Sacred Tea Ceremony
Many of us think of the Japanese tradition when we hear “Tea Ceremony” and they definitely have one of the worlds most beautiful and sacred ways of making tea a healing practice. Tea ceremonies have been done in different ways in many other cultures also. The English are famous for their afternoon teatime and a tea culture exists in many other countries where tea making is sometimes ritualized and sometimes just a part of daily life as is our American coffee culture. Many ‘hip’ communities in the United States now have “tea rooms” where people can gather and drink tea together while relaxing and visiting. There is even an “American Tea Ceremony” now that has been adapted from the Japanese version.
Making tea is a significant part of using herbal medicine although it is not the fastest or most concentrated method of administering herbs. Still, it is a central activity in this ancient healing tradition and water based preparations were actually easier and more accessible to people at one time. Herbs could be easily gathered and dried for use all year with their medicine preserved and re-ignited during the tea making process.This is not a quick, swallow a pill or “take it on the go” way to receive herbal medicine which is part of why teas can be so sacred and self-nourishing. To make oneself a cup of tea takes time and time is a dwindling resource in our fast-paced production oriented modern lives. The act of making and drinking tea is part of "tea medicine" and it is one of my favorite recommendations for my clients with anxiety. I always remembered my Social Psychology professor saying that one of the best ways to remedy a panic attack was to get the person to breath. The change in focus was often enough to redirect the person's energy and distract the stress response. I think of taking a tea break as a similar process in the midst of a high intensity society. When I was a young mother and so busy all the time caring for others, making tea was a moment of grace and respite even amongst the household busyness, demands and oftentimes chaos that seemed to be swirling around me. Just the act of pouring water over a tea bag can offer us an opportunity to take a deep breath and stand still for a moment. The time it takes to steep a cup of tea, although we may go off and do other things while it’s happening, still calls us to hold space for our own nourishment. We may be sweeping or folding or wiping, but we have that cup of tea steeping on the counter in our minds and, in just that simple thought, we are caring for ourselves. This is slow medicine and swallowing a pill or take a squirt of tincture will not produce the same results.
To make an herbal tea you may follow these simple steps:
- Choose your tea or tea blend. You can either make your own or choose from the many herbal tea blends on the market.
- Boil water in a tea kettle. The water has to be boiling for most herbs to break through the cell wall and extract the medicinal compounds.
- 3. Pour the water over your tea bag or tea ball
- 4. Let steep for 10-15 minutes
- 5. Strain and drink
***For more detailed information about making tea and water-based preparations you can go to my previous post Here
Do-it –yourself Tea Ceremony
- Set aside 30 minutes or longer of quiet time when you can be alone or at least in another room or your house. It’s super special if you can take your tea outside in your garden or anywhere . If you want to do this with others you can still make it a quiet time of contemplation or choose some focused topics or thoughts to share
- Make a cup of tea as directed above but stay present with each step of the process by following this tea making movement meditation
- As you turn the knob on your stove and the flame or burner ignites beneath your teapot exhale and release as much tension as you can while bringing your mind to the present. Think about the wondrous nature of water and how grateful you are for its life giving action.
- While the water boils prepare your tea. If you are mixing your own blend put each herb into your tea press or tea ball one by one. Acknowledge the medicinal qualities of each herb and say ‘thank you’. If you are using a tea bag, name(say aloud or to yourself) each herb and give thanks for its medicinal qualities.
- When the water is boiling, turn off the burner and inhale. Pour the water over the tea and exhale. Imagine that the water and tea are now merging into one as they meet, react and transform into medicine. Watch the steam as it rises from your cup.
- While your tea steeps gaze into the mug and imagine that it is a deep well of water. Visualize any intentions that you have for that day and see them emerging in the reflection of your tea.
- Find a relaxing quite place to sit and drink your tea and allow yourself to just be. If your mind wanders let it. If you feel called to draw or journal now, do so. Deeply taste each sip of tea and notice the way it feels on your tongue. Notice what flavors you can taste and imagine all of the nutritional support you are receiving.
