Wisdom consists in knowing one’s place in any given cycle, and what kinds of action (or restraint of action) are appropriate for that phase.
— Heinberg
Sunset in Alert Bay, BC. Photo by Vincent Dumoulin.

Sunset in Alert Bay, BC. Photo by Vincent Dumoulin.

The Dark Night of the Soul

Today is the shortest day and longest night of the year. Monday Dec. 21st, the sun will reach its lowest point in the sky for the northern hemisphere. In December the sun sits at the “bottom” of its yearly path around the sky. We arrive at the lowest of the lows. Solstice means “sun stands still” and it seems as though the sun is frozen in the same low spot in the sky. This is the season when the natural world hibernates and a time for us to turn inward as well.

How is this time of year feeling in your life? 

I've been feeling the low. Feeling a bit lost, emotional and displaced. Christmas isn't a tradition I have grown to cherish. Often this time of year has been the most chaotic and heartbreaking with losses in the family and various life transitions.  

Some of the depression people feel during the holidays comes from not providing a space for feeling the sadness associated with this season and shift in cycles. We are often forcing the upkeep of traditions through the superficial exchange of materials, cheerfulness and social gatherings. Perhaps this time may be used for cultivating a deeper connection with ourselves and those beings closest to us. During the Winter Solstice, we can take time to experience the low without getting fixated in it. 

Feeding the Spirit

Photo by Steve Calvert from Chief Beau Dick's Potlatch, mask burning ceremony.

Photo by Steve Calvert from Chief Beau Dick's Potlatch, mask burning ceremony.

It is important to honour the dark before calling in the light. This is what it means to be human. This is also a critical period for us to be mindful of our physical bodies and to remember to care for and nurture them with food and rest. Maybe some of you have already started to feel that seasonal transition - lethargy or heightened emotions. It can be several things that culminate, building stress and then periods of feeling unbalanced or even physically ill.

  • Set aside time for sitting in the dark, basking in silence, reflection and meditation.

  • Smudge.

  • Be in nature, moon gaze. 

  • Build a fire.

  • Dedicate a time and space to be with loved ones to share what is shifting and changing through sharing / talking / healing cirlces.

Starting late Monday night, the sun will begin climbing north again, rising a bit higher each day. Following the Winter Solstice we may enjoy our connections and create spaces and opportunities to bring back light (and lightness) into our world. 

Good Medicine

Cedar is one of the four sacred medicines and may be used in smudgeding. It provides protection, purification and attracts positive energy to balance our feelings and emotions. It can be used in a tea or a bath (for women after their Moontime) to attract positive energy and balance. When picking Cedar, offer Tobacco first. Cedar is best picked fresh, right from a Cedar Tree that is not in public awareness. Always ask permission to use the Medicine.Talk to the Cedar and tell it why you are gathering it, what you need to do, why you are using it.

Using Cedar

Cedar is a masculine medicine. It is a hunter. You have to inform the Cedar of what it is that you want the Cedar to do. When smudging your house, close all the windows and doors. Burn the Cedar on top of a stove in a cast iron frying pan. Smudge with the Cedar in the cast iron frying pan, starting at the front door and go in a clockwise direction through your whole house. Cedar smoke all the rooms. The smoke will capture negative energies.

After you are done, open a window or door and allow smoke to leave the room with the negative energies. Give thanks to the Cedar. You can burn Sweetgrass afterwards, to bring the sweetness in. Sweetgrass is a feminine medicine. Go around the house waving the Sweetgrass in a clockwise direction. Give thanks for the Sweetgrass.

*If you are a menstruating woman, do not use Cedar when you are on your Moontime.

Cedar Tea

Use an enamel or glass pot to make the Cedar tea. It is easier to clean and no residue from the pot mixes with the Cedar.

  • Use a large pot and fill it with water.
  • Add 3 handfuls of Cedar leaves to water.
  • Bring to a boil and let simmer until water is a strong tea colour.
  • Drain Cedar water through a strainer so as not to plug up your sink

Enjoy hot or cold, speak with the medicine and ask for guidance, protection or any help you need.

Cedar Bath

Directions for Cedar Bath

  1. Start by talking to the Cedar and asking the Medicine to help you and tell it what you would like it to do for you.
  2. Place 4 L of water in a large pot and speak to the Water and ask it for help as well. Add the Cedar into the water bringing the mixture/medicine to a slow boil on medium high *do not put it on HIGH
  3. Boil the Cedar Water for about 2 hours, add water when there is about 1-2 inches that has evaporated.
  4. Strain the Cedar once you have finished using a cheese cloth or strainer. You can dry the Cedar and return it back to the Earth.
  5. Start the water in the tub to fill the tub. You may add some plain epson salts. Light a candle to have lit during the Cedar Bath.
  6. Use 1/2 of the pot of Cedar in a hot bath and use half of a cup of Cedar Water in a cup to drink it while in the tub. The remaining Cedar Water may be used the next night or 2 nights, just be sure to keep a half a cup aside to drink during the bath.

Speak to the Water, the Fire and the Medicine to help you relax and let go of the energy and emotions you no longer need in your life. Your release may come in the form of tears, do not hold them in. When you are finished in the bath, continue to say thank you to the Water, the Medicine and the Fire.

Enjoy a peaceful and relaxing rest or sleep for the night!


Sources

Communication with Elder, Jean Stevenson.

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