Cheers to Summer Solstice and Happy Places

 

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Many Blessings to You and Yours Today, On This Summer Solstice & Full Strawberry Moon!

We leave tomorrow for Disneyland, “The Happiest Place on Earth”, I should probably be happier than I am, right? I’m truly excited to go as a family especially since these youngest two have never been. But I am too stressed at the moment to enjoy the preparations. As I’ve mentioned, I am from Southern California and lived 20 minutes away from the Magical Kingdom. Our family went 2-3 times a year, but I haven’t been in at least 15. So I know that although a lot has stayed the same, I also know that a lot has changed and I am looking forward to what’s in store.

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Except this stress! I have to make sure the flight stuff is in order and that we arrive at the airport on time. I have to drop the dog off with the boarders and then to the doctor’s office to have my daughter’s stitches taken out. I also need to give the boys haircuts tonight. I’ve made reservations for all the cool places to eat at the Park (Rainforest Cafe, Blue Bayou in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and brunch with the Disney characters) but there is still so much left to do and if I don’t slow down, I’m going to forget something important; like one of the kids. (I’m joking!)

We are doing a simple family Summer Solstice observance tonight. It’s going to be hard to get the excited kids in bed at a reasonable time, but we have to get up early in the morning and head out to the airport. Nevertheless, today is a special turning point in the Wheel so we are having a small bonfire in our fire pit and do a little bit of drumming. Our outdoor altar has been set up for a few days now and we’ve enjoyed it while sitting on the porch swing listening to the rain. I am definitely going to set aside some time tonight for my personal Summer Solstice ritual and much needed meditation/downtime.

It’s recently been raining here with highs in 50’s-60’s. It feels more like April than the first day of Summer, even the nearby mountains have received several inches of snow in the past week. It’s supposed to be 108 degrees F in Anaheim today but is supposed to cool down a bit tomorrow. It’s going to be a bit of a temperature shock as we aren’t acclimated. We’ll be drinking Lots and Lots of water and spending the heat of the day in the hotel swimming pool before heading back in at night. Nighttime at Disneyland is the best because the crowds have thinned out and the lights are beautiful.

There has been a slight issue with my son being afraid to fly. His sister is excited as hell. I just want them both to enjoy their first flight. We aren’t able to sit together as a family because the seats are in rows of three. So there will be three of us together on one side of the aisle and one of us across the aisle. I told my husband that I would prefer to sit across the aisle and that I’d like to request a window seat. That may sound selfish, but I know the kids will feel safer next to their dad and I can be looking out the window as the plane taxis, speeds up, and eventually leaves the ground, watching the earth pull away in that strangely soft way, feeling a slight dip here and there as the aircraft gains altitude.

And I want to be far enough away from the kids so they don’t see me if possibly panic. For the first time ever, I’m apprehensive to fly. The last time I flew wasn’t a very good experience. It was a flight home from Alaska on a small, wobbly prop plane that felt like it had a hard time staying aloft. I knew it was silly, but it was still a very stressful experience. The only other reasons I can put together are that since that last flight 12 years ago I have had a few surgeries (one major) and I have developed claustrophobia and social anxiety disorder. Add to that I’ve been having to reassure my 8 year-old son several times a day that the plane will not crash and that no, the pilot won’t be drunk (I hope he’s not, but I will more than likely be).

I’ve already got my headphones and IPod in my purse with my most recent calming addition of “Drift” by Tonia Rose for the flight. All in all I know I’ll get a grip on things, especially the stress. To slightly paraphrase a quote from the Seven Dwarfs, …..”it’s off to work I go” so that I may relax and enjoy the experience through the eyes of my children.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

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The Birds, the Bees, and Fairy Beltane Blessings

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The clover has become a wonderful carpet, soft and lush, telling us it’s time to tend the Fairy Garden. So much of our little Fairy Village has taken quite a beating by the rain and winter winds. It’s time to clean up the damage and spruce up the garden in hopes of another magickal, fairy-filled summer. Of course we will keep some mud and grime because of course, fairies love that.

