Epiphany

I choose to live my life as a loving, harmonious, delight-filled experience

Epiphany means “manifestation of the Divine,” and I am a unique, valued expression of the Divine as I walk in the world. Today I celebrate life around me and as me. … I accept the gifts life offers me. My mind and heart are receptive to the blessings of abiding peace, abundant prosperity, unconditional love, glowing health, and unlimited creativity.

Today I let my light shine brilliantly. I anticipate and welcome
opportunities to give and to be a blessing. As I expect and look for the
best in others, I become even more aware of the spark, the light of the
Divine, reflecting from them. SOURCE

I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

John 10:10

Day 12 + The Twelfth Night + Epiphany

The twelfth symbol is Twelve drummers drumming

12 Days of Christmas

How it all started? In 2019 I decided to look for meaning in the symbolisms of this well-known song. In this post (click) you can read about my journey and how it all started. 🙂

Twelve drummers drumming
Eleven pipers piping
Ten lords a-leaping
Nine ladies dancing
Eight maids a-milking
Seven swans a-swimming
Six geese a-laying
Five golden rings
Four calling birds
Three French hens
Two turtle doves, and
A partridge in a pear tree

The twelfth day

On the first day, we receive twelve drummers drumming. Another joyful day of celebration and welcoming.

According to my research – By the Middle Ages the drum, which was probably introduced to Europe from the Middle East by knights returning from the Crusades, had become a common instrument.

Among the drum’s other uses was to combine it with the trumpet to get people’s attention when making a big announcement such as the arrival of the king or the reading of an important proclamation. In this case the drum was used to announce the serving of the next course of the feast. Source

After the day of Epiphany, the party season starts through the season of Mardi Gras up until Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of the Lenten season.

The Twelve Drummers – similar to the 11 pipers (read more here) can be perceived as the ‘announcers’ of a new era starting with the Holy Spirit, descends upon and enlightening the seekers. They  sure that we are awake and ready to perceive the gifts that are offer to us during the Twelfth Night. Read more about the Twelfth night

The Twelfth Night

After the last day of the 12-day-of-Christmas, Christians observe Epiphany or enlightenment when the Holy Spirit descend upon and enlightens the ‘faithful’ with wisdom and revelations of Christ’s teachings. The 12 days of Christmas is the bridge between Christmas Day and the day of Epiphany. On Christmas day, ‘my true love’ aka God gives me my first gift of Christ, the promise of enlightenment, atonement and eternal life. By the time we walked the bride of the 12-day across, we have collected and regained certain qualities that we must possess in order to observe the revelations and receive the Holy Spirit on the day of Epiphany.

I also found that investigating the symbolism of ‘The 12 Days of Christmas’ song can help us uncover what it is that we can do to support ourselves. Following the guidance of the song we can become empty  and  open to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Epiphany is what we labour towards during the nights and days of the 12-Days-of-Christmas.

Below is the result of some of my research:
“It all goes back to the early 4th century Christian church, which believed that January 6 (Epiphany) is the date that Christ was baptized, representing the birth of Jesus’ soul. This was more important than December 25th to them, regardless of the Winter Solstice at the time. It took a few hundred years; but, by the 6th century, the Christian emperor, Justinian, proclaimed Christmas as a public holiday, with 8 days of feasting. Then, by the 9th century, King Alfred of England increased the celebration from 8 days to 12 days. He declared December 25th – January 6th, with the twelfth day falling on January 6. Note: This means the actual night would be the day before on January 5. Confusing, I know.

One tradition for some on Twelfth Night is to go around wassailing fruit trees as a kind of fertility rite. Exactly how this is done had varied from century to century. But, in the 18th century (when the song was created) wassailing was done by pouring cider, honey, spices and pulp from a burst baked apple (all mixed in a bowl) around the trees. The term “Wassail” is taken from the waes hael meaning “be whole” (aka be in good health).

