We learned that Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary and had therefore a material or physical mother, but we have also learned as children that he did not have a physical father. It is said that Joseph was not the father of Jesus but that it was Our Lord Himself, through the "holy spirit", who caused Mary to conceive and give birth to the Infant Jesus. Now one must not believe that accounts of virgin births are something peculiar to Christianity. It has been said of many of the great spiritual leaders, kings and initiates of the past that they were born of a virgin; that they were direct sons of God. However, this does not mean that those who created the expression "virgin birth" thought that the initiated did not have a physical father. The idea of virgin birth was part of the mysteries of the past. Through these mysteries one understood the truth revealed directly in a form in which it was possible for the most developed terrestrial people of that time to receive it, but one in which it was impossible to pass it on in the same way to the very unintellectual and primitive public. To the general public one had to explain the truth by means of symbols and parables which could be understood and in many cases taken quite literally. All the many Egyptian gods, for example, who are depicted with animal heads and other peculiarities are symbols of cosmic principles which could not possibly be passed on to the general public in a scientific form.
The Egyptian God Anubis
Gradually both the royalty and the clergy degenerated and the real knowledge behind the mysteries was lost so that those who were to lead and guide the people gradually became as naive about religious matters as the people themselves. People took the parables and symbols literally and religion became mere ceremonies and dogmas. While a king or high priest of the past who was really initiated into the mysteries knew what lay hidden in the expression "virgin birth" and that behind this expression there was no reference whatsover to physical birth, neither the priests of a later time who had not undergone such an initiation nor the religious authorities of our time knew anything of these mysteries and therefore believed and still believe that it is a matter of a real physical event which, because it is not common, must be described as a miracle.
In the long-lost past the leaders and religious authorities of mankind were thus truly initiated beings who had cosmic consciousness or, at any rate, had had very strong cosmic glimpses. For them the innermost essence of religion was science, and many of the miracles and so-called supernatural phenomena they at times brought about were results of their scientific insight and therefore not in the least supernatural. Moses, of whom it is written that he was trained in all the wisdom of Egypt, to some degree also had knowledge of certain electrical phenomena and the like, and used them among other things to strengthen his authority and position over the often rebellious and disobedient Jewish people.
One did not, of course, call it electricity; one called it the "spirit of God", and it was not what many people of today perhaps believe, a kind of fraud by means of which one deceived people. One knew that it was divine power and that there would come a time again when one would understand that all that which we call electricity, although in reality we do not know what it is, is divine power, indeed, the life-power of the universe itself which, as the spirit of God, "moves upon the face of the waters" this means that it directs all particles in the universe whether these particles are electrons or atoms, whether they are the organisms of people or animals, or whether they are planets, solar systems or milky ways.
Egyptian lamps and batteries
But why was terrestrial mankind in the long-lost past led by initiated beings, while the religious and secular leaders who are at the head of terrestrial Man's various communities and religions today are absolutely ignorant about the spiritual realities which lie behind the physical reality? One might think that if that is the case then it is not a question of evolution but only of degeneration and decline. This is, however, not the case. The entire transformation which has occurred through thousands of years from the time of the initiated kings to our modern civilisation and culture is, on the contrary, a gradual evolution. It is an evolution of the public. Therefore something must degenerate and something new must be developed. What degenerated were the mysteries and the king-principle and thereby the religions and blind belief. The general public were not to continue to be led by the initiated who had to transform the cosmic truths into symbols and parables, dogmas and ceremonies, a kind of spiritual spoon-food for childlike mankind. It was necessary for a time, but, just as the baby grows away from its mother's milk and spoon-food and gradually also from nursery school and school and must go out into life and learn to stand on its own feet, so Man also grew away from its spiritual baby stage into adolescene where it is necessary for him to experience things for himself and learn from life and its laws. The spiritual values which were hidden in the old mysteries did not of course thereby lose their value; they are eternal truths, but, in the form in which they were manifested, were no longer in keeping with the times. The public should now be led into a new development which matured the individual so that he could receive knowledge about the universe and psychical laws - without mystery and without being led by religious dictatorship.
A very great part of terrestrial mankind gradually drifted into a materialistic and atheistic thought-climate, and their intelligence became developed in order to control the forces of nature through science and technology and to put these forces, for example electricity, to practical and useful purpose. Religion has degenerated so rapidly that it has come to mean less and less in people's daily lives and is today only a rudiment of what it has been in the past. From the wise men of the past terrestrial Man will now get to know the cosmic truths, the essence of which has been lost but whose outer shells still exist as myths and dogmas, in a way which is suited to the intelligence which, partly through the fight for existence and partly through technical and scientific evolution, have gradually become the dominating factors in the consciousness, or at any rate factors to which the individual attaches more and more importance. And it is also on the basis of the developed intelligence that more and more people can see the absurdity in a dogma about virgin birth and cannot help asking why Jesus could not just as well have been born in a natural way and still be just as divine. Even if many people repudiate the outer forms of religion which cannot inspire them, not all of them nevertheless are irreligious. Quite a number would like to believe if only they could; they lack a fixed point in existence. But their capacity for thinking prevents them from accepting a religion which in so many ways is full of illogical narratives and contradictions and requires that one should blindly believe in its very letter. For these people who are about to drift out of the materialistic thought-climate and are longing for something they can understand which they are not required to believe, modern spiritual science is being created; and in the future there will be more and more of these people. Spiritual science will unveil the old cosmic truths which have been partly or entirely lost in such a way that it is no longer a matter of mysteries with secret initiations but a series of analyses which every seeker will have the opportunity to come into contact with; and if he feels on the same wavelength with these sequences of thought he will also have the chance to try to practise them in his everyday life and thereby gradually create that condition in his own mind which will bring him more and more into contact with the "holy spirit" or the keynote of the universe, which means the consciousness and behaviour of the eternal Godhead.
