This is the first winter within 5 years that I am doing any sort of festive decoration. I always loved doing it, and that was part of the Advent period each year since I have memories. I remember my early years: while my mother was cooking in the kitchen I was doing all kinds of Christmas decorations. She showed me how to create simple handmade things that we placed on the Christmas tree together. Every year a new one. I was in a flow state always when creating something with my hands, and she knew it. The Christmas tree was also representing our Advent together and was holding memories from each year. No expensive crazy decors back then, mostly handmade imperfect personal objects. We kept it simple and we were waiting for it soooo much.
After my mother died I kept doing Christmas decorations, wreaths, all kinds of things with my hands to hold on to our tradition or maybe to send signals to her. I was too small, I didn’t really understand what death was. Maybe I was hoping her to come back if I repeated things we did together. But certainly she was gone and with her all the warmth and love she infused into our home to glue us together. My decorations were not decorating a home anymore, they were only desparate attempts of a child (and later of an adult) to bring the warmth back. Unsucceeded. In my life Advent and Christmas wasn’t really about connection, but rather about experiencing a deep sense of disconnection.
At the age of 31 moving to Greece, searching for home still. Here I never felt landed, rooted or even secure at any flat/house I lived in, so I didn’t decorate. But probably because in the meanwhile my relationship with nature is progressively evolving (the enormous gift I get from the Greek land), I am reframing and redefining words such as: home, belonging, holy-days, decoration, Advent, Christmas (and literally almost everything in my life).
Somehow the Greek islands brought me closer to a cosmic perspective of my human existence. There is a greater belonging and harmony I seek for, where my relatives are not only humans, but the stars, plants, the birds, insects, the wind, and so on. I realized that first and foremost I am the daugther of Mother Nature and cultivating a bond with Her is joyful, comforting and drives my focus on wider perspectives on the way of homecoming, searching for rootedness, coordinates to hold on to, and eventually for wholeness.
So this year I have done a festive wreath using local seasonal evergreens from the Rhodian nature to honour the sacred time of winter solstice, the rebirth of light, the great shift from contraction to expansion.
The point of my evergreen wreath was to create something beautiful by using only local seasonal plant materials in order to connect to my breathing environment and through them to the current phase of the cycle of light.
Since I turned my eyes toward the plant world on this exceptional, beautiful part of the planet, I became part of a wonder that has its miracles each day.
I don’t want to shop plastic (or whatever) decorations at shops. That does not make any sense to me anymore. And not for a sole environmental reason.
I only want to be in the wake of the ever changing cosmos and to be part of its indescribable surprises and pulsation. This flow of life shines through nature: the whole plant world, the wind, the dayligh and moonlight, the sea, the rain, the fragrant of the soil and each plant I cultivate a bond with in my landscape. They unfold their attributes and essential oils, little secrets only after a while. They teach me how intimacy works without words. The more patient I am and the more attention I pay to them, the more they show me about their true nature and little ‘daimon’.
The local plants I was foraging and using for my Mediterranean evergreen wreath:
– Olea europaea (Olive)
– Olea europaea subsp. aleaster (Wild olive)
– Myrtus communis (Common myrtle – I collected the one with dark berries, but on Rhodes we have the one with white berries too)
– Viburum tinus (Laurustinus with its small dark blue berries)
– Pinus brutia (Turkish pine)
– Erica manipuliflora (Autumn heather – it is blooming now in various shades of pink and it provides one of the most delicious honey of Rhodes, the dark slightly bitter ‘ereika’ honey)
– Ceratonia siliqua (Carob tree)
– Pistacia lentiscus (Mastic tree – the flexible yet strong branches of the mastic became the base of my wreath and also its aroma is unbeliveable)
Cutting the branches of pine, myrtle and mastic was a true aroma-heaven. I think that aromatic resin of pine had the strongest impact on me. I think that the essential oils of plants are one of the biggest miracles and mysteries on this Earth.
Of course I cut the branches with a sharp pruning shear in order to protect the plant from any damage.
How to do the wreath?
Creating your evergreen wreath is easy and so much fun. I explained everything in the following short clip:
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