Another folklore claims that a young maiden was suppose to walk backwards around a pear tree three times on Christmas morning. Then she gazes into the branches. She should see the image of her future husband.”
Source

During Epiphany, we celebrate both the three kings’ (or three wise men’s) visit shortly after his birth and also Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. According to the Story, three Magi arrives to the crib bringing gifts to the new born. In the sacrament of Baptism, Jesus receives the Holy Spirit.

I think that the Twelfth Night marks the reception of the Holy Spirit. During the time of the 12-days-Christmas, those who follow the holy order laid down by many masters,  Jesus Christ being one of them,  make themselves ready to receive God’s ultimate gift. During the 12th night and the next day, the Holy Spirit descends on the faithful seeker and fills him/her with the Light and Sound of the Holy Spirit. The seeker unites with God’s Essence and becomes whole again.

I have a different read on the fertility and sexuality symbolism in the Twelve Days of Christmas, suggested above. Unity with God is often called ‘penetration’ and occasionally appears as an act of sexuality in our limited minds. Being united with God may appear to be an act of intercourse  and for that one must be fertile or empty in order to receive God, similar to the way a woman receives a man.

In order for the Holy Spirit to fill the faithful seeker on the Twelfth Night, the seeker must have achieved a state of emptiness and receptiveness. What we do (did) during the Twelfth Days of Christmas to empty and prepare ourselves to be able to receive the Holy Spirit.

According to the Gospel of Matthew, the three wise men – named Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar – followed the star of Bethlehem across the desert to meet the baby Jesus, offering gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The gifts were symbolic of the importance of Jesus’ birth, the gold representing his royal standing; frankincense his divine birth; and myrrh his mortality. Source

In my understanding, the three kings represent the three levels of consciousness we humans live with. They are called many names such as conscious, subconscious and unconscious. They all bring a present that may also be interpreted in many different ways. The important message for me in the story of the three Magi is their long journey and arrival to the birth of Jesus.  I see our human consciousnesses arriving to the teacher, bringing presents that show our devotion and submission to the order that Jesus later lay down for all seeker.

 

ZEAL

We are in the middle of the festive season of 9 ladies dancing, 10 lords a-leaping, 11 pipers piping, 12 drummers drumming so I found it amusing to see that today’s Advent reading from Unity.org is about Zeal, one of the 12 powers that humans possess according to Charles Fillmore, founder of Unity. These 12 Powers are there to guide us and support us on our journey to reconnect with our Divine Essence.

Click on the picture for more info on the 12 Powers

Audio version of the text below

I am a beloved child of God, shining with the brilliance of the
Universe. This is expressed as optimism, abundance, and enthusiasm in
my day-to-day living.

If I feel less than enthusiastic or energetic in any area of my life, zeal is
an ever-present energy that I may call upon. It ignites my dreams and
fuels my life. It fills me from the inside out. As I enthusiastically express
the Spirit within me, I bubble over with joy!

I do what I love, and I love what I do. I am vibrantly healthy. I am alive,
awake, alert, and enthusiastic about life.

Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good
works and give glory to your Father in heaven.—Matthew 5:16


My zeal shines from me, lighting my way forward
and brightening our world. I glow!

Source – Unity.org

Day 11

The eleventh symbol is 11 Pipers Piping

According to The Newman Center at Keene State College, the “eleven pipers piping” represent the 11 faithful disciples, excluding Judas Iscariot. These disciples gave up everything in order to follow Christ. These men were commoners — such as farmers and fishermen — and not wealthy and influential. Jesus spent time teaching them to carry on his work, according to Crosswalk.com. The disciples are Peter, James, John, Andrew, Bartholomew (Nathanael), James the lesser, Judas Iscariot, Judas (Thaddeus), Matthew (Levi), Philip, Simon the Zealot, and Thomas. SOURCE

I am rather hesitant to believe that the 11 Pipers symbolize 11 disciples instead of the twelve because we are still upset with poor Judas.

