Winter Solstice – Yule, 21 December


Seasonal Soulcraft


Live in each season as it passes; breath air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.  Let them be your only diet, drink and botanical medicines.

~  Henry David Thoreau

mistletoe1812a    Yule, 21 December

The winter air outside is thin and bracing; sharp, icy, stinging.  We don’t saunter as we do in the summer.  Instead, we wrap up warm, the pace of our steps quick, mirroring the outside cold.

Once we close the door though, and come inside, the winter air is warm again, and often filled with the lovely aromas so widely linked to this seasonal time of year:

Wood burning, evergreens, cones, cinnamon and ginger

Mulled wine or rum shrub

Hot chocolate, marshmallows, candy sweets and chestnuts

Turkey, roasted ham, freshly baked bread, cheese and mince pies

Souls sip and saver.  Take thine ease.  Eat, drink and be merry in this season of joy

The most ancient spiritual wisdom was entered around the predictable shifts in seasonal energies.  Rituals revolved around sowing, reaping and the cycles of light and darkness.  The seasonal rhythms correlate with our bodily rhythms … our dream life and inner life grow more insistent in the winter darkness … the old year is put to bed, one’s business is finished, and the harvest of spiritual maturity is reaped as wisdom and forgiveness.

For centuries, eastern healers – particularly practitioners of Chinese medicine – have taken into consideration the impact the seasons have on our bodies, minds and souls.  But the symbiotic relationship between humans and nature has largely been ignored by western medicine until recently.  Now physicians acknowledge that some people suffer from a deep depression in the winter because they’re extremely  sensitive to darkness.  Light therapy restores their subtle energies to a healthy balance.

Learning the soulcraft of seasonal healing can bring new depth to our journey toward wholeness.  In the natural world, winter is the season of rest, restoration and reflection.  Theres’s not much of that going on this week, but after the holidays are behind us, consider how you spend what ever time you have at your personal disposal.  And if you have as little as I think you do, reflect on how  you can change that next year.

The 12th century German mystic Hildegard of Bingen suggests a simply way for us to begin exploring the richness of seasonal soulcraft:

Glance at the Sun

See the Moon and the Stars

Gaze at the beauty of Earths greenings



Food from Plenty – Making the most of leftovers and seasonal produce


Ham hock and grain mustard terrine

This is one of the best terrines I’ve eaten, is really moist, and much simpler to make than many others, which often can seem a bit daunting:

Serves 6

1 carrot, half an onion, a celery stick, 3-4 sprigs of thyme, a bay leaf, garlic clove, star anise (optional) 3 teaspoons wholegrain mustard, 3 tablespoons chapped flat leaf parsley, salt and pepper and 1 large ham hock, soaked in water for 24 hours (or alternatively, use left over ham)

Roughly chop all the vegetables and put them into a large saucepan with the ham hock, thyme, bay, garlic and star anise.  Cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer on a low heat for about 2-3 hours / until the ham falls off the bone.

Remove the ham from the bone and once cooled, shred the meat, discarding any fat or sinew.

Add the mustard and parsley

Reduce the ham cooking liquor by boiling until only 75ml (2.5 fl oz) remain.  Add it to the meat and season to taste.  Press the mixture into a small tin loaf that has been lined with clingfilm and chill. If you don’t have a tin loaf, individual small pots work just as well.

Best left chilling for a couple of days before eating.  Serve with pickles, chutney, freshly baked bread and a chilled glass of your favourite!




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