 

The temperatures have been very warm and mild for early spring so the daffodils and tulips have bid their farewells for the year. In their place, the air is bursting with the smell of the rosemary bushes and the lavender is ripe with unopened buds. The mint is gaining momentum, and the return of the thyme and oregano in the little herb garden is a welcome sight. I love to look up towards the heavens to see more blue skies with white puffy clouds, and then to the trees that are filling out nicely with tender new leaves.

 

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The birds are singing and the bees are buzzing keeping company with all the other miraculous living things that have come out from the shadows of winter and are ready to play. Once again a blackbird has nested in the birdhouse outside the art studio, her hungry baby birds making quite the fuss. Mamma Bird will make sure her presence is known to me if I get too close (like when I try to enter the studio). Out she’ll fly, whooshing over my head, making me jump or squeal. Sometimes both. Personally, I think she gets a kick out of scaring me.

The whimsical ringing of wind chimes mingles with the rustling sound in the cedars where squirrels dart back and forth. And then there are the wondrous, soothing night sounds of the tree frogs who are out calling again tonight. I opened all the bedroom windows to let in some cooler air and welcome the song of the frogs. My husband is out at a poker game he plays with his buddies once a month and the kids and I stayed up well past their bedtime. After realizing how late it was, we quickly brushed and flossed our teeth, fed the dog and cat, and refilled our water glasses. Then I tucked them in bed with lights out and left their windows open the cool breeze and the soft lullaby sounds of the little frogs. They’d be asleep in no time at all…

Some time later when I was about to turn out the light, the symphony of chirps and whistles was crashed by a loud, annoying toad. Well, I think it was a toad. Before I knew it my kids were climbing into my bed with me, furiously kicking their legs beneath the covers to protect them from whatever was making that loud racket. “Probably just an old toad,” I told them. But even I began to wonder…It (whatever “it” was) eventually quieted down long enough for us to drift off to sleep. I woke them when my arms began to ache beneath the weight of their ever-growing bodies. I nudged them off my bed and tucked them back into their own. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow, what with it being the Eve of Beltane and all.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

Salty Magick & Elven Speak

Here I sit at the dining room table in the midst of lovely chaos. The t.v. is turned up way too loud, the washer and dryer are both running simultaneously nearby, the kids are tossing a balloon back and forth, giggling while trying to keep it airborne (in some strange, made-up game only they know the rules to), my husband is animatedly discussing football plays with fellow coaches and all the while I am sipping on lavender chamomile tea wondering how on earth I’m going to get my lines memorized for the upcoming ritual I agreed to be a part of.

I’m in the thick of things because I became lonely after having shut myself in a quiet room, far removed from the action which (interestingly enough) proved to be no less distracting than the present moment. I’ve lit a candle to help remind me of the task at hand and, for some reason, I have found that if I sit facing towards said chaos that I am more able to focus on what I’m trying to accomplish. I’ve taken over the entire circumference of the dining table with my ritual notes from last night’s rehearsal, some files and a binder, along with my cellphone and laptop; not to mention way too many pens in varying shades of purple.

I kind of feel like the Queen Bee of the dining room, looking out over the workings of a household gone mad while I ramble on about the defining qualities of a sturdy potato chip interspersed with seemingly random words of an obscure and unique language.

“Rrrrruffles have rrridges…Rrrrruffles have rrridges…Rrrrruffles have rrridges…formenel…dorhiron……ennorath..…”

This strange babbling initially drew attention from the others but they’ve since moved on to more interesting things and have pretty much left me alone ever since.

I’m not completely bonkers (although I’m sure there are many that would be eager to challenge me on that), I’m simply supposed to learn how to speak a little bit of Elvish and I’m trying to practice rolling my r’s eloquently. Out of frustration I was about to call it quits when my eyes landed on a half-empty bag of Ruffles potato chips laying the kitchen counter flanked by empty bottles of hefeweizen (the by-products of having several football coaches in my house). I don’t know how I know this, maybe I saw it in a movie once, but “Rrrruffles have rrridges” was a way to practice those rolling r’s.