Take time to do this as often as you can, but at least once a day is optimal. Don’t make it too rigid, make it your own, add your own twist to it. Also, don’t be afraid to modify and make it shorter or longer. Invite others to join you if you can’t be alone. Once a week or once a month is better than never.
- Light a candle on your counter or wherever you make your tea.
- Light a candle to sit by while you drink your tea
- Play some sacred music in the background
- Create a tea space or tea room in your house. It can even be a closet. I have a friend who cleaned out a closet and made herself a meditation room. She had six children and this was her sacred space of respite and centering. The kids could even join her and they would enjoy some peaceful downtime together. And what great role-modeling for our children to observe us taking time for ourselves as we hope that they respect themselves enough to do also.
Some herbal ideas for tea making
Tea blending itself is an art form, but to start just keep simple with 2 or 3 different herbs.
Sacred Basil/Tulsi(Ocimum sanctum)~Sacred Basil is a great substitute for caffeinated teas. Not because it is similar in taste but because it is uplifting, mind clearing and centering while at the same time contains no caffeine so is not over-stimulating to the nervous system. For more on Sacred Basil go Here
Nettles(Urtica dioica)~Is one of the most highly nourishing herbs we have. It is high in many essential minerals and is strengthening, tonifying and overall life enhancing.It relieves fatigue, stabilizes blood sugar and regulates metabolism. Nettles gently restores balance and resilience
Red Raspberry leaf(Rubus spp.)~Often known as a woman's herb, Red Raspberry is a tonic for the uterus and so is a great choice during menstruation, pregnancy and anytime during the phases of a woman's life
Lemon Balm(Melissa officinalis)~Is uplifting, yet calming, anti-depressant and contains anti-viral properties
Roses(Rosa spp.)~are a nervine having a calming effect on the nervous system. Roses taste delicious and smell divine while they open the heart and uplift the mind
Skullcap leaf(Scutellaria laterfolia)~great for anxiety, burn-out, and sleep irregularity. Skullcap used for insomnia is best made with warm instead of boiling water but mixed in a tea blend for overall anxiety can be made as tea.
Catnip(Nepeta cataria)~Calming, eases upset stomach, generally tasty and relaxing
Linden Flower(Tilia europaea or Tilia americana-American Basswood)~Linden relieves nervous tension and is tonic to the circulatory system. It's a nice calming herb for children and used for ADHD
Hawthorne Leaf, Flower, and/or Berry(Crataegus spp.)~Hawthorne is tonic to the cardiovascular system, is nervine and antioxidant. I love Hawthorne for any type of grief or heavy-hearted sadness. It relaxes the nervous system and is great for anxiety, irritability, ADHD(especially with Tulsi and Linden flower), and any type of restlessness.
You can mix and match or use each of these on their own. Just blend proportions to your personal taste.
Sources of loose herbs for tea
- Jeans Greens
- Healing Spirits Herb Farm They also have their own line of teas here and I love them!
- Mountain Rose Herbs
My favorite tea blends:
Mandala Centering Tea from Jeans Greens. There are several great tea blends here and any tea accessory you might wish for!
Love Tea from Pukka
I usually blend my own in the moment based on what I feel like, but sometimes it's nice just to throw in a tea bag and not have to come up with something.
Making tea is a practice from ancient times and when we share in this tradition it re-connects us to an old way of being in the world that is so needed in our new times. It is also a practice that is flexible and simple enough that it fits nicely in our modern context. Tea making is a thread that has been woven into the tapestry that we have carried from the past into the present with us. It is so simple and appropriate, yet a primitive skill that we can use to reach into the wisdom of the past and fit it into the world of the now and the continuous motion toward the future. So go ahead, sit down, relax and have a cup!
DIY Adirondack Incense
Incense or some form of plant based aromatic smoke has been used cross-culturally throughout time beginning with the kindling of the first human made fires. It was and continues to be used ceremoniously as fire is a transformative element and the smoke produced by a finely blended mixture of various naturally aromatic plants and resins is considered a way to cleanse, purify, call in the sacred, and eliminate excessive or inappropriate negative energy. It is also known to be a form of medicine with many highly aromatic plants containing strong medicinal properties including anti-bacterial compounds and he incense or smoke of a plant is a way to facilitate our modern practice of aromatherapy .Even from the most superficial perspective, burning incense is used simply as a method of making a room or space smell good still altering the ambiance and energy of whatever area it fills with its aroma.
