israelites constituted no military threat, leading some Jewish commentators to view Amalek as rebels against God, because they were trying to destroy the Israelites. God commands the Israelites, therefore, that when safely settled in Palestine, “You shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.”
The Torah instructs Jews to “remember Amalek,” a commandment fulfilled each year by publicly reading this passage on the Shabbat before Purim, because Haman, the arch-villain of the Scroll of Esther [megillat Esther], who tries to kill the Jews of Persia, is an Amalekite. The haftarah reading is I Samuel 15:2-34, which describes Saul’s war with Amalek.
Shabbat Parah, the Sabbath of the Red Heifer, occurs on the Shabbat prior to Shabbat Mevarkhim of the month of Nisan. The maftir reading, Numbers 19:1-22, deals with the red heifer whose ashes were combined with water to ritually purify anyone who had been in contact with a dead person. Because only people who were pure could eat from the Passover sacrifice, a public announcement right before Nisan reminded anyone who had become impure to purify themselves before making the Passover pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
The haftarah, Ezekiel 36:16-38, also deals with issues of being cleansed from contamination, but the impurity in this case symbolizes human sinfulness. But, like physical impurity, sins can be overcome. As God says in Ezekiel 36:25,26: “I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean: I will cleanse you from all your uncleanness and from all your fetishes [idolatrous practices]. And I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit into you.” This renewal of self and nation reflects Passover’s theme of redemption.
Shabbat HaHodesh occurs either on the Shabbat before Rosh Chodesh Nisan or on Rosh Chodesh itself. The maftir reading is Exodus 12:1-20, which details eating the Passover sacrifice, with “your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand”; eating bitter herbs and unleavened bread; and putting blood on the doorposts; and it lists the Passover laws.
The first day of Nisan is also important as the occasion for God’s first commandment, sanctifying the new moon, which begins the Torah reading, “This month shall mark for you the beginning of the months; it shall be the first of the months of the year for you.” This commandment moved the determination of months from God’s agenda into the hands of the Jewish people–giving them control over time and the theological/liturgical cycle. The haftarah, Ezekiel 45:16-46:18, describes the sacrifices that the Israelites are to bring on the first of Nisan, on Passover, and on other festivals in the future Temple.
The Shabbat before Pesach is called Shabbat Hagadol, the Great Sabbath. As the Israelites were preparing to leave Egypt, God commanded them to select a lamb that would serve as the Passover sacrifice. This mitzvah, or commandment, required the Israelites to actively participate in the redemption from Egypt. The name Shabbat Hagadol literally comes from a verse in the day’s haftarah, Malachi 3:4-24. “Lo, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the coming of the awesome, fearful day of the Lord,” which alludes to a messianic future.
The past redemption at Passover is tied to the future messianic redemption, which, according to tradition, will also take place on Passover. Traditional practices on Shabbat Hagadol include reciting special hymns about the laws of Passover, reading the part of the Haggadah that begins with Avadim Hayinu, “We were slaves,” and listening to the community’s outstanding Torah scholar address the congregation on the laws of Passover.
The three Shabbatot preceding Tisha B’Av–a fast day commemorating the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple–are also distinctive, although only the last one is named. On each Shabbat, special haftarot called “the three affliction readings” reflect the somber mood of the three weeks between the fast day of 17 Tamuz, when the walls of Jerusalem were breached, and Tisha B’Av, when the Temple was burned. On the first Shabbat, Jeremiah 1:1-2:3 is chanted, on the second Jeremiah 2:4-28, 3:4, and 4:1-2, and on the third, the prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 1:1-27).
This third Shabbat, right before Tisha B’Av, is called Shabbat Hazon after the haftarah that warns the “sinful nation” that has “forsaken the Lord” about the potentially disastrous consequences of its actions; yet it also reminds the people: “be your sins like crimson, they can turn snow-white, but if you refuse and disobey, you will be devoured by the sword.” This haftarah prefigures the mood of the subsequent month of Elul, with its focus of repentance. Isaiah says, “Cease to do evil; learn to do good. Devote yourselves to justice; aid the wronged,” implying that mourning the loss of the Temple and Jerusalem is not sufficient without a commitment to ethical action.
