It is a largely ignored fact that beyond the fake smiles and occasional genuine Christmas pixie, many people endure utter misery at this time of year. No amount of asserting ‘goodwill to all men’ and repeats of The Two Ronnies compensates for the meaninglessness of being nice 1 day out of 365. It’s not about children, or giving, or Jesus, or community. It’s about conformity. It always was.

Thankfully I have long since found effective coping mechanisms for this season of abject desolation, but I remember all too well the enforced jolliness, loneliness and emptiness that can seem all pervading at this time of year. Too much food. Too much drink. Too many people who you don’t like and who don’t like you. And afterwards too much time on your hands. It’s a recipe for disaster.

But why is the seasonal cup of expectation so often filled with the wine of disappointment?

My recent work with the elements has reminded me of the Tattvic Tides. These are the invisible, finer forces that shape our entire world, both inside and out. They ebb and flow throughout the day and year. And they turn toward the Earth on 21 December.

The element of the Earth is all about heaviness, denseness, materiality and physicality. Earth holds you down, literally ‘pulling you down to Earth’. It is the element most closely connected to the structure of the physical body, its connection in our Outer World being food. It is then little wonder that we feel we must stuff ourselves stupid during this season (and we all know that mince pie consumption begins way before Christmas Day!)

In this energy of retreat, reduction and hibernation we crave hearty and warming food. We put on weight, we go to ground. In the old days, pre climate change, the rain (Water) would even turn solid, into snow (Earth). Earth + Water = getting bogged down! We all know that Christmas feeling, which is often exacerbated by money, and is always an issue at Christmas time (all forms of currency being associated with the Earth).

The key to a successful – or at least bearable – Christmas is to stay afloat, on all levels. It is essential at all times and in all ways, at Christmas, to never sink under. Either financially, through food or drink consumption, or in your personal energy. As the problem is elemental in origin so are its solutions. To get out of Earth, we must invoke Air and Fire.

The element of Air can be employed simply by getting some fresh air, breathing in a different atmosphere, going for a walk, getting into new company, and stimulating the mind. These old remedies for excess are as true today as they ever were.

The cleansing power of Fire is generated by movement. It is too easy to enjoy the comfortable sofa and the warmth and toastiness of indoors, for one days sluggishness rapidly becomes 2 weeks inertia. Move, stretch, run, act to chase the Christmas demons away.

But finally, take heart, for as the Tattvic Tides turn to Earth so they must move on again, and it won’t be long until Spring. More useful applications of the Earth element than Christmas might yet be found, but probably not in my lifetime. There are still far too many people who fight all things Christian throughout the year, only to surrender all that they have gained in the run up to Christ-Mass Day.

Happy 25th December!