Incense has also made a comeback as an aspect of ceremony and meditation with the resurgence of Pagan and other Earth-centered religious practice and various meditation techniques that incorporated aromatic smoke as a way to clear, center and identify a boundary of sanctity. Incense also continues to be used in prayer and during worship in the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. These are usually single plant resins of Frankincense and Myrrh or other sweet and aromatic plant concentrates. Many Native American ceremonies include the use of some form of plant-based smoke called ‘smudging’ that is meant to purify, cleanse and protect. This practice has been adapted by modern American culture in the making of a ‘smudge stick’ or a wand of plants, usually White Sage, Sweetgrass and some type of Cedar that is wrapped tightly with a thread.
There are many commercial brands of incense but, unfortunately, they are often made with synthetic fragrances and glues that adhere the scented blends to sticks. Although I love to breath in deeply the myriad of scents provided by life on Earth, I am extremely sensitive to anything that has been chemically altered or synthesized and so, can’t use most of the incense available on the mainstream market. I began to seek out recipes for making my own aromatic smoke blends and started with essential oils and oil burners which I still feel is a much better alternative than commercial air fresheners when it comes to eliminating unwanted odors or even as aromatherapy. Unfortunately, essential oils can still be quite strong, expensive and are not always ecologically sound because of the large quantity of plant material required to distill just small amounts of precious oils.
My quest for a good quality, non-toxic aromatics continued as I spent a great deal of time wandering the woods and wilds of my bioregion of the Adirondack Foothills where we have rolling hills, sloping meadows, lush valleys and wetlands, diverse deciduous woodlands and White Pine and Balsam forests in the mountains. Through the seasons I always sensually moved by the procession of blossoming flowers emitting their aromatic fertility call to local pollinators. As an herbalist, I was seeking the flowers, roots, barks and resins I needed to make my herbal preparations amongst the exquisite fragrances of the land that not only signal reproductive ripeness ,but to me, convey the unique quality of the individual plants and the way that those qualities express themselves in relative proportion and in context my beloved home. I liken these essences to one of the colors of the palette of the beautiful place I am honored to stand upon, and when I breathe deeply here I make contact with the medicine, spirit and purpose of this place. I found myself longing to carry these scents with me through the winter and so I began exploring recipes and methods of making incense with my locally grown aromas. There are many recipes and kinds of incense but right here I am going to share my favorite recipe for Kyphi style incense. I either make Kyphi or plant bundles (smudge sticks) that I burn daily as a means of prayer, healing and for the simple pleasure of the smell.
Kyphi is Latin derived from the Greek description of what the Egyptians called Kapet which was their primary temple incense. The process of making this does require some wait time for the mixture to ‘cure’ before it can be used and, traditionally, the waiting period was important not only to allow the scents to synergize and transform, but it was a part of the prayer and may have included the daily addition of other herbs and spices as a form of meditation. I usually gather the necessary ingredients throughout the growing season and make several batches in the fall to use for the following year. I mostly make bioregional incense but may make special formulas with other plants and resins that I’ve gathered from my travels to different lands such as Sage, Pinyon Pine resin and Desert Lavender. I also like to burn Frankincense and Myrrh around the Solstice holiday season and have a big love for both Palo Santo wood and Copal resin that I have to order. You can create your own favorite mixtures with this recipe as it is quite flexible and, in fact, I never make the same formula twice. I just barely follow the recipe, never measure accurately, and allow my intuition and my nose to make the decisions of what amount of what. You are more than welcome to follow it precisely, however, as your own personal style will become part of the formula and the medicine.