As most things of this nature, it all began innocently enough when I was asked to call the North at a Wiccan ritual that will be open to the public for this upcoming Spring Equinox.

I thought, oooh, I haven’t called a direction in a public ritual for quite a while, and I most certainly haven’t called North since…well…ever!! A picture immediately flashed in my mind…It would feel amazing to raise my arms to the sky as I invoked the Northern Watchtower, speaking freely from my heart and hopefully stirring the souls of those who heard my words as we welcomed in the grounding Earth energies; I could almost feel the winter North wind whipping my hair around wildly as leaves twirled and spiraled upward. Ah, the magick! But, I’m a practical witch, and a realist to boot, so I reigned in my imagination a bit (plus I already knew it was going to be indoors so the wild wind whipping my hair around was probably out).

I quickly answered with an enthusiastic “yes!” anyway, before learning little details like my invoking the Watcher of the Northern Tower would be done in both Elvish and English.

I never paid a lot of attention to Elvish unless it involved Legolas. Is that bad of me?

So I will learn my lines like the good Witch I aspire to be and not just because I care for, admire, and deeply respect the women who have worked so hard to create this ritual. I believe in the work we do and that public ritual can help create change for the better. I’m excited see how the community receives this well written ritual. It’s an interesting blend of The Blessed Realm and Goddess creation myths from around this world with some other interesting tidbits added. That’s the beauty of eclecticism.

Public rituals are unlike most of my solitary rituals where I can fly by the seat of my pants until it comes to the actual spellwork. On the contrary they are organized, well-planned events with a basic structure necessary in order to have a successful outcome that promotes religious tolerance, acceptance, and open-mindedness. A ritual for a large gathering of people in a shared public space needs to have that organization or it will quickly lose focus, scatter intentions, cause disinterest, or worst case scenario lead to friction and/or fear. I know from experience that there will already be enough of that from well meaning bible-thumpers trying to save our naughty souls from eternal damnation.

The beauty of individual self-expression lies within the center of Paganism and is vital to Spiritual Awareness and growth. It’s often found in drumming and meditation circles, solitary work, etc. This is where ideas form and inspiration grows. It’s where we find our voice and feel comfortable to finally having it be heard, sometimes for the very first time.

Large public rituals are similar in that they create a welcoming sacred space to everyone, regardless of gender, race, experience, faith, or culture. However they differ from drum circles and many types of mystical gatherings in that they have a central theme that weaves together a magickal story to be shared with the community through careful outlining of thought, action, and intent; the stuff magick is made of but in a specific order that can be easily carried out with (hopefully) few hiccups. They rely on building the energy through deep trust in the person you are holding hands with. The experience is a collective effort and no matter the level of experience, the energy naturally directs itself towards the Priestess acting as Centerpole. These people of diverse backgrounds who chose to be a part of the Circle will feel the release as it trembles the earth. There will be a quiet stillness that tingles the skin and stirs the soul as we connect with others through a collective consciousness and a shared understanding of the moment. Most bystanders will feel something too. Maybe there is something to this Magick thing after all.

Strangely enough, a half-empty bag filled with high fat, overly salty, virtually no nutrient value crumbs might just help me be a successful part of this amazing ritual. An extreme example of finding magick in the mundane, yet no less magickal.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

The Force of Nature

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I can’t believe that Imbolc is here which means we’re already halfway between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox. Although it doesn’t really feel like it, the quickening of the earth has begun. To remind my kids (and myself) of this reawakening, I rummaged through the junk cabinet, you know, the one underneath the junk drawer, (no junk cabinet? I send great kudos to you, but you can’t convince me that you don’t have at least one junk drawer somewhere) and I found the crumpled paper bag at the very back. I’m not sure but I think I may have heard a chorus of angels because in that bag was the Holy Grail of possibilities and new beginnings. So out of the bag and onto the kitchen counter roll several small, strange looking brown blobs of promise.

