Imbolc

The following blog post is a short excerpt from my book:
The Spiritual Feminist

witch 52


Imbolc

(February 2)

The Goddess celebrates renewed fertility, fertility of body, mind, and spirit.  Seeds are sown now for future harvests; the bricks and mortar of new paths and new adventures are laid.  The Goddess is reborn as her younger self, the Maiden, and it is her strength and power and sinewy young muscle that we imbue ourselves with, so as to have the strength and endurance to fulfill our life journey.

This is also a festival of the Celtic goddess, Bride, so beloved by the people of the old world that the Roman Church couldn’t eradicate her. Instead, they made her a saint, Saint Brigit. In Celtic lore, the Old Woman of Winter (the Cailleach) was reborn as Bride, the Young Maiden of Spring.  It’s this image that is most nostaligic in my mind, from the halls of Catholic Parochial School, the beautiful shining faces of the female saints, innocently biding their time among the patriarchal rhetoric, waiting for The Great Awakening…St. Brigit most prominent among them (the nuns adored her).

The celebration of Imbolc is also a celebration of light, a celebration of the sun, in the fact that a successful new growing season depends upon it.  The light and warmth of the sun is celebrated in the flames of candles and bonfires.

My Celebration:

This milestone passes all but unnoticed at our house, in all truth.  I touch on it with a public comment and picture at social sites, or among my pagan internet friends; but here, it’s like a soft shadow passing over the house, sometimes lit with the glow of a blue candle on the kitchen table that hardly anyone else notices, since I’m always burning candles it seems.  But I notice, and I remember, and I think…The time of The Great Awakening has come.

Imbolc Correspondences

Herbs: basil, bay, celandine, benzoic
Altar Flowers/Herbs: angelica, myrrh, flowers that are yellow/white/or blue
Feast Foods: bread, cakes, dairy products, seeds
Animals: burrowing animals, ewes, deer, goats, lambs
Incense: jasmine, myrrh, neroli
Rituals/Spells: candle magick, initiation, hearth/home blessings, fertility magick, healing magick, cleansing rituals

Imolc Recipes

Creamed Cabbage

1 lb. pre-cooked ham, 1″ cubed or shredded
1 heaping tsp. flour
1 firm white cabbage
1/2 tsp. each salt & pepper
1 cup cream
grated nutmeg (optional)

Cut cabbage in half, then cut the halves once again.   Drop them into a pot of boiling water and cook for 5 minutes, drain. Slice them up. Melt a little butter or margarine in a sauce pan and add the shredded cabbage. Stir it up good. Add salt, pepper, and a dash of grated nutmeg. Next add the cream and a heaping teaspoon of flour, still stirring, and let it come to a boil. Add the cubed or shredded ham, and lower the heat. Cover the sauce pan and let the mixture simmer for about 30 minutes. Serve hot. Makes 6-8 servings.

Interestingly enough, and just as a sidenote, Nutmeg is the most popular herb used to induce fidelity in a romantic partner. Think about this, when used with magickal intention, if you’re making this dish for your husband, boyfriend, fiance, etc.  (“This is a perfect example of a little innocent kitchen witchery in the making.”, she says with a wicked grin.)
____________________

Brigit’s Biscuits

2 1/4 cup Bisquick
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper. In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Drop by Tablespoon onto baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden. Serve warm with butter.

 

The Witch’s Desk: Celebrate October! ~ Full Moon & Samhain

Samhain

(October 31)

The goddess is old and wizened. She’s settling into this stage of her persona to reap the benefit of all that she has experienced, all that has transpired on her journey to this point. She’s preparing for the dark months, gathering her harvest about her, both for her physical survival and her emotional revival, using this time to rest, to gather energy for the future and the light that she knows will return. On this phase of her journey she can afford to sit back in quiet reflection, to shed those things in her life that have become a burden, and to look forward to the end of her journey, or rather, the beginning of the next.

