As I write, parts of the Southeastern U.S. receive record amounts of rainfall. Streams and rivers are filled to overflowing. Topsoil is eroded. More water, in all its forms, is yet to come.
March is a hungry lioness headed toward us with feminine force and speed. Though the now-perceptible lengthening days offer a bit of bright relief, we are reminded to dial back our commitments and retreat to the warmth and safety of the hearth. We must let this in-between time of transformation run its course, lest we get “eaten alive.”
As medicine women, we may see an uptick in complaints related to deep emotion and personal mental healthiness. Our clients may mention fatigue, lack of motivation, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Signs of depression that come with SAD often include difficulty with focus, trouble waking or going to sleep, weight gain or loss, and other problems that make it difficult to function or manage multi-step tasks.
Too, physical ailments, such as a lower back and knee pain, arthritis, water retention, and chronic fatigue or depleted adrenals are more evident now. Immune systems are run-down, and kidneys become over-stressed. Taking steps to replenish the immune system is recommended.
In this vein, we should encourage those who come to us to use this time to build chi, or life force energy, for the whole person, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Metaphorically, when we speak about the seeds of potential which lie buried in the earth, we’re really talking about our own ability to build our life force energy for expression in the world.
In my home, quiet self care includes attention placed on food as a source of personal energy. One of my mentors, Nicole Christine, always simmered a crock of soup on Sundays. It was a way to stock food energy for the week ahead.
Preparation for a warming soup is can be a type of meditation, infused with attention and intention. Soups and stews are warming and watery, perfect for balancing the element of water during the cool days and nights of this time. Preference savory herbs, such as the classic parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, or consider the addition of warming spices, such as chilis, curries, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, and garlic. A base of miso contains welcome salt and assists the body with the control of fluids during this period of retraction.
Also warming, herbal teas offer an opportunity for sensory experience and quiet reflection.
Medicine Women may resist slowing down after Imbolc. We may fear that we will be unable to return from the stillness, coolness and darkness to serve our purpose. We may doubt our ability to stare into the darkness and transform what we see. But this is our time to do a deep dive, to take out our fears and look at them one by one, and seek refuge in the facts.
Writing the wrongs, we may show up on the page in our journals to workshop what we learn. We must reassure ourselves that we can overcome the worst possible scenario, whatever that may be. In so doing, we can model for our communities what healthy yin energy looks like in practice. And we can ready ourselves for the return of the light.
Water in winter asks us to yield to obstacles (especially those which are self-imposed), to seek harmony in solutions, to plan rather than fear, and to carve out the containers we need to be well, mentally, physically, metaphorically. Medicine Women seek and choose energetic spaces, fiery colors, nurturing surroundings, and elegant friendships that respect a slower pace.
As February passes and Oestara approaches, I invite you to cultivate your awareness, quiet joy, and hidden potential for growth as a Medicine Woman.