On Saturday, I attended a Wassail ceremony in our small village in North Somerset. The custom of wassailing dates back to pagan times and in many villages this custom has occurred for literally hundreds of years. Its traditions are based on the fertility of the apple tree. Perhaps unbeknown to the general public, this ancient English tradition is still very much thriving today.
Traditionally, the wassail is celebrated on Twelfth Night (variously on either January 5 or 6). Some people still wassail on "Old Twelvey Night", January 17, as it would have been before the introduction of the Gregorian calendar in 1752.
In the Middle Ages, the wassail was a reciprocal exchange between the feudal lords and their peasants as a form of recipient-initiated charitable giving, to be distinguished from begging.
In the cider producing West of England (primarily the counties of Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire) wassailing also refers to drinking (and singing) the health of all trees in the hopes that they might better thrive.
A gathering of village folk (and wedding guests from a soon-to-be wedding ceremony!) met at the New Inn Public House and were treated by lady Morris Dancers resplendent in mauve and white dresses and with plenty of bells attached to ankles ands wrists dancing several historic dances. We were even encouraged to ‘have a go’ ourselves which added to the fun (particularly for the observers!). After fun, laughter and dancing we made our way to the orchard by way of the churchyard and across a field.
The purpose of wassailing is to awake the cider apple trees and to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the autumn. The ceremonies of each wassail vary from village to village but they generally all have the same core elements. A wassail King or Queen leads song, dance and/or a processional tune are played/sung from one orchard to the next. The wassail Queen will place toast soaked in wassail from the cup as a gift to the tree spirits (and to show the fruits created the previous year). She will also pour cider around the base of the apple tree before an incantation is usually recited.
The one we were all encouraged to join in with was this:
‘Here’s to thee old apple tree
Long may you bud, long may you blow
And may you bear apples enou’
Hats full, caps full, bushel, bushel bag full
And my pockets full too
Hurrah, Hurrah, Hurrah!’
It is then expected for the assembled crowd to sing and shout and bang drums, possibly even pots & pans but basically to make a terrible racket. We did our best to make a noise and the final act was Allen, (a gunman armed with a shotgun) firing a great volley through the branches to make sure that the work was done and the evil spirits sent on their way forever!
With a New Year right in front of us, I decided that instead of making a New Year Resolution(s), that I would make good old fashion promises instead.
The word promise comes from the Latin ‘promittere’, meaning “to send forward.” When you make a promise, you send forth your honest intentions to manifest into reality. In this way, we commit to others on a daily basis.
Some promises are kept valiantly while others are broken remorselessly.
Still, our word remains the almighty root of trust.
But if a promise is indicative of our dignity, what about the promises you make to yourself? Do you really respect your personal pledges? Better yet, what have you sworn to yourself today that will serve you tomorrow, next week and throughout 2018?
I decided to make myself the following 10 promises — virtuous vows that will strengthen my willpower and reaffirm my future potential and respect of myself – maybe you could pick some of these up to use in 2018? If nothing else, I hope they act as a catalyst for individual thought.
I promise to honour my true worth.
Between the demands of daily life and taking care of others, we can easily forget our true worth. In actual fact we merit more than we know. We deserve to be blessed with prosperity, good fortune and great health, and the moment we acknowledge this is the moment we begin to attract the abundance to which we are truly entitled.
I promise to make clear my intentions.
Intentions are the bridge linking conscious thought within our brains to bona fide and ‘proper’ external action. Think of 6 important things you need to accomplish soon, and list your intentions in a clear, concise way, emphasizing the method of action you will adopt to bring your objectives to life. I found it quite hard to do, but once I had written them down, they themselves inspire me to get them done!
I promise to educate myself as much as possible.
Education does not necessarily entail school or books, but it does imply learning — about different beliefs, the past, our planet, world events, and future concepts. There is a profound magic in learning and knowing that is seldom present in other activities. That is because learning instantly empowers us. And all you must do to learn is watch the world with vigilance and curiosity. Knowledge endows us with an understanding and acceptance of the world as it was, is, and will be. As the Roman poet Virgil said, “Happy is he who has been able to learn the causes of things.” And as I like to say – be curious!
I promise to show more compassion to the world around me.
We each possess compassion, an often neglected grace. Full resolution to our problems is only possible through empathy and patience. Whether it’s letting a car enter into your lane or recycling to save our environment, compassion takes many forms. Remember always to extend compassion to yourself as well.
