As Patrick and I settled into bed last night, we held hands and prayed. Streams of light-filled trembles coursed through our bodies as we filled with awe and gratitude for you!
We are sending everlasting joy to each and every one of you today, and throughout the holy season.
Seren Bertrand, a woman dear to my soulheart, has a life path of feminine truth researcher and delightfully wrote these words as transmission that I’d love to share with you!
I was born as Epiphany starts on January 5th with life path #33 (that of Yeshua), and I feel very connected to shamanic midwife of Christ.
The Mermaid Temple holds Epiphany Ceremony but my best friend’s baby is due on Epiphany this year and I will most likely be in Ohio with her. If not, there will be a last minute one so mark your calendars for a tentative Women’s Christmas, perhaps the evening of January 5.
Also, for 2020, a thread of Natura Sophia teachings are coming through as an unschooling of manifestation as known now with techniques associated with what YOU want (personal will) and moving into complete merging with Soul (divine will) and living an orgasmic life, a miraculous life of epiphany.
Words by dear Seren:
The women’s medicine rites may have been forgotten, yet the sacred Christmastime of Epiphany was once the heartland of the feminine mysteries, featuring a shamanic witch-priestess called “le Strega Noel” (the Christmas Witch), and celebrating the birth-death-rebirth rites that were practiced by the visionary midwifes of consciousness – where the ‘nativity’ of the new birth emerged.
Interestingly, some folklore also speaks of Magdalene been born on Epiphany – which is known as the ‘Women’s Christmas’ and is a women’s celebration day.
The Greek root word for Epiphany, “epifania” or “epiphaenia”, means “appearance” or “manifestation” – connecting it to the creative power of the new birth of light.
As we enter the new year, we are being called to reclaim the sacred feminine essence in our yearly spiritual calendar, so we can re-connect and heal. It is time to awaken and birth the healing fruits of our magical womb consciousness into the world.
A Shamanic Planetary Descension
In the ancient worlds, and still vibrating in our inner-dimensional worlds, the sacred journey between Samhain (October 31st) and Imbolc (February 2nd) was a magical descension journey into the Dark Womb of Mother Earth for rebirth and renewal.
This sacred journey was a living mystery play between human beings and the forces of nature, and the great elementals and Dragons of Creation, whose magic is awake and alive within the human body and psyche, yet is also beyond human knowing.
The sacred heart of this shamanic, planetary descension journey unfolds between Winter Solstice (December 21st) and Epiphany (January 6th) – as we begin to ascend back into the Upperworld light realms, bringing our ‘Christed’ soul gifts with us.
The eve of Epiphany is known as Twelfth Night (famously encoded by Shakespeare) – and is celebrated by revels, feasting and honorary ritual. In the old ways, a new day started at sunset (not sunrise) – as the ancients knew that the womb of darkness always came first. This meant that holy days began on the ‘eve before’.
13 days of Feminine Festivities
On the eve of Winter Solstice, we enter 3 days of the Dark Womb of the Mother, and on the eve of the 24th and the day of the 25th, we experience the great rebirth back into the light. This is celebrated for 13 days (a sacred feminine number) until January 6th – now known as Epiphany.
In modern religious theology, this holy day is attributed to the journey of the Wise Men to the nativity of Jesus or to the circumcision of Christ.
Traditionally this 13-day period is the time of festivities, celebration and feasting, associated originally with the Great Mother, and the “Christmas Witch”, linked to Hekate – who administers the sacred birth rites of renewal. Old amulets of Hekate feature the blessing “I am the Resurrection.”
“La Strega Noel” – the Christmas Witch. Befana is a Wise Crone archetype of renewal, called the “Christmas Witch”, who holds the mythic-memories of the witch-priestess tradition of the Strega – native Italian wise women. In lore it is said she lives in a village on the hill in Via della Padella, and is part fairy and part witch. She is described as an old woman wearing the black cape of the initiate, and riding the donkey sacred to Egyptian magic.
In Italy, Befana plays a role very similar to Santa Claus, however instead of a sleigh pulled by reindeer, she flies around on her magical witches broom, and delivers her gifts of renewed light, or the black coal of earth, to children on the Eve of Epiphany.
Later on this becomes connected with her travelling to Jesus’ nativity, in a similar way to three wise men bearing gifts, where she gives gifts to children along the way.
Shamanic Midwife of Christ
As Christian traditions replaced the feminine shamanic rites, the two stories became entwined in a new mythos – which held clues to the older origins. Later myths describe how the three wise men visited the witch Befana on their way to the nativity of Christ. The Kings invite Befana to join them on their journey, telling her they are following a star to navigate their path. Befana replies that she doesn’t have time, as she is busy sweeping with her broom. As we shall see later, this gives us a knowing wink to the renewal and purification rites of bringing in the new year.
