Witchin’ in the Kitchen: Samhain Recipes

JackolanternSamhain (pronounced Sow-wen) is known as the Third Harvest. This is the time of the slaughter, when in ancient agricultural communities, the livestock was thinned, butchered and prepared for storage over the winter, because you can’t keep the entire herd fed over the winter, nor warm with you and the kids in your yurt, and well…the point of raising livestock is to eat it…duh. In Eastern NC there are hog kills and they are a lot of hard, gory work on the farm, but make for a great feast of pork barbecue. mmmmm…..

Samhain is a Greater Sabbat and the peak of the tides of the Autumn season, when the earth is in decline, just like old age. It is celebrated when the sun reaches 15 degrees Scorpio, or on the calendar date of November 1. Remember that if “Hallows” is Nov. 1, then “All Hallows EVE,” would be the night before, on October 31st. In the US Halloween is celebrated far and wide with gory, horror shows, costume parties, traipsing through the night with lit jack-o-lanterns and trick or treating for candy (or else! Its sanctioned extortion, I tell ya.) For one night you can be your shadow self for the night, which in this college town seems to reveal the latent desire to be porn stars, but anyhoo….  While the roots of these practices are indeed from our pagan ancestors, and a lot of fun to do with both the kids, and all my wacky, witchy adult friends, I don’t consider that part of my spiritual practice.  Don’t get me wrong, I LERVE me some Halloween; I’m over-the-top intense about my costumes and decorations, and I throw a huge Witches’ Costumed Ball

Heron as "allegory." Basically I was a dark personification of "pisces" or The Moon card.

2013, Heron as “allegory.” Basically I was a dark personification of “Pisces” or the Moon Tarot card. My date was Allegory of Scorpio, or The Death Card. It was awesome!

every year, but I separate the two sides of the holiday, and celebrate Samhain on the astrological date during the first week of November.

The Wheel of the Year mythos of this time tells the story of the Sage God, who sacrificed himself to feed his people at Lammas, and began his descent to the underworld at Mabon, now arrives and enters his deep slumber of regeneration, just like the hibernating animals of the wild.

The Crone Goddess, having joined him for her rest and preparation for birth of the new light at Yule, has fully withdrawn her vital energies from the earth, just as the sap has withdrawn, rendering the branches scraggly and bare.  Best to have brought in all the harvest from the field by now; anything left behind beyond Samhain needs to be left for the Spirits, or its bad luck.

This last harvest is about letting what no longer serves our highest good die away, clearing out the refuse, and making space for that fallow period. It is an austere time, polar opposite of the decadence and frivolity of Beltane, as it should be. Whereas Beltane was the marriage, Samhain is the funeral.

This is when we honor the very important aspect of death within the life-cycle. Without death, we would be seriously screwed. I mean, just think about EVERY zombie, or vampire movie you’ve ever seen. That shit ain’t natural, and its terrifying to think about.

Speaking of shit, every time you take one be grateful for the fact that what food you ate that “died” to sustain you, can be broken down into energy, and the refuse removed from your body, being replace with NEW LIFE!  We NEED death. Within the Great Work of our spiritual intentions, we start to release attachments to those things that have come to their conclusion because of the Work, or that need to be cleared away to make room for the full harvesting of the Work. We honor the dead, we remember our ancestors, we sit in silence and share the “dumb supper” with our beloved dead. We mourn our losses, but losses make us wiser…they pierce the veil and allow us to see further, and recognize the big-picture patterns forming around us.

From Samhain, we then turn the inner eye back over the whole cycle and appreciate it’s end and what it taught us.  We, too, enter our “hibernation,” and should take this “between” time to contemplate, integrate, and “hold the space” in that dark, silent, still, dreamy period ahead; Winter is coming.

Here are a few of my favorite Halloween and Samhain recipes that I’ve long loved for both Costumed Ball and Samhain Dumb Supper with the Tribe; may they brighten the feast of the dead. Enjoy!


 

pumpkin fluffPumpkin Fluff Dip

Ingredients:
1 (8 ounce) cream cheese, softened
1 (15 ounce) can solid pack pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 (8 ounce) Cool Whip, thawed
Gingersnaps or graham crackers
Blend the cream cheese, pumpkin, vanilla and spice with a hand blender until smooth, add the Cool Whip and fold together with a spatula. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve. I like to load it into a small hollowed out pie pumpkin, and serve with the gingersnaps or graham crackers.

Baked Jack-o-lantern Brains

Ingredients:
1 pie pumpkin about the size of a volleyball that sits upright easily
1 box Uncle Ben’s Wild Rice with Original Recipe seasonings,
or 6 oz. of the grain of your choice, with 1/2 teaspoon salt.
1 pound lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 cup raisins
1 chopped fresh apple
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried mint leaves
1 can tomato soup
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare your rice or grain according to package directions and set aside.

In large skillet over medium heat, brown ground beef and onions, stirring occasionally to break up the meat.  Pour off the excess fat.  Remove from heat then stir in the lemon peel, raisins, apple, walnuts, parsley and mint leaves.

