Twelfth Night Thoughts

“A real artist is the one who has learned to recognize and to render… the ‘radiance’ of all things as an epiphany or showing forth of the truth.”

– Joseph Campbell

Twelfth Night, the twelfth day of Christmas, is also known as Epiphany Eve. Many traditions surround this time, but many of them consider Twelfth Night to be January 5th with Epiphany celebrated on January 6th. Some refer to Epiphany as Three Kings Day, and see it as a celebration (primarily) of the visit of the Magi and the revelation of the incarnation of God in Jesus. Others link the day to Jesus’ baptism.

The symbolism here would take multiple posts to discuss and, regardless of one’s church or sect or denomination, the meaning, I believe, transcends temporal orgnizations and faiths and instead reminds us of the most important epiphany each of us can have: the realization of the divine within ourselves.

Wikipedia Photo

Originally, when people spoke of having an epiphany, the default value of the experience was that the insight they found came from the god of their hearts. Now, such realizations are often considered to be of a logical or scientific or psychological origin. It’s all the same, I think.

As writers, our best work seems to come from multiple epiphanies, from having our fingers or thoughts on the pulse of the universe and the channels through which cosmic energies flow.

Or, perhaps you are more comfortable with the idea of inspiration or having a real or figurative muse. Looking at it that way seems less presumptuous!

My muse tells me to follow the old traditions and to take down my Christmas decorations today or otherwise be stuck leaving them up until Candlemas. It’s hard enough explaining to neighbors why our decorations are up longer than most people’s; it would be more difficult if our lights and greenery were up until February 2. The decorations, when they go up, and when they’re put away are guidelines, not rules, for the paths we’re following.

Perhaps the decorations symbolize a person’s readiness to discover and interpret the radiance of all things.

Malcolm

 

 

 

Happy holidays however you celebrate the season

I still say “Merry Christmas” to most people because it’s hard to step away from one’s upbringing and switch over to the more generic “happy holidays.”

We put up our Christmas Tree on the Solstice and leave it up throughout the Twelve Days of Christmas. While I don’t expect everyone else in the neighborhood to leave all their decorations up until Twelfth Night, I feel bad when I see people throwing out their trees on Christmas Day as though they can’t wait to get them out of the house.

Several days ago, I posted a Steve Allen quote on my Facebook page, “If there is a God, the phrase that must disgust him is – holy war.” I don’t think any war is holy, nor do I think all the wars of words about appropriate and inappropriate holiday celebrations are holy–or even necessary.

We are free to believe what we want to believe.  I think we should be able to believe that without being attacked by the local newspaper, the homeowners’ association, thugs from ISIS and other arrogant belief systems, or by ignorant people on Facebook who think “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” is a rape song. I do draw the line at one faith’s decorations at public buildings or neighbors who put up so many lights their house can be seen from the space station.

Otherwise, it does my heart good to see that in spite of the commercialism, a lot of folks have found something larger than themselves and their government to believe in.

But why should it matter to anyone whether his or her neighbors believe in the same god or not whether they choose to celebrate him or her in a different way? I see no threat in that.

My views are rather eclectic, but due to the prevailing winds about “how people ought to believe,” I keep quiet about them for the most part. I don’t need the hassle. I do like the magic of the season regardless of how others choose to celebrate it. For me, it’s a profound time of the year regardless of the usual sniping about the Christian Church and secular humanity adopting a lot of pagan symbolism. That seems to bother people. I say, “so what?”

I see this as a time of unconditionally giving to others whatever their faith. I hope you have a great holiday season, perhaps with family and/or travel and/or traditions that speak to you and yours.

–Malcolm

 

 

 

No, our Christmas decorations aren’t up yet

We like to give each holiday it’s due.

happythanksgiving2015That means Santa knows that if he messes around decorating our house prior to December 1, he’ll be shot.

(Among other things, we don’t celebrate Black Friday, though Small Business Saturday is kind of nice.)

Today still feels like a continuation of Thanksgiving because we’re eating leftovers. My brother and his wife from Florida were here for a week and they just left this morning because they know from experience that driving back to the sunshine state on the Sunday after Thanksgiving is often a nightmare.

We’re thankful they were here.

Tomorrow, we’ll start thinking about our Christmas decorations. As it turns out, a lot of people have already have lighted trees in their windows and various other lighted decorations in their yards.

We start a bit later and keep our Yuletide lights and greenery up until the last day of Christmas on Twelfth Night.

However you celebrate, I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving and won’t be one of those buffoons who throws out his Christmas tree before nightfall on the 25th. (Gee, what’s the rush?)

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of ‘Emily’s Stories,” the Pushcart Prize nominated “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” “Sarabande,” and “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire.”