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Winter Solstice/Yule/Christmas books I love…….

Greetings!  I can’t believe how fast this month is flying by!  I have been so busy preparing for Yule and Christmas that I haven’t had time to write her as quickly as I would have liked to after my last post.  However, I’m about done shopping, most of my Holiday cards are mailed, and I’m ready to start wrapping soon.  It has been softly flurrying here today, quite cold and the Full Moon is peeking thru clouds..looks like it might clear up yet tonight.  Blessed Full Moon to you all by the way!!   I have lit a fire, my healing candles are going, incense burning..my feet are up and I just drank a very delicious eggnog milkshake my hubby brought home for me from Steak and Shake…so so good!  A wonderful way to spend a Full Moon evening.  Later, I’ll go out and spend some time with the Goddess, cleanse a few things, and I’m hoping to catch some Full Moon snow water in a jar.  The Yule Full Moon is to me, a very powerful Full Moon, and I intend to take in that energy to help me get thru this busy and sometimes stressful time of year! 

So, I have several books about Yule, Winter Solstice, pagan customs etc that I just love and I refer to them often.  So let’s get started doing a bit of show and tell……

 

The Winter Solstice….The Sacred Traditions of Christmas  by John Matthews. 

Despite the word Christmas in the title, this book is about the Winter Solstice, how Christmas came about, and the history and lore surrounding the whole Season. Each chapter provides cross-cultural connections to the ideas, customs, and icons of Christmas.  The book starts out discussing Solstice celebrations and lore across the world where the celebration of the Return of the Sun takes place from Egypt, to Rome, to Europe and America.  Saturnalia, the Mummers, the Morris Dancers are all talked about.  At the end of each chapter, there are suggestions for faith-free activities you can do to celebrate the Season..or you can incorporate your faith as you wish.

  The Child of Wonder chapter talks about the different gods across the ages..such as Apollo, Mabon, Osiris, Mithras and yes, Jesus. It talks about the Wise Men and the Star and the Nativity.   The Green Bough chapter discusses the symbolism of the tree, the evergreens, holly, ivy, mistletoe and of course the Yule Log. In Old Sir Christmas we are introduced the the “Santa’s from around the world.  The Solstice Animals …tough chapter for an animal lover…it’s about the slaughter of animals and the rituals about it…for food for the long Winter. I love the activity at the end of this chapter though..how to make soul cakes.   Lastly, the 12 Days of Christmas ….I especially love this chapter. This is not about the carol we all know, but about the true 12 days..from Dec 24 night to January 6th.  There is Snow day, Boxing day, The Feast of Fools day, Bringing in the Boar day and others.  Each day has an activity or ritual you can do to honor the day.  I have incorporated some of them into my own celebration. 

Thruout this book, there is beautiful artwork, drawings, photos….poetry, quotes, recipes and rituals.  I just love this beautiful book.  I suggest you will love it too!!

Pagan Christmas…The Plants, Spirits, and Rituals at the Origins of Yuletide….by Christian Ratsch and Claudia Muller-Ebeling. 

 This book is a beautiful book..about the Ethnobotany (the study of plants) of the Season. It’s about the traditional uses and symbolism of the Yule Season plants…like the fir tree, mistletoe, holly, ivy, evergreens, laurel, yew…even tobacco and mushrooms!   There is info galore on the plants themselves, photos, how and why they are used in ritual, for decorating..ways to use them such as making incense, decorating your home etc.  There are stories from Befana to the Wise Men, From St. Nicholas to Woten.  I especially love all the incense recipes as I love making my own.  Another great book you will learn so much from!

Yule…A Celebration of Light & Warmth…by Dorothy Morrison. 

I love this book and Dorothy Morrison 🙂  This book is chock full of everything about the Solstice.  It has holiday lore from around the world, history, crafts, and  recipes. She explains the traditions behind the symbols of the Season, such as the tree, bells, evergreens, reindeer, gingerbread and lights amongst others.

She talks about the superstitions, and omens that surround the holiday in different countries.  She has some rituals and simple charms you can do as you get ready to celebrate.  A chapter on decking the halls, with craft projects to do.  My favorite..a tree blessing right before you decorate the tree.  There is ideas for parties and gift giving…how to’s included. 