With a sharp knife, create a removable top around the stem by cutting at an angle a 4-6 inch diameter hole.  Scoop out the seeds and loose pulp, trim the stringy pulp from the top.  Stuff the pumpkin with the skillet mixture, replace top.  Sit your stuffed pumpkin in a large baking dish, add 1/4 inch of water and cover with foil.  Bake for 1 hour or until flesh of pumpkin is tender and easily scoops away with a spoon to be served with the stuffing.

While pumpkin is baking, blend the tomato soup, lemon juice and cinnamon and heat either in a sauce pan over low heat or warmed in the microwave for a few minutes.  When serving, pour tomato sauce over the stuffing.


Lentil Veggie Turkey Soup

Ingredients:
1 onion, chopped
3-4 stalks of the heart celery with all the tender leaves, chopped
3-4 carrots, chopped
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons of Thyme leaf
1 teaspoon celery seed,
copious black pepper (to taste)
1 1/2 cups dried lentils, rinsed
1 can of diced tomatoes with liquid
1 can of corn, drained
2 boxes of prepared chicken stock – I don’t actually know how many ounces were in each, but they were the standard large-ish box available in the grocery store soup section.
1-2  tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, to taste.
1-2 cups of prepared wild rice (I happened to have some left-over in the fridge. It was Uncle Bens, with the seasonings already mixed in.) OR you can add a half cup of dried wild rice and an extra 1 cup of water.
6 tablespoons of soy sauce or tamari sauce
A turkey or chicken part of some kind, like a leg on the bone. Mine happened to just be the tail bit off a bird I’d roasted a while back and had frozen the extra pieces for making stock. I added it while frozen, then let it simmer in the stock the whole time.

I sauteed the fresh veggies in olive oil for about 5 minutes. Then added the lentils, spices and canned veggies to saute a bit more. Then I added the rest of the ingredients, except the prepared rice and soy sauce. Bring to a boil, covered, then reduce to medium low and simmer for about an hour, possibly two on very low. This can be an all afternoon affair if you’d like.  Stir frequently.  Before you serve, remove the turkey/chicken piece, separate the edible meat, chop into bites, and add back to the soup and discard the bones, etc.  Add in the prepared rice and soy sauce. Taste it. Is it too earthy? More vinegar and pepper. If it isn’t salty or rich enough? More soy sauce.

For a vegetarian version, use veggie stock instead and omit the poultry, obviously. I suggest mushrooms as an alternative.


Fungus Aradia

Why? because this is an Italian dish with mushrooms and I’m stretching for Witchcraft related names, just go with it!
Ingredients:
1 pound of peppardelle noodles (wide, flat ribbon noodles)
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound of thick sliced pancetta, cut into long strips
(or substitute thick-cut bacon)
3 yellow onions, sliced into 1/8 inch ribbons
2 pounds of assorted fresh fungi (crimini, chanterelles, portobellos, porcini) sliced         1/4 inch thick or halved if small.
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh sage and thyme
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
salt and pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Directions:
In a large saute pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil.  Add the pancetta and stir occasionally until lightly browned.  Add onions and saute until almost tender, 7-8 minutes.  Transfer to a bowl and set aside.  In the same pan, melt the butter and saute the mushrooms just until they release their liquid and soften.  (You may have to cook the mushrooms in 2 batches depending on the size of your pan.)  Add the onion mixture back into the mushrooms and reheat over high heat.  Add the balsamic vinegar, sage, thyme and garlic and saute for 2 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm.  Meanwhile boil the pasta in salted water until al dente.  Drain and transfer noodles to a large serving bowl.  Add the mushrooms and toss gently. Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Witchin’ in the Kitchen: Mabon Feasts Serve up a Challenge

Mabontides are flowing out once more, my lovelies! Witches’ Thanksgiving is one of my favorite sabbats, and it is marked by our entry into the cardinal sign of Libra, a sign of balance. Once again, the sun hangs in the equilibrium of light and dark. This year that moment falls on Wednesday, September 23rd.¹

When day-time and night-time are equal,
When sun is at greatest and least,
The four Lesser Sabbats are summoned,
And Witches gather in feast.²

Witches Wine / Heron Michelle

Witches Wine / Heron Michelle

The second harvest of fruits and vegetables, Mabon is the initiator of the season of Autumn. This is a low ebb or lesser sabbat, wherein we feel the vital energy begin to recede from the earth as she continues her spiral into the decline of the year. This is the time of acceptance, the receptive power of water. The auburn, red and yellow leaves of the trees, the apples ready for picking, the deepness of the setting sun, the darkening afternoons, all remind us that night always follows day, no exceptions.

The dark and the light in succession,
The opposites each unto each,
Shown forth as a God and a Goddess:
Of this our ancestors teach²

In the Wheel of the Year mythos that I enjoy, at Mabon the God and Goddess become the Sage and Crone, and with experience, comes the inner vision to see deeply into both the past and future. They know the sacred order of the “perfect,” complete cycle, that is symbolized by the wheel; they teach us that life is sustained through death, just as death contains the promise of rebirth (at Ostara). As symbolized in the yin/yang, the key to one side of any polarity is found in the heart of it’s opposite. The fruits that are cut down, will rise again both as the seeds planted next year, but also by sustaining the living. As we are fed another year, the gods live on through us.

