During the Holy Nights of the 12 Days of Christmas, we can cultivate an especially close relationship to the spiritual world.
Each night when we sleep, our higher bodies—the ego and the astral body—slip out of the sleeping physical and etheric bodies and expand into the spiritual realms, which are their true home. From there, our higher selves can reflect on what we have experienced on the earth, and from this higher perspective we can align ourselves with intentions for how to live the day to come. And from these starry realms, we draw strength and healing for the physical and etheric bodies with which we re-unite upon awakening.
In these twelve holy days and nights, the heavenly worlds are especially open to us. Our sleep is deeper, and our dreams more profound. This is the time to go “fishing” in the spiritual world for inspiration and insights into the new year.
There are many living traditions associated with these holy nights. As the twelve nights correspond to the twelve signs of the zodiac, so, it is said, the weather on the twelve days give a pre-vision of the weather to be had in the twelve months to come.
On an more personal and more intimate level, the dreams that we have in these nights may give us an indication of the events of life we will meet in the year to come. Many people choose to work vigorously on their dream journals in these days, to be in touch with the guidance that they may be given at night.
The New Year’s celebration marks the half-way point in the 12 Days of Christmas. Now we can discern a very palpable shift in the energy of the season. The quiet intimacy of Christmas Eve begins to fade, as we prepare to step into the new year and what it will bring.
In these days we can invite our dreams to turn towards our intentions for the year to come.
This is the time to give birth to our intentions for what is to come. Over the course of the next 6 days, from now until January 5th, you can work meditatively with the question of how you want to shape your life in the year to come.
Perhaps you can choose to focus on one higher value, one special purpose.
What might it be? Integrity? Commitment? Focus? Joy? Abundance? Presence?
As I consider the needs of our planet, I am acutely aware of how much we need human beings who are conscious, committed and awake. Let us, as individuals and together, cultivate love, seek for clarity of thought, and work vigorously for the betterment of our world.
Celebrating The Animals in the Stable
On Christmas Eve, the festival of the Nativity, time seems to stand still. For as long as I can remember, the elements grow calm on Christmas Eve. Even storms that have been forecast seem to hold back on that evening, as a mantel of stillness spreads around the globe. For on that night, the earth remembers the birth of the one called the Prince of Peace.
The sacred hour of Christmas happens at midnight, the darkest time of the night. At midnight, when the earth is wrapped in sleep, it remembers the birth of light that happened long ago, at the turning point of time. At that hour, a child was born who would prepare himself to become the earthly bearer of the World Creator, the Christ. It is said that this birth had been prepared over long ages of time. For earth evolution to take its next step, it was necessary that a human being would be born who would be able to sustain the purity of soul, the strength and health of the body, and the clarity of consciousness necessary to receive into himself the divine I-AM. The constitution of this child was so harmonious that body, soul and spirit would be able to be in perfect harmony. This person, the first Son of Man, would embody the prototype that all human beings can evolve towards.
On that cold and dark night in the Middle East, the earthly journey of this human child began in great humility. The Gospel of St. Luke tells us that Jesus was born in the most simple of circumstances. His mother gave birth to her son in a stable, possibly in a cave. Nestled into a manger, he was received into the earth even as a seed is laid into the ground. Around he stood were the goodly animals of the stable, kind creatures who embody the pure elements of the soul.
An old legend tells that those animals in the stall that witnessed the birth of the child who would embody the World Creator, the Cosmic Word, were able to understand human speech on that night. Even as the rocks and the plants, even as the simple shepherds who came to offer their gifts and the angels in the skies, the beasts of the stable were present to welcome his coming. And for that, on that one night, they were released from their mute language and become our soul-kin. And even today, it is said, the animals draw nearer to us at Christmas than at any other time in the year, to hear and understand our speech.
On Christmas Eve, my family and I turn off all of our electric devices. We light a fire in our wood stove and use candles for illumination. We eat a simple meal, and speak in quiet voices, attentive to the blessing spirit of the night.
