6th of January, the Day of the Magi Kings announcing the epiphany is a most peculiar day. It announces the end of the 12 days of Christ Mass and thus it celebrates the zodiacal signs and the truthful apostles of Jesus. Confusion reigns whether the day of kings commences on the 5th or 6th of January which brings in the wild card, Iskariotes – the element of motion and transformation that made the theophany possible. It is the day of illumination, declaration and manifestation of promise made possible by the three magi-kings.
It is also the day sacred to ‘the old one’, Befana in Italian folk beliefs. Befana takes the form of the well known broomstick riding witch-hag who in the likeness of St. Nick and Krampus crawls down the chimney to reward and punish children. In Haiti it is the day of Simbi – a class of spirits associated with magic, the woods and miracles appearing in the obscure corners of creation. A day when the woods reveal themselves in all its glory at springs of water and waterfalls.
It is also a day marked by misrule in the saturnalian cycle where the ruler was decided by chance. In modern day this custom is found in the Spanish Roscón made in honour of the magi kings. The cake contains a single bean – and the one who gets it is made king for a day – and at times a fool for a lifetime. It is ultimately the day when the Fates manage to tempt Saturn to reveal a day of the golden age for those who has eyes to see.
It is a day, like the Holy Friday, when the veil between the worlds are most fragile and in Scandinavia it was customary to fumigate the house and land intensely on this day – the twelfth day of the Christ Mass cycle as it denoted the last chance of malefic to take a grip on the world. Juniper and storax, frankincense and myrrh make for a most pleasant atmosphere and a honey-soaked fruity pie and gallons of musky red wine and cider will invite Saturn and Jupiter to bestow blessings upon the house.
Intriguingly it is the journey of three magi kings that defines the twelve days where the Wild Hunt roams the world under the sun. The cycle of the longest night naturally invites the nocturnal denizens to feast upon the absence of the Sun. The wise journey mediated by the terrors of Odin and the herd of dead ones brings you to the crossroad of gold.
It is the last day of night and magic before the Sun again takes the reins and awakens from her banishment. It is a day of snakes and vipers – of illumination and prophecy. It is the day where oath taken shall never be given. It is a day where what is done shall breakthrough in the halls of gold and silver and mark the world forever with a spark and a glimpse of infinity and miraculous possibility. This is the day when the fool can rule and whoever can at least catch the scent of the regal crown – taking it or not. It is the day that gives release to want and it gives solace and an oasis in our journey. All this gives cause for celebration; because today we can all be kings – kings of folly or wisdom in accordance with Fate’s dictate. Let us throw out the old in a night of foolish revelry and let us ascend on the rivers of searching because on this day, it be visible or invisible, the good Lord Saturn gives from his cornucopia gold, wine, madness and wisdom. But never forget that a fool with a crown remains a fool but a sage with a crown rules forever!