Category Archives: Ritual

The Wheel Turns to the Winter Solstice/Yule 2015…..

 

 

To celebrate the Sun, the Land, the Ancient Ones, the great Circle of Nature.
To welcome in the Winter and the New Year.
To bring forth renewal, peace, and joy.

-Selena Fox “Saturnalia” 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMerry Meet my friends!  It’s a Monday evening, quiet in the house at the moment after a busy day.  It rained today and we have been un-seasonably warm here in Ohio.  Too warm for my tastes actually lol, but we will start cooling down in the next few days!

The Solstice is coming fast…just a week away!  Yule, or the Winter Solstice is all about the return of the Sun.  It will be the longest night, and then we celebrate the rotation and the days lengthening as we eventually get to Spring again.  Having said that, here in Ohio and many other places on this wonderful, good Earth, we have a long Winter ahead of us yet!  I have been preparing for it for some time now.  From putting away the garden tools, and getting the garden beds cleaned up and mulched, to pulling out warm blanket throws, making elderberry syrup and of course, shopping for Yule and Christmas gifts and all the things associated with the holidays!

 

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My elderberry syrup brewing

 

I also have planned for projects to do over the dark time of Winter. And my list gets longer lol.  Books I want to read, house projects to do, projects associated with my Craft such as getting my herbalist class going, working on my BOS, and some witchy crafts too.  I often feel that Autumn is too, too short of a season, it goes by so fast I think because it’s my favorite.  Winter, to me, often is a very long season…which I think is a good thing!  I have already found myself staying indoors more, except on these really warm days we’re experiencing right now!  As I said before, it’s nesting…..loving my home and being in it!

For my Solstice celebrations, I most definitely clean the house well, make sure I have lots of candles and firewood, stock up the pantry for cooking and baking, and do as much ahead of time as I can.  For me, and for many I know, the Solstice is not so much about families and friends gathering, not about gift giving, not about a huge feast and loud, noisy parties.  It’s more about a simple meal, quiet introspection, offerings to our Gods and Mother Earth,  and dwelling in the darknesss, in a content and joyful way.  It’s about quiet meditation, reflecting on the year ahead and what we wish to leave behind.  I often will get up early to toast the Sun as he/she rises.  I say he to cover those who think of the Sun as the Male God rising again, and I say she for those who think of her as Sister Sun.  You can fill it in as you wish 🙂 Whether you toast with a mimosa,  a cup of coffee or a glass of water, the ritual holds meaning.  It’s representative of the days starting to lengthen and we know there is hope that after Winter we will have Spring.  My coven has decided to meet on January 3. To allow everyone time with their families at this busy time of year.  We all look forward to it very much.  It’s a feast of desserts, coffee, hot chocolate and our fun gift exchange..all around a fire.  Perfect!

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My Yule Altar 2015

My Solstice/Yule altar is always one of my favorites I do each year.  I set it up early in December and have enjoyed using it each day.  I have a new Goddess statue..Elen of the Ways which I’m in love with.  I’ll be talking more about her in another blog soon.  Not the statue, but Elen herself.  🙂  I love my real deer antler, my YULE log my hubby drilled holes in for me, and of course all the red and green crystals, candles, and my elemental representatives. I’ve had the beautiful deer for years now and it brings me joy every time I see it.  The vase is filled with Rosemary…a gift from the garden of one of my coven sisters.  Her Rosemary was still going strong with all the warm weather we’ve been having and she made sure I had some.  It smells so good!  I’ll be adding more greens on top of my Yule log and some cakes and ale the night of the Solstice.

For crafty things I like to do this time of year.  Feed the birds with peanut butter covered bagles dipped in bird seed.  String cereal like a garland.  Gather bits of yarn, fur, dryer fuzz and put everything out for the birds..they will love it!  Make orange pomanders. Make beautiful oil blends and use them to anoint candles, your altar, yourself.  Gather some dried herbs and make herbed salts, oils and vinegars for gifts.  Bake bread and take a loaf to a neighbor.  Gather the grandkids or kids and make lots of cookies.  Even better, make dog biscuits and share them with all the dogs in your life.