I promise to stand up for myself.
Certain situations in life will reek of unfairness. Stand up for yourself in a polite but firm way. Defending your rights demands respect from others. Do not be afraid to voice your opinions and make others understand that you seek justice for yourself. After all, if you do not stand up for yourself, who will?
I promise to finish what I started.
Leaving a goal halfway finished means you will never know what could have happened if you would have completed it. As difficult as it may be, there is no greater compensation than getting something done through genuine effort and ambition. Practice discipline to meet the finish line of your aspirations.
I promise to evolve.
Evolution is the law of the universe and what does not evolve dies out. We, too, must shift and change, little by little, day by day. Promise yourself to strive for betterment. It can be as simple as taking up an exercise routine or ending a long-standing, negative habit. Through careful reflection and honest introspection, you will realize exactly what areas of your self need to be cultivated to spur personal progress.
I promise to end patterns.
Patterns of detrimental behaviour keep us stagnant and stuck in the same recurring cycles. Often we can become trapped in one phase of life without even knowing it. From a bad relationship or series of similar relationships to a dead-end job or the wrong career choices, all patterns can be broken by acknowledging our faulty actions and steering our future in a different direction. To end the repetition of negative events, we must understand what needs to be changed and modify our actions to yield different results.
I promise not to allow others to affect me.
Realizing that your happiness is in your hands is the only key to unwavering joy. When someone tries to jeopardize your mood, go within yourself and re-stabilize your emotions. Affirm to yourself that no one is allowed to harm you. Say, “I am the keeper of my joy, which is whole, unhurt, and intact.”
I promise to take nothing for granted.
We’ve all heard the phrase, You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone, but not until we lose something special do these words really hit home. This is because the greatest sadness lies in remembrance. Once we can no longer have something, we begin to think, Why didn’t I enjoy it when I had the chance? Immerse yourself in the tender moments you are given each day. Let a tight embrace, a family moment, or a long kiss add to your treasure chest of cherished memories. As tiny or fleeting as they may be, they are yours.
Promises are our word of honour that something will come true in a certain way. Before you make another promise to anyone else, commit to yourself the empowering ideals above (or your own of course). These oaths will fortify your strength and solidify your self worth.
With these, you can walk bravely into 2018 with the sun on your face and warmth in your heart.
As we reach the end of the year, a time for reflection…
We often cannot control what happens in a lifetime. Some might argue that we do not control anything at all! Every one of us is inevitably going to encounter a number of triumphs and tragedies, many of which we have control over, but many of which we do not.
What we can choose, however, is how we respond to each situation, and how these significant life events impact our sense of self and our relationship to the world as a whole.
This year, I took part in another ‘solitude’ experience and this one, if you followed my posts on it, revealed much more to me than the previous year (s) of self inquiry.
Much of my learning was to do with change and how to fully embrace it and ‘move on’. I found that often I could (and perhaps still do) kid myself in believing that I was able, ready and understanding of change – no matter how seemingly big or small it might be. How wrong! Change does take effort and a small pinch of determination to see through – otherwise it becomes a little like a New Years Resolution – seems great at the time, but quickly losing its momentum after we start!
I did an amount of reading whilst on my own. Some of my reading was based on what previous ‘giants’ in the field of understanding had discovered about why we do things – thinkers like Carl Jung, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Robert Thurman. In these, and others, I found some great quotes on self knowledge, self inquiry and elf esteem which I wanted to share with you.
So, if you are going through an uncertain period, or are simply curious to explore what it means to be you, then these quotes will inspire you towards that change. Tell me which is your favourite and why if you like!
“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” – Benjamin Franklin
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“The one self-knowledge worth having is to know one’s own mind.” – F.H Bradley
“Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it.” – Buddha
“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.” – Henry David Thoreau
“To know oneself, one should assert oneself. Psychology is action, not thinking about oneself.” – Albert Camus
“To trust one’s mind and to know that one is worthy of happiness is the essence of self-esteem.” – Nathaniel Branden
“It’s not your job to like me – it’s mine.” – Byron Katie
“Someone else’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.” – Les Brown
“Your own self-realization is the greatest service you can render the world.” – Sri Ramana Maharshi
“One secures the gold of the spirit when he finds himself.” – Claude M. Bristol
“A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.” – Mark Twain
“He who knows others is clever; He who knows himself has discernment.” – Lao Tsu
“The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely.” – Carl Jung
“There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.” – Aldous Leonard Huxley
“Thousands of geniuses live and die undiscovered – either by themselves or by others.” – Mark Twain
“You were not born a winner, and you were not born a loser. You are what you make yourself be.” – Lou Holtz
“Low self-esteem is like driving through life with your hand-break on.” – Maxwell Maltz
“Self-care is never a selfish act – it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others.” – Parker Palmer
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs
Have a Great Christmas!
