On the Autumn Lenten Season

Jacqui | 18.03.2008 | 23:09:06 | Views: 1492

As I reflect on the purposes of Lent, a season of fasting, reflection, dying to our attachments, I feel glad that I have finally managed to understand the universality of a Christian season for a southern hemisphere season also! It always seems so northern hemisphere oriented, but now I am seeing that perhaps its just a matter of perspective.

I have been reading through notes on the season of Autumn in a wonderful text called Healing with Wholefoods by Paul Pitchford,and feel encouraged to make this Lent a whole person experience, which is how it is supposed to be anyway. There is no Platonic division between body and soul, but our spirit connects us as one whole being.

As we fast during Lent from things that are or can be external attachments, we strive to cultivate the inner person and our connection with God and our compassion for one another. It is for this reason that we are encouraged to abstain from animal products and other richly satisfying foods and limit our external stimuli e.g. television, parties, alcohol etc and instead start to draw inward. In a secular world, it is hard to enter into our spiritual seasons as what we are surrounded with rarely undergo times of contraction and retreat, however, if we are to sustain ourselves on a Lenten diet which inevitably will have a reduced calorie intake, it is necessary to work out a sustainable balance for the season. If we do not, we become tired, and struggle to nurture our spiritual hunger and growth. We often hear the phrases; "slowly, slowly", and "little by little" repeated by our spiritual fathers and mothers, and so during this time we set ourselves challenging but maintainable standards in relation to all areas of our being; what we chose to eat, watch, read, take in and in turn give out.

Following are some abridged notes from Pitchford regarding the nature of the season of Autumn, a season governed by the element Metal, and I am looking forward to using them to enhance my Lenten experience, and preparation for Pascha. I have been encouraged and strengthened by the ideas of my food even assisting my being to move inward and downward, to prepare for the downward spiral of Christ into the depths of Hades (which is not unlike a season of winter). How great is the providence of God that our experience of the seasons can be so whole! I thought I would share these notes with you also.

Autumn in time to pull inward and gather together on all levels. A time to stock up fuel and prepare for the stillness of winter. Everything in nature at this time contracts and moves its essence downward and inward.

"The forces of Autumn create dryness in Heaven and Metal on Earth; the lung organ and skin upon the body . . . and the nose; white colour, pungent flavour. . . the emotion grief and the ability to make a weeping sound" – The Inner Classic

  • Prepare foods which reflect the qualities of Autumn- Abundant yet contracting in nature.

  • More astringent and heartier flavours

  • Focused preparation as opposed to the often scattered nature of summer food, helps to supply the great energy required when entering a colder season.

  • The essence of food is received through the sense of smell- which goes to the lungs- baked and sautéed foods are concentrated and thicken the blood for winter

  • Sour flavours help to focus, and stimulate the contraction process- such foods include

  • Sourdoughs, sauerkraut, olives, pickles, leeks, aduki beans, rosehip tea, vinegar, lemons, limes, grapefruits and more sour apples and plums rather than sweet

  • Cook with less water and lower heat for longer, this helps to internalise the nutrients

  • Bitter and salty flavours help to move energy inward for winter (see Tahina cream recipe)


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