Don’t forget to donate!  Clean out your closets and cupboards and take them to Goodwill or a homeless shelter or a battered woman’s shelter.  Donate dog and cat food to your local shelter..better yet, take home a pet that needs a home!  Give to Toys for Tots, Books for kids, the Red Cross, Salvation Army, adopt a family, send a military shoe box, and/or volunteer at a soup kitchen or food pantry.  You’ll be all the better for it! Give, give, give to be truly grateful with what you have!

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My hearth fires burning

I love to burn candles all over the house, and to keep off of all electronics!  I’ll often journal, read, scry in the fire…Oh..there MUST be a fire in the hearth of course! That goes without saying 🙂  Soup and bread are often my preferred meal (my family loves that too) and we just have a quiet peaceful night.  Stepping outside to make my offerings, absorb the energy from Earth and Grandmother Moon as well.  And to listen…listen to the quiet of Winter…it’s so peaceful. Keep in mind that our Mother Earth is also resting, rejuvenating, and readying for when Spring blooms again.  Then, a good night’s sleep and I’ll be ready to hop back into the much more chaotic holiday of Christmas that comes a few days later!

Ritual for any Sabbat doesn’t have to be organized or methodical.  When I first started blogging, I often shared actual rituals that I had found online or in books.  Now, I just tell you what I do.  What I do at my altar..well, that’s between me and my Goddess as they say.  The words I use, the tools I use, the feelings I emote and the goals I’m trying to manifest are my own.  I have many friends who are new to the Craft, or maybe aren’t so new, but get bogged down in worrying about rhyming words, what color the stones should be, or where the candles should go on the altar.  I say…..it’s YOUR Path….do what feels right to you. Period.  Your intentions and your inner Magick and your relationship with your God/Goddess is all that matters.  You’ll be heard!

I’ll be back in a day or two with a few recipes I thought I’d share. I’d like to remind you that you can search for Yule or Winter Solstice in the search box on the right ———> for more posts like the correspondences, recipes, poems and quotes etc.  I see many of you are finding them already.  🙂  In the meantime, have a wonderful week!

Love and Blessings, Autumn

 

 

 

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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!!

 

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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

 

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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 🙂

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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

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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

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.

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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

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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

The Wheel Turns to Mabon 2014…………

applesMerry Meet my friends.  Can you believe it? September has arrived! I am so glad!!  We are going through a really hot and humid spell here as I know many of you are as well.  Summers last hurrah I think.  We are very quickly going into my favorite half of the year. I feel a quickness in my step, my energy level is shifting and my mind has turned to cleaning, cleansing and decorating the house, cleaning up the flower beds, harvesting the last of my herbs and veggies, and getting ready to celebrate Mabon.  The 2nd harvest festival!

 

“Mist blankets the morning garden and the empty fields; a last rose blooms slowly over the arbor by the backyard gate.  Paintbox leaves fall to the ground under galoshes and the wheels of slicker-yellow school buses.  Sweaters come out of cedar chests, soup pots simmer, and wild geese make their mercurial journey southward across the pale autumn sky.”

-from Simple Wicca by Michelle Morgan

  Mabon which is on September 23rd this year, marks the Autumn Equinox, the balance of night and day and the first day of Autumn.  It is a time for thanksgiving, and rest.  Our ancestors at this point were busy filling the larders with preserved fruits and vegetables, smoked meats, aged cheeses, flour, wheat, cider and wine etc.  The thanksgiving was for the bounty the Summer crops had given them (hopefully) and the “rest” was much deserved.  Great feasts were held with an abundant table of food and drink, dancing and enjoying the last warm days of the year.

 For us, it’s also a time to be thankful for our own little garden’s bounty, for what the farmers have grown and harvested for our grocery shelves or farmer’s market, and to know that all the hard work in our gardens is about done for the year.  Putting the garden beds to “bed” for the Winter, depending on where you live, may still be yet to come.

