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The Twelve Nights After Christmas
Tags: Nights Christmas 12 Magical Rauhnaechte Year Moon Germanic Celtic Parsifal Holle Hulda Hel Magic Nights

The Twelve Nights After Christmas - December 24th to January 5th
There are at least 12 MAGICAL nights - and, there is, surprisingly ?!, no appropriate translation for the term 'Rau(h)nächte' in English*)

Between Christmas and 'Epiphany' to be held during the 12 Raunächte retrospective and prepared for the New Year.
Rituals and customs accompany this sacred time that has existed for ages.

They exist in heritage and in local customs for a long time and origin from Germanic tradition.
They are referred to as symbolic days of transition - e.g. seen from Life to Death and vice versa (new Birth and rebirth) - thus also as a kind of Time of atonement, the offsetting or reckoning over the deeds of the past Year (Life).
On these Days, one should reflect and, if necessary, purify, but definitely find a redefinition or further plans for the New Year (Life).

parsifalrain, December 21

After the Christmas Days comes the time of the Rauhnächte (Magic Nights)
Special things are to happen on these Days, as the bond of this worldly world to the otherworld is much stronger than usual.

The 12 hallowed Seasons symbolize the return of souls and the appearance of spirits.
The Days between the Years are particularly suitable for future interpretations through dreams, for smudging the dwelling ceremony or for recognizing omens by oracles.

The Rauhnächte were Holy Nights at our ancestors.
As far as possible they did not work in them, but only celebrated, perceived and lived in the Family.
These 12 Magic Nights always were from Night to Night.
So from 24.00 on Christmas Eve, the 'Mother's Night' (Mōdraniht) to 24.00 clock on 25th December - this was the first Magic Night.
'Night' because we are, according the Celtic Wheel Of The Year in the Annual Night.
Thus, the whole Day is 'Night'.

A good explanation for the 12 Raunächte is the different duration of the Moon - and Solar Year.
The (Celtic) Lunar Year has only 354 Days.
The missing 12 Days to the Solar Year are thus lost and thus magical, mysterious Days and Nights.

Of course, first and foremost, the Night from 24 to 25.12. is especially holy and meaningful.

So the animals can talk to us that Night.

And: That Night, Rituals and Oracles that deal with luck and money are especially useful.

You should clean all keys and locks in the habitation spic and span.
The Night of 31.12. to the 1.1. has the strongest fortune telling effect - and also it has (like the so called Night of Thomas) to do with Love, Marriage, Family.
The Night from the 5th to the 6th January is then particularly important to finally throw off redundant, unnecessarily old or incriminating from last Year.

Therefore, you should also dispose of any Christmas decoration, the Christmas tree, etc. by the 6th of January at the latest.

Evil spirits of the past can be dispelled well this Night while invoking good New Year forces.

In this last Rauhnacht, one should open all the windows for a while, send out evil spirits and ask the good ones in, welcome them like good friends.

The last Rauhnacht ends at 24.00 clock on Janurary 5.

This Night is again a special Night, the Perchten ('procession') Night, where in many places in Austria, Bavaria and Switzerland held so called 'Perchtenläufe', Perchten-Runs.

Then there is 'Holy Three Kings', the Feast which is also called Epiphaniea, 'Apparition'.

But there are also variants of e.g. 13 Magic Nights, because it can be well assumed that the ancient Celtic Tribes aligned to the Moon and had 13 Lunar Months.

And then there is a special variant that the Rauhnächte (often called 'WILD HUNT') begin at the Winter Solstice, say on 21th December with the Thomas Night.

The name Thomas means translated 'twin'.

This is interesting because the apostle Thomas was also considered a twin of Jesus.
And are not the Solstices also a kind of twins: Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice.

If you have children, the father has to keep an eye on them that evening, otherwise they could be kidnapped or confused by ghosts.

Above many church portals you can still see 2 wolves or wolf-dragons (= twin wolves) standing for the Solstices.

They face each other, and one signifies the time before the Solstice and the other the time after the Solstice.

The number of Magic Nights may vary in the latter case, and it is a matter of perception how long a Rauh-Night is going.

This perception is about Time Qualities, where you often feel very clearly that this Magical Night may take two Days and lasts a longer time than another.

And this perception is again important for the interpretation and assignment of the Months of the following Year.