There is a chapter on her personal celebration and a great chapter on things you can do to celebrate every day of the month of December. The final chapter is about is tips on cleaning up AFTER the holidays…what to do with your popcorn strings, how to store your decorations etc.   Also, I love her poetry and there is poetry she has written and  poetry others have written thruout the book. This book is a real keeper!!

The Wheel of the Year..Living the Magical Life…by Pauline Campanelli

This book takes you on a month-by-month journey of the Wheel of the Year and how it is celebrated by Pagans and the Campinellis’ themselves.  Every chapter starts out with a beautiful description of the month and what is going on in nature etc during that month.   December..the Yule month of course…has in it … The Magic of Mistletoe; The Ritual Burning of the Yule Log; Magical Uses of Ashes from the Yule Fire; A Ritual for Cutting Sacred Fir; The Pagan Symbolism of Santa Claus. It talks about wreaths, birds, ornaments and the Oak Moon.  There is a Bayberry Candle Charm, a Yule log ritual, and a cutting the tree ritual.  It ends with some info on New Years Eve and Father Time! 

This book has something for every month and it is one of my all time favorite books..If you don’t have it..it’s a must for your witchy library!!

Sabbats..A Witch’s Approach to Living the Old Ways….Edain McCoy

Edain’s book is awesome as well.  Again, each chapter is about a Sabbat..starting with Samhain and going thru Mabon.  For Yule, she discusses the history and customs and how some of the customs have been preserved in various cultures.  The discusses the fight between the Oak King and the Holly King, the Celts and Druids use of evergreens, the symbolism of the wreath and tree, and again, of course, the burning of the Yule log.  There are recipes for sugar and gingerbread cookies, rituals, some craft ideas and how to make an edible Yule log ..yummy!  There is a nice pathworking meditation that I really love!  There are some correspondences, foods for Yule and a bit about how old christmas carols often have pagan symbology in them.

I love this book …again, a must have! 

Ok…those are my main books….some honorable mentions…..

Wicca in the Kitchen by Scott Cunningham.  ….for recipes for Yule

Witch in the Kitchen by Cait Johnson…again for recipes, a meditation, and a ritual or two…very nice! 

Moon Magick by DJ Conway….Lovely book..a chapter on the Cold Moon, recipes, crafts and a Winter Solstice ritual. 

So these are some of my favorites.  My wishlist would be for more children’s book about Yule and more for us grown- ups too 🙂  Whether you celebrate the Solstice or Christmas..there is something in these books to help you to celebrate it in a beautiful, meaningful way.  The Season is rich in tradition, lore and history..a most beautiful time of year.

If you have a favorite book not listed here..I’d sure like to know about it!  Please write me here and let me know!

My next blog post ..soon..will be recipes.  I’m gonna start gathering them this weekend!  and I’m actually going to be baking this weekend with my daughters and granddaughter.  ah….another beautiful memory in the making!

Blessings and Love, Autumn

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Filed under Books, Books I'm reading, History, Holiday, My Favorite Things, My Writing, Seasons, Winter, Yule/Winter Solstice/Chrismas

Witches Protection Bottle…….

Merry Meet friends! Well Summer has hit here in Ohio with a loud HOT bang! We went from weeks of cool, stormy weather  to 95* Hot and steamy days. That is just the way it is here in Ohio.  The good thing about the hot weather though was that finally the ground dried up and we were able to get out and get dirty working in the yard!  I got my herbs planted in pots and scattered around the yard. We re-did a whole bed in our backyard adding a Weeping crabapple tree and some red-pink knock -out roses.  I planted patio pots with a red/white/blue theme this year that has the most gorgeous deep red geraniums.  There are now  rows of impatience in our front beds,  with  rosemary and lavender for protection and luck.  We still have some space at the side of the porch we want to plant some holly bushes and a couple of hydrangea bushes..one of my favorites.  I am trying to talk hubby into removing a few excess boxwood bushes in the backyard so I can plant a moon garden….white flowers and silvery greens that will glow in the light of the moon.  He isn’t crazy about the idea but I’m working on him LOL !  I will talk him into it for sure! Here’s a few pictures…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Litha or Midsummer is coming up fast now and I need to get busy getting ready.  I’m on the search for the perfect altar cloth to get my altar ready.  I also am starting to collect items I need to make my witch’s protection bottles.  I do these every year at Litha.  Because it is warm out and I can be out at night and be warm and comfortable, I think it’s the perfect time to set out new protection for my home and those I love who dwell within.  If you haven’t ever done a witch’s bottle, you should seriously think about it.  I feel part of my practice is to protect what is mine and what I love and as a Witch I have the capability of doing that.  I like to think of myself as a Warrior Witch..ready to do battle to keep evil away from my door! 

