Monthly Archives: December 2012

Wassail

Standard

Wassail“Wassail! Wassail!  All over the town,
Our toast, it is white, and our beer, it is brown”

I first learned about Wassailing when my school chorus sang this traditional Wassailing Song from the Middle Ages.  It was explained to me as a tradition akin to modern day caroling, going door to door, singing to your neighbors.  The wassailing tradition is quite a bit more than that, of course, but it’s a convenient starting point.

Wassail comes from the Old English Waes Hael, which means “to your health”, and is a blessing offered when drinking a spicy, often alcoholic version of hot mulled cider.  It was traditionally served with dry toast, which would be soaked in the cider.  In pre-Christian  southern England, where apple orchards were an important source of food, the residents would travel from orchard to orchard at mid-winter, singing and drinking to the health of the trees, soaking their toast with the fruits of the recent harvest, and offering it to the trees in blessing.  This tradition endured in various forms throughout the Christianizing of Europe, and continues today as caroling and toasting to our health with an upraised glass .  I don’t know anyone who soaks real toast in their cider anymore, but the word “toast” now means the act of raising your glass to wish good fortune for another.  “Wassail” has come to mean both the beverage and the verbal toast, and it is a great toast to offer at Yuletide, for it wishes health and good cheer to all.

With the desire to wish health and good cheer to those I love, I decided to create a perfume blend of essential oils that would capture the spirit of Wassail.

Not having any apple-derived essential oils on hand, I began with the next scent most strongly associated to Yule for me: Pine.  I selected the light and sweet Scotch Pine, which evokes the remembrance of fresh-cut Yule trees and wreaths.  Energetically, Pine is psychologically fortifying, instills positivity and helps to restore self-confidence.  It counteracts pessimism and reawakens our instinctive connection to life.

I paired the Scotch Pine with Ginger Root, a warmly invigorating oil that can awaken the spark in our personal dark spots.  This is a good oil for New Year’s blends, for it can stimulate will power and resolve, and helps boost confidence and morale.  It’s warm spiciness merges with Pine’s sweet brightness in a smooth fit.

Because I’m trying to create a blend that both energetically supports good cheer, and a blend that will also make a beautiful perfume, I considered but dismissed several oils that might do the job but not smell as lovely.  I didn’t include Cinnamon, for example, because even though it may be a traditional spice in Wassail, it can easily overwhelm a perfume blend, and can be a skin and respiratory irritant to others. It’s important to consider safety factors when selecting oils for a blend.

Instead, I went next to Sweet Orange, which is a traditional ingredient in Wassail, and embodies the energy of good cheer.  Sweet Orange essential oil is expressed from the peel of the orange, so it smells exactly like a freshly peeled orange. Who can resist a smile at that? Bright and sweetly scented, Orange conveys joy and positivity, dispersing the moodiness and irritability that takes hold when  energy stagnates.

The blend was almost there, but my nose said it still needed something more, something that would hold onto the brightness of the orange and help anchor its sweetness into the blend.  I recently acquired some precious Osmanthus blossom from my supplier, Nature’s Gift.  Osmanthus is said to bring new things into your life—new opportunities, surprising synchronicities, and prosperity. Exotic and rare, it strengthens the will and focuses resolutions for the accomplishment of goals that have been sitting on the back burner for awhile. Osmanthus encourages positivity and hope for the future.   It seemed like the perfect addition for a Wassail blessing.

The result is a sweet and uplifting perfume with spicy undertones that anchor the complex sweet tones at the top.  I’m very pleased with this result, and pleased to offer it as a gift to my loved ones.

Wassail Perfume Oil
Designed to bring you good cheer!

Essential Oils ratios:
4 Scotch Pine
3 Ginger
2 sweet Orange
1 Osmanthus
Carrier Oil:  fractionated Coconut

Qualities:
Pine is psychologically fortifying, instills positivity and helps to restore self-confidence.
Ginger oil is essentially warming, invigorating, and can help to boost confidence and morale.
Orange conveys joy and positivity, dispersing moodiness and irritability.
Osmanthus encourages positivity and hope for the future.

 May this mid-winter Solstice season, howsoever you may celebrate it, bring you health and good cheer.  Wassail!

Advertisements

Gifting

Standard

GiftingGifting for me is ideally an organic, spontaneous, spiritual act, initiated as I move through the world and see something that I ~know~ would be cherished by someone I know; I take enormous joy in facilitating that process, in finding the perfect gift for the perfect person, in being a conduit for synchronicity to occur.

I love the gift that comes at the perfect time, the well-placed act of kindness that turns someone’s day around. No special occasion is necessary, except the special inner prompting that identifies a need and see a path to meeting it.  I love responding to a hunch that such a person should have such a thing, and hear the gasp of wonder that comes with a wish made manifest. I love gifting when I give myself over to serving as a conduit for the will of the gods.

I seek those moments; I actively search for opportunities to share the joyous energy that comes to both giver and receiver.  Gifting is an exchange of love, even when the perfect gift is given to a stranger. It is a means of connection, linking hearts in a moment of shared joy.  I have received gifts in my life that I try to pay forward, and I love participating in the energy that is exchanged when we reach out our hands in generous giving.

As a spiritual practice, I cultivate this form of gifting throughout the year, whenever I can. It brings me great joy.  But I find it very hard to engage in this intuitive form of gifting around the holidays. I have to engage with the gifting process on a whole different level that I find quite artificial, forced, and uncomfortable.  There are expectations and obligations to contend with.  There are relationships that vibrate on the tuning fork of holiday gifting. I am forced to change my entire approach to gifting: I have to make lists, figure budgets, and then begin to wrack my right-brain for ideas about what my gift recipients might like. All of it is a strain.

In order to give my intuition room to assist, I sometimes find myself window-shopping for ideas, which means overcoming my overwhelming aversion to crowds. As an introvert, holiday crowds means most shopping centers are gauntlets to run at a high cost in personal energy. I get distraught in large crowds, and retreat from the whole experience. Commercials, normally muted in my household, now get grudging attention as I search for gift inspirations. I wade in the rough surf of commercialism and hope to keep my feet beneath me. But with the sheer volume of gifting that is expected of us at the holidays, I get overwhelmed. I get decision fatigue.  I lose the joy that gifting can bring me.

Each winter, I am given an opportunity to try a different approach, to find joy in holiday gifting.  Yet each season, I feel great relief to put the winter holidays behind me. This year, I am once again earnestly seeking to connect with the joy of gifting in a way that feels more authentic to me.  I will once again seek to balance the conflicts of expectations with the joy of a well-placed gift.  I will resist the urge to avoid the holidays, but to expand my heart large enough to embrace the process,  challenges and all.

Seek joy. Words to live by.

Happy holidays to all, howsoever you celebrate them.