Symbolism of the ox and the ass

December 25th 2016
Each year on December 25, Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, and in every church a crib is set up. The child is there, lying on the straw; Mary and Joseph watch over him, and an ass and an ox, too. The ass and the ox are never left out! But those two animals are symbols that have to be interpreted; they correspond to processes that take place in human beings. The stable is the physical body and the ox sexual energy. As for the ass, it represents what tradition calls ‘the old Adam’, self-centred, stubborn and obstinate, but nevertheless a good servant – that is, the lower nature, the personality. Those who decide to work towards the birth of the Christ within, first come into conflict with the forces of their lower nature and sexuality. Those are the forces they must master and put to work for the divine Child. And so it is said that in the stable the ox and the ass breathed on the child and warmed him with their breath. When human beings succeed in transforming the ass and the ox within themselves, then they can warm and nourish the newborn child. All those who have succeeded in bringing into being the Christ within will be sustained by the forces of their lower nature and their sexuality, which are amazingly helpful if we only know how to put them to work.