A bit of history….

Witch’s Bottles have been in use in England and the United States since at least the 1600’s. Spell bottles were originally created to destroy the power of an evil magician or witch thought to have cast a spell against the bottle’s creator. They were often ceramic vessels and some had a face on them. They were also walled up into new homes as magical guardians. Spell bottles of this type continued to be used well into the 19th century. These bottles were apparently of English origin. Still, one example made from a glass wine bottle dated at 1740-1750 was found in Pennsylvania in 1976. And so, such protective devices certainly found their way from England to the United States with the colonists. There are over 200 Witch’s Bottles in known museums and they continue to be dug up during construction or gardening projects. 🙂 I always hope I’ll come across one sometime! LOL! The ceramic type of bottle is not made anymore so now it consists of a container, usually glass, filled with various objects of magical potency.

Witch’s bottles are made for a variety of purposes, and are used in numerous ways. Some are buried or otherwise hidden, while others are placed in windows of the home or in other prominent spots. All are concentrations of energy, created and empowered for specific magical purposes. It is a very powerful means of protecting your space and is buried on your property in order to attract all negative things to it, where it traps them. If you move, by all means, then dig it up and either destroy it or bring it to your new home. Now I actually choose to leave mine in place and just put out a new one each year..I like to think of the future residents of this house, happily gardening and coming across my wonderful jars LOL Makes me laugh to think what they might be thinking. 🙂

This Witch Bottle ritual is really great to do on a Full Moon night..the one closest to the Solstice.  The first thing you want to do is decide where you are going to bury it.  I like to put one right at my front porch steps, and one by the back door steps. Some people will put them at the four corners of their property or at the entrance of their driveway.  Live in a condo or an apartment?  No problem.  Just store it in a closet closest to your entry door…out of sight or bury it in a big pot of dirt with a houseplant in it in your entryway.   Once you decide where you are going to put it, dig a hole big enough to sink a your jar into the ground and cover it up well enough that it isnt’ too obvious something is buried there.  Now, get a jar or two…I use  Ball canning jars.  But you can use a snapple bottle, a mayo jar, olive jar..use what you have by all means.  Now it’s time to start collecting your supplies. Put the items on a tray or something that you an keep them all together..don’t put them in the jar yet.   Here is the ritual and what you’ll need……                                                

-A Sturdy, clean, wide-mouthed bottle or jar with a tight lid.
-Soil or sand from the area surrounding your home.
-Something sparkly or shining like small tumbled crystals, beads, sea glass  *I use small crystal pieces with protective qualities*

-A rusty bent nail or two 
-Pieces  of broken glass
-Dried herbs-  Mint, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, Thyme
-A new penny or other coin
-Some loose hair from any pets in your home
-Some hair from all living in the home

-A magickal spell candle
-Salt  

 

 

         Create and open sacred space. Light your working candle while you do your work. If you haven’t already dug your hole,  Dig the hole in the earth, try to keep the top sod in good shape to replace over the hole. Sprinkle with salt. Ground and Center.   When ready, say these words:

With the Goddess and God working for and through me
according to free will and for the good of all.
I now fill this bottle.

*As you say the words, put the items in the jar…… 

Earth anchors this magick in the ground.
This rusty nail, bent, now repels anything and anyone negative or life-denying.
The sparkling, shiny small pieces of crystals hold the light for me and my deities.
A broken piece of glass to deflect harm to anyone it is intended for.

These herbs infuse the bottle with their living properties;
Mint for money and protection
Parsley for protection
Sage for wisdom and protection
Rosemary for love, healing, and health
Thyme for health, love, and courage.

This new penny manifests abundance in my home.
 Hair from my beloved pets to protect them.
Hair from my loved ones who dwell here, to protect and draw away negativity.