Please be conscious when gathering wild plants of ethical harvesting practices. If you are not experienced at plant identification and harvesting you may want to find sources to buy some of the ingredients. Also, please remember when gathering tree resins that the resin is like a scab over wound for a tree and we must be careful to only take excess resin and to not cause any further injury. When gathering barks and roots, only scrape barks from small branches and twigs and definitely not from the trunk of the tree. When we dig roots we will more than likely kill the whole plant so please follow ethical harvesting guidelines such as I have outlined here.
The below ingredients are bioregional to the Northeast and specifically the Adirondack Mountains and foothills but you can make substitutions for preference or location. I adapted this recipe from Kiva Rose and Sarah Anne Lawless both who use a variation of the same method with their own bioregional aromatics. Both recipes call for honey and wine or mead but I mostly use a floral elixir made with brand and honey and usually wild roses. No one knows for sure what the exact Kyphi recipe was and it is likely that there were several variations.
Kyphi Style Incense
Kyphi incense originated in ancient Egypt and refers to a collection of different recipes used in temples devoted to each of the Gods and Goddess. Each deity would have had their own specific recipe with various herbs and resins including Myrrh, Juniper berries, Pine resin, Sweet Flag, Cinnamon, Frankincense, and Cardamom. I have shared two variations here; one is the long method which requires week long steeping times. The short version makes just a nice of a blend but is not traditional and may lack some of the subtle changes that happen during the wait times.
*I dedicate a spoon, fork and a couple of bowls to this project as the resins can be very sticky and hard to remove.
Long method (traditional)
The Base-wet ingredients
Dried berries, honey, and sometimes an oil. I like poplar bud oil. The consistency should be that of a stick paste. This is all covered with wine or mead in an airtight container. A ceramic or glass bowl with a lid is ideal. This is all steeped for a week.
½ cup of dried berries-these can be chopped well or ground. I sometimes use powders here.
1 Cup mead or wine
1 Tblsp. honey
- You can use homemade or locally made wine or mead and local raw honey. I usually use either wild rose honey or wild rose elixir that I make.
- A few drops of aromatic infused or essential oil can be added here
Mix dry ingredients together and place in a separate glass or ceramic container and allow to sit for a week
½ Cup Resins-you can use one resin or a combination of resins. From any conifer-White Pine, Red Pine, Spruce
- Propolis-this you will have to get from a beekeeper or order
- Bud resins-Poplar, Birch, Cherry
Pine resin can be anywhere from dry and chunky to drippy and really sticky. I try to gather the dry stuff because it’s easier to chunk up. I generally chunk it up small with either a mortar and pestle or a hammer and a bowl. Then I mix in some propolis , Poplar buds and/or one or more of the powdered flowers, leaves, berries. I use two forks to blend them as if I’m blending butter into flour to make a pie crust so you have small mixed clumps. Then I put this into my little herb grinder (coffee grinder) and grind it up to an even consistency.
1 Cup Leaves and Flowers
- Wild Rose
- High Bush Cranberry
- Pine Needles
*Sometimes I grind these into a powder and sometimes I like to leave them whole. I like the way they look whole mixed in with the resins.
½ Cup Roots and Barks-
- Yellow Birch Bark
- Angelica Root
- Elecampane Root
Beeswax (optional)-add about ¼ cup of grated beeswax
After these have set for a week they are mixed together to make a sticky consistency adding more honey or wine if necessary. I like it to be the same consistency as when I make meatballs or meatloaf. It sticks together and you can form it but it still maintains its texture.
Roll mixture into chunks or balls or just press as one layer onto a baking sheet about an inch thick. Allow to dry in a warm place for 1-3 weeks. If you made a single layer you can break or cut after it’s dry.
- ½ Cup of resins-ground
- ½ Cup powdered berries
- ½ Cup roots/barks-ground
- 1 Cup ground and powdered leaves and flowers. Mix leaves and flowers at whatever proportion you desire. If you only have leaves use only leaves. If you only have flowers use only flowers.
- ¼ Cup of grated beeswax(this is optional but helps hold the mixture together nicely)
- Add enough honey, mead, elixir or wine until the mixture is sticky.
Press the entire mixture onto a baking sheet. I dedicate one of these to this also but if you would like you can use parchment paper to cover the pan. Let dry in a warm place for 1-2 weeks. Break into chunks or pieces.
