Friday, October 29, 2010

It's the most witchiest time of the year ....

I now know that my life has more or less always followed Pagan principles, I just didn't have a definition for my beliefs.  It just always felt right to honor and respect nature, to not cause harm to any living thing, to heal with and use natural elements instead of chemicals.  The one sided-ness of Christianity was never anything I could get behind ... even my five year old knows that to create life, you need BOTH a seed and an egg.  Honoring just the Father, with no mention of a Mother?  Except for Mary .... yet she has to be a virgin to be honored?  Paganism celebrates the God as well as the Goddess, acknowledges that they both rule different elements and seasons, and the creed "An it harm none, do as ye will" is the one rule.  The simplicity of that keeps me focused and peaceful.  There is no room for your own interpretation .... you are either harming someone or something or you are not.
I'm challenging myself every day to bring about more understanding of Paganism.  I avoid labels of any kind because I don't like the knee-jerk reactions that they provoke, but I would love to be able to sum up my beliefs without the negative connotations that come with it.
So let's start with Samhain.  

No, not that one.  
Samhain (pronounced sow-en) is a Pagan sabbat (any of eight pagan religious festivals commemorating phases of the changing season) which honors ancestors who have passed, and the Earth's transition from the abundance of summer to the cold of the winter.  The word Samhain in Celtic means "summer's end".  It is also a time when the veil between the spirit world and this world is said to be very thin, which is why skulls, tombstones, skeletons, etc are typical Halloween decorations. On this sabbat, we honor the dead with a "silent supper" - a plate of food set out next to a glass of wine; with telling stories of those who have passed and remembering the time we had with them.  We hope that they will show us a sign that they are with us, but communicating with them is hoped for, never commanded.  Pagans believe disturbance of the dead immoral, as they have earned their rest.
In our house, this is when I also clean and organize as much as possible to make our home comfortable during the winter.  I dread the winter every year, so I start craft projects for me and the kids to keep us occupied, and stock up on birdseed for our birdy friends.  This year I will also be planning my garden (yayyyy!) for next year, and in March I will start a lot of seeds.  And with my sweet new fire pit, I have fires on the patio on cold evenings to look forward to.  
If you are interested in learning more about Samhain or any of the sabbats, I encourage you to educate yourself.  Just typing in Samhain on a search will give you loads of reading material.  
Hope you are well and Blessed Samhain!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Hoopla

I really do love Halloween/Samhain, and every year it ends up being lots of fun.  It's the buildup that kills me.  For some reason my alpha mommy comes out and I always feel the need to have the Martha decorations up, my kids perfectly costumed, perfect goodies available, etc.  I find myself waking up in the night thinking "What if someone drives by the house and I *don't* have a Martha carved gourd family out front?  What if I bring store-bought goodies to the pre-k parade and everyone else's is homemade ... and my child has to be ritualistically cast out by her classmates?"
Mooch's birthday is November 3rd ... so we are doing her party the day before Halloween, and asking all the kids to come in costume, and having a Halloween theme.  I went to the Dollar Store today and spent $52.  Witness my obsession.
Will the kids care if there isn't a themed table cloth?  Of course not.  But Alpha Mommy Brain will.  The Brain is also going to buy hay bales tomorrow to decorate accordingly.  Le sigh.
So if you were wondering why a witch's blog doesn't mention Samhain all that much (a traditional day for honoring ancestors who have passed) just know that it's because I'm involved in the more demanding sport of finding the perfect outfit to wear to a FIVE YEAR OLDS birthday party. 
Now to go drown my crazy in cheesecake, that the Mister smartly brought home.  It's alpha mommy's Achille's heel.

Amazing Giveaway!

The ever-so-smart Mrs. B over at Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom is doing a fantastic giveaway today for a bracelet I am completely coveting ... a vintage witch's charm bracelet from Laughing Vixen Lounge. 

