‘Rauhnaechte’: these are the twelve cold, dark nights which, across Northern Europe, are steeped in myths, legends, and spirituality. In these nights, images of oppressive, bare forests collide with the Christmas message of hope. An old German/Austrian tradition in the darkest time of the year
Between Christmas and 'Epiphany' to be held during the 12 Rauhnächte 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 Rauhnächte 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.
The last Rauhnacht ends at 24.00 clock on Janurary 5. 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.
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)
picture courtesy of: http://walpurgishall.tumblr.com/post/107285267271/in-germany-the-night-of-january-56-is
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.
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.
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.
- 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 wish.
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).
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'.
In the Magical Nights, according to the Germanic myth, the fate of all Life on Earth is decided, therefore the people offered everything to come to the aid of the coming Light.
With exquisite smoked Herbs, spruce resin and frankincense all evil should be expelled. In the Magical Nights, according to the Germanic myth, the fate of all Life on Earth is decided, therefore the people offered everything to come to the aid of the coming Light. With exquisite smoked Herbs, spruce resin and frankincense all evil should be expelled.
The day before Christmas, Christmas Eve ...
Check where you are still in the assessment - or already in the observer role ...
Light and shadow are part of a medal, as above and below, high and low, hot and cold ...
Everything has 2 sides and so gives a whole.
What do you want to change from this point of view ?
December 22 stands for standstill and unity.
Give yourself Time for your journey into your inner world on each of these Days in preparation for the Rauhnaechte!
Indulge yourself with soft music and a special fragrance.
Smudge to clean your rooms.
Perform rituals and practice forgiveness!
Yule was not just a one-day Celebration
Yule is a 12 day holiday, it begins on 'Mothers Night' (December 21st) and ends 12 days later on 'Yule Night' (January 1st).
The Twelve Nights After Christmas (The Rauhnaechte)
You know the expression, 'Between the Years'?
This strange phrase should actually be 'In Between Times'.
It is the time between the 25th December and the 6th of January.
The work rests, for most people it is the period to hold and to reflect over the Past Year and make new resolutions for the coming Year.
The Old Year seems to be over, the New is still far.
This interim is also called the 'Rauhnaechte', not because they are particularly rough and wild, but because one has fumed (geraeuchert) since time immemorial.
However, not to keep evil spirits and demons at bay, but to the joy and attraction of the Divine Forces and to the commemoration of the Dead.
In earlier times, 'the Wild Hunt' was led by Odin, who roared with his in the war fallen heroes across the Land and entered in all the houses and stables where the doors and windows were not well sealed.
But originally, the 'Wild Hunt' was not the symbol of fear and terror, but for fertility and growth.
It is the time of magic moments, in which can be found hidden treasures or passed over in the Otherworld.
The Winter Solstice and the following 12 Days are a time of contemplation, of silence and the blessing for what is to reveal itself in the New Wheel Of The Year-Cycle:
Yule is the best time to surrender and bring forth intentions to set for the New Year and make them count.
There are the Magical Days (Lostage), the prophetic time of the Year to forge and make plans and to take good resolutions, what one want to achieve in the next Year.
There are two old traditions to consult the Oracle: For each of the Twelve Days stands a Month of the coming Year.
The other Tradition brings to us in the first six Nights of the Old Year to complete the Past and in the next six Nights to learn the visionary for the coming Year.
More than ever, it is important that we accept our Light, nourish and, above all, let it shine, so that we can make our contribution to make our world more whole and loving.
Twelfth Night was a big time of celebration with people holding large parties. During these parties, often the roles in society were reversed with the servants being served by the rich people. This dated back to medieval and Tudor times when Twelfth Night marked the end of 'winter' which had started on 31st October with All Hallows Eve (Halloween).
At the start of Twelfth Night the Twelfth Night cake was eaten. This was a rich cake made with eggs and butter, fruit, nuts and spices. The modern Italian Panettone is the cake we currently have that's most like the old Twelfth Night cake.
A dried pea or bean was cooked in the cake. Whoever found it was the Lord (or Lady) of Misrule for night. The Lord of Misrule led the celebrations and was dressed like a King (or Queen).
This tradition goes back to the Roman celebrations of Saturnalia. In later times, from about the Georgian period on wards, to make the Twelfth Night 'gentile', two tokens were put in the cake (one for a man and one for a women) and whoever found them became the the 'King' and 'Queen' of the Twelfth Night party.
In English Cathedrals, during the middle ages, there was the custom of the 'Boy Bishop' where a boy from the Cathedral or monastery school was elected as a Bishop on 6th December (St Nicholas's Day) and had the authority of a Bishop (except to perform Mass) until 28th December. King Henry VIII banned the practice in 1542 although it came back briefly under Mary I in 1552 but Elizabeth I finally stopped it during her reign.
During Twelfth Night it was traditional for different types of pipes to be played, especially bagpipes. Lots of games were played including ones with eggs. These included tossing an egg between two people moving further apart during each throw - drop it and you lose; and passing an egg around on spoons. Another popular game was 'snapdragon' where you picked raisins or other dried fruit out of a tray of flaming brandy!
The first Monday after the Christmas feast has finished was known as ‘Plough Monday’ as this was when farming work would all begin again!
In many parts of the UK, people also went Wassailing on Twelfth Night.
Twelfth Night is also known as Epiphany Eve. In many countries it's traditional to put the figures of the Wise Men/Three Kings into the Nativity Scene on Epiphany Eve ready to celebrate Epiphany on the 6th January.
It's also traditional to take your Christmas decorations down following Twelfth Night.
Twelfth Night is also the name of a famous play written by William Shakespeare. It's thought it was written in 1601/1602 and was first performed at Candlemas in 1602, although it wasn't published until 1623.