“Brightest Blessings on this Yuletide Fare, give Love and Peace in equal share” –
The Goddess and the Green Man.
The nights are long, the days are short and the earth is barren, I sit with a warm drink daydreaming of warmer hazy mornings, blossoming flowers and busy birds building nests for a new brood. Those memories seem so far away now, staring at a grey sky threatening to rain or possibly dump a rare silent snow.
The fleeting celebration of Yuletide, with grand meals, intoxicating drinks, evergreen trees and sparkling lights, gifts and loved ones (in attendance or in memory), cheerful and inspiring films and messages of a prosperous future on the TV arrives in a whirlwind of modern day traditions.
I remember. My ancestors likely gathered around roaring fires and lit candles praying for the returning light. They would have been working throughout the winter season on tasks to ensure their very survival knowing that the time between January and April marked a period of loss and famine.
The exhaustion felt after Yule reminds me that I’ve filled my days with many tasks not for my survival but for the best possible celebration of the birth of the Sun God I can, and yet there’s still 86 dark nights and chilly soggy days remaining before springtime lightens the mood and we can say we’ve made it through another winter.
For me magic fills me in these moments of silent contemplation, when I stop and observe the moment, the introspective dark times that befall me in my otherwise fast-moving world are what maximise the peace and fertility of the season. When I take time for myself, to take care of myself through the winter months, observing nature’s moment of peace in her dormant period, I’ve found I emerge into the springtime season recharged and refreshed rather than drained.
I have rituals for this, actions I take with intention to feed me during the famine months and access this peaceful time, this is the magic I wish to share with you today.
Slow down to taste, hear, smell, notice and feel
Ease into a winter morning by lighting a scented candle as the darkness of night slowly fades away - the feel and sound of a match striking and a wick catching, the light frankincense, cedar or even orange scent, the warmth of the flame. Welcoming the day intentionally while the kettle boils and the bacon spits and browns.
Remember those brief summer showers before leaving the house for work? They’ll return again, but for now on a cold and dim morning, even when needing to be somewhere, take a few extra moments to allow the sensations of a hot shower. Giving thanks for the warmth of steam. Gone are the light floral lotions and potions of summer time, heavier almond oils with uplifting scents that offer a barrier between the skin and cold air are on the night stand. Reality or a perceived notion – feeling protected from the sharp bite of the wind.
The music has changed, remember rock and roll on full volume with the windows wide open, flip flops and bright colours? It’s all faded now to quieter tunes, heavier warming boots, gloves and scarves.
Expose yourself to the ever-changing light of a short day feeds the senses, lavender morning skies, brief pink sunrises before thick clouds take over, and the squid ink black of the winter night set behind silver stars – vitamins of the soul. Intentionally notice the colours of the landscape – the white of the frost on the grass, the transparent icicles formed on the drip outside of the office, the browns of the bare trees, the occasional red berry still not harvested by sleepy small creatures, the black of a frozen puddle, the blue sky of an unexpected bright day.
Listen to the sounds of nature, the birds that haven’t made a dash for warmer climates sing a sweet song that gets lost in the chaos of spring, the winds howl, the rain pours, and the snow, if it arrives blankets the world in sweet silence, they’re all there for the hearing.
Feel the temperature as reassurance that it’s ok to enter the cave, nest and seek peace and nurturing, allow the body it’s need to rest, recharge and be protected from the elements. It’s so easy to buck the natural rhythm of nature and find ourselves on a path of exhaustion and sickness.
Surrender to the warmth of the hearth, cooking and tasting hearty and wholesome recipes, indulging a little bit in immune boosting fare to naturally find digestive peace and kick in a balance of living and health.
The winter season may feel stark and empty, but beneath its deceptive surface there is an opportunity for peace, a rich landscape of fertility leading us toward springtime. The months where there feels like there is not a lot can be nurturing if we remember to change our daily rituals and use our five senses as guidance through the darkness.
Once again springtime will return, and when she arrives seeds bursting and ready to kick life into full swing, we’ll have experienced the peace of her quietly and obediently hiding beneath her winter cloak.
This is my winter’s Peace spell.