Mabon also means the Goddess is passing from Mother to Crone and the God is preparing for death and re-birth. The trees are starting to change into their Fall tapestry of colors, the nights are colder and longer, the Sun casts long shadows, woodfires are lit, blankets are aired out and thrown on beds and sofas, the oven has something made with apples and cinnamon baking, and the stove top has spiced cider and hot soup simmering.  Sweaters, picking apples, carving pumpkins, hot drinks, warm bread with preserved jams, critters gathering and nesting, birds flocking and filling their bellies, hay rides, corn mazes, nature walks, the Harvest Moon…everything you can think of that is most wonderful about Autumn is upon us!

autumn sunset

My celebration of Mabon is always a thanksgiving ritual, a feast with family and friends, an outdoor fire if weather permits, an offering for Mother Earth and the Fae for all their hard work, and reflection on my year that is ending at Samhain. It’s also about letting go and renewing, re-assessing, and thinking about how I’d like to spend the more quiet months to come in Winter.  And baking..did I say baking?  What is it about this time of year that makes me want to bake?  Breads, pies, cakes, cookies…..things made with spices, apples, pumpkin…..it doesn’t matter, I just want to bake! 🙂  How about you?  My Circle will gather as well for our celebration too. I’m thinking a soup and bread feast sounds wonderful!

I will be back soon with some recipes to share with you! Remember too that you can go to the Search box to the right here and type in Mabon for the past 4 years of recipes, rituals, information etc!  In the meantime, I’d love to hear how YOU celebrate Mabon!  Have a wonderful week!

Blesssings and Love, Autumn

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Filed under Autumn, Family, Friends, Gardens, God, Goddess, Holiday, Mabon, Mother Earth, My Writing, Nature, Quote, Ritual, Samhain, Seasons, Spice, Summer, Winter

The Wheel Turns to Lughnasadh/Lammas 2014……

Merry Meet my friends!  How are you all this fine day?  How has your Summer been so far? My Summer has been wonderful really.  We have had numerous days that stayed in the 70’s giving us a reprieve from the normal HOT and Humid days of July. We’ve had a good amount of rain, so lawns are still green and growing like crazy.  I’ve done two harvest on my herbs already and they are growing strong still…heading to a 3rd harvest.  Our garden beds and veggies have loved the rain and the cooler nights too so our flowers are still budding and blooming.  The SuperMoon was pretty amazing too…such energy!!

 

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Now…can you believe it…we are just 11 days from Lughnasadh/Lammas! The first Harvest festival!  Have you noticed that the wheel is turning to Fall?   The nights are getting longer again, the Sunlight has changed, the critters are gathering, even some of my bushes/plants leaves are changing colors already.  Corn is high is the fields, sunflowers are blooming, and yes, Halloween and Fall stuff are coming out in the craft shops 🙂  While we have a bit of Summer left…the subtle changes are there.

“The summer air is hot and still, the afternoon hazy; crickets call relentlessly from among the brown grasses, and ears of corn are the same heavy, burnished gold as the late-day sun. Hawks circle in the blue-white sky overhead, and seedpods ripen where flowers bloomed just a month before.

 But shadows begin to lengthen along the garden wall, and the nights come, just a bit cooler, perhaps; a settling begins in the Earth, a gathering, a slow, quiet turning toward the coming darkness.”

-Simple Wicca by Michelle Morgan

 

For Lughnasadh, I love to do a few things.  Harvest my herbs (which I’ve just done), make herbed oils and vinegars, and bake bread!!  Making breads from good grains to celebrate the harvest is a favorite thing to do for me.  And the scents that come from that put me in mind of Autumn immediately!  It won’t be long before apples and pumpkins will be everywhere and that just makes me want to bake too!

Magickally, I do a simple outdoor ritual to honor the first harvest, keeping in mind that our ancestors were VERY busy at this time of year to ensure that they had ample food for the Fall and long Winter that was to come.  Planting, tending, harvesting, and storing food took a great effort in order for them to eat when they could not just go to a grocery store like we do.  I love to do some canning this time of year too….this year I’m thinking apple butter, strawberry jam and I might try my hand at pickles 🙂  Seeing pretty jars of colorful goodness in my pantry just makes me happy..and reminds me how Blessed we are in our time.  Kitchen Witchin too makes this Witch very happy!

 

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Having said that, I know that some people aren’t as well off as others. There are people who don’t have enough food.  Keeping this in mind, donating to food pantries or your own neighbors who may need a little help, is a kind thing to do.  Share your harvest if you can.  I often pass tomatoes and fresh homemade bread over the fence to my neighbor, Jane.  No, she’s not hungry…but she lives alone and she is always thrilled to get something I pass over to her.  It makes me happy to do it too.