The birth and rebirth of all nature,
The passing of winter and spring,
We share with the life universal,
Rejoice in the magical ring.²

No Witch is an Island

This time of year, I ask myself:  how will I stay in balance of giving and receiving? It takes hard work to bring in the harvest, and many hands working together toward the common goal of survival. Think about that cookie on your altar platter; SO MANY hands are required to bring that seed of wheat, sugar, and chocolate chip all the way from planting, through harvest, through baking, to the store, to the feast … no witch is an island!

How have we helped our fellow humans within this web of existence lately? How have we expressed gratitude for all that we are bringing in from the fields of the gods? They instruct us to FEAST!  Let us bring our best and most tasty offerings to the common table, and share in what we have with generosity.

So drink the good wine to the Old Gods,
And Dance and make love in their praise,
Till Elphame’s fair land shall receive us
In peace at the end of our days.²

Perfect Love as a Verb

This harvest feast, the Witches’ Thanksgiving, calls for a gathering ’round of family, both your family of origin, but also your family of choice. Recently I was challenged by a dear priestess friend of mine with the question:  “When does it get to be Love as a verb? I mean, to see all this broken humanity, yes. But how does that translate into action?”

Goooood question!

This reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by Mr. Rogers, my childhood hero. Despite growing up deep-fried in the contentious and back-biting Southern Baptist church, I can thank a children’s TV show personality and Presbyterian minister, Mr. Fred Rogers, for instructing this young witchling in what it means to be a decent neighbor.

“Love isn’t a state of perfect caring. It is an active noun like struggle. To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” ~Fred Rogers

Verbs or nouns, the key word we are looking for here is “active.” We all occasionally fall short of the ideal in our relationships–especially our spiritual relationships. Perhaps sometime in the past, a kerfluffle flared up between friends. It has happened to me more than I like to admit.

Egos get in the way sometimes; perception can be such a tricky thing — especially within covens. We all have shadowy bits that must be dredged out of the deep recesses for processing–that is how we advance through the initiatory and evolutionary process of Witchcraft. Too often (usually when Mercury is in retrograde) we erroneously project those shadows onto our loved ones standing beside us in the cosmic amplifier of the sacred circle. Unfortunate things go down, sad to say.

I hate it when that happens. Hopefully, with time and water under our damaged bridges, things have now settled down. Thank all the gods that life is a cycle … those may have been the winters of our discontent, but the hope of spring always follows. Hopefully, we’ve come through the kerfluffles as wiser people.

The Mabon Challenge

We realize that it is the struggles, the challenges, the grit and tweak against the grain of life that hones us into the powerful incarnate gods that we are, yes?  “Thanksgiving” is a pretty obvious theme of The Great Work at this time of year. This Mabon, we need to dig deep and excavate gratitude for the lessons learned through adversity–including the unfortunate coven kerfluffles.

As a way to turn the idea of perfect love into a course of action, lets consider reaching out with ye olde olive branch.  Mend a fence, rebuild a bridge, send a card, make the call…it doesn’t have to be a huge thing, but in some way let’s reach out to the beloved friends we’ve been missing at our feast tables, and “accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now.” Maybe that means that the first thing you serve yourself is a heaping helping of crow, but that kind of soul food can be so beneficial.³

This is The Work, folks. No one said witchcraft would be all glitter and moonbeams. (Well, if they did, they were a snake oil salesman!)

And Do What You Will be the challenge,
So be it Love that harms none,
For this is the only commandment.
By Magic of old, be it done!²

As a “spoon full of sugar to help the medicine go down,” I’ll share with you one of my favorite recipes (below) to scintillate your coven mates come Mabontides!

Blessed Be!

~Heron

References

  1. For exact astrological times of all the Sabbats for your region, you might find archaeoastronomy.com helpful.
  2. From Doreen Valiente’s, “Witchcraft For Tomorrow” 
  3. I have this theory that “eating crow” actually melts cellulite…uh huh…seems legit!

Autumn Harvest Bisque (Vegan and gluten-free)

Autumn Harvest Bisque / Heron Michelle

Autumn Harvest Bisque / Heron Michelle

(Heron Michelle)

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 1 1/2 cups sliced leeks, white and pale green parts only,
  • rinsed thoroughly and drained
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne or red pepper (optional)
  • 1 Teaspoon Berbere powder (it’s an Ethiopian spice much like paprika.)
  • 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon minced fresh lemongrass
  • 6 1/2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 can of Coconut Milk
  • 1/2 cup Tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
  • Sea Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

For Garnish:

  • 1 bunch green onion, chopped
    1 pound crispy fried bacon (Obviously this recipe is vegan all the way up to this option, but…bacon!)

