The Tradition of the Twelve Days of Christmas
Doing divinations during the period of December 26 – January 6 for the coming year is an old Celtic custom often referred to as the “Twelve Days of Christmas”. A divination or omen from nature is requested each day for the months of the year in order. The divination for January of the new year is done on December 26, that for February is done on December 27, and etc., through January 6 when the divination for December is done. I’ll add each divination to this post as I complete it. I’ve left the 2017 divinations at the bottom of the post and will replace them as I go.
I chose to do divinations for 2018 using the Wildwood Tarot, as representative of Celtic traditions and the spirit of nature divination, which might rely on a broken twig, an animal encounter, or other natural omens. I read each card in the upright position and then removed it from the deck so that it would not appear in multiple months. The illustrations on each card of this deck are rich and the meanings are multiple. I have included my interpretations, but encourage you to use your own intuition to draw additional meaning from the cards and keywords. Feel free to add your insights in the comments below the post.
January 2018: Dedicating Ourselves to Our Craft. My divination to start 2018 is represented by the Nine of Arrows, which I drew on December 26, 2017. Arrows are associated with Air, the Intellect (positive traits), the Mind (negative traits), and Communications. Nines usually signal a high level of attainment and movement toward a transition or new cycle. A nine in the suit associated with Air suggests the appropriate use of The Intellect to implement what we intuitively know is right for us.
Remembering that we were invited to step off the cliff with The Wanderer in December 2017, we are being advised to intensify our focus in January as we apply ourselves to our purpose. This will involve a fresh and sustained dedication to pursuits that we’ve already identified for ourselves. There’s an opportunity in January to make great strides down our path as we stop toying with things and seriously commit.
Take a moment now to study the illustration on the card. Two things are of clear importance. First, the woman deeply focused on her craft, represented by the bow she’s playing, has her eyes shut. She’s not looking for external validation. Rather, she’s attempting to find flow…a release from the confines of her humaness that allows her to feel her connection with the Universe. Notice, also, the arrows that have been shot past her. They seem to have bounced off an unseen shield. There’s a sense of protection conveyed here…do your thing, focus on your thing, be consistently dedicated to your thing, and enjoy heightened protection from the slings, arrows, frustrations, and emotional blips that might take down a less dedicated individual.
It’s important to realize that January won’t be the time for deep inner work, soul-searching, exploration of options, and the like. We’ve had ample opportunity for all that in the years leading up to this moment in time. If you’re still searching and haven’t, as of yet, identified a purpose for yourself, then you might just have to sit this cycle out. But, be honest about where you actually are—do you really need more internal work and casting about to see the path before you…the bow that is yours to pick up and play? Or do you see it clearly beckoning you, but are reluctant to pick it up and put in the time needed to compose your own concerto? If it’s actually the later, it’s time to dedicate yourself.
One final comment for the month of January—we might experience a bit of a shuffle this month as those who are on a clear track and are working rapidly toward a transition separate themselves from those who aren’t. It’s a bit as if we’re coming to a crossroads and are either ready to climb straight up the side of the mountain or need more time and, instead, take the loop trail that will bring us back to the crossroads at a later date.
February 2018: Tapping into Some Magic. My divination for February is represented by The Shaman, which I drew on December 27, 2017. The Shaman is equivalent to The Magician in the traditional tarot. The Magician, or Shaman, represents magical male energy (just as the Sorceress represents magical female energy). Magical male energy might most effect us in the masculine aspects of Air and Fire. We might, then, expect to find that we’re magically guided or assisted in areas associated with The Intellect, Communications, and Expressions of Passion and Creativity.
I’m feeling here a very strong assist to the pursuits to which we are now dedicated. The magic that The Shaman brings in February is going to be particularly useful to those who apply their intellects and egos appropriately to manifest their dreams and those things that are intuitively right for them. I keep hearing “magical communication”, too. This might refer to some magical help in terms of your ability to communicate or might indicate a wave of magical communication from nature, your guides, and your angels. Keep your mind open and expect the magic to commence.
