Magdalene with the Smoking Mirror, Georges De La Tour, 1640
Magdalene with the Smoking Mirror, Georges De La Tour, 1640

A very warm and heart-felt new year to you, my dear compadres on the Way.

Like my birthday totem, the Groundhog, I tend more naturally towards hibernation during the coldest, darkest part of Winter.

Since I’m not a groundhog — which I bet surprises you — I’d call my version more of a semi-hibernation, following the wisdom of the uber-Yin, Dark Feminine, Winter season to conserve and cultivate energy; and reflect, review, and gather vision, ideas, and insights to seed and birth in the coming year.

So while I was contemplating and cultivating the Spirit of a few of my favorite season themes — the 12 Days of Christmas and Epiphany — I haven’t yet written, this year anyway, about Epiphany.

Thankfully, my friend and kindred spirit Molly, of Wild Bee Grove and About.com Astro, did do a rich and insightful post: Epiphany – Taking the Spiritual Plunge, in which she graciously excerpted and linked to a previous Epiphany musing of mine.

That post shares more about the spiritual roots of the Epiphany festival — think one special, shining babe; a wise woman; a go-to new dad; a bright, guiding star; and three reverent Magi bearing richly symbolic gifts.

Epiphany is a beautiful theme, actually, and one of my favorites, so I’m grateful that by some standards and calendars, we who choose to savor it have a bit more wiggle room. Phew!

An illuminated Way ... [Image shared in an e-message from the University of Spiritual Healing & Sufism]
An illuminated Way … [Image shared in an e-message from the University of Spiritual Healing & Sufism]
In more contemporary times, these deeply spirit-rich and potentially renewing festivals have often been reduced to one day — one day of Christmas rather than twelve (though we count the ‘shopping days’ before); one day of Epiphany; one-day cross-quarter, solstice, or equinox observances.

But it wasn’t always so, and perhaps given the super-accelerated pace of our times, it’s worth rediscovering the Wisdom of the multi-day festivals so that we can truly touch into the spirit of them and in doing so, find the renewal and inspiration that is so vital to us now.

Epiphany, for example, was once celebrated as an eight-day ‘Octave of Epiphany’ by the Latin Church, until 1955, when Pope Pius XII put the kabosh on that (and apparently quite a few other lengthier observances).

So we can choose, if we’re so inclined, to dip into the octave of Epiphany for eight days, starting January 7th through the 14th. Just a bit more spaciousness in which to cultivate Epiphany … can you feel the inner sigh?

And then there is the older calendar still used by some Orthodox Christian traditions, which has a 13-day difference from the Gregorian calendar many of us use. From this older tradition, Christmas falls in early January — the sixth or seventh — with Epiphany on or about January 19th, and the eight day octave starting then.

Better to be the candle than to curse the darkness.
Better to be the candle than to curse the darkness.

So you see? These invitations, combined with the current deep-value-restoring retrograde Venus in Capricorn through the end of January, offer up a month of potential Epiphany-cultivating that leads us right into the mid-Winter ‘light in the midst of darkness’ festival of Imbolc.

In whatever ways, allow yourself some space and time for reflection, rejuvenation, restoration, and renewal. Slow the pace a bit, nurture and nourish (yourself and others). Conserve and cultivate your energy to better source those actions and activities that are truly meaningful to you (versus expending energy without renewal, and ultimately burning out).

From those dark, still, and restful places, epiphanies spring forth, just as seeds incubate and germinate in the moist, rich, dark soils of the Earth, readying themselves for the push to Spring.

Big Love & Lovely Epiphany,

Jamie