What used to be dogmas that could satisfy a religious instinct and a primitive feeling, but which became pure nonsense when the intelligence was to take them literally, will now be superseded by cosmic or universal analyses which address themselves to Man's intellectualised feeling, his humane capacity and his faculty for thinking, as well as to his incipient intuition. Naturally the concept of virgin birth must also be analysed so that the modern spiritual researcher can see what the wise men of the past really meant by this expression.
The concept of virgin birth conceals a mystery which was associated with those beings who differed from ordinary terrestrial Man because of an innate spiritual sovereignty. They were beings in whom the real truth about life and its laws to a greater or lesser extent was revealed in its scientific form. These beings became known as great pharaohs and high priests; as spiritual leaders of peoples; as prophets and world-redeemers. They had to a greater or lesser extent the ability to experience for themselves the real truth through their own awake day-conscious senses. It was an ability which was reserved for the very few, while the majority were completely devoid of the abilities to be able to experience in such a way.
From these initiated beings people received interpretations and adaptations of the great truths which suited their spiritual level. These "virgin-born" have been the teachers, guides and at times also the castigators of terrestrial mankind through its childhood stages which have stretched over thousands of years. Buddha, Christ and Mohammed are the last three teachers of this type whose activities have had a worldwide significance. Where did all these initiated beings get their knowledge from? What kind of mental area in their consciousness was it which completely separated them from ordinary terrestrial Man? This mental area was the "holy spirit"; it was a divine consciousness and knowledge; it was an ability which they had not inherited from their parents or ancestors, who were quite ordinary people not possessing such abilities or such a mental area in their consciousness. It was, however, a fact obvious to all that they were born of a woman. But how could a child of ordinary terrestrial parents grow up to show a heavenly or divine consciousness or way of being?
It was no problem for the initiated; they knew that their spiritual insight was the result of a process of evolution through many physical incarnations through which they had become mature enough to receive spiritual fertilization from the Godhead in the form of cosmic impulses so that they themselves in an awake, day-conscious condition were able to feel at one with the forces of the universe and control them, both in their own minds and in surrounding Nature. Christ has expressed it in these words: "What I do, I do not do by myself but the Father through me". But how could this reality be explained to the public who were unable to comprehend the real truth? Indeed, when there are qualities in any child which are not like the parents' qualities, primitive people may easily start to speculate about who could be the father of the child. There is never any doubt about who the mother is. But even if the husband is the father of the child it can very well possess qualities which it has developed in previous incarnations but which neither of the parents possess. Joseph could very well have been, and most likely was, the physical father of Jesus. One can easily see how in the listing of Jesus' genealogy in the New Testament the writer is not at all concerned about the mother's family, but only about the fact that long ago Joseph was of David's lineage. We call Jesus, Jesus Christ, and the latter name means "messiah" that is, the annointed or the initiated. We can then say that Joseph was the father of Jesus - that is, of the physical person with an ordinary Jewish name, but not the father of Christ; he was not the source of the cosmic consciousness which, as the young Nazarene grew up, gradually overtook his mind and made him feel at one with the Heavenly Father whose consciousness encompasses everyone but with which ordinary terrestrial Man will not be consciously on the same wavelength until he takes his cross and follows in the footsteps of the Nazarene.
People of the past accepted the interpretation that the initiated were direct sons of God; and then of course there was the cosmic truth behind this symbol that that part of their consciousness which actually made them initiated beings was something they had not inherited from parents or relatives; it was not of this world. More and more people of today cannot accept the old literal interpretation and some of them cannot of course understand the analysis of the expression "virgin birth" either. That will have to wait until they are ready for it. More and more, however, will in time be able to grasp the analysis, but then quite naturally the question will arise: "What significance does it have for people of our time who are no longer guided or governed by "virgin-born" kings, prophets or world-redeemers, that these great wise men of the past were divinely inspired or even "one with the Father"? Can it help us in our present situation? If it cannot, it is of no great significance". But it can help when one understands it and sees it in the light of spiritual science. It is a new phase of evolution that terrestrial Man is about to drift into. When the principle of mystery and the divine suggestion from leading kings and high priests degenerated, it was just because terrestrial mankind had grown out of its childhood stage and into a stage of puberty.
Many people are now about to grow out of this cosmic puberty and are ready to stand on their own feet, which means, ready to receive cosmic initiation. But now it will no longer take place through initiations in temples or pyramids where difficult physical and mental tests had to be passed.
Initiation in Egyptian pyramid
Now the initiation takes place in the middle of the "pyramid of daily life", and the religious teachers will be superseded by spiritual science which is accessible for every seeker. The "virgin birth" is not just something which belong to the past; all terrestrial people will in fact with time reach the condition of consciousness which has been given this name in dogmatic religion and has thus been misunderstood. That which I, in my cosmic analyses, call the "great birth" or the attainment of cosmic consciousness is in reality the "virgin birth". It is not a birth which consists of a being being born of a female being or a mother's organism nine months after a physical process of conception; it is an inner birth in the being's own consciousness or organism which transforms this being into a Christ-being who is one with the Father and radiates the "holy spirit" or divine neighbourly love in thoughts, words and actions towards everyone and everything.
Translated by Mary McGovern and Harald Berglund. Original title: "Jomfrufødslen". Published in the Danish edition of KOSMOS No. 14/1972. © Martinus Institut 1981
Published with permission from Martinus Institute 2001-06-18