Other variants on the story have Befana changing her mind, and jumping on her broomstick to catch up with the three Kings. Or, more tellingly, other versions of the folklore say that Befana is summoned to Mother Mary’s side to help with the birth and to ‘sweep the stable’ with her magical broom, possibly a code for midwife rites.
A very curious telling of the tale, places Befana, a native Italian witch-shaman, as a mother living in Palestine during the time of King Herod. Her male son is one of the children killed in the decree by Herod to prevent the birth of a new ‘saviour’. In her grief and delusion she journeys to the crib of Christ and believes that he is her child. Certain that she has found her son, La Befana lays out all of her son’s belongings for the infant Jesus Christ, who then blesses the lady as “Befana,” the giver of gifts.
Intuitively, this connects Befana, the Christ-Witch, not only with the sacred midwife and bearer of gifts, but also as the Black Madonna – the mother of the Christ-Light.
Magical Night of Renewal
La Befana is also linked to the goddess Hecate, who is part of a triple form of the Goddess of the Moon Mysteries. Interestingly, this triple aspect of feminine wisdom associated with the renewal rites of Epiphany, is now appropriated to three men.
Epiphany, known as the “Magic Night”, was once an important sacred feminine holy time. Rituals and festivities on this night were connected to mystical renewal rites of the Earth Womb and the birth rites of the Earth Mother. The turning of the wheel at New Year was known as a time for purification, and the broom that Befana uses to sweep around the fireplaces of the homes she visits, whilst bearing gifts, is symbolic of clearing away the old, negative energies of the previous year and cleansing it for the coming New Year. Other rites used for purification were burning effigy dolls of Befana to symbolize the death of the old year and the birth of the New Year.
Italian anthropologists Claudia and Luigi Manciocco place the rituals of the Christmas Witch “Befana” back to Neolithic times, rooting them in the beliefs and practices of the ancient womb religion dedicated to the Great Mother of all Creation.
Goddess of Purification
Some sources suggest that the name “Bafina” comes from the goddess of new year, purification, and well being “Strina”. This ties in with the tradition of “wassailing”, which is an anglo-saxon word, which means “be thou hale” or “be in good health”. Intuitively this is a sacred time for celebrations, blessing and energetic purification.
Strina presided over the sacred feminine rites of New Year, and would give gifts of figs, dates and honey (foods associated with the blessed feminine essence). These feminine rites were full of joyful celebration and exuberance. In fact, Strina’s festivities were condemned by early Christians for being too noisy and licentious.
As part of the rites, on January 1st, twigs were carried in a procession from Strina’s grove, located near her temple in Via Sacra, to the citadel. This Goddess rite of renewal and rebirth is first mentioned happening on New Year’s Day in 153 B.C.E.
Women’s Christmas – The Thirteenth Day
In Iceland Epiphany is called “The Thirteenth Day” – celebrations are held around bonfires with fireworks, as people sing tales of elves, giants and other mythological creatures.
In Ireland, Epiphany is often called “Little Christmas” or “Women’s Christmas” (Nollaig na mBan in Irish Gaelic) and is celebrated in Scotland, Ireland, Lancashire, Isle of Man and is also sometimes also known as “the Old Christmas”.
In Ireland there is still a tradition that for this day the Irish men take on all the household duties, while women hold parties or go out to celebrate with their female relatives and friends. In the past, women organized special high tea gatherings. Children prepare usually some presents for their mothers and grandmothers. This alludes to feminine mystery teachings, where the wise women gathered together.
In Latvia, young women make divinations about the future on this special day.
In England there is feast is called “The Twelfth Night”, marking the end of the Christmastide. People prepare a special “Twelfth Cake” for Epiphany, which is a womb-shaped fruitcake with a bean and sometimes other symbolical objects baked inside. The person who finds the bean becomes King or Queen for the night. Traditionally, servants became Master for a night, and Kings were humbled, and everything is turned ‘upside down’. This is reminiscent of the Goddess traditions and folklore where the goddess or queen takes disguise as a household servant.
There is also a ritual of burning a piece of wood (known as the “Yule log”), which menstruates the old “Mother Nature”, and invokes the doorway to a spring rebirth.
Epiphany of Feminine Wisdom
The word ‘epiphany’ is often used to describe a visionary moment of ‘seeing the light’. Isn’t it time we ‘saw the light’ about the feminine wisdom ways?
Percolating all these various ancient traditions it is ‘clear as day’ that the period between December 21st and New Year – especially January 6th, was sacred to the feminine.
We can revision a world where men and women gather together to celebrate and honor the incredible creative mystery of life, through which we were all birthed.
When we honor life, we can live in peace and harmony on earth.
words by Seren Bertrand