Samhain (pronounced ‘Sou-wen’) is a celebration that has a more somber side than the revelry of modern Halloween. It is a day of remembrance of your ancestors and for those family members who have passed over. Pagan families may set an extra place at the supper table on this evening, to honor those loved ones who are no longer with them. The veil between the world of the living and the dead is thinnest on this eve, and this night is an excellent time to perform divination, or to try and connect with those spirits from the other side.

My Celebration:

Samhain is a big deal at our house. Some years ago we began the tradition of a bonfire in the front driveway, an open house for friends, childrens’ friends, and acquaintances. You’ll find a table set up by the fire pit for a weinie roast, with smore’s for dessert. In the kitchen, I’ve got a large kettle of chili on the stove, and a large kettle of hot apple cider. Costumes are optional, for those who are comfortable dressing up, I say go for it; for those who are not, don’t sweat it. And, of course, there will be a large bowl of candy for the children in our neighborhood who follow the age-old custom of trick or treating.

You always hear that the veil has thinned on this night and spirit contact is almost inevitable if one wishes to put forth some effort. Samhain is also reputed to be a superb night for divinantion of any kind, and with this in mind, I set up a table on the backporch full of divination tools: tarot cards, rune stones, pendulums, oriental divination sticks, and don’t forget the ouija board for those who wish to try their hand communing with the spirits. Guests seem to love this opportunity, and there will be people seated around this table off and on all evening. It gives many a chance to learn about, touch, and use divination tools that they may not be familiar with and might otherwise not have access to.

Samhain Correspondences

Herbs: patchouli, sage, heather

Altar Flowers/Herbs: acorns, apples, pumpkins/gourds, dittany, autumn leaves

Feast Foods: pumpkin, squash, nut breads, sweet potatoes, milled drinks (cider, wine), roast meat, root vegetables

Animals: bats, cats, crows, ravens, owls

Incense: cinnamon, cloves, myrrh, patchouli, pine, mugwort, nutmeg

Rituals/Spells: making besoms, divination, spirit contact, crone magick, working with dark energy, spells for new beginnings

Samhain Recipes

My Pumpkin Pie:

1 16 oz. can pumpkin (about 2 cups)

1 13 oz. can evaporated milk

(but sometimes I use sweetened condensed milk– it makes it more “chiffony”…is that a word?)

2 eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 sugar

the spices:

Cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, and a dash of salt. Most recipes call for 1/2 teaspoon each, but I’m much more generous with my spices!

the crust:

I tried for years to learn to make a good pie crust, and I almost gave up out of frustration, then I found this recipe. It’s almost fool-proof, no kidding.

2 and 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup shortening

1 beaten egg

1 tablespoon vinegar

1/4 cup water

Mix the dry ingredients together and cut in the shortening, as usual. Then combine the egg and vinegar, stirring it up a bit, and add this to your dry ingredients. Add the water a dash at a time as you work it in, you’ll be able to tell when you get a good texture.

Bake at 400 degrees the first fifteen minutes, and at 350 degrees for the next 30-40 minutes. When you can stick a butter knife in the center of the pie, and it comes out clean, your pie is done.

____________________

Hot Apple Cider

I have a *Huge*– did I say huge?– kettle that I use to mix up my cider. This sits and simmers all afternoon on the backburner of my stove, wafting a wonderful aroma throughout the house.

Ingredients:

5-7 large jugs of applejuice

8-10 bags of peach tea

a handful of cinnamon sticks

and a large metal tea ball filled

with whole cloves and allspice

You can leave a shaker of nutmeg sit on the counter & anyone who wants to add a dash of this spice to their mug of apple cider can do so.

If you don’t like this cider full force, you can dilute it some with water to suit your own taste.

