Category Archives: My Favorite Things

The Wheel Turns to Mabon 2015 (Autumn Equinox) ……….

imagesCA3138JFMerry Meet!  It’s a beautiful Sunday afternoon here in Ohio.  While last week we had very HOT weather for September, this week we are having lovely days of seasonal, Autumn-like weather.  Today the Sun is bright, there is a light breeze and we have some leaves starting to change color.  The garden beds are pretty well done, except for the Fall plants like sedum, hydrangeas, mums and such.  The birds are still content at the feeders, I’m still seeing hummingbirds, bees and butterflies, but the squirrels and chipmunks are busy collecting now.  Autumn is on the Air for sure.

I have been busy in my garden beds, cutting back the spent flowers, harvesting the last of my herbs, and planning to plant my Spring bulbs next month.  Cutting back what was once so beautiful and gave me such pleasure, is a little bit sad. However, I know that Spring always returns and I just enjoy the process, the scents, my hands again in the dirt. My herbs hang happily drying, and scenting my kitchen with the amazing scents of spice and mint and the green outdoors.  Sigh..I just love it!  They will continue to give me joy throughout the Winter as I make my tinctures and teas and incenses.  The abundant harvest gives me great pleasure and pride in the work I did over the Summer.

10421321_961265797250163_3570037105531289389_n

My last herb harvest happily in place!

Mabon is upon us, the Autumn Equinox, on Wednesday the 23rd.  It promises to be a beautiful day here. There will be equal day and night and then our days start shortening, our nights lenthening.  We come into the dark season of the year.  This is a good thing for many who love this time of year. Many of you mourn the loss of the warmth of the Sun, being outdoors constantly and the long days. I feel for you if you are one of them.  Way deep down I do lol, but I’m very happy for those like me!  For me, Autumn, Winter and the dark time of the year is the best time of year.  As Mother Earth ages into her beauty of the season with the brilliant color of her foliage, as her green grass turns gold then brown, as her trees grow alive with color then down to bare, stark trees, it reminds me that is time for me to enjoy the lovely, last days outside, and prepare to come indoors for the long, dark, cold nights. I love the comfort of home, a fire in the hearth, the feel of warm, cozy, dark nights. Winter will be here soon and there is much to do to prepare for it.

A bit of color!

A bit of color!

But first, we have beautiful Autumn!  Most of my witchy friends will tell you it’s their very favorite time of year!  Of course it is!  We are heading to Samhain, the very best Sabbat! The adjectives to describe this season are some of my favorite words in the dictionary…..cool, crisp, woodsmoke, fires, colorful leaves, pumpkins, apples, sweaters, boots, scarves, jackets, crunch under feet, black inky nights, harvest, Harvest Moon, stars, simmering soups, apple cider, cinnamon and spice, blankets, hayrides, haunted houses, Mabon, Samhain, thinning veil, ancestors, and on and on the joys of the Season go.  What are some of your favorite words to describe this time of year?  I know there are so many more!  I find myself as I take a walk or take a drive, looking for signs…a bit of leaves turning on some of the trees, some trees and bushes are forming berries, burning bushes are turning red, farm stands are changing from corn and tomatoes, over to apples, pumpkins and gourds. The stores are filled with Autumn and Halloween decorations (next to Yule decorations ugh) .  The apple picking farms are bustling.  Shops have their summer clothes on sale and racks filled with cold weather clothes.  Hobby shops are selling yarn like crazy as needle-workers start making new scarves, mittens, hats and such. You know that song “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year”?  yep…..that songs fits this wonderful time of year! 🙂  🙂

I spent some time setting up my altar the last couple of days…I plan to go out tomorrow to my beautiful park/pond to look for a few items from nature such as leaves, greenery, seeds and nuts etc.  But I’m happy with the altar I created to represent this Autumn Equinox.  Here is a peek 🙂

My Mabon Altar, 2015

My Mabon Altar, 2015

My coven has decided not to meet for Mabon this year. Instead, we are going to attend our local Pagan festival together. I think it’s so important to support our community by attending.  Some of us have been before and report a good time had by all.  Those of us who are attending for the first time, are really looking forward to it.  I haven’t attended yet because I’m usually out of town that weekend.  This year, I made sure I’m in town to go.  I look forward to communing with those who walk the same Path as I. Do you attend your local events?  If you haven’t, perhaps this is a good year to do so!

I’ve been perusing my recipe books and will be back, maybe tomorrow with some Mabon recipes.  In the meantime, you can search Mabon or Autumn Equinox in the search box on the right to get previous years recipes. There are some excellent ones.  You can also find Mabon recipes on the Sunday Stew…see the link on the top right to go there.

I have to add a note here as I haven’t said anything in my blog about this.  This time of year was the favorite for a dear Witch sister of mine.  However, she isn’t here to celebrate it this year.  Snow Moon (Susan Herman) passed away unexpectedly in her sleep a few months ago. She was a fellow writer for the Sunday Stew and Samhain’s Sirens. As  Samhain’s Sirens is about to launch again on October 1, and Mabon brings our favorite time of year, I can’t help but think of her with great sadness.  She was a bright star that went out too soon. One of the most thoughtful, selfless people I had ever meant.  She made everyone feel they were her best friend..including me.  She is very much missed.   Snowy..I love you and miss you very much. ❤ ❤ ❤

For my readers, if you want to see what Samhain’s Sirens is all about, just click on the link on the right for a month of Samhain fun..from my recipes to some wonderful crafts, blog posts, music, great give-aways and so much more.  It’s a gift to the Pagan community from some very dedicated witchy writers.  You will love it!

So I’ll be back in the next day or two with a recipe or three. In the meantime, enjoy these last couple of days of Summer, and prepare for another wonderful harvest celebration!  May the Goddess bless you on this day and always.

12004974_959987560711320_128866761805272396_n

Love and Blessings, Autumn

2 Comments

Filed under Altars, Autumn, Autumn Equinox, coven, Flowers, Gardens, Goddess, Herbs, Holiday, Mabon, Mother Earth, My Favorite Things, Nature, Pagan, Photography, Sabbat, Samhain, sisters, Sun, Winter, Witch

Beltane Recipes 2015………

“Sweet May hath come to love us,
Flowers, trees, their blossoms don;
And through the blue heavens above us
The very clouds move on.”
– Heinrich Heine, Book of Songs

 

Merry Meet my friends and readers!  It’s a beautiful sunny Sun Day afternoon here in Ohio.  Having said that, it’s been quite cold and quite windy!  This past week we had a small tornado hit a street in my neighborhood, just 3 blocks away!  We also had freezing temps at night and heavy frost 2-3 mornings. So Spring is still….well…2463875500_7b6e892984_olike it always is here in April. LOL.  It’s been cold enough we’ve had fires going in our fireplace for several evenings..which of course, I Love.

Looking outside though, the green is vivid, trees are bloomed or blooming, plants are coming up and some people have jumped the gun (in my humble opinion) and already planted new flowers in their beds.  At my house, a new garden bed is going in by the end of the week, at least, the sod will be pulled up and it will be mulched.  NO planting until closer to Mother’s Day or we risk losing the plantings.  My perennials are coming up nicely..most of them anyway.  I will have to do some replacing here and there.  I have garden ideas spinning in my head and I’m aching to get on it…but I must be patient.   One thing I was excited about…I finally got a rain barrel!  It’s from http://www.greatamericanrainbarrel.com company and it’s hooked up already.  Thanks to recent rains, it’s already got 60 gallons of fresh rainwater ready to go! I also love these particular barrels because they are recycled olive barrels..what a great way to use them.  It makes me feel great to be conserving water and nothing is better for plants than rain water 🙂  I’m a very happy Witch about that!