Change what you imagine, change your destiny... easily.
Two of the 22 core functions of our minds have to do
are serving up mental pictures, movies, sounds, feelings,
tastes and smells.
One pattern is memories of the past.
The other is imaginings of the future. Yes, we literally "see" the future... all of us.
Now, you may not remember the past as it REALLY was or the
future as it truly will be, but you DO imagine/ remember YOUR
version of the past and future... and you are doing it
constantly. That means that interspersed with all our daily thoughts, we
all imagine what we think may happen in the future...
And we do it through pictures, sounds, physical stirrings,
smells and tastes. (Ah, remember the smells that filled the
house when your grandmother was baking pies?).
But no matter what your dominant way is to "imagine" the future
or remember the past, you are doing it...
Just like everyone else you know or ever WILL know.
That brings me to getting better results... and a powerful way
to get them.
Champions in sport visualize successful outcomes constantly.
That is why they are champions. Straight ‘A’
students imagine it constantly. Fat people imagine shovelling
the wrong foods in their mouths long before they ever actually
eat the stuff. We taste our foods ahead of time in our
In fact, ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING you have ever done or ever WILL
do in the future will be imagined by you before you ever do it.
It could be seconds before you do it...
It could be a fraction of a second before you do it...
It could be months or years before you do it...
But everything, absolutely everything you do is imagined
(visualized, heard, felt, smelled or tasted) IN THE SURROUND
SOUND MOVIE THEATER OF YOUR MIND before you actually do it in
the physical "real" world.
So when you fail to take the actions required to get a job
done, it will be not the first time you failed, it might be the
2nd, 10th, 100th or even the 10,000th time... because that is
how our minds work... our imaginations transport us to imagined
And whenever you succeed at anything in the "real" world, even
though it might be the very first time, you may have "succeeded"
10,000th times in your mind... in the thought realm.
Succeed in your thoughts and you have built a "success track."
Fail in your thoughts and you have built a "failure track."
This is true in sports, business, and personal relationships...
When you to blew the morning away surfing the 'Net’ instead of
getting that critical project done or completing your tax return... you imagined yourself
doing it way before you actually did it.
When you prospected for business all day long without a
break... you imagined doing it ahead of time.
That is a fact.
This is one of the core mental patterns that control your future.
This process will never end for you... for anyone.
It is a condition of being human... this visualizing, hearing,
feeling, smelling, tasting in our imaginations and in our
What does this mean to you?
It means that no matter how poor a result you've been getting
in any area of your life, no matter how many times you have
failed to get certain results in any area of your life, you can
By imagining successful outcomes instead of mistakes and
But not just for a few minutes a day. No. People who are
champions, people who are doers, people who win routinely,
people who have self-control, people who have no addictions,
people who can be counted on time and time again to get
results... they do this constantly. And that is…
Imagining successful actions and outcomes.
It's not difficult.
It's just the way their brains now "serve" them.
They imagine good things happening instead of bad things...
they imagine strength, not weakness.
When you are worried, you are "imagining" bad outcomes.
When you are afraid, you are "imagining" bad outcomes.
Depressed? Remembering and/or imagining bad outcomes.
Making sense? A little bit?
When you are seeing yourself doing something well, are you
Are you depressed then?
Making more sense?
It should. This is how your brain works. See great pictures,
feel great... When you imagine success NOW, you feel good NOW,
and you can take goal oriented actions with joy in your heart
and mind instead of only misery, anxiety and depression.
So remember that whenever you are crying over your problems,
you are not seeing successful actions and results. You are
imagining failure and looking back at failure, pain and loss.
So... you'll get more of it.
Everyone experiences pain, loss and failure...
But it is only a very small percentage of people ever get over
the big ones... truly past them to have wonderful, achievement-
filled happy lives.
You can be one of those few people.