Friday, December 13, 2013

Santa Lucia, ljusklara hägring

Happy St. Lucia's Day

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Yule Wish List 2013

Ah, December!  It seems this holiday season has rushed by, and suddenly I only have thirteen more shopping days 'til Yule!  What's a discreet witch to do?

Obviously, candles are a winner with your pagan friends, but how about candle holders?


These Himalayan salt candle holders can represent earth and fire on any altar

...and what better to fill your candle holders than beautifully scented soy tealights?
This gorgeous constellation scarf to keep you toasty in the winter, or to drape your altar...
In the garden, a loveably hideous gargoyle
Lately, I've been craving foot bling, so I thought I'd include this adorable trinity knot toe ring from Auntie's Treasures
Brightest Blessings all, and a glorious holiday season!







Friday, October 25, 2013

Discreet Witch's Most Creepy Ingredients


Double, double, toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and tow of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog, 
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and owlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble...
--William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I

I really miss those days when my kids were thrilled by the magical change that came over our suppers around Halloween.  The shredded cabbage I would give them with dinner was now mermaid hair, green beans became troll fingers, and tomato sauce became Vampire's Delight (served on a bed of albino worms, of course.)  A big favorite around here is a dish we call Zombie Guts which is basically just Bratwurst and sauerkraut.

The Internet is lousy with Halloween recipes right now, so far be it for me to reinvent the wheel.  Instead, I thought I'd share some my favorite creepy ingredients for readers to do with what you will.  Honestly though, you are only limited by your (or your kids') imagination--once the Halloween decorations come out, evening meals around here become a contest to come up with the creepiest ingredient names.

Discreet Witch's Most Common Creepy Ingredients:

troll fingers--sauteed green beans
witch's hair--finely shredded red cabbage (if you put a tiny bit of vinegar in it before cooking, the purple gets really vibrant)
zombie brains--cauliflower
eyeballs--pearl onions, of course!
eye of newt--soaked chia seeds (I like to soak them in cranberry juice and use them in baking, but they make an excellent food to eat on a dare)
ectoplasm--shredded mozzarella
bat wings--blue corn potato chips (make excellent batwing and ectoplasm nachos!)
worms--spaghetti
swamp snot--pesto (quite tasty served over that bed of worms)
scabs--dried cranberries for sweet, sun dried tomatoes for savory
mummy toenails--slivered almonds (yummy with scabs, zombie dandruff and graveyard dust on your morning oatmeal)
zombie dandruff--shredded coconut for sweet, parmesan cheese for savory
graveyard dust--ground cinnamon, cocoa, cumin--anything brown

Troll Fingers with Scabs and Toenails
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 lb green beans
water to barely cover the bottom of the pan
1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup slivered almonds
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium pan with a lid, saute the garlic in the olive oil about one minute.  Toss in green beans and water and cover until the water has mostly evaporated, about two minutes.  Add tomatoes, almonds, salt and pepper and toss over medium heat until slight caramelization happens on the beans.  Serve.
This is especially tasty when garnished with zombie dandruff and freshly ground pepper.






Sunday, October 20, 2013

Crystal Ball Meditation

This weekend's Harvest Moon fell on a perfect October evening--the sky was clear, the weather was mild.  As it was a Friday, I was free to have an overt celebration--Three Sisters' Soup and Moon Wine for everyone!  And of course there were my tools to recharge by moonlight.  Of the items I recharge, none are more lovely than my crystal balls.

Over the years I have amassed quite the collection of crystal balls.  The fascination started with one my mother had--a small, perfect sphere of rock crystal set on a simple brass stand.  I loved that crystal ball (as did my Barbies, since I would often borrow it to play "gypsy fortune teller").  As an adult, I went through a phase where crystal balls seemed to make themselves available to me some regularity.  Taking it as a sign, I would (of course) buy them whenever I had the chance and the funds, but soon my wealth of crystal balls became more like a clutter of paperweights.  For a while there (during a spiritual slump), they were just something interesting to set on a coffee table book or a potential weapon to take away from the kids.  Today, however, they are usually the focus of my meditations.


While crystal ball scrying has become something of a cliche these days, as a meditation tool it can't be beat.  Unlike Tarot readings, a crystal ball reading is highly subjective for me, and consequently not helpful when seeking answers for others.  But for my personal scryings, I often prefer the ball to other focusing mediums.  The weight in my hands, the subtle patterns inside the crystal, the way the light shines through--all of these things help me lose my focus on the here and now just enough to let my mind find answers to any questions I may have that day.  