To burn Kyphi you can use a store bought charcoal although some of these have toxic additives. Be sure to buy a brand that is chemical free. I usually use a coal from my woodstove or a Tinder Polypore (Fomes fomentarius) which is a fungus that grows on yellow birch trees.It is used to start fires because it burns dry and even like a charcoal I gather them, dry them out and slice thin. Either way be sure to use a heat proof plate, stone or an incense burner.
Sometime my recipe produces a dry enough incense that it will just burn when lit.
Winter and the Cycle of Life
“Nothing is more creative than death, since it is the whole secret of life. It means that the past must be abandoned, that the unknown cannot be avoided, that ‘I’ cannot continue, and that nothing can be ultimately fixed. When a man knows this, he lives for the first time in his life. By holding his breath, he loses it. By letting go he finds it.” –Alan Watts
“We need the coldness of death to see clearly, life wants to live and to die, to begin and to end.” Carl Jung, The Red Book
Our modern world affords us the comfort and luxuries of central temperature control, artificial light, and a grocery store full of food from all over the world any time of year, but in the Northeast and other geographical locations with extreme seasonal fluctuations, it is nearly impossible not to be effected by environmental signals. Even in climates that experience less dramatic change there is always some shifting from season to season that influences day to day life. Regardless of our efforts to keep comfortable, our body systems, neurotransmitters, and DNA hold the intelligence of the ages and cannot be easily fooled by contemporary technological environmental management. When we live in a Northern climate the deep, darkening of Winter is difficult to refuse, try as we may. No matter how we may attempt to keep warm and avoid the impact of lack of sunlight, most of us still experience the effects of long nights, cold winds and the isolation that comes along with not wanting to leave the house and go out in the cold any more than necessary.
Winter is the opposite of Summer on the wheel of the year and has been celebrated since ancient times by all cultures as an aspect of the Life/Death/Rebirth cycle. This cycle is the primary creation pattern of the universe and governs the transformation of energy from one form to another. This pattern is eternal and of vital necessity for life to occur. However, in the context of our current world paradigm and cultural indoctrination, the death side of this rotation has come to be feared and misunderstood as something to be avoided, denied, resisted and even fought against as if it were life’s enemy instead of life’s source. Winter is the seasonal correlation to the death aspect and has been honored throughout primordial history as such a force. Winter yearly return can bring dark challenges testing the tinder and resilience of even the most robust of souls. This time can yet be rich with gifts and fulfillment when we open to the natural ebb of the Earth's spin away from the light, active, productive seasons that come before it.
The acknowledgement of this eternal pattern of life has occured across many traditions including religious, mythological, spiritual and scientific. American biologist and one of the major contributors to the theory of evolutionary Symbiogensis, the late Lynn Margulis explains:
“Life and death exist, not as two separate states of being, but as one state that can shape shift, reconfigure and reconstitute elemental qualities in order to animate and re-animate the world. It is because of Death that Life happens. Death gives Life and Life gives Death.” (Lynn Margulis, 1938-2011)
image by artist Lisa Falzon http://lisa-falzon.com/
Mythology is rich with images and deities that express the template of this cycle and most indigenous cultures celebrated these phases of life with ritual, story and seasonal activities meant to provide a healthy and solid container for the human psyche and physical body through these processes.
The Inuit version of “Skeleton Woman” myth as told by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, expresses this universal truth as it correlates to love and relationship and the natural cycles of life and death that occur between two people as they navigate the bond of love. In her commentary on this story, Estes says of the Life/Death/Life aspect:
“Rather than seeing the archetypes of Death and Life as opposites, they must be held together as the left and right side of a single thought….The skeleton is an excellent image for the Life/Death/ Life nature. As a psychic image, the skeleton is composed of hundreds of small and large odd-shaped stick and knobs in continuous harmonious relationship to one another. When one bone turns, the rest turn, even if imperceptibly. The Life/Death/ Life cycles are like that exactly. When Life moves, the bones of Death move sympathetically. When Death moves, the bones of Life begin to turn too.”
