Connect with the land that nourishes you.
Greet your woody plant allies in their winter wear.
Combine their strength with the momentum of this moment to clear out the dark and welcome in the light!
Do you have an outdoor space where you feel at home?
Head there for a stroll. Greet the woody things on the land that supports you, that raises you at whatever stage of life you are in, that colors the view outside your window, or lines the paths down which you walk, that offers shade, wind song, sustenance, habitat, and companionship.
This is a chance to check in with your woody allies. To greet and *shake hands* with each in turn. To see how they cloak or uncloak themselves for winter. To notice souvenirs of summer still clinging to their twigs and fresh lifeforce building, budding, and perhaps already springing forth. Seasons blur here on the North Coast of California in a way that my New Hampshire-raised self will always be surprised by.
CREATING YOUR YULE BUNDLE
Search the ground below your woody pal, and also in her tangle of limbs, for broken or fallen branches and sticks. Gather a piece up from each type of woody plant that speaks to you, and trim each sample to a uniform size (about 10 inches is nice).
Grasp all your tidy little stick gifts in your fist, one of each type.
You are holding a mini forest.
Can you feel its strength? Its beauty? Its life supporting gifts for beings of all types?
Look closely at this fistful of forest. Can you still identify the species of each stick? This can be quite a challenge! Yes the colors vary, but get curious about the fine, distinguishing details:
- Do you see leaf scars from opposite or alternate branching patterns?
- How does the flexibility vary between your sticks?
- Does the bark harbor moss, lichen, liverwort, fungi, or algae species?
- Is the core pithy or woody?
- Does the bark peel away easily?
- Close your eyes and see with your fingertips. What do you notice about the texture of each stick?
The Winter Solstice is a potent time when (in the northern hemisphere) the Earth reaches its maximum tilt away from the sun – touches this point for just a moment at 1:47pm PT on December 21, 2022—and then momentum swings back from whence it came as our tilt shifts, and we gain moments of sunlight each day for the next six months.
MOMENTUM OF THE MOMENT
This shift is an opportunity for those who feel called to be carried along with the momentum. To head towards the light. Strictly speaking, we are all hitchhikers on this planet, so really we have no choice. But we do have a choice to tune in, to feel, to be intentional with our lives.
Of course, there are all sorts of metaphors to be employed here, but most simply, this is a powerful moment for following nature’s lead by creating shifts in our own lives. To bring the bits of ourselves that feel dark, shadowy, or dormant into the light to be released entirely or transformed into something that better serves who we are now in this moment and those that approach.
Shine the light on what you want to thrive and grow.
Let go of what is holding you back.
The Yule Bundle ritual we are sharing here is a way to both better connect with the land that nourishes you and use the power of your plant allies to release and transform that which no longer serves you.
On a strip of paper long enough to wrap around your fistful of sticks, write down that what you wish to transform or release. Identify it. Name it. Literally capture it on the paper.
When you feel complete, wrap this strip around your sticks to bundle them together. I like to also include a sprig of rosemary in my handful at this point. Rosemary is the herb of Remembrance, and I want to remember that I already released all these things whenever I am tempted to pick them back up in the future.
Use a length of natural fiber string or yarn, or perhaps a strip of bark or length of vine or grass, to secure your bundle.
These bundles make a sweet holiday gift to share with loved ones who live in your “neck of the woods” — or especially for someone who perhaps moved elsewhere and is missing the forest they used to call home.
The next step is an important one:
Before you burn your bundle and literally transform your dark bits into light, remember to thank all that you are releasing. Everything on your strip of paper has been a part of creating who you are.
I’ve noticed that often what I want to release, those aspects of myself that feel like they are holding me back from being who I truly am, are actually survival mechanisms I developed to get me through a particular chapter of my life. Though the chapter has been written – and I’m now several books ahead in the series!—these unnecessary ways of being have persisted. They served their purpose and for that I am thankful. Now it’s time to let them go.
Feel the weight of the bundle in your hands and all it represents.
Feel the strength, diversity, and unique ways of being of your plant allies.
Place your bundle into the fire (oh how lovely an outdoor fire is, but a wood stove also works!) and watch the light it creates as it burns, darkness and energy literally transformed into flame, smoke, and warmth before you.
Notice the lightness in yourself and carry it with you into brighter days ahead.
Wishing you a joyous return of the light! Happy Solstice!
(NOTE: This Herb Walk offering has passed, but we hope to do it again in 2024!)
If you are in our neck of the woods, please join us for a Winter Solstice Herb Walk where we will see what our plant allies are up to as they meet the shortest day of the year and craft our Yule Bundles together: 9:30-11am, 12/21/21 at Redwood Roots Farm in Bayside, CA. Pre-registration is required.