This home is divinely protected and effectively safe.
Nothing and no one can enter without my permission
Only those people and beings through whom the Goddess and God work
Can stay here, can visit, can touch this place.

Only Positive Magick lives in this place
In safety, protection, abundance, love, and joy
According to free will and for the good of all!

Put the lid on the jar tight.  If you like, you can use old candle wax or sealing wax to seal the jar closed as well. Start to bury the bottle, and replace the sod you dug up before hand and then say:

I now bury this bottle
It is invisible to all but me
And its magick continues
And so mote it be!

     By the time you have finished this spell, the bottle should be buried. Cover with leaves or something appropriate to make it truly invisible. Under the ground, it will continue to work until you choose to remove it.

I love this spell….on a Full Moon Night..burying a jar filled with lovely witchy items….it is magickal indeed!   After I’m done with this ritual I spend time with the Moon Goddess while the candle burns down a bit. You can also draw a pentacle in the air over the burial spot with your wand, or protective runes for some added protection.  

Now for some other ideas of what you can put in the jar.   I throw some sea salt in my jar as well.  I also like to put lots of little sharp things, like old pins or needles, used razor blades,  rose thorns etc.  For the dirt and nails, you can use graveyard dirt and coffin nails.  Some people will add holy water or wine to the mix.  You can use fingernails instead of hair.  You can use your own urine in the bottle or even blood.  I read in a book somewhere that you can use the broken glass to cut a finger a bit and drip some of your blood into the jar.   You can write down on parchment using dragon’s blood ink, the names of those who are in your home often, to protect them as well. In my case, my sister and married daughter and grandchildren spend a lot of time here too, so of course I want them to be protected as well.   Anything you want to put in there that you feel will add to the protection of your home or family is a good thing. 🙂

Another really simple Protection Jar Spell is this:

Gather rosemary, needles, pins and red wine. Fill a small jar with the first three, saying while you work:

Pins, needles, rosemary, wine;
In this witches bottle of mine.
Guard against harm and enmity;
This is my will, so mote it be!

Visualize these doing just that. Then pour in the red wine. Then cap or cork the jar and drip wax from a red or black candle to seal. Bury it at the farthest corner of your property or put it in an inconspicuous spot in your house. Draw the banishing pentagram in the dirt above it. The witches bottle destroys negativity and evil ; the pins and needles impale evil, the wine drowns it, and the rosemary sends it away from your property.

I hope you take the time to do this on this next Full Moon..right before the Solstice.  You will love the ritual of it and you’ll feel great about the Power you have as a Witch to put out protection for those you love most and the home you care for.  I will be out on that night ..right with you all….

Soon, I’ll post pics of my altar and I’ll post pics of my witches bottle items as well.  Til then, Have a blessed weekend!

Love and Light, Autumn

*Sources:  Scott Cunningham, my BOS, the internet and various other books I’ve read 🙂 I am not sure where the rituals came from I’m afraid..I’ve just had them for a long time 🙂

 

                                                                                                                                               

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Filed under Full Moons, Garden, Goddess, History, Litha/Summer Solstice, Our Yard, Photography, Protection, Ritual, Spells, Summer, Uncategorized

Happy Valentine’s Day…………

Merry Meet friends and Happy Valentine’s Day!  I hope that you all have had a lovely weekend!  I know I did…lovely and busy.  One of the things I did this weekend was to do a bit of Valentine’s Day shopping for my family…just small gifts..tokens of my love.  Breakfast out this morning with hubby and daughter Sara was nice as well.  Hubby was sweet and brought me a box of chocolate’s from my favorite local choclatier and a beautiful Gerbera Daisy plant..dark purple.  So sweet. 

