Verses 3 & 16: “King Herod was greatly perturbed when he heard this; and so was the whole of Jerusalem….When Herod saw how the astrologers had tricked him he fell into a passion and gave orders for the massacre of all children in Bethlehem and its neighborhood, of the age of two years or less, corresponding with the time he had ascertained from the astrologers.”
We tend to ignore the part of the Christmas story regarding King Herod’s psychotic rage. On learning of the birth of the Christ, Herod wanted to know the location of the baby heralded by the stars. He feigned wanting to pay homage to the new “King.” He asked the astrologers (the Wise Men), who had naively gone to him in their search for the Christ child, to find the child and report back to him.
The Wise Men did find the baby Jesus. They did not return to King Herod, as they were warned in a dream to go home a different way. This action of the astrologers is cited as the trigger for Herod’s psychotic, killer rage. He subsequently gave orders for all children in the area under the age of two to be killed.
Herod’s rash action indicates his extreme paranoia and lack of an integrated self. He was threatened by the new. He feared for his position as king to such an irrational degree that he ordered murders of newborn children. He was afraid he would be annihilated, so he destroyed others first.
Annihilation fear—a few of being wiped out or destroyed—is a common human fear. We experience it in relationship to others when our differences arise. We also experience it internally as we undergo transformation. Herod’s responses and actions are representative of what sometimes happens as we give birth to new aspects of our soul.
The old inner order of authority can be cruel and sadistic in its attempt to stop the growth of new life in us. Ingrained beliefs, habits, and adaptive patterns can harness their energies to attack our conscious self and the newborn aspect of soul. We may reflexively align with naysaying, dismissing, rationalizing away, or demonizing the new bit of our larger Self, or God Within, that threatens the old ways. We unwittingly act like Herod towards our selves.
The more identified we are with our roles, habits, and self-definitions, the more we fear the birth of new aspects of our soul. We hold onto known forms even when they are not life giving. The birth of Christ within always heralds a new order, a new executive function, or a new inner authority.
The Wise Men experienced the life-changing power of the Christ. They knew trickery was afoot from King Herod. They did not circle back to him to share their knowledge of the Christ.
Our inner Wisdom knows when trickery is afoot from our current inner ruling authority. We sense a force that will stop us from living our heart’s desire. We tend to attribute the obstacle to outer circumstances. Yet, it is an inner Herod that does not want anything new or life-giving for us.
As we recognize our inner Herod, we can move towards new life by following the flow of our soul’s energy. Instead of destroying the new, we can follow the Wisdom that comes from the birth of God Within. True healing occurs when we can face the inner rage that sets off life destroying attitudes and behaviors.
How are you experiencing the birth of God Within? Where is your soul leading you? How is your inner Herod attacking your soul’s longings? What are the signs you are following? Set sacred intention to follow the Wisdom that comes from encountering God Within.