11156154_882213935155350_5477231312217966530_n (1)

 

I have been perusing recipes for Beltane and thought I would of course share a couple.  If you want more recipes, just do a Beltane Recipe search over on the right and you’ll find more.  Also, as you may know, I also am the Kitchen Witch for Imramma Magazine (link to the right) and there are more Beltane recipes there.  The issue just came out today.  AND every week, I also do recipes for The Sunday Stew (link on the right).  The Stew is out every Sunday except the Sabbat issues of Imramma. Okay?  Be sure and check both out ……there are a lot of great writers, bloggers, news stories, info etc in these publications.  I’m proud to be a writer for them.

Foods that correspond to Beltane are: Dairy, honey, oats, red fruits, herbal salads, May wine, red/pink wine, fruit punch, large round oatmeal cakes, and sweets. Keeping those in mind, here’s a couple recipes for you to consider making for you feast!

 

brown-sugar-bundt-cake-DSC_6503-640x399

 

Oatmeal Cake with Caramel Icing

For Cake:
1-1/4 cups boiling water
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For Icing:
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1/4 cup fat-free milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

In a small bowl, pour boiling water over oats; let stand for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until crumbly, about 2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in applesauce and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Gradually add to creamed mixture. Stir in the oats. Pour into a 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan coated with cooking spray.  *You can use a bundt pan too!
Bake at 350° for 18-22 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out with moist crumbs. Cool completely on a wire rack.
For icing, in a small saucepan, combine brown sugar and butter. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk. Return to a boil. Cook and stir 1 minute longer. Transfer to a small bowl. Stir in vanilla and salt. Gradually beat in confectioners’ sugar until smooth. Immediately spread icing over cake. Let stand until set.

 

This next recipe isn’t really a recipe, but a wonderful way to get in some fruits and dairy for a Beltane treat.

Fruit and Cheese Skewers

6 Bamboo skewers

12 miniature balls fresh mozzarella cheese

12 small basil leaves

12 large blackberries

Balsamic vinegar

Thread each of the 6 skewers from the bottom to top with cheese ball, basil leaf and blackberry and repeat again so there are 2 of each item on the skewer

Serve cold, drizzled with small amount of balsamic vinegar.  Delicious!

*You can of course change this up however you like.  You use other berries like strawberry, blueberry, or raspberry.  You can use a different cheese too if you like.

 

And for something good with honey 🙂

 

honey lemon iced tea1

Cold Lemon Honey Tea

4 cups water

3 inches fresh ginger, thinly sliced

1/4 cup loose-leaf Darjeeling tea or other loose-leaf black tea

1/2 of a 12-ounce can (3/4 cup) frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed

1/3 cup honey

Ice cubes or crushed ice

Lemon slices and fresh mint for garnish

Vodka, gin or bourbon (optional)
In a medium saucepan, bring the water and ginger to boiling. Remove from heat. Add tea. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Pour tea mixture through a fine mesh strainer; discard ginger and tea leaves.

Transfer tea to a 1 1/2-quart pitcher. Stir in lemonade concentrate and honey, stirring until honey is dissolved. Cool for 30 minutes. Cover; chill for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours. Stir before serving.

Serve punch in glasses over ice. Garnish with lemon slices. Chill remaining tea for up to 1 day.

For a single cocktail, pour vodka, gin, or bourbon (to taste) into a ice-filled glass; then add the lemon honey tea.

*I most definitely add a bit of vodka 🙂

 

I am hoping you’ll try these recipes and if you do, please let me know!  Your family/friends will love them.  I wish for all of you to have a very Blessed Beltane.  May you dance by the fires with the fairies!

 

Blessings and Love, Autumn

 

10 Comments

Filed under Beltane, Correspondence, Faeries, Family, Flowers, Friends, Garden, Gardens, Herbs, Mother Earth, My Favorite Things, My Writing, Nature, Poem, Recipe from my Kitchen, Seasons, Spring, Sun

The Wheel Turns to Beltane 2015……….

Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet

and the winds long to play with your hair.

-Khalil Gibran

download (3)Merry Meet and Happy Spring on this beautiful April day.  I love April, always have. Not only because it’s the month I was born, but because it brings in Spring!  The weather is a bit unpredictable…we can have snow one day, near 80* temps another with lots of wind, rain, storms and tornado warnings thrown in for good measure.  The last few days it’s rained and stormed here a lot! But it’s been a good thing for Mother Earth as she is greening more and more every day.  I love the color green and it’s everywhere!  Our grass is really green and lush, trees are budding, spring bulbs and flowering bushes and trees are bloomed, and my summer plants have green sprouting up.  In my herb bed, cilantro and garlic are up already and my lavender is greening too!  I so love it!  Today, I woke up to a chill in the Air but it’s warming up to 60* and the Sun is shining so it’s a beautiful day!

I have been Spring cleaning like crazy as well.  The winter linens are put away, winter clothes being put away to make room for our Spring/Summer clothes.  My clothesline is back up.  I have taken each day a trash bag and gone around the house just pitching stuff.  Drawers, cupboards and closets are all checked for items no longer needed. It is so freeing to de-junk!  You’d be amazed what’s in your home that no longer serves a purpose. Whether it be paperwork, knickknacks, clothes, shoes, dishes etc…there are things in your home that can go I’m sure!  My home feels lighter and simpler with everything that goes out the door.  Add fresh flowers to mason jars on your window sill, open windows to air out your house and wash windows and you’ll feel like Spring has arrived INSIDE your home too!

11149291_877987718911305_7361478005164180667_n

My seedlings so far this year!

Beltane is approaching fast! One of my favorite Sabbats..probably because it’s one of the first ones that I can celebrate outside without being cold!  I’ve written in the past 5 years all the many ways to celebrate this Sabbat and for me, that hasn’t changed.  I still have an outdoor fire, weather permitting, and burn any of the last of my dried herbs that have grown old and dusty hanging in my kitchen.  The scent is incredible!  I plant my seedlings in their outdoor beds, make offerings to the Fae of honey and bread, set out new wards and protection for my home and yard, and spend as much time barefoot in the grass with my hands in the dirt as I can!  A wonderful feast of fresh veggies, fruits, and grains are had by whoever decides to come by for dinner. And I never forget to gather the morning dew to wash my face in…to bring youth and beauty to this aging face of mine 🙂

images (3)

My Coven will gather, if not on Beltane shortly after.  Last year we made up May baskets (in jars really) to distribute to our elderly neighbors and loved ones. It was a lot of fun and I imagine we’ll do it again this year 🙂  We then welcome the Sun God…rejoicing in the return of the longer days, warmer weather, and Mother Earth blooming forth in all Her glory.

Other things I enjoy doing in the Spring….walks are a must.  I now have a gathering bag, a wildflower reference book and a good knife for gathering wild herbs on my walks. It’ll also hold acorns, pinecones, feathers and stones and whatever else I might come across on my walk that calls to me.  A walk by a pond, in a woods, on a beach, in a meadow…..whatever place I can find that allows me to enjoy being under the Sun again, outdoors.  Attending a pagan festival or maypole gathering, drum circles which usually move outdoors now, picnics in the park, drives out into the country to find early farm stands, visiting a botanical garden or butterfly house, going fishing, planting a tree and whatever else you can think of to do outdoors will help you to celebrate the change in the season, the turning of the wheel….Beltane!