As you study this illustration, key in on the overall feel of the scene. The shaman is so completely grounded in the physical world that he’s able to safely step through the veil and return with messages. See his bare foot planted on the stone? The ancient tree that’s wrapped around him? The bear pelt holding him safe and protected? From this point of grounded safety, the shaman can follow the smoke from his offering fire into alternative realms. See the energy spirals on the shaman’s arm and pendant? He’s not afraid to explore the spiral path because he knows he can find his way back…he knows he won’t lose himself. The energy The Shaman brings in February offers you the same opportunity.
March 2018: Trusting! My divination for March is represented by Major Arcana 0, which I drew on December 28, 2017. It’s The Wanderer, The Fool, The Hero, who’s stepping off the cliff without a safety net.
Let’s start with a look at the illustration this time. There’s a beautiful depiction here of a gender-neutral wanderer in bare feet about to step off a cliff into a deep and dangerous crevasse. The Magic Wood waits on the other side. The Wanderer must trust the ability of the rainbow to support them as they make their way forward. Let’s repeat…The Wanderer must trust. Trust. That’s the key for March. It will be a month of active energy, change, and movement, but the fog is going to be a bit thick and the way is going to be a bit unsure, so you’re going to have to trust something that’s larger than yourself.
The other key for March is that you’re going to have to have a destination in mind. Although this is the first card of the Major Arcana and suggests a “new cycle”, I’m not feeling something completely new or out of left field for you. Looking back to January, you’re dedicated to your craft, but approaching a transition. It feels as if the transition comes in March, but only if you have a goal. Get sure of your goal…your destination…before March rolls around, so you can step off with confidence.
In preparation, you have February’s magic on your side and that heavy dose of grounding brought to you by The Shaman. The February energy is going to assist with any doubts you may have in March. Remember that magic…really believe and lean into it…when you feel unsure in March. The Universe is on your side and wants you to succeed, especially if you have a goal in mind.
April 2018: Taking on the Burden. My divination for April is represented by the Ten of Bows, or Responsibility card, which I drew on December 29, 2017. The Suit of Bows in this deck is associated with Fire, Energy, Passion, and Creativity. Tens usually indicate one last thing to do before moving on.
Unsurprisingly, the Ten of Bows, with its message of expending energy in a responsible manner, has come to us in 2018. If you are at all a student of astrology, you’ll know that the big buzz coming into the new calendar year is Saturn, Saturn, Saturn…the planet of responsibility. Saturn rules the sign of Capricorn, represented by the sure-footed goat, who sets a goal and climbs the mountain one step at a time to achieve that goal.
Capricorn is often associated with maturity, wisdom (in a crone sort of way), seriousness, dedication, and business acumen. What many people miss, however, is that Capricorn is the Earth energy associated with service to “the whole”. It’s a big energy that holds company with Sagittarius (fiery service to the whole), Aquarius (airy service to the whole), and Pisces (wet service to the whole). While studying the illustration, “time to get serious about service to the greater good” popped in. Time to carry that load of bows to the top of the mountain so the Universe can get serious about shooting off some important arrows.
And, there’s very much an indication that taking on the yoke of responsibility will be a requirement of moving on. If you ignore the call, you’ll likely be left behind. That, again, is fine as a another cycle is always in the wings waiting to spin the Wheel of Life; however, those who step up in 2018 will REALLY step up in service and in what feels like satisfaction…the joy of feeling useful, of answering the call, of being sure of your contributions…not the wild joy of celebration, but the solid satisfaction of knowing that you’re connected, vital, and useful.
Now, one final comment about the illustration…note the man’s bare feet on the stones. There’s more grounding energy here. Skin on stone…grounding into the Earth, which supports you and keeps you safe as you take on your important task. Not to be too obvious, but take advantage of every opportunity to connect with nature in 2018…make it a sacred routine…”feet on the ground and arms in the air”.
May 2018. The Sudden Arrival of Clarity. My divination for May is represented by the Knight of Arrows, or Hawk, which I drew on December 30, 2017. The Suit of Arrows is, again, associated with Air, The Intellect (positive thoughts and the use of logic), The Mind (negative thoughts and blockages), and Communications. I need to mention that I had a hawk experience just yesterday, as I looked out the kitchen window and found a small hawk perched on the deck rail right next to the tray feeder I had filled for the songbirds. She had her back to me, so I couldn’t see that she held the bloody corpse of a small bird in her talons. Only later did I discover the explosion of feathers around the tray and the splotch of blood on the rail. This experience brought to mind how quickly things can change. The songbirds were happily feeding one minute, but dispersed the next with one of their comrades dead.
