It is Winter in the Northern Hemisphere right now, and the white hair of the Crone blankets the Earth. Unhurried, the Crone wisely moves at her own rhythm. Crone's wisdom teaches us that in Nature's cycle of life-death and rebirth, the death phase invites us to compost and transmute what doesn't serve. She knows that the decomposed matter will then give energy, space, and nutrients to the new life that springs forth as the cycle begins again. She invites us, during this time of decomposing into the fallow earth, to slow down, listen, tap into the inner well of our own wisdom as well as that of the deep void of consciousness. That this is our time to glean what we can from her, to learn the lessons of the year, so that we can be fruitful and abundant when the next cycle begins again.
Let's dive into Winter's energetics that you may notice reflected within you…
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Winter is represented by the element of water which governs the organ systems of the kidneys and urinary bladder. TCM teaches that the Kidneys are the storehouse of the Vital Essence and Kidney energy sparks light and life within the entire body, mind, and spirit. In metaphorical terms, Kidney Fire provides the driving energy and willpower needed to overcome challenges and accomplish our goals in life.
The Kidneys also have a vital yin, or cooling and lubricating, function that makes sure that all the structures within the body and mind are well-lubricated. This process keeps the body and mind flexible and prevents excessive physical and energetic friction and heat from building up.
In addition to regulating water metabolism, Kidney energy is also said to be responsible for healthy teeth, bones, and bone marrow. Because the ancient Chinese medical scholars considered the brain and spinal cord to be extensions of the bone marrow, the Kidneys are said to rule over the skeletal structure and function as well as intelligence, reason, perception, and memory.
At its essence, the Kidneys are the root of life in your physical and energetic system. So, it's essential to nourish our kidneys and Kidney Qi, but especially during the Winter when there's more tendency toward imbalance by drinking plenty of room temperature or warm fluids (we are in the season of the water element after all) and eating warming foods and spices like root vegetables, protein, ginger, cinnamon, clove, and hearty soups and broths.
But it's about more than just what we put into our bodies. The Kidneys and water element invite us to take more time to rest and reflect this time of year. To move slower. To connect with our natural rhythms and to allow inquiry into how our bodies want to move. What feels grounding, nourishing, rooted, and energy-building?
The emotion associated with the Kidneys is fear. Now, keep in mind it’s tempting to oversimplify these kinds of things so I invite you to leave room for the mystery and to have your experience in your own body/psyche. That said, it makes sense that the emotion of fear, a very root chakra, basic human emotion that affects our sense of safety and stability, would affect the kidneys and adrenals, as well as the nervous and immune systems in such a potent way.
This time of year, our skin tends to get dry and can feel dull, flaky, and rough. The beauty industry has told us that we need to slough off all those old dead skin cells to have fresh, dewy, glowing skin.
But ya know what? That's the perfect way to get locked in a cycle of lipid barrier damage.
Our skin already does this. It's actually really good at it. In fact, I invite you to think less about exfoliating and more in terms of encouraging your skin to shed on its own, which it does naturally! Sometimes it just needs a gentle reminder of how to do it effectively.
Because when we exfoliate with a scrub or even a standardized acid, it damages the skin's lipid barrier, causing more dullness, water loss, and uneven texture, which we then try to fix with more exfoliation.
So, what's the answer?
Do less. Your skin really doesn't need a lot to be happy. A slightly acidic pH and resilient lipid barrier do WONDERS to create glowing, healthy skin. And you know those dead skin cells? They aren't bad and your skin self-exfoliates, naturally letting them go when it's ready. Your skin knows what to do, it just needs good tools to support its natural processes.
Here are 3 Winter Skincare Rituals to try instead of exfoliating:
- Calm your nervous system with facial massage and gua sha using our Sirenis Cleansing Balm. Stress often shows up on our skin in one way or another. Take a moment to touch your skin and show it some love. Gua Sha and facial massage will also help to get stagnant lymph moving.
- Hydrate your skin with slightly acidic hydrosols and tonics, like our Yarrow Hydrosol or Ceres Replenishing Tonic. Make sure to always follow up cleansing with a hydrosol since tap water tends to be too alkaline for skin. Hydration is always important for the skin but especially in the winter when we tend to drink less water, and our skin gets dried out from heaters running.
- Moisturize + Protect. Apply Lumen Repair Serum and/or Anam Cara Restorative Balm when your skin is still slightly damp from your hydrosol. The hydration helps your oils to absorb better. Some oils, as well as butters and beeswax, create an occlusive layer to protect from harsh Winter weather and to help more sensitized skin reduce water loss through the skin.
That's it. If you love a good face scrub and feel like your skin needs it, I invite you to stop exfoliating for a month and just see how your skin does with less interference, though a gentle mask like Rosa Purifying Mask or Claritas Brightening Mask just once a week can help with congestion if that's a concern.