October

Blood Moon

Herbs: ginger, myrrh, allspice, basil, clove

Stones: alexandrite, citrine, lilac kunzite

Scents: pine, patchouli

Colors: dark green, brown, gold

Trees: yew, cypress, maple, oak

Deities: Astarte, Horned God, Lakshmi, Ishtar

Astrological Signs: Libra, Scorpio

Elements: Air/Water

Crafting Your Magic:

Ancestral magic is cast with the Blood Moon. Do magic now to communicate with family members who have passed, to connect with your ancestors and your heritage. Magic surrounding divination is relevant, it’s the perfect time. Cast spells for justice and balance, and to overthrow anything oppressive which may be blocking your path to success. Ambition is highlighted, use magic to increase the potency of your own, or cast magic to contain ambition that may have run amok. This is also the perfect time to step into the dark shadows and take advantage of the vibrations found there. The gray witch revels in the magic of the Blood Moon and in this season.

Sources:

The information from this blog post was taken from my books ~

The Spiritual Feminist

The Gray Witch’s Grimoire

To order your copies, click  HERE

The Witch’s Desk: Celebrate September! ~ Full Moon & Autumnal Equinox

Wine Moon

Herbs: lilac, mugwort, marjoram,
rose, thyme

Stones: sapphire, bloodstone,
rainbow obsidian

Scents: gardenia, rose, lilac

Colors: brown, yellow-green, amber

Trees: hazel, larch, bay

Deities: Demeter, Ceres, Isis,

Astrological Signs: Virgo, Libra

Elements: Earth/Air

Crafting Your Magic:

Feminine energy is highlighted, receptive energy. Cast magic to draw inward, magic to draw those things– both intangible and material– to you that you need to fill the void. The Goddess is in the spotlight. Work magic to benefit female issues, such as fertility, independence, and protection.

The Wine Moon works its magic in the area of love and relationships. Cast spells to discover your soul mate, find a lost love, or nurture a secret desire. The energy of Libra will bring balance to all magic cast at this time, and its energy promotes the very essence of love and sex. Cast spells now to promote healthy sexuality and to maintain or regain physical health of the reproductive system.

Concentrate on the third eye chakra, opening the doors to psychic experiences. Prepare to enter the autumnal dark months with the clairvoyant vision to see well beyond, into the light of the future.

The Autumnal Equinox: Mabon

The Goddess, in the death throes of the growing season, is at her most beautiful. As she moves towards the final harvest, in preparation for the dark days to come, she shines with the brilliance and color that is mirrored in the physical world as golden leaves, ripened fruit, withering vines, and frost-covered grass. The spiritual aspect of this stage is one that is just as beautiful, emphasizing once more the idea of completion and accomplishment, of finding that moment within development that culminates with depths of wisdom and the light of knowledge.

This day brings equal hours of light and dark, a second celebration of perfect equality. Beyond this day, light will gradually fade as the dark season descends upon the world. At this time of year, the ancient Druids would burn a large human-like wicker figure as part of their celebration. This figure represented the vegetation spirit, and indeed, the heralding of the dark season would bring an end to the growth and flowering of summer.

Modern Pagans may celebrate this holiday with many of the foods connected with this time of year in their area. Decorations may include leaves of autumn hues, sunflowers, pumpkins and gourds. The most amazing thing, I believe, is how this miraculous milestone of earth and time passes almost unnoticed by the mundane multitudes.

My Celebration:

I welcome the growing darkness that I know will follow Mabon. Moment by moment, day by day, it creeps up almost unnoticed. Until one day, you glance at the clock and realize that afternoon is barely over, evening has barely begun, and it is pitch dark outside.

My favorite way to celebrate Mabon is by lighting candles all over the house. In doing so I’m actually celebrating the darkness with light.

I light white candles for cleansing and purification, for Spirit, for the Goddess. I light white candles to wipe the slate clean, to start new lists, to begin new projects. I light yellow candles to celebrate the sun and its grace and dignity as it steps back to make way for the moon. I light yellow candles to celebrate communication and everything I’ve ever wanted to say to anyone, and those things I might regret not saying. I light yellow candles to fill my mind with words and thoughts that run into sentences and paragraphs and pages. I light lavender candles to celebrate the spirits I know are there but cannot see. I light lavender candles to acknowledge that little voice in my head, the one that’s saved my life over the years, not to mention my sanity. I light green candles to celebrate and embrace the earth. I light green candles to celebrate and embrace this wonderful physcial body that is mine. I light green candles to bathe in the glow of good health and prosperity. I light green candles to feel the soles of my bare feet connect with the dying grass, the withering garden, the falling leaves.