Late in the evening, some of our dear friends come to our home to be gather around our tree and sing songs. We then take our candles and leave the house. We walk to the farm that is my husband’s creation, directly behind our home. We visit first the cows in the stable and sing to them. Then we trudge across the fields in the darkness to the bees in their hives and the chickens in their coops, the sheep in the stall and the ducks pen. We sing and speak to the animals, and thank them for their gifts.
If time permits, we walk further, down to the river where we may hear the salmon jumping and the beaver slipping into the water.
In the silence of that night, I can feel a wave of world-peace spreading around the world. It has already been midnight in many, many time zones on earth, and people are already sleeping their mid-winter dreams. And as they sleep, they are blest by the spirit of Christmas.
The blessing of Christmas Eve continues for twelve nights, the so-called “Twelve Days of Christmas.” During these twelve nights, the World Creator Spirit draws near to the earth. Even as the earth herself receives life forces for her sustenance and growth in the dark of winter, so too do we receive the deepest blessings of the spiritual world at Christmas. It is possible to become conscious of these deep processes, if we learn to pay attention, especially at night.
My wish and hope for all humanity is that we will be able to open ourselves in this Christmas season to receive the living good-will, love and wisdom of the Creative World as they shine down to the earth, and take root not only all around us but deep within our own hearts.
The Sun at the Midnight Hour
Winter Solstice marks the turning point of the year.
The earth has reached its deepest angle of inclination, and will begin to turn itself again.
Or, in other words, the sun is now at its deepest point in the sky (for us in the northern latitudes). The night has reached its climax: the earth is dark and cold, and seemingly cut off from the sun.
If we lived in the furthest northern regions, perhaps without even the comforts of electricity and indoor heating, we would know the fear of the winter months. Without the certainty that the sun will ever return, we would know the challenge of living in the dark, with only our faith to assure us that we have food, fuel and warmth enough to last through the winter months.
The spiritual teachers of ancient cultures, priests and priestesses alike, acted as guardians of the wisdom of the seasons. They were responsible for marking the two solstices and two equinoxes through ceremonies and monuments. It was who erected the massive stone monuments in alignment with the declination of the sun to mark these four turning points.
The ceremonies that were held at each season were appropriate to the lesson that each had to offer.
The mystery of midwinter was called “learning to behold the Sun at the Midnight Hour.”
We know from the Celtic mysteries that on the long night of the solstice, the teachers and their students entered into caves or hollows. Through their spiritual understanding, they confronted their fear of darkness and abandonment. They knew that when the earth is at its darkness, we have a unique opportunity to turn our attention away from the sense world. They knew that the solstice is the best time to perceive the Creative Forces that lie behind all sense phenomena. They used the experience of the solstice shadows to seek and find the sources of world creation as a spiritual light that shines in the darkness. This is called “Finding the Sun at the midnight hour.”
All spiritual realities have multiple levels of meanings. The solstice shows us one aspect of the Midnight Hour, but we can find this on myriad other levels as well. And all of them point ultimately to the Midnight Hour when the Christmas Child was born in the manger in the darkest hours of world evolution.
The midnight hour happens each night when we go to sleep. At the deepest point of each night, we are moving through the highest spiritual realties. Those who have attained the ability to perceive the source of their own I-Am as the Cosmic I-Am will be awake even at night. There they behold the Sun at the Midnight Hour.
On an ever grander scale, the midnight hour also happens for us between each of our lifetimes. As we journey away from the earth after each life, we move back into spiritual realms. At last we reach draw near to the loftiest spiritual beings, to the Creative Word. Before the majesty of these beings, our personal consciousness is dimmed, almost to the point of unconsciousness. Those who can sustain awareness of self even in the field of universal spirit mind will find that they are able to do so only when they can awaken in themselves the awareness of the Cosmic I-Am spirit. This spirit is the spirit that shines as the Sun at the Midnight Hour. This is the same Sun that the initiates seek at the midwinter solstice.
All these mysteries point to the grandest mystery of all, the birth of the Cosmic I-Am on Earth, at the Turning Point of Time.
