Every year, beginning with Christmas Eve, I have a ritual of working with the Holy Nights of the year which extend through Epiphany on January 6th. These Holy Nights, as deemed in many cultures, are the extra 12 days and nights beyond the 12 lunar months of the year. This span of time is considered a holy time during which the veil between the spiritual world and the earthly realm is particularly thin, granting us access to higher wisdom.
This is a time to cultivate higher levels of consciousness/awareness within, which will serve to strengthen and enliven us in the coming year. Each 24 hour period during these nights corresponds to a month of the year, with the evening of December 25th through the evening of the 26th being a time to reflect upon and envision January, December 26th to the 27th corresponding to February, and so forth until January 5th to the 6th which corresponds to December. In my own practice, I have found this time to be one of profound insight and inspiration. Not only has the time itself been one of deep peace, reflection and initiation, but it has also been a time of prophetic wisdom for the year ahead.
I keep a Holy Nights journal each year, journaling five basic elements: recording insights, feelings or memories from my dreams and sleep during the night; reviewing the year just passed; contemplating the virtue associated with the night I’m working with; reviewing each day’s mood, activity or insights during this time; and envisioning the year to come. William Bento, a friend and teacher of mine, writes a beautiful Holy Nights Journal each year which includes meditative contemplations, as well as cosmic considerations for each night. I have found his journal to be truly helpful in undertaking this task, and highly recommend it for future years. I also recommend working with this time earnestly in dedication. As the year before you unfolds, you will find referring back to your journal to be amazingly relevant to what you are experiencing as the year progresses. I have had countless times of encountering a challenge in my life during a certain month of the year, and finding solace and understanding by referring to what I wrote for that month during the Holy Nights.
A specially designed journal is not required to undertake this practice. You can simply dedicate a notebook to your practice of recording, and follow the steps I’ve outlined below. I am sharing what has worked for me in this process. You can choose your own unique process as to how and when you express yourself during this time. I find it extremely helpful to dedicate a certain time, place and mood each day for this work, such as lighting a candle in a sacred space in dedication to this time.
STEP 1: Upon Waking, Record Your Dreams and Mood
After ensuring a good night’s rest, begin your journal recordings by keeping a journal next to your bed, and recording any dreams or insights you may have upon waking. Wake slowly, allowing yourself to become present to the day in gratitude, and then notice what is living within you. You may have a vivid memory of a dream. At other times, you may not recall a dream, yet there is a clear sensation/knowing/feeling that you awaken with. Record the dream and/or what you are experiencing, using both writing and/or drawing. Inevitably, as you begin writing, more insights come. The dream and/or mood begins to reveal a message that you would not have recognized had you not taken the time to be with it. These messages often prove to be quite prophetic for the month connected with the night you just woke from (i.e. the dreams/mood upon waking the morning of the 26th will often provide a hint as to the overall message you will be working with in the month of January for the coming year). When we can honor the magic that happens while we sleep, and the wisdom that we are provided, we find ourselves more deeply connected to the spirit realm.
STEP 2: Review the Month Past
Next, review the month past in connection with the night you are working with. Work to recall what was active in your life, what was shaping you, and what new experiences you were having. You may find it helpful to have a calendar with you to jog your memory. This review is a lovely way to visit all that has been working in your soul during the year, and bring acknowledgement and recognition to your development. I often find myself in deep gratitude for all that I have had the opportunity to experience and grow from…the challenges that made me stronger, the joys that I shared with loved ones, and the simple daily moments that brought light to my life.
STEP 3: Contemplate the Virtue Associated with the Month Connected to the Holy Night
Each month, or more specifically each zodiacal constellation, is connected with a virtue that can be incredibly helpful in strengthening and purifying our inner being, thus connecting us most strongly to our true self. A list of virtues and the dates and constellations connected with them can be found on my website here. There is a phrase connected with each virtue, such as “Courage becomes the Power to Redeem.” Courage is the virtue for January, so this is the virtue to work with during the first holy night. Begin by simply reading about the virtue and understanding its definition. Then consider how this virtue lives in you, and how you might need to cultivate it more. Connect the virtue to the year past, considering how it was or was not living in your deeds. Connect it to the year ahead, and consider how you can cultivate it by “doing” it more in your everyday life. Also bring the virtue into the day with you, considering how you can actively live it throughout the present day. During the course of the Holy Nights, does one virtue seems to stand out as something you are called to particularly engage with in the coming year? How might you work with these virtues in the year ahead?
STEP 4: Review the Day’s Mood/Insights/Activities
Before going to bed the next night, review the day. Record what kind of mood was present with you much of the day, any insights that might have come, how you were or were not successful in living the virtue for the day, and your activities through the day. The day’s experiences often set a tone for the corresponding month of the coming year. It is interesting to consider that we are planting seeds for our soul life during this holy time, and thus can be inspired to take care in what we think, feel and do during each of these days.
STEP 5: Envision the Year Ahead
The final journal entry each day is to envision the year to come, specifically the month you are working with in connection to the Holy Night just completed. Just before going to bed on the 26th, contemplate January of the coming year. This could be a time to set intentions for that month in the year. I prefer to take a few moments of silence, opening to what wants to come. It is very impactful to consider that there is a stream of time coming to us from out of the future, asking us to listen. With intent, open yourself to listening, trusting what comes and recording what you feel as the mood, potential, image, impulse, etc. for the month to come. Sometimes it is helpful to simply ask yourself questions such as: How does what unfolded for me today live in me? What is influencing my development? Who am I becoming out of my experiences? Are there any new beginnings that are asking to be nurtured?
I find that dedicating myself to this practice is THE most important thing I do for myself each year. I am regenerated, fortified, and prepared for the year ahead. I am more mindful in my actions, and feel more deeply connected to my Higher Self. The discipline to do this is not always easy, yet I have found it to be well worth the effort. If I had to choose a shortened version of the five elements listed above, I would simply work with recording my insights upon waking, and contemplate the virtue and how I can work with it each month. Our time in sleep during these Holy Nights fortifies us with much of what we need for the coming year, and working with the virtues will provide us with tremendous strength and capacity to meet life’s challenges and remain a pillar of light for our families and communities.
I wish you many blessings and a very peaceful Holy Nights experience. I would love to hear how your experience of the Holy Nights unfolds, so please share in the comments below, or contact me with your insights!