Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sacred Nights and Holle's Day

In Germany we celebrate the twelve Sacred Nights. The first night is the night of the Winter Solstice and then again the nights between the Mother's Night on the 24th of December up to the 6th of January, which is in some regions called Perchta's Night, in others Holle's Night or the Shining Night. In German these nights are called the Rauhnächte, which phonetically is the „harsh nights“, but it actually derives from Rauch – smoke and räuchern – to smudge, and they are called this because during these nights, we smudge every room of the flat or house every day, asking the Goddess to bless our home and all living there.
I have to admit the Winter Solstice passed for me without me barely paying notice. I was in some other place, being slightly obsessed with getting ready for the arrival of the little fairy and somehow felt I had to manifest and paint a baby changing unit before going home to the North for Christmas.

This is it. It's so pretty. This is where we will look after the little bean.

Christmas with my family was very quiet and wonderful. My poor Mum had a chemo treatment just the day before the Mother's Night and was absolutely low on energy during the holidays, which suited me fine, because so was I. I spent Christmas on the couch by the fire, reading and eating. Everybody loved my Lebkuchen and Christmas buiscuits, so that made me happy, we had some lovely food and I got some really fantastic gifts, including a car seat for the baby from my brothers and lots of sweet tiny baby stuff from my brother's partner. My eldest brother, my Mum and I spent one whole night on watching the first season of Downton Abbey together, which had been my gift for my brother, and we really enjoyed that.
I couldn't stay long in the North due to appointments with my midwives and finally the beginning of a new project in work. But I did manage to go to PolyTheae.V.'s celebration of Holle's Day at the Centre Helfensteine near Kassel!
I was really eager to go to and at least mark the end of the 12 Sacred Nights. The three days festival marked Holle's Night with a beautiful ceremony, storytelling, songs, workshops and talks. Due to difficulties with my car... yes, more difficulties... my friend Helga and I arrived late, but we did get there! It was organised by my sister priestess of Avalon Miriam and her organisation PolyThea e.V., and it was wonderful to see her again, and my friend Peti, both had been priestessing with me in the first German Goddess Conference in October 2009 and I hadn't seen both since the Avalon Goddess Conference in July 2010. Later in the evening my friend Simone arrived, again I hadn't seen her since the German Conference. There was hugs and sisterhood and laughter and it felt SO GOOD! But of course there were also loads of women there I hadn't met before and also some of the „bigger names“, and I was really curious what they were like. The energy all the way through the three days was lovely, everybody I met was really friendly, welcoming and in fact there was only one woman who came across a bit weird, but never mind. I felt really well there and felt I made lots of new friends, though I usually need a while before I feel comfortable around new people.
It was absolutely lovely to stand in circle again with sister priestesses and to call in, I was in the South so I called in the Water and though I wasn't involved in any other way in the festival, I loved to priestess, so thank you big time, Miriam, for asking me xxx
It was a really lovely time. Some of the workshops were wonderful, some I didn't like too much. We journeyed into the Underworld and took whatever we needed for the new solar year from the Hel's Cauldron. We journeyed into Arianrhod's spiral castle of Caer Sidi and into the Stillness and brought back visions for the coming months. We strengthened and blessed our visions through voicing, witnessing and laughter in the ancient rite of the Yule Boar. We danced and shared traditional Yule/Christmas cookies.

The feathered fan I made. My old one was broken some time ago and I never replaced it, so it's good, to have a wafter again to use for smudging.

Holle's Day this year was special in another way for my sister priestesses, because it was the day of our friend and teacher Kathy's masectomy. So we gathered outside on the land, called in the Wheel of Avalon and did a healing ceremony, reaching out to her across the land and through and the land, sending her our love and healing on the currents in the Air and in the Earth. I was glad to be able to do this with Miriam and Peti, and also glad to by doing this bring the special energy of Avalon into the Holle Festival, which is so important to me.

The grounds of the retreat house are beautiful. I didn't make it up the Helfensteine, but then I didn't sleep much and being 36 weeks pregnant I thought I can really leave this experience to the next time I'm there.
Another thing I enjoyed was how during the meals all the Mothers shared their stories of their own pregnancies and birthings with me, and how all the Lovers asked me to share about my experience of this pregnancy. Since we do not live in clans anymore and don't have frequent women's circles anymore, we are in danger of losing access to this wisdom. But I have never accepted going through this transition time on my own, but have always reached out to my sisters. Sharing and celebrating our moon cycles and life's initiations is part of our heritage as women. And it's wonderful to experience and fun to do!
I enjoyed being in the festival space a lot, and it was exciting and positive and great, but I was also quite happy when I was back home Saturday night. Time to rest now and let the vision take root. Even though the Sacred Nights are over, we are still in the Stillness and spend as much time as possible dreaming, hibernating and just being.

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