I spied this on her Etsy site the other day and immediately bookmarked it - she has gorgeous stuff!  I was already planning for Christmas presents.  Here is the url : 
So go try your luck!  If you don't like it, I'll be happy to take it off your hands ;-)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pan Roasted White Beans with Rosemary

Hello All!
Our little homestead was rocked with a wicked case of the flu, and we are all just recovering, which is why I haven't been active in the last few days.  Hate when regular life gets on the way of my blogging!

Since I'm eating these for lunch today, I wanted to share this fast, easy and delicious recipe.  I am always trying to incorporate a more vegetarian approach to eating in our home, and since the Mister is a die hard meat lover, I have to get creative.  I also have a five year old that doesn't eat anything that's not cereal or fruit these days - but she eats these.

First of all, if you don't have rosemary growing around or in your home - go get a plant and plant one.  I started off with three teensy plants growing in one of our front garden beds, and in our rocky clay-heavy soil, it thrived.  I now have a certified rosemary hedge right next to our front door that smells amazing and provides us with all the fresh rosemary we could possibly want.

Rosemary is known as an aide for memory, and has antiseptic properties as well.  In ancient Greece, students used to braid rosemary into their hair to help them to remember their lessons.  And it is traditionally placed on grave sites for remembrance. 

I came up with this recipe as a protein boost alongside veggie dishes, but it's pretty yummy in its own right.

Rinse and drain 1 large can of cannellini beans in a colander

In a large skillet, heat 2 Tb olive oil over medium-low heat.  Add beans and 2 cloves of crushed garlic, and fresh snipped rosemary to taste (I usually use around 2 Tb).

  Add salt, freshly ground pepper, and 1/3 c good white wine (*Don't forget to thoroughly test the wine beforehand*) :-)  Cook over medium low heat until slightly crispy and brown on the outside, but tender; approximately 5 minutes.  Serve warm.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Falling Leaf Moon

Tonight is one of the most powerful moons of the year ... the Falling Leaf Moon, the full moon before Samhain.  A night for extra potency for your rituals and prayers, and for us - a night for our first fire pit!  I have been wanting one for a while - my parents have a gorgeous chiminea AND a huge fire pit my Dad dug and lined with rocks.  Is there anything better on a crisp fall evening than a fire?  
And, ok - fire pit?  It's actually kind of a fire bowl.  One of these:

I was sure to point out to the Mister this is *not* my "forever fire pit" and reserve the right to upgrade to a fancier one if I come across it and the price is right.  But for now in will serve nicely.

Tonight comes a ritual of my dedication to the Mother.  I have been planning and researching this and I'm excited and for some reason also have that wiggly feeling in my belly.  The closest thing I can match it to is I feel like I'm about to lose my virginity - again.  I'll also be placing some protection around our house as well ... see Mrs. B's article on witch's bottles for more on this.

Moon facts and myths are always fascinating to me.  Butterbean loves saying hi to the moon and will drag me outside after her bath saying, "MOON, Mama!  Hi moon!" then blows a kiss and tells the moon goodnight.  Mooch loves watching the moon "follow us home" when we drive home, and if she gets scared at bedtime we talk about the moon watching over her as she sleeps and chasing bad dreams away.  

Some interesting moon facts for you :
Ocean tug

Tides on Earth are caused mostly by the Moon (the Sun has a smaller effect). Here's how it works:
The Moon's gravity pulls on Earth's oceans. High tide aligns with the Moon as Earth spins underneath. Another high tide occurs on the opposite side of the planet because gravity pulls Earth toward the Moon more than it pulls the water.
At full Moon and new Moon, the Sun, Earth and Moon are lined up, producing the higher than normal tides (called spring tides, for the way they spring up). When the Moon is at first or last quarter, smaller neap tides form. The Moon's 29.5-day orbit around Earth is not quite circular. When the Moon is closest to Earth (called its perigee), spring tides are even higher, and they're called perigean spring tides.
All this tugging has another interesting effect: Some of Earth's rotational energy is stolen by the Moon, causing our planet to slow down by about 1.5 milliseconds every century.
Egghead The Moon is not round (or spherical). Instead, it's shaped like an egg. If you go outside and look up, one of the small ends is pointing right at you. And the Moon's center of mass is not at the geometric center of the satellite; it's about 1.2 miles (2 kilometers) off-center.
Moon trees More than 400 trees on Earth came from the Moon. Well, okay: They came from lunar orbit. Okay, the truth: In 1971, Apollo 14 astronaut Stuart Roosa took a bunch of seeds with him and, while Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell were busy sauntering around on the surface, Roosa guarded his seeds.
Later, the seeds were germinated on Earth, planted at various sites around the country, and came to be called the Moon trees. Most of them are doing just fine.