Not only is Tisha B’Av preceded by a Shabbat that sets its mood, but it is followed by a Shabbat of Comfort, Shabbat Nahamu, whose haftarah, Isaiah 40:1-26, begins: “Comfort, oh comfort My people, says your God.” The haftarah suggests that Israel’s “term of service is over, that her iniquity is expiated, for she has received at the hand of the Lord double for all her sins.” This is the first of seven haftarot from Isaiah, called “the seven consolations,” which are read on the Shabbatot after Tisha B’Av. Offering hope of ultimate redemption, these consolatory readings bridge the period from Tisha B’Av to Rosh Hashanah, as Jews are beginning their own move towards self-judgment, self-renewal, and personal redemption.
Although most people see Christmas as a Christian holiday, many of the symbols and icons we associate with Christmas celebrations are actually derived from the shamanistic traditions of the tribal peoples of pre-Christian Northern Europe.
The sacred mushroom of these people was the red and white amanita muscaria mushroom, also known as “fly agaric.”
These mushrooms are now commonly seen in books of fairy tales, and are usually associated with magic and fairies. This is because they contain potent hallucinogenic compounds, and were used by ancient peoples for insight and transcendental experiences.
Most of the major elements of the modern Christmas celebration, such as,
the giving of gifts,
…are originally based upon the traditions surrounding the harvest and consumption of these most sacred mushrooms.
The world tree
These ancient peoples, including the Lapps of modern-day Finland, and the Konyak tribes of the central Russian steppes, believed in the idea of a World Tree.
The World Tree was seen as a kind of cosmic axis, onto which the planes of the universe are fixed. The roots of the World Tree stretch down into the underworld, its trunk is the “middle earth” of everyday existence, and its branches reach upwards into the heavenly realm.
The North Star was also considered sacred, since all other stars in the sky revolved around its fixed point. They associated this “Pole Star” with the World Tree and the central axis of the universe.
The top of the World Tree touched the North Star, and the spirit of the shaman would climb the metaphorical tree, thereby passing into the realm of the gods. This is the true meaning of the star on top of the modern Christmas tree, and also the reason that the super-shaman Santa makes his home at the North Pole.
The amanita muscaria mushrooms grow only under certain types of trees, mostly firs and evergreens.
The mushroom caps are the fruit of the larger mycelium beneath the soil which exists in a symbiotic relationship with the roots of the tree. To ancient people, these mushrooms were literally “the fruit of the tree.”
Ancient peoples were amazed at how these magical mushrooms sprang from the earth without any visible seed. They considered this “virgin birth” to have been the result of the morning dew, which was seen as the semen of the deity.
The silver tinsel we drape onto our modern Christmas tree represents this divine fluid.
The active ingredients of the amanita mushrooms are not metabolized by the body, and so they remain active in the urine.
In fact, it is safer to drink the urine of one who has consumed the mushrooms than to eat the mushrooms directly, as many of the toxic compounds are processed and eliminated on the first pass through the body.
It was common practice among ancient people to recycle the potent effects of the mushroom by drinking each other’s urine. The amanita’s ingredients can remain potent even after six passes through the human body.
Some scholars argue that this is the origin of the phrase “to get pissed,” as this urine-drinking activity preceded alcohol by thousands of years.
Reindeer were the sacred animals of these semi-nomadic people, as the reindeer provided food, shelter, clothing and other necessities. Reindeer are also fond of eating the amanita mushrooms; they will seek them out, then prance about while under their influence.
Often the urine of tripped-out reindeer would be consumed for its psychedelic effects.
This effect goes the other way too, as reindeer also enjoy the urine of a human, especially one who has consumed the mushrooms. In fact, reindeer will seek out human urine to drink, and some tribesmen carry sealskin containers of their own collected piss, which they use to attract stray reindeer back into the herd.
The effects of the amanita mushroom usually include sensations of size distortion and flying.
The feeling of flying could account for the legends of flying reindeer, and legends of shamanic journeys included stories of winged reindeer, transporting their riders up to the highest branches of the World Tree.
Santa Claus, super shaman
Although the modern image of Santa Claus was created at least in part by the advertising department of Coca-Cola, in truth his appearance, clothing, mannerisms and companions all mark him as the reincarnation of these ancient mushroom-gathering shamans.
This is why Santa is always shown with glowing red cheeks and nose. Even Santa’s jolly “Ho, ho, ho!” is the euphoric laugh of one who has indulged in the magic fungus.
Santa also dresses like a mushroom gatherer. When it was time to go out and harvest the magical mushrooms, the ancient shamans would dress much like Santa, wearing red and white fur-trimmed coats and long black boots.
These peoples lived in dwellings made of birch and reindeer hide, called “yurts.”