In my home, my crystal balls have ceased to be dust collectors and are now shiny reminders of my spirituality.  Add to that the personal energy they pick up during meditations as well as the energy of the full moon, and crystal balls scattered throughout my home lend a soothing and personal energy to the rooms they grace.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Bell Witch

Growing up, my mother loved to tell me stories of our ancestors.  Of course, as a kid I couldn't have cared less, but there was one story she saved for special occasions:  The Bell Witch.  This one was reserved for camping trips and late-night marshmallow roasts of course, and it used to scare the Hell out of me...but in a good way.

I'll be honest here--while I do have a John Bell in my ancestry (and seriously, who doesn't?), I haven't tried to confirm any family ties to this story.  As fun as it is to be frightened by a story, I'm not sure I want to have a biological link to it.

Anyway, the short version goes something like this:
Farmer John Bell bought land and a home in what is now Adams, Tennessee in the early 1800's.  One day while out in the field he encountered a strange animal with the head of a rabbit and the body of a dog.  When he went to investigate, it promptly disappeared.

Shortly after this, the family began to hear strange noises in the walls along with mysterious moving objects and children complaining of an unseen aggressor pinching and slapping them.  John Bell's youngest daughter, Betsy, seemed to receive the brunt of these attacks.  Not surprisingly, Betsy was a young lady of marriageable age--prime poltergeist bait.  Occurrences worsened when Betsy became engaged to Joshua Gardner, eventually leading to an end to the engagement.

The entity continued to harass the family for years until John Bell's death in 1820, but it's said that it promised to visit Bell's direct descendant in 107 years.

Of course my mother, having a wide-eyed audience hanging on her every word, often embellished the story, and without a doubt failed to mention that 107 years had come and gone.  What she would do, which I'm hesitant to do to my own children, was end the story as every good ghost story should end--with a loud BANG!!

Ah, good times.

For a much better account of the Story of the Bell Witch, here are a few links:
http://www.bellwitch.org/story.htm
http://www.bellwitchcave.com/
http://paranormal.about.com/od/trueghoststories/a/aa041706.htm
http://www.tennessee.gov/tsla/exhibits/myth/bellwitch.htm



Monday, October 7, 2013

Back Porch Halloween

Wow.  The first weekend in October has come and gone, and it never ceases to amaze me how quickly time flies.  Gloriously, a cool front blew through this weekend and it finally feels like autumn here at Discreet Witch Central.

Not one to let a perfect autumn day go to waste, I caught a wild hare and decided that this year I would not be Halloweening up the front porch like I normally do (which frankly, is wasted on the Trick-or-Treaters since they rarely get past the "Keeper of the Candy" stationed in the middle of my driveway).  For years I went all-out on the front, much to the delight of the UPS guy and the Orkin man, and maybe the occasional kid selling something for school.  But not this year.  This year they'll have to settle for a few pumpkins and a cobweb or two.  No, this year I'm doing up my back porch in creepy Halloween style.

I should explain that I live on the water, and to be honest, my back yard gets seen WAY more than my front.  Early fishermen, kayakers, tubers, paddleboarders--I get more back yard traffic by my house than front yard traffic most days.  In the immortal words of the Joker, "Wait 'til they get a load of me..."

Being a notorious Halloweenophile, of course I own bins of decorations, but a certain amount of judicious reassigning was definitely in order here...


Interior pillows snagged from the after-Halloween sale rack a couple of years ago make their way outside.

"Fred" the skeleton takes center stage on the back porch.  His faithful companion "Lucky" was an anniversary gift from sweet spouse last year.  Sadly, his sibling "Un-Lucky" didn't survive last season very well and is barely held together with wire, glue and spit.  Un-Lucky doesn't get to hang out in high-traffic areas. 
 
 It's got to be five o'clock somewhere.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday the 13th

It all started when I was in high school.  Friday the 13ths had a sort of juicy scariness that I loved.  Each time something "unlucky" would happen, it was an affirmation that something could BE unlucky, and how cool was that?  But all in all, my Friday the 13ths were pretty tame.

Until that one day--February 13th, a Friday, the day before Valentine's day.

