Winter Solstice is the day when light is reborn out of the darkness of winter. Our days start to become longer and lead us back to the beauty of spring and the warmth of summer, stretching towards their peak at the Summer Solstice.
Most ancient cultures celebrated this return of light and life with feasting, music, light and fire, and for many, it was the true beginning of the New Year.
It was so important to the pre-Celt ancients of Ireland that they spent over 30 years building a monument to the returning sun: Newgrange.
Older than Stonehenge and the pyramids of Giza, it was designed so that on the Winter Solstice, the rising sun shines directly along the long passage into the inner chamber and for 17 minutes illuminates the chamber floor and the symbols etched on the back wall.
What did the Ancients know that we don’t?
“Listen to the howl of our spiritual brother, the wolf; for how it goes with him, so it goes for the natural world.” Oren R. Lyons, Spokesman, Traditional Circle of Elders
Your family plays, forms loving bonds and social hierarchies, raises children and works to sustain itself, just like every other family.
But on a regular basis, your family members are slaughtered, just for being alive in the world today.
I could be talking about any minority group, anywhere in the world. But today I’m talking about wolves.
Mysterious, mystical, misunderstood wolves.
I have published this prayer for the past two years during Thanksgiving week. It is timeless and appropriate at any time of year, but particularly now.
Thanksgiving prayers are common to most religious groups. Native Americans had entire ceremonies just for the purpose of expressing thanks – sometimes the ceremonies lasted for days.
This Thanksgiving Prayer comes from the Seneca Nation and is at least 500 years old.
It is traditionally done around a fire, with spiritual food on the altar. I have adapted it to be used as a Thanksgiving Prayer on our national holiday:
Seneca Thanksgiving Prayer
And now we are gathered together to remember the Great Mystery’s first instruction to us: to love one another always, we who move about on this earth.
And the Great Mystery said that when even just two people meet, they should first greet each other by saying: “Nyah Weh Skenno” which translates to “thank you for being” and then they may take up the matter with which they are concerned.
[Nyah Weh Skenno more literally means: “thank you for being alive in the here and now and not adding to the confusion of the world.”]
The Great Mystery gave us our lives and requires in return only that we be grateful and love one another. The purpose of this prayer is to pass on those instructions and give us the opportunity to express our gratitude.
So the first thing we will do is give thanks for our lives.
“What to do when life hands you lemons” is not the post I had planned for this week.
But I got handed a bunch of lemons – figuratively – by being stranded for three days [going on four] just three hours from home due to a blizzard.
When life throws us curves [the proverbial lemons] we have choices: to fret and moan and sulk, or make the best of it.
Hence the analogy to the classic piece of advice: when life hands you lemons, make lemonade.
My lemonade story
This past weekend, I taught a healing seminar in upper Wisconsin in the U.S.
My seven-hour drive home entailed driving south through Wisconsin and Illinois, through the great city of Chicago, and around the bottom of Lake Michigan to return to my home in Southwest Michigan.
Monday morning as I was en route, I received a call from the friend taking care of my animals that there were blizzard conditions in Michigan and I shouldn’t even think about trying to make it home.
My first thought was, “Holy $%^&#”
Well, I’m embarrassed to report that, after posting three weeks ago about my great start, I now get to report on lessons learned failing the “30-day no sugar challenge.”
Technically, I wrote about a 10-day no sugar challenge proposed by the documentary Fed Up, but I was undertaking 30 days of no sugar.
But whether 10 days, or 30, I failed.
However, I did learn a lot [about myself and sugar] which I felt was worth sharing.
The goal, set by my friend Gary, was to avoid anything with sugar in it for 30 days.
Here’s why I failed
1. SUGAR IS IN EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!! Even if it doesn’t say “sugar,” there are 56 other terms for it – see the chart in my original post.
2. I didn’t read all the nutrition labels I should have. Such as my organic hemp protein powder. I don’t know why there’s sugar in it, but there was, and I didn’t read the nutrition label until 10 days in.
That was just one of many sugar surprises.