12 Days of Christmas
Everyone knows about the partridge and the pear tree. Not everyone knows that the song celebrates the 12 days between Christmas (the birth of Jesus Christ) and the Epiphany (the day the three kings /wise men arrived at the manger). In olden times Christians made merry throughout this entire stretch, believing that the arrival of Our Savior merited more than one night of festivities.
While no Christian, this year I'll be marking the 12 Days of Christmas with daily postings that weave together the song's Christian and pagan symbolism, Hindu Tantric philosophy, yoga practice and theory, and the principles of 12-step recovery. I hope this multi-culti overlay of traditional inspiration and hard-won personal wisdom sheds some light of its own. Worst case, you'll receive a New Age mishmash of this 'n that whose total adds up to less than the sum of its 12 parts. Either way, I hope to inspire you to set your eyes on the highest as we move through this powerful time. Your other option? Post-holiday bargain hunting among the hoardes who didn't get enough on Black Friday.
On the first day of Christmas,
my true love gave to me
a Partridge in a pear tree
So, the partridge is Jesus. I know, not the most elegant bird. But remember, the whole song is encrypted with Christian symbols, and the whole point of a code is it shouldn't be that obvious. Legend has it that the lyrics were a catechism drilled into kids in some sketchy period of the past when Christians/Catholics were persecuted for their beliefs. The True Love is God Himself, and the singer the true believer.
Why a partridge? Some say the mother partridge feigns injury to decoy predators from helpless nestlings (Christ Our Savior has our collective back). Why a pear tree? Haven't dug up anything specific on that, so let's go with the Tree of Life.
Speaking of trees, Hindu Tantra offers a rich image of a tree whose branches circle down to reroot in the ground while its roots rise up toward the sky. Now there's a metaphor for the hopeless human condition of being eternally betwixt and between-part body/part mind, part matter/part Spirit, mortal yet Divine. Grounded (some would say trapped) in our finite bodies yet driven by infinite desires. Compromised from the getgo. Hybrids with no Elmer's to hold the pieces together.
On this first day of Christmas, let's aim for the highest. Remember Anusara yoga's first principle: Open to Grace. Step into the flow. Let go and let God. How would your day feel if you lived from that place? How would you feel?
The twelve steps to recovery start by telling us we are powerless and that our lives are unmanageable. Hate that, but the evidence is in. How much time do you devote to lost causes, real and imagined? Tilted any windmills lately? Chased any shadows? As for the "unmanageable" part: How's your household budget? Your shoe allowance? Your Am Ex bill? Your interest rate? Your diet? Your relationships at home and abroad? I'm already on my knees. Come on down! It's not so bad here, as long as you remember to look up!
By the way, in England today is Boxing Day-not as in the ring, once again!-but as in boxing up things to give to the poor. If your closet or kitchen is on your unmanageable list, today's the day to purge and do some good for another.