2463875500_7b6e892984_o

Remember too that Beltane is about the God and Goddess coming together in love and lust for each other.  Whether you have a partner or not, find a way to spread some love.  For yourself and others. Do something for yourself..whatever it is you need.   Be kind, be joyful, be peaceful and spread Love.  You will gain back much in return.  There is so much un-kindness in our online experiences and in our real life.  We see bad news everyday, people being mean, judgemental, non-accepting….that we can get discouraged from it.  But spreading LOVE starts with each of us.  I know so many of you do just that…all my friends do…or they wouldn’t be my friend! lol.

So my friends….Spring and soon, Beltane, have arrived here in the Northern Hemisphere.  It’s a beautiful time of year and I for one will be taking complete advantage of every moment!  Enjoy the greening, blooming, warming of Mother Earth.  Enjoy lightening up on your clothes and foods. Enjoy the Sun on your head and the grass under your feet.  Make love, grow flowers, and dance under the light of the Moon!

I’ll be back soon with some recipes of course, along with pics of my gardens as they bloom and whatever else I find I’d like to tell you about.  I’ll have a new herb posting very soon too.  So for now, I wish you all a very Happy weekend! Make it magickal!

Blessings and Love, Autumn

*All photos are either my own or creative common license.

11 Comments

Filed under Beltane, Cleaning & Organizing, Faeries, Family, Flowers, Friends, Garden, Gardens, God, Goddess, Holiday, Mother Earth, My Favorite Things, My Writing, Nature, Photography, Protection, Quote, Seasons, Spring, Sun

I <3 Lavender………

Merry Meet my friends!  It’s a cold  day here in Ohio after a warmer day yesterday…and it just started snowing! I love watching the snow, love Winter, but I am the first to admit that by the end of February my thoughts are turning to Spring and to my herbs and flowers and garden beds!  I can picture them in my mind’s eye…all green, and colorful and lush and growing!  And the scents…so wonderful!  So I thought I would pick back up on my herb postings while I dream of getting my hands in the dirt again soon 🙂  I’m sure there are many of you that are dreaming out there too!

 

lavender

Picture courtesy of Peaceful Acres Lavender Farm

*this place is near me and I intend to get there this year!

 

Lavender (Spikenard) is one of the most beloved herbs of all time. Well, to me it is…it’s a personal favorite! Its scent is unmistakable…. pleasant and mellow, sweet and earthy.  It’s immediately recognizable.  Lavender can put you into a complete state of relaxation and bliss with one whiff!

There are approximately 30 different varieties of lavender around the world. It has been prized as perfume by the ancient Greeks and harvested in France for its essential oils.  Lavender attracts butterflies, is drought and heat tolerant and grows well in gardens and containers. Both flowers and foliage are fragrant. The blue-purple flowers on silver foliage make this a must-have plant in any garden bed and especially in a Witch’s garden! I love planting it along a sidewalk and near the front door….it is such a lovely, scented introduction to your magickal home. I defy anyone to walk past it and not run their hands thru it then smell their hands….everybody does it!! J

Plant it in warm, sunny spots.  Lavender can grow 12 to 24 inches tall depending on the variety…..there are annual and perennial varieties as well.  I like to plant the perennial and watch it grow bigger and spread more each year. Sometimes a plant will get leggy and unattractive..that is when it’s time to pull it out and plant a new one.  To dry lavender, just cut the stalks, tie the stems and hang them to dry.

Lavender has been used therapeutically for thousands of years.  Its uses as medicine are many.  Lavender can be used externally or internally.  Internally, Lavender is believed to be of benefit for a multitude of problems, including stress, anxiety, exhaustion, irritability, headaches, migraines, insomnia, depression, colds, digestion, flatulence, upset stomach, liver and gallbladder problems, nervousness, loss of appetite, and can aid in reducing a fever.   Inhaling the essential oil in some cases has been reported to work as well as narcotics for inducing relaxation and sleep, easing symptoms of depression, and reducing headache pain.  Lavender Tea is a great way to take lavender internally.  Just add 1 to 2 tsp. lavender flowers to a cup of steaming hot water. Let it steep for 10 minutes, and sweeten as desired.  You can add the flowers to any of your favorite teas as well.  Also, lavender buds are quite edible in salads and many recipes..a couple I’ll be sharing in my next posting!  A delicious way to get lavender’s benefits internally!

The external use of lavender is the easiest and most popular way to use lavender.  It’s been used in cosmetics, shampoos, soaps, lotions, sachets, bath products, and healing salves and balms since well..forever!  As an herbal shoppe owner, I use LOTS of lavender in my products.  Lavender is used to treat burns, rheumatism, muscle pain, neuralgia, cold sores, insect bites, bee stings, cuts, and bruises.  Lavender has antiseptic and antibacterial properties and even local pain killing action.  It helps with psoriasis and eczema and acne.  Lavender oil..whether the essential oil…or making your own by infusing your favorite carrier oil with lavender flowers is wonderful for skin care.  The essential oil is safe to use straight from the bottle too.   You can make lavender oil into a balm by adding a wax, like beeswax, in a 2 part oil to 1 part wax ratio.  Every Witch should have a lavender oil or balm in their cupboard!

There is an abundance of ways to use lavender therapeutically.  Here are a few. As always, be sure that lavender doesn’t cause you a problem before taking it internally or using it externally!

 

-Rub a bit of lavender oil into your temples for a headache.

-Place lavender buds in a mojo bag under your pillow to aid sleep

-Also to aid sleep, make a linen spray using lavender essential oil and vodka.

-Drop a few drops of essential oil or a handful of lavender buds in your bath to ease achy muscles, calm your nerves and help with a good night’s rest

-Put some lavender essential oil in a pan on the stove with water and breathe in the steam to help a cold

-Make a diluted lavender massage oil to ease sore muscles

-Use lavender essential oil in a vaporizer to help with allergies, sleeplessness, headache, tension and irritability.

-Use lavender water as a face rinse or use a lavender oil infused cotton ball for acne, insect bites, canker sores etc.

-Make a cold or warm compress of lavender water for bruises, sores, arthritis.

-Lavender infused vinegar water is a natural antibacterial for your home

-Make a lavender healing balm for cuts, burns, bruises, scratches and bruises.

– Lavender can be used as a tincture to treat fungal infections such as vaginal yeast.

-Drink lavender tea or food with lavender buds to aid any of the above ailments

-Throw lavender buds on your salad or find recipes using them to eat!

 

In Aromatherapy, Lavender oil blends well with eucalyptus, cedarwood, clary sage, geranium, pine,  nutmeg, rosemary  and all the citrus oils.

 

The Magickal properties of Lavender are abundant as well.  Lavender is cleansing, protective, calming, purifying, soothing, and healing.  It increases mental acuity and focus.  It can be used to bring love, romance and fertility.  It lends itself to clairvoyance, consecration, happiness, Midsummer, money, passion, peace of mind, psychic protection, tranquility, blessings, divination, dreams, energy, gentleness, good luck, grieving, and harmony. Also meditation, ritual, and weddings..especially handfastings!  Whew!

