Where do we seek healing and renewal when the comforts we usually turn to are the very things that are harming us — when gathering together for the holidays and singing songs and sharing food might actually make us sick? It is not only the elements of fire and air that can cleanse and heal. When these are out of balance, we can turn to the heavier, cooler, "darker" elements of water and earth to seek out healing.
This series began with childhood memories of chilly winter nights. As a kid, I remember how the cold seemed to contract around you, drawing you closer to loved ones, making your world seem small enough to hold in the palm of your hand... There was a comfort in having nowhere to go and nothing to do, but also a restlessness and excitement to know that outside, a winter storm was raging.
Birches have long been a symbol of new beginnings -- they're a pioneer species, one of the first to regrow in an area after a natural disaster, and their bark contains oils that make it especially good for kindling life-giving fires in the hearth (and heart) during the coldest, darkest months of the year.
Usually Starbucks incorporates a wide variety of anti-Christian imagery onto their winter holiday-themed cups, but this year the Seattle coffee company has completely capitulated to the growing pressure from right-wing fundamentalist Christian groups to "put the Christ back in Yule" by creating a holiday cup design that not only rejects all the Pagan symbolism of this blessed time of year, but actively promotes a Christian worldview. Don't believe me? Check out this breakdown of Christian symbolism...