I'd been seriously crushing on some boy, and rumor had it that he liked me too.  LIKED me, liked me.  So that Friday I giddily waited for him to shower me with cheap carnations and express his true feelings for me.  And I waited.  And waited.  By the end of the school day I was desolate as only a teenaged girl can be.  Obviously Friday the 13th working against me.  I moped my way to my locker, just wanting the day to end, and when I opened it, inside were two of the most beautiful, luscious, glorious pink roses I have ever (to this day) seen.  And a poem.  Best.  Day.  EVER!

Did I mention the poem was unsigned?

Sadly, it turned out that a different boy, who was not even on my radar (a senior no less!), had given me this Valentine's gift.  Nothing came of that, since I wasn't actually allowed to date yet, but it did change my view of Friday the 13th forever.
For me, today is a day to be watched cautiously.  Since that fateful day, my Friday 13ths have been largely lucky, with a twist.  You know--find a twenty on the ground, but get a flat tire you have to pay to patch.  Still, it's luck--and I'll take that.
Wishing you a good one.
The Discreet Witch

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Autumnification!

I can't deny it any longer--the Autumn nesting urge is upon me.  Oh, I tried to fight it.  In theory I like to wait until the Autumn Equinox to officially begin decorating for the season.  So to keep my mind off of Fall, I worked on minor home improvement projects hoping for distraction.  But sadly, each project brought another opportunity to Autumnize.  Change out the air conditioner filters--add pumpkin spice air freshener.  Clean out struggling flower pots--time to add mums.  Fresh coat of paint on the back door--choose a color which looks awesome with orange (I like to call it Restoration Hardware Gray).

Today at the grocery store was the final straw though.  Medium pumpkins for $4.  Between you and me, I don't know what scale they judge these pumpkins by because they were huge!  So you know I had to pick up a couple, and once pumpkins are in the house, the battle is lost.  Autumnification must commence.
I like to keep my pumpkins caged until after Mabon

Sunday, August 25, 2013

A Dragonfly Tale

You know, this summer dragonflies seem to be a recurring theme in my world.  Dragonfly imagery and meanings have popped up all over the place.  But as my summer began to gradually draw to a close, the dragonflies began tapering off.  Until yesterday.

This weekend, a girlfriend took me to tour one of those old, amazing mansions from the turn of the century--back when walls were two feet thick and made of granite and burled oak and maple were everywhere.  The house was unbelievable--we started in the basement, ended in the attic, and on the tour the tourguide had a fascinating anecdote to share.

As she showed us a teacup with a dragonfly motif on the handle, the tourguide told us of her first visit to the mansion a few years ago--only days before a huge storm came through and decimated the city.  At the end of the tour she and her docent stood on the front veranda and watched as a large swarm of dragonflies flew past.  Amused, she turned to the docent, who appeared shaken.  Our tourguide asked what was wrong.

news.nationalgeographic.com
"Here on the island, the oldtimers have a wives' tale," the docent said.  Apparently, according to local lore you only see dragonflies behave like that if a REALLY big storm is coming.  Hurricane Ike blew through a few days later.

Intrigued, you know I had to find out more.  Sadly, the magickal Internet fairy was not very forthcoming.  I found loads on dragonfly symbolism--mirage, illusion, metamorphosis, truth, yada yada yada.  I already knew that.  What I wanted was more on weather prediction, but all I could find was this tiny tidbit:
"...in a drought prone area of the coastal Ninh Thuan province, farmers believe that if the dragonfly flies high it will be sunny and if it flies low there will be rain.  In north-central Thua Thien Hue Province, fishermen are likely to bring their boats back to the shore if, in January or February, they look to the north and see a silver cloud that quickly disappears, as it is a sign of cold weather."  (http://www.reuters.com/article/2009/07/16/idUSBKK540163) 

That was it.  I Googled my little fingers to nubs looking for confirmation of this wives' tale and found jack.  Still, I'll be watching my dragonfly friends just a little more closely from now on, and if they start massing in numbers, I'm outa here!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Blue Moon in August

Browsing the Internet, a notice for tomorrow night's Blue Moon caught my eye.  What?  No.  That's crazy talk.  Everyone knows that a Blue Moon is the second full moon in a month.  Right?  Well, apparently not. 

In traditional English folklore, there are three full moons in each quarter of the year.  Each full moon has a name--Wolf Moon, Snow Moon, Strawberry Moon, etc.--depending on the season, and that full moon would need to happen on or around the same time each year.  On years when a fourth full moon occurred in a quarter, the schedule was thrown off.  Hence the Blue Moon--blue in this case is derived from the Old English word "belewe" meaning "to betray."  The "Betrayer Moon" is the third full moon to fall within a quarter, freeing up the fourth full moon to fall around the correct time of year. 

