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Merry Christmas to all……

christmas-candle-douglas-pulsipherMerry Meet my friends!  In the midst of baking and celebrating, I thought I’d do a quick post. I have a simmering potpourri on the stove imparting amazing scent throughout my home. I have bacon appetizers just out of the oven (also adding amazing scent!), no bake cookies are done and I’m about to make my Scottish Shortbread cookies as well. We have had neighbors stopping by with small gifts for us and we gave them their gifts from us and visited a bit. My mom sent over her famous cranberry meatballs for us and my brother to enjoy for dinner tomorrow night.  There have been phone calls and texts to dear friends this morning and it’s been a wonderful day so far.

As I wrote the other day, our Eve and day of Christmas are actually quite quiet and relaxed.  Our extended family won’t gather until Saturday, and my other daughter and her family will be here on Sunday for our day of feasting, visiting and gift exchanging. I am rather enjoying the leisure of this couple of days.  After the baking is done, we’ll be reading, watching movies, and relaxing tonight. My brother will be here tomorrow and overnight, and there will be more of the same then. It’s quite lovely! Add a fire (despite the warmth outside) and lit candles and soft music and it’s a perfect Winter evening.

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As I write, my daughter Sara and I are listening to “A Christmas Carol” on Audible, narrated by Tim Curry.  It’s very well done and I recommend it!  The Sun is shining and it’s nearly 60*!!  Way too warm for this time of year in Ohio!  My hubby is actually painting the trim work outside around our new front door we got a week or so ago lol.  The back door is cracked open, we’ve filled the bird feeders and we hear them singing as they happily feed. While I love Winter and snow and such, I’m doing my best to enjoy this extended warmth as it will be gone soon I’m sure 🙂

For those of you who celebrate Christmas..whether it be a secular, family, Santa day, or you celebrate the birth of Jesus, or you celebrate the Solstice or something else….I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Holiday, Blessed Yule, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza and all the other ways you can celebrate this Yuletide Season.  Remember, we are one human race, no matter our differences, with much more in common than not! As Tiny Tim says  “Gods Bless us every one”!  And in the case of my Pagan/Witch friends..Goddess Bless you all!

And don’t forget…it’s a rare Full Christmas Moon! Be sure to take in Her energy!  I’m happy I’ll be able to see Her!

 “There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,’ returned the nephew. ‘Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”
-Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Love and Blessings, Autumn

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Filed under Books, Christmas, Holiday, Pagan, Quote, Seasons, Uncategorized, Winter, Witch, Yule/Winter Solstice/Chrismas

Merry Yule/Winter Solstice 2015 and Recipes!…….

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Where I’m sitting right now!

Merry Meet my friends…I’m sitting by the fire on this the longest night of the year, in my pj’s with a glass of mulled wine at hand.  My daughter and I are watching “A Christmas Story” and I suddenly remembered that I hadn’t written my post yet for Yule!  I’m so sorry, but better late than never 🙂  I really did want to share some recipes with you that will come in handy the next 10 days or so.

It’s pouring rain, gloomy and windy here and we are on another week of unseasonable temperatures! Record highs in the mid 60’s are expected!  I so wish it was snow and not rain!  I ran my last couple of errands to do today and I have about 10 packages to wrap and I’m officially all ready for the holidays….. except for a trip to the grocery early tomorrow morning. I’m hoping I can avoid some of the crowds doing that.  I’m looking forward to a more quiet Christmas as my family gatherings will be over the weekend rather than the eve or the day of.  So reading and relaxing is high on my agenda lol.  And yes, those who know me, know that I do gather with my family for Christmas.  It’s not a religious holiday for me at all, but it is for many of my family members that I love, so I celebrate with them, but in my own way.  As a family time together, celebrating with gifts and food and love and joy!

Tonight, I will do some altar work, use my hearth fire to burn that which I wish for, and those things I wish to let go, and I will make time to honor my favored Goddess Hekate.  Tomorrow morning, I’ll be up early, toasting the rising of the Sun (whether I can actually see  him/her or not) and make my offerings to Mother Earth.  The day will be spent partially with family, and then quiet and introspective tomorrow evening. The fire is burning merrily. The house is smudged and candles are lit. I have bayberry, frankincense, pine, orange, clove and cinnamon scents going with the help of incense, candles and a simmering potpourri.  Our feast, which we’ll have tomorrow night, will just be soup, salad and bread. Simple and good.

