December, the darkest month of the year in the northern hemisphere. Winter solstice. A time to go within, to reflect, to dream. I personally appreciate the simple things that shorter and colder days offer – time to sleep, to rest, time to slow down and not be so active, time to be in relationship with others. We learn from the natural world that this hibernation period is not only normal, it is necessary. And yet December at Obenaus, while slowed down almost into a slumber, was surprisingly full. Here is some of what happened with us during the final month of 2016.
By the beginning of the month, seven composts had come into being or were under construction following the advice of Bernard, a local biodynamic composter, farmer, tree communicator, cosmic connector. The composting followed specific layering of ingredients to hold oxygen, moisture, and a comfortable environment for the millions of microorganisms destined to call the compost home. Yet more on the compost later.
On December 1st, Lena departed for Finland to support the Suomenlinna Art of Hosting training and then continued onwards to Gotland for a few weeks of being with family and friends. With Lena off in Scandinavia, Vihra, Viola, Cath and myself headed off to the Maribor (Slovenia) market to pick up goods for the community. Beyond sourcing veggies from our favourite vendor (and buying out her homemade white wine) as well as buying excellent Slovene mushrooms, sauerkraut, red wine, and many kilos of apples, we also discovered a magical box and a glorious vest, or as I have come to call it, a wood chopping tuxedo.
A few days later came a surprise visit from none other than the potato master himself, Damon, to share with us his newest invention: the chip (potato) strudel with vegan gravy! We had a feast to say the least, and even kept some leftovers for Rainer to enjoy upon his return from Germany. You know you live in a caring community when you come home to chip strudel.
Before leaving for holidays, Vihra and Viola participated in the Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas market) in Michaelihof where they were offering Obenaus creams, shampoos, teas, and mistletoe. In return they came home happy and with stories of sunny winter weather, beautiful yurts, many animals, lots of community connecting, and Malou making friends.
Of course before master baker Viola was to leave, there was a sourdough bread baking training. Her determined and dedicated apprentices, Cath and Vihra, are now well versed in the art of baking really good bread which we get to enjoy daily. What a gift it is to have so many bakers around! And so with the bread baking under control, Viola (with Malou) and Vihra went in their respective directions for some family time – Viola and Malou north to Germany and Vihra south to Romania and then Bulgaria.
As quickly as the community shrank by three, as is often the case in Obenaus, it grew by three. Two days after saying goodbye to Viola, Vihra and Malou, Lena was back at Obenaus as well as a couple of new friends, Leina and Tom. With the sudden addition to the community came new learning and exploration. First, Bernard, the biodynamic composter, came to Obenaus with his mate Elizabeth to treat our composts with a very special potion and to share some of his knowledge and wisdom. The composts have since been renamed the cosmic composts. Second, Tom brought with him his gift of hypnotherapy. Both explorations of the subtle energies.
With Malou gone on her first long road trip, the cats quickly turned into tigers as they roamed Obenaus ready to pounce on anything resembling food. It became quite difficult to walk from one point to another without almost stepping on a cat. Yet the sheep actually mellowed out and managed to relax a little, enjoying eating in their stable without the threat of an all-too-happy-to-play shepherd dog.
Then came winter solstice and the beginning of Rauhnächte. For the 21st of December, Gitta, a friend and neighbour of Obenaus, invited the community for a winter solstice bonfire. On the clear, cool, long and dark night we gathered around the warmth of the fire, enjoying mulled wine, snacks, and conversation with friends. Also beginning on the 21st of December and going for 12 nights, Rauhnächte at Obenaus is a time to retreat into ourselves and sense into our dreams of what is to come. Through small personal ceremony and in dream, we are able to connect with the new year that wants to be born.
After the solstice, Christmas came fast and was spent with a lot of time outside. There were many visits to and from Obenaus, including a Christmas tour to greet friends in the local community. Shortly after for the third time in less than two years, a young woman turned 30 at Obenaus. We celebrated Cath’s birthday with a long walk in the nearby forests and a gong puja, a night spent listening to the sound of gongs and healing through intentional vibrations.
New Years Eve, the end of one year and the beginning of anew. From our different places, Obenaus community watched as fireworks and flairs shot up into the dark night sky. Whatever 2017 is to bring, we are excited and looking forward to all that is to come. Hopefully you too will come visit us!
Happy 2017 from the Obenaus Community!