And every year my kids will ask the same thing, “Are they dead?”

One of my favorite things to do a week or so before Imbolc is to force bulbs to grow in my kitchen window.

At the end of January that statement makes me feel so empowered! In midwinter I can’t do much of anything outside because of the thick mud and my little Summer herb garden seems like a distant memory. Sure, I’ll feed and water the houseplants but even they start to look sluggish. But believe you me, I will force those bulbs to grow!

And they do. They always do. Rain or shine, their vibrant green shoots will burst through the surface within days of planting, and before I know it they’re blooming with confidence and sheer force of will. And every year I am humbled by their elegant beauty, knowing full well I didn’t force them to do anything. I simply gave them a place to start and in return they shared their lovely blooms with me and my family.

That’s the power of Nature. All around us are reminders of Gaia’s strength, compassion, and never-ending gifts of beauty.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

 

Statements of Intent in Lieu of Resolutions

It’s New Years (in case you haven’t heard) and I began thinking about all of those resolutions people make every year-just like the ones I used to make. I remember those promises well and the key phrase that went along with them; “I’m going to (insert something I don’t really want to do) every day”. Most were doomed, but that’s the norm; the expected outcome.

My top picks of unsuccessful attempts at resolutions have included, but of course are not limited to: join the gym, walk the dog, call my mom more often, cut back on my caffeine intake, etc.

My personal favorite and most often used one was, “I’m going to lose 10 pounds by swimsuit season”. Sure, I was successful, but when I got back from the vacation I bought that swimsuit for, I found that those 10 pounds had rewound themselves around my thighs.

Before I began the Path I already had come to realize that my New Year’s Resolutions were nothing but cop outs. Knowing that New Years was coming up I could postpone losing that weight or cutting back on my frivolous shopping. It could all wait because that was going on my mental New Year’s Resolution list. Sometimes that list would get ridiculously long and by the time New Years rolled around I would scold myself, knowing that my list was unreasonable and that I would have to narrow it down to only one or two. They would ultimately fail and I would tell myself that there was always next year.

Then finally my life took a different direction and I decided that my New Year’s Resolution was going to be making no more New Year’s Resolutions. How I had arrived at that decision was simple. Why hadn’t I embraced it long ago?

The year 2000 was a real eye-opening year for me. It was the year I decided to take my spiritual path to another level, to take it seriously and put it to work. I knew that ultimately I could only read so many books on beginners magic, Wicca and/or Witchcraft, Tantra, astral travel, lucid dreaming, past life regression, chakra balancing, crystal healing, etc. until it was time to roll up my sleeves and dig in. The next step in my spiritual journey wasn’t going to happen until I applied that book knowledge-to put it into practice. So I set things in motion and never looked back.

When I began honoring the cycles of the moon and the Wheel of the Year, I was free to realize that opportunities for “resolutions” were all the time. They weren’t limited to one day of the year. They were constantly evolving and changing, always in motion just as I was and the world around me. As a practicing Witch I became aware of the boundless opportunities for me to make firm decisions and act upon them to create change. My mental and spiritual commitment to bring change into my life did not cause me to judge myself or get angry at my failures. Instead of self-induced emotional trauma, my mistakes became learning experiences, and opportunities for spiritual growth.

I began to see resolutions for what they were; simply intentions that had yet to be acted upon. I no longer referred to the opportunities for change as “resolutions” (mostly because of the negativity I had attached to the word) but as Statements of Intent. These statements are the basis of spellwork that (more times than not) lead me to my desired outcome. The longer I practiced magick the more I became aware of the power of words and learned that thoughts are things. The magick came from within me, outside of me, above me, below me, in the trees, the ocean, my breath, and the blood pulsing in my veins. It was everything, it was endless, and the power was real. By creating spells and practicing magick with the extra boost of timing, I can set into motion the change I want to happen.

