It's the holidays, and while chestnuts might be roasting on an open fire, I'm going to make sure this month's Shui advice makes that fire more magical than you could ever imagine!
According to age-old calendars, Yule falls on or about December 21, the Winter Solstice. This holiday once commemorated the births of solar deities such as Mithras. Much later, this holy day became a part of the Christian seasonal calendar, during which customs such as bringing a pine or fir tree indoors for decorative purposes -- and burning a Yule bonfire -- became common activities.
In earlier times, the sacred Yule blaze was built to offer additional power, life and light to the Sun, which was believed to be reborn annually on the Winter Solstice. Of course, this tradition now translates to the burning of the Yule log.
Anytime on the day of Yule, carve an image of the Sun (and any other magical symbols that strike your fancy) into the side of a log before you begin burning it after sundown. Remember that burning fir and cedar boughs, pine cones, mistletoe, rosemary and holly alongside the Yule log will more quickly manifest your hopes, wishes, dreams and desires!
If you don't have a fireplace, you can instead enjoy a downsized version of a Yule blaze by grabbing the fattest, reddest candle you can find, then making the aforementioned carvings in the side of it.
Finally, be sure to declare your best intentions while your Yule blaze catches fire. Burn, baby, burn!
There's really no place like home for the holidays, so this month we take a look at how your decor can really dress your house for this most wonderful time of the year!
First and foremost, Feng Shui says you should always hang garland at a "smiling" angle -- that is, with the ends pointing up in order to create a slight smile. Anything (including holiday decorations) with ends that hang down are generally believed to bring equally dipping energies ... and we can't have that now, can we? So just remember that anything you hang this holiday season should be "lifted," since it's sure to do the same thing to your spirits!
And don't forget to dress your home -- and your bad self! -- in plenty of green during these hectic holy days. Stressful situations this month can be exacerbated by all the Fire sign energy going around, so green can be quite a cooling color; place plants and evergreens all around to bring a sense of calm. Come on, let's face it -- it might not be easy being green, but it sure will tone down all that red!
Have a jolly holiday filled with blessings and light!
'Tis the season for recycled air in plane cabins full of passengers sniffling and sneezing!
We all know that washing your hands and using a tiny bit of hand sanitizer -- especially on days when you're sure to come into contact with germs -- will help keep you more healthy than not. But during this time of year when the wallet you just perused to possibly buy for your dear old Uncle Jack has also been handled by a hundred other palms, the approach that says "the best defense is a good offense" might not quite be up to the task.
So what to do if you contract the cough that keeps you up all night?
Mix one cup of honey and one-half cup of extra-virgin olive oil with juice from one fresh lemon, then cook in a small saucepan for five minutes over medium heat. Give it a good stir for at least one to two minutes, then bottle the mixture.
Take one teaspoon every two hours and call me in the morning -- after you finally get a good night's rest. (Just kidding about that second part.)
Now, where were you? Oh yeah, with visions of sugar plums dancing in your uncongested head....
As your holiday gatherings and festivities begin, why not serve some magically delicious rosemary-bourbon almonds as appetizers? Since these wonderful nuts reach their peak during winter months, the recipe I offer below is perfect for this time of year!
But first, a bit about almonds themselves!
Holistic practitioners say that eating ten raw almonds before partaking in any party food will prevent indigestion, while digestive advice of lore claims that eating five raw almonds before drinking alcohol will prevent intoxication. And did you know that almonds were used to cure insomnia in ancient Persia, as well as to prevent the proverbial evil eye?
Almonds are also believed to relieve headaches and aid in stimulating lactation. There are those who maintain that almonds even help bring money into your life!
Finally, Edgar Cayce, the "Sleeping Prophet," said that if you eat three raw almonds each day, you will never get cancer; many today believe that the presence of laetrile in almonds helps substantiate Cayce's statement.
And now, time to eat!
Makes 3 cups
3 cups of whole almonds
1 cup of lightly packed brown sugar
1/3 cup of minced fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon of coarse sea or kosher salt
2 teaspoons of cumin
1/4 teaspoon of ground white pepper
1/4 cup of bourbon
2 tablespoons of water
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Blanch the almonds by covering them with cold water in a medium saucepan. Bring the water to a boil, then drain.
3. Cool the almonds in cold water, then gently press each nut between your fingers to easily remove the skin. Place the almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet, then toast in the oven for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown. Remove and set to the side.
4. In a mixing bowl, combine the rosemary, cumin, salt and pepper.
5. In a small saucepan, bring the bourbon, brown sugar and water to a boil over low to medium heat for ten minutes.
6. Add the almonds and rosemary-cumin mixture to the saucepan, stirring well to ensure each one is completely coated.
7. Transfer to a buttered baking sheet, then separate and serve while warm. Yum!
When the planes, trains and/or automobiles you board this holiday season take you through high elevations, you run the risk of your Eustachian tubes becoming painfully blocked, since the pressure in your middle ear can't be equalized at higher climes. As a precaution, here are several helpful travel Shui tips to keep potentially bothersome ear conditions at bay!
1. About an hour before you board your plane, take an allergy medicine or some sort of decongestant. However, do not take these medications if you'll be driving -- and certainly check with a qualified medical professional before taking any holistic remedies. Also, if traveling by plane, take care to avoid using nasal spray, as this can likely cause more congestion.
2. I'll make this next one easy to swallow: Swallowing actually forces the muscle that opens the Eustachian tube to work, so when traveling by plane, it's smart to continually swallow during take-off and landing.
3. Now chew on this: It's often easier to keep swallowing when you're either sipping a beverage or chewing gum. Any change in altitude can cause your Eustachian tube to clog, so counteract this by chewing gum or sucking on hard candy to relieve the pressure. This simple tactic applies to plane, train and car travel.
4. And finally, yawn! Indeed, yawning stretches Eustachian tubes and helps keep them unclogged. Sometimes a simple yawn is all that's needed to get middle ear pressure to equalize and return to normal.
Hark! Now you can actually hear those herald angels singing!
Sit tightly, friends, because I've got some truly random -- yet powerful, effective and really easy -- Feng Shui this month!
Traditional Eastern schools of Feng Shui say that the best garland to use on and around the outside of your front door depends entirely on the direction that door faces. So let the holiday games -- and the garland-hanging -- begin!
• North-facing door: hang a metallic garland that's predominantly silver, metallic blue or gold.
• Northeast-facing door: hang red and yellow decorations.
• East-facing door: hang green garland with blue decorations.
• Southeast-facing door: hang blue garland with green decorations.
• South-facing door: hang green garland with red decorations.
• Southwest-facing door: hang predominantly red garland or decorations.
• West-facing door: hang white and gold decorations.
• Northwest-facing door: hang white, gold or yellow garland.
Alternately, you may hang Christmas lights around the outside of your front door, then hang any of the aforementioned colored wreaths as well.
Now, with all the good fortune set to occur at your front entryway, Santa might just forego shimmying down your chimney and instead come right through your front door this year!