Full Moon

The point of maximum psychic energy occurs When the full face of the Moon is visible in the clear sky. Many people perform sacred rites and rituals during this time. Sometimes for worship, sometimes for magic and sometimes for both. Healing, divination, dreamwork and practically every other form of magick seems to get a boost if performed during the full Moon.
Just a few facts, but there are oodles of pages out there with everything from suggestions for full moon rituals, to meanings, myths, etc.  
How are you celebrating this gorgeous moon?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Stuff of Nightmares

I've had a recurring nightmare for as long as I can remember.  I'm in a school and go to use the bathroom, and as soon as I'm inside the bathroom becomes a never-ending maze of showers, stalls, and tile.  I start panicking and running, trying to get out, seeing nothing but fluorescent light and feeling alone and scared.  The next day if I have to use a big public restroom anywhere, I have a panic attack.
  A few weeks ago I started a new position (I work at a University) and switched to a building on campus.  The night before I started the nightmare started again - only this time, I was running down a tiled hallway at a school, then I ran down a carpeted staircase.  It led to an old, unused part of the school - dark and full of empty classrooms.  I know I was being chased and had to hide, but was afraid to go into any of the classrooms.  I woke up with my heart pounding.  
So I go to start my first day at work, head to the staircase, and open a door to this :

Hmmm, a closed-off staircase.  I went up the stairs and peeked down to see what I could see :

Now you can't tell because it was removed yesterday - but those stairs?  Yeah, until yesterday they had old beige carpeting on them.
Taking this picture set off a panic attack, but I wanted to show a better view:

So if anyone knows a dream meaning behind schools, bathrooms, stairs, and carpeting - I'd be happy to hear it.  

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Making Your Own Thyme Honey

I started studying homeopathy last year, after the birth of my second child and an awful experience with an IUD.  To be brief, my OBGYN pushed me to get a Mirena IUD, and the thing was horrible.  Cramps that brought tears to my eyes, constant bleeding, mood swings - you name it.  I called and reported the problems, went for check-ups, had the strings trimmed (the Mister swore he could feel them) and the staff at my OBGYN's always said the same thing "It's all normal, you just have to adjust to it"
Bleeding for 3 months straight is not normal.  Having synthetic hormones being routinely released internally is not normal.  My body would cramp and it felt like it was trying to push the stupid thing out.  I had it removed after having to TALK MY OBGYN INTO REMOVING IT <- (let's name all the things wrong with that statement, shall we?)and got fitted for a diaphragm.  Yes, we use spermicide - but I can remove it whenever I want, and I'm not using fake hormones, which scare the hell out of me.  
Anywho, the whole thing, along with Butterbean's birth experience (that's a whole other post) had officially soured me on doctors and hospitals.  (I make a special exception for my kid's pediatrician, who is super pro-breastfeeding, very non-invasive, and open to homeopathic alternatives.)  The kids I nannied for were always on antibiotics and I watched them get sick and suffer with their mom never making the connection that she was not allowing their bodies to use natural defenses.  The antibiotics that they took for a cold would lead to them having digestive issues, yeast infections, you name it.  The cure was worse than the disease.

