Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve Magick

I'm a firm believer in sympathetic magick.  We start learning about it as kids--"step on a crack, break your mother's back, step on a line, marry Frankenstein," (walking on old sidewalks is still an adventure for me), and some of us carry it well into adulthood.  Plant, color and day correspondences, voodoo dolls and effigies, fetishes...these are all examples of sympathetic magick.  So many things we do as pagans have an "if/then" quality to them, and New Year's Eve traditions can be the toughest of all.  On some level, it's hard not to believe that everything you do on New Year's Day doesn't, in one way or another, affect the rest of your year.  Consequently there's a lot of pressure to get your ducks in a row (so to speak) before January 1st.
For me it starts with completing projects.  This weekend has been a frenzy of dealing with all of those little things that build up around the house over the course of the year--piles of filing, unfinished projects, boxes of stuff that have not seen the light of day in ages.  I have an afghan that I've been working on for the better part of the year which I've been rushing to finish (done and done!).  Looking around the house I found three separate coin jars that we counted out and packed into coin rolls to take to the bank today.  $173.50 in loose change just sitting around the house over the last year will now make it's way into the kids' college funds (chaching!).  My refrigerator is now cleaned out and stocked with healthy foods and beverages (and champagne).  And of course, Goddess willing, my house will be clean.  All of these things, to me, create a sympathetic magick--an uncluttered and stress-free New Year's Day equals an uncluttered and stress-free New Year.  And, frankly, there is no greater motivator to get it all done than the threat of having to do housework on New Year's Day while nursing a champagne hang-over.
Have a happy and safe New Year's Eve.
Mrs. Smith

Friday, December 28, 2012

Frumenty Fusion Soup

It is cold and wet and generally unpleasant outside today.  On days like this (assuming I'm not working) I love to sit by the fire under an afghan and read cookbooks.  This morning's cookbook was one I hadn't opened in a while, The Wicca Cookbook by Jamie Wood and Tara Seefeldt.  While I'm not Wiccan myself, I do love pagan cookbooks--they read like a yummy Book of Shadows and this one doesn't disappoint.
In The Wicca Cookbook is a recipe for Frumenty which peaked my interest.  Frumenty was a popular Medieval dish similar to porridge.  It could be served sweet like we serve oatmeal, with fruit and nuts, or savory like a rice dish with milk and egg stirred in.  Reading over the recipe, with the nasty weather outside, I thought how wonderful it would be as a soup--kind of a Medieval beef and barley/pho fusion with a little egg drop thrown in for good measure.

Frumenty Fusion Soup

3 T olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
4 cups beef broth
1/2 cup bulgur wheat
salt and pepper to taste
1 large egg, beaten

In your favorite soup pot, saute the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.  Stir in the bulgur wheat, cover and simmer over low heat for about 30 to 40 minutes.  The bulgur should be just chewy enough.  Before serving, stir the soup to get a nice cyclone going, and gently drizzle the beaten egg in.

I like to serve mine over a bowl of greens, like spinach or kale.  If you really want to go fusion, add a tablespoon of sambal to give it an Asian heat.

The Wicca Cookbook: Recipes, Ritual and Lore

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Yule Log Incident

Years ago we had the driest holiday tree I've ever seen.  Even before Yule, the tree definitely had a brownish tinge--seriously, I suspect the only reason it had any green on it at all was due more to the dye the tree farm sprayed on it than to the amount of chlorophyll in the needles.  We barely plugged in the lights for fear of burning down the house.  Anyway, after the holidays, we couldn't get that poor tree out of the house fast enough.
As it happened, we had just built a fire pit on our property that year, and were well on our way to becoming screaming pyromaniacs.  What better way to dispose of the holiday tree than to officially christen the Pit?  Armed with a pair of branch loppers we stripped the noble fir of it's branches, creating a pile of kindling three feet high.  The trunk itself was too thick for our meager tools, so we set it aside.
As the sun set New Year's Eve, we started our fire.  At first it burned merrily, warming us against the icy December night.  Then someone added the first dried tree branch.  "WHOOMP!"  The thing practically exploded, it caught fire so quickly.  The novelty was too much for our champagne-addled brains to handle--we had to have more!  Soon, people were removing layers, the fire was so hot, and I was looking nervously around for the garden hose, lest this crazy fun get too out of control.  Fortunately we soon ran out of holiday tree to burn and people settled down to stare at a once again merrily burning fire.  The next day we were left with a sooty mess, and a scorched holiday tree trunk (some optimistic soul thought we could burn it down from one end like a match).
For the next eleven months the trunk rested peacefully beside the fire pit.  Then, with the coming of the new holiday season, inspiration struck.  Yule Log!  We cut the trunk into more manageable pieces, and saved the largest to burn as our Yule log on the coming Winter Solstice.  The log wasn't huge, but it ended up being the most perfect, longest burning Yule log we'd ever had.  Thus began our family Yule tradition.
Wishing you the Merriest Yule.
Mrs. Smith

