We use the word "blessing" a lot during the December holidays. We count our blessings, we send greeting cards with wishes for blessings, we receive blessings after religious services, instead of "goodbye" we say, "Have a blessed day," and we ask the blessing. We use this little word in many contexts without ever considering what it really means. After all, a blessing is just words, right?
In these modern days, few of us believe words carry power and energy of their own. Despite the sentiments of our holiday cards, "blessing" has too often become a mere social cliché.
In contrast, our ancestors understood the significance of a blessing. Throughout history, many cultures have practiced the custom of blessing their children, in routine ways such as those given at bedtime for protection or formally for more special occasions such as birthdays or weddings.
Children often coveted their parents' blessing. If you are familiar with biblical scripture, you know that Jacob, the second son of Isaac and Rebekah, so desired his father's blessing that he was willing to bargain with his brother and deceive his father to get it. In those days, the blessing was the birthright of the firstborn, but Jacob knew that once Isaac gave him his blessing, his father could not take it back.
Even though we have largely forgotten the old traditions, a blessing still has the power to clear harmful energy, to protect, to heal or to change the course of a life. To bless someone is to spiritually and magically invoke gifts of the highest good for another through the purest of intentions. Can you imagine a greater gift?
How, then, is a blessing bestowed, and who has the right or duty to bestow it?
Start by recognizing the power within—the power of our thoughts, words and intentions to create change. No clearer example of this power exists than that of a parent in relationship to his or her child. Particularly when we are young, words of approval from a parent will readily boost our sense of self-worth, while words of disapproval often result in emotions of shame or sadness. In either case, the impact is intense and real.
As many of us know all too well, our parent's words carry influence over us throughout our lives, and they can continue to affect us even after our parents are gone. Similarly, we go to priests or ministers believing that if a person with spiritual authority pronounces a blessing on our home or on us, then blessed we will be.
We each hold within us this same power. We can build others up (or tear them down) with nothing more than words. Blessings do not require an intermediary; the energy of the Divine lives in each of us. Most importantly, it is imperative to be open to believe in the magic of a blessing. Just like the words of our parents, this magic can have a profound emotional and tangible impact on the recipient.
The definition of "magic" is "an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source," according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. But consider another definition: "Magic" is a creative phenomena found within each of us and is as natural as our thoughts, intentions and will. Magic is a product of clear intention powered by our own psychic energy. Though science cannot dissect these realities, each manifests in our lives and is as real as the rhythm of our beating heart.
Yuletide is a season of wonderful, magical change. It is an ancient celebration of the winter solstice, the shortest day and longest night of the year. From that moment on, the hours of sunlight increase daily as life begins anew. It is a celebration of new beginnings for all of creation. In this time of overwhelming commercialism, what more fitting and magical gift for someone you love at this season than that of a blessing of the heart!
May you find happiness that comes from within, peace in the face of chaos, love without price and the Divine in all your days. Blessed be.
Elaanie's Yule Incense
2 parts Frankincense
2 parts Myrrh
2 parts mugwort
2 parts juniper berries
1 part cedar
1 part pine resin
1/2 part rosemary
Crush and blend all ingredients together with a mortar and pestle. Label with a date, and store in a tightly sealed glass jar. Sprinkle small amounts over hot incense charcoal in an appropriate burner, or sprinkle it onto a fire in your fireplace.
Purchase resins and charcoal at Fair Trade Handicrafts (Rainbow Plaza, 2807 Old Canton Road, 601-987-0002) and fresh herbs at Rainbow Whole Foods (601-366-1602).
Grandma's Christmas Brownies
4 ounces German sweet chocolate
5 tablespoons butter
3 ounces cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, unsifted
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Melt chocolate and three tablespoons butter over very low heat, stirring constantly. Set aside to cool.
Blend the remaining butter with the cream cheese until softened. Gradually add a quarter-cup sugar and blend until light and fluffy. Stir in one egg, one-tablespoon flour, and a half-teaspoon vanilla until blended.
Beat remaining eggs until fluffy and light in color. Gradually add remaining three-quarter-cup sugar, beating until thickened. Fold in baking powder, salt and remaining half-cup flour. Blend in cooled chocolate mixture. Stir in walnuts, almond extract and remaining teaspoon vanilla.
Measure one cup of chocolate batter and set aside. Spread remaining chocolate batter in a greased 9-inch square pan. Pour cream cheese mixture over the top. Drop measured chocolate batter from tablespoon onto the cheese mixture. Swirl the mixtures together with a spatula to marble.
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool and cut into bars or squares.
Thank you for this very interesting article; it presents a very different view from most of what we see this time of year. It is interesting to me that many of the holidays now embraced by our Christian culture are actually refections of the "Old Religion" Sabbats. Wonder where those Easter traditions come from..........