Directions:

In large soup pot over moderate heat, melt the coconut oil or EVOO.  Add the leeks and saute about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir briefly.  Add the squash, potato and apples, raise heat to high and saute until they begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes.  Stir in curry powder, ginger, lemongrass, berbere and red pepper.  Add in the broth, bring to a simmer and cover,  Adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer until the vegetables are all tender, about 40 minutes.

I puree in the pot with an immersion blender, but if you don’t have one, transfer in batches to the blender or food processor and process until pureed.  Return to the pot, add the coconut milk, and tamari sauce.  Stir well, remove from heat and season with sea salt and black pepper to taste.

Serve as soon as possible into individual bowls and garnish with and liberal sprinkles of green onion (add bacon if you don’t need it to be vegan.)

Witchin’ in the Kitchen: Lammas Recipes

LammasCornThe cross-quarter Sabbat of Lammas arrives around the first day of August, or when the sun is 15 degrees Leo! This is first harvest of corn and grains, when the fields grow tall and verdant and the vines are heavy with fruit, just like our Lady Goddess, her belly full as the moon. Lammas is a Greater Sabbat in the Witches’ year, as it is the apex of the summer season, and thereby is the apex of the summer power.

In the southeast United States, where I live, corn is a very big part of our harvest, with ears of sweet succulent goodness ready to be shucked and dollies woven, not to mention the tomatoes fit to bursting off the vines. It is high summer, hot and sticky!

Lammas is a “pregnant” time, full of hopefulness and expectation, wherein we begin to taste the fruits of our labors within the Great Work, and our back yard gardens alike. We tended those magickal workings at Litha, working hard to support those intentions with our sustained energies, actions and self-confidence, we now begin to prepare for the harvest with methodical planning and gentle care.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes to tickle your taste buds, and thrill your coven-mates come Lammastides.

Blessings!


Tomato Polenta: Vegetarian

Ingredients:
1 Cup Milk
1 Cup water
1 Cup Tomato juice or V8
1 Cup yellow polenta cornmeal
1 t. sea salt, Himalayan sea salt is even better!
1 cup grated cheddar cheese

In sauce pan, bring liquids and salt to a boil.  Slowly sprinkle cornmeal into liquids while stirring constantly to break up lumps.  Lower to medium-low heat and continue stirring for 10 minutes or until mixture is thick and like “grits.”  Stir in cheese.  Remove from heat and pour into a flat casserole dish or pie-plate.  Set aside to cool and set-up or refrigerate and use later.  After it is firm it can be reheated, baked or sliced and fried.  Serve with Black and Gold Salad on top.

Black and Gold Salad: Vegan

Ingredients:
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed.
1 can corn niblets, drained
1 medium tomato, diced
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup
3-4 diced green onions
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, or to taste.

Mix it all up and serve room temperature or chill and serve later.  Serve over Tomato Polenta or as an appetizer with tortilla chips.  Personally, I think it is good enough to eat with a spoon!

Witchin’ in the Kitchen: Beltane Recipes

hieros gamos 1When the Sabbat of Beltane draws hot and bothered to the fore, at 15 degrees Taurus, we are once again at a Greater sabbat in the Witches’ Wheel of the Year, if not *the* Greater Sabbat. Beltane stands at the apex of the spring season, May day, in the balance across from Samhain, and is the silly, frivolous moment that keeps the mournful dearth of Samhain in equal measure. They say there is a time and a place for everything, and the Wheel of the Year covers all the bases.  Beltane is the “college” of the sabbat cycle; bring on the drunken cavorting, flirtation, indulgence and dancing around the balefires. Remember, boys and girls, practice safe and responsible sex and drinking while you dance ’round those fires.  Never forget Heron’s “First rule of Witchcraft:”  Don’t burn the Witch.

Our God and Goddess are seen to have grown into adulthood now, and this is their sacred marriage and consummation; this is the heiros gamos.  As for The Great Work, Beltane is that fertilization of the grand ideas and intentions we set for ourselves at Imbolc through the symbolic planting of the seeds, then began to sprout as new thoughts, and new ideas took their hold on us at Ostara, like that breath of fresh air.  Beltane is the union of opposites, and through their merging a new channel is opened through which we may birth our endeavors come harvest time. But for now, the womb of earth and water will quicken, receive the spark of air and fire, and begin the true gestation of the Great Work for this turning.

As the coven, tribe and clans gather to dance the Maypole, crowning May King and Queen, as you set the marriage feast, here are a few favorite Beltane recipes to enjoy before you are too besotted. Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do! 😉

Blessings!


