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Sunday, December 31, 2017

Divining the Cabbage

The Cabbage
There are at least as many traditions for New Years Eve as there are cultures, though when we mark the new year, does, of course, vary a bit.

In many places in the USA, folks eat cabbage (or in the south, collard greens) on New Years Day, as these green cruciferous vegetables are considered representative of money. Although I did not grow up with any particular traditions for this time of year, I have adopted the cabbage, and serving pork for the meat in January 1 supper (with 'kraut for me) along my travels. Usually I end up buying one, but this year I had two heads still lingering in the fridge. Both were harvested late and therefore had suffered some from the ravages of the late season weather. As I worked through the dry layers and underlying moldy leaves, a thought came to me.

There are many traditional forms of divination, also practiced on New Year's eve, preferably at the stroke of midnight. You can light a white candle and drip the wax into cold water, or you can poke a hole into the end of the first egg laid on New Year's Eve day (not something practical for us northern farmers who believe in giving the ladies a season of rest) and let the drips fall into hot water (or, I might suggest a clear chicken broth, as after completing the divination, you could eat egg drop soup as the chicken* scratches the old year into the past!) I have also read of a German tradition of melting lead, or possibly in recent times, tin and dropping it in water. This ancient form of divination, known as Molybdomancy, has been used for 1000s of years in many cultures.

If you read cards (playing cards or Tarot cards can be used by those in the know) there is a layout known as the "Clock" or "Circle of Years," in which you place the cards one for each mark on the clock in a cirle, and the last in the middle. You read them, one o'clock for January and so on, and the one in the middle for the whole year.

Now, I have never been good at divination, or really terribly interested in seeking to know what is around the corner. However, as I was working on this cabbage, without seeking for anything other than clean, edible vegetable matter, it spoke to me. 

"I may not be a very big head," it said, "and yeah, my outside is pretty bunged up and gross." "But, look!" She continued as more and more edible cabbage was revealed, "I prevailed!"

This tiny cabbage, echoing an oft-heard and repeated message over this year, will stay in my mind over the next one. Its lesson blends in my mind with many throughout the book, Braiding Sweetgrass, that I finished last night.

I honor her for her tenacity and for the lesson, and nutrition, she has brought. And set the Intention, going forth, to take time to just sit, and even lie in the garden, to continue to notice each plant. And to persevere. Little Cabbage reiterated another recent awareness: little bits matter.