“Love doesn’t make the world go round,
Love is what makes the ride worthwhile.”
– Elizabeth Browning

Valentine’s Day is all about love tokens….be it flowers, candy, cards, dinner out..and if you’re really lucky..jewelry! LOL The History of Valentine’s Day is a little sketchy but most seem to agree that it’s named after a Christian martyr..a Roman priest named Valentine.  Claudius II, Roman Emperor in the third century, outlawed marriage for his soldiers.  He believed that marriage and children made them weaker as soldiers.  Valentine disagreed with this and secretly continued to marry young lovers.  When Claudius discovered this, he jailed Valentine.  Now the story is that Valentine fell in love with his jailers daughter who came to visit him.  Claudius eventually ordered Valentine’s execution.  Before he was, he asked for pen and paper to  write her a letter….signing it..From your Valentine.  How romantic.  The date that Valentine was executed?  Yes, Feb 14.  But it wasn’t until Geoffrey Chaucer, an English  poet and author, in the Middle ages, that romance was added to the day. 

For Pagans in ancient Rome,  February was the official beginning of spring and was considered a time for purification. Feb. 14 was a day to honor Juno, the goddess of Women and marriage. The next day, Feb. 15, was  Lupercalia, a festival honoring the birth of Romulus and Remus, the twin founders of the city. As Lupercalia evolved and time went on, it became a festival honoring fertility and the coming of spring. To begin the festival,  all the available women of the city would have their name put in an urn. The bachelors would chose a name out of the urn and be paired for the year with the name selected. This act was later outlawed by the clergy and deemed un-Christian. So to put a positive perspective over a bad tradition in 498 A.D. Pope Gelasius officially declared Feb. 14 St. Valentine’s Day

In the 18th century, Valentine cards first appeared according to Victorian Treasury.  Needless to say, printing companies saw this as profitable, and the Valentine card took off.  Now those of a romantic nature will most likely give roses with their card and candy.  Many may not give a thought to what color roses they give their beloved.  But in the language of flowers, the color is very significant.  Here is a list of some colors and their meanings:

Lavender — Enchantment and Uniqueness
Orange — Fascination
Pink (Dark) — Thankfulness, Friendship and Admiration
Red — Love, Respect and Courage
Peach — Modesty, Gratitude, Admiration and Sympathy
Pink (Pale) — Grace, Joy and Happiness
Deep Red — Beauty and Passion
White — Innocence, Purity, Secrecy, Silence, Reverence, Humility and (according to some sources) True Love
Yellow — Joy, Friendship, Jealousy, Hope and Freedom
Black — Farewell
Red/White — Unity or Engagement
Yellow/Orange — Passionate Thoughts
Peach — Modesty, Gratitude, Admiration and Sympathy
Pink (Pale) — Grace, Joy and Happiness
Yellow/Red — Congratulations
Rosebud — Beauty, Youth and a Heart Innocent of Love
Red Rosebud — Purity and Loveliness
White Rosebud — Girlhood
One Dozen Red Roses — “I Love You”
Single Red Rose in Full Bloom — “I Love You”
Tea Roses — “I’ll Remember Always”

Now while men are often the giver of the roses, women, like me, go to the kitchen and bake up something…something that looks fantastic and shows that time and effort and love was put into the mix.  For me, Red Velvet Cake is probably the perfect cake to make for Valentine’s Day.  Now I am a huge fan of Food Network and Paula Deen…and this recipe is hers…and perfect!  Give it a try..your significant other and your whole family will love it!  Oh and this recipe is for cupcakes…but you could make it into a two layer cake.

Paula Deen’s Red Velvet Cupcakes

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers. In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 pound cream cheese, softened
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
  • Chopped pecans and fresh raspberries or strawberries, for garnish

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy.

Garnish with chopped pecans, fresh raspberry or strawberry, or sprinkles.

Now this recipe is the RIGHT way to make REAL red velvet cake….the southern way! 🙂

Now I know many of you are single or unattached and Valentine’s Day may not have as much significance to you right now.  But I say that if you have a child in your life, or a grandparent, or a lovely neighbor or friend…Valentine’s Day can still be a beautiful day.  Show your token of love to them.  Also, you can make the day about You!  Treat yourself to a box of candy, a bouquet of flowers, a pedicure or a bottle of wine.  Love yourself..because after all, loving ourselves first is what makes it possible for us to give our love to others.  Ultimately, Valentine’s Day is about Love!  So Have a beautiful Valentine’s day my friends and may you have the love of family, friends, furbabies, and your Goddess/God on this day and everyday. 

Blessings and Love, Autumn

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Filed under Family, Flowers, History, Holiday, Quote, Recipe from my Kitchen