Winter solstice is just a few short weeks away and so another year and season will end and a new begin. The celebration of the longest night and the sun’s return was incredibly important to our ancient Celtic ancestors and was celebrated with fires. Bon fires built on every hill, and a yule log which was decorated had to be large enough to burn all night long.
It was a time of feasting, merrymaking with family, friends, and community, where well wishing prayers were offered and small hand crafted gifts given. Storytelling was also an incredibly important part aspect of the winter season and was much more than just entertainment.
The old stories held incredible gifts of insight and depth into the human condition that weaved together much magic and spiritual medicine. A good storyteller was worth his weight in gold and if he could sing or play music then all the better.
How are you going to celebrate this turning of the wheel? I plan to have a bonfire in my horse pasture, invite a few friends and celebrate. First though I will attend to my cleaning out the closets and cupboards of my home and let anything go that I have not used or worn in a while.
I always get a live holiday tree, a tradition started by my grandmother many decades ago that I have carried forth, my land now covered by these lovely trees.
Lastly I will make intentional lists of what I no longer want to carry forward such as bad habits, outworn goals, things with expiration dates past thrown out, etc.. this list I will feed to the bon fire and another list of things I want to manifest in the coming year. Doing these things helps me create a strong and beautiful container for my future success; this one I will keep, then feast, a few handmade gifts, wellwishing and maybe a story or two…
Essences and herbs for December
Blue Elderberry (Sambucus nigra or Sambucus caerulea)-Make medicine as tincture from the dried berries by filling a pint jar with berries and pouring 100 proof vodka over and to the top, cap and infuse for 2-4 weeks then strain off the plant material, put back into your jar and label. Sometimes I add honey, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, cloves, to this tincture for a warming effect. You could also add the dried berries into your recipe the next time you make a batch of fire cider or make it into a syrup.
The tincture will last for a year or more on a cool dark shelf out of direct sunlight.
Makes a wonderful antiviral remedy for colds and flu or any viral flare ups of the herpes type I or II variety, those nasty cold sores, shingles or herpes-this tincture is for you and will keep what bugs you at bay. Buy it or make it yourself by harvesting the berries in summer on the east side of the Cascade mountains here in Washington or buy from a reputable herbal source like Mountain Rose Herbs. Our red elderberry (sambucus racemosa) of the west side of the mountains is not suitable.
Rose Hip Flower Essence (plant spirit tincture)–
I make this essence from our wild rose hips of which we have at least 3 different varieties on our property, it is made by boiling water infusion method.
Put a few hips in water, bring to a boil and turn off heat, let steep for up to to an hour. Then take a small, clean, sterile glass jar- add a few drops of your hip tea water, and add vinegar or brandy (this is your preservative) to the jar I like a 1-4 ratio because keeps longer. Take a few drops in water, under the tongue or in your tea.
This essence is made from the collected rose hips after the first hard frost which sweetens the hips, and is useful in helping us to go deep by grounding us in our deepest “self” so we may choose what is right for us without soceital or parental imprinting getting in the way. Ask yourself what are my core values? Am I living from my core values inside and in the world or those I have unconsciously picked up or adopted? Rose Hip essence helps us uncover this mystery and to be reminded of choice. Choice to let the old imprinting fall away like an old crusty shell and to bring forth our truth in a new sense of self in regard to values. Key words- “I am aligned with my deepest core values.” Nameste…