Living Cyclically - Winter
✸ An introduction to Seasonal Living: Part I (Winter) ✸
Our ancestors knew how to live in balance with the changing seasons because they lived in union with nature and the elements. They knew there was no separation between them and the animals who hibernated, cached food away, and were less active.
One of the easiest ways to prevent imbalance and dis-ease is to live in alignment with the outer world by practicing seasonal living.
Here are some easy, and accessible ways to start:
◇support the body during this time
• aim to get 10-20 minutes of uninterrupted (no contacts or glasses) sunlight in the mornings, or 15 minutes during sunrise and 15 minutes during sunset, exposing as much skin as possible with the cold temperatures to absorb vitamin D and regulate the nervous system & sleep cycle since we are getting so little sunlight in winter
• eat warm, well cooked meals based around root/seasonal vegetables, healthy fats, & spices that assist absorption/digestion like salt, black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, rosemary and *avoid* ice in your drinks, excess cold food & drink and out of season foods like berries/smoothies - think of what is growing outside around you right now! Traditionally that is what we would be eating, that is what our bodies would know how to best utilize during this season
• move your body regularly to assist circulation and lymphatic function (take nature walks, dance, practice functional movement or light weight training, etc) - a great ancestral form of movement during this time is carrying and splitting wood!
• moisturize your body with healthy fats that feel ancestral and resonant for you - this can be tallow, ghee, or various oils like olive oil or coconut (I tend to not recommend these to those with Northern Ancestry because our ancestors would not have access to these plants, but for those who avoid animal products, they can be more in alignment)
◇connecting with and learning from the essence of Winter
• get to know local plants that remain in winter like juniper berries, rose hips, or turkey tail mushrooms and begin building relationships before foraging them. Like any friendship, introducing yourself first is more healthy and welcoming than immediately taking
• witness the local fauna and their behaviors - we have so much to learn from animals and their instinctual nature, living so in tune with nature's cycles. Watch how the squirrel caches away nuts, Blue Jay's take over the abandoned nests of other birds who have migrated so they have more resources for less work. They know that we have less sunlight and resources during this time (just like us) and we will get farther by working smarter, not harder
• build rituals tending to and connecting with the land each morning with a cup of warm tea, or whispering your thanks to your favorite tree in a moment of silence before going about your day. These simple rituals can bring immense connection and grounding which can be very supportive during the season of darkness, where we spend so much time indoors
• connect with Winter dieties from your culture- In Gaelic culture, one of the main creation deities is the Cailleach Bheara, Hag Queen of Winter who's cape drapes over the land with a sheet of snow, her breath leaving a layer ice cicles and frost. She wins over Brigid, who rules the summer months, on the eve of Samhain, when the veil thins and the darkness grants her power. If you surrender to her sharp wisdom, there is much to learn about both yourself and the ways of life. Like many Hag deities, she can be viewed as scary or intense, but that is because she carries the wisdom of generations and has little time to pretend she's something she's not - just like winter, the truth can be cold and biting, yet nourish us all the same
Image by Lougnan Leagh
• What am I nurturing during this time of hibernation that will soon come to bloom?
• What is dying within me during this time? How can I support this cycle of release and rest I am currently in?
• What are some of the feelings, beliefs, or traits/behaviors I have been keeping in the dark, suppressing, ignoring, or overlooking? No need to try to fix or change them, just witness them, list them, without judgment.
◇"you can only discover balance in your life when you learn to trust the flow of this ancient rhythm....we come out of the darkness of winter into the possibility and effervescence of springtime" - John O'Donohue