Timing in magick and its different desired outcomes varies as much as the hours of the day, the days of the week, and the months of the year. Combining those with the monthly moon cycles, different Sabbats within the Wheel of the Year, colors, candles, incense, herbs, etc. there are endless formulas for success and ample opportunities to make effective change in my life and creating positive energy within the world. My Statements of Intent are born from the center of my being and are powerful sparks of potential. May you too see the potential in every minute of every day of every year. So mote it be!

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

Do You Still Believe?

I do.

I believe that the stillness of the Winter Solstice ritual lasts for many days. It gives me strength to maintain the calm before the storm because I have slowed the pace in my life and within my family’s Hearth. By becoming the Eye of the Storm, the center of calm, I observe what transpires in the wake of holiday induced stress. It helps keep me from falling into the trap of frantic shopping, endless to-do lists, emotional exhaustion and the eventual sad letdown after the mountain of gifts have been torn through. That was all I knew while growing up. Well that and Midnight Mass.

Our family looks forward the Winter Solstice season, to seeing all the glittering lights, pretty presents under the tree and can’t help but feel more than just an inkling of pure magick during this time of giving and receiving that is not exclusive to any one religious or cultural group. We gravitate together to help bring light back into the world and celebrate the rebirth of the sun and the gift of life from the Goddess.

It’s also during this time that family dysfunction rears its ugly head. This is the first year it’s ever been just the four of us; me, my husband and the two youngest. My oldest son moved off to college last fall. It’s been oddly comforting, having that peace that floats upon the surface of our lives until it’s skimmed away during the holidays.

It pulls away with it the bandages of old wounds that have yet to, or perhaps never will, heal. There’s a hollowness that lives in everyone but there’s some pain that only a mom can know. That familiar sadness sometimes hits so fast and hard, it’s like I’ve had the wind knocked out of me. Other times it slowly seeps in like an ugly ink stain.

Tonight I’m thinking about my oldest child, my beautiful daughter and my wish that she grows up into a happy, healthy adult, unites with her Soulmate and they go on to be parents to beautiful babies and create a fulfilling life together. You know, that Happily Ever After. I want that for her because I love her and want her happy, but mostly because she so badly wants that for herself. She has confided in me those dreams for her future self and will mention it every now and then, during those touch and go moments that break my heart.

But as long as she continues to say, “someday”, I will have hope. I know deep down that it really has nothing to do with the fairy-tale but all to do with her making it through another day in a broken life.

My oldest daughter is a heroin addict and has been using needles for over five years.

It’s especially hard around this time of year because it’s when relatives will pop into my life and start asking the dreaded questions. One of which is how my back is doing. And the other one, how my oldest is. Most of the time I’ll just say “fine” and that usually ends it without further probing. Besides, I know they are just trying to be polite, but I also know they have no real expectation that I am going to tell them otherwise. We’re a small enough family that if they don’t already know the answers then they really don’t need to know.

So when I tucked my youngest daughter into her bed tonight I kissed her on the forehead like always and told her to have sweet dreams. She secretly confides that she still believes in Santa and that she was hoping he would leave her a big chapter book under the tree tonight. And that’s when it hit me. That deep sorrow that is as familiar as an old worn-out shoe and just as painful. I don’t know if it’s because she’s getting older and I quietly fear losing her too or if it’s because I know her older sister is at that very moment suffering in the detox unit during her ninth attempt at rehab and will be in Blackout through the weekend.

I remind myself that at least I know where she is this Christmas.

I hope she knows that she’s giving herself the gift to try again and giving me the gift of hope to see her through to the other side.

So even though I’ll be sneaking the cookies off the tray by the fireplace and slipping a boxed set of the Harry Potter series under the tree, I still believe in all things magickal. I believe in hope, and strength of will. I believe in the power of healing and finding that from within. I believe in the Goddess and the sun and that the world can be a warm, good place. And most importantly I believe in love.

