• Jess

Bringing in Winter's Warmth



As I write this, snow is falling, gathering around the greenhouse and the well. The candle on my ancestor altar is dancing and I'm appreciating the gentle scent of my balsam fir and pine body oil. Soon, I will go into the woods to gather fallen branches of fir, pine, spruce and cedar to bathe with and to burn throughout the rest of the Jul/Yule season.


Jul isn't one night, it's two months, and I connect with those months as the time of the deepest darkness, when we need to be most attentive to our resources and most respectful of the environment in our home and in the nature which contains and surrounds us. This is the time for shoring up our home's protection, clearing out clutter, grounding and gather whatever we need to nourish ourselves for the season.


In that vein, here are some considerations for welcoming winter in. As always, these are some options you can bring into your life based on your energetic, mental and physical levels of ability. These are intended as suggestions, but they don't take the place of compassionate and competent care from skilled healthcare providers and they're not meant to be a cure-all for our deeper social problems like racism, ableism, colonialism, homophobia and other forms of injustice.


Home Protection

1) This is a great time to sweep and wash the boundaries in your home, like windowsills, your doors and the frames above your doors. I like to make a floor wash with herbs connected to my lineages. When I'm cleansing the boundaries of my home, there are certain prayers or chants I use, focused on the intention of sweeping out what doesn't belong and welcoming in peace, good health, good luck,etc.


This is about energetic protection as much as it is about physical cleanliness. A great and simple recipe is lemon, rosemary, a peeled clove of garlic, thyme (as essential oils or as dried peel/herbs) and salt-- these are all things which you likely already have on hand or are easy and inexpensive to find at your corner store or fruit market.


I also take this time to shore up energetic wards, cleanse my tools and reset different grids I use and change out items like salt bowls.


2) For me, generosity is a form of protection. Generosity can take the form of money, or of giving things like our time, energy and knowledge. It helps me remember my connection to others and it helps me let go of any lingering scarcity mindset. When I do prosperity magick, I always specify that my work will result in "enough to share, enough to spend and enough to save".


This is a time of year when I refresh my money jar/plant. If you don't already have a money jar, you can make one with loose change, some soil, money-drawing herbs, petitions, and whatever you feel called to add.


Home Clearing and Cleansing

1) Dig into the the forgotten spots in your home and your belongings and give them a thorough dusting or wash. Those receipts and empty candy or gum wrappers at the bottom of your bag? Out they go. The corners and baseboards of each room? They could probably use some attention.


2) Change up the energy in your home with a simmer pot of warming or cleansing herbs and plants. For example, orange, lemon or grapefruit with some black pepper, star anise and cloves or sprigs of rosemary, peppermint and evergreens.


Grounding

Living in North America, there can be intense pressure to throw ourselves into socializing and gift-giving as a way of feeling connected to friends, family and community. Spending time with supportive, kind loved ones can be affirming and energizing, but not everyone in our life may match that description. If we're feeling disconnected or lonely, those feelings can be heightened, since we're told that this season means togetherness and parties.


I use a daily grounding practice to help short-circuit some of that cultural static and feel clear about which relationships I want to nourish (including the one with myself) and in what capacity I want and am able to nourish them.


1) Tree meditation.

You can envision yourself sitting under an enormous tree, your back resting against its support. Imagine your roots extending from your bottom all the way down through the soil, down, down, down into the heat of the earth's core. Whatever worries, fears or unfocused energy you want to let go of can be released by imagining it going down your roots, into the earth to be absorbed and transmuted like compost.


If you're feeling like you need more compassion, courage, adaptability, etc, you can imagine yourself drawing those qualities up from the earth, into your root system, resting in your belly, the seat of your life force and your sensual and creative power. When you feel done, you can thank the tree, bring your attention back to your physical body and your surroundings and go on with the rest of your day.


2) Certain sounds can be very grounding. When in doubt, I turn on calming music like this, which seems to pull me out of my head and back into my heart and my body. I've also really enjoyed sound mixing board apps like BetterSleep. They come with a range of different pre-recorded sounds which you can arrange to suit your tastes. For example, you could combine the sounds of a river with birdsong and a campfire.


Nourishment

1) Get rooted with root veggies. Eating food which grew in the earth, like potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, beets, etc. or sources of protein like seeds, nuts, tofu or organ meat can be really helpful if we're feeling lethargic, apathetic or like it's difficult to fully inhabit our body.


2) Resource sharing with friends. One of my favourite ways to share nourishment with friends is sorta like a potluck. Each person who wants to participate lets the others know any dietary issues they have ( celiac, nut allergies, etc.) and each person brings a dish everyone else can eat. This is a great way to have prepared meals for the future and to experience reciprocity and care.


For example, I might bring a big Mason jar of lentil stew and my friend Sam brings a jar of spinach dal. Our friend Pablo brings a jar of spicy black bean soup for me and one for Sam. I've also done this with homemade foods like salsa, tomato sauce, pesto, hot sauce, pickles or dry mixes for cakes and cookies.


At the end, everyone has a few meals they didn't have to make and everyone has both given and received. If you have lots of space, you can even get together at one person's home and everyone can take a turn making their dish-- good parties get started this way!


Journal/Meditation Prompts

1) Which ancestral and communal traditions help me connect to a sense of warmth and hope?

2) What work is there for me to do so that I can rest deeply and fully without worry?

3) Which traditions feel limiting or stressful? Is it time to release them?

4) What new traditions do I want to start?

5) How can I keep my inner creative fire going through the winter?

6) What can I do now to make sure I'm nourished in the coming months?



If you enjoyed this post, consider sharing it with loved ones.


You can even support my work through my tip jar.





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