Lavender is Masculine…its element is Air and it’s connected to Mercury.  Attributed by some to Hecate and Saturn.  The elves and fae love it too.   Some ways to use Lavender magickally……

 

-Make lavender infused vinegar water to cleanse your home..great on floors and windows

-Burn lavender incense or throw lavender buds on your fire to clear your home of negativity

-Put lavender in a dream pillow to aid you in remembering your dreams and helping you sleep deeper

-Put lavender essential oil in your bath to cleanse your energy and calm you before spells and rituals

-Use lavender oil to anoint your candles before candle spells.

-Carry some lavender buds in a mojo bag to bring love to you

-Put lavender oil on a cotton ball and sniff it from time to time during a test or anytime you need to be focused (like doing your taxes!)

-Make lavender wands for use at your altar

-Plant LOTs of lavender around your home..especially right by your front door for protection..and of course the added pleasure of it’s scent!

-Add lavender stalks to your sage sticks for added cleansing of negative energy and protection

-Keep cut lavender stalks on your altar when you are practicing divination

-Keep lavender buds in your pocket….for multiple reasons as listed above!

-Dried lavender stalks can be burned like incense….or make up a loose incense using dried herbs for divination, consecration, cleansing….

 

This is just a few things I could think of right now.  There are so many other ways I’m sure you can come up with yourself or are already using. As you can see, Lavender is more than just a pretty, sweet smelling herb.  I’m a firm believer that herbs are such a great way for us to stay healthy in a more natural way. It should be in every Witch’s garden!

I’ll be adding more herbs soon…very soon 🙂  So keep an eye out! In the meantime, stay safe and warm in this Winter we’re having……and dream of Spring!

 

*Some of you may have seen this posting I wrote in the Sunday Stew..the Pagan online blog.  Well good news..the Sunday Stew is coming back soon!  You’ll be able to get to it by clicking on the icon on the right hand side of this blog.  I’ll be the Kitchen Witch again this year..posting amazing recipes!

 

Blessings and Love, Autumn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Flowers, Garden, Gardens, Herbal How To, Herbs, Mother Earth, My Favorite Things, Nature, Seasons, Spring, Sun

The Spirit of Christmas revisited………..

christmas-candle-douglas-pulsipherMerry Meet friends!  I hope that  all of you here in  the USA and those who celebrate it;  had a blessed Thanksgiving day.  I had a very nice day!  It was celebrated at my house (as usual) but a very small group this year.  My sister and her hubby were in St. Thomas, so their grown kids, who live out of state, didn’t come in.  My daughter, son-in-law and grandkids take turns with both sides of the family for holidays..it wasn’t our year so they weren’t here.  So I had 8 family members and two lovely guests.  My mom and I split the menu….the traditional meal as we have made for years..and that everyone expects! 🙂  The food was great! Everyone was relaxed and happy and a good time was had.  After, I put my jammies on early, had some coffee with Baileys, sat by the fire and vegged out!  How about you? Was your Thanksgiving a good one?

Did you go out shopping on Black Friday?  I did that one time many years ago.  I vowed to never do it again and I haven’t! LOL.  It was a nightmare in so many ways.  As I watch the videos on tv of people fighting over an item, being trampled as stores throw open their doors, etc..it all just seems crazy to me. Don’t even get me started about stores opening up on Thanksgiving eve.  You can get good deals all through the holidays, online etc…I just don’t get the appeal.  If you braved it..kudos to you and hope you got great deals!  I got good deals too…I shopped in my jammies online and got most of my shopping done! Yay!!

The rest of this blog post is from a previous post back in 2010 that I decided to repost for new readers who may not have come across it.  I was watching “A Christmas Carol” again today,  remembered my writing this and thought you all would enjoy it.  Let me know what you think.

 

mzl.awfmbvbk.1024x1024-65

Now that Thanksgiving is past, our thoughts all turn to Yule/Christmas.  Other than Samhain, probably my favorite Sabbat!  Before I go on any further, let me explain that I celebrate the Winter Solstice AND Christmas.  Christmas to me is a secular holiday..all about family, feasting, good will, music, lights, trees, gifts of course, etc etc.  The story “A Christmas Carol” is all about Christmas Eve and Christmas Day..so that’s what I’ll be speaking about for now.

I love Winter! ( yes I know some people will be groaning right now!)  I love all it entails.  Sitting by the fire, nesting, going outside and feeling the cold air whip across my face and take my breath away, wearing cozy sweaters, knitted scarves, hats & mittens, hot chocolate, warm spiced wine, feeding the winter birds and having time to read, crochet, relax, bake, take on projects on the inside of the house, ..well I just love the slower pace.  Today I watched “A Christmas Carol”…my all time favorite book and movie…all versions..ever!  Today happened to be the musical version..which I happen to think is excellent.  Has Kelsey Grammar as Scrooge and many other great stars.  My favorite version..for the record..is probably George C. Scott…he was a most excellent Scrooge! Though sometimes I think it must be Patrick Stewart! 🙂

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!”

……..Scrooge…Charles Dickens

I am sure many of you will recognize this quote.  I am a huge lover of Charles Dickens and I think he writes beautifully and from the heart and his words are still ringing true all these years later.  He was indeed teaching a lesson in this Novella.  What is the lesson?  I would imagine most people would say the same thing…”goodwill towards men”.   I see it as more than that.  My understanding is that Dickens was appalled at the poverty he saw around him, and that the middle and upper class were doing nothing to help them at all.  His Scrooge talks about the work houses and the programs set up by the government to aid the impoverished…but it was nowhere near enough.  He wrote this book to open the eyes of those who were not “seeing” what needed to be done.  For people to open their hearts and their wallets to help the less fortunate and it would make them happier and more blessed in their own life.

As a pagan witch, I believe that God/Goddess, the Universe, the Creator, whatever you believe in…  put us here to learn lessons..with the ultimate goal being LOVE.  Our goal in life should be to discover that..LOVE.  And to love means to care for our “fellow man”.  To me, “Goodwill towards Men” means just that.  We should love our family and friends as I’m sure we do.  But we should also love those we don’t know, help those who need it, love and care for Mother Earth and the creatures who inhabit Her…  No judgement, no greed, no setting standards for others in our own minds, equality for all, acceptance of all religions, courtesy, kindness….Love.  To me, Dickens hit the nail on the head so to speak…he saw a vision of how the world should be.  More of us could learn from Scrooge’s Christmas Eve night.

Scrooge was not an evil man..he was afraid.  His father did time in debtors prison..causing him to have to slave in a work house at 11 years old.  He never wanted to do that again..but he lost track of his self, his soul..so focused was he on never being poor.  Until he learned what dying a lonely old man would truly be like..did he become a truly rich man.  Hoarding his money, working long hours, never enjoying the money he had;  even for himself.  He didn’t have a relationship with anyone except his business partner, Marley.  He lived a very “poor” life in every way…because of his fear.

There are many positive wonderful characters in this book.  Old Fizziwig, who gave a huge party,  sparing no expense,  to show his gratitude to his employees.  There is the clerk, Bob Cratchit, so lowly in Scrooge’s eyes, but greatly loved by his large poverty stricken family, especially Tiny Tim.  Then there is Fred,  Scrooge’s endearing nephew.  He was the epitome of a good man who’s life was abundant in family, friends, love , joy, and blessings.  He showed love at every turn.  All he wanted from Uncle Scrooge was for him to come to Christmas Day dinner.  He came every year and requested it every year.  He never gave up on him.  and when Scrooge had his life altered…he welcomed him with open arms..holding no grudge for all the years of rejection.  Though he was not a rich man…he was rich in every other way.