ChocolateShotChocolate Aphrodisiac Elixir

1 cup dried damiana
 herb
4 sticks cinnamon
1 vanilla pod
1 tsp angelica root (opt.)
3 cups Jamaican spiced rum
1 T baking cocoa
honey to taste, about a 1/2 cup
1 vial Royal Jelly

Split open vanilla pod and add beans to rum. Mix in all ingredients 
except honey. Seal in a jar for two weeks. Strain and sweeten to taste 
with honey, add one vial of Royal Jelly and bottle. This recipe is best if left to sit for a while, but it can be served right away. I recommend no more than a swig at a time, shortly before you get….ahem…busy.  Best wishes!


chic asparagusBacchus’ Spear and Bean Salad

Ingredients:
6 oz. of lean bacon or prosciutto, chopped into bite sized pieces
1/2 red onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
A big bunch of fresh asparagus spears
2 cans Garbanzo Beans, (Chick Peas) drained and rinsed
1/3 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
6 Tablespoon extra-virgin Olive Oil
1/3 cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 teaspoon Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt

Directions:
In a large frying pan, fry bacon or prosciutto for a few minutes until fats have released.  Add onion and garlic and saute until pork is crisp and onions glossy.  Drain off the grease.  Separately, steam asparagus spears about 8 minutes until they are tender firm,  rinse in cool water, then chop into bite sized pieces.  In a large bowl whisk together olive oil, red wine vinegar, sugar and salt.  Add asparagus, sauteed mixture, chick-peas, and parsley.  Gently turn the mixture until well coated.


Greek Goddess Chicken

Ingredients:
1 chicken, quartered
3 medium potatoes
6 carrots, peeled
1/2 red onion
2 lemons, peels zested
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Zest the lemons by peeling off the yellow parts of the skin with a potato peeler, then finely minsing with a knife. In a small bowl, blend the zest, herbs and spices.

Wash and dry chicken pieces and arrange in a shallow baking dish. Drizzle half the olive oil over the chicken, sprinkle half the zest/herb mix evenly over the chicken.
Cut potatoes, carrots and onion into bite-sized chunks. Mix thoroughly with the rest of the olive oil and remaining zest mix, and the juice of the two lemons. Pour evenly into a deep baking dish.  Bake both dishes uncovered, on the same rack in the middle of the oven for 1 hour, or until chicken is no longer pink, and the skin is crisp and brown.  Once while cooking, stir the vegetables. If at end of cooking the chicken and veggies aren’t brown enough, try about 5 minutes under a low broiler, but watch it like a hawk so that it doesn’t burn.


No Toil or Trouble Tomato Soup
Vegetarian

1 T. butter
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 T. flour
1 t. basil
1 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1 1/2 cups milk
8 oz. cream cheese
1 large can crushed tomatoes–795 grams
1/4 C. chopped fresh basil
grated Parmesan cheese

Saute vegetables in butter until soft–5 min.
Reduce heat to med-low and stir in flour and spices.
Stirring constantly, add milk slowly until boiling and slightly thickened–about 5 minutes.  Whisk in tomatoes and their juice.  Reduce heat and simmer uncovered about 15 minutes–chunk the cream cheese and stir into the soup until dissolved.  Process one blender-full of the soup until smooth, add back to the pot and reheat.  Sprinkle each serving with grated Parmesan and fresh basil.


Spring Quiche
makes 2 pies

Ingredients:
2 deep dish frozen pie shells
1/2 pound of bacon, chopped
2 cups chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained
6 eggs
1 cup of milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 diced green onions
3 cups of shredded cheddar or Colby cheese
2 Tablespoons flour
dash of nutmeg

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Place frozen pie shells on a cookie sheet and bake for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and reduce heat to 325 degrees.  In a skillet, brown bacon until crisp then discard the fat.  Add spinach and cook over medium heat until warmed through.  Remove from heat.

In a small bowl toss cheese and flour together.  In another bowl, beat the eggs, milk, salt and pepper with a hand mixer or whisk until frothy, add green onions.
To assemble quiches, evenly divide the bacon mixture to form a layer in each pie shell.  Evenly divide cheese mixture to form a layer in each pie shell.  Then pour half of the egg mixture over the cheese layer.  With a fork, gently prod the mixture so that the liquids can soak to the bottom without actually stirring the layers together.  Sprinkle a dash of nutmeg over the top of both pies.  Place them in the oven and cook for 40 minutes or until the surface of the pies is solid and springs back to the touch.  Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

 

Witchin’ in the Kitchen: Imbolc Recipes

Imbolc is the cross-quarter Sabbat on the Wheel of the Year when the sun reaches 15 degrees Aquarius, around the calendar date of February 1st. Imbolc is the apex of the winter season, and therefore a time of heightened magickal power. It is celebration of first milk and with that the first promise of coming spring. It is a time of making dedications to the Great Work of the next turning; it is a time of blessing the tools of our work, and planting the seeds of our intentions.

This is also the time during the Wiccan mythos of the year, when we welcome back the Goddess as the Maiden, recovered now from her childbirth labors at Yule and renewed again as the young lass, like the slender shoots of crocus flower, peeking through the snows. The God, too, has grown from his infancy at Yule, and we welcome him back as the Lad, the Youthful God, like the wild young buck, or the green sapling. I envision them both like teenagers, full of innocence and wonder, shyness and and daring, like the plucky stealing of kisses, and the blush on their cheeks. Its the quickening of the heartbeat at receipt of a valentine, it is the betrothal.  On Imbolc, I celebrate the magick of promise and promises.

When the tribe joins together for Imbolc we bless those seeds of promise, and dedicate the The Great Work of the year. Sometimes we consecrate new tools, but we always bless the earth with seed, milk, ash of the Yule log, and intention.