Luckily, we are still in a festive mood! 🙂 So, let’s find a more jovial meaning to these lovely pipers.

According to numerology experts, Number 11 is the Master number that is related to Karma. This number is also a symbol of spiritual awakening. If this number keeps appearing very often by your side, … it means that you should turn more to your spiritual life. You have your life purpose on this planet and you need to serve to others. Master number 11 is also called Teacher, which means that it can teach you lessons that are very important for your life. SOURCE

I am not very much a numerology fun but I can see how eleven pipers skirling a waking tune herald an opening in consciousness. Many spiritual teachers talk about ‘awakening’ as if it was some kind of rousing from a sleeping state. These lovely pipers are sent to wake us and keep as awake to the visit of the Holy Spirit. Epiphany can only happen to those who are awake and alert to the indwelling Spirit and God’s ever guiding presence. (God= Divine Essence, Spirit, etc.)

In order to keep you in a festive mood …

Day 10

The tenth symbol is 10 Lords A-leaping.

The “ten lords a-leaping” represent the 10 Commandments, according to Christianity.com. According to Bible Info, they are the following: 1.”You shall have no other gods before me”; 2.”You shall make no idols”; 3.”You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain”; 4.”Keep the Sabbath day holy”; 5.”Honor your father and your mother”; 6.”You shall not murder”;7. “You shall not commit adultery”; 8.”You shall not steal”; 9.”You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor”; and 10.”You shall not covet.” SOURCE

Audio version of the text below

Let’s imagine for a moment that these commandments were offered to ensure that you can live a ‘holy’ life. By holy life I mean that you live a life in search of and in connection with your God’s Essence. Our God-Essence (or Presence) is of Pure Loving that is neutral and has no care for the world. The world changes constantly bringing a change of ‘fortunes’ with it; ups and downs in constant succession. In God’s world – in Heaven – Love, Peace, and Joy is constant. We can choose to live a life that is about the world or we can chose a life that brings us closer to unity with our God’s Essence. The Ten Commandments intent to guide the latter.

The first three Commandments are more or less the same for me. It conveys the message of choosing a ‘holy’ life in which you make your God Essence a priority. These Commandments ask you to withdraw your attention from the world and turn it within in search of connecting with your God-Essence (or Presence) all the time, not allowing any ‘idols’ like money or fame to misguide you and drive you off the Path.

All the other Commandments are about ‘sin’. The meaning of Sin which is so beautifully explained in the story of Adam and Eve is actually a ‘turning away from God’. If you manage to keep the first three Commandments, you would not need to care much about the other seven! You will keep them by default. 🙂 These Commandments are there as a fence to ensure that you do not fall ofF the Path when you cannot keep the first three Commandments.

Day 9

The nineth symbol is Nine ladies dancing

From Day 9 onwards, we are having FUN. First nine lading dancing appear to herald joyous time ahead.

According to my research – The “nine ladies dancing” represent the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit, according to The Newman Center at Keene State College. Featured in Galatians 5:22-23, the nine fruits are: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Christians, under the guise of the Holy Spirit, will exhibit these types of virtues. Love refers to the love of God and your neighbor, which is unconditional and without the expectation of anything in return, according to The Catholic Spirit. You achieve joy by relationships with God and other people, and it encompasses truth, honesty, and integrity. Source

I think it is easy to see why these 9 qualities are the ones that contribute the most to becoming ‘holy’. By holy I mean that one becomes aware and perceptive to the presence of the Holy Spirit. As humans we are lost onto the world. We look for safety, love and shelter in the world where there is none. We are of Spirit. Our Home is with God. The Living presence of God, our Soul, years to return Home. In order to be able to do that, however, It must move beyond the limitations of the world and our human (ego) parts. The 9 virtues are those attainable qualities of person that support the Soul on Its journey Home. These qualities are of Spirit, too. As we clear our vision of the limitations of the world,  we open ourselves to the Living Spirit within. With that we not only support our own mortal and physical journey to be  smoothened out but we also support the Soul within to ascend and eventually – upon our physical death – to return home.