The Great Goddess of the Northern Hemisphere, Lady Holle is patron saint of these Nights. (more to Lady Holle below)

She does not like being lazy or useless for the Day, she is very strict and she's careful that everyone lives and grows according to his purpose.

She acts as a judge about good and evil and as the guardian on the human gifts: So, that talents are used and bad habits as possible discarded.

That is why it is particularly important in the Time of the Magic Nights to keep everything in the home and in oneself clean and pure.

interpretation systems
The ancients used each of these Raunächte for one Month of the Year for interpretation and oracles.

Thus, the first Magic night stands for January, the second for February and so on.

They watched everything: weather, how the food tasted, whether it was argued or whether it was peaceful.

Whether everything went smoothly that Day or there were problems.

And if, yes, what problems, etc.

Everything, even the most unimportant, had a meaning.

And who understood it, could interpret the corresponding Month in advance.

And, could also differentiate it further.

So two hours of the Rauhnächte were always representative of a coming Month.

The first two hours, from 12:00 to 2:00 in the Night, always stood for January, the next two for February, and so on until the last two hours, which stood for December.

And that every Day.

transformation Day

Then there were special Days, like December 28, the first three Days had only quarrels, the weather was horrible, etc., then on December 28 the Day of the Children had the opportunity to make amends and dissolve everything.

For this it was important to imagine everything exactly again and then to transform into something positive.

The same could be done again in the end - on the 5th of January, the High Women's Day.
Therefore, these Raunächte were cautiously and vigilantly committed, as they contained the whole of the coming Year and everyone was responsible for setting the course.


The last Night, the 5th of January, the whole house, the stables and in some places around the property was smudged.

There were also in many places at this time again the already mentioned Perchten - Umzüge (processions) - depicting the Wild Hunt with demons, ghosts and certain animals and the Percht (again Frau Holle) as a Winter Goddess.

Behind this, as in many Traditions of the Shaman, was that these spirits should actually be expelled, so that one would not fall prey to disease and death.

That's what the Shamans in all Traditions are trying to immerse themselves in the world of 'spirits and demons' to confront the 'dis-ease'-causing beings.

This is not just a theory and something ancient, like fairy tales and myths, but that is something that still works in our souls today and where we often do not have anyone who knows how to understand and handle it.

Then people get sick, have depression, burn out, etc., and no one really knows why.


About such an encounter with this savage army at these 12 sacred Days time, I will report here.

'We lived in seclusion, over 3 Sea-miles from any village on a tiny island ...

In these Winter Days, when we are snowbound and it is very quiet, it happens occasionally that appear strange moments between sleeping and waking.

Often the "incoming" are hunchbacked and crippled, but sometimes seductively beautiful; their faces are reminiscent of the Perchten and masks of the Alemannic Fasnacht (Carnival), of Tibetan demon masks or of the 'False Faces', with which the Iroquois represent the disease-demons.

They are all suffering somehow, they lack something, at the same time they are terrifying and scary.

If I perceive these entities and get scared or even fight against them, experience shows that it does not take long and I or someone in the house (or stable) gets sick.

It is better if I have the courage to tell them to move on.

"Where shall we go!"
They usually ask with rough ghost voices.

So I say, 'Go east, go into the light, the Goddess can give you what you miss!'

Sometimes they complain, "But we have no trip money".

Then I give them one of my copper pfennig.

With their lucky penny they move on, and the house is spared from illness.

After such a visit, we often smoke Mugwort [Artemisia vulgaris], Junipers [genus Juniperus of the cypress family Cupressaceae], and buffalo grass [Hierochloe odoratato] to purify the atmosphere.

dream and reality

image: Odins Wilde Jagd by Peter Nicolai Arbo 1872

Here's an another example of such an encounter of which I remember in my first homeland.

'At night I dreamed that a group of wild, daring wanderers walked in the house.

I stood in their way as they entered the house through the door:

"Hey, what's that, what are you doing !"

But they did not stop, they walked past me cheerfully.

But I was not particularly upset and pretended more friendly.

One touched me.

"You burn up", he said.

When I woke up a moment later, I was actually hot and my skin was wet.

Now I knew that was not a dream, but a visit.

Nature spirits, who moved with heavy snowfall over the land, have walked through my body AND soul.

This touch was a gift.

I could take it as I wanted.
It was like the knife's edge - one way or the other:

Either I would get physically sick, get a fever, or I would heat up at writing with the fire of inspiration and bring something beautiful, a real MÄR (Old High German, 'a message from Supernatural Worlds', in the sense of Luther's Christmas carol:
 "Up from heaven, here I come, I bring you good, new mar".