I don’t know about you..but I want to be like Fred….I want to be rich in friends.  I want to be rich in experiences.  I want to be rich in appreciation for the blessings that come to my life.  This is the lesson that Scrooge learned..luckily while he could still have some time to truly appreciate it. Look into your own Past, Present, and even into your Future.  Have you done well by others?  Can you do better? ” A Christmas Carol” will always mean a lot to me…and I will try to keep Christmas in my heart all year long.  and as Tiny Tim says……God(Goddess) Bless Us Every One!!

Every year in recent years, my family has adjusted how we celebrate the holidays.  Yule is for me about introspection, welcoming the Light,  and having quiet time to myself.  Christmas is as I said above…family, food, fun, giving, and Santa!  Having said that, we have simplified so much and it has made the holidays so much more enjoyable.  There are less gifts and more time spent together.  Whether baking cookies, watching a movie together with popcorn and a fire, hot chocolate and driving around to see light displays, breakfasts or lunches together, a little shopping, romantic candle lit dinners….just making memories together.  That after all is what your family will remember.  Looking back over your childhood, do you remember what was under the tree, or do you remember decorating it?  Do you remember what gift who gave who or do you remember grandma and grandpa coming over to visit?  While we all may remember that favorite gift we got, most of what we remember are the not things..but people and how they affected your life growing up.  I keep this in mind every day with my girls and now my grandkids.  Just remember, things don’t have to be perfect, you don’t have to spend a lot of money…you just have to make memories!!! It’s the simple things in Life that matter!

 

la-befana-3

Have a Blessed Week and Breathe deep as the holidays are under way!

Blessings and Love, Autumn

6 Comments

Filed under Autumn, Family, Friends, God, Goddess, Grandchildren, Holiday, Movies, Music, My Favorite Things, My Writing, Quote, Seasons, Thanksgiving, Winter, Yule/Winter Solstice/Chrismas

Sisters, Smoky Mountains and Snow! …………

Merry Meet!  I hope this posting finds you all well, staying warm and safe if you’re in the line of the Winter Storms and enjoying a great week!  I’m sitting by the fire tonight, in my jammies with a glass of Irish whiskey and ginger ale.  Winter has arrived in full force here in Ohio.  We got 5-6 inches on Sunday night into Monday morning,  and have had our first single digit temperatures too!  Way, way earlier than usual to be this cold and this much snow!  But I LOVE it!! It’s so beautiful, that first snow of the year. The snow often covering trees still holding onto their Autumn leaves.  It’s official..no more mowing, gardening, weeding, or watering until next Spring! 🙂 Now we have the cold and snow and all the Magick the season of Winter can bring!

 

10414458_806375949405816_9070625067372355208_n

 

 

1450963_806375909405820_6211928575093259584_n

 

I had the pleasure of going on a small trip to the Smoky Mountains last week.  Those who know me or have read my blog for a while, know how much I love those mountains. I try to go every year, sometimes twice like this year 🙂  Just seeing them causes my whole body to relax, my soul to sing and my heart to fill with peace.  I don’t know why…perhaps I’ve been there before in a past life, but I just adore seeing them and being in them.  Speaking of snow, it was the same there. VERY cold, breezy and while there wasn’t any snow on the ground, the higher peaks of the mountains were covered in beautiful snow.  The smaller mountains were still covered in lots of beautiful colors of Fall.  Mostly in reds and deep oranges. So gorgeous!  The contrast of Autumn and Winter was stunning!

 

10269412_805221526187925_6752357479885938908_n

 

10389174_805221459521265_2366643676997523901_n

I was blessed to have with me; my daughter and three of our friends.  Women I love as Sisters.  Fellow Witches.  All members of my Tribe/Circle.  We had such a great time.  We set up an altar when we settled into our cabin.  Everybody brought something to place on it. One of my Sisters went out and collected a few things from nature…. on a very steep graded hill I might add LOL.  We added those, lit incense. and let it sit until the next night.  We spent time in a few shops, ate some amazing meals and spent a LOT of time talking over the next few days.  Our altar was used for tarot readings for each of us and lit candles for private reasons.  It was a magickal time. Next year, I think my whole Circle of Sisters is going to try to go there together!

I’m so blessed with the women in my life in general. I have two blood sisters who I love.  My chosen family of like -minded sisters is so important to me too!  Whether they are someone in my life I can touch, be with in person…or if they are my wonderful facebook/instagram friends who touch my life through social media every day, I’m blessed. I know so many of my Sisters who have been through such hard times and yet they are strong, kind, wise, positive, giving, and loving.  It never ceases to amaze me how they will go out of their way to offer a word of empathy, healing, love, humor, knowledge and ideas.  I believe that women…sisters…can do a lot of healing to what has been done to our Mother Earth, to what the world’s religions have taken away from women, and to what a very often cruel society ( and some men) bestow on women in general.  Looking and listening to my Sisters on our beautiful trip to the mountains, give me hope that the Goddess is emerging more and more, making Herself known to more of those Sisters in the world I have yet to meet, and working to heal our world in so many ways.  Fills me with gratitude to be a part of it! To walk with the Goddess….and my Sisters!

To Jeanni, Shawna, Diana and Sara..thank you for a wonderful trip! To my other close sisters/friends…you know who you are…Thank you for filling my life with love and friendship. To my Sisters all over the world..thank you for being a part of my daily life despite the miles that separate us!  And always, Thank you to the Goddess who guides me, loves me, protects me and fills me with great Joy!

 

A sister is a gift to the heart, a friend to the spirit,

a golden thread to the meaning of life.

~Isadora James

 

Blessings and Love, Autumn

*Pictures are my own.

 

12 Comments

Filed under Altars, Autumn, Daughters, Discussion, Friends, Gardens, Goddess, Mother Earth, My Favorite Things, My Writing, Nature, Photography, Quote, Seasons, Smoky Mountains, Winter

The Wheel Turns to Samhain 2014……….

imagesCA0GN85BMerry Meet my friends.  I have been so busy I’m very late coming to my blog to write about my favorite Sabbat!  It should come as no surprise to anyone that it’s my favorite.  I’m a Witch after all!  Samhain is the Witch’s New Year, the night the veil between the worlds is the thinnest, the night we can commune with our ancestors who have passed on, and of course, it’s the night many Witches love to put on all of their witchiest clothes, jewelry and of course our pointy hat! For me, this year, it’s also Beggar’s Night. Little ones will be coming to my door looking for candy (my grandkids will be doing that here too!)  The leaves are falling, the nights are cold and crisp, the wind blows, pumpkins are lit, adults and kids alike shiver with both a little bit of excitement and a little bit of something magickal!

For Samhain night, my family will gather here  for dinner, a fire and of course to pass out candy and for the grandkids to go trick or treating in my neighborhood.  After the little goblins have gone home with their parents, I will do my own quiet ritual. Divination to hopefully have my ancestors come thru to me will be done.  Also, an offering to Mother Earth as she slowly quiets and goes to rest for the Winter.  I also always express my gratitude to God and Goddess for the abundant Summer and beautiful Autumn season of growth and harvest both in my garden beds but within me as well.  As the Wheel turns, I too change and grow…no matter how old I am…I still do.

