Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Mistletoe

A holiday postcard circa 1900 from wikipidea

Yesterday evening 5pm misty cold London evening, while being swept along in London Bridge train station crowd; I overheard a woman on her mobile complaining about her friend being 'bah humbug'. I exclaimed to myself 'just coos I don't celebrate Christmas don't assume I am being a 'kill joy'. Ah ha me thought ~ an opportunity for change. For healing.
Like many I have found this time a challenge. It is reminder that I cannot force fit my childhood family into the 'perfect ideal' pictured in Western Society's idea of Christmas. So I have felt lost. Left out in the cold. I have spent Xmas on my own for over 20 years, years I have tried to block from my memory. Far from a time of celebration of being with loved ones a time for appreciation and sharing. I have found myself facing the cul-de-sac labelled 'what is wrong with me'?
And despite feeling envious this has not stopped me appreciating others sharing the joy of each other ~ giving and receiving, nurturing, celebration, gorgeous food, Light and Fun.
But what i don't 'get' is the commercialisation and the ever increasing sell sell of expensive gifts ~ especially for children. There is the pressure to conform to an idea of how a family is to be.
I wonder if I had a different childhood and family would I be thinking the same? Or would I be focusing on the preparations. Looking forward to being with my family even though they do get on my nerves! It would be within acceptable annoyance. And the positives would out way the negatives.
So, I do not want to be linked with 'bah humbug' though I struggle with my own loss of that warmth at this time of dark and cold. Instead of remaining conflicted I begin to realize that yet again as I walk on the edge I have choice. No need to drown in the waters of shame. Nor do I go along with others or 'societies' expectations. I am working on choice. What can, and do I want this time to be. What can it be. So, little by little I dare to be more present. Open to possibility. Because I have loss means I can appreciate so much.

Today I brought mistletoe which is hanging in my doorway. For 2 years I have had a growing awareness to this magical plant. So I choose this as an opportunity to connect more with the 'medicine' and spirit.
Mistletoe's name is anglo-saxon in origin ~ 'mistle' means dung and 'tan' is the word for twig. So mistletoe means dung-on-a-twig (1).
"Shakespeare referred to it as the 'baleful Mistletoe', from the Scandinavian legend the Balder, the God of Peace, was slain with an arrow made of mistletoe. He was restored to life of the request of the other Gods and Goddesses and Mistletoe was afterwards given into the keeping of the Goddess of Love, and it was ordained that anyone who passed under it should receive a kiss, to show the branch had become an emblem of love, and not of hate." (1)
There are various myths such as linking Mistletoe to birds as some believed it grew from birds dung or that due to it not growing from soil it was heaven sent. Many believe it was sacred to the Celtic druids and some believe it was used in shamanic practices. Neither plant or herb. In between ~ a gatekeeper between the worlds.
"Basically: The mistletoe does not care for earth or sky, it grows the way it wants and lingers outside all rhythms and laws of terrestrial growth. Some examples: it does not care for day or night, top or bottom, summer or winter, laws of gravitation, linear laws (spatial extent)." (2)
The name also apparently means "the one that heals everything" (3) ~ powerful medicine in deed. Mistletoe's Medicinal/Remedial Properties and Lore are many: Antispasmodic, cardiac, cytostatic, diuretic, emmengogue, haemostat, hypotensive, narcotic, nervine, stimulant, tonic, vasodilator. (4)
"In 50 C.E., the Greek physician Dioscorides wrote his Materia Medica, establishing himself a place in medical history. As one of the ancient world's most knowledgeable herbalists, Dioscorides found that mistletoe helped cure his patients of external tumors. He wrote that it “has the power to disperse, soften, drawing and assisting tumors of the parotid gland and other lesions…” Some forty or so years later, Pliny the Elder wrote of the treatment of sores and epilepsy with mistletoe in his Natural History. He also described its use in magic and ritual" (4)
In the 1920's Rudolf Steiner became interested in Mistletoe and since then has been used as treatment for Cancer. According to Steinerhealth.org various studies have shown Mistletoe to have several benefits in the treatment of Cancer. (5)
It's magical properties include drawing love, protection and banishing evil spirits. Not surprising then it is meant to aid in peaceful sleep. (6)
Mistletoe from my investigations I realize, has been and remains powerful; still integral to so many's ritual even though not everyone might be aware of it's healing properties or its links with myth, history, folklore and spiritual beliefs. It is linked with Winter Solstice ~ the Pagan New Year. Time to remember and celebrate new life.

So for me what can I celebrate. I am not out in the cold. I am no longer homeless either physically or emotionally. As the shortest day draws near I remember the richness and abundance that lies warm in the dark earth. I am reminded of the abundance in my life ~ so many gifts that are part of me which I share with others, the rich memories that have given birth to dear connections and shared loves. So I give thanks to the gifts of Mistletoe that aid me in my dreams of past, present and future. I acknowledge and ask for ingenuity, strength, endurance protection, abundance, creativity and love.