Magickally, I like to treat this "Betrayer" Moon as both a bonus and an inspiration.  I use the added full moon energy to charge any objects that may need extra charging and prepare myself for the possibility of a challenging time ahead.  This full moon being in Aquarius leads me to want to focus on the intellectual aspects of my life and possibly focus on being more organized and centered.  I may or may not put out jars of purified H2O to make a new batch of Blue Moon Water, but since I still haven't used the last batch (though why on Earth I'm hoarding it is beyond me) I probably won't.



Sunday, August 11, 2013

Orion the Hunter



 This morning, after a horrible night's sleep, I decided that since I was up anyway I'd might as well enjoy the peace and solitude of my back porch.  Citronella candles and mosquito incense lit, I sipped my coffee and pondered my mood.  It was in that nebulous in-between state where you haven't quite decided how to feel.  Lack of sleep would normally make me grumpy, but the atmosphere on the porch--candles burning, frogs chirping--was enough to keep that at bay.  Then I looked up at the sky.

There he was--Orion.  My first and favorite constellation.  As a child, I would pick Orion out, though not knowing what it was called I named it the Bow Tie stars.  In Greek mythology, Orion was the son of the nymph Euryale and the god Poseidon.  A mighty hunter, Orion claimed that he would kill every animal on the planet, thus angering Gaia, goddess of the Earth.  She sent a scorpion to kill him, only to be thwarted by Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer, who saved Orion with an antidote.  Consequently, the constellations Orion and Scorpius are never in the sky at the same time and the constellation Ophiuchus lies between the two.

Normally a daytime constellation during the summer (for the Northern Hemisphere crowd anyway), Orion becomes visible in the evenings in late autumn and winter around here.  Just seeing him this morning gave me a nice little charge and the sense that autumn is approaching.  While I hate to rush summer's end, this summer has seemed particularly long and loaded with change, and I am ready to move on.  Thanks Orion, for the boost.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Halloween in July?!

Every now and then, when the summer days get especially long and everyone starts getting on everyone else's nerves, I take a personal time-out and head on over to the craft store--not to buy anything (though Goddess knows I will), but simply to walk up and down the aisles, surrounded by the scents of ribbons and wreathes, bundled cinnamon sticks and artificial flowers (the smell of craftiness, my friends) with no kids in tow, and no one to please but myself.  Yesterday was one of those days.  Grumpily I walk into the store, inhale, exhale and all the grumpiness seemed to fade a bit.  And then I saw it...
 HALLOWEEN DISPLAY!!!
No no no!  This cannot be!!  It's the middle of July and yet there it was--a shelf full of Halloween chotchkes just sitting there--taunting me.
Oh, they start harmlessly enough.  A shelf here, a charming motif there.  Snuggled up next to the school supplies they lurk, waiting for an unsuspecting Halloweenophile to bring them home.  I was strong this time--no way was I going to succumb to the orange, black and purple lure of my favorite holiday.  It's July for Goddess' sake!  I've been down this path before.  I know where it leads.  Madness!
 OK, that's an exaggeration.  For me, these early displays lead to something much worse--Halloween burn-out.  It amazes me, even in my conservative neck of the woods, how much attention is given to this most pagan of holidays.  July through October.  Even Christmas only gets a couple of months of mass marketing, barely enough time for Yule burn-out if you ask me.

But I know, sadly, that by late August my resolve will weaken.  I'll just go into the craft stores for a little Halloween "fix."  Not to buy anything of course--just to set off all of the motion-sensor decorations and run.  But this is a gateway drug for me, and if I'm not careful, by October 31, instead of enjoying the day, I'll already be pulling down cobwebs and throwing out candy corn. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

In Memoriam

 You know, every now and then you meet someone who makes your day just a little better just by being kind.  The woman you pass every morning on the subway.  The kid who waves at you through the bus window just because you are wearing a cool hat.  The old man on the running trails who always has an encouraging word as you work through your final mile.

Today I found out that my kind stranger passed away and I am saddened.  I only new this man through exchanged good mornings, and yet these good mornings spanned years. 

Rest in peace Dr. G.