I thought I’d share a recipe with you for a muffin that is wonderful this time of year. I made them the other day, when we were cool and I was thinking about Fall all day 🙂  Filled with apples and cinnamon and crunchy topping..they are a huge hit at my house!

 

Autumn’s Apple Crunch Muffins

1 1/2 cups sifted flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 cup soft butter

1 egg, slightly beaten

1/2 cup milk

1 cup Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced (or your favorite apple )

 

Topping

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

*Blend these ingredients in a small bowl.

 

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon in a mixing bowl.  Cut in butter until fine crumbs form.  Set aside.  Combine milk and egg and add to dry mixture.  Blend well.  Stir in apples; blend well.

Spoon batter into muffin cups, filling about two-thirds full.  Sprinkle with brown sugar topping mix.

Bake at 375* for 25 mins or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.

*makes 12

**ok…it says it makes 12…I only got 8 nice big muffins.  If you want more….I suggest you double the recipe.  Then take some to your neighbor 🙂

 

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These muffins will put you in a Lughnasadh state of mind…I promise 🙂  I want to wish you all a very Blessed Lughnasadh.  I hope your Harvest is abundant, your Joys plentiful, and that Goddess Blesses you this day and every day!

Oh…don’t forget that you can find the past 5 years of Lughnsasadh/Lammas postings, recipes, info etc by typing it in the search box on the right side here 🙂

 

Blessings and Love, Autumn

*Pictures are my own.

 

 

 

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I <3 Herbs……Peppermint!

Happy Sun day my friends!  I hope that you are all having a wonderful Litha/Solstice weekend.  I know I have been.  Today, as I said in my Wheel Turns to Litha blogpost,  I am actually on my way to the beautiful, magickal Smoky Mountains for several days with all my family.  I’m so excited to be in the mountains again…it always feels like I’m going home when I go there!

Today, this blogpost is again attached to my writing at The Sunday Stew.  You will find a partial posting there and the entire post and info here.  With my new blog look, just click on The Sunday Stew cauldron at the right here -> and it will take you straight to it.  Also, if you want to print out this info for your BOS or herb book…you will see the link at the bottom of this post to do that.  So here we go!

 

 

Peppermint

 

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While mint plants flourish all over the world, they are native to the Mediterranean and were spread by the Roman Empire. A Greek myth tells of an elderly couple taking the time to wipe down their table with mint leaves before serving a meal to traveling strangers. When the strangers revealed themselves as the Gods Zeus and Hermes, the couple was rewarded and the herb was then associated with hospitality! There is nothing nicer too, then visiting with friends over a nice cup of Peppermint tea.

 

People have used Peppermint for thousands of years. The ancient Egyptians, Romans and Greeks added it to meat dishes and wine and utilized the leaves as a decoration for special occasions. Peppermint oil has antibacterial and antiseptic qualities. Herbalists prescribe Peppermint tea as a remedy for chest congestion, stomach troubles and headaches….and recommend Peppermint skin lotion as a pain reliever. Peppermint oil also enhances the fragrance of potpourri, cosmetics, shampoos, soaps and perfumes. Its leaves and oil add flavor to salads, desserts, teas, and sauces, as well as breath mints, chewing gum, toothpaste and mouthwash.

 

Growing Mint

 

For the best leaf production, mint should be planted in full to partial sunlight. It will grow in most types of soil, but thrives best when it’s not constantly wet. The plants can be counted to reproduce on their own, but additional plants can be grown by stem and root cuttings. The mint plant is notorious for running rampant in gardens! Many gardeners choose to grow them in containers to prevent gardens from becoming nothing but dedicated mint beds! (So far, I’m controlling my mint ok….we’ll see what happens J) However, with containers, you have to be careful the pot is big enough so you don’t get root bound and the plant dies. That happened to me last year and I was so bummed! The spread can be kept to a manageable level by steadily harvesting the leaves of the plant. Peppermint plants grow to about 2 feet tall if allowed. Tiny oil glands in the leaves release volatile oils, giving the plants their wonderful fragrance.

 

 

Hybrids

 

There is an amazing number of mint hybrids out there now. Peppermint and Spearmint are the two most traditional forms. Smooth-leaved peppermint has the most potent amount of menthol, while spearmint, with toothed and often curly leaves, has a sweeter flavor. Varieties with a hint of fruit flavor abound! Including apple, orange, pineapple, lemon, lime and even banana! And yes, there is Chocolate mint….it’s growing in my garden and it’s wonderful!

