The weeks between the Winter Solstice and the celebration of Imbolc at Groundhog Day can seem cold, dreary and tiring. Some of us are in debt from the gifting season, some need to lose the 10 lbs brought on by holiday cheer and hibernation from the dark, and others are missing families left back home on the return to regular life. Yet, the Wheel of the Year must turn and we with it.
Bring some Sunshine into your daily life by celebrating the gentle contemplation that this season offers. One of the easiest ways to change your outlook is to change the colours around you. Colours differ because of the interaction with different wavelengths of rays from the sun. Take advantage of this subtle shift to bring some feelings of new energy into your life at this time of year.
Put away the reds and greens of Yule! Replace them with bright blues like the sky, oranges and yellows of citrus fruits, or pinks and purples found in beautiful cloth or flowers. Select a colour spectrum that brings you joy and create a special place for contemplation, meditation or prayer. Close your eyes, breathe in the uplifting air around you and slowly exhale allowing your mind to focus on the colour of your choice. Fill yourself with the colour over several breaths. Then open your eyes and smile. Now … get on with your January day. Bright Blessings.
Yule is the celebration of the return of the sun as it rounds the corner from the solstice of the longest night of the year. Of course, we have much winter yet to endure but the lengthening of the days ensures us that spring will return. So think of this as a season of new light and clarity. In the northern hemisphere, this is the middle of the dark season – a time when a community celebration is much needed; whether in ancient times or modern, the Yule season is a very welcome event.
Create your own seasonal altar to remind you of the coming light. Many candles, sparkling ornaments and twinkling lights serve to let your friends and family know that the dark times will pass. Your decor can include the evergreen plants such as pine, holly, and ivy. The greens are accented with the red of the holly berry and the white of the mistletoe berry … often seen together as the mistletoe is a parasite plant to the holly tree. These had symbolized the blood of the Goddess and the sperm of the God for at this holy-day they come together again in the primordial sense.
The Earth Goddess is in hibernation at this time, and so this is the season of the God. The joy at the rebirth of the sun is a pagan model that has transformed into a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The God is the holly king, the Ghost of Christmas Past from the Dicken’s tale, or Santa Claus – joyful, robust and laughing. The Goddess is beyond ancient, the wraith, the Ghost of Christmas Future – diaphanous, pale, and fragile.
Yule is a time to count your blessings – the sun is returning and with it hope for renewed clarity and fresh beginnings – mentally and spiritually. Blessed be to you and yours.
The late fall is a season of slowing down … reflecting … preparing. We can all use a break from the daily grind. Take time to just sit with yourself. If you have “busy mind”, try some deep belly breaths making your exhales twice as long as your inhales.
Do you remember nodding off at an event that went just a bit too long for you as a child — but you really, really wanted to stay awake and not miss anything. Try now to close your eyes but pull them slightly open. This allows your tears to soothe the eye and gives you a moment to just rest in the day.
Make some hot apple cider by steeping apple juice with cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves and cardamom. The lovely brew is soothing on the throat. The scent is calming to the mind. And the taste is sweet but spicy.
Take care of yourself as the season changes from fall to winter. The winds are harsher; the temperature is colder. Let yourself be filled with breath, scent and peace. Bright Blessing this Samhain season. Namaste.
Oranges — so lovely at this time of year. And they have so many uses — besides just eating them. You can poke an orange with cloves and place it in a beautiful bowl to let the scents of the two mingle for a natural freshener. You can slice one and let the pieces dry in the oven to make a citrus potpourri. Even the peels can add a wonderful zest to your cooking. Just replace lemon zest with orange zest and give it a try.
Here is a great Halloween craft with oranges … instead of using pumpkins. Just cut the top off and scoop out the fruit. Then cut the eyes and mouth from the rind. Place in a tea light and you have a cute mini jack-o-lantern that smells amazing. As always, be safe with the candles.
Oranges … full of vitamin C and healthful phytochemicals. It’s a good fruit for avoiding exposure to toxins because of the thick peel. Naturally sweet and tasty, oranges are like candy from nature. And the smell of an orange is uplifting and cheerful — in aromatherapy, orange is known as an antidepressant and anti-inflammatory essential oil. Enjoy!
Samhain is all about respect for those who have passed. The fall day’s are beautiful right now and it is a wonderful time to visit a cemetery. As you wander among the stones, ponder the remembrances of all the people that piece of land has affected or influenced.