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Only two more days 'til Winter Solstice and so much left to do.  I need to haul the Yule log (really a Yule trunk, but that's another story for another blog) out to the fire pit, tidy up said fire pit for the enjoyment of Pagans and Christians alike, bake up a mess of ginger snaps and my own Solstice shortbread cookies, and string up yet more holiday lights to light the way on this, the longest night.  Whew.  And lest I forget, a trip to the liquor store for mulled wine fixings and a bottle (or four) of my favorite mead...though, now that I think about it...I may save the liquor store until the last minute.  I would hate to be tempted with so much to do.

Mrs. Smith

Monday, December 17, 2012

How Do Pagans Protect Their Children?

How do Pagans protect their children?  We childproof cabinets, keep our candles high and in fireproof holders, we teach them the power of 911 and when to use it.  We tell them to look both ways before crossing the street.  We cut their food into bite-sized pieces, we tell them not to go anywhere with strange men and we put charms on their windows and in their backpacks.
And we pray.  We pray to the Goddess, we pray to the gods, and when we get really scared, really really afraid for our babies, sometimes we revert to our religious roots and pray to the Christian God to watch over our children.  Anyone, any god, please keep our children safe.  Where the safety of our children is concerned we are shameless, as any parent would be. 

The world can be a frightening place.  There are things out there out of our control.  I find that I'm less frightened for myself or my spouse than I am for my children because they are the thing I hold most dear.  So I pray for them every day, and I pray for those who lost children and loved ones in Connecticut's recent tragedy.

New Moon Tarot Spread


I really enjoy my Tarot deck...not so much for telling fortunes as for a meditation tool.  Since it's the New Moon, and a time of new beginnings (and since I was growing bored with my go-to spreads) I decided to hunt down a new reading.
On I found this gem:

3--What will illuminate the dark path.  The key in the night
2--What will begin to show, to arise
1--What lays in your dark depths.  What is unseen.  What we stumble against.
0--Yourself.  Shadow card, from the base of the deck.

Good readings
Mrs. Smith

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

In Praise of Ginger

Ah, Flu Season, my ancient enemy.  We meet again.  Yep, a flu-bug has made it's way into this household, though thankfully it seems to be a mild one.  Still, it's time to whip out Mom's old bag of remedies.  I have no problem with OTC medicines--frankly, decongestants are my best friend this time of year, but when it comes to keeping the flu-beast at bay, I am a firm believer in Hippocrates:  "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."  No, I don't plan to fry up a big batch of Sudafed (maybe topped with Vicks Vaporub?).  Instead, I'm going to visit my standby, all-purpose remedy--ginger.   
Ginger root is the rhizome of the ginger plant (zingiber officinale) which thrives in damp tropical climates.  It's a lovely plant that's easy to grow either in pots or in most southern gardens, and you can start it from the ginger you buy in the produce section at you local grocery store if you choose well.  If harvested regularly, it is moderately well-behaved and quite lovely.  In the witch's garden it is said to bring prosperity, love and success.  When used in witchcraft it adds a certain "umph" to most spells it is added to.  Ginger roots that resemble the human form are said to be very powerful tokens.
Ginger is truly the wunderkind of the medicinal plant family.  It has antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, anti-everything properties.  I could fill pages with it's uses, but since you have access to the same information I do, I'll move on.  It's wonderful in both sweet and savory dishes and during the holiday/flu season, ginger is the perfect spice to add to most any dish or drink.  As I write this I am baking up a batch of spicy ginger snaps which are smelling up my house quite nicely and which I will force upon my sick offspring with a cup of warm honey-ginger tea to help him sweat out his fever.  Later I will probably add some to the chicken soup I make for dinner so everyone can benefit from it.  So if you feel the sniffles coming on, or even if you don't, head for that neglected hunk of ginger sitting in the back of your fridge and enjoy.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Heaven and Hearth