Foods for Yule are traditionally:  Nuts, apples, caraway cakes soaked with cider, pears, ginger tea, roasted turkey, fruitcake,  cookies, eggnog, mulled wine, and pork dishes.  But there are other foods as well associated with the season such as gingerbread, ham, cranberries, pomegranates, mince pies, and frankly, whatever else your family tradition is!  What are your foods that your family just MUST have on the table for your Yule/Christmas/New Year’s feast?  Well, I’ll share a couple of recipes here with you that my family loves, as I have in past postings.  I see through my blog stats that MANY of you are checking out all my previous posts for Yule/Solstice and I so appreciate that.  Thank you!  Hope you like these too!

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Red and Green Pear Salad

1/3 cup walnut pieces
3 Tbs cider vinegar
1 Tbs honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
8 oz mixed baby greens
2 pears, such as Bartlett, cored and sliced
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
1 oz  blue cheese, crumbled

Toast walnut pieces your favorite way. Pour onto a plate to cool and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. Add the olive oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly until the dressing is smooth.
Add the greens, pears, pomegranate seeds and walnuts to the bowl with the dressing and toss gently to coat. Divide the salad among 4 plates, garnish with the cheese and serve immediately. Serves 4.

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Merry Yule Fruitcake Bars

*even if you hate fruitcake..try these!

3/4 cup butter, softened
1-3/4 cups packed brown sugar
3 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups coarsely chopped walnuts
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped candied pineapple
1-3/4 cups red and green candied cherries, halved
2 cups pitted dates, halved

In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Stir in vanilla. Add flour and walnuts; mix well. Spread evenly into a greased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan. Sprinkle with pineapple, cherries and dates; press lightly into dough.
Bake at 325° for 45-50 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack. Cut into bars.

Yield: 8 dozen.

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Solstice Mulled Wine

2 (750 ml) bottles of dry white wine
2 oranges, sliced into rounds
1/2 cup brandy (optional)
1/2 cup honey or sugar
16 whole cloves
4 cinnamon sticks
4 star anise
optional garnishes: citrus slices (orange, lemon and/or lime), extra cinnamon sticks, extra star anise

Combine all ingredients in a non-aluminum saucepan, and bring to a simmer (not a boil..it will boil the alcohol right out of it!) over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and let the wine simmer for at least 15 minutes or up to 3 hours. Strain, and serve warm with your desired garnishes.

Yum!  Sounds warm and cozy doesn’t it?!

I hope you give these a try over the holidays.  Don’t forget, you can do a search in the box over there ——> under Yule or Winter Solstice to find more from previous years.

Remember that tonight and tomorrow night if you wish, is all about the longest night of the year and knowing that the Sun returns and the days will lengthen once again.  Think about what our ancestors were thinking on this night.  They were hoping they had enough food put away for the long, hard Winter.  Winter was hard, no doubt!  Isolation, hard work, chopping wood for warmth, and making sure that their livestock survived the long, cold, dark season..along with themselves, had to be a scary time for them.  We are so blessed these days. But for tonight, perhaps pretend what it was like to be them.  Light a fire and keep it stoked.  Light candles all over the house. Turn off the tv, get off the electronics (which I will do as soon as I’m done with this writing 🙂 and perhaps just sit quietly and think, ponder, remember, cherish or make new memories.  What do you wish for yourself and your loved ones in the coming months? What do you need to let go of to be happy and content in your life.  Are there relationships to repair or depart from?  Is there a project you want to take on over the Winter?  Do you have a huge stack of books you’ve been dying to read?  (I do! )  Well, now you will have the time…most likely.

Blessed  Yule/Winter Solstice my dear friends.  May Winter be kind to you, may Goddess bless you with all the good things in Life, and I thank you so much for your friendship and interest in reading my little blog and letting me know you enjoy it.  I so much appreciate it!

