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It is winter, cold and bitter. The temperatures are far below usual norms, wind chill hovering around zero each day when I awaken. The skies are blue and sunny, but the lie is revealed when the wind hits your skin, fairly shocking you as it pulls your breath away. Winter’s grip is icy and sharp, and has held us for nearly a month. My skin is dry and parched, positively flaking at times. As I await the rebirth that is spring, I wonder: is the Great Mother signaling me that I am ready to slough off this skin, to be reborn?

As I travel ever closer to my first major destination on this grand tour, I decide that I should perform a ritual cleansing, to make ready for a meeting with the Lady of the Lake.

I gather my ingredients:

2 cups sea salt
1/2 cup almond oil
1/2 cup macadamia nut oil
1/2 cup sesame seed oil
1 tsp. vitamin E
1 tb. dried, ground lavender, rosemary, mint
1-2 drops essential oils

I mix them carefully, focusing and holding my intentions for the coming year as I add each one. I end up with a thick fragrant paste. I enter the old bathhouse, and spy Eclectica lounging with a book in the corner. She tosses me a saucy wink and jerks her head in the direction of the pools. I stand naked before the water, summoning thoughts of all that has occurred in the last cycle of the seasons that I wish to cast aside, as a snake casts its skin to the forest floor. Taking handfuls of the salt scrub, I anoint my body and scrub vigorously, feeling the lovely scratch of the salt, the soothing slip of the oil, and inhaling the delicious aroma of the herbs. In moments I am glowing from head to toe, warm and invigorated. I step into the bath and move freely through the warm water, floating as the past year is washed away. I emerge to a smiling Eclectica holding a warm towel, in which she wraps me, saying, “Welcome back, dearie!”

Once dry, I slip on a fine linen chemise, which glides against my silky skin. Eclectica places a flower in my hair and brings me a mug of hot tea. “Brand new, darling. Good as new.” I sigh deeply, and as I close my eyes to rest, I see a swirling mist, and through it, the beautiful face of the Lady.