But first, the feast! Here are a few of my better winter recipes, excellent for Imbolctide feasts of first milk, and of new love!

Blessings!
Valentines-Day-Cake“Ply her with Chocolate” Groom’s Cake

Ingredients:
1 package chocolate cake mix
1 package chocolate pudding mix (3.9 ounce)
1 container sour cream (16 ounce)
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup Coffee Liqueur
1 1/2 cups Chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 10 inch bunt pan.
In large bowl, mix all ingredients except chips.  Beat until well blended.  Batter will be thick.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Spoon into prepared pan. Bake for 60 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly  tapped.  (The toothpick test does not work; it would  come out gooey even when it is done.) Cool 10 minutes in pan, then turn out onto serving plate to cool  completely.

This is so rich it does not need icing, but you can top with chopped strawberries.

Brigid’s White Chocolate Raspberry Wedding Cake

Ingredients:
1 package white cake mix
1 package vanilla pudding mix (3.9 ounce)
1 container sour cream (16 ounce)
3 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup Chambord Raspberry Liqueur
1 1/2 cups White Chocolate chips
Raspberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 10 inch bunt pan.
In large bowl, mix all ingredients except chips.  Beat until well blended.  Batter will be thick. Fold in chocolate chips. Spoon into prepared pan. Bake for 60 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly tapped.  (The toothpick test does not work; it would come out gooey even when it is done.) Cool 10 minutes in pan, then turn out onto serving plate to cool completely.

Melt raspberry preserves in the microwave and then drizzle over the cake.


Nightshade Noodles: Vegetarian
This is a hearty meal for cold nights, and pot-luck dishes. By the way, eggplant, peppers and tomatoes are all “nightshade” fruits, thus the name.
Ingredients:
16 oz. package of cooked noodles (macaroni or shells, something bite-sized)
1 large eggplant*, peeled and grated to make about 2 cups
8 oz. button mushrooms finely chopped to make about 2 cups
1 medium sized yellow onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper*, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 can diced tomatoes* with juice
1/4 cup salsa–spiciness to your preference
1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt–or to taste
2 cups grated mexican blend cheeses
splash of milk
black pepper to taste
hot sauce per individual tastes

Directions:
Cook noodles per package directions, drain and set aside.

Heat a few tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat.  Saute the onion, eggplant,  mushrooms and bell pepper for about 10 minutes or until until all are glossy and soft.  Add can of tomatoes, salsa, vinegar and salt.  Cook 2 minutes more.   Add cheese and milk, stir to melt. Remove from heat.  Add noodles to the vegetables and gently turn the mixture to incorporate.  Serve with a hot sauce like Texas Pete or black pepper.

 

Litha Sabbat: A Ritual of Highlight and Shadow

sunspiralAs we begin to turn our attentions away from the Beltane rites we’ve just completed, and look now in preparation for the summer solstice, I would like to offer for your consideration this ritual I wrote years ago and have led several times, with several groups, all to beneficial effect. It also illustrates the ritual style developed and practiced by The Sojo Tribe.

I share this ritual because I am rather proud of it, and because it illustrates our style and techniques that have evolved over time to become powerful tools that engage all the celebrants as contributors, (regardless of their previous experience,) works with all the senses, includes both inner work and outer work within the Great Work.  I would be remiss not to give credit here to the ample influence of one of my early mentors, Diana Rice of The Lunatic Fringe, a Shamanic Witchcraft circle that offered public Sabbats for over 18 years here in NC. I was honored to have attended the last Samhain that they offered before their retirement and it continues to inspire me, lo these many years hence.

Litha Sabbat: a Summer Solstice Ritual of Highlight and Shadow

Written by: Heron Michelle

Need to procure: medium sized straw wreath, 2” Yellow florist ribbon, herbs of healing, mead, cakes, sunflowers, sparklers.
Altar:
Southeast edge of the circle, golden yellow altar cloth and sunflowers, chalice of wine, plate of sun cakes, libation bowl, silver goddess and gold god candles, white spirit candle. Incense, water, salt and fire candle. Hand-held mirror. Unfinished straw wreath (Sun wheel). Cauldron of healing herbs beside the altar, animal guide cards.  Fire pit in center of circle. Cauldron of water in the Western side of circle. Metal pan and fire shovel for collecting ash. Self-drying clay set aside for later.