I share this poem most every Solstice time because I love it so much.  This year is no different! Enjoy!

The Shortest Day

by Susan Cooper

So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!

 

Love and Blessings, Autumn

 

 

 

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The Wheel Turns to Imbolc 2015…….

“Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle

 a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl.

 And the anticipation nurtures our dream.”
–  Barbara Winkler

imagesCA48N7RIMerry Meet my friends and Blessed Imbolc Eve!  I have been very remiss about writing in my blog and I’m sorry for it. Before I go further though, this post is my 200th blog post and I have been blogging now for 5 years! I can’t believe it’s been that long! I want to thank you all so much, my readers and friends, for showing any interest in my writings. I very much appreciate you!

Since the holidays I have been busy enjoying Winter!  I have been reading like crazy which was one of my goals I set at New Years.  Even following a couple of book challenges and I’m enjoying it tremendously.  I’m one of those people who have a house full of books, including some shelves of books I have yet to read.  I love reading and Winter for me is the perfect time for it.  How about you? Are you reading more when forced to be indoors more?

Another thing I’ve been working on is making up an herbal chest for medicinal use.  If you’re a fan of Outlander ..books and series…by Diane Gabaldon, you might know what I’m talking about. I adore everything Outlander!   I made up a chest much like Claire’s “wee” box of medicinals.  I’ve added all the herbs that to me have a purpose of use for good health, healing, calming etc.  I’ve of course added essential oils, and things like gauze, bandages, scissors, tweezers, thermometer, and some modern day meds too.  Have a tummy ache, I have candied ginger, fennel seeds, or peppermint herb for tea. In pain, I have nettle tea or arnica salve.  Have a cut, I have my own healing salve. You get the idea 🙂  It was a lot of fun to do.

But while we are smack dab in the middle of Winter here in Ohio, tomorrow is Imbolc.  When day and night are equal and we recognize that the light extends each day and takes us to the first day of Spring in March.  We honor Brighid on Imbolc by keeping a fire on the hearth and inviting her into our homes with the use of a corn dolly, Brighid’s cross, or Bride’s bed.  I like to light candles all over the house, and at midnight swing open the doors and invite to come to my hearth bringing peace, protections, joy and abundance to my home for the year. Imbolc is also about doing our Spring cleaning both in our homes and in our own attitudes and situations. Throwing out those things that are no longer useful, old, raggedy, ugly, joyless…clearing our spaces of clutter leaves us open to new possibilities and bringing light into our dark places.

I have been working on my home for a couple weeks now. Attacking the cobwebs in the corners, cleaning out drawers and closets, making the hard decisions of do I really need this or want this in my home? Rugs and curtains and throw blankets and bed linens all getting washed and scented.  I have used herbal vinegar waters to mop and clean windows (not that you can tell after the rains lol) I organized my file cabinet, pitched papers no longer needed and filed what I do need in a better way.  Even my Witch cupboard got a good cleaning out today…pitching old herbs and incense (or burning them in our fire) cleansing crystals and my tools, salting and saging everything.  It was fun and it looks and smells great!  (picture isn’t great because our power was out for awhile today..but you can see how neat it is lol)

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Gardeners are beside themselves knowing Winter is halfway over.  I know several witchy gardeners who have ordered their seeds, planned their garden beds and are dreaming of digging in the dirt again.  I myself ordered 18 packets of seeds today….a mix of herbs, veggies and flowers.  Can’t wait to get them.  Planning your gardens are a great way to spend these cold Winter days.

 

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Tonight, it’s pouring rain.  We didn’t get the snow expected..like nothing! I’m so bummed lol.  But it’s a good night for quiet and contemplation, lit candles and fire.  Besides writing this blog, I’m journaling my thoughts for what I want to manifest in the Spring.  I have written down and will burn those things I want to release in my life.  Old angers, hurts, frustrations, poor habits are all good things to let go of.  I bet you have some of those things you can let go of too?  Try burning it..it’s so satisfying!!!

