Above: A warm mug of cacao tea, 20 minutes before a meal allows for better digestion – especially helpful during the change of seasons.
In this second week of March, I am not quite ready to let go of winter.
I find that this has been one of my best winters – at least my best in a long, long time. It was not fraught with a longing for work, worry of money, or a general cooped-up restlessness. I purposely took January off to unwind and slow down, which led to just that. As I got s l o w e r, the days stretched longer, allowing me more time. Time to think. To take care of myself. To work on back-burner projects. To clean, organize and edit. I made time to do some inner personal work and shift some old habits that were no longer serving me. I tapped back into things that are perennially important to me – taking time for ceremony. I thought an awful lot about what I love to do.
I made sure to get a little bored and I drank a ton of hot tea. It felt fucking amazing.
As February came and went, I eased back into work – running Wildflower Farms, my landscape design business, and Garden Apothecary, my product line and shop. The recent rain has kept work a tad slower, which in truth has been really nice. Plus, I’m still reminding people (and myself), technically, it’s still winter.
So now, with spring in the wind and the weeds popping up, I’m feeling not quite ready to let go of this winter and the extra time. I have about a week left to move through this season, into the next; Spring.
I know I am not the only one feeling this. Traditionally, seasonal change can be challenging, as well as celebritory for a lot of people, in many cultures around the earth. In all Mayan cultures, a “seasonal change” is mostly focused during a new or full moon, emphasizing crop blessings and fertility. Ceremonies help to celebrate the full moon’s energy and the solar spiritual forces that guild and protect the community and land. A singing ritual offering copal and other sacred medicinal plants, is mainly performed by the female priest or Shaman in the moonlight of each month. Fresh water from the cenotes play an important part of this ritual, as well as offerings of fruit, orchids flowers and other hand-gathered items from nature. Importance is placed on the Solstice and Equinox as well, in terms of honoring past and present family members and community. Drinking tea, soaking in blessed baths and using water for cleansing is a huge part in their celebration of letting go and renewal.
In Japan, the cherry blossom season is celebrated from March – May. Spring is Japan’s best known season, with the cherry blossom, or sakura, bloom moving up the country like a brilliant pink wave. The blossoms generally reach their peak in Kyoto and Tokyo in the last week of March, and higher latitudes follow gradually, with the blossoms reaching the northern island of Hokkaido in the beginning of May. Sakura season is generally celebrated with rowdy picnics beneath the flowering cherries, kimono-ed tea parties, and the spring Geisha Dances in Kyoto. Tea ceremonies lace the day’s (or week’s) events, with strict gestures, precessions and offerings involved to complete the strictly choreographed ritual. Depending on which type of ceremony is being presented, a collection of purifying rituals are preformed, including washing of the hands and mouth, prior to removing shoes and crawling through a small door (nijiri-guchi)) to enter the room housing the tea and tea accessories.
Honoring the passing of time is a way of life.
After a cold winter in Mongolia, there is a lot to celebrate when the green grass comes back to the rolling pastures. While observing the Chinese lunar calendar, the Mongolians celebrate the Spring Festival to send off the former season and greet the new one, and to pray for safety and happiness. Prior to the festival, every family will make new clothes and prepare the celebratory food and wine. On the night of ceremony, Mongolians will set a fire, then throw the food on the fire to worship the spirit of the ancestors. This reported helps to drive away evil spirits. All family members participate in the dinner to send off the former year and give thanks for the past.
Above: Sage apiana and a beeswax candle set the space for a moment to reflect on the passing season.
Our bodies have their own unique way of coping with the change in season. New foods come to the farmers markets, weather and temperature change, and biologically, we have all kinds of crazy changes going on. From inflammation, to hypertension, to fatigue – the list goes on regarding what our bodies go through during seasonal changes.
I have learned that simply adding a bitter to your diet, 20 minutes before having a meal, helps aid in healthy digestion. It can be in the form of a tincture, a tea or simply chewing on a few pieces of a leaf before having a meal. The bitter taste and chemical compounds released through heat and chewing stimulate your taste buds, which then tell your gastrointestinal system to release the hormone gastrin. Gastrin increases gastric acid, bile flow, and numerous other secretions along your digestive tract. Herbalists agree that simply chewing on a dandelion leaf, drinking a sip of Neem tea, or eating any bitter tasting herb allows for this gentle reaction to happen.
Digestion plays a big role in supporting your body, allowing your immune system to stay strong and functional, and reserve the hard work when you are fighting of a bigger sickness.
Above: My mini version of a tea ceremony. Flowering jasmine and marigold tea balls, found in the Garden Apothecary shop. Makes roughly 4 cups of tea.
Physical health allows for easier transition into most anything. However I find that getting my emotional and mental health on board is equally important – and sometimes a bit harder to accomplish. Below is my ritual, for when the days are moving a bit too fast. For when I get 15 text messages in 10 minutes. For when I am doing nothing but putting out “fires”. For the times I am not in love with the day. Give it a try if you feel so inclined.
- Take a moment – meaning, really, make some time.
- Greet your surroundings with a bit of burning sage or by spritzing your favorite scent in the air.
- Sip on a slightly bitter herbal tea. Your taste buds will expand with the new flavor, and your body will ground into a relaxed position for rest. Think of one thing that has been bitter this past winter (or year). Allow the hurt or tension to move through your body. Visualize releasing that past experience with ease and appreciation.
- Take a deep breath.
- Sip on a new tea, maybe a sweet tea like Cinnamon or Hibiscus. Your taste buds will contract with the flavor of tangy and sweet. Inhale deeply. Think of one thing you want to manifest this spring. Imagine how good it will feel when you participate in making that dream a reality. Exhale deep and slowly.
- Stay where you are. Feel the warm mug of tea in your hands. Rest and breathe for as long as you are comfortable.
How do you feel about spring coming?
Are you ready to move into a new season?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject in the comment section below.