As I was looking through my witchy library, I came across this gem from 1997 which is, hands down, one of my favorite books on folklore.  "Heaven & Hearth, A Seasonal Compendium of Women's Spiritual & Domestic Lore" is a delightful reference book, for Pagan and Christian alike.  It is full of traditions, recipes and poetry, mostly from northern Europe, all laid out in a manner perfect for those of us with short attention spans.  It's an excellent "pick-up" book--you know, the kind of book you can pick up and put down dozens of times and still enjoy it every time.  My own copy of "Heaven & Hearth" stayed out on the back porch for over a year where I could enjoy it with my morning coffee (needless to say, it is looking a little ragged).  Elizabethan poetry and traditional folk medicine go hand-in-hand with lyrics to long-forgotten folk songs and old wives' tales.  The snippets on folk cures found throughout each chapter are fabulous considering that many of the herbal remedies are still in use today.  I totally recommend this book as a gift this holiday season, either for yourself, or any earthy lady in your life.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

St. Nicholas' Eve

Tonight is St. Nicholas' Eve, traditionally a night when little European boys and girls would place their shoes by the fireplace in hopes that St. Nicholas will leave them a little sumthin'sumthin'.  St. Nicholas was originally Nicholas of Myra, a 4th century Greek bishop.  During his life, he was known for putting coins in people's shoes, thus starting the tradition as we know it.

While I recognize that this is not a pagan holiday, I'm all about getting the kids into the Yule spirit, and I love the wacky traditions surrounding the season.  Here we mostly just do small toys and/or candy in whatever shoes the kids leave out and hope that the dog doesn't find it first.  The gold coin candy is extremely popular chez moi, but more for the novelty than the taste.  I'll...I mean St. Nick will fill my shoes with Ghirardellis, thank you very much. 

The Magic of Soup

Soup has always been a magickal food for me.  It nourishes the body, comforts the soul and even the simplest soups require your energy in preparation, even if it's just opening the can.  With Autumn's colder weather here, I tend to go a little soup-happy and I see no reason not to take this food that will nourish my family and give it a little magickal *umph*.
As I write this article, I'm gnoshing down on one of my favorite soups, the Broccoli-Basil Soup from the Cowgirl Chef's self-titled cookbook.  It's fast, easy and a great way to choke down a crapload of broccoli.  Anyway, it got me wondering about the magickal correspondences of the ingredients:

Broccoli--Strength and prosperity
Basil--Love, money and protection
Shallots or onions--Protection, stability, prosperity and moon magick
Salt and pepper for cleansing and purification

All of these together sound like the makings of an excellent meal for work-related magick, or a date-night meal to strengthen and protect the relationship. 

With intent any soup can be made magickal while preparing it, even if it just focusing on opening opportunities or minds while using the can-opener, undoing a bad influence while you stir the soup widdershins or adding positive energy while stirring clock-wise.  The Internet is lousy with websites listing the magickal correspondences of you ingredients.  Have fun with it.

Monday, December 3, 2012

When Life Hands You Lemons...

This morning bit.  Everyone was bickering, shoes were lost, homework was eaten, breakfast was not.  Part of it was the usual Monday morning blahs, but there was a little bad energy going on here (most likely carried in with the clutter of a camping trip) that didn't help matters at all.  Time for a cleansing!

With the moon waning, it's the perfect opportunity for spells of undoing, as in undoing the clutter and bad energy that has trickled back into my home over the weekend.  Realistically, it would help if I started with a clean house, but it's Monday and I'm grumpy, and I have to clean anyway, so I make the cleaning part of the spell.  With each room I clean I place a lemon half in a corner, asking that the lemon absorb any negativity in the room.  Fortunately for me, I have a prolific lemon tree and so I may use a whole lemon per room, just to be thorough.  This evening, I will dispose of the lemons and replace them if the house still feels "blah."  Once the energy in my home feels balanced, I generally light a stick of incense (or two, or three) and ask for blessings on the house.  While I would love to have the energy and drive to do a full-on, circle-casting, sky-clad cleansing, this one usually keeps my home feeling welcoming and warm.

Blessed be.