And this brings us to the message for May. The Knights are harbingers of rapid, usually unexpected, change. This type of change can fall like a hammer and radically alter a situation. In May, expect the hammer to fall in the realms of rational thought and communications. Imagine Hawk swooping down from her lofty perch and snatching something out of an ongoing situation. I see in her talons a mental or communications block that she’s grabbed out of the way, freeing logic and reason to help us manifest what we intuitively know is right. Whatever you’ve been working so diligently toward through the first four months of the year will benefit from this sudden assist in May. It will feel like a burst of clarity.
A head’s up, though…not everyone is going to be pleased with Hawk’s impetuous interference. Those happy with the short-distance view, or more comfortable when things are in tight control, are not going to be happy. The energy of the Knight of Arrows also can feel rude and in violation of the status quo of manners or process, which may result in a bit of an uproar.
June 2018: Flinging Ourselves Forward with Determination. My divination for June is represented by the Queen of Vessels, or Salmon, which I drew on December 31, 2017. The Suit of Vessels in this deck is associated with Water, Intuition, and the Emotional Realm. The Queen is the feminine master of the realm.
Well, it looks like more movement and climbing in June (although, I don’t believe we’ve stopped moving or climbing since the ring of the new year). Starting with the illustration, we have sheer determination represented here, and that’s what you’ll need to successfully navigate the month. You’ll know intuitively what needs to be done and where you need to be going, but it’s going to take commitment to get there. Are you seeing the trend? Focus, responsibility, commitment…?
The trend is also one of rising through effort. In previous years, I pulled quite a few cards that included seated figures and low energy scenes. How many seated figures have we seen through the first six months of 2018? None, unless you want to count the hawk, and that feels like a stretch since that hawk looks ready to pounce at any moment. The stage was set over the last few years for our burst of upward movement in 2018. We’ve grounded, we’ve gathered our tribe, we’ve healed, we’ve explored, and now it’s time to fling ourselves at a few waterfalls. And note that there WILL be waterfalls to battle in 2018 and that we’ll be quite emotionally invested in the water that’s pouring down on us.
Note also that we haven’t seen any celebratory scenes yet in 2018. Don’t be surprised if you don’t feel the pull of raucous celebration through at least the first half of the year. There will be work to do in early 2018 with celebration and results to be enjoyed later. Rising takes time, focus, and (as Salmon will tell you) determination.
One final comment…June is not going to be a time of expressing low, needy, or self-sabotaging emotions. We have the Queen here…the master of emotions. She’s daring you to join her in rising up the river…up out of any emotional quagmires that might be keeping you in a low pool.
July 2018: Stepping through a Portal and Continuing the Climb. My divination for July is represented by the Ten of Stones, or Home card. I pulled this card on January 1, 2018. Stones are associated with Earth and the Physical Realm, which can include the Earth itself, resources needed for survival, health, general abundance, and material wealth.
In July, then, we have another Ten—another last thing we must do before moving on…this time in the Physical Realm. The illustration here is interesting. You’re looking at a snug, communal home under the Tree of Life. The entrance is clearly marked and the path forward fans out to meet you, but you’re holding back. It’s almost as if you’re standing in a cave, looking through a portal that you’re too cautious to step through. Note also the male and female figures carved in stone. It feels important that they’re carved in stone…made of Earth. I know it’s become schmaltzy to talk about male and female coming together, but doesn’t it seem that the two figures need to reach out and join hands? (And as I typed that, I imagined the female figure jumping off the wall, grabbing the male figure by the hand and dragging him through the portal! I’ll let that speak for itself and move on).
Now, one final thing that I’d never really noticed about this card before…the communal home is located uphill from us. We’re being tempted, once again, to ascend…to leave the half-light of the cave, step out into the sunlight, and continue our climb. With this in mind, July feels very much like a month of rebirth and reinvigoration…of “coming home”…or of at least seeing our target clearly. (And keep your eyes peeled for male and female energies joining together in July to lead the way forward. They probably have a fortuitous, communal target in their crosshairs).
