Writings on observations and encounters with Mother Earth in our 'everyday life'.....How to draw upon our indigenous soul connection with the earth and Pagan traditions to manifest art.
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A Taste of Light at Winter Solstice
This Fall I took it upon myself to do quite a bit of canning. This mostly involved jam and fruits. My step-daughter and husband were most excited about the canning of peaches, one of their favorite fruits. After only 2 days of completing the canning process they wanted to open up the peaches and dig in. I firmly objected, "NO! The reason we canned peaches was to enjoy them in the dead of Winter, to have a 'taste' of Summer when things are dark and dismal." I promised my step-daughter we would open a jar to celebrate the return of the Sun on the Winter Solstice. As I prepare my house for Yule I am reminded of this promise and my thoughts turn to the reason why I wanted to learn about canning and food preservation.
Both my maternal and paternal grandparents grew a majority of the food they ate and I have so many fond memories of walking through orchards and gardens as a child eating fresh peas and carrots right out of the ground, my mother encouraging me to try vegetables like broad beans and kohlrabi. I remember shelves upon shelves of jars stored in my maternal grandmother's basement, my paternal grandfathers' stacked up wine making equipment. The joy of eating canned crabapples and ice cream and trying sips of homemade wine after a Xmas feast. As many of these practices my grandparents engaged in were passed on to them by their parents and grandparents, it is so clear to me how connected my ancestors were to the land. Because of this they were intrinsically aware of this coming 'Capricorn' time of year and the need for storing and preparing for Winter; it was essential for survival. I am very fortunate to live during a time where canning is more of a 'hobby' than a need to survive, but I also wanted to learn about it so I could feel connected to this family practice and share it with my child.
Fittingly, while taking a friend to see her herbalist I was invited to share in drawing a card from the Medicine Cards deck by Jamie Sams and David Carson; Bear Medicine came forth. It was very poignant for me, as I have been engaging in, much more than usual, lots of sleeping, hibernating and ritual this late Fall and Winter Season. Bear Medicine reminds us about creating a den of warmth and comfort this time of year. As well, Bear shows us "The very deepest of your ancestral roots, being in touch with the Primal Mother and integrating primal power with intuition". Unlike some who need to escape our Winter weather by vacationing in tropical places, my Taurus nature relishes in hunkering down in a cozy home by the fire, working on crafts, reading books, drinking wine and engaging in rituals that have me go into the underworld and examine the dark shadow parts of myself. I also enjoy those crisp nights in deep midwinter when we can look into the clear sky as our ancestors did, and see the Pole Star shining brightly, also known as the Great Bear or Arthur's Plow (Bear info. cited from Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm's The Druid Animal Oracle).
As I ponder how to prepare our Winter Solstice Peaches (cake and ice-cream has also been requested) I am reminded about the other significance the peach plays in our family story, as a featured in Chinese Mythology. Peaches are consumed by the gods and goddesses; associated with immortality and living a long healthy life. They are also associated with revered animals such as the deer and crane, which are also important in the Celtic Cosmology. My husband's ancestors are from China and at our wedding on the Harvest Full Moon we had a dear friend read one of these Chinese Myths "The Peach of Immortality" ( A version by: Carolyn McVickar Edwards from her book In the Light of the Moon). In this story Yi the Archer and his lover, the goddess Chang-O, become separated due to the lure of the peach. Because Chang-O is tempted to eat the 'Peach of Immortality' she is transformed into a Hare forced to live out her days in the Moon; however, every Autumn, Yi the Archer is allowed to leave the Palace of the Sun and re-unite with her in the Moon. So each Harvest Moon, lovers in China are reminded of this romantic tale and the balance of Yin and Yang we find in our partners. My husband and I thought this was a fitting way to remind us on our anniversary, how and why we found each other.
Reflecting on the Hare in the Moon I am reminded of its associations with the goddess in other cultures. In Celtic tradition the Hare is also sacred to the goddess and Moon energy, symbolizing rebirth, intuition, and fertility. These aspects were also characteristics of Kaltes, the Moon Goddess of the Ugric people of Western Siberia. In Winter, the Arctic Hare, which is found in Canada's North, and is believed to be the original Hare of the British Isles, will dig shelters in snow and huddle together in nests of a sort to share warmth. They also forage and dig through the snow to find berries and roots to eat. Their coat which is white in winter to be unseen in the snowy landscape, is transformed into a blue-gray by Spring. (from nationalgeographic.com) In both the Slavic and Celtic cosmologies the Hare was identified with Shape-shifting and transformation and so I think also of the Hare in this dark time. Huddling in our houses keeping warm, gathering with friends and family to eat comforting foods and taking time for reflection, in hopes this practice of contemplation will be the forerunner of transformation come Spring.
As I pull out the jar of peaches from the pantry I am reminded of the light and life they will bring to us this Winter as the Sun makes it journey back through the darkness. This excerpt from In the Light of the Moon best describes this wonderful feeling "Chang-O reached out. Her fingers touched for a moment the delicate, fuzzy plumpness. Her mouth watered. She lifted the peach. She bit into it. The milky sweetness sang in her teeth and poured through her limbs".
May your Winter Solstice be Bright, Warm & Fuzzy...
In fact, Just Peachy.
www.turningpointgallery.com (artwork of Susan Seddon Boulet)
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