First Night of Yuletide
(St. Thomas’ Night, winter solstice)
Theme: Sense the quality of time
Assigned month: January
Eternity is time
And time eternity--
Except when you yourself
Would make them different be.
(German priest, translation Paul Carus)
A passage from the Christian Old Testament book Ecclesiastes,* often quoted but rarely heeded in daily life, begins with the words: “To every thing there is a season.”
* Ecclesiastes 3, King James Version
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
What profit hath he that worketh in that wherein he laboreth?
I have seen the travail, which God hath given to the sons of men to be exercised in it.
He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end.
In this passage, “time” does not refer to the time of day or time in the sense of an agenda. Instead, it is about the qualities of a particular time, of issues and undertakings for which the right time has come, for which the time is “ripe.” It is about developing a feeling for precisely these things, sensing in our daily lives if the vibrations of time are auspicious for a particular undertaking, or, by the same token, if they are not.
People use various systems and tools to do this, such as horoscopes, divination cards, pendulums, or divining rods, but it is simpler to follow your intuition and rely on your feelings, your first impulse.
In each of the coming Nights of Yuletide, begin by practicing sensing or feeling the quality of the day and drawing conclusions about it. This is where your heart rather than your mind comes into play. Place your hands on your heart chakra and feel your energy, be aware of yourself, untouched for a moment by any tormenting thoughts and fears. Ask yourself questions and see how your heart responds, how you feel about them.
This rather unusual exercise will, of course, present its own challenges, especially in the busy holiday season, but it will help you to learn how to be sensitive to both yourself and the quality of time, even when under pressure.
As the passage points out, it is not limited to the qualities of a particular day but is primarily to do with periods or lengths of time, time “windows” that are favorable (or not, as the case may be) for particular undertakings. For example, does it feel as though something is “in the air”? Some form of movement? Or have things come to a halt? In the first instance, you should start setting things in motion, taking action; in the second, be patient and wait until the vibrations seem favorable for a new venture. If it is obviously not the right time, expect nothing for the moment. From now on, the daily themes will be an expression of a time quality, a time window in which you can focus on a topic or theme. There are also special time windows that relate to the broad life plan that you helped to shape before this incarnation began. Use this day and the Yuletide nights that follow to get a sense of whether you are on course. Whatever you wish for, whatever feels right, is allowed.
However, this exercise is not just for this particular day. It also applies to the days that follow and their different themes. We hope that getting the ball rolling on December 21 will make you more sensitive to the qualities of the period of time, of the space/time continuum of your life.
The passage in Ecclesiastes about the quality of time ends as follows:
I know that there is no good in them, but for a man to rejoice, and to do good in his life.
And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy the good of all his labor, it is the gift of God.
I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.
That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past.
To be, to exist is to be in the present. The past may shape us and the future unsettle us or become a projection of our hopes and desires, but we only ever experience and enjoy Creation and life in the present, in being in the moment. There is no enjoyment in life without this relationship with the present, nor should the very brief time span of a moment stop us from experiencing it consciously. Everything that frightens or upsets us is an expression of a yesterday that has been constricted in our memories and in the self-imposed limits of our view of tomorrow.
Everything has its time, its season, in countless moments, including pleasure. Never let anyone take this from you; continue to take pleasure in things. Always be aware of the riches with which you have been blessed and the experience of divine love and power given to you, even when times seem dark. Do you accept all this? Unconditionally? Gifts are given to be used and enjoyed.
PRACTICES FOR THE FIRST YULETIDE NIGHT
Here we include practical advice with a choice of optional questions for your Yuletide journal.
LOOKING BACK ON JANUARY OF LAST YEAR
What were my experiences during the New Year celebrations?
How did I start the New Year?
What plans and resolutions did I make?
Were there any special celebrations (such as birthdays)?
Which people were especially important?
Did I go on any journeys?
What was particularly enjoyable?
Who gave me support?
What good things happened?
To whom or what should I offer thanks?
Did anything unpleasant happen?
Did I suffer any particular setbacks?
Were there any arguments, conflicts, disappointments?
Is there anyone I haven’t yet forgiven?
Which situations or experiences during last January would I now like to cleanse or resolve?
How did I use my time over the past year?
Have I taken time for myself?
Was I in charge of my time?
Did I recognize time windows and make use of them?
REFLECTING ON THE THEME OF THE DAY
Sensing the quality of time
I place my hands on my heart chakra and sense my energy for a moment, feel myself, unencumbered by tormenting thoughts or fears. I ask myself some questions and feel the way my heart responds.
How does today feel for me?
If I acknowledge my feelings, how does that change my mood?
What feels good for me today?
How do I feel about all my plans for today, everything I want to do?
