Don’t look now. You keep the windows closed. You don’t want to hear that strange noise behind your door, and you don’t want to know what’s going on outside. You turn the lights on. You think you are safe inside the house. But they’re coming, and they will find that door that you can never close. They will find you in your dreams. The “rough nights” are the time for big dreams. Some dreams are visionary. Some dreams are more disturbing.
And this time the reality of the dream feels more real as in other dreams. You might be a different character acting in a weird movie. Then – perhaps – they have found you. You don’t see them as monsters because they are the WRITER and the DIRECTOR of that movie, which they have written only for you. You not only might become the victim of disgusting and frightening acts, act you won’t tell anybody. You might do things in your dream, strange things, shocking things you keep for yourself. They got you. This is when you see the world from their perspective. All you can do is join the dance. When you wake up you might think it was just a dream. But can you be absolutely sure? Sure, our bodies rest in bed when we sleep (until we begin to sleepwalk), but do we know where our soul has been over the last hours? Maybe they can take you with them and offer you visits to other possibilities. Maybe they test you if you can resist. That’s maybe the experience of these magic nights in the middle of winter.
The dreams we don’t forget might be a reason why men invented so many rituals in the hope to find protection. However sometimes part of the ritual is to dance for a while in the forest dark with them and hope to survive. And any ritual can change you as the dreams can change you – perhaps the dream doesn’t really end when you wake up. Or you wake up and see the world from a different perspective. They love to whisper in your ear and give you something to think about, maybe dangerous thoughts, maybe intimidating thoughts you will never forget. You can’t really avoid this dance.
Between winter solstice and the 6th of January is not only Christmas time but according to older traditions a dangerous time. These nights are called rough nights which is in German “Rauhnächte”. They are also called the “Twelve Nights” (between Dec 25-Jan 6). In the alpine countries a lot of traditions are celebrated during the longest nights of the year. People receive important dreams. Demons need to be banned through appropriate ceremonies. Men wear huge wooden and very scary masks and become the demons themselves for the hours of the ritual. But even more important is that these are the nights where the future is formed. And outside, the wild hunt now reigns in the Forest Dark.
What does this mean to us? Long nights, often the sun now seem to have completely disappeared. Pure superstition? One explanation is that people in ancient times were simply afraid of the weather conditions. Or do these traditions have deeper meanings? Were they used as a ritual to reconstitute order by keeping people in fear? It’s interesting that the winter solstice and “rough night” ceremonies are most popular in catholic regions and the church obviously tolerated the dark rituals even they appear pagan and seem to stem from an archaic background. These questions are still subject of a lot of research and there aren’t so many books about the “rough nights”.
Maybe there is a reality about the old stories and legends around the “Twelve Nights”. They happen at a time where something ends and something new hasn’t yet begun (in an astronomical sense the lunar year is shorter than the solar year). Indeed many of the rituals have something to do with getting rid of the past and predicting and yes, creating an influence on the future – think about the little games which are often played during the last hours of the old year.
There might be a strong feeling involved here, a feeling of torn between two realities; an old cycle ends, a new one begins. We can’t know for sure on what level the exchange of -let’s say old and new energies – happen, but for sure this is not only a time for strange dreams but also for strange things to happen. And it might be a time where chaos is closer, where the darker forces might take their chances to play their games and try to gain an influence. They want to become part of what’s happen in the future. Maybe our ancestors had a deeper sense for what’s going behind the veil, since there might be also something happen in the Otherworld – an ending and a new beginning, but in between there is a gap, where everything is possible.