Cocktail Musings: Moonful Intentions

Cocktail Musings: Moonful Intentions

In this past week, I looked at a number of articles and engaged in a few conversations that involved the idea of New Year’s resolutions. A lot of what I read recommended that we don’t set them at all, and the discussions that I had echoed this sentiment. And yet, without any resolutions, I admit that I have felt somewhat untethered, as though I’ve taken the first few steps in 2024 without a guide or an instruction booklet. I also think that I’ve come to look forward to January 1st as a day when I can press a proverbial reset button and start fresh on some things. Even though I’ve decided not to write down a list of resolutions this year, I find that they continue to creep into my head anyway. “I really want to stop using the word ‘just’ in a lot of my sentences.” “I should eat more beans.” “I’d like to work harder at being on time.” Hold down the laughter on that last one. Virgos are only late because we think we can do one more useful thing before tearing out the door, like quickly alphabetize the spice rack. You may insert an eye roll emoji here. All of this aside, the real question for me has always been why we feel the need to set resolutions in the first place. Where did the tradition come from? Apparently the Google answer to that query is that the practice dates back some 4,000 years to the time of the ancient Babylonians who made offerings to their gods at the start of the new year, which happened to be in mid-March at the beginning of the planting season. The Romans followed suit, but then changed over to the Julian calendar in 46 BC.

The idea of new year corresponding to the planting season is an intriguing one. Is it possible that our resolution setting tendencies have this same kind of origin? Although we live in a fairly sterile world that has been removed from the rhythms of nature in major ways, there is reason to believe that a part of us is still very drawn to them. Whenever we spend any time at all outside, whether we’re gardening, hiking, walking by the ocean, or stargazing, just to name a few instances, we can’t help but reconnect with those natural rhythms. If we develop an awareness of the inevitable realization that follows this connection, we are reminded that there are deeper forces in the world running as a constant undercurrent to everything we do. One of the most powerful examples readily visible to us is the cycle of the moon that occurs every month, beginning in darkness, gaining light each day until the moon is full, before slowly returning to shadow again. We can follow this same pattern, beginning each cycle in a kind of symbolic darkness with only our intuition as a guide. If we can sit in this place without fear, we will hear the voice of our own intentions, and we will be able to move towards realizing them as the moon gains light every day. The full moon will subsequently give us an opportunity to measure how well these intentions and actions have served us, and which of them can be released in the second half of the cycle. On January 11th of this week, a new moon will occur in the sign of Capricorn. Because it is the first new moon of the year, it allows us to set intentions not just for the month ahead, but also for the entire year. If we allow these intentions to come from that intuitive place deep within us, we honor the age old tradition of resolution setting, but in a more authentic and accessible way.

This all sounds rather wonderful, but there are those of us who sometimes struggle with trusting the voice of intuition. How can we ever be sure that there is not some kind of imposter residing within us whispering things that are not quite true, while our real intuitive self is bound and gagged in the corner? As always, when it comes to matters of intuition and intention, the Buddhist practitioners, and my favorite monk Thich Nhat Hanh (Tick-Not-Haan) in particular, are here to help. Hanh has written about four practices that can help us identify which intentions are “right,” in the sense that they will lead us on the correct path towards enlightenment. To begin, Hanh suggests that we ask ourselves the question, “Am I sure?” as a means of correcting wrong perceptions. Many intentions are based on what we believe to be true, but if we cultivate the habit of checking the truth of our perceptions, we will identify misunderstandings and move more easily towards wisdom. The second question is meant to help curb our tendency to react without conscious thought. By asking “What am I doing?” before we take any action, we remove ourselves from autopilot and engage in the kind of mindfulness that leads to true purpose. The third practice involves recognizing our habit energies, defined by Hanh as behavioral tendencies that have become so deeply set that they mimic instinctive behavior. Negativity, avoidance, and self-doubt are often cited as examples of energies that can never serve us in any positive way. As a final step, Hanh encourages us to learn to recognize and hold fast to certain moments of enlightenment when we feel the desire to manifest a life free of suffering for ourselves and others, a goal that can only stem from having genuine compassion for all living beings. This “loving kindness” is the ultimate result of leading a purposeful life, and while the task of attaining such an outcome may seem daunting, we have the opportunity to get there through mindful intention setting, cultivated in darkness, but nourished and shaped under the ever-changing, yet constant, light of the moon.

For today’s cocktail, I found myself seeking ingredients that blended the ideas of intuition, intention, and the moon. Since juniper is associated with psychic awareness and is actually used in ritual work intended to enhance intuitive capability, gin was the natural choice for a base spirit. I then considered the idea of a simple two ingredient Martini that included the herbal liqueur Génépy as the cocktail’s second component. The Génépy worked perfectly because it includes both lavender and rosemary, two Alpine herbs that help to bring about clarity, a state that is absolutely necessary in order for mindful intuition to occur. The main component of Génépy, however, is artemisia, a magical herb connected to the goddess of the moon herself, Artemis. It is said to throw open the doors to all sorts of spiritual connections and self awareness. Finally, I garnished with an expressed lemon peel to represent those moments of enlightenment that Buddhism wants us to seek, and a fennel frond, which is symbolic of strength, a quality needed in abundance if we are to continue to mindfully examine where we can do more and be better on a regular basis. Cheers everyone! Happy Sunday.

Moonful Intentions

2 ounces of your favorite herbal gin
2 ounces Dolin Génépy des Alpes

Long, long stir over ice.
Single strain into a martini glass.
Express a lemon peel over the drink, but discard it.
Garnish with a small fennel frond.

Enjoy!

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