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

Cheers to Hot Cocoa and Peppermint Schnapps

The Yule tree smells wonderful and I’m cozied up in the recliner next to the fire. I probably would have fallen asleep from adding a tad bit too much peppermint schnapps to my hot cocoa but the kids are playing “zombie robots” (don’t ask me, I’m just an unwilling audience of sorts) so the nap will have to wait.

We have a few activities planned for Solstice night, including a guided meditation to connect to our Power Animals. Tomorrow we’ll be making the usual toffee and divinity and those chocolate pretzel thingies we do every Yule.

I wanted to quickly share our favorite Solstice songs that we find ourselves singing to unsuspecting family members. I love to see the looks on their faces when they think the kids are singing “We Three Kings” but then the more they listen, the more they pay attention, and before you know it Aunt Edna is appalled at my children belting out “We Three Witches”. Karina Skye is brilliant!

We Three Witches (all time family favorite hands down!)

12 Days of Yule https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_QGPA1ro1l8&index=4&list=PL088A2C0D4E49A3F4

Jingle Bells Cast Your Spells

And from the beautiful and talented S.J. Tucker
Solstice Night

Lisa Thiel
Yule

The Wyrd Sisters
Solstice Carole

Time to refill my hot cocoa…

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

The Darkness Before Dawn

Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year hasn’t yet arrived but it’s been dark and stormy for what seems like weeks now. The days are short, and it’s still dark as night in the mornings when the kids get on the school bus. Then before I know it, the deep gray sky is once again fading away into the darkness of night less than an hour after they get home. The rain remains steady throughout the nights with downpours thudding the roof from time to time. I’m trying my best to keep myself and the kids sane while our family journeys through this time of darkness.

It has been a strangely wet winter, raining daily, nearing 9 inches for the month already. The mossy green vegetation is no match for the onslaught of the relentless storms. The rivers and streams are swollen, and the roads are slick with moving water. The mud is thick on our property and many of our tall old-growth trees are leaning, roots becoming more and more exposed day after day of rain, and many will not be able to recover.

So on this rainy Saturday afternoon the kids and I remained hermits tucked away in our little house. My husband was building shelves in the garage when the kids and I decided to get our Craft on. We spent the afternoon making peanut-butter bird feeders and hanging them along the eaves for our feathered friends who are braving the storms. Even though we regularly fill our bird feeders there’s just something about making them that carries a special magick. We haven’t done it in several years but just seeing my children’s faces light up as they watch the birds (and um, lots of squirrels) flock to the feeders, I can feel their satisfaction and contentment in making a difference in the lives of the little creatures.

When we heed the dark call of winter by nourishing others we awaken the instinctual knowledge of how best to nourish ourselves. Slowing our lives down to the pace of midwinter’s heartbeat, we are better able to acknowledge and honor the darkness before dawn.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

Beware, Halloween Might Offend Someone

Well, Samhain is almost here. Have you carved your pumpkins and/or turnips yet?

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My son being sarcastically terrorized by a child eating squash he single-handedly carved himself.

I volunteered in my kids’ classrooms today for their “Harvest Party”. The term “Halloween” is no longer used because, you know, it might offend someone.

They had a costume parade like they do every year but in addition to the usual ban on fake weapons such as knives, swords, and guns, (which is totally understandable) masks and makeup of any kind, including those dumb vampire teeth, colored hairspray or even dark lipstick are no longer allowed either. When I read the school newsletter I thought, are they serious? I mean why even bother? What a disappointment for the kids!

“Back in the Day” (gosh I love to be old enough to say that..well, sort of) there were plastic masks and costumes from the drugstore that were basically cheap rain ponchos with plastic painted masks like this:

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I wish I knew who to thank for this photo. I’ve searched for days. If I find them I’ll be sure to give credit where credit is due.