Owls, Owls Everywhere

One of my favorite things about my home is the pair of screech owls who sing to each other each winter outside of my bedroom window in the winter.   It's summer now, and uncomfortably hot and humid outside so no owl song for me tonight, but I am seeing owls everywhere lately--in fashion, home decor, garden design.  Maybe it's just me.

The owl has long been the embodiment of the mysterious.  With it's nocturnal lifestyle, huge eyes and haunting song, how could it not be?  Every culture seems to have an owl tradition.  In Greek mythology, the owl is sacred to Athena, goddess of wisdom and war.  In Celtic mythology Blodeuwedd was turned into an owl for her treachery against Lleu, the Many Skilled.  Among the Aborigines of Australia, owls represent the souls of women (bats are the souls of men).

Whatever the reason, if you love owls, now is a great time to add them to your decor--they're EVERYWHERE!

Owl Wallpaper--camillameijer.com/
Duvet Cover--urbanaccentshome
Larger Image
Owl Plates--oldcountrycrows.com
Eagle Owl silkscreen print
Silkscreen Print--Verity James

Owl Table Lamp - Gunmetal/Natural
Owl Lamp West Elm

Friday, June 21, 2013

Midsummer Motivation



For me, Midsummer is an oasis of magic in an otherwise mundane time of year.  As the days grow longer, and summer arrives, life becomes full of "what must get done," all of the everyday things which keep our mundane worlds turning--bills, chores, work.  We begin to lose the drive to do "what ought to be done" in our spiritual lives--meditation, ceremony, giving thanks.  Midsummer reminds us to be Pagan.

So whether you are planning on a wild Litha bonfire (mine has been rained out sadly) with summer mead and beer, or simply casting a circle in the Moon Garden and watching for fairies by candlelight on this shortest night of the year,  the very act of acknowledging Midsummer brings us closer to nature.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Magickal Doldrums



Last night, as I was sitting outside watching the sun set and listening to my world settle down for the day, I realized that I had absolutely no idea what phase the moon was in.  Not only that, but I don't think I've used an altar or given thanks for over a month, and the only incense I've burned lately is the citronella scented mosquito repellent incense in the garden.  And I'm fairly certain that while cooking (normally a spiritual act for me) I've only stirred liquids deosil out of habit, and not with any magical intent.

I go through this every year.  Right around late spring, early summer, I hit a spiritual lull.  Because the spring festivals Imbolc and Beltane are so much less...encompassing...than the autumn/winter festivals, I begin to wallow in the mundane and forget the magical.  With work and school and family, it becomes easy to put off something which, on the surface, seems a waste of time, but which in reality is the most important thing I can do.  I'm becoming the pagan equivalent to a Christmas/Easter Christian--one who only shows up to church for the big masses.  Dare I say it?  A Halloween Witch.

Fortunately this year the realization has hit before the Summer Solstice.  Midsummer, when nature is blooming violently around me, is a great time to get back into the metaphysical swing of things.  It's time to drag my happy pagan ass out of the air-conditioned comfort of the house and away from the computer, the television and the washing machine.  It's time to head back outside, into the garden and into the light.  I have to remind myself to be part of the world and not apart from it.  Still, this would be more palatable if it wasn't 80 degrees Fahrenheit in the mornings. 


Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Recommendation--"Kids Who See Ghosts"


 
As it was my last Friday of freedom before school starts again in the fall, I treated myself to an over-priced coffee beverage and a visit to one of my favorite occult bookstores to load up on enough incense and pagan whatnot to see me through the crazy months of summer.  While there, I came across a book, "Kids Who See Ghosts: How To Guide Them Through Fear" by Caron B. Goode EdD, NCC.  I didn't purchase a copy, though in hindsight I wish I had. 

More and more often I am meeting women whose children have ghostly visitors and I have to admit I am grateful that mine do not (or at least, not that they've told me).  As much as I really enjoy hearing the stories these women tell of the experiences they've had with their children seeing ghosts, I'm not sure I would handle it well--not because the ghosts frighten me, but because I can't protect my children from the unknown if I can't see what they see. 

While the title offers "how to guide [your children] through fear," I suspect it is the parents (like myself) who really need the guidance, and from the reviews I've read this book addresses parents' fears as well.  Learning how to respect what your children say they are seeing and not assume it is simply the work of an active imagination is something all parents need to work on, even those of us with relatively open minds. 


If you've read this book, or even have experience in this matter, I'd love to hear your opinion.
Kids Who See Ghosts at Amazon.com