  • RL: ritual leader, guide and narrator.
  • Maiden and Summoner
  • 4 Quarter Callers

Set up the Circle:
Outline perimeter with flowers, 18’ in diameter. Set torches at the cardinal points. Enter through the east.
Pre-ritual class:
History and reasons for the season and then we go over the ritual.  Everyone completes their sun wheel ribbon answering this question:  “My skills and talents shone most brightly when I accomplished______________.”
Cleanse the space:
Smudge the space with burning sage.
Challenge at the gate:
How do you enter?
Answer: “With an open mind and an open heart” or “In perfect love and perfect trust.”
Anointing the forehead with pentacle, smudged with sage.  Celebrant circles deosil 3 times before finding the place in circle that feels right.
Sweeping:
Maiden sweeps the ground with the besom while visualizing vital energy sweeping out any baneful energies of the physical/energetic space.  Summoner plays the Singing bowl.
Chant: Weave the circle well, Weave the enchantment well, sweep the circle well, sweep the circle well.
Grounding and Centering:
Take hands (thumbs deosil) around the fire.
RL: Let us begin tonight’s ritual by centering and grounding.  First we’ll take 3 group breaths from the belly.
(Pause)
Imagine that there is a tube running through your chakras from crown to root.  Hold the ball of your consciousness at the crown then as we exhale drop that ball down the tube…feel where it settles in your gut.  This is your center.
(Pause)
Now, extend that tube from the base of your spine into the earth–to it’s core.  As you inhale draw up pure white light through your chakras–set them spinning.  As you exhale, visualize any tension, fear or anxiety you may be carrying as black smoke being flushed down the tube to be cleansed by the earth and pulled back into you as vitality, confidence and power.
(pause)
Consecrate the altar:
Pull up the energy from the earth, pull down from the sky, out through the hands. Awaken and prepare the elements, light spirit candle. Ring bell three times.
Erecting the Temple:
Welcome and Ritual intent:
RL: Welcome Friends!

All: Welcome!

RL: The Wheel of the year turns on. We are gathered on this sacred eve to celebrate the summer solstice.  The earth is a riot of vitality. Just as the fruits grow on the vine, the womb of the mother goddess quickens with child.  The seeds planted at Imbolc, and fertilized at Beltane, grow.  Symbolically, the god is in his prime; the powerful provider and expectant father.  The sun reaches his zenith, shining brightly through his strongest, longest day.    But today is an out-of-balanced light that casts harsh shadows.  As the sun slips over the horizon, so do we also turn towards the darkening half of the year.  We celebrate our personal zeniths–as well as our shadows.

We step aside from personal ego, release knowing, and seek wonderment. We release personal will, and seek surrender to Divine Will. We accept our greatness, then dare to strive for improvement. We hold the space, seeking the next resonance. We will celebrate our greatest accomplishments then look inward to find the source of our inner light, setting ourselves on the path to discover “what’s next?”

Let us erect the temple.

Cast the circle:
RL: Together we will cast the circle with the Awen Cone of Power. Pull vital, protective energy from the universe and release it through your voice and hands, laying a hedge of multicolored light at the circles edge.

All: Ah–oo–wen (chanted repeatedly, starting low and slow, rising in pitch and speed, to peak at the top with arms thrown to the sky.)

RL:  A ring of our energy dances around us at the circle’s edge.  See it pulsing with light and life–all colors, all vibrations.  Together we will close the sphere.  Hands to the sides, close it above us gathering in the heavens (bring hand to a peak above our heads) and below us, gathering in the underworld (sweeps hands to close them pointing to the earth.)
The circle is cast; let it be our protection, our amplification, and our magnification for our work this day. Naught but love will enter in. Naught but love will emerge.  We stand in a temple of our own making, between the worlds, in a time out of time.  Blessed be!

All: Blessed be!

Quarter call and hallowing:
Everyone faces east, holding hands at chest height with palms facing away and fingers splayed like the sun. (ritual of gestures by Scott Cunningham.)
East: Guardians of the East! Powers of air!  We ask your breezy, cleansing presence into our circle tonight.  Liberate us. Give our voices wings of flight. Hail and welcome! (Draw invoking pentagram)

All: Hail and welcome!

East: (Goes to get element from the altar) I consecrate this circle with the powers of air…(all repeat as element is carried around the circle.) Air!  I your brother of air, greet you with air and ask that you blow free any unwanted energies from our circle. (Replaces element on the altar.)

Everyone faces south, holding hands parallel to the ground, elbows straight, grasping fingers in tight fists.
South:  Guardians of the South! Powers of Fire!  We ask your passionate, transformative presence at our circle tonight.  Embolden us. Ignite our spirits. Hail and welcome! (Draws the invoking pentagram)

All: Hail and welcome!

South: (Goes to get element from the altar) I consecrate this circle with the powers of Fire. (all repeat as element is carried around the circle.)
South:  Fire! I your brother of Fire, greet you with Fire and ask that you burn free any unwanted energies from our circle. (Replaces element on the altar.)

Everyone faces west, holding hands at head height, bend elbows and turn palms upward and cup them like a chalice.  Visualize blue and sense fluidity, waves of the ocean.

West: Guardians of the West! Powers of Water!  We ask your flowing, ever-changing presence at our circle tonight.  Inspire us.  Break free the banks of our emotions.  Hail and welcome! (Draws the invoking pentagram)

All: Hail and welcome!

West: (Goes to get element from the altar) I consecrate this circle with the powers of Water…(all repeat as element is carried around the circle.)
West:  Water!  I your Sister of Water, greet you with Water and ask that you wash free any unwanted energies from our circle tonight. (Replaces element on the altar.)