What should I do, but what do I actually feel like doing in reality?
What can I add or leave out to focus properly on the qualities of the day and enjoy them fully?
What have I always wanted to do and might it just match the qualities of this particular day?
Does my daily schedule feel good right now?
Please note that this exercise is generally recommended as a way of getting into the right frame of mind, the right mood for sensing the special quality of each Yuletide night.
Who or what controls my time?
Is my time available to me?
How much time do I spend on what?
What is the rhythm of my day/my year?
Do I have time simply to be?
Do I take time for myself?
Do I allow time for myself?
How much time do I devote to my dreams and my goals?
Do I set myself conditions: I’ll do this and that first, and then I’ll have time?
Do I know how to recognize and interpret the signals that time sends?
Am I in the “right film” in my life?
Does my heart feel fulfilled with my current existence?
Does everything that is in my life now give me pleasure (people, relationships, activities, the general situation)?
What do I dream of?
What do I yearn for?
How does the difference between my dreams and reality feel?
Is it “time” for change?
Where should the journey of my life take me?
LOOKING AHEAD TO JANUARY IN THE COMING YEAR
Encounters and signs
What did I dream of today?
How was the weather, the general mood, the atmosphere?
What happened today?
Who or what did I encounter during my meditation (situations/ individuals/animals/plants)?
What signs was I shown today?
How did “me time,” the time for myself, feel today?
Did time drag or fly by?
Consciously shaping the future
What is my vision for this coming January?
What daydreams did I have today?
Did I have time for myself today? Was I able to consciously decide how I used my time?
What do I wish for in the coming year in terms of how I deal with my time every day?
What changes do I hope to make?
What time “windows” are coming up in this next year? What is on the horizon?
What decisions would I like to take?
A MEDITATION TO DEEPEN THIS EXPERIENCE
Time to pause for breath, time for myself; the interval between ending and beginning.
Before something new can begin, what there was before must come to an end.
In general, we believe that the end of something simultaneously marks the start of something new.
However, what we almost never think about is that the beginning comes later.
There is a space between an end and a new beginning, an interval between something ending and something being imminent, something coming into being.
On this day, on every day in January, and whenever something old comes to an end, the space between ending and beginning will suddenly open up, and the gates of time will unlock.
Today is calling on you to stand still, to pause for a moment, and to be completely calm.
Fill this space of silence and emptiness, this place of power, creation, and creativity, with your love and your truth.
Use your breath to sense power flowing into you in this space with the following meditation.
Make yourself comfortable.
Be aware of your body and how it feels.
Tense and relax your muscles, one by one.
Your feet, calf muscles, knees, and upper thighs.
Tense your buttocks and stomach muscles, your back and shoulders.
Tense your fingers, hands, arms, and neck muscles.
Pull a face (grimace) to tense the muscles of your head.
Fill your lungs with fresh oxygen.
Yawn and take a few deep breaths.
Collect your thoughts and be calm.
Breathe calmly, easily, and in your own rhythm.
Breathe deliberately and consciously as you strengthen the life force that flows through you and all living creatures.
Breathe from your diaphragm.
Breathe in and then out as if gently pressing the air against your pelvic floor.
Let it flow downward for a couple of seconds,
Raise your abdominal wall, gently curving it outward.
Now breathe in naturally and automatically.
Once you have raised your abdominal wall and the air has collected at the base of your lungs, hold your breath for around 4 seconds.
Now move the air up into your chest area to fill your lungs completely.
Raise your collarbones slightly to help and then breathe quickly down into your lungs.
Breathe in once more.
Breathe the air down, right to your pelvic floor.
Now slightly expand your abdominal wall and hold the air here to the count of 4: 1, 2, 3, 4.
Raise your collarbones slightly and let the air flow up through you. Breathe out.
Repeat this twice.
Can you feel the warmth that builds up when you hold the air in your belly?
It is the life force spreading through your body.
It is the gift of power given to you in the pause between inhaling and exhaling.
Now learn how to distribute this life force that you have gained through the simple action of breathing throughout your body. Choose a part of your body that you would like to fill with this energy: perhaps your feet are cold.
When you breathe out this time, imagine that the energy is flowing directly into your feet.
Breathe in, breathe the air down, right to your pelvic floor.
Now slightly expand your abdominal wall and hold the air to the count of 4: 1, 2, 3, 4.
Lift your collarbones slightly and let the air flow up into your lungs.
Breathe out and empty your lungs.
Repeat this until you feel a stream of energy or increased warmth in the chosen part of your body.
Now take a few more breaths in the same way with a pleasant, easy rhythm.
I wish you strength in your life, in the moments that you consciously pause between breaths. On this Night of Yuletide and in the Nights of Yuletide to come, and ever after.