On Saturday night, my Circle will gather in full Witch regalia for fire, feast, and ritual.  Dressing the part is such fun for Samhain, as of course, we don’t walk around in black dresses, striped socks and pointy hats on a regular basis 🙂  We will honor our loved ones who have passed on, including our beloved pets. We also will have quiet discussion together on what the past year has brought for each of us, and what we look forward to in the next year.  On Sunday evening, my hubby and daughter and I will have a Dumb Supper or Ancestor Supper. This will be a quiet and introspective evening for me especially.  I always look forward to the fun and busyness of this Sabbat…but it’s the quiet times that have depth of meaning.  The quiet can bring messages from our ancestors, from Goddess and from our own conscience.  Always find time to be quiet and still and to listen.

One of my most popular blogs here over the years, has been my Samhain Recipes.  I’d like to go ahead and give you a few this year too.  If you have been following Samhain’s Sirens this year (button on the right side here) you will have already seen these recipes…but I will share them again here for those who haven’t.

 

cider

 

Autumn’s Spiced Apple Cider

*The perfect Samhain drink….add rum or vodka if you wish 🙂

 

1 gallon apple cider

15 whole cloves

10 whole allspice

1 TB candied ginger

12 cinnamon sticks

1 cup packed brown sugar

Combine all ingredients except sugar and bring to a boil in a large pot on the stove.  Lower heat, add sugar and simmer 15-20 minutes.  Strain and serve or place in a thermos for your picnic or drive.  You can keep it warm on the stove or crockpot all day long.  Store the leftovers in the fridge.

*If you like, place orange slices in the pot too..adds a sweet bit of tang!!

 

finished

 

Apple-Brie Crostini

These little toasted Crostini are a wonderful appetizer to serve for any Samhain gathering!   They are sweet and wonderful.   Great for an after dinner treat too!

 

1 loaf French bread, thinly sliced

1/4 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

13.2 oz pkg Brie cheese, thinkly sliced

3 Granny Smith apples, cored and sliced

Arrange bread on an ungreased baking sheet; bake at 350* until lightly toasted. Set aside.

Mix together butter, sugar and walnuts.  Top each slice of bread with a cheese slice, an apple slice and a teaspoonful of butter mixture.

Return to baking sheet; bake briefly until cheese melts.  *Makes 24-30

**Variations….a sugared pecan with a drizzle of honey to top it…or a nice dollop of apple butter!

 

Farmer’s Market Autumn Stew

*A great way to finish up your Summer harvest or that last visit to the Farmers Market veggies!

 1/2 lb stew beef, cut into small cubes

2   1/2″ thick boneless pork chops, cubed

1 TB olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 parsnips, peeled and chopped

2 potatoes, peeled and chopped

1 stalk celery, chopped

2 apples, cored, peeled and cut into small cubes

2 TB quick-cooking tapioca, uncooked

1 cup apple cider

1 cup water

2 tsps beef bouillon granules

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp dried rosemary

Salt to taste

Brown beef and pork in oil in a large skillet over medium heat; drain.  Place vegetables and apples in a slow cooker; sprinkle with tapioca. Add beef and pork.

Combine remaining ingredients in a small bowl; pour over beef and pork. Cover and cook on low setting for 8-10 hours or on high for 4-5 hours. Add salt to taste before serving.

*Makes 6 servings

 

chocolate-chip-banana-cake-234

 

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cake

 

1 15 oz can of pumpkin

4 eggs, beaten

1 cup vegetable oil

2 cups sugar

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 tsps baking powder

2 tsps baking soda

2 tsps ground cinnamon

12 oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

 

Preheat oven to 350* In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin, eggs, oil and sugar.  Mix in flour, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon.  Stir in half the chocolate chips.  Pour batter into a greased and floured Bundt pan.  Sprinkle remaining chips over batter.

Bake at 350* for one hour, or until golden brown and inserted toothpick tests clean. Cool then remove from pan.  Top with fresh whipped cream to serve if you wish.

*Makes 12-16 servings.

Hope you enjoy the recipes if you try them.  I think you will!

 

I have gotten my Samhain altar done finally today. I particularly love Samhain altars.  This one literally gives me goosebumps.  Most of the time my altars are outdoors…simple and only a few necessities, but for Samhain, I love to go all out!  As you can see 🙂

10417691_797045207005557_2158148525725780464_n

 

 

I’m working on writing up the rituals for my Circle gathering, and have a few cards to do yet.  But I am also very relaxed, using the fire in the fireplace to help me meditate, and again…..finding quiet time.  I hope you’re doing the same.  What loved one do you hope to hear from? What will you decide to let go in the old year and bring forth in the New Year?  Think on these things my friends.  Witch or not!

And finally, a favorite poem….I’ve posted it before but wanted to share again. Can’t you just feel the magick when you read it?   Blessed Samhain to you all…..Happy New Year!

 

The wheel has turned, the wheel of light

 stoke the fire and make it bright

Samhain call, Samhain come

 feel the rhythm , hear the drum

The veil it thins, the veil it shrouds

 the spirits rise upon darkened cloud

The time of orange , time of black

 time to move forward and not look back

Pumpkin lit , with candle burn

 away dark spirits this guardian turns

Night of the ancients, night of the olds

 remembered in stories now to be told

The Crone doth rise upon this night

 look into the shadows without a fright

Rituals and rites across the lands

 empowers the soul where they stand

 Trick or treat, heal or curse ,

 the hand should be crossed from a silver purse

The Wheel begins its time anew,

 the release of the old for the knowledgeable few

The time to scry to see the path we must take

 and of the choices we need to make

She comes to us in many guises

 the Crow and the owl her favourite disguises

The Earth gives us her last to give

 the bountiful harvest so we can live

We feast and drink in a sacred space

 behind samhain masks to hide our face

Through darkened day and moonlight night

 All hallows Eve is a beautiful sight!

(C) Copyright Phiona Hutton July 2010

Blessings and Love, Autumn

23 Comments

Filed under Altars, Autumn, Bits of Magick, Family, Friends, Goddess, Grandchildren, Holiday, Mother Earth, My Favorite Things, My Writing, Nature, New Year, Photography, Poem, Recipe from my Kitchen, Ritual, Samhain, Seasons, Winter

October and Samhain’s Sirens……….

1013253_784163344960410_5537807594005264786_n

Merry Meet everyone!  I hope that you all had a very Blessed Mabon and that Autumn has finally come to your neck of the woods.  I love October! It’s my very favorite month of the whole year lol..as all of you who know me or have read anything here know.  My name ought to give it away as well.  I come so alive when Autumn comes…my heart is brighter, my steps are lighter, my energy level is high and I relish every moment of this most wonderful time of the year! How does it make you feel?  Are you loving every minute or are you just dreading that Winter is coming?  I sure hope that you are all loving it!! Most of my Witch friends of course, are loving it! 🙂

“Crispy air and azure skies,
High above, a white cloud flies,
Bright as newly fallen snow.
Oh the joy to those who know October!

Scolding sparrows on the lawn,
Rabbits frisking home at dawn,
Pheasants midst the sheaves of grain,
All in harmony acclaim, October!

Brown earth freshly turned by plow,
Apples shine on bended bough,
Bins o’erflowed with oats and wheat,
And satisfaction reigns complete. October!