With Butterbean going through teething, I started using Boiron's Teething Tablets.  The first night we used them I went to bed all edgy and worried she'd be suffering - that child slept straight through the night!  Similar success with Coldcalm and Sabadil for allergies.  I also read a great article on Planet Green's site about using locally produced honey to combat seasonal allergies.  One teaspoonful every morning, and my itchy eyes and tickly throat are gone within an hour.
Thyme has been long used for it's antiseptic properties, and herbalists use it as a natural cold remedyI bought a small plant this year and it grew like wildfire in my garden, so I bought another small plant and put it in a planter so I would have fresh thyme available year-round.  Our local Co-op carries local organic honey, and while you can use commercially produced non-organic honey, it is well worth it to find a local honey producer and get the good stuff.
First, you need to cut  to fill whatever clean jar you are using (make sure it has a tight-fitting cap)  Pack the thyme in and bruise the leaves well with the back of a spoonI also use hyssop in mine for an added healing property.  Pour honey over the herb (or herbs) until there is about 1/4" of space at the top.  Gently tap the bottom of the jar on your counter a few time to release any air bubbles.  Seal and allow to steep for 2-4 weeks.  After this, strain out the herbs and re-jar the honey, and keep in a cool dark spot.  One teaspoon when you feel a cold coming on usually does the trick, but if not take a teaspoon 3x a day.
Here's my jar, sitting on my windowsill among all my other crap stuff:

Extracts post to come soon ...


I won a gorgeous set of carnelian runes from one of my favorite places to visit - Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom!  What a way to start my day!  Wanna see?

 Aren't they purdy?  And what will I use these for ... well first, let's talk about carnelian.  

Carnelian Gemstone meaning

Carnelian (also sometimes referred to as cornelian) is found primarily in India, as well as various sites in South America. It is a variety of chalcedony. The most favorable pieces are a deep red to red-orange hue. Carnelian has a long and storied past, and was once considered strictly the property of the noble class. People holding a high social status were often buried with this gem stone.
Want more pep in your life? Keep a carnelian with you and feel the energy flow to you. Carnelian is used for these benefits:
  • gives energy
  • protects from bad vibrations
  • guards against poverty
  • helps give a sense of humor
  • calms the temper

Healing properties of Carnelian

Carnelian is an energy booster. It helps the insecure person to find strength within them so they can come into their own. It is said to increase the appetite.

So yes to everything except the increase in appetite.  I'm hungry all the time as is.
You can use runes the same way you use tarot cards for readings.  They can also act as a charm or a talisman, depending on the inscriptions.  I have made a few using found rocks on our property and buried them for protection and peace - just inscribe them with whatever rune symbol represents your intent.  As a simple blessing you can collect rainwater and sprinkle a few drops over the runes while meditating on what you would like to accomplish, or saying a simple prayer.  You can either bury them or carry them with you.  This site has a great listing of inscriptions, but there are tons of sites out there so if you don't see what you want just google it!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

We love carving pumpkins at our house.  And since throwing anything away is an issue for me, the pulp gets added to the compost bin (as does the carved pumpkin once it goes all mushy) and the seeds are carefully separated out.  We bought some pumpkins from a farm stand this year, so some of the seeds were dried and stored in baggies to be planted in our pumpkin patch next year.  (Doesn't every witch's house need a pumpkin patch??)  The rest we put in a bowl, and add 2Tb sugar, salt & ground pepper, and cumin, cayenne, nutmeg, and cloves.  Toss until the seeds are coated, then spread over a cookie sheet that has been lined with either parchment paper or half of a large paper bag.  Roast at 300 degrees for about 45 minutes.  I have a container of these in my desk at work that save me from running to the dreaded vending machine, and the kiddos love them.

