THE WINTER SPIRIT – Alchemical waters
Welcome and wishing you a wonderful new year filled with health!
Two weeks ago on the new moon of winter solstice, I was enjoying a cabaret show with friends. The winds of change reflected the turn of season on this misty evening as we walked, giggling about who knows what. The moment was lovely and more precious than the show. On the drive home I thought how swiftly these moments leave us. And, here I am, on yet another cusp of yet another season of my life. I knew in that instance that winter had arrived.
I’m no stranger to winter. The cold wetness enters every pore intentionally slowing me down. The waters are still, with exception of the ripples expanding out from the center where the last of the seeds fall in, eager for a winters sleep. I can say that winter follows me throughout the year; that same stillness leading to a reflective moment of times past or present. Thoughts flutter to the future. The second half of my life is no longer at the beginning. The seeds I’ve planted over time have grown and have blossomed in the fertile earth I provide for them. New seeds volunteer in surprising places, showing me the way and delivering with them new challenges. Life suddenly appears shorter from this perspective and there is urgency for ‘doing’ albeit in a thoughtful manner.
And so it begins another round of winter days for us all. The stories of snow up north bring memories of the Chicago winter storm of 1979, my senior year of high school. What a thrill to have a snow day! And now, living in the warm south has an entirely new set of experiences when winter arrives. I have learned to respect freezing rain and bridges in a place where salt and ash trucks do not exist. In both cases, nature guides us home on these shortened, dark days with intention to not only go indoors, but to ‘go inside’ to those thoughtful places that lead us to our dreams.
As our bodies start to slow down alongside the cold and shortened days, it is a reminder for us to gather ourselves for that long winters nap, metaphorically speaking. I would venture to say this is the best time to ‘gestate’ those ideas and create a little internal chaos for warmth. Did you know female bears give birth during winter hibernation? They wake up just long enough to give birth and trust that the babies will feed as they need. She has prepared with intention during summer and fall in order to have enough nourishment, not only for herself, but for her babe’s.
We can consider bear as the ideal example that creation begins with plenty of conscious preparation. It is a time to nourish the ‘seed sound’ of late summer (refer to previous blog on Getting your Groove Back), to sit with the dreams that haven’t manifested. It’s the time to get in touch mostly with our emotional life for deeper understanding as to the reasons we have not created the life we thought we would have. Perhaps you suffer with anxiety or fear that prevents you from moving forward. Or, you haven’t resolved old patterns for fear of taking a risk and asking for help.
Winter is a time to go deep and ask these important questions: Are you listening to that which holds you back? What is there to lose in looking outside the box of expectations that you are holed up in? Is there a pattern of starting something and losing faith that it has value? Are you so afraid of losing control that you hold on even tighter? Do you have addictions that linger and a loss of any willingness to change things? Are you willing to face your fears? Were you encouraged in your life? Do you have the ability to be disciplined enough to take the crucial and necessary steps forward?
Are you in despair?
Take time to contemplate these questions. Wade in the waters that bring forth transformation. The nature of winter calls us to the candle lit rooms, the fire in the hearth stoking our heart center for answers. In hand, the steam of hot tea and cocoa, taunting us to recall childhood dreams that were dampened through no fault of our own. The memory of first loves, heartbreak, misunderstandings and sorrow are painful to revisit, but try to hold that tension until it is resolved, understood at a new level. If you have the courage to linger here, (even if you feel tremendous desperation to impulsively act out) stability will appear.
I am asking you do to a very difficult and possibly painful task. But, you must know that I am a Seeker. I have always hungered for the truth in my own life and in this world. I have searched for the questions more than the answers – although admittedly, a solid truth is always intoxicating. And through the many transformations I have endured, through the many parts of myself I’ve had to surrender, I finally have found my truth. Joseph Campbell would call this the Hero’s Journey. Hold on there – I’m not calling myself a hero by any stretch. The Hero’s Journey is a metaphor for finding your destiny – the destiny that lies beyond the cereal box of expectations. I ask that you be curious in the same manner. I ask that you, too, find the reason your heart flame has become dim. You might not be able to travel this road alone, so ask for help, as I have. But do so now, in this time of winter, before the icicles slowly drip and snow melts leaving her imprint behind: And then there was spring….
Without suffering, happiness cannot be understood. The ideal passes through suffering like gold through fire.
TEA FOR THE HEARTH
You will need for 2 cups:
Fresh ginger root, about a ½ inch slice
¼ piece of a cinnamon stick, broken into smaller pieces
7 whole cloves
7 cardamom pods, crushed
One to two drops of pure vanilla extract
1 quart boiled water or hot milk of your choice (cow, almond, soy, hemp)
Optional: Teaspoon of cacao nibs
Honey to taste
Place all ingredients except honey in small sauce pan. Bring to a boil – stay close otherwise it will spill over quickly – and then bring it to a simmer for 10-15 minutes. The longer it simmers, the stronger the taste. Strain into cups and sweeten to taste.
I write this, with all my heart,