Somewhat similar to a teepee, the yurt’s central smoke-hole is sometimes used as an entrance when the snow is deep, or by a shaman for ceremonial purposes. After gathering the mushrooms from under the sacred trees where they appeared, the shamans would fill their sacks and return home.
Climbing down the chimney-entrances, they would share out the mushroom’s gifts with those within.
The amanita mushroom needs to be dried before being consumed; the drying process reduces the mushroom’s toxicity while increasing its potency. The shaman would guide the group in stringing the mushrooms and hanging them around the hearth-fire to dry.
This tradition is echoed in the modern stringing of popcorn and other items.
The psychedelic journeys taken under the influence of the amanita were also symbolized by a stick reaching up through the smoke-hole in the top of the yurt. The smoke-hole was the portal where the spirit of the shaman exited the physical plane.
Santa’s famous magical journey, where his sleigh takes him around the whole planet in a single night, is developed from the “heavenly chariot,” used by the gods from whom Santa and other shamanic figures are descended.
The chariot of Odin, Thor and even the Egyptian god Osiris is now known as the Big Dipper, which circles around the North Star in a 24-hour period.
In different versions of the ancient story, the chariot was pulled by reindeer or horses. As the animals grow exhausted, their mingled spit and blood falls to the ground, forming the amanita mushrooms.
St Nicholas and Old Nick
Saint Nicholas is a legendary figure who supposedly lived during the fourth Century.
Most religious historians agree that St Nicholas did not actually exist as a real person, and was instead a Christianized version of earlier Pagan gods. Nicholas’ legends were mainly created out of stories about the Teutonic god called Hold Nickar, known as Poseidon to the Greeks.
This powerful sea god was known to gallop through the sky during the winter solstice, granting boons to his worshippers below.
When the Catholic Church created the character of St Nicholas, they took his name from “Nickar” and gave him Poseidon’s title of “the Sailor.”
There are thousands of churches named in St Nicholas’ honor, most of which were converted from temples to Poseidon and Hold Nickar. (As the ancient pagan deities were demonized by the Christian church, Hold Nickar’s name also became associated with Satan, known as “Old Nick!”)
Local traditions were incorporated into the new Christian holidays to make them more acceptable to the new converts. To these early Christians, Saint Nicholas became a sort of “super-shaman” who was overlaid upon their own shamanic cultural practices.
Many images of Saint Nicholas from these early times show him wearing red and white, or standing in front of a red background with white spots, the design of the amanita mushroom.
St Nicholas also adopted some of the qualities of the legendary “Grandmother Befana” from Italy, who filled children’s stockings with gifts.
Her shrine at Bari, Italy, became a shrine to St Nicholas.
Modern world, ancient traditions
Some psychologists have discussed the “cognitive dissonance” which occurs when children are encouraged to believe in the literal existence of Santa Claus, only to have their parents’ lie revealed when they are older.
By so deceiving our children we rob them of a richer heritage, for the actual origin of these ancient rituals is rooted deep in our history and our collective unconscious.
By better understanding the truths within these popular celebrations, we can better understand the modern world, and our place in it.
Many people in the modern world have rejected Christmas as being too commercial, claiming that this ritual of giving is actually a celebration of materialism and greed.
Yet the true spirit of this winter festival lies not in the exchange of plastic toys, but in celebrating a gift from the earth: the fruiting top of a magical mushroom, and the revelatory experiences it can provide.
Instead of perpetuating outdated and confusing holiday myths, it might be more fulfilling to return to the original source of these seasonal celebrations.
How about getting back to basics and enjoying some magical mushrooms with your loved ones this solstice?
What better gift can a family share than a little piece of love and enlightenment?
Happy Chanukah and Happy New Year 2017-5777 To All Visitors of Our Website!Shalom.
At this time of year it is, of course, customary to celebrate the birth of Jesus and various Christmas traditions which stem in one form or another from that event. Many intellectual naysayers will tell you that most of our Christmas traditions come from various pagan rituals and have nothing to do with the birth of Christ. Understanding that Christ is NOT a person, Christ is a FORCE in the universe which we can embody and incarnate through our own conscious efforts as an upright human being, we can begin to appreciate how the secular intellectuals and New Agers alike ignore the facts.
The illuminated Christmas tree represents the illuminated Tree of Life, from the star atop the tree to the ornaments, lights, garland, right down to the presents at its base.