Our human nature was originally one with the earth spirit, born out of the Creative Worlds. As we grew in perfection, the Creator Gods set us free, and the earth became material. As far as we know, ours is the most advanced, the most complex, and also the most bereft condition in the universe.
Only a few millennia ago, our Earth condition reached a point of deepest darkness.
From the perspective of the spiritual world, the earth had slipped into a condition of pure darkness.
The earth existed in a condition of permanent midnight.
At this Cosmic Midnight Hour, the World Creator freely chose to enter into this world of matter. S/He became a Sun on Earth, became light within the darkness.
Herein lies the real meaning of learning to behold the Sun at the Midnight Hour. If we seek and find the World Creator on the earth, we can experience that S/He shines on the earth as divine consciousness even as S/He shines in our consciousness as the essential I-Am that we are.
In times past, we could find our Creator in the Heavens above.
Now we find the Creator even here, in the world of the senses, and here in the core of our own heart and mind.
The yearly festival of the solstice marks the point when the darkness again turns towards the light.
What better season to celebrate the birth of the child, who would grow to be the bearer of the Spirit Light of the World, here on the earth?
This is the true meaning of the Turning Point of Time.
Now the twilight of the year
Comes, and Christmas draweth near.
See, across the Advent sky
How the clouds move slowly by.
Earth is waiting, wrapped in sleep,
Waiting in a slumber deep.
Waiting for the Christmas birth,
The birth that blesses Heaven and Earth.
In this beautiful dark season of the year, the seeds of new life are being laid into the earth. All the kingdoms of nature take part in the dying and the birth, as the earth inhales her life forces and wraps herself in blankets of leaves and drifts of snow.
And even as the outer world marks the season with the madness of pre-holiday shopping and feasting, another sacred festival is being prepared. The mid-winter festival is a festival of communion for the universe and the earth. The sacrament of birth is celebrated every year anew, in the humble place of the manger, in the listening human heart, in the deep center of the earth .
The four weeks preceding Christmas are called Advent, meaning “Coming towards.” The great Sun-Spirit of the Macrocosm “comes towards” the earth every Christmas, to be born in the Microcosm of the earth, in the microcosmic heart of the human being. And just as a mother must wait through a pregnancy until she gives gift to her child, so we must wait through the season of Advent as a kind of world-pregnancy. This is a season of waiting and envisioning, a season to prepare ourselves to connect with the spirit who wills to In the four weeks of Advent, the four kingdoms of Nature are each blessed, one by one, as the earth inhales, the seeds are laid beneath the ground, and the Spirit draws near, approaching from the heights of heaven to the depths of earth.
Many people choose to create a quiet ritual for Advent season, by preparing a table with four candles to notate the four weeks of Advent. In the first week, one single candle is lit daily to signify the mineral kingdom. In the second week, a second candle is also lit, for the plant kingdom; in the third week, a third is lit for the animal kingdom; and in the fourth week, a fourth is lit for the human kingdom.
This simple ritual prepares us then for the darkness of the midnight hour, Christmas Eve, when those who understand the esoteric nature of Christmas listen at the midnight hour for the sacred marriage of heaven and earth. At Christmas, the cosmic spirit of the heights enters into the non-physical space of the human heart.
In the deep darkness of a winter night, in the dark of the cave where the child is born, the mystery of birth will be celebrated. Christmas is the season to celebrate the birth of light in the darkness, the birth of spirit being in the darkness of matter.
In this winter season, meditate on the sound “B,” the sound of Birth, Boundaries and Blessings. Picture the heavenly Madonna, the Mother-Soul of the Universe, pulling a cloak of stars around herself. So is the earth held in the love of the world: so does our Guardian Angel hold us near: so do we humans hold our infants in joyful protection.
Picture yourself clothed in radiant yellow, wearing a star-cloak of midnight blue with a deep red lining. Reach back, and pull this cloak around yourself, as Madonna, as angel, and parent. Inside your cloak or protection, your sun-yellow soul shines bright, and your red lining protects you and gives you the strength you need.
You may hold this meditation as a pure mental imagination, if you like. Far more beautiful is it to move it in eurythmy as a short daily practice, grounding your spiritual quest into a body practice.