Day 8

The eighth symbol is Eight maids a milking

Matthew 5:3-10 describes Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount, which contained what are known as the Beatitudes. Jesus said:
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land.
Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

The Beatitudes are at the core of Christ’s teaching. … The reward promised in each of the Beatitudes is primarily heaven. The Beatitudes reveal the goal of human existence, the ultimate purpose of human acts; God calls us to his own beatitude.

source

There is not much I can add to the above. The Beauties reveal the desirable qualities of the seeker who wish to attain enlightenment and a place in Heaven. I thought I take the time to clarify what Heaven really is. I understand that many, mostly religious. people believe that Heaven is a place where humans pass on to after life if on judgement day they are found deserving. In my understanding, however, Heaven is in the heart of the seeker. It is ever present and inviting and there is only a few things the seeker must do in order to ‘gain entrance to Heaven’ and experience happiness: see the list above.

Regarding the milking ladies, I can only guess how the milking ladies symbolize the 8 Beauties. My suggestion is that it has been believed that milk has beauty enhancing qualities. Cleopatra only washed in milk believing that it preserved her youth and beauty. The milking maidens also symbolize purity that is the ultimate goal of the seeker – to clean him/herself of the dirt of this world , to relieve all limitations and stand pure and clean so he/she can enter Heaven.

As I suggested before, Heaven is in each Heart. In order to enter Heaven, the seeker must enter Heaven he/she releases all bondage of this world through a rigorous practice of meditation/prayer and following the guidance that Jesus and other teachers before and after Him laid for all those to search for the Truth and ready to let go and enter the land of Joy and Happiness that is in our Hearts – the place where we meet God aka our Essence and the pure Love we all seek to experience.

Day 7

The seventh symbol is Seven Swans A-Swimming

The Seven Swans A-Swimming Represent The Sevenfold Gifts Of The Spirit

The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit is one of several works in Christian devotional literature which follow a scheme of seven. Others include the seven petitions of the Lord’s Prayer, the beatitudes, the seven last words from the cross, the seven deadly sins, and the seven virtues.  The seven gifts are found in the Book of Isaiah 11:1-2, where the Biblical passage refers to the characteristics of a Messianic figure understood by Christians to be Jesus Christ empowered by the “Spirit of the Lord”.

Wisdom – according to St. Bernard, it both illumines the mind and instills an attraction to the divine
Understanding – the gift of understanding gives us a profound appreciation for God’s providence
Counsel – the gift of counsel operates under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to illuminate the will of God
Fortitude – is often identified with courage, but Aquinas takes its meaning to also encompass endurance.
Knowledge – the gift of knowledge allows one, to see things from God’s perspective. It “allows us to perceive the greatness of God and his love for his creatures” through creation.
Piety accords with reverence – Pope Francis said that piety is a recognition of “…our belonging to God, our deep bond with him, a relationship that gives meaning to our whole life and keeps us resolute, in communion with him, even during the most difficult and troubled moments”.
Fear of the Lord is akin to wonder (or awe). – Pope Francis said that it “is no servile fear, but rather a joyful awareness of God’s grandeur and a grateful realization that only in him do our hearts find true peace”. 
source

According to another source:  Egypt linked swans with immortality, just like they did the geese. The Greek priests, who worship Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, are believed to be descended from swans. Old Celtic and British myths believe that lost loved ones turn into swans, with gold or silver chains on their necks to symbolize their enchantment. The transformation is believed to take place during their Samhain festival, where the gates of the other worlds open up and souls are free to pass.

I see swans as graceful and royal. When you watch two swans mating, they perform a beautiful dance of gentle embracing. In the seven swans dancing (swimming) I see the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit embracing the seeker each offering one of the gifts. It is a true offering not a nagging. The seeker is waltzed around by these gracious creatures laying the gifts of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, guidance, courage, reverence and the joyful awareness of God. By the 7th day we are over half way towards the end of this imaginary bridge of the 12 days. By now it is evident that the qualities (teachings) that we are to collect and embrace during our human lifetime are constantly encouraged.

