Three years ago, in the middle of December, I went to a lecture on the school I used to work. A lovely lady named Luciana Pinheiro* came from Campinas to São Carlos to talk to us about the 12 Holy Nights. Until that moment, I had no idea what it was and how important it would become in my life. So, in this post, right before Christmas, I want to share with you my experience with it, and maybe inspire you to try it too. Also, I will exhibit a critical reflection about the terrible times we are living in and the significance of practices like this.
But, there are 12 or 13 Holy Nights?
At the turning-point of time,
The Spirit-Light of the World
Entered the stream of Earthly Evolution.
Darkness of Night had held its sway;
Day-radiant Light poured into the souls of men,
Light that gave warmth to simple shepherds’ hearts,
Light that enlightened the wise heads of kings.
O Light Divine! O Sun of Christ!
Warm Thou our hearts, Enlighten Thou our heads,
That good may become
What from our hearts we would find
And from our heads direct
With a single purpose.Rudolf Steiner
First, we have to understand what they are. On our calendars, we consider the year zero the one predicted to be when the Christ would be born. Scholars say the real birth happened a few years earlier, but this subject is not for this post. So, our society considers two different eras: before and after Christ. However, it is not only a temporal mark. The birth of the baby Jesus has a deeper spiritual meaning: the birth of light in a world full of darkness.
So the defenceless infant in the arms of a caring mother, protected by the father, symbolizes the birth of the human “I.” This image makes the memory of our destinies and paths as individuals and as humankind. Then that almost magical scene became the signal of eternity renewed yearly, and the child, an archetype of spiritual development over all humans.
After his birth, the tree Wise Man started a journey to find the divine boy and to present him with symbolic gifts. That period between Jesus’ birth on December 25th to the arrival of the Wise Man on January 6th is known as the Holy Nights.
In my research to write this article, I found different types of counting, starting and ending on different days. For instance, most of the North Hemisphere countries consider the start of the meditative day on the dawn, while in the South, at midnight. Some say the start day is on December 24th, others on the 25th. And the same occurs with the ending on January 5th or 6th. Either way, the essential part of the process is not so much the exact time of your meditation, but the intentions you put on it.
So during this time, it is said that the communication paths between the Earth and the Spiritual world are open, and divine blessings pour over us through the portals of the 12 constellations of the zodiac.
How does it work?
Each night symbolizes a month of the following year and has a corresponding constellation and meditation. On that first workshop that I participated in, Luciana also talked about a stone that represents each day and brings specific characteristics to the meditation. So considering this, we should call it 12 Holy Nights. Yes, but most people use the night of December 24th or January 6th to have a glimpse of the whole year. That way, we can also say 13 Holy Nights. So, it is your choice, as it is not a standardized process.
According to Steiner, each day is also governed by a spiritual hierarchy. (https://wn.rsarchive.org/GA/GA0110/19090412a01.html) Then, the first thing before you go to sleep each night is to ask a question related to the month to be meditated to the hierarchy of the day.
It is essential to create an environment of devotion and calm within yourself. We all know this time of the year is full of distractions and duties invented to divert us from our inner life. But be persistent, and you will discover amazing things about your following year, as it happened to me in these past three years when I dedicated myself to this practice. It is not a tool to plan your year, but it is a gift that allows us to be aware of what may happen and prepare our feelings and souls for what is about to come.
Here are some basic daily steps for beginners:
- Prepare the environment with something that relaxes and brings your attention to yourself, like a candle, aromatherapy, or a song.
- Do your meditation about that day and write a question to the correspondent hierarchy. Think of something that you might expect for that month, but avoid queries with “why” or “how.” Don’t try to find reasons, just events or feelings.
- Live a notebook and a pen beside your bed in case you wake up in the middle of the night with an image or feeling in mind. Write as soon as you can to avoid losing important information. Dreams use to vanish really fast, and materializing them by writing will help you to remember more details in the morning. And, even in the dark, try to write them on the order you dreamed. This can be more meaningful than the dream itself.
- As soon as you wake up, take a deep breath and try to remember the last dreams, feelings, songs, poems, verses, or whatever comes to your mind. Write them down in order.
- Now try to rewrite the drafts of the night, remembering all the details that come to your mind.
- Underline the essential words or sentences.
- Meditate over that images having your question to the hierarchy in mind. Don’t censor the flow of your ideas.
- Summarize the ideas in a few key-words.
- If you feel something, or start to sing a song, or meet someone during the day, you can always add that to your notes. It is not only what happens during the dream time that counts. Sometimes you may not have dreams, but a lot of things can happen during the day that will bring an answer to your question. So be attentive!
12 (or 13) Holy Night meditations in 5 languages
You can find the meditations in these links:
(Please, let me know if some link is not working).
My experience with the Holy Nights
One month that I will never forget is August 2017. On my small notebook that fit in the palm of my hand, I asked the questions: “How my life will be in general? How will I be dealing with my internal questions?”
The dream I had that night is still as bright as water in my mind. A scene from the movie Titanic with musicians calmly playing while the ship sinks, people over the wreckage, swimming after the lifeboats. So, on my meditation page, I wrote that “ideas and ideals that have been the foundation of my life until then will sink. Art will bring me calm at this moment. There will be a great effort to survive, but I will pass through the storm.”
On that month, right on my birthday, I decided that I would not profess the religion I was born into and which I had intensely proclaimed for the last 30 years. My religiosity was my Titanic, and it sank indeed. It was a hard, however, a liberating moment of my biography.
The reflection about dark times
Writing about this important milestone in my history, I realized how much my view about life, religion, religiosity, and religious symbols changed. Also, after watching this video from Nina Veiga** to prepare myself for Christmas, I thought it was essential to bring light to a delicate subject within this post. With the raising of a fascist wave in numerous countries, everyone must be awake to what this political movement could mean to your community and to your individuality.
Why am I saying that here? Well, first, because after I decided to become not religious, I was able to see and feel how someone who thinks outside the mainstream religious ideology is treated. Moreover, I realized how I was unfair and judgy while I was submerged into that religious frame.
Only when we know deeply about the other, and the other’s believes we can free ourselves from the hegemonic view of life. And the interest of these raging people in charge of many governments is to keep their status and power. And it happens by reinforcing old, misogynous, racist, homophobic, violent, and religious thoughts over the population. So the people who think and act differently will always be an enemy. Thus, what can we do as educators, teachers, parents, and citizens to avoid the support of these destroying actions without hurting our own faith and beliefs? What kind of changes in our routines, celebrations and symbols should we adopt as a protest in favour of life and diversity?
The immanence of the times
I love the term Nina uses to describe this way to look and deal with the change in times inside the study of the man conducted by Steiner: Anthroposophy of Immanence. The times are changing fast, our culture and costumes too. So how the anthroposophical study can or should be moulded to adapt to our times, being more inclusive and propagating the good? I hope to delve into this subject and bring more questions about it in the next posts because this one is already too long.
Please, share your thoughts and come to build with me the world we want for our children and for us. You are welcome to continue this conversation in our Forum.
I just would like to finish this post wishing you, your family, your community, and your country a Merry and Peaceful Christmas, Hanukkah, Festivals of Light, Summer/Winter Solstice, or just December 25th. It does not matter to whom or what you pray on this day. What is essential is to celebrate and keep the divine light shining inside ourselves!
Love and Gratitude!
Juliana Troll Trujillo
* Luciana de Andrade Pinheiro Ventre is a Biographical Advisor and Art Educator, Specialist in Anthroposophy
**Nina Veiga is a Brazilian Doctor of Education, writer and Waldorf Educator. Know more about her on www.ninaveiga.com.br