welcome winter

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The first frost has kissed Bristol this week – the “scrit-sshhhh, scrit-sshhhhh” of neighbours scraping ice off car windscreens called me to the window to see. I, in turn, called my little boy to witness this seasonal magic trick from nature.

The air certainly has a chilly bite. Most of the trees are bare and eerily skeletal. Their vulnerability, beauty, ugliness, wisdom, intricacy, strength and true form is all revealed and these themes remind me of some of the chambers of my soul that I seem to have visited lately. Leaves lie in the shadows of their trees on the ground beneath them like worshippers at an honoured teacher’s feet. My garden is a soggy, rotting tangle of the year’s debris some of it probably gangrenous by now. Even our hardy nasturtiums, who have clung on this long, now surrender to the chilly blanket that winter pulls over the earth to tuck her up to sleep.

Welcome winter. For me, like many, the year begins at Samhain. Although I celebrate this festival on October 31st for the sense of communal festivity with everyone else marking that date, I personally celebrate Samhain as a turning of Autumn to Winter when I feel that shift for myself. This day is kind of my New Year’s Day. However, In the practicalities of busy day-to-day life, it’s not quite possible to drop everything to party! On the day this week when I really felt that winter had come, I was able to go for a walk around my local park with my son noticing the signs of the season, the weather, the light etc. During this week we’ve exchanged the autumn books for the winter ones in his seasonal book basket, cleared, cleaned and started to re-decorate our nature table, changed a few things in the house to better suit our winter needs, and begun organising festive gifts.  Simple things that hopefully will become familiar seasonal rituals, grounding our family in natures rhythm.

This weekend I intend a little more celebration – a simple ritual and bit of special-ness to greet the New Year. On a weekend when many in the US may well be extending their Thanksgiving festivities, I like the thought of many of us engaged in celebrations of different kinds – it’s a good vibe to be going around the world. Welcome winter: may we be open to your insights, patient with your challenges and touched by your magic! ♥

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Vata

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Cold and dry like the wind, Vata dosha is dominant during Autumn and early winter. In our bodies, the falling temperatures and blustery winds can aggravate Vata, particularly for those of us who are Vata types. The elements space and air comprise Vata and movement is a strong theme; falling leaves, the seasonal shift and other changes such as the academic year all add to this feeling and the potential for being out of balance.

Aggravated Vata may present in various ways – IBS, dry cracked skin or lips, restlessness, anxiety and insomnia among them. Suggestions for balancing Vata include use of warming spices (ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin etc) to balance against the cold – as well as wrapping up warm of course! I find chai to be a delicious and beneficial drink at this time of the year (like I don’t drink it during the other seasons, haha!) You can buy a lovely ready-made mix (as well as other Vata-balancing products) from Ayurveda Pura or make your own (AyurvedicYogi has a recipe).

Warm, nourishing food and drink are recommended at this time of the year and raw foods advised against as they are can be harder to digest (particularly for us IBS-prone Vata tyoes!). Massage – ideally daily – with warm sesame oil (or, if unavailable, almond) and gentle yoga both relax and ground aggravated Vata, as well as having numerous physical benefits. A good night’s sleep each night will help with this too, as well as aid the immune system in staying strong enough to tackle any bugs that come your way! As a Vata-dominant type, I find that a good sense of rhythm throughout my day and in my life helps ground me too, as does going easy on stimulants like caffeine. Sweet tastes balance vata (although it’s best to try to avoid refined sugar for providing this: honey is a better substitute. Sweet tasting foods like carrot, potato,parsnip, cinnamon and sweet fruits are good options too). Dairy is also said to be vata-balancing but is something I personally try to minimise in my diet, mainly due to ethical and environmental reasons. it’s also worth noting that many people find dairy hard to digest and/or quite mucous-forming in the body – not ideal when colds are abundant!

Vata can be utilised positively: artistic and musical creativity, dance and the ability to dream up fresh ideas and start new projects are said to be Vata qualities and so this energy could be harnessed now. To me, this seems kind of fitting with November marking the start of the new year although, like a typical Vata-type, I can struggle to sustain projects. Luckily, kapha dosha becomes dominant in late winter and early spring, bringing with it more vibes of loyalty and stamina!

November blessings ♥Mo

November

November is a faded – and fading – image in my mind. Like one of your grandparents’ childhood photos. The light is fading, the calendar year is fading, the temperature is fading and most of the leaves are usually off the trees and starting to rot into the ground. People often describe November as grey, bleak, damp, miserable; rarely anything flattering. It always seems a short month to me and I wonder if really it’s just outshone by its neighbouring months of Orange October and festive December.

WInter starts for me in November, around the vanishing (last quarter) moon, or when nature gives me enough signs to welcome the season in. My favourite season. I learned yesterday that the Anglo-Saxons believed 7th November to be the official start of winter; although where I live hasn’t yet had a frost, this week has certainly felt winter’s kiss.

I’m sure some would argue a case for November glowing rather than fading. A-glow with the bonfire flames on Guy Fawkes Night, the lantern processions at Martinmas, the lights in the windows of homes in the long nights (and dreary days!), and the twinkling Christmas lights in shops windows. In my head, these glows and twinkles create a kind of blurriness around and behind them. Rather than the lights, it’s that fading, blurred image of the background that is what I remember in November. ♥IMG_2546