Radiant joy is everywhere.
Spirits in tune to the spicy air,
Thrill in the glory of each day.
Life’s worth living when we say, October!”
–   Joseph Pullman Porter

Here in Ohio we are finally having Fall weather.  Nice days with cool nights.  We were very dry but finally, yesterday and today, we got some rain.  The leaves are changing color…brilliant reds have started and some trees are losing their leaves like crazy already.  We are having fires in the fireplace (so so cozy!), the crockpot is in action and I’m in the mood for homemade breads, baked goods with apples and pumpkin, and soup!  Today, it didn’t get out of the 40’s and I had to wear a sweater!! Yay!!  I have decorated the house for Fall, my spice scented candles are lit often, and wood is stacked at the back door, ready to give us cozy, warm fires for the next few months.

 

10703597_782807761762635_1629021777334077720_n

A beautiful “Autumn Blaze” Maple

 

Our garden beds are cleaned up of all the flowers that are spent or ready to be cut back.  I harvested the last of almost all my herbs.  Fennel seeds are still maturing and I always leave some lavender and rosemary for my Samhain altar and Ancestor supper table. I got more then three harvests from my herbs this year. I so loved it and will miss my herb bed over the long Winter.  But I have lots of dried herbs for cooking, my herbal potions and products and of course, for Magick!

 

10418871_782807638429314_3578062147964485778_n

My wonderful last harvest of herbs!

 

I’m late doing this but I wanted to let my readers know that it’s time for Samhain’s Sirens!  An online blog written by many wonderful Witch friends of mine.  It started on October 1 and will continue through Samhain.  You will find lots of wonderful Witchy things…blog posts, crafts, music, drink recipes, Remembrances, altar pictures etc etc…and oh….lots of recipes from ME!  I dug out some of my best and favorite recipes to share with you!  Come follow the fun and try to win a give -away too!  The link is on the right here on this blog…look for the icon that says Samhain’s Sirens. Just click on it and it’ll take you there. Once there, you can sign up to follow it so you see the post each day.  You’ll love it! It’s all about putting us in the mood for this wonderful Sabbat!

Mercury has gone retrograde today (uh oh) and we are waxing to the Full Blood Moon.  The veil is thinning..can you feel it?  The wheel is spinning fast to Samhain.  Too fast!  September flew by and I want time to slow down now so I can savor every moment of this delicious Season.

 

10485890_784163368293741_5539575105070976242_n

I’ll be back soon to talk about Samhain, share some recipes and have a visit.  In the meantime, throw on a sweater and go outside. Breathe in the crisp air and scent of woodsmoke,  listen to the wind through the beautiful colored leaves of the trees, look for that waxing Moon, feel the Earth beneath your feet before She’s covered with snow, and have a taste of tart cider or apple.  Be grateful for the beauty of this time of year!  Mother Earth is giving us quite a show before She goes quiet to rest.  Blessed Be!

 

Blessings and Love, Autumn

*All the pictures are my own.

11 Comments

Filed under Autumn, Full Moons, Gardens, Herbs, Mabon, My Favorite Things, My Writing, Nature, Photography, Poem, Samhain, Seasons

Blessed Mabon 2014…………

 

“Smoke hangs like haze over harvested fields,
The gold of stubble, the brown of turned earth
And you walk under the red light of fall
The scent of fallen apples, the dust of threshed grain
The sharp, gentle chill of fall.
Here as we move into the shadows of autumn
The night that brings the morning of spring
Come to us, Lord of Harvest
Teach us to be thankful for the gifts you bring us …”
–  Autumn Equinox Ritual

 

Merry Meet my friends!  Autumn has arrived here in Ohio!  Even though Mabon isn’t until the 23rd, Autumn is here none the less. I for one, couldn’t be more Happy about it! My favorite time of year!!  Already I feel like a heavy load has been lifted.  The heat and humidity of Summer makes me feel heavy, weighed down, and tired.  I am energized as the cool days and even cooler nights are upon us.  We have had our first (and second and third) fires in the fireplace!  There is nothing more cozy to me than a fire on an Autumn evening.

 

10659273_775430962500315_4803981429947920906_n

 

My oven has been busy with baking. My crockpot is on the counter permanently, garden beds are cleaned up of flowers that are spent and I’m about to harvest a huge amount of herbs..most of them for the last time this year.  Summer couch covers are washed and put away, warm blankets have been brought out, the chimney and furnace have been inspected and cleaned, a cord of wood has been ordered, and Winter clothes are in the closets and Summer clothes put away for next year.  Autumn cleaning is near finished.

We are seeing some color in the leaves already as I showed you on my last posting.  Some trees have lost their leaves completely, but there is LOTS of color still to come.  Bees still abound in my gardens. Birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and other ground animals are gathering frantically.  This morning I had a huge amount of activity at my bird and squirrel feeders.  I had a couple dozen mourning doves, a pair of cardinals, 3, yes 3! male blue jays, a Flicker woodpecker and multiple finches, sparrows and other small birds.  Our white squirrel Luna, other gray squirrels and several chipmunks were also scurrying and gathering! It was wonderful to watch.  I still have my hummingbird feeder up for migrating hummers, but we haven’t seen one for a few days now. If you don’t already, please think about feeding these animals and birds…to help them through the long hard Winter we are being promised again this year.  You will get so much pleasure out of it!

 

IMG_0991

My Mabon altar is set up and plans are made for my Circle/Tribe to meet on Sunday evening here.  There will be an outdoor fire, weather permitting, desserts, spiced cider and good company!  Several of us are also attending our local Pagan festival on Saturday which we are looking forward to.  For several of us, it’s our first time to go!  I am usually on vacation this time of year so haven’t been able to attend.  I can’t wait!

 

Yesterday, I was flipping through a Taste of the South magazine and came across a recipe that sounded so yummy I thought I’d share it here with you.  It sounds soooo spicy and good for Fall!  The picture is theirs as well.

 

orange-cardamom-bread-296x197

 

Orange-Cardamom Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1⁄2 teaspoons salt

1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder

2 1⁄2 cups sugar

1 1⁄2 cups whole milk

1 cup vegetable oil

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons orange zest

1 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1⁄4 teaspoon ground cardamom

Orange Glaze (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray 2 (8×4-inch) loaf pans with nonstick baking spray with flour. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
In another medium bowl, beat sugar, milk, oil, eggs, zest, vanilla, and cardamom at medium speed with an electric mixer until well combined. Gradually add flour mixture, beating until smooth.
Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.
Bake 30 minutes. Loosely cover with aluminum foil, and bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, approximately 30 minutes more.
Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Remove from pans, and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Drizzle with Orange Glaze.

