Imbolc, Pando, and the Korean sauna

I haven’t been very active here or anywhere else lately.  You see, January is very tough for me.  In addition to the usual seasonal depression that I think we all feel around this time of year, I have a lot of birthday issues/family issues/bad memories from Januaries past that pretty much put me in a funk from Yule to Imbolc.  Once Imbolc passes, I start to feel lighter, happier, and more positive about things working out.  This happens every single year, and I’ve learned just to accept it as part of my personal cycles.

English: Galanthus nivalis, snowdrops in the s...

English: Galanthus nivalis, snowdrops in the snow (sneeuwklokje) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Imbolc has always been a time to turn inward for me anyways, so it works as a good time to introvert/brood/wallow.  This Imbolc passed with nary a wave, as I was working mornings for the days leading up to it, and the day itself.  I want to celebrate sometime this week, but not sure what I’ll do aside from my normal potato soup.  I didn’t even change my altar or make an incense, because I just couldn’t work up enough energy to get to it.  It’s still stuck on Yule, and I suppose it’s time to start planning for Ostara’s altar/incense.  *shrug*

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Today I heard the most wonderful story on PRI’s Living on Earth.  I learned about the oldest/largest organism on earth (as far as anyone knows).  It’s named Pando, and it’s a colony of quaking aspens that have reproduced via cloning from a single rootball that is estimated to be about 80,000 years old.  It covers about 106 acres with 47,000 ‘stems’, or what would look like individual aspen trees to us.  All of the trees/stems are genetically identical, and they leaf/bud at the same exact time in the Spring and lose their leaves at the same time in the Autumn.  There is some debate as to whether all of the stems are connected via the same rootball, and whether that would mean that it’s really 2 or more organisms, and there’s also debate as to the actual age of the rootball, since you can’t just count tree rings like you do with the stems.  Some scientists argue that it could be closer to 1 million years old.

Quaking Aspens Populus tremuloides, Little Cot...

Quaking Aspens Populus tremuloides, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Salt Lake County, Utah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Magically, the energy of Aspen is attached to air and communication.  It’s also known as the ‘whispering tree’.  It’s the fourth letter in Ogham (Eadhadh), and it helps in protection and overcoming fear.

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So for my non-birthday that I don’t celebrate, I asked Joe to take me to JeJu Sauna here in the ‘burbs of Atlanta.  We have a friend who goes several times per year, and I needed some decadence, some self-pampering.  It was LOVELY.  I thought it surely must be the most unique place in the world, until I found out that it’s really pretty typical for a Korean sauna.

There is a no-clothing allowed area with a hot tub, a warm tub, and a cold tub, which should be called the hypothermia pool of muscle spasms.  Seriously, after all the relaxing, etc., all it took was one dunk in the cold tub to make every single muscle seize up, and my entire body scream in pain.  There are also showers in the no-clothing area, and a dry and moist sauna room.

That part was pretty cool.  But what was AWESOME was the dry sauna rooms and ‘huts’ in the main area.  There was the charcoal room, designed for detox.  There’s a jade room, which is supposed to help arthritis and metabolism.  There is a salt room, which helps with purifying, and a precious stone room which helps with all the healing properties of all the lovely stones.  Even the common area has lovely heated honey onyx tiles.  All in all, it was lovely.

charcoal room

precious stone

There are only 3 problems I ran into.

  • First, we decided to stay overnight since your $25 admission fee covers 24 hours.  And lots of people do the same thing, so we were in good company.  However, you sleep on a thin mat on the floor.  And I don’t care how well heated the tiles are, sleeping on a rock floor SUCKS.  So that brought back a lot of the pain that I had gotten rid of the day before too.
  • Second, the cold pool and the seizing.  It gave your skin a lovely tingle after being in the hot tub, but still. Ouch.
  • And third, there was an incredible little restaurant/food bar/thing-of-great-deliciousness in the main common area.  So every time you left a sauna, you were assaulted by the scents of delicious food.  I don’t know how well the detox worked for us, seeing as how we ate nearly constantly the entire time we were there.  I got to try sweet beef in a clay pot, which was fucking DIVINE.  I’ve been craving it ever since.

sweet beef

So next time we’ll know better what to do and what NOT to do.  I can’t wait.  🙂

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