Today marks the beginning of the Twelve Days of Christmas. In churches the count begins on Christmas Day, but counting it from December 26 makes six days in the old year, and six in the new. This is how I learned it and practice it now.
The twelve days of observance goes back at least to medieval times, and there is much that is pagan and ancient-seeming about it.
These days are a kind of time-out-of-time, to visit with friends and family, to rest, to assess the year gone and the year to come. Those of us who are inclined to augury and divination use this twelvetide as Omen Days for the twelve months of the new year, reading signs in nature, or practicing bibliomancy (a line chosen blindly from a nearby book), paying particular attention to dreams, or drawing a tarot card. In fact I’ve been working with tarot all month, and have enjoyed having the presence of these goddesses amidst my greens.
I tend to get a little too excited around the turns of the wheel, and once again had a fall that served as a warning to just pay attention and slow down. The darkest time of the year often brings up emotional turmoil. I’ve been seeking solace in the beauty of walks during the magic hour, wordsmithing with poetry and in my journal, listening to favorite music, eating wonderful food, and just being quiet.
I am spending some time with a new stack of books I brought home by using up all my credit at the used book store at my birthday earlier this month.
For those who have followed my journal here for the last year or years, I thank you. Your faithful readership sometimes keeps me writing, and that’s a good thing. If I am sometimes a bit derelict in my postings, know that I am busy with words elsewhere, and I will continue to return here as time allows.
May you find some quietude in this season of activity and anxiety, and stay safe and grounded in this time of light and dark. Take some time for yourself to enjoy the beauty all around. From my hearth to yours, I send greetings of peace, discovery and delight.
And thank you for this. We Twelve Dayers have to stick together. Our St. Stephen’s Day chestnuts are roasting right now and the wine is mulling. Seth and I will raise our cups to you tonight, along with all the others we will think of on this First Day of Christmas.
My, you are up late, my friend! My husband would love one of your chestnuts, but hmmmmm, he called them by an Italian name I can’t quite recall … it began with an “S” … I’m looking forward to all your Twelve-Day posts, John. Ye are an inspiration, ye are.
We tend to be up really late at Christmas! I think it’s because the night is so beautiful at this time of year. The chestnuts were delicious. Castagne is the proper Italian, but if your husband’s ancestors were like mine, there were probably dialects involved… although even for my Southern Italian grandparents, chestnuts were castagne.
Beautiful,post and good reminders…thank you Cari.
We have had a nightmare Xmas……reading this has soothed my soul and given me some direction for the next 12 days.
I’m glad to hear these words offered you something good; sorry to hear it’s been rough, Jacqueline.
Looking forward to what the Omen Days say in a future blog.
Me too, Bee, but they don’t make much sense until sometime next year, if then.
You have a wonderful book pile! Is there anything better for those long winter evenings than a stack of stories? And what lovely lights and greenery, two of my favorite things about this season of the year. We always leave our tree and lights up until Jan 6th so we have their company for Solstice (we leave the lights on all night), Yule, New Year’s, and “Little Christmas.”
I went looking for quotes about darkness and light the other day and found this one:
“Do not let your difficulties fill you with anxiety, after all it is only in the darkest nights that stars shine more brightly.” ― Hazrat Ali Ibn Abu-Talib
Wonderful quotation, Michele. We too leave the greens up until Twelfth Day, and the lights often all year!
I so enjoyed looking at your blog entry last night- the first day of Christmas- with a cup of Lady Grey Tea, in the quiet and peace of late night. Loved the picture of the books next to the lantern on your festive hearth; quite a lovely still life, feeling as though I were there to drink in the loveliness… I just really took my time and savored the evocative mood of the photos.
I never knew about the 12 days, thanks for sharing. I also perused your links. Last year, I spent a good deal of time looking up the Mari Lwyd/ wassailing/Revel link you posted- so-o-o-o interesting.
Thanks for taking the time to do this.
Joyce, a kindred spirit in calligraphy from Arizona
Thank you for reading so thoughtfully, Joyce. Your memory of last year’s post about Revels sent me back to read it again myself and enjoy it all over again.
Thank you Cari for the peaceful post! Beautiful as all your pieces.
I’m glad you read my musings here, Susan.
Thank you Cari, for the images, the books you are reading, and the way you honor the seasons and festivals. Many blessings on your new year!
And to you as well, Laurie, thank you for reading. And for all your arts that you also share with the world!