 

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In the front is Peppermint..moving clockwise is Pineapple Mint,

Then Spearmint, and then really wonderful Chocolate mint.

 

Drying Mint Leaves

 

The simplest way is to cut the stems down low on the plant….wrap a bunch of them together and hang them upside down to dry in a warm, dry place. I hang mine from hooks in my ceiling. I’ve also used a peg board and a clothes drying rack. If the leaves are removed from the stem, just spread out on a clean metal screen, a tray, a basket and let them dry. You can also dry them in a low temp oven.

 

Culinary Uses

 

Mint leaves can be added to mixed greens in a salad, can be candied or jellied, and can be made into a simple syrup. Mint is often used in sauces for lamb dishes and are a popular way to flavor peas. They can flavor homemade ice cream and granitas. One of my favorite ways to have mint is crushed into mint juleps or mojitos! They can also be made into wonderful herbed ice cubes that make tea, lemonade and just water so refreshing!

 

Medicinal Uses

 

Peppermint, in tea form, aids upset stomachs, flu and can be used to ease hiccups. Inhalation of the leaves in boiling water is recommended for head colds and asthma. Mint tea can be used instead of aspirin for headaches, especially menstrual –related headaches. Some headaches can be relieved if you lie down in a dark room with fresh peppermint leaves on the forehead or a bit of peppermint essential oil on your temples. (be careful your skin is ok with that first) Mint aids in respiratory and circulatory systems, it’s also an anti-inflammatory and an antiseptic. It’s ideal for treating indigestion, flatulence, varicose veins, skin irritations, rheumatism, toothache and general fatigue. I, for one, find Peppermint spray brings me out of the “lazies”. Peppermint oil can help to relieve earaches when a few drops are placed in the ear. The oil or a mesh bag of the leaves in your bath is wonderful when you have a cold or need to soothe your skin, or to re-energize yourself!

Peppermint tea with honey soothes a sore throat. A few drops of the essential oil mixed with water and applied to a cloth, will help burning and itching skin, sunburn and relieve when you get overheated. As a lover of all things herbal, I love to add some peppermint, lemon and lavender essential oils to witch hazel…it makes a wonderful body/face spray to cool you too. Peppermint is a necessity in every Witch’s cupboard and garden bed! It’s in my top five!!

 

Magickal Properties

 

Gender: Masculine

Planet: Mercury or Venus

Element: Air

Deity: Zeus and Hermes

Magickal attributes: Money, healing, strength, augments power, luck, travel, cleansing, consecration, dreams, happiness, love, passion, prosperity, protection, psychic development, purification, release, renewal, rest, sleep, animals, divination, endings, energy, exorcism, grieving, spirit offerings, success and transformation.

 

To use Peppermint in Magick….these are just some of the ways:

 

-Mint is a premier healing herb and can be used in healing charms, baths and incenses

-For a bath, place leaves in a mesh bag and hang under the running tap, or add a few drops of the oil to the water before you get in.

-Use to increase the vibrations of a space or in spells and incense for purification and healing

-Place in a sleep pillow to ensure peaceful sleep and bring about prophetic dreams

-Use to anoint your altar, body and candles

-Burn in your home to clear illness and negative energy

-Use in magickal workings to provide to gear up the energy level

-Carry in a mojo bag to boost healing, love and abundance

-Make a tea and sprinkle the water around your home to bring peace, happiness and protection

-Drink it for its ability to enhance your power before doing a ritual, spell or meditation

-Carry a few leaves in your wallet to bring money and prosperity and success

-Use the oil in a burner, in room or body sprays or as a simmering pot on the stove to lift the spirit and energy in your home

-Grow it…for protection, prosperity, health, luck and abundance!

 

To print this out click on this link  Peppermint 2

 

As I say…Every Witch should have Peppermint in her top 5 (my opinion) of herbs in her garden and cupboard.  Oh and the essential oil too is a must!!  Have a wonderful day and continue to have fun, to feast,to dance, and celebrate the longer days…the lazy, hazy crazy days of Summer!!

 

Blessings and Love, Autumn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Wheel Turns to Litha..the Summer Solstice 2014..