I light one tall black taper candle that is me, to celebrate the spark of life I carry, to celebrate future days to come, to celebrate my passage through another year…and to acknowledge and embrace my mortality.

Mabon Correspondences

Herbs: marigold, myrrh, thistles, sage

Altar Flowers/Herbs: asters, mums, pine, ferns, milkweed, honeysuckle

Feast Foods: autumn berries, nuts, roast game, root vegetables, cider, wine, bread

Animals: stags, goats, blackbirds, canines, owls, birds-of-prey

Incense: cedar, myrrh, patchouli, pine, sage, sweet grass, oak moss

Rituals/Spells: drying herbs, gathering late harvest, past life work, harvest moon rituals, making willow wands, harmony spells, protection spells for winter

Mabon Recipes

Carmel Apple Crumb Treat

2 Golden Delicious apples

4 small (or 2 large) Granny Smith apples

1/8 cup fruit juice

1/3 cup loosely packed light brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

12 soft caramel candies

1/2 cup quick rolled oats

1/2 cup flour

1/3 cup tightly packed light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/3 cup butter

Slice and core the apples, mixing the types together.

Pour the fruit juice into a large pot. Put about a third of the apple slices into the pot. Sprinkle with half the lightly packed brown sugar and dot with 1 tablespoon of butter. Add more apples and the remaining brown sugar and butter, and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger.

Turn the heat on Low and simmer for a while. Stir apples occasionally, until they start to soften. The Golden Delicious will pretty much turn to mush, binding together the slices of Granny Smith. This takes about an hour or two, depending on the heat and the apples.

Meanwhile, cut the soft caramels into quarters.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

To prepare the crumble topping, stir together 1/2 cup quick rolled oats, 1/2 cup flour, 1/3 cup tightly packed light brown sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger. Slice 1/3 cup butter and add to bowl, then cut it in with a butter cutter until the mixture is loose and crumbly.

Spray a ceramic or glass pie plate with cooking spray. Spoon in about a third of the apples and spread them on the bottom. Top with half the caramel pieces. Spoon in another third of the apples; top with the remaining caramel pieces. Spoon in the remaining apples and spread them smooth. Use another spoon to sprinkle the crumble topping evenly over the top of the apple filling.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until filling is bubbly and topping melds into a lightly golden crust. Serve hot.

____________________

Broccoli Casserole

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted

1 medium onion, chopped

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 package (16 ounces) frozen broccoli cuts, thawed

1 package (10 ounces) frozen chopped broccoli, thawed

1/4 cup dry bread crumbs

In a large bowl, combine the first seven ingredients; fold in broccoli. Transfer to a greased 1-1/2 qt. baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Cover and bake at 400 for 30-35 minutes or until heated through. Serves 8.

Notes:
1.  The full moon for September 2015 falls on the 28th; the autumnal equinox falls on the 23rd.
2.  The art in this post is courtesy of Craig Koskov
3.  The sources for this blog post are my books: The Gray Witch’s Grimoire & The Spiritual Feminist…
Amythyst’s Amazon Author Page…click Here

The Witch’s Desk: Lammas!

 We’re gearing up for the first Pagan harvest festival of the year:  Lammas (also known as Lughnasadh in some traditions).  How time flies; it’s this time of year again.  Summer may still feel in full-swing in your area, but Mother Nature is tapping us on the shoulder with this first harvest of grain, reminding us that it’s not going to last forever, giving us a heads-up to be prepared for the inevitable winter-to-come.  Following is more information on this holiday in our Pagan “Wheel-of-the-Year”, including the Goddess connection, my personal reflections on this harvest festival, as well as correspondences for Lammas, ritual suggestions, and recipes!