Imbolc has been one of my favorite Sabbats, as I’ve said before, because it was the first one I really celebrated.  That magickal feeling I got when I washed my floors and windows with herbal washes, lit white and red candles, cleansed my home and invited Goddess Brighid to join us in our home…well, I get that feeling still 16 years later. I want to wish all of you a very Blessed Imbolc.  May Brighid bring you all wonderful things for the coming year.  May the rest of the Winter be kind to you too…remember Spring will come!

 

Blessings and Love, Autumn

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The Wheel Turns to Yule 2014………..

We begin in the heart of the darkness.  Winter is full upon the Earth; snow veils the landscape, thin trees are brittle with ice, and stars shatter the black mirror of the sky. 

The air is cold, metallic, sharp to breathe; scarves of woodsmoke drift in the sky over rooftops outlined with twinkling lights, and porch lamps gleam from early in the afternoon until long into the night.

-Michele Morgan  “Simple Wicca” 

10849927_814820488561362_7301182543328316093_nMerry Meet my friends! I have been so busy (as I know all of you have been too) that I haven’t had the time or the energy (maybe more the energy lol) to write in my blog.  Yule is the day after tomorrow!!  I’m ready though. How about you? This year my immediate family…hubby, daughters, son-in-law and grandkids are gathering on Yule Sunday for brunch and our opening of gifts. About 5 years ago we decided to meet as a family on a day other than Christmas Day.  This year we opted for Yule as the date. Christmas is then spent with more extended family…grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins etc.  Other than a few packages yet to wrap and some baking to do tomorrow, I’m ready. How are you doing with your preparations?  Do you have a feast planned?  Family coming over? A more private, solitary day?  Whatever way you celebrate it, I hope that you’ve taken time in the all the busyness to BREATHE!

The Solstice for me…and many Pagans and Witches…is more about a time of quiet contemplation.  Though the Solstice is the first day of Winter, the longest night of the year, it’s also the start of the nights shortening and the days lengthening. Though we have a lot of Winter left, we know that the Wheel turns, the Sun will return and strengthen, and Mother Earth will green and awaken again soon. But in the meantime, the dark time of the year is such a great time for nesting.  To me, nesting is relaxing more, reading more, taking on projects around the house, perhaps writing, painting, working on your book of shadows, crafts, learning something new, and of course hanging by a fire and again….relaxing more. I just seem to have more time (well after the New Year especially) to work on myself a bit too.  To look within, to be silent, to meditate better.  Feeling like I’ve accomplished something over the Winter is always a good thing for me.

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My altar is done…I kept it really simple this year and I think quite elegant. I’ll add more greens tomorrow and of course wine and cakes.  After all my family goes home on Sunday, that evening I’ll have time to spend at my altar.  I’ll be expressing my gratitude for the past year, throwing out what no longer serves or makes me happy, adjusting in my mind attitudes, angers, hurts, and putting out to the Universe (and myself) what I’d like to have happen in my life in the coming New Year.  Now as a Witch, I did some of this at Samhain, the Witches’ New Year. But the New Year calendar- wise…well, it doesn’t hurt to reinforce it. Sometimes I take time to re-dedicate myself to my Path as well.  It’s a quiet, solitary ritual that I enjoy very much.  Especially in the middle of all the hoopla, chaos, drama, fatigue, over-eating, over-drinking, busyness that is the holidays!!!

On Yule night…light lots of candles and bring in the greens!  Sweep out the old, usher in the new, spend quiet time, contemplate, read, relax….and know that you’ll have time to do this more over the next few months. Maybe a good snow will come and force you to stay in and that’s even better!  In a few days, if you celebrate it, Christmas will be here and gone as well…then the New Year.  Then Winter will be here in all it’s cold, stark beauty, and you can take a deep breath and say…..AAAAHHHHH!!!  I know for many, seasonal depression can set in.  Try to find something that interests you, makes you happy. Be alone when you need it and with friends and family when you need that. Be kind to yourself. Find the good things in your Life and hold on to them.  Spring will come again..it always does.

Have a very Blessed Yule my friends.  May the Mighty Ones bestow you with Peace, Love and Joy this Yuletide Season.