Airing My Not-So-Dirty Laundry

I tend to talk this subject to death (hey there, IK girls!) but I love the process of hanging out laundry.  Our clothes line was being thrown away by my neighbor when I stopped her and dragged it into my yard.  It's one of these:

(stock picture - that is definitely NOT my backyard)
I also have a retractable clothesline across our screened-in porch.  A great option if you have limited space in your yard, or just have a balcony, porch, small spare room, etc. where you want to dry your clothes.
The Mister dug me a post hole, inserted a piece of  PVC pipe into the whole, and filled in around it with cement.  This way it can be removed for ease of mowing, flocks of children descending on your yard, etc.  I started hanging my laundry out 2 years ago and was quickly addicted.  The best time to get your laundry out is first thing in the morning so it has all day to dry (especially important in cooler weather).  An added bonus is to be out in your yard, preferably by yourself, first thing in the morning.  The birds swooping overhead, the quiet - and your laundry is going to smell amazing after being hung out all day.
A few months ago I started researching recipes for homemade laundry detergent.  I have tried a few and eventually came up with a recipe that cleans great, is super cheap, and smells wonderful.  You will need :
1 bar fels naptha or another all-natural soap
1 cup Borax
1 cup Arm & Hammer washing soda 
1 large bucket with a lid (the Homer buckets from Home Depot do nicely)
Fragrance (optional)

Grate the entire bar of soap into a large stock pot.  Add 6 cups of water and heat until soap dissolves.  Add Borax and washing soda and stir until completely dissolved.  Remove from heat and pour mixture into bucket.  Add 4 cups hot water, then 1 gallon plus 6 cups more water, and fragrance.  Let sit uncovered for 24 hours before using, then use 1/2 cup per load.  The finished detergent will not be solid - in truth it looks like homemade slime.  I keep a wooden paint stirrer next to my bucket to mix it up before I use it.  If you can find a cheap scoop that measures around a 1/2 cup, it is well worth it to avoid detergent covered hands when you go to use it.

The fragrance - ok, I really wanted to be super Earth friendly and use only all natural organic essential oils harvested by Tibetan monks during the full moon OBVIOUSLY; however I didn't want to spend $25 for 2 oz of fragrance.  Hello, Dollar Store!  As the ever enlightened Mrs. B from Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom points out, there is magic in the Dollar Store!  They have a line of essential oils in their candle aisle, and while a lot of them are way too sweet or strong, they had a rain scent that was awesome.  I use about 8 drops per bucket - you get a nice hint of fragrance but it's nothing that is going to make your significant other want to roll around in the mud.  And if you want extra brownie points, you can also make your own fabric softener:

1 cup baking soda (hint : if you keep baking soda in your fridge to absorb odors, instead of throwing it away when it's past it's prime, use it for this.  Unless it really reeks it will not transmit odor)
6 cups white vinegar
Fragrance (optional)
1 large bucket
Add baking soda to bucket with 1 cup of water.  Slowly add vinegar, then 7 additional cups of water and fragrance if using.  Mix well, then you can funnel this into any clean empty plastic container.  Up-cycled vinegar bottles or orange juice or milk containers work very well - just make sure to label them and put them up where kids won't be able to reach them.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Best Tomato Sauce You'll Ever Make

And yes, I can back that up.
This is tomato sauce that you end up eating straight out of the pot, with big chunks of bread, and only ever end up with about half as much as you thought you would.  
You can use canned tomato puree and it's still pretty darn fantastic.  But if you have a Roma tomato plant (or know someone who does) you know how prolific they can be, and this is hands down the best use for them.  
You're going to want enough tomatoes to equal 8 cups of tomato puree.  All you do is cut off the stems, make an x mark on the bottom, and bring a large pot of water to a boil and dunk them in until the skin loosens (about 2 minutes).  Remove them with tongs and place in a large colander in your sink and run under cold water for a minute, then carefully remove the skins.  Then toss them in a food processor and puree in batches until smooth (I only ever pulse mine since I like my sauce chunky).  At this point you can pass the puree through cheesecloth or a sieve to remove the seeds, but I never do.
In a large stock pot or Dutch oven, heat 4 Tb good quality olive oil over medium heat.  Add 1 medium diced onion and 4 cloves minced garlic.  Saute until onion is translucent.  Add tomato puree, 1/4 c tomato paste, 3 c beef broth (I have tried vegetable broth - I'm sorry, it just doesn't taste as good), 1/4 c good red wine, 1/4 c fresh grated Parmesan cheese, 1/4 c sugar, 2 bay leaves, and then fresh parsley, basil, thyme, ground pepper, and sea salt to taste.  Of course I always go crazy on the herbs and I think the sauce is the better for it.  Stir it all together and simmer it on low for 3 hours, stirring occasionally.  When the sauce is finished remove the bay leaves and can what you will not use immediately, or place it in ziploc freezer bags and lay it flat in the freezer.  To defrost just lay the bag in your sink and fill the sink with warm water.  The Mister adores this for baked ziti and manicotti, and Butterbean eats it like soup.