If I was afraid, denied them hospitality, or simply did not consciously experience the visit, I would have really gotten sick and probably would have had to spend the week in bed.

But I did not accept it on a physical level, but as a fire of enthusiasm'.

Masks formed by spirits

The spirits of Nature that pass through at certain Seasons are known worldwide.

Everywhere they are taken note of on their passage, appreciated with Festivals and Rituals and then but always, also complimented beyond the village boundary or the property boundary.
In traditional societies one wears masks that correspond exactly to the visionary ghosts.

In Salzburg, Austria (i.e.) there are still Perchtenumzüge at Rauhnacht - Time.

The Bärbeletreiben (from BEAR) and Klossatreiben (botanisch ÄHRE, ear) carries this spirit.

The Fasnacht (Carnival) is such a time.

The spirits come from the 'beyond', from outside the 'civilized' 'normal' 'society'.

They come from the forest and the wilderness, from the mountains, lakes and swamps, also analogous to understand as images of the soul.
The deceased are also present.

And wild animals.

These are also displayed in the parades.

It's a strong unbridled Natural Energy they bring with them.

This is a force that is exuberant, cool and fruitful, but also just as easily disturbs the balance and can make you sick.

The spirits bring creative chaos out of which - one way or another - something New can arise - parsifalrain.


'12 Nights' also at Scribd --  article continued below with edit

The Twelve Nights After Christmas by Parain on Scribd


In these sacred 12 'Nights' you also should not wash or hang laundry, because otherwise there is a corpse;
You should not travel, do not bake, do not work hard, do not sweep, do not turn a wheel and do not spin - that's not what Frau Holle likes to see.
Likewise, you should do without leguminous plants.
All these things have to be done the Day before the Winter Solstice.
On this Day before the home is thoroughly cleaned.
Then you should buy - or look for new clothes.
Because only in these Twelve Days does Frau Holle allow one to rest and to reflect completely on his interior and essentials.
She also appreciates it when you give Her little presents or attentions.
She especially likes bread, cakes, pastries and poppy seeds.
Perhaps then She will be gracious in the coming Year and will fulfill many a longed-for wishes.
The original Germanic Goddess for this is Holda or Hel, in Greek mythology it corresponds to Hecate (the Goddess of the lower or intermediate World).
She is assisted by Odin-Wodan - both leading the 'Wild Hunt' of the witches who ride their brooms through the skies on these Nights.
Therefore, it is still traditional in some areas today to make or get new brooms during this time.
In the Alpine region, Frau Holle, Hulda, Holda or Hel also corresponds to the Winter Goddess Berchta (Perchta) - of which come the Perchten Parades in Austria, Bavaria and Switzerland.
They take place especially in the last Mystic Night (from the 5th to the 6th of January).

In general:
The term 'Rau(h)nächte' comes from rough (like wild), from smoke or burning incense (smudging) and from furry - meaning the appearance of the evil spirits.
It is further believed that these Days used to be called 'Smoke Nights' (RAUCHNÄCHTE).
Ghosts are particularly active throughout these Nights, and brave people move out to drive away the evil ones (again a symbol of their own 'evil' or [rather] 'inappropriate' or 'wrong' orientation).
At home, these demons used to be fumigated, smoked-out so with - incense, magical acts, burnt offerings or small fires in the garden.
But even later, these Mystical-Magical Days Beyond Time fit into the picture, because at Christmas time only good spirits should be around us and act.
In these Nights, everything is particularly effective, which has to do with magic, oracles, cartomancy and above all with our dreams.
So one should practice these rituals, surveys and the like as often as possible during this Time.
But, as described earlier in my article, one should remember and recall each dream of those nights WELL, because many of those dreams come true, contain an important message or vividly provide an answer to a difficult problem.

*) The Rauhnächte are 'LOS'  - Nights! ( from German Lostage -- there's no better translation to English as -- hmmm 'qualifying date', it would be better suitable to call such Times 'Magical Days or Nights').
The word 'LOS' has to be considered in connection with 'listen' - and 'predict'.


Yule - Midwinter - Winter Solstice - 'Christmas Eve'


Everything is Born out of Darkness

The Brothers Grimm fairytale of Mother Holle from a shamanic perspective

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