Ditching the over-commercialization of holiday madness in lieu of a practice for connecting to the sacredness of the solstice season
My mission (in creating The 13 Holy Nights Oracle Deck and companion book) is to take the over-commercialized winter holidays back from the makers of materialism, and to return the focus of the solstice season to the Sacred. Instead of being swept away in the yearly avalanche of commercialism and materialism, this beautiful practice supports us in slowing down and tuning in; reconnecting us to our own inner light…to the mystery and magic of something greater.
I learned about The 13 Holy Nights practice many years ago from my qigong teacher. This ancient, nature-based ritual, has since completely changed the way I move through winter and the holiday season (and truly, the way I move through my life). Rather than just being dark and cold, the winter season now holds the promise of a tangible connection to the infinite, the mystery…the world of Spirit. I still participate in the usual holiday traditions, but I’m not nearly as consumed by it all as I once was. There’s a sacredness that I swim in during those 13 short winter days and long dark nights regardless of what is happening around me. Every year, the magic gets deeper, more profound and more tangible. As the years pass, I fall more and more in love with The 13 Holy Nights.
The practice begins on the winter solstice (December 21st 2020), the longest, darkest night of the year. What is the natural world doing at that time? The trees have dropped their leaves; animals and plants are quieting down, conserving energy; everything is drawing energy inward. We humans in the northern hemisphere, on the other hand, are at our most frantic: shopping compulsively, over-indulging in sugar and alcohol, and jam-packing our December calendars with social activity.
The chaos of the holidays is the exact opposite of what is natural to our bodies (and energy bodies) during the peak of winter.
What’s more, the overwhelming stress and chaos of the holidays distracts us from the true and potent magic available if we were to quiet down, simmer down, and tune in.
So, how is the 13 Holy Nights practice actually done?* Each day of the 13 Holy Nights corresponds to a month in the coming year (with the exception of the first 24-hour period which corresponds to the entire year to come). On the first night, three oracle cards are drawn — one animal card, one herb card, and one mineral card.
These three cards will be your constant guides throughout the coming year and represent the overarching themes you will be working with. For each of the following 12 nights, one card is selected, providing further and more particular insight into each of the 12 calendar months. In addition to drawing oracle cards, the idea is basically to be present and record everything that you experience, notice, intuit, feel, think, dream, etc. into a 13 Holy Nights journal. The information that you gather into your journal represents an imprint, a blueprint, a foreshadowing, a ‘sneak peek’ of the year to come.
By simply paying attention during this magical 13-day window you receive, directly from Higher Mind (the World of Spirit, the Mystery, God, the Field or whatever language you like), the spiritual tools and guidance you will need to navigate the upcoming adventures and challenges of the new year. You also have the precious opportunity to plant YOUR dream seeds, YOUR intentions and inspirations, in the fertile soil of the darkness so that they may sprout in the spring, bloom in the expansiveness of summer and be harvested as the fruits of your labor in the fall…before diving back in for another cycle of seasons.
It is the co-creative process AMPLIFIED by aligning yourself with nature.
The dream seeds you plant in the rich darkness of the 13 Holy Nights are like turbo-charged New Year’s resolutions. Rather than simply writing down a list of intentions you actually do the things, activities and practices you want to strengthen or develop in the coming year; you actually see or otherwise connect with the people you would like to have in your life; and you actually engage with the world in ways that bring you joy and happiness. A very real energetic imprint is created and stamped into a riptide of energy that is literally swept right into your future. It’s legit magic.
As you make your way through your year, the synchronicities that unfailingly unfold from your 13 Holy Nights journal will give you waves of goosebumps, will make you laugh out loud in disbelief and will fortify your faith in the unseen world of energy and Spirit. The wisdom jotted down in your journal will be like your own personal crystal ball, astrologer, psychic, therapist and guide. I’ve had countless 13HN journal entries manifest word for word in the exact month that corresponds to the Holy Night in which I wrote them down.
For example, one year — it was a sunny afternoon in June — I received an unexpected phone call: a dear friend who lives on the other side of the country happened to be passing through town. We had a delightful meal together before he made his way to the airport to fly home. After he left I had a nagging feeling that there may have been something written about him in my Holy Nights journal. When I pulled it out to check, I discovered that I had written down a fragment of a dream on the 7th Holy Night (the night that corresponds to the month of June). These words were scribbled in my journal, “A surprise visit from Tommy, so much kindness and connection there.” Whoa.
