One way to view this Saturn/Pluto conjunction year is to see it as a time when we are creating new structures (Saturn) for the life force (Pluto) to flow through. And some of these structures are invisible, prompted by decisions to utilize our experience of “time” in new, repeated ,ways. For example, various ceremonies and rituals can invoke, focus, channel and express the ever present primal Plutonian life force with tremendous power.
Rituals that are performed on a daily basis, unless we see them as “sacred,” we tend to call them routines. And “routines,” as my teacher often reminded me, “build character.” In other words, what we are doing now, is what we are becoming over time. Thus does a particular type of “doing” generate a particular quality of “being.”
Which brings me to today’s topic: “Ann’s Chai Elixir”
About a year ago I discovered that I was allergic to, not caffeine, but to the coffee bean itself. Okay. So I switched to various types of caffeinated teas.
Meanwhile, at our local farmer’s market, I discovered Aahaa Chai, a local company that makes organic chai teas from scratch. Hmmm . . . what would that be like? Most commercial chai is just so darn sweet that I avoid it.
Oh wow! I loved their “robust” chai tea. And so got in the habit of going to the market every two or three weeks to purchase a bag of it.
But then I got tired of having to go to the market to get the tea. On a whim, around my 77th birthday in December I made the unusual decision to look into making my own chai tea, searching the internet for various ingredients that could be used in chai.
Well, within the very first week, I was hooked, totally in love with my surprise birthday present to myself. For about $20 (the cost of buying it from the local company) I could buy my own ingredients from bulk bins at Bloomingfoods, our local co-op. At this point, I have settled on fourteen. Fourteen different ingredients, plus black tea, put in my tea pot to boil for a few minutes, every single morning! Thus did I reconfigure my first, and most important ritual of the day, and just in time for the 2020 Saturn/Pluto process!
My new morning ritual, about five minutes long, during which I bring the special basket over to the kitchen counter, open each little bag, and pinch a bit of its dried ingredient — plus cut up tiny slices of fresh ginger and turmeric. Each day’s chai alchemy yields four or five large steaming mugs worth (I also add a tiny amount of organic half and half, each time I refill the mug). As the day goes on, I just keep adding water when needed, as the herbs keep on yielding more and more flavor.
When I run out of one ingredient, I take that bag back to the co-op, to refill with more of the same. That way I don’t use more bags than necessary.
The bags run out at different rates, in part because I’m not at all precise in the amounts purchased, and even more because the daily pinches from each one are never exactly the same. Yes, this chai, utterly full of complex aroma and tastes that go on and on, is slightly different each day! Thus does my daily “routine” include daily surprise.
But, and here’s what REALLY surprised me. I hadn’t thought about my morning chai as my morning medicine. Didn’t think of it as an “elixir.” But my body likes it even better than my mind does, and now I know why.
Here’s my list of ingredients at this point, in no particular order, with a bit about the medicinal value of each that I grabbed from various internet sources. I can’t vouch for any of these sources; I just want to “give you the flavor” of why this amazing chai tea is so fantastic. It means that every single morning, both mind and body get to swoon at the very first taste of my very first mug of this stunning chai elixir.
14 Ingredients (plus tea)
Fennel (seeds) : A member of the parsley family, fennel has long been used to treat dyspepsia, flatulence and nausea. Clinical studies have shown that fennel helps reduce colic in babies and menstruation pain in women. You can chew on some fennel seeds or sip some fennel tea to help relieve stomach or menstrual discomforts.
Ginger (fresh root): used to ease nausea and motion sickness. Research suggests that ginger can relieve nausea caused by pregnancy or chemotherapy.
Turmeric (fresh root): contains curcumin, a substance with powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Taken with black pepper helps in absorption by 2000%.
Black Pepper (corns): Besides helping with absorbtion of turmeric, black pepper good for colds, digestion, flu, IBS, Lupus, nausea, rheumatoid arthritis.
Hawthorne (dried berries): Fruit has been used for centuries for heart disease. Other uses include digestive and kidney related problems.
Licorice (chips or stick: it’s sweet, so absolutely no need for sugar or even honey): Long been used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine to aid digestion and liver function, relieve arthritis pain, and regulate menstruation. Relieves congestion of mucus membranes.
Star Anise (Very strong: I use one or two rays of a single star): the major source of the chemical compound shikimic acid, a primary precursor in the pharmaceutical synthesis of anti-influenza drug oseltamivir (Tamiflu).
Elderberry (dried berries): The berries and leaves have traditionally been used to treat pain, swelling, infections, coughs, and skin conditions and, more recently, flu, common cold, fevers, constipation, and sinus infections.
Coconut (flakes): Besides being a healthy fat, contains essential minerals, including manganese and selenium. Both minerals activate enzymes, including antioxidants that your cells need for protection from the damage caused by free radicals. Manganese also promotes healthy nerve function and helps your body produce sex hormones, while selenium supports the function of your thyroid.
Cardamom (seeds): Antispasmodic which makes it handy for any types of stomach cramps caused by indigestion or IBS. Like its close relative ginger, cardamom is is well known for relief of nausea, especially morning sickness in pregnancy. Cardamom strengthens digestion and kills the bacteria responsible for bad breath, making it an excellent after dinner tea. Cardamom also can help clear congestion from colds, flu and allergies. “Second only to lemon, Cardamom is perhaps the best source of a phytochemical called cineole, which calms your nerves and clears your head”. (Duke)
Coriander (seeds): Anti-inflammatory properties can help reduce joint swelling in rheumatoid arthritis. 6 In Ayurvedic medicine, coriander is considered tridoshic, good for all body types. Fresh cilantro leaves have similar, but weaker properties. 56 When the herb is added to the diet along with other natural immune system boosters like garlic, and omega-3 fatty acids, chronic infections can be eliminated.
Reishi (ganoderma, dried). I had to order this one; others were found in bulk at local co-op.
- blood purifier,
- bowel function regulating,
- heart function promoting,
- blood pressure adjuster,
- cough suppressant and expectorant,
- inhibitor of tumor.
Citrus (peel): Improve digestion, relieve intestinal gas and bloating, and resolve phlegm. This peel acts primarily on the digestive and respiratory systems. Mercola: Orange peels are rich in flavonoids, like hesperidin and polymethoxyflavones (PMFs), and other phytochemicals, which contribute many of their health benefits.
Flavonoids — antioxidant compounds found in certain fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices — are known for their role in helping to prevent chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer.
In addition, orange peel contains higher amounts of certain nutrients than its flesh. For instance, 3.5 ounces of orange peel provides 136 milligrams (mg) of vitamin C, while the flesh contains about 71 mg.1
Orange peel also contains considerable amounts of calcium, copper, magnesium, vitamin A, folate and other B vitamins and dietary fiber.
They have an intense orange and bitter flavor, but the latter is often a clue that a food is healthy.
Yes, I remember my herbalist friend Clarissa Smith, way back in the 1980s, talking about the taste of “bitter,” which, she said, good for digestion, and yet largely avoided in the west!
So that’s it, the recipe for Ann’s Chai Elixir. My 2020 gift to you during this potent Saturn/Pluto time. May it serve as a delicious daily gateway into an entirely new Saturn/Pluto cycle, wherein we let food be our medicine, and all’s right with the world.