Blessings and Love, Autumn

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Filed under Altars, Christmas, Family, Quote, Winter, Yule, Yule/Winter Solstice/Chrismas

A Yule Poem and Solstice celebration…..

Merry Meet my lovely friends.  How is your Yule/Christmas preparations going?  If you’re like me, you’re as busy as can be..running everywhere…shopping, wrapping, baking, visiting and feeling a bit run down, tired and stressed. This time of year can be very hectic but because we are witches we know how to fix that don’t we?  Be sure to take quiet time every day.  Meditation, altar work, ritual baths, moon gazing, fire gazing, candle spells, scented oils and incense and grounding and centering are all ways for us to relax, regroup, and to re-energize our minds and bodies so that we feel better and don’t get so stressed out and tired that we don’t enjoy this time of year.

For us christmas day is about spending time with family, feasting, opening gifts and having a fun filled day.  Yule or Winter Solstice is something quite different.  It’s more about quiet peace, the glow of candles, a yule log burning, a simple meal and reflecting on the past year and what you hope to manifest in the next.  There are many things you can do as a family to celebrate the solstice that will be rewarding and memorable and make the day lovely and relaxing at the same time. 

*Instead of buying gifts, make some together on Yule Day. My daughters, sister and I love to knit and crochet. There are so many things you can make with that skill for loved ones.  Or make something and donate it to a charity such as chemo caps, preemie caps, and blankets for hospice patients. Or you can make homemade decorations for your Yule tree, wreath,  or Yule log.  Cinnamon or Salt dough ornaments shaped like stars, moons, pentacles, apples etc would be a fun family project!

*Go on a nature walk in a nearby woods or nature preserve or on a beach.  Look for a Yule Log for the fireplace or a smaller one simply to decorate the home. Look for natural decorations such as ivy, mistletoe, and pinecones, taking care to only pick what has already fallen. If its snowing, take bird seed, dried corn or shelled peanuts to put out for the birds and furry creatures.  Make snow angels.  Catch snowflakes on your tongue. Sing carols outloud. 

*Collect evergreens to make a Yule Wreath or to put on your Yule log…the scent when you burn the log will be delicious! 

*While sitting around the burning Yule Log, share the stories of Winter Solstice. Each member of the family throws some dried holly sprigs into the fire, saying a farewell to the old year. Talk about your past year together and what you’d like to have happen in your next year.  Perhaps everyone has a favorite memory that could be recorded in a journal or blog.

*Have a Solstice Meal.  Make it as big or as simple as you wish.  Make a cake for the return of the Sun King…maybe put a sunburst on the cake with icing.  Each person can light a candle on the cake and make a wish for the coming year.

*Have the family do a ritual together to wish the Holly King a pleasant journey til he comes back again. 

*Stay up all night and watch the sunrise and toast the Sun King’s return with fresh orange juice or mimosa..then have a nice breakfast and take a long winter’s nap!

Can you think of a tradition you would like to start with your family?  I know you can…you may have some in place already!  One thing I do too..is for myself, I take time at my altar..or outside with the Moon Goddess…to give thanks for the blessings in my life.  I value my time to reflect and be with the Goddess anytime I can.

I found this poem this evening and just loved it…thought I would share it here with you. 

“So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
…They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us – Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!”
– Susan Cooper, The Shortest Dayj
I don’t know who Susan Cooper is but I salute her writing!  She captured Yule perfectly in her beautiful words.  So my dear friends, look for ways to find calm in the raging busyness of the season.  Embrace some time for solitude to regroup and reconnect with the Goddess and your soul.  Have a glass of wine or eggnog in the evening by a fire or a lit candle.  Put your jammies on early and watch a holiday movie.  Kiss under the mistletoe with your honey.  Call old friends you haven’t talked to for awhile…just reconnect with loved ones.  It’s going to be a long winter but each day the sun shines a bit longer and spring will come soon and Mother Earth will wake up and it WILL be green again! 🙂
Yuletide Blessings to you and yours, Autumn

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Filed under Family, Goddess, Mother Earth, Nature, Poem, Yule/Winter Solstice/Chrismas