Once upon a time, three wise men called Magi followed a star. It led them to a baby that was named Jesus. With them, they brought gifts – Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh. Being wise men, these three substances – Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh – were chosen for their special properties. But what could those properties be?
Some people have speculated on what these gifts could be about – everything has been proposed from the Magi’s gifts being typical to give to a king, its value in financial terms, to ingredients for a balm for arthritis! But what if we look at their spiritual symbolism?
Frankincense is a resin that comes from a tree which is native to Oman, Yemen and Northern Africa, especially along the coast of the Arabian Peninsula. After the tree has matured for about eight years, the bark is cut and the tree resin comes out and hardens.
Frankincense is known for its heady aroma when melted. The smoke has been known to cause a mild euphoric state. Frankincense is valued for its healing abilities (they used to chew the gum to settle the stomach, use it to help with female hormones, and purify the air) and is often used in religious rituals.
Spiritually speaking, frankincense is burned as part of a ritual in worshiping God. Some people believe that the smoke from incense helps to carry prayers up to the heavens. Others feel that frankincense creates a more spiritual state of mind because of its aroma and effect on state of mind.
As a spiritual purification tool, it is believed to raise the vibration to a higher state. It has been known in ancient times an offering. Frankincense continues to be used today in both church and for some practitioners at home as part of their worship. Perhaps the Magi were offering frankincense as it already had been used in that time – as an offering to a God.
Gold is seen as a symbol of kingship on Earth. However, one may also see gold as the symbolic element of the higher nature of humans as opposed to lead, which symbolizes the lower nature. Thus the Magi may have been recognizing the higher spiritual nature of Jesus.
There are other views of gold out there in a spiritual sense. Was this yellow gold or a white substance known as mono-atomic gold which is believed to allow one to communicate with other dimensions? Or is gold a “purer” metal than others and was given out of that symbolism to recognize Jesus’ purity?
Myrrh is also a tree resin that is native to the Mediterranean and Arabian Peninsula. In Egypt, they used it in mummification. Myrrh is also known for medicinal properties and has been noted to help with pain, parasites, and circulation.
On a spiritual side, Myrrh is associated as a symbol of death (due to its use in embalming), used to purify oneself, and as anointing oil. Anointing oils were typically reserved for the priests and kings and by anointing themselves they were recognized as being holy. Another clue as to how the Magi viewed Jesus?
We may never know these answers and perhaps there will be many layers to what the gifts of the Magi – Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh – were really about. Despite all the theories, what is clear is that these gifts were thought to be fitting to present to Jesus. That in itself speaks to the value of Frankincense, Gold and Myrrh.