 

Orange Glaze
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
1⁄3 cup fresh orange juice
In a medium bowl, stir together confectioners’ sugar and orange zest and juice until smooth.
I will be making this recipe this week.  It sounds yummy!  I think my Circle ladies will like it! 🙂  I hope you try it too!
I am most anxious for the next couple months of Autumn weather and the first snows of Winter.  There is just something about this time of year to me.  I call it nesting…coming indoors.  Warmth of fire, smell of woodsmoke and candles, something simmering on the stove or baking in the oven, warm beverages, perhaps crochet or a book on my lap (and a cat or two of course) are all just so cozy to me.  I turn more inward, I am a bit less busy, more time for introspection, journaling, writing, reading etc.  Having said that, this is also my favorite time of year to go for a walk, to spend time walking on crisp, bright colored leaves in my warm jacket and gloves, seeing Mother Earth in all her glory….well it’s just a NEED!  I know many of you have the same need!  To grab every minute we can of the beauty that is our Mother.
I’m wishing you all a very Joyful and Blessed Mabon!  To you and yours!  May you find the balance in your life as Mabon, the Equinox, brings balance of day and night.  Prepare yourself for the dark months of the Year.  Blessed Be!
Blessing and Love, Autumn

12 Comments

Filed under Autumn, Flowers, Gardens, Herbs, Holiday, Mabon, Mother Earth, My cats, My Favorite Things, My Writing, Nature, Photography, Poem, Recipe from my Kitchen, Ritual, Seasons, Spice, Winter

I <3 Herbs……Chamomile

Merry Meet my friends!  It’s hard to believe but our Summer has been amazingly mild here.  As a matter of fact, it has been so cool at night that leaves are turning and even falling on some trees already!  Birds and critters like squirrels and chipmunks have changed their patterns, my gardens are looking more like early fall then late summer, and we’ve had the house opened up for days instead of running the AC.  All of which I love! Even my herbs have slowed down their growth, gone to seed etc.  *Post…..I wrote this a few days ago…it is now HOT and Humid and 90’s all week! 🙂  Gotta love Ohio 🙂

rahn rd

Speaking of herbs, for the Sunday Stew this week, I wrote about the herb Chamomile. A really wonderful herb in so many ways.  To read the Stew just click on the Cauldron on the right side of the page here.  As per usual, part of my post is there and the entire post is here.  At the end of this post here, you’ll find a link to again print out the info, if you wish, for your BOS or herb book.

 

Chamomile

I have hesitated a bit to write about Chamomile. I know several people who can’t drink the tea or even use external products with chamomile due to allergic reactions. So I’m going to start off by saying this: If you are allergic to ragweed, daisies, marigolds, or mums…you may not be able to ingest chamomile. You also may not be able to use it externally. So use great caution if you’ve never tried chamomile before ok? Allergic reactions can be a mild dermatitis or a full blown anaphylactic reaction. Now let me say this too, I have seasonal allergies due to ragweed and mold, but I have no trouble with chamomile. So again, be careful when and if you try it! Ok…warning done..so let me go on about all the wonderful things about chamomile for those of us who can enjoy this herb!

 

Alternative Names:

Matricaria recutita , Pinheads, Scented Mayweed, Sweet false chamomile, Whig Plant, Ground Apple, and Earth Apple

 

Growing and Cultivating

There are two types of chamomile…Roman and German. The German is used most often in the USA but if you buy chamomile essential oil it will most likely be Roman. Both varieties have the same effects medicinally and magically of course.

German Chamomile is an annual plant that will grow up to 2 1/2 feet high. The leaves are fern-like and the flowers look like small daisies..white flowers with yellow centers about an inch across. Roman Chamomile is a perennial plant that is wide spreading and only grows less than a foot tall. The leaves are slightly different and it has the same flowers. Roman Chamomile is often used as a ground cover. It can tolerate even being walked on!

These plants belong to the sunflower family Asteraceae . The flower heads are the primary plant parts used in herbal medicine. Commonly found all over Europe and Asia. It was introduced to North America and Australia. You can find chamomile in the wild…. near road sides, around landfills and in cultivated areas as a weed.

Chamomile requires Full Sun, and doesn’t tolerate really dry or HOT conditions. It can be planted from seed, cuttings and, of course, seedlings or small plants. Chamomile is self-seeding so even if you plant the annual version, it may come back. You can harvest the flower heads (the parts used for medicinal purposes) about 6-8 weeks after planting. Harvest them in the morning and when the flowers look fresh and healthy. The flower heads can be used fresh or dried for teas and other herbal preparations. You can dry the flower heads in a basket or on a screen best.

 

chamomile

 

Medicinal Uses of Chamomile

 Chamomile has a wonderful taste of apples that most people find appealing. The scent of chamomile is sweet and apple-y is well. Chamomile has many properties. It is used for:

– Anxiety and stress

-For calm and sleep aid

-To help heal burns

-Anti-inflammatory

-Anti-virus

-Analgesic

-Safe for children who have stomach aches or are teething or for trouble sleeping

-For any stomach ailments such as sick stomach, ulcers, cramps or diarrhea/constipation

-Dental/oral care

-Depression

-Soothes skin ailments such as eczema, reddened skin, rashes and sunburn

-Hemorrhoids

-As a hair rinse for light colored hair

-Bath products

-healing balms

 

A cup of chamomile tea before bed is a must for many people I know..it just calms and comforts and helps you feel drowsy. But you can use it for so many things as you can see above. Put a cup of brewed tea in your bath to calm and soothe your skin and to let the scent calm your anxiety or stress. A bath in it will also help with hemorrhoids. Make a hair rinse using flowers brewed in water or apple cider vinegar. Make a poultice for cuts, rashes or sunburned skin. Make a cool compress to ease eye puffiness. Make a good healing balm or oil for muscle aches, swollen joints or a burn. Rinse your mouth with warm chamomile water or tea for sore gums. You can apply a drop of chamomile oil straight on an abscess in your mouth. A cup of chamomile tea with ginger added will aid nausea too. Just some of the ways you can use it!

 

Children can use chamomile too in small amounts as a tea. You can also buy chewable chamomile tabs to help them to fall asleep or ease teething and sore mouth. Works to soothe a child who is anxious or stressed as well.  My grandkids have used it with success.

 

Aromatherapy

Chamomile essential oil blends well with cedarwood, clary sage, frankincense, geranium, lavender, rose, marjoram, neroli, orange, rosewood and ylang ylang essential oils. It works wonderfully in a simmering potpourri and in bath salts. If you are sensitive to chamomile..you may still be able to use the essential oil if it’s diluted well with a base oil etc. But again, try it on a small area before bathing in it or slathering it on your skin.

 

Magical Uses

 ELEMENT: Water

GENDER: Masculine

PLANET: Sun or Venus

Chamomile can be used in Magic for

-Power or Energy

-Peace and Calm

-Healing

-Money

-Midsummer

-Sleep

-Love

-Purification

-Protection

-Divination

 

-Plant chamomile in your garden for protection

-Place chamomile in a mojo bag before doing something stressful such as taking a test or a doctor appt

-Take a chamomile bath to soothe and calm or to bring love and romance to your night

-Simmer chamomile on your stovetop with lavender to bring Peace to your home

-Drink chamomile tea or place some on your altar before practicing any divination

-Use it as an incense to smudge your house for purification and protection

-Use in a sleep pillow to aid sleep

-Place a few flowers in cool water to wash your face when you’re upset or stressed

-It is said that you can wash your hands in it before playing a game of cards or gambling to bring money to you

-Use with spells to draw money, to divine, to rid of negativity or to protect

– Sprinkle the dried flowers around your property to protect from spells or curses.

Anoint your healing candles with chamomile essential oil

 

I’m sure that you can come up with many ways to use chamomile in your daily Craft. Also, though I say that this is some of the magical uses for Chamomile….and for that matter with any herb I’ve talked about. The herbs may mean something completely different to you. That’s fine….use it for that purpose!!

 

“If you are cold, tea will warm you;
if you are too heated, it will cool you;
If you are depressed, it will cheer you;
If you are excited, it will calm you.”
William Ewart Gladstone

 

Chamomile is a very important herb in any Witch’s arsenal of supplies. Put it on your list of must have or at least must try!

You can print out this information for your BOS or herb book here:  Chamomile2

 

Blessings and Love, Autumn

11 Comments

Filed under Autumn, Flowers, Gardens, Herbs, My Favorite Things, My Writing, Nature, Photography, Protection, Quote, Seasons, Summer