Updated: Nov 24
Shorter days. Turning
Towards rest. Hail Black Tortoise!
Winter has arrived!
- the tortoise, or tortoise snake is the totemic animal of winter -
Hello Friends of Flying Needle!
Happy Beginning of Winter!
- first winter solar node -
Hope this finds you well during these interesting times!
Seasonal Musings & Reflections
Here in Chapel Hill it is 80 degrees Fahrenheit as I am writing this. It is a beautifully sunny summery feeling day. Witch hazel is blooming. Box turtles and salamanders can still be found. Great horned owls call. Deer seem to be everywhere. This is a month with 4 distinct meteor streams - Northern and Southern Taurids, Leonids, and Andromedid. They are on the sparse side, 15 meteors/hour at their peak, but if you have the opportunity it's worth gazing into a cloudless November night sky. This year Winter begins at 1227 EST on November 8th in the Chinese Lunisolar calendar. What does that mean?
The 24 Solar Nodes mark the movements of Yin and Yang in the environment primarily through an observation of day length. As we continue to move towards the Winter Solstice, days get shorter and shorter culminating in the shortest day of the year. This is the point of maximum Yin expression in the yearly seasonal cycle. It correlates to Midnight within the circadian cycle.
After Winter Solstice - peak Yin - Yang begins to wax. Days start to become longer, increasing in length until we reach Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year - peak Yang. This breath cycle repeats until Sol goes supernova and Terra's life cycle comes to a close. From this vantage point, climate and weather are both smaller subsets of a considerably larger rhythmic pulsation.
Simply put, even if it feels like Summer, it is the beginning of Winter.
Winter is a time, if at all possible, to get more rest. Suwen chapter 2 advises us to: Sleep early, rise late. Be sure to wait for the sunshine.
It also encourages us to “avoid the cold and stay near the warm.” As the cooler weather arrives, dressing in layers and having a hat, and scarf available are good habits. We want to stay warm, but not so warm that we are sweating. A little cold is invigorating to most bodies. Henry McCann puts it succinctly: "Chapter 2 of the Huang Di Nei Jing says Winter is the time of “closing and storage” (閉藏). It is the season of hibernation and represents the death phase. However, this should not be construed as a bad thing. We need to enter the phase of ultimate silence and stillness, in other words the death phase, so that Yang (and Yang is life) can be reborn again. The organ associated with the Winter is the Kidney, and the phase is Water."
While Winter is a time for rest and quietude, movement is still important. There's a couple of sayings that my teacher Tom Bisio likes to use as encouragement: Movement in Winter decreases disease;
Laziness in Winter means an extra bowl of medicine.
- and -
Tonifying the body in Winter enables one to fight a tiger in Spring.
That being said, Winter is not the optimal season for our most robust movement training. It's the time for consistent nourishing practice rather than pushing our limits.
With regards to diet, Winter is the time for cooked and warming foods. Consuming too many raw and/or cold foods and beverages is taxing on the digestive system any time of the year, but most especially during Winter.
May your Winter days be filled with beauty, mystery, and friendship!
May you and your kin feel both rooted and free!
May we walk in gratitude with our Ancestors!
May all being and becoming receive nourishment!
Flowing between the
Currents of Heaven and Earth
Is the sage's Way.
It is my sincere hope that you have found something of use in these words.
If you know folks who you feel would enjoy this newsletter, please forward it their way! Thank you!
Wishing you and all your relations wellbeing and good medicine!