Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Using the Quiet of Winter

Yes, that is my actual tree:)

I live in Michigan and the winters can be pretty brutal and a lot of people complain about them...even pagans. You'd think that as children of nature, we'd all value each season as much as the next but I've found that's just not true. We often loathe the winter. After all, we can't go out and bask in the sun, pick herbs, get our hands in the earth, bathe in the lakes or sea, hold ritual or worship outside. Winter lacks those things, and that is exactly what it is supposed to do! Winter is a time of REST. I LOVE the fact that I am freed from yard and garden work for 6 months! I can actually pick up a book and READ it! That is my favorite thing to do in the inter actually; catch up on reading books that are spiritual in nature. Right now I am reading The Mark of Voodoo and Spiritual Merchants.

So how to we keep our spiritual practices alive? By switching over to a different kind of energy-slow, peaceful, energy.

Things I love doing that take advantage of this slow, restful time are;
Freshening my altars. Dusting statues, refilling candles, replacing old roots, and adding new pictures and items, and creating image candles for deities who are new in my life.
Scrubbing with bluing. There is nothing that prepares you and your home for the long rest like a good cleaning with bluing. After all, you are going to be stuck inside for a while:)
Donating. I donate year round because I know from volunteering at the local mission that most people only donate in the winter. This is good, but people are in need of food and clothing ALL year-not just winter time. Donating also de-clutters the home and mind which allows energy to flow freely and also stirs up the muses! I get so inspired and receive such wonderful ideas when I organize and donate! It's like the muses say "because you have given, I will give to you".

A story about donating;
I have family in India. When Indians meet a stranger, they invite them into their  home and offer them only the best of what they have. Most often, this is very very little. You are likely to receive the best food they have (which may seem inedible) and a straw mat to sleep on. This culture does this with the belief that at any point, they be encountering the divine. Every person they meet, they treat as if they are a deity-after all, you never know. Imagine if we treated strangers this way? What a world it would be! I keep this custom in mind when I donate and when I encounter someone who is homeless. I too have needed help at times-haven't you? What does it hurt to give away an extra pair of shoes or the dollar in your pocket? I promise it will return to you 3 fold.

There is something liberating about donating half of your clothing and half of your shoes. It creates movement and paths that were not there. It also fills your heart.

Take time to learn a new craft that you can sue to create spiritual items. Once can learn to make candles, sew simple mojos, make paper, sculpt with clay, crochet, etc. There are tons of useful crafts to learn that can be picked up easily with little investment. What do your friends do for hobbies? I am sure they would be willing to teach you their craft.

Baking! Baking is a magical chemical reaction in itself-just like ritual! I often use baking as an analogy when I am explaining magic to someone. When you combine certain things together, a chemical reaction happens and it becomes something completely different than what you started with. And as with any recipe, the better your ingredients are and the more careful and precise you are with timing and amounts-the better then end result. Just like baking:)

Snuggling with your kids or spouse in front of a movie. Give strength to your relationships. Rekindle the love. You have the time in the winter-use it.

Make time for your friends. It gets dark early so we tend to retire earlier in the day. Visit a neighbor and bring some hot chocolate or hot toddies and catch up on your friendship.

Set the goal of making small gifts for your closest friends or conjure family for the winter solstice. Small hand made cards or embellished pictures make lovely and inexpensive, heart felt gifts.

Plan your garden for next year. Make a list of the seeds you'd like to get and draw out a simple plan. You can also so this if you live in an apartment. Plan what you want to grow and how big of pots you'll need and how many. This is my favorite thing to do in February when the seed catalogs start taking over my mail box.

Develop your studies. Listen to that deity or spirit that's been appearing and calling to you and spend some time researching them. You will be glad you did:)

Lastly, get some rest...spring will be here before you know it.

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