12 DAYS OF OMENS
Most people in the Anglo-American world are familiar with the English carol ’12 Days of Christmas.’ The Carol references the 12 Fruits of the Holy Ghost each pregnant with a hidden instruction into the Roman Catholic catechism that the monks of the Renaissance were not allowed to pass on explicitly, as this faith was forbidden at the time. All good and fascinating history.
In the context of pagan beliefs, we link the 12 Days of Christmas to the idea of receiving omens from nature. After the solstice, with the sun returning, the idea of paying attention to what rises with the sun is quite commonsensical, as the incipient illuminations have the potential to hold more power for the rest of the year, if observed attentively and consciously intended. The keyword here is devotion to paying attention to the Gods that come to visit, what message they may have for you, and in what form.
Here is a 12–day ritual for which you can use your cards in your church, which is to say that you use the open nature, the sky and the earth as your platform for your divination.
You can do this in two tempi. Beginning with December 26 and up until January 6, you can try and observe what happens around noon and what happens around midnight. If your attention span is disciplined, you can walk around with a sharper sense of acuity for the whole period.
Set your intention to ‘see’ things that will carry a particular significance for you throughout the whole year. You can keep an omen journal. Take each of the 12 days to represent the 12 months. Whatever you see on each of these days will be a picture of your next 12 months. Let that picture color your actions and your sense of magical self.
What is an Omen
Now to the question: How do you know when something is an omen and when something is not an omen? How do you avoid seeing everything as an omen, and thus run the risk of ending your 12-day ritual in the loony bin?
This is simple. You know when something is an omen when you make an effort to see an omen. It is really as simple as that, as it follows your dedication to invoke the presence of spirit in your life — at least for as long as 12 days in this case here. An omen is a sign that we recognize as falling outside of the normative code of perception, whose occurrence invites us to ponder on the significance of unlike events happening simultaneously.
The best magic is found in your ability to be extremely specific, as magic itself is very specific. If you feel that you can’t distinguish between what is magic and what is not, what is an omen and what is not, then you may want to check with your ambivalence, doubt, and your dedicating attention to your attachments and fears, and other concerns irrelevant to magic.
The 12 days of omens is an opportunity to tune into how you can exercise your dedication to seeing more. Can you discipline yourself into surrendering to flow and walking the web of relations, or are you asking for omens while at the same time you doubt their oracular power and their manifestations? If the latter, then don’t bother with observing what happens in the next 12 days.
Distinguishing between what is an omen and what is not an omen begins in fact with this very surrendering to being surprised by the continuous flow of magic in life. That’s the condition. Start disciplining your consciousness into a different type of conditioning to what IS, rather than to what is DICTATED, and then you’ll SEE.
If you’re ready to see, you will definitely see. You will know exactly when something presents itself as an omen to you, as you will see a relation of synchronicity — for lack of a better word — unfold right before your eyes. Perhaps you will start seeing a particular color repeat throughout the day. Or you will find lost playing cards in the grass or at the corner of some street at frequent intervals during the day. Or you will get the sense that the crossroads you pass through ‘watch you’, making your feet move in a different direction than the one you consciously intend to take. Maybe you miss your public transport one time too many, and every time it happens, you realize that a man in black is following you.
Ask the Cards
Once your day is past, get your cards out of the drawers. Divine for each of these omens. Let the cards take on an oracular voice. Which is to say, that you look at the cards in a poetic way, in a way that targets the hidden and the veiled, but which you can also see holds meaning for you in plain sight as well. You will not be able to articulate into words what this meaning is, for it would be the kind akin to the impenetrable obvious. It will just BE there, staring you in the face, and making you utter sounds that will be like a moonbeam accompanied by bells ringing.
You will see what the cards say as an erotic twinge shaking your nether regions. You will understand that this meaning has to do with your own life force that mostly goes unacknowledged.
You will read your cards as saying that you are more than what you think you are. You will see a reflection of this unknown-to-yourself YOU come to expression in the image.
Take this image, or rather all 12 of them, and discover yourself. That’s what omens are for. They mediate between your unknown-to-yourself You and the God who comes to visit you. Consolidate this relation, and let it carry into your conscious self. By January 6 you might just discover that you are a wholly different person, ready to live a life of magic, rather than one of dictations.
Write an Oracular Poem
Write poems of praise to this newly discovered self. Write a poem every day in praise of un-concealment. Use these poems as a monthly calendar, and let their prophetic voice infuse your actions.
Here’s an example from my own experience.
I tend to see shooting stars at strange moments, when rain also falls on me completely out of the blue, out of the clear sky, just as I stand there, invoking some planetary power. I connect what I see with a question, even when I already know what the whole thing is all about, for, as I said, I start with the condition for receiving omens, which is my conscious devotion to paying attention to what IS — and this doesn’t need interpretation. But for the sake of nuance in language I ask: ‘What say you, trickster Gods?
The Gods say: The Sun, The Fool, The Lovers.
You walk out of a relation of dependence. A clinging remnant from the past bites you in your ass, but you keep walking until you hit the liminal space where you make choices. This one or that one? It rains arrows. The Trickster as Cupid blindfolded is playing pranks. Does it even matter who gets the love poison? The pointed arrow is straight above your head, splitting it open. You perceive magic with your head. The rest of your body is at the mercy of hagglers. ‘Choose me,’ one of them says. ‘No, me,’ the other one says. The love poison goes through your body, and you wait for the future to unfold, so you will know what it is, just as it is. Nothing more, nothing less. You wait for the moment to come when there will be no distinction between this trickster and the other, for you will be all of them at once. It’s written on Cupid’s headband, which he cannot see, but knows is there.
The cards give me an image of myself as one with all Trickster Gods, as, indeed, that is the whole point.
Use the omens to transform yourself into flow itself. Omens are the beautiful thresholds between the visible and the invisible worlds. Travel with them, and know yourself.
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Originally published at www.patheos.com on December 23, 2015.