One of the great things about going home to New York, to The Loverly Isle of Long for Christmas is that I get to see the “back home” tribes and hang with them just like old times. This year is special – I’ll be home in plenty of time to make a Winter Solstice celebration with my friends. The Winter Solstice aka Yule is typically observed on December 21st, the shortest day/longest dark of the year. Solstice is all about the rebirth of the sun; in terms of the Wheel, we are at the lowest point of the year, but you know what that means – the only way left to go is up The purpose of the feast is to celebrate the beginning of the end of the dormancy period of the year, and prepare for a fresh start. The clean slate of a new year stretches into the future before us, upon which we get to write… ANYTHING WE WANT! How cool is that?
And so, we’ll go to the woods to gather greenery. Back at home, we’ll prepare the meal, deck the halls and set the table. We’ll light the candles and we’ll write on those clean slates, earnest notes filled with our desires, our requests of the Universe. And then we shall set them aflame and watch as the fire transforms them into sparks of prayer, rising through the crisp air into the night sky to become one with the stars, to be heard and fulfilled.
And then, we shall feast.
I did a little googling this weekend, to find appropriate foods upon which we should be feasting on the Solstice. Feasting and celebrating is something people can look forward to as the earth turns ever colder and darker leading up to Solstice. Anticipation of the celebration, of being able to put the darkest days behind us helps to counteract the depressive psychological effects of winter. When it’s so dark like this, we have too much melatonin, which causes malaise. That might be appropriate for bears, who are supposed to sleep away the winter, but most adult humans are expected to be productive. We need to find ways to assist ourselves in pushing past the darkness.
Anything that puts us in the presence of negative ions will lift our mood and make us feel energized. Isn’t that odd, that “negative” produces positive in us? In nature, places that tend to be negatively ionized are mountains, streams, forests and beaches. This may be why people flock to these types of places for relaxation and rejuvenation. There are other negatively-charged things we can use to help erase stress and seasonal fatigue. A wood fire, bees wax, green plants – all of these things can help to make us “of good cheer”. I guess we now know why we burn candles, deck the halls and have a Yule log. These things make us feel better and help us to to feel celebratory, to have hope that winter WILL end and that the life-bringing warmth of spring WILL return to us. The ancients may not have known about a substance called melatonin, but they knew that the air was filled with a magical, uplifting energy after a lightening storm, and that communing with nature by the side of a waterfall brings comfort and peace.
So you can see where I’m going with this. I now wanted to know – what foods carry a negative charge and make us feel good? Survey says – those foods that are alkaline help deposit negative ions into our bodies and are good mood enhancers. Most fruits and vegetables are alkaline, and they assist in combating the acidification of the blood. The more negative ions our blood carries, the better our metabolic, autonomic and immune systems function, and our skin and tissues are more elastic.
Googling once again, I discovered lists of alkaline vegetables, and most of them seemed to mention root vegetables like carrots, garlic, turnips and onions (we already knew about the root veggie-Yule connection). Other interesting things at the top of a few of the lists I found were broccoli, artichokes and leeks.
When I read about the leeks, I remembered a book I’d read called French Women Don’t Get Fat and how leek soup – with or without root vegetables and beans – is a staple food of the French woman’s diet. There’s even a recipe in the book, which uses lentils as the beans and can optionally be turned a little “creamy” by melting together a pat of butter and some flour and throwing that in at the last moment. They sometimes throw in some sort of browned French sausage that’s described in the book as a high-end hot dog. Ewww! I think we’ll be forgiven if we alter the ethnicity a bit and use Italian sweet sausage instead
All the while I’ve been writing this post, my thoughts have been drawn repeatedly back to the prospect of the blank slate. I have that feeling that I used to get (and sometimes still get) when I was a young girl, filling marble-covered composition books with poems, stories and the minutiae of my existence. When one book is all done, you get to start a new one, and THAT, my friends, is a magical and sacred moment. You walk it reverently to the desk and turn back the cover… it’s blank! The pages are pure, empty yet ripe with the promise of endless possibility. What events, what aspirations, what desires and dreams will manifest upon these pages?
Anything we want.
Anything we want!