Even jolly old Santa Claus is not the secular symbol that most people would believe nowadays. He is, without a doubt a bastardized representation of a timeless esoteric principle, one which Samael Aun Weor revealed in his teachings about the Gnostic Nativity of the Christ.
This is a symbol, of course, and very ancient, but unfortunately, was taken by corporations in order to make business. Yet, that symbol is very ancient. Santa Claus exists, as Christ exists. But Santa Claus is not a person, not a long bearded old man, as many think.
Santa Claus represents an energy that comes every year through the North Pole, which is the Solar Light.
The Aztecs celebrated this event in ancient times; they always used three colors in order to invoke that energy. However they did not call it Santa Claus, they called it Quetzalcoatl, or Ometecuhtli, and other different names, according to their relation to the forces of nature. In order to invoke those forces of the north, during special rituals they burned powder made from corals or seashells mainly with the colors red, white, and black, which are the main colors that appear in the vesture of Santa Claus.
Red, white, and black represent the different activities of that solar energy when it enters through the North Pole. The red is the living energy of the sun. The white is the purity, the intelligence, or that solar force. The black symbolizes when that energy enters into the hydrogen, into the carbon, into any element of the earth; it becomes black, meaning that is enclosed, like in the charcoal. But when you light a charcoal, then that Solar Light is liberated, and you call it fire. So that fire, that Solar Light, is within the air, within the water, within the earth, within all the elements. This is what we call Christ. The main source is the North Pole, through which it descends into this “matter,” which is a Latin word for mother… mother earth. – Samael Aun Weor, Gnostic Nativity of the Christ
So this day, here and now, let us begin to appreciate the authentic ESOTERIC meaning of the symbols surrounding us during the holidays. Let us allow them to penetrate our psyche to help awaken our consciousness. Let us not allow the materialism, gluttony, and family drama typically experienced by so many of us during this time of year to overwhelm us and force the authentic meaning of the symbols into the shadows. Let us also reflect on the symbols around the nativity itself: that the Christic Principle is born among the animal egos of our manger (our worldly, earthly being) from an immaculate conception (sexual alchemy; White Tantra). So much more is explained in the lecture referenced above, the Gnostic Nativity of the Christ.
Without a doubt 2016 was a challenging year for many of us. In the coming days leading into the New Year, it is advisable to reflect on the many challenges you may have faced this past year and contemplate on the lessons learned. If you have yet to do so, this may be a good time to go deeper into some of the major events or incidents via retrospection meditation. Through retrospection meditation, we have the opportunity to comprehend the underlying causes of our suffering. The following video includes a full recording of the lecture describing retrospection meditation.
We embark on this work of comprehending the events in our lives so that we may become fully conscious of the causes of our suffering which, despite what our ego-mind would have us believe, are NOT the events, situations, and circumstances of life but rather our reactions to those circumstances. And our reactions are precisely our own…they come from within us…and their causes are within us. We perform the work of retrospections meditation to comprehend these causes—egos—and how they cause suffering for us and for others. We also perform retrospection meditations to receive valuabl guidance from our Innermost being on how better to handle such sitations in the future. In a brief flash of insight, we can know what we should have said, should have done, how we should have responded to the circumstances we were facing instead of reacting automatically and mechanically from a place of ego. In other words, although we were not being in the moment at the time (we were in our egos and reacted from that place), in retrospection meditation we can connect with our Being and receive in hindsight that instruction which he was attempting t send to us in the moment.
Let us not miss the opportunity to learn from the tests, trials, and challenges of this past year, dearest brothers and sisters. If we have walked through the valley of the shadow of death in 2016, let us awaken to the reason WHY, and to the lessons we were meant to learn in the process of such stroll through a kind of hell on earth.
Finally, dearest brothers and sisters, allow us to extend to all of you our deepest, sincerest of wishes for a promising New Year. 2017 will be an opportunity to take advantage of the lessons learned this past year, and discover new ways to allow the old “you” to die, and create space within yourself for your Self to continue His process of emergence as you continue along your own personal path of awakening and Self-Realization.
From the bottom of our hearts, you are in our prayers; we bestow upon you blessings from the most high. May Almighty God Bless Ye and Keep Ye in the coming New Year; may Your Holy Blessed Divine Mother bestow upon Ye all the Blessings and Boons Ye need to further the unbecoming of your false self and facilitate the Coming of the Lord Your Master (and His Lord and Master, the Light of the World), in the Name of Christ, for the Glory of Christ and by the Majesty of Christ. So be it. So be it. So be it.
Amen. Amen. Amen.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year One and All!