The Winter Solstice - the shortest day of sunlight and the longest night of the year - occurs at 4.49am on December 22nd this year. The term 'solstice' derives from the Latin word 'solstitium', which means 'Sun standing still'. The day after Winter solstice marks the beginning of lengthening days, leading up to the summer solstice in June. To celebrate elongated and (hopefully) brighter days, a friend and I have organised an offering of medicinal lattes, tea infusions and a candlelit meditation, followed by a sharing style, bring-a-bowl floor feast for our closest friends, friends of friends and family members. We wanted to bring people together at this busy time of year, where stresses can overpower and disrupt living in the moment at a time that’s supposed to be joyful. Often, as the year comes to an end, panic kicks in about not having achieved enough in the last 365 days, whilst what we should really be focussing on is all that we have accomplished. I’m looking forward to sharing this special moment in our annual cycle with new and old acquaintances, without any sense of time or urgency. In MT Wolf’s song, Burgs, the speaker points out that when we entered this world, we did so with great awe and such wonder. We arrived wondering what it was all about and what our time here was going to be like, but as we became comfortable, we began to wonder more about ourselves - our jobs, our to do lists - forgetting what we came here for. The chance to be here happens briefly, so spend more time taking it in, as well as the people here with you, and enjoying your time here, rather than stressing about it.
I’ve been adding medicinal mushrooms (not as illegal as they sound) to my food and drink for years now. They bring a powerful energy and interesting flavour to things like smoothies, lattes, porridge and savoury meals. They combine with other ingredients to enhance their nutritional benefits. In this recipe I use chaga, which is an adaptogen containing deeply cleansing antioxidants. As an adaptogen, it can help to alleviate stressful feelings and anxiety by balancing the body’s various systems, energizing systems that are fatigued, and quieting those that are overactive. Combined with healthy fats and protein provided by the almond milk, this makes the perfect evening remedy to sooth the soul, calm the mind, and encourage good quality rest.
1/4 Teaspoon Chaga Powder (I also like to use Shilajit)
1 Teaspoon Cardamom Pods
1/2 Inch Fresh Ginger
2 Cinnamon Sticks
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Seeds, Powder or Bean Paste
2 Cups Almond Milk (or other plant based milk)
1/2 Teaspoon Raw Honey, optional
Set the almond milk in a small saucepan over a low to medium heat. Add the vanilla, ginger, cardamom pods and cinnamon sticks and heat, stirring constantly, for 10-20 minutes. The longer you simmer, the more the flavours from the spices with infuse the milk. Add the honey towards the end if you want to add some sweetness, then whisk with a hand whisk or an electric whisk (I use this one) to create a frothy texture. This isn't essential, but it is nice. Remove from the heat, transfer to glasses or mugs and serve warm or enjoy chilled over ice.