August 2018: It’s Judgment Day. My divination for August is represented by The Great Bear, which I drew on January 2, 2018. This is the Judgment card. Note it’s the twenty-first (or next to last) card of the Major Arcana, which is numbered zero to twenty-one. This card usually suggests coming to the end of a cycle (notice a pattern?) with the satisfaction of rebirth for some and the disappointment of perpetual damnation for others…but, we’ll get back to that.
Let’s take a look at the card illustration and see what we see. The first thing that jumps out at me is how similar this is to the illustration on the Ten of Stones. We have the portal effect again, this time affected by a pair of gnarled trees. There’s again a snug domicile in the center, but it’s revealed in August to be a crypt. We see that the crypt is situated on a slight incline, suggesting that we really have almost arrived…such a shame that we’ll have to die if we’d like to move on. Or is it a shame? We have the protection of Bear here and see the Big Dipper with the North Star in the sky above the crypt. The crypt is our destination…the home we’ve found by following our own True North.
So, looks like things will be evolving in August. I would suggest a period of judgment and rebirth that will seem like a sudden thunderbolt to some, but a gentle transition and time of momentary rest to others. I’m seeing the Northern Lights here as flames…something burning away in the otherwise cold night air. But, what comes next? Likely a revelation…something coming to light either personally or Universally that will move us closer to…well…I’m having trouble choosing a word here…could be “ascension” or “enlightenment” or “reconnection” or “LOVE”…but I’m not feeling that we’ll get all the way there and what this means to you personally will depend on the flavor of your particular True North. Regardless, things will be burned away in August that we’ll no longer need as we climb upon the back of The Great Bear and continue our trek.
One thing I do need to mention…some will choose to stay in the crypt. That should be expected. It’s a nice, dark, cozy space that’s great for introspection. If you feel pulled to linger in August…to do more internal work…not to worry…feel free to linger. The Wheel of Life will turn again and pick you up on the next cycle.
September 2018: Get in the Boat! I drew the Six of Arrows, on January 3, 2018, as my divination for September 2018. Remember that Arrows in this deck are associated with Air, The Intellect (positive), The Mind (negative), and Communications (the good, the bad, and the ugly). Fives in the tarot are blocker or challenger cards. Sixes usually symbolize the first vestiges of breaking free and moving on. So, here we’re breaking free intellectually.
And, the saga of 2018 continues! After our time in the crypt, we’re set to “enjoy” a period of transition. Those quotes are around “enjoy” because we shouldn’t expect the waters to be smooth. In fact, they could be quite turbulent and we may suffer almost (but not quite) crippling regret as we push off from shore. Much of this regret will come from who and what we have to leave behind as we journey on. You can see in the illustration that the Sun is rising as the Moon sets. As part of September’s transition, expect feelings (the Moon) to give way to logic and rational truths (the Sun). Therefore, expect at least a bit of regret over the emotional crutches you’ve had to leave behind in the crypt…or expect to regret that you wasted so much energy crutching along for so long.
Now, let’s spend a little more time with the illustration. I keep getting drawn to the strength of the man’s grip on the rudder and the determination of his pose. He knows where he’s going. Also note the full sail…he knows where he’s going and he’s poised to get there quickly. And the Sun is behind his sail, suggesting that the full power of the Sun will assist him on his journey. Finally, there’s the swan. It’s interesting to see this journey taking place in a swan boat—the scene is moody and dark, yet we associate swans with love and tranquility. Swan as Animal Spirit Guide brings grace to any situation; so, as much as the man thinks he’s in control on this journey, he’ll find that forces larger than himself are at play. In other words, Swan energy is out front, leading the transition, so expect the transition to be eased in unexpected ways.
October 2018: Gentle Landings on a Peaceful Shore. My divination for October 2018 is represented by the Ace of Vessels, which I drew on January 4, 2018. This is the first card in the suit associated with the Emotional Realm. As an Ace, it indicates a fresh start or the beginning of a new cycle.