This is a very simple concept. Without Death, there is no Life. But in our day to day reality, allowing ourselves to relax into this natural rhythm can be extremely difficult because most of us don’t have the role modeling and lifelong conditioning that would enable us to do so. Letting go into the Death aspect can feel as if one is losing control and reeling into emptiness and non-existence. As human beings, fortunately, regardless of our external life experiences and our cultural indoctrination, we have an innate capacity to align with the tempo of nature. In fact, it has taken at least 200 years, if not more, of technological and industrial programming to disconnect the human animal from indigenous community, livelihood, social structure, and seasonal rhythm. This has come at a great cost. We now live amongst incomprehensible environmental ruin with our physical, emotional and societal values held to the external expectations of a system that places profit above the soulful needs of the people. The sacred and simple have become devalued has time consuming and unproductive.
By tuning into the steady, constant turn of the seasons we can re-establish our own resonance with what is sane, natural and life affirming. It is not necessary to drop out of society and become a hermit to take some small motion toward re-connection with nature.The eternal revolution of the Life/Death/Life cycle can be seen in every cell of the cosmos from the inhalation and exhalation of our breath, to the waxing and waning of the moon, and the contraction and expansion of our muscle fibers. It includes the beating of our heart and the rise and fall of the Sun every day. Even as we walk, one side of our body must move forward while the other falls behind. It is because of this polarity that we can move through the world embodied and act creatively to bring forth our unique gifts, to love and to play.
Winter is the time of natural contraction and retreat. It is the time of gestation for all things to come in the following year. The light wanes bringing long nights along with less outdoor activity which in turn allows for time to rest and restore after summer's busy schedule. It can offer time to incubate new projects, gather resources and plan goals for future endeavors. The dark nights can be a comfort when we realize they hold within them the sparks of potential ready to ignite with the impulse of our dreams, as are the seeds buried in the darkness of the soil patiently still in a seeming state of inertia, but in reality awaiting the precise moment for germination to be possible.
Winter is also a good opportunity to take stock and evaluate the lessons from the past year and what changes we would like to make in the future. It is time to determine what we must let go of in order to make these changes and discern which shifts would better serve our health and happiness or our intentions. There may be behaviors and habits that no longer serve us and these can become good compost. When we are ready to release our old patterns they die, in a sense, and decompose, freeing the energy that was bound up in them. This energy can be turned into newly enrich nutrient dense soil providing the needed motivation, resources, and power to support our aspirations for the year ahead.
Death breaks things down to the bare essence, the underground mycelia, the stem cells, the archetype, the bones, and as soon as the break down is complete, the forces of creation begin to re-create and regenerate. This process is dynamic and in perpetual motion, although there may be an incubation period where patience may be required to allow ripening to occur. When we are tuned to the Life/Death/Life nature we know that nothing is fixed or finite and that even in emptiness and stillness there is always a soft, subtle pulse of existence. With this knowledge we can trust that when we find ourselves in a period of scarcity, emptiness, or darkness, that it is not only temporary, but a time to savor, drink in, and receive this deep sustenance. When we can relax into this, we can let go of the need to act and produce and grow until the time is right again. When it is light all the time there is no way to differentiate what is gold and what is just shiny plastic crap. In the darkness the true treasure shines, and as with all treasure, it is placed safely and sacredly in the dark. True treasure is precious and always sheltered away from the mundane and obvious.
This releasing, letting go, and receptivity is symbolized by the feminine force of the universe in archetypal and mythological practice and study. Femininity is not to be confused with the female gender, but is one of the two primary energies contained in all life with its opposite being masculine. The feminine principal exists in all of us regardless of whether we are male or female and is manifest in every facet of nature. We access the feminine when we practice being with "what is". Being with "what is" can be a great challenge for people conditioned by patriarchal ideals that value action, growth and productivity over 'beingness'. This lack of action can feel like death itself and calls us, again, to honor the cycle of life. These forces are symbolized by many images including the yin/yang, the chalice and the blade, the pre-Christian and Christian cross, and the Gods and Goddesses of ancient Europe.