If you find a family plot or mausoleum, consider the stories of that family. Remember the war dead or tiny children who have left this earth too early. Notice that some graves are well tended; others less so. To honour the season, perhaps take care of a scraggly plot? And certainly, pick up any litter you find.
This is also a good time of year to answer the questions of children about death and other mysteries. In the bright sunshine, pass on your joy of life and respect for death.
In northern Europe, not so long ago, understanding the cycles of the earth was critical to the survival of the village. This was especially so during the winter months for the village had to survive on their autumn harvest until the new shoots arrived and animals birthed in the spring.
The harvest season, from August through October, was celebrated in villages as a thank you to the earth for providing once again. Hence, we have Thanksgiving Day today. By the time late October arrived, the harvest was in. So now it was a time for remembering those who had passed on during the year … for life was hard in these northern villages. It was at this time that the folk finally had the time to honour their departed and send them properly on their way. And today we celebrate this time of transition between the harvest and the dark as Halloween.
For those who practice Earth-based spirituality today, this is the beginning of a new cycle of the Wheel of the Year. It is Auld Lang Syne. These words translate from Gaelic into “times gone by” in remembrance of lost friends and family. And so I invite you to share a meal of harvest abundance with your family, remember the ancestors you have known and not known … and celebrate the start of the new year.
Dates October 25th to October 31th
Natural Element The Universe
Affirmation I love and accept the abundance of the universe.
Add an Altar Piece Your Image of All
Creative Cooking Food Blessing
The Universe is boundless and you are a part of that. You have completed your harvest preparation for the dark season and are open and ready to accept all the abundance that comes your way. Enjoy your harvest altar for a few weeks and then dismantle it to make way for your Yule time décor.
As a final totem to add to your altar, seek an image of your sense of the universe and everything. This can be an image of divinity, unity, oneness, freedom … whatever speaks to you as an image of it all.
This week incorporate a blessing over the food you prepare. As brief as a thank you or as long as you wish, setting the intention for goodness with your meal is a wonderful way to add mindful attention to your cooking.
Thank you for joining me on this Harvest Journey. I hope there were some weeks that supported your path. There is now a time of rest to re-group and re-imagine. Bright blessings for Samhain. Namaste to you.
Dates October 18th to October 24th
Natural Element Your Breath
Affirmation Each breath I take gives me a moment to be mindful and aware.
Add an Altar Piece Incense and Holder
Creative Cooking Smoke
We can take our breath for granted … in and out each moment of the day. Take a moment to focus on your breath and truly fill you body with life-giving air and exhale the spent air with its released toxins. In that brief moment, you can become mindful and aware of all that you are and all that is around you. Blessings!
Add some incense and a safe holder for it to your harvest altar. We are nearing the end of the journey so your sacred home space will be quite full of all the wonderful items you have discovered or rediscovered over the past few months. I hope it is a place where you can sit and enjoy what you have created.
Cooking with the essence of wood smoke can add interesting flavour to your dish. You can purchase liquid smoke at the grocery store to add to a soup or stew. Try adding some smoked cheeses to a regular dish and see what happens.
Dates October 11th to October 17th
Natural Element Plants
Affirmation I accept abundance and freely grow.
Add an Altar Piece Bowl
Creative Cooking Floral Herbs
Having living things in our spaces reminds us to grow, patiently and purposefully. Do plants worry about gathering abundance? Not at all … they accept the gifts of the universe and gladly grow and expand. How about you?
Adding a bowl to your altar gives you a place to put found items or mix up some salted water. Use a bowl from your everyday or find a special one at a tag sale or antique store.
Floral herbs are a treat to cook with. Lavender adds sparkle to a dish. Nasturtiums are peppery on the tongue and so beautiful in colour. There are so many plants that offer us variety of tastes with their flowers. Do a bit of research though – no eating the monkshood.
Dates October 4th to October 10th
Natural Element Metals
Affirmation My thoughts conduct joy through my entire body.
Add an Altar Piece A favourite pen or pencil
Creative Cooking Dried Fruits
Metals can connect things. Electricity and heat are conducted through metal. What a lovely element to focus on writing and sharing your ideas.
Your special papers deserve a favourite writing implement. Find one that fits your mood to create and dream. With the pen and paper in place, you have all you need to make some special notes for your day. The end of harvest time approaches … what will be your focus in the dark months?
Dried fruits such as raisins and apricots are non-animal sources of iron in our diet. Many of us suffer from low levels of iron in blood and this leads to general fatigue and muscle soreness. Adding some sweet and chewy dried fruits to a dish improves the taste and adds some iron. Try it.