To Do's ... and To Don'ts

I've moved the mint, thyme, oregano, sage, and basil inside for the winter and stockpiled a bunch of seeds that were on sale at our local Co-op ... feeling rather squirrel-ish :-) My dream is to have a sunny space where I can grow herbs inside all winter long. This involves cleaning out the dreaded cat room ... a perfectly wonderful sunny little room befouled by the two ornery cats. Did you know cats are sociopaths, by the way?
From :

–noun Psychiatry .
a person, as a psychopathic personality, whose behavior is antisocial and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience. 
Yup, that's cats for you. If there litter pan - or more appropriately, their open container of bio-hazardous material poisoning the air I breathe - is the least bit dirty, they go on the floor. BUT, if it's too clean, they also go on the floor. And Tobey, my mentally challenged cat, has also taken to pissing in a doorway right where the linoleum in the room has a seam - so no matter how much I wash the floor, it reeks of cat pee. I've tried the, "OK, you're outdoor cats now" thing, but they both would screech at the back door until I let them back in anyway.
But anyway, until those two bite it, I'm stuck sharing my space with them. The Mister has agreed to help me put up shelves to better organize that room, and in the meantime I'm using it to dry out herbs from the garden, which masks the general smell of cat. But please do not ever get sucked into the evil plot of a kitten - it's looking up at you with those big kitten eyes and cute furry face - but also vowing to somehow drive you batshit.
Anyway, dogs make better babysitters:

We are also planning the construction of a vegetable garden on the side of our house that gets a lot of sun. It will be a raised bed to keep the handsome devil above (the dog, not the baby) out. Buying materials tomorrow and assembling this week, layering peat moss and compost over top to enrich the soil over the winter, then planting in the spring! I love that we will have fresh veggies growing on our property next year. I've been reading a lot about cold-hardy greens and how to over-winter certain vegetables, so that is absolutely on the horizon too.

Pictures to follow of the construction process ... and of me rolling around in ecstasy on my beautiful, wonderful dirt.

Honoring The Goddess Within

How much do you take care of your body and treat it as the sacred vessel that it is?
Since I've started on this journey I've been considering this.  I've always had beliefs deeply rooted in caring for the Earth and creatures without a voice.  To summarize, we re-use everything, recycle, compost, utilize rain barrels, and line dry our clothes.  My girls are cloth diapered and I am actively trying to incorporate more vegetarianism into our lives.  But in considering "food miles" and carbon footprint, I couldn't help but think - *I* am worth taking care of as much as everything else.
It's not hard to see the connection between eating healthy, exercising, and feeling better.  But I believe the connection between caring for your body and your spirituality goes overlooked.  When I eat more vegetables, when I run (I love to run - that's my meditation time) I'm more peaceful, more alert, more aware of Mother Earth showering me with her gifts.  I believe it is Her way of emphasizing the connections between every living thing on Earth.  The same way that if you are rude or disrespectful to someone else, you can't help but have a little of that blackness creep into your own heart - if you disregard your body and focus solely on your spirituality, you are slowly poisoning yourself.  And in honoring the Great Mother within us all, don't we honor each other?
There is my food for thought for the day - hope you are all well and at peace.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...