We are, by our very nature, cyclical creatures (especially women, as our bodies operate on a monthly cycle). However, due to busy lives, not slowing down as often as we need, and having a variety of foods at our fingertips, we often forget the importance of seasonal celebrations.
For many of our ancestors in colder climates, this time of year literally meant life or death. This is the time when the final harvest of the year was gathered, and if enough food wasn’t grown there was a chance the family would not survive the winter. During this time of the year, our ancestors would use different methods to preserve the food they gathered. They would practice methods such as drying (herbs and spices), salting meat and fish, smoking meats, canning or bottling, pickling, and burying foods like cabbage and potatoes (can be buried in the ground to preserve them in the winter months).
Now, as we approach the season of Yule/Winter Solstice/Midwinter, everything has turned inward to rest. The Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the year, and slowly the nights begin to shorten and the world is slowly reborn. Yule marks the season of fire, the slow return of the sun’s warmth and the life it will give to the planet. In western tradition evergreen trees were brought into homes and decorated, as a symbol of the earth, and that while it may go to sleep, it never dies. Mistletoe, which was traditionally cut from an oak tree, was brought into homes for protection and a sign of goodwill. While we may celebrate this season with different holidays, and can easily get lost in the business of this time, may we take time to remember that despite what is going on in the world, we can take refuge in Mama Nature and her incredible cycles.
We are, in fact, creatures of this earth so why shouldn’t we cycle with her? Even though we live on this beautiful island, it is so important, for our overall health that we find a way to honor the way our body is shifting energetically during this major shift in nature.
Here are a few ways you can honor your mind, body, spirit and Mama Nature during this time:
• Meditate – Take a few minutes each day to sit somewhere quietly, or listen to soothing music, focus on your breath and think about your hormones, your cells, and/or your being finding balance.
• Learn a new way to preserve a food.
• Have a bonfire on the night of the full moon (December 29th, January 28th, February 27th) and celebrate this season.
• If you have littles, go up to a forest or find a park full of trees, and collect items to honor the season’s change (leaves, pinecones, etc.). Create a display, a shadowbox, a mod podge creation, a decorative hanging, etc.
• Get outside during the day, and even spend a few minutes outside at night, to help your body sync up with the Earth’s natural cycles.
During this time, it is also very beneficial to enjoy particular seasonal foods in your area. This is just another way we can become more in tune with our Earth, and our own health and balance.
• Fruits & Veggies: cabbage, carrots, celery, corn, eggplant, kabocha squash, leeks, pumpkin, rambotans, starfruit, strawberries, summer squash, and tangerines.
• Herbs: ‘olena (turmeric), dandelion, oregano, juniper, hawthorn berry, nettle, rosemary, and thyme.
In our fast-paced world, we don’t take the time our bodies need to rest and rejuvenate. Have fun, relax, and enjoy this time of the year!
Image Credit: Monica Mikolajczyk