Green Wizardries: Three Winter Solstice Gifts

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Before we get into the subject of seasonal gift giving, I want to tell you a story.  I recently made a huge pot of curried-squash soup.  It had to be huge because the squash was huge.  I thought of a friend I felt could use cheering up and took her a quart.  We met her today while she was out for a walk and she thanked me for the soup and then told me the sort of day she had been having when the soup arrived. 

Her electricity had failed several times that day.  The ultra-violet filter for her well water had stopped working and then, to put a cherry on top of her day, the water had also stopped flowing.  She had been so delighted to have a bottle of soup she could just set on the wood stove to warm up.   My timing was bang on that day!

We are kind of on our own now; the various levels of government, police, medical services, schools and similar all seeming to be having a series of melt-downs.  It is up to us to take care of our friends and neighbours.  We are the last line of defence.  So, ask people how they are doing and be prepared to step in with a kind gesture or a calming word.  

Now, on to the giving of seasonal gifts.  Giving the gift of a pleasant life is so much better than giving some trinket to clutter the house.  For example, I started to read Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations some years ago and have never stopped.  Without the very interesting footnotes, it is a short book and was never meant for publication.  The Meditations were just things Marcus jotted down in a notebook because as the Emperor of Rome, he couldn’t have frank discussion with any other mortal.  When I get to the end, I start again at the beginning.   

Marcus Aurelius was more than just Emperor of Rome, he was also a thoughtful, decent man and a lifelong student of Stoic philosophy.  I am sure you know the saying, “All power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely.”  Marcus was an angry man and he could have had his enemies pulled apart by teams of horses in the circus but he never did.  In fact, he was considered a prodigy of fair and even -handed rule.  

The Meditations have gone around my family.  I urged my sister in law to read them and when the family was together, we were talking to her eighteen-year-old son about what preparations would be good for him in life.  His Mother said, “Meditations,”  and we all stopped puzzled for a moment until she said, “Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.” 

Some months later, we were all visiting again and the young man said how astonished he was that he could open the book on any given day and receive excellent advice from a man, long dead, who seemed to know him and care about him.  I find the same thing happens to me.  I open the book and read a paragraph and find that is just what I needed to hear that day.  The Meditations will make a fine gift for any person who does not own a copy.  

The next gift on the list is Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs, a Beginner’s Guide.  This is the first herbal I ever owned and it remains my favourite one.  She gives information on how to grow medicinal plants, harvest them and gives a selection of recipes to make remedies for lots of common health problems.  

She also talks about the excellent weeds nature provides us with and where to find them and how to prepare them.  Rosemary also talks about common herbs and spices you probably already have in your kitchen and the excellent remedies you can make with them.  I am continually amazed at how good the products are that I make with her recipes.  Get this book for anyone on your list who doesn’t have it yet. 

The last book I will mention is the excellent, “Encyclopedia of Natural Magic,” by John Michael Greer.  Greer is a good scholar who has a rich background in ceremonial magic.  The Encyclopedia is derived from his study of Medieval and Renaissance magical texts.  

Besides being a good encyclopedia of the stones and herbs used in magical techniques, Greer provides information on how to use the book to pursue your own magical projects.  He also talks about having good magical ethics as the starting point of a successful magical practice.  

This text is fun and has many projects such as making magical soaps, incense, amulets, washes and perfumes.  It even includes a section on magical gardening.  All the information and projects in this book are suitable for children.  Greer’s books are a huge improvement on the Harry Potter books as they deal in real magic which can be a potent resource in making a happy and fulfilling life.