Read on, enjoy.

And…Happy Lammas!

ladyamythyst.com/wheeloftheyear.htm

Lammas

(August 1)

As the matron of ancient times would start early to prepare her family for the harsh winter months ahead, so the Mother Goddess prepares us. She reminds us of the bounty yet to come with an early harvest of grain. She encourages us to take stock of what we have, and this pertains to the physical harvests, of course, but it can also include taking stock of ourselves, re-evaluating our goals, our lives, our paths, our relationships, our strengths, and our weaknesses.

This is the first of the harvest festivals, and in the ancient world this was indeed a time of celebration. A successful harvest would mean survival in the harsh winter months. In the northern countries this was, in particular, a celebration of the first harvest of wheat, thus bread is featured in the celebration of Lammas, also known as Lughnasadh.

As the modern day Pagans celebrate this festival they will build roaring bonfires, feed each other a mouthful of bread, and with wine they will toast each other…”May you eat the bread of life.

My Celebration:

Yes, it’s a harvest festival. Yes, bread and wheat, as well as other grains, figure into it. But for me, it was more about the passage of time. It’s about how time plays tricks on us, and as a child on summer vacation from school, these three months seemed like a whole year rolled up into one magickal moment.

August 1 in South Dakota meant lots of lingering blistering summer days ahead, the heat being almost as intense as July; but it also meant something different in the air, that faint scent (an autumn scent), a nuance of change in the sunlight, the slight tinge starting at the edge of the leaves. And then one morning, being greeted with crisp air and a sky so blue it was almost painful to look at, so beautiful it was.

This holiday, this moment in time, is a mystery. It is the ability to look back into the past while standing on some invisible magickal horizon so that you can see the future, but just enough of the future to tease you forward. And you come to this exact same time and place year after year. August 1, another summer coming to a close, one of so many, and another autumn returning. An end, to make way for something new to begin, again, and again, and again.

The figure standing on the horizon grows, matures, changes, morphs, ages, expands, learns, regrets, loves, hates, wonders, questions, fears, laughs, and listens. The figure on the horizon passes through a human life time in the blink of an eye, with one inaudible breath…and then they fade into an ethereal creature of smokey wisps with a voice that is but the wind.

Lammas Correspondences

Herbs: frankincense, wheat, cornstalks, heather

Altar Flowers/Herbs: corn ears, hollyhock, myrtle, oak leaves, wheat

Feast Foods: apples/apple pie, cornbread, sweet potatoes/sweet potato pie, grapes, blackberries

Animals: calves, roosters, deer

Incense: chamomile, rose, rosemary, allspice, sandalwood, carnation

Rituals/Spells: maternal magick, prosperity spells, purification spells, thanksgiving rituals, career spells

Lammas Recipes

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins
(with glaze)

For the Muffins:

2/3 cup sugar

Grate 2 lemons

Juice of 1 lemon

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup sour cream

2 large eggs

1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

For the Icing:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted

2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line 12 molds in a regular-size muffin pan with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet.

____________________

Banana Bread

1 1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups mashed very ripe bananas (3 to 4 medium)

1/2 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup chopped nuts, if desired

Move oven rack to low position so that tops of pans will be in center of oven. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottoms only of 2 loaf pans, 8 1/2×4 1/2×2 1/2 inches, or 1 loaf pan, 9x5x3 inches.

Mix sugar and butter in large bowl. Stir in eggs until well blended. Add bananas, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat until smooth. Stir in flour, baking soda and salt just until moistened. Stir in nuts. Pour into pans.

Bake 8-inch loaves about 1 hour, 9-inch loaf about 1 1/4 hours, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Loosen sides of loaves from pans; remove from pans and place top side up on wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours, before slicing.

[Source:  This blog post is an excerpt from my book The Spiritual Feminist]