I spent Saturday night reading Tarot at a party at the Russian Baths near Coney Island. It was a long subway ride through a furious blizzard, but there are far worse ways to make 90 bucks on a Saturday night. After a few hours of reading, I soaked in a hot tub, watching gorgeous bikini-clad peops rock out to live Balkan sounds, feeling all the more cozy knowing outside was the North Pole. After sufficient time in the hot tub, I retired to the sauna. There, I met a Russian guy named Paul. Paul asked if I'd like a Russian purification. I didn't know what that meant, but who was I to refuse an offer from a lovely Russkie dude two days before the Solstice?
You know what Paul did? He took me into the Cedar Steam room and proceeded to flog me with Oak Leaves...
It really was kind of too perfect.
After burning your toxins out in this gorgeous method, the person performing it on you puts you under a cold shower and even if you scream and try to run away (like I did), he'll make you stay in the freezing water because "You need it." Then, he wrapped me head to toes in white towels and ordered me to relax. (Only Russians make you fear the consequences of NOT relaxing enough.)
While I sat, wrapped in towels and listening to the brassy Balkan music, I thought to myself, "The Oak King rocks."
It took me awhile to get home. The subways are slow now anyway because of budget cuts. Late at night they're even slower. Add in the blizzard and I might as well have walked to Inwood. (Not really.) But there is a purpose for everything and this purpose was yet another gift of my pre-Yule evening.
When I got off the subway, it was nearly four in the morning. Normally, a sketchy time to be riding the trains alone, but not that night. New York City was completely silent. Not a car moved, not a person stumbled, staggered or cursed. The only sounds were the crunch of my boots in the snow. It was a pristine, blue-white covering turning cars into hills and dressing the apartment buildings like a storybook village street. I forgot about the cold, the fatigue, the fear of being out late and alone. I tramped through the snow, welcoming the presence of the Winter Queen. I wondered sadly, if my grandchildren would get to enjoy such a sight. Not knowing if they ever would, I took my time and took in the White Beauty. And this is how I welcomed Yule.