These costumes were far more frightening than anything around nowadays. And not only were these nasty smelling things spine-tingling scary, they were dangerous because you cut your tongue if you accidentally stuck it up against a tiny razor sharp air hole, and the rubber band that held it in place always pulled out your hair. The only good thing about them that I can remember is they kept your clothes relatively dry in case it rained.

So if you didn’t want to inhale the toxic chemical fumes, slice your tongue, or get a small bald patch on the back of your head from the plastic mask then you had to be creative and make up your own costume. When I was 8 I decided I wanted to be a genie, and not just any genie, but a beautiful one like Barbara Eden. No, more beautiful! Looking at the pictures as an adult I easily smile back at the little girl smiling at me. For the most part I pulled off the look. I’m not sure if everyone I encountered knew exactly who I was supposed to be or if I was in fact more beautiful than the vixen on “I Dream of Genie”, but what I do know is that I was a little girl with a vision, and that night I lived it. I felt as beautiful as the satiny pink fabric I wore, and I felt oh so deliciously magical with my high ponytail swinging back and forth as I ran from door to door. I haven’t seen that photo for a few years but it hasn’t keep me from still searching.

I felt a little piece of that joy while I watched the giggling children traipsing around the school this afternoon. Some children wore partial costumes, no masks, sans swords and guns, and smiling vampires without their fangs (or without their two front teeth for that matter). But I must admit there were some pretty cool costumes too. My favorites were handmade, including a humongous plume of peacock feathers that were twice as tall as the child. Totally gorgeous and amazing. My anger and frustration was nothing but wasted energy as it was obvious the magick still reigns in the excited hearts and minds of the children who get to be something or someone else, even if it’s just for a stupid parade.

Besides the real fun hasn’t even begun, so get your Wicked On all of you beautiful Witches and Witchlets!

Many Blessings on your Journey )O(

Circling the Hearth

tumblr_nezctn6t671thn7i0o1_500I   remember when I used to give my little ones stacks of pots and pans with cooking utensils to bang on them with. Nothing like a 15 month-old toying around with an improvised set of drums. At around 2 they got their first can of Play Doh. My kids still love Play Doh. Hell, I still love Play Doh. It’s wondrous how children love to imitate us and how we as grown-ups love to imitate them. I mean, who doesn’t like to make mud pies of either the earthly or culinary kind?

Cooking to me is an experience of bringing to life individuality, concentration, ingenuity, patience, and resourcefulness, just to name a few. Young or old, creative or meticulous, adventurous or cautious, cooking has it all, and sometimes all at once. The all at once thing is probably one of the reasons children love to cook and why I want to let them. However, I have yet to master the patience of allowing my kids to take over in the kitchen and it may be a long time before I leave the sidelines. Cooking takes preparation, it’s time consuming, mess making, and most times a big ordeal.

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Meet Endora Endive. She resides on our kitchen shelf overseeing the Wiccan Kitchen.

My lack of patience combined with fear for my children’s safety makes it mandatory for this Witch to take a big breath of Zen before handing over an apron; both the apron and deep breath are imperative before teaching a little one how to crack an egg. Of course it took me some time to learn this.

My youngest daughter is the child who has always loved to help me in the kitchen. I’ll admit I’m still freakishly afraid of letting her handle raw chicken but I’ve gotten much better about most things….well, except sharp knives, cheese graters, can openers, and even those dumb little tubes of refrigerated crescent rolls. I’m telling you, I’ve cut myself on everyone one of those things (yes, even the crescent roll tube) and I, like those who regularly cook, have plenty of scars to prove it. Of course every time I can think of, those slices and nics happened when I was in a mad rush to complete dinner. Someday I suppose I’ll learn my lesson.

One of my parental milestones was accomplished when I finally let her take over the pan on the burner without cringing in fear that she would burn herself or create a disaster of monstrous proportions. Loosening my grip on controlling the kitchen has been hard, especially when I step back and watch those little mistakes happen so that she can learn from them. In the end, her bright smile of pride is all I need to dispel my fears (within reason of course).