 

“it’s a smile, it’s a kiss, it’s a sip of wine … it’s Summertime!”
― Kenny Chesney

 

IMG_0918Merry Meet my friends. I hope this night finds you and yours well! The Full Strawberry/Honey/Mead Moon (whichever YOU call Her) was absolutely incredibly beautiful and powerful. After all, with it being Friday the 13th and Mercury being in retrograde…She had to be! I spent extra time under Her influence…still am!.. as She’s still beautiful tonight. The energy is palpable if you sit quiet and soak Her in. Crystals and tools have been re-charged, Moon water made and rituals done. House was smudged too. 🙂

The Summer Solstice, Litha, MidSummer….it’s just a week away on the 21st! The longest day of the year..but also the start of the days shortening. That’s so amazing to think about..especially since Summer is just starting! But at my age LOL..the Wheel turns fast, so I’ll be enjoying every minute of those daylight hours, Hot Sun, warm breezes, green grass, blooming flowers and herbs, lightning bugs, summer rain showers, etc etc. All the perks of Summer. Even though the HEAT is not my favorite thing..I will enjoy it 🙂

This year, Litha will be a quiet, solitary celebration on the day. My Circle won’t meet til the following weekend. However, my family leaves for the Smoky Mountains the day after..the 22nd. To know I’ll be in my favorite Mountains for the Solstice is just…well…Magickal to me. I can’t wait!! When I travel, I carry a portable altar kit..mostly candles, incense, small crystals to bury, my pendulum, lavender oil, etc. Whatever strikes me I might want or need. Taking a walk into the Mountain woods, results in a bit of Magick for me! My soul just sings when I’m in those Mountains and the woods there.

The Solstice is when I always put out new Witch’s protection bottles on my property, set up and re-fresh my wards and barriers, and make offerings to the Fae…though I do that ALL the time while gardening, I am always sure to do it again. Also, my herbs are usually ready for their first harvesting. That is one of my favorite things to do! Smelling, touching, talking to, harvesting, tying and hanging my herbs just makes me so happy. AND I know most of them…will bloom again one or two more times before the end of the season. They are growing leaps and bounds in our wonderful weather. It’s not been too hot and we’ve had good amounts of rain, which is sooo much better then watering with a hose 🙂 It will be a good harvest!

If you want information on how to do a Witch’s bottle..just type it into the search box on the right. It should come up with how I do it. Also, if you type in Litha and/or Summer Solstice..you will find previous years postings of recipes, correspondence and other info etc. I thought I’d share this recipe with you for now….it’s refreshing and uses healthy produce and herbs that are abundant this time of year!

 

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Strawberry Balsamic Salad

1 (7 ounce) package Baby Spinach or 1 (7 ounce) package baby romaine lettuce
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1/2 cup goat cheese or 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Balsamic vinaigrette
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves, chopped
crushed salt and black pepper

Whisk vinegar and olive oil in small bowl. Add basil and season with salt and pepper.

Combine spinach or romaine and strawberries in large bowl.

Add vinaigrette; gently toss to evenly coat.

Divide salad among 4 plates. Sprinkle each salad with cheese and pine nuts

*Personally, I’d double the the oil and vinegar for the dressing..leaving the basil in the same amount give….if you like  a bit more dressing.  But I like it with JUST balsamic too 🙂
This would be lovely with some crusty bread and a glass of wine..a perfect Solstice feast!
However YOU celebrate the Solstice, I hope you have a beautiful, longest day of the year and enjoy every moment of it. Be lazy, be active, walk barefoot, swim, catch lightning bugs, eat watermelon, take a long walk in the cool woods…Connect and enjoy the Sun! I’ll be back again soon!  Be sure to check out the Sunday Stew again (just click on the Sunday Stew Chef cauldron on the right column.)   My recipe for Carmelite Water..using lemon balm will be posted.  A great sipping drink to enjoy with medicinal value as well! Also lots of other great Solstice recipes and writings and info.  Have a great week and leave me a message about YOUR Solstice plans..I’d love to hear!!
swing-seat-in-garden-country-homes-and-interiors-housetohome-co-uk
It was June, and the world smelled of roses.
The sunshine was like powdered gold over the grassy hillside.
~Maud Hart Lovelace

Blessings and Love, Autumn

 

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