The Cailleach by Niamh Orourke
One such image is that of the Cailleach. Cailleach is the Celtic Winter goddess and means “veiled one” in Irish. She is often portrayed as an old woman or ‘hag’, but can take many forms. She is also considered a death goddess in her role as alchemist turning one season into another and calling us to descend into the depths of our souls. The death goddess appears across many cultures and has been misinterpreted as evil or as the bringer of pain and suffering, whilst she is actually the one who comes to comfort and embrace the dying acting as midwife and shaman carrying the soul safely from one world to the other. She has been perceived as a goddess of both destruction and creation, as she who creates must first destroy. All creative activities require destruction and breakdown of materials in order for something new to occur. Winter is an opportunity to call on the Cailleach to guide us into the darkness so that we may find our intuition and know the next steps and also what we need to let die in order for us to move forward. This is the time when we disassemble constructs that have stopped working, salvage the useful substance. and begin the process of regeneration
In Hindu mythology Cailleach appears as Kali Ma another death goddess: “Kālī is the feminine form of kālam ("black, dark coloured"). Kāla primarily means "time" but also means "black" in honor of being the first creation before light itself.” Wikipedia
Ereshkigal is the Mesopotamian goddess of the underworld and ancestors. She represented the changing of the seasons, another alchemist, and, agriculturally, the unproductive season or Winter.
The triple spiral of Celtic origin and found on megaliths and sacred sites all over Celtic Europe. The triple spiral represents the three aspects of Life/Death/Rebirth with each spiral segment symbolizing one part of the cycle.
In mathematics we(well some people do, certainly not me) map oscillating cyclical patterns with sine waves. The upside of the wave is the polar opposite of the the downside of the wave both outward limits of the same vibration. Sine waves are used to predict and define natural and technological cycles. Everything that exists oscillates including ocean waves, heartbeats, electronics, and even light.
Below are a list of ideas for embracing the bounty of Winter's dark peace and connecting us to nature's seasonal cycle:
Start a meditation practice- This can just be a time that you sit quietly each day away from external stimulus just noticing our inhalation and exhalation and feeling what it's like to be still
Cook nourishing seasonal foods-Eating with the seasons aligns us physiologically with the best foods to keep us warm and grounded when it's cold. Root vegetables, wild meat, teas made from dried teas and foods preserved through fermentation, smoking and other methods would have been staples for people indigenous to Northern climates. A purely seasonal diet would be nearly impossible when there is snow on the ground for 6 months a year and may not be advisable for most of have nutritional deficiencies due to our modern food practices, but just becoming aware of seasonal recipes and implementing them occaissonally is a great way to fill up on Winter nourishment
Light candles-This can be part of your meditation practice or just becoming a daily ritual to remind you that there is light in the darkness. It's comforting to light a candle at dusk to bring in the evening.
Learn a new skill- If your snowbound, like we end up here in the Adirondacks sometimes, there's no reason to ever be bored. There must be something you have always wanted to learn how to do and with the internet it easier than ever. Learn to knit or play the banjo. One winter I taught myself to hoop dance by watching youtube videos and practicing in my living room.
Journal, draw, paint-Explore your own depths and dreams through writing or visual art. Maybe start taking photos. Winter brings so much beauty outdoors and there are lots of fun photo editing programs that can be expirimented with.
Go outside-snow shoe, ski, experience the weather. Feel your feet on the Earth, breath deeply, follow animal tracks. Tracking is fun and easy in the winter and you can learn alot about the wildlife in your bioregion.
Sleep, nap, rest-Above all winter is a time to restore and rejuvenate. Try to cut back your commitments. Snow storms are good excuses to stay home.
Move-Dance, sing, do yoga, play! Find some local classes or youtube videos. Dance in your living room!
Winter will come to pass as all seasons and Spring will return even if it sometimes seems impossible. The Sun will return with longer days and shorter nights and the warm air will surround us once again. In the meantime, embrace this cold season with the warmth of your soul.
Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes
Tracking and the Art of Seeing: How to Read Animal Tracks and Signs, Paul Rezendes
Full Moon Feast, Jessica Prentice-Great book about eating and living with the seasons!