Let’s go straight to the illustration. Look where the swan has landed—on a tranquil pool shared by Deer, the pathfinder. There’s our discarded boat floating in the pool…we seem to have outgrown it. Note, also, the stones supporting the bowl. The gap between the stones suggests another portal, however, we’ve slipped through this one and have found the tranquil scene on the other side. And, look beyond the tree—can you see the horizon from here? Well, no, no you can’t. We’re at high elevation on a beautiful alpine pond with a swan and a deer and a little boat that we’ve outgrown.
The sense I’m getting for October is certainly a landing on a peaceful shore after a long period of dedicated climbing. I feel arrival here, but also a gathering of emotional energies for something new. Remember, again, that Swan carries the energy of grace. And Deer the Pathfinder trusts her intuition, allowing her path to appear before her. Our new direction (or way of feeling and being) will reveal itself without struggle, and we will be able to leave our little boat behind and peacefully move forward…once we’re rested up and ready, of course.
November 2018: Enjoying a Bit of Success. My divination for November comes from the Suit of Bows, which is associated with Fire, Energy, Passion, and Creativity. I pulled the Six of Bows, or Abundance card, on January 5, 2018, for this divination.
Well, things are still looking good in November, but I wouldn’t necessarily expect an influx of material wealth and resources, as is implied in the illustration. This is actually the “victory” card in the traditional tarot and I interpret it with that flavor. Note it’s a Six, so we’ve again overcome a blockage—this time an energetic blockage. The traditional meaning of this card is that we will be in position to enjoy a little positive attention in November. It will be okay to bask in the glory of success. Since success can equal abundance, think of those baskets of fruit and shrooms as emblematic of your success—just don’t, you know, expect them to manifest as bushel baskets of cash, because that’s not what this is about.
If we now look back through the beginning of the year, we see that all that climbing and taking on of responsibility will produce something to feel proud of in November…a victory that will be substantial and noticeable at a Universal level. So, if the going seems tough through September, keep in mind the tranquility, fresh emotional start, and positive outcome expected in October and November. But, don’t put your climbing boots or adult panties away just yet…this fantastical card for November really is “just a six”…there’s much more to this journey that we’re on, so we’d better not lean too heavily into our successes. Consider that the bows in the illustration look very much like the spokes of a wheel…and we all know that as soon as we get somewhere, the Wheel of Life turns and carries us somewhere else. So, enjoy the victory of November as you may.
(And, okay, I try not to give these divinations too much of a U.S. flavor, but the mid-term election results will be revealed in November. Perhaps, we’ll all have something to celebrate.)
December 2018: Reaping Benefits. The Seven of Stones carries the message for December 2018. I drew this card on January 6, 2018. Stones in this deck are associated with the Physical Realm, which includes health, wealth, and all manner of material resources.
The Seven of Stones is very much an abundance card. In the traditional tarot, the equivalent Seven of Pentacles features an illustration of a man leaning on his hoe in a farm field, which looks a lot like a pumpkin patch. He’s gazing with satisfaction at his pile of Pentacles (aka Pumpkins or Coins). The message is one of reaping rewards after a period of hard work. In the Wildwood Tarot, the meaning veers toward the health aspects of the Physical Realm. You see here a warrior being healed by a female healer, who looks very much like Green Woman. So, we’re not really getting the impression of satisfaction after the harvest. Instead, there’s the promise (or offer) of deep healing…and I keep getting “healing from the Earth”. In spite of the fact that this card is associated with Earth and the physical, I’m also feeling deep spiritual healing here, rather than merely healing of the body. Expect, also, some measure of societal healing and a coming together.
Note that this is the third month in a row where the focus isn’t on active movement toward a goal (note especially the seated and prone figures here), suggesting that the tranquility, abundance, and healing of October, November, and December ARE the goal. Notice, also, the overlap in meanings in November and December. In both months, there’s the suggestion of a reward after a period of effort. I’m getting the feeling that both months will be fueled by unusually positive energies, namely love. In fact, the Ace of Vessels from October can also indicate new love, relationships, partnerships, etc. Looks like love begets abundance and healing…who would have thunk it?
And that’s a wrap for 2018. I would love to know how the year progresses for you and if you see any of these overall patterns in your life (or in your perception of societal changes). I’m certainly hoping that the year does end on a high note for all of us.
I wish you great joy,