Here’s a few of our favorite (easy) Mabon recipes. Enjoy!

Spicy Mabon Punch

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

1 orange
4 whole cloves
3 cups apple juice
1 cinnamon stick
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 1/4 cups pineapple juice

DIRECTIONS:

1.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Stud the whole oranges with cloves, and bake for 30 minutes.
2.
In a large saucepan, combine the apple juice and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the nutmeg, honey, lemon juice, and pineapple juice. Can be placed in a slow cooker on low heat with clove-studded oranges floating on top.

Autumn Apple Salad

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:
8 tart green apples, cored and chopped
1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds,
toasted
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries
2 (8 ounce) container vanilla yogurt

DIRECTIONS:

1.
In a medium bowl, stir together the apples, almonds, cranberries, cherries and yogurt until evenly coated. Serve Immediately

Yellow Squash Casserole

Be creative and use different types of squash if you wish.

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

4 cups sliced yellow squash
1/2 cup chopped onion
36 buttery round crackers, crushed
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter

DIRECTIONS:

1.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2.
Place squash and onion in a large skillet over medium heat. Pour in a small amount of water. Cover, and cook until squash is tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well, and place in a large bowl.
3.
In a medium bowl, mix together cracker crumbs and cheese. Stir half of the cracker mixture into the cooked squash and onions. In a small bowl, mix together eggs and milk, then add to squash mixture. Stir in 1/4 cup melted butter, and season with salt and pepper. Spread into a 9×13 inch baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining cracker mixture, and dot with 2 tablespoons butter.
4.
Bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Autumn Beef Stew

Serves 8-10

INGREDIENTS:

2 pounds cubed beef stew meat
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 cups beef broth
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 tablespoons dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
3 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
4 carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
4 stalks celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons cold water

DIRECTIONS:

1.
In a large pot or dutch oven, cook beef in oil over medium heat until brown. Dissolve bouillon in water and pour into pot. Stir in rosemary, parsley and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 1 hour.
2.
Stir potatoes, carrots, celery, and onion into the pot. Dissolve cornstarch in 2 teaspoons cold water and stir into stew. Cover and simmer 1 hour more.

Mabon Cornbread

Serve with butter and honey if you wish

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup butter
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS:

1.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease an 8 inch square pan.
2.
Melt butter in large skillet. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Quickly add eggs and beat until well blended. Combine buttermilk with baking soda and stir into mixture in pan. Stir in cornmeal, flour, and salt until well blended and few lumps remain. Pour batter into the prepared pan.
3.
Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Rustic Fruit Tart

1/2 cup butter, chilled
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 apples – peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 pear – peeled, cored and sliced
1/4 cup orange juice
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup apricot jam, warmed

DIRECTIONS:

1.
Cut the cold butter and cream cheese into the flour with a knife or pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (This can also be done in a food processor: pulse the cold butter into the flour until the mixture resembles cornmeal; add the cream cheese and pulse until it’s the size of small peas.) When you squeeze a handful of the mixture, it should form a ball. Shape the dough into a round disk, wrap it in plastic, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
2.
Toss the sliced apples and pear with the orange juice. Whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and cornstarch. Toss the fruit with the sugar-spice mixture and set aside.
3.
Preheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Set out an 8-inch tart pan, or, if you’ll be making a free-form tart (galette), lightly grease a baking sheet.
4.
Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface to form a 10-inch circle. Transfer the dough to the tart pan or baking sheet. Arrange the fruit decoratively in the tart pastry. If you’re baking the tart on a baking sheet, leave a 2-inch rim of dough and fold it up over the edge of the fruit (the pastry folds will overlap).
5.
Bake the tart in the preheated oven until the crust is browned and the filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Remove the tart from the oven and brush it with the apricot jam.

Many Blessings on Your Journey )O(

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