Day 6

The sixth symbol is Six geese a laying

Going back to Neolithic times, the goose is one of the oldest domesticated birds. It’s also been the topic of a lot of folklore. This is probably the reason it’s part of the song.
Because of their migration habits, they were often considered to be a symbol of the solar year and also fertility. Ancient Egyptians believed that a mummy’s soul rose up in the form of a goose with a human head. The Roman goddess, Juno (rules heaven and marriages), considered the goose sacred.  – In 387 B.C. the geese in her temple cackled and honked, warning the Romans that barbarians were close. Ever since then, the geese were honored for their protective services. Medieval seafarers had a strange tale on the origin of the goose. It seems that on the hull of their ships grew this long, goose-shaped barnacle. Coincidentally, there was also an Artic goose that migrated around England. Since this goose and the barnacle looked a lot alike, the sailors said that the goose originated from the barnacle, and in some tales a seaside tree.
source

The Six Geese A-Laying Stand For The Six Days Of Creation
source

Having read the different ideas around the ‘6 geese a laying’, I decided to go with the protective nature of the story of creation. It may sound strange at first but I strongly believe that the story of creation tells the story why we feel so loveless and lost. It is protective because it comforts the seeker by explaining who the world came about and  why we became separated from our God nature. With Adam and Eve ‘turning away’ and choosing ‘knowledge’ over faith, hu-mans became lost. But the story also shows that there is a source – God – where we all are eventually to return.  The story of creation also tells why God created the world. God wishes to experience Itself through the experiences of its spars that are implanted into human forms.

For me, the symbol of birds always convey the message that I am inherently free.

In my opinion the teaching here is to become aware of how we, humans, came about and to learn to accept our bi-nature of divine vs mortal as well as the knowing that were are divine as our birthright.

Day 5

The fifth symbol is The five golden rings

This is what I have found on the ‘five golden rings’:
If you’re a jewelry fan, you’re going to be disappointed to learn that it’s not actually gold rings that are given on day 5. Once again, this is reference to birds and the 5 golden rings are said to represent the gold rings on a pheasant’s neck.
It all begins with the legend of Jason and the Argonauts back in 750 B.C. when they sailed from Thessaly, Greece in search of the “Golden Fleece”. During this epic journey, they landed in Phalis, acquiring not only the sorceress, Medea, but also a lot of golden birds. The Greek word phasianornis means “bird of Phasis.” It is believed that this species of ring-necked pheasant are from the sub-species of the infamous “Golden Fleece.” S
Source

“Another interpretation can be that Golden Rings are The Pentateuch or The first 5 books of the Old Testament. Ring also symbolizes eternity.”

“The Golden Fleece caught my attention so I investigated it further. This is what I found. In Greek mythology, the Golden Fleece is the fleece of the gold-haired winged ram, which was held in Colchis. The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship.” Source

So, my thoughts are that the five rings represent the pheasant feast of the king who has authority.  In terms of teaching, regaining our sense of authority is a must and when it is achieved it deserve a feast. There many of us who  handed their authority over to another person, an organisation or else either upon force or willingly. When you are without your sense of authority and kingship, you don’t drive the boat, it is dragged and you are being pulled by it. I hear many people complain about the way they are treated at work or at home, how they are misunderstood or misinterpreted or even abused. Well, here is some news for you: You may want to start learning to stand up for yourself and regain your own authority; know that you have the right to be he author of your life whatever way you may want to lead it. Access your courage and lead your way!

For me, the symbol of birds always convey the message that I am inherently free.

In my opinion the teaching here is awareness of how we, humans, came about and accepting our divine-mortal nature as well as knowing that were are divine in our birthright.