The 13 Holy Nights opens a portal into the potent, dark, quiet, still magic of deep winter. It is the most powerful time to re-connect, receive, replenish, reset and co-create. When we practice the 13 Holy Nights, we align with the rhythm of the seasons and are enfolded in the stunning intelligence of nature — an intelligence which, if we could only learn to follow it, could lead us out of the downward spiral of chaos we are now experiencing across our planet.
Nature is brilliant beyond our comprehension.
I am reminded of this daily by my cactus and succulent gardens: the exquisite natural design is so clear in their geometric fractal patterns. I believe that by aligning ourselves with that natural design and intelligence we discover our own natural human potential. This is what the practice of the 13 Holy Nights is about: tuning into the rhythm of the seasons, aligning with the intelligence of nature, reclaiming the true magic of the solstice season… and reclaiming a part of ourselves.
In so many ways our modern industrialized, technologically-dependent culture has rejected, abused and turned away from Mother Nature. We spend the majority of our time indoors, out of touch with the earth and her seasons and cut off from light of the sun, moon and stars. Poisonous chemicals pervade our air, water, food, homes, clothing, medicines, etc. We live and breathe in an invisible soup of man-made electrical frequencies.** We are now entirely submerged in a world filled to the brim with manmade toxins.
I wonder: Who would we be? How would we feel? How would these bodies and minds function and what would we be capable of if we lived in the pristine and natural environment we lived and evolved in for eons? We don’t know.
Historians and researchers question how certain ancient civilizations (the ancient Egyptians, Incas and Mayans etc.) accomplished unbelievable architectural feats or attained seemingly impossible knowledge without access to machines, computers and technology. What if we are capable of much more than we know? Every single person alive today knows only how it feels to be human while slogging through an environment cut off from nature and saturated with synthetic chemicals and poisons.
Lara Day discusses the 13 Holy Nights
In this moment, as I sit outside in my backyard writing, I smell my neighbors chemically fragranced dryer sheets permeating the air. I can actually taste the overwhelming synthetic fragrance in the back of my throat. What if ancient peoples were capable of such brilliance simply because their bodies and brains were in sync with nature and were not overloaded with, and dumbed-down by toxins? What if the poisonous ways of our modern industrial high-tech culture are keeping us from accessing higher levels of consciousness that would otherwise be quite natural to us all?
Currently, in the New Age movement, there is a lot of talk about a ‘Great Awakening’ that is in motion. It can sound fairly intangible, esoteric and far out to many, including those of us who speak woo. I’ve been thinking lately…What if this ‘Great Awakening’ isn’t some far-out sci-fi awakening to Buddha-like enlightenment and Yoda-like super powers, but instead, a here-and-now awakening to the corrupt power structures of our current global culture that are spewing toxicity into our environment and thus into our bodies, hearts and minds? And…wait for it…here’s where it comes full circle…because if we weren’t so absurdly toxic and cut off from nature maybe we would be more Buddha/Yoda-like with a greater capacity to utilize more of our brain power and thus access higher levels of consciousness. And perhaps levitate space ships out of soggy bogs with just the firm command of our thoughts.
This year more than ever before, I am fervently looking forward to aligning with nature by diving deep into the womb of winter.
With the world out there feeling more and more toxic and chaotic and the promise of a winter quarantine fast approaching, there has never been a more auspicious time to engage in the practice of the 13 Holy Nights. I am holding a vision of families and individuals all over the world soaking in the quiet stillness of the dark nights of winter and bringing back, from this place of primordial magic, inspired visions of a beautiful new world.
I am holding a vision of the quiet inward dive of the Holy Nights replacing the yearly maniacal surge of holiday madness and materialism gone wild. I am holding a vision of the 13 Holy Nights re-aligning us ALL with the intelligence of nature.
Th 13 Holy Nights practice is a return to the light within the darkness, to the sacred and stunning design of nature and the intelligence of the Universe. The 13 Holy Nights is a 13-day practice in being present, in tasting what is possible when we truly tune in to the energy within us and all around us, that is us. If we can practice plugging into the Mystery, during this magical 13-day window, when the elements and energies all around us are in cahoots with our inward dive, perhaps we can begin to let that feeling bleed out into the rest of our year. Perhaps we can learn to awaken within the dream. Perhaps we can usher in the ‘Great Awakening’.
Join me this winter. May we all dive deep!
(One of my intentions for the Holy Nights this year is to gaze into the unfiltered light of 13 sunrises and 13 sunsets…aligning with the light, aligning with nature!)
*For complete details, please visit: 13holynightsoracle.com
**See The Invisible Rainbow by Arthur Firstenberg for more on this topic.
You may also enjoy reading Rewilding: Revealing Winter’s Gifts of Impermanence and Connection, by Micah Mortali, M.A.