Dear Éiriú Eolas family,
Dear Éiriú Eolas family,
It’s the time for another solstice; the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere and the summer solstice for those “down under”. Solstices mark earth’s celestial movements, defining the change of seasons. Winter solstice is the shortest day and longest night of the year. From then onwards, the sun grows stronger and people welcome the longer, brighter, warmer days that the sun brings. This heralds the coming of spring, with the blooming of the earth and abundance of food for earth’s creatures. It is no wonder that so many ancient and current festivities in this time are celebrating the birth of sun gods that will cast away the darkness and bring light into the world.
For the year 2011, the winter solstice date is December 22nd. We thought that it might be a good time for reflection, and το consider how the Éiriú Eolas program assists us in creating our lives in a healthy and more natural way. Even in an age where we’re in constant contact via our mobile phones and social networking, it’s not hard to see how disconnected we really are… from each other, mother nature, our own deepest desires, good health, and a way of life in which we can be truly happy. We’re sickly, unhappy, overstressed, overworked… Ηow did this happen? And what can we do to make our solstice celebrations bring back that sense of wonder and connectedness we felt as children?
For tens of thousands of years, humanity lived in harmony with nature and each other. We lived long, fulfilling lives, free of disease. We ate natural foods, enjoyed plentiful downtime to socialize, engaged in creative activities, and pondered life and all our relationships. But in the busy-ness of modern culture, we seem to have forgotten all of this. We’ve become disconnected from the knowledge of our own bodies, minds, and emotions, which our Paleolithic ancestors knew so well. Thankfully, this knowledge didn’t totally disappear. It’s there for anyone to find, buried in our history, science, religions, and most importantly, within ourselves. This knowledge is our birthright. It is universal and accessible still. We just need to know how to find it and nurture it to grow. Just as a seed, when given sunlight, water, and manure in which to grow, can become a rose, we have the ability to nurture the seed of our own soul, our essential self, to transform the suffering that has become normal in our everyday lives into something meaningful and full of life.
Éiriú Eolas, Irish-Gaelic for growth of knowledge, taps into this great tradition. After the end of the last ice age, the worldview and practices of the Western European Paleolithic tribes passed on through the tribes of the Celts and the Druids of Britain, Ireland, and Gaul. Éiriú Eolas represents a renewal of the way they saw and interacted with the world. Fortunately, it doesn’t end there. These traditions are universal because they crop up in all parts of the globe. While the symbols and frameworks differ from place to place, the root principles of their dietary, shamanistic, and social knowledge remain consistent. And Christmas and solstice celebrations have traditionally tapped into that way of life. So how can we use the principles of Éiriú Eolas this holiday season?
First of all, remember to breathe. As humans, we are one of the few species with the ability to consciously control our own breathing rate, changing thus our psychological state. Secondly, get out of the office and spend some time with your family. Read stories, sing songs, cook a plentiful and healthy meal, laugh together, and give plenty of hugs! All of these things have something in common: they stimulate your vagus nerve. That’s one of the most important things our vagus nerve does: helps us to establish that close connection and bond with the people we love. It’s what makes us truly human, because without it there would be no nurturing of children, no song, no compassion, no deep relationship with another human being. It really is that important.
When stress is overabundant in our lives, in work, relationships, and family, our fight-or-flight systems are working overtime. And that takes its toll on our bodies and our emotions. Luckily, we can turn it off whenever we want. The passage from our fight-or-flight response to calm social engagement with others is intimately linked with the activities of our mouth and throat: they’re what put the emotion in our voices, in our songs, and they’re what brings a baby to its mother’s breast. So when you spend time close to your loved ones, eating, talking, laughing, and singing, you’re actually doing all the things Eiriu Eolas helps you accomplish.
Happy Winter Solstice, Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!
The Eiriu Eolas Team