Everyone faces North, holding hands in front of the body with palms down and visualizing green and feeling solidity, foundation, fertility.
North:  Guardians of the North! Powers of Earth! We ask your sturdy, comforting presence at our circle tonight.  Strengthen us.  Manifest our dreams in accordance with our will. Hail and welcome! (Draws the invoking pentagram)
All: Hail and welcome!

North: (Goes to get element from the altar) I consecrate this circle with the powers of Earth…(all repeat as element is carried around the circle.)
North:  Earth!  I your sister of Earth, greet you with Earth and ask that you ground any unwanted energies from our circle tonight. (Replaces element on the altar.)
Invocation:

RL:  The Great Spirit fills this place.  Spirit has never been separate or elsewhere.   Every atom, every molecule, the soil, the burrowing worm, each blade of grass, breath of air and drop of dew are spirit swirling into manifestation.  I also honor the transcendent deity–the impetus to BE, to evolve, to come together and bond in new ways.  We are animated and connected by the divine spark.

Mother Goddess! Life-giver! You who are the fertile earth! Aid our journey with your strength. Hail and Welcome! (Light the silver candle.)

All: Hail and Welcome!

Father God!  Provider! You who are the blazing sun! Aid our journey with your devotion. Hail and Welcome! (Light the gold candle.)

All: Hail and Welcome!

Ritual Body:
Outer Work: Releasing attachment to former greatness
RL: Just as the sun is at it’s zenith today, we also have achieved zeniths, or times when our strength, skills and talents gained us great accomplishments.  We were in our full power and on top of the world!  Our pride and self-confidence grew. Our egos swelled.  While ego is an important part of our psychological make-up, *attachment* to our former accomplishments can be limiting.  If not released, it begins to define us as what we were, and derails us from what we can become.  So we’ll each come forward, declare that accomplishment for which we are most proud then attach the ribbon to the wreath, then we will burn the wreath and with it our attachments to that part of ego.

Each person shares their accomplishment, reads the ribbon and then attaches it to the wheel.
“I shone most brightly when I ___________________”

After each declaration we all applaud and cheer them on.

RL:  How brightly we shine! We are strong! We are powerful!  (Everyone repeats the affirmation. The sun wheel is dropped onto the fire)  But we are not limited by this past greatness.

Walking the wheel, or dancing to raise the cone of power…

All: (Chanting) Burning, burning, higher higher, feeding pride into the fire.

RL leads to peak, then everyone sits to ground the energy. Pause to catch our breath.
Inner Work: Opening to Mystery

RL: Our attachments to previous greatness are set free.  Where they once lived within us is now an open place, a void of potential. Let us invite into that space our next greatness.  Open yourselves to the mystery of what comes next.
(Pause)
Affirm your connection to the earth–strengthen your grounding root.

Feel the residual heat of the Sun at your back and open yourself to the Cosmos before you.  Look deep–stretch your awareness all the way to the Galactic Center.  Where will your path take you next?

(Pause for a lengthy inner journeying – shamanic drumming)

Thank any beings you have encountered.  It is time to return to the Circle.  Be present in your body again.

Now look yourself in the eyes and see the divine within you–your light–and affirm you will continue to seek this mystery.  While we do this, let’s all softly sing…

“I am the flow, and I am the ebb, I am the weaver, and I am the web.”

RL will hold a hand mirror for each celebrant (If ritual is at night, Maiden holds up the spirit candles to illuminate their faces.)  RL will whisper in their left ear in two parts the affirmation for them to repeat.

Individually: It is my Will to seek the Mystery within me / which is the source of my Light

After the affirmation, celebrant is handed a sparkler by the Summoner, they light the sparkler from either the fire pit or the spirit candle, then walk or dance the circle, as they desire.  Each person may scry at a cauldron of water…feeling the water…ritual cleansing…

RL: By this act of your will, you are on the path of en-Light-enment.  Your coming greatness will be in the service of that path, and in service to the Divine will in your life.
Closing:
Prayers and Thanksgiving:
We pass the bowl of healing herbs around the circle and holding them while praying, calling loved ones into the mind’s eye, envisioning them in good health and filled with healing light, then burn the herbs in the fire declaring wellness by name. End with “So mote it be.”
Divination:
We will each take an animal spirit card to reveal which animal medicine will guide our journey through the dark half of the year.

Simple feast:
Blessing of the wine and cakes, offering a libation to the goddess, god and spirits of the land into the offering bowl.  Each offers the feast first to each other. “May the gods sustain you.” (As the chalice and cakes are passed around the circle, “You are a god/dess may you never thirst/hunger.” Answering, “Blessed be.”

Dissolving the Temple:

RL: Blessed Be this midsummer’s night!

All: Blessed Be!

RL: Summer is here and our work is complete.  It is time to dissolve our temple and step back into the flow of time and the mundane world.

Farewell to Deity:
RL: Great Spirit!  Universe weaver! You who are mother and father to all things.  Thank you for the inspiration, nurturing, protection and devotion felt here tonight.  You are carried ever with us.  Hail and farewell.

All: Hail and Farewell.

Releasing the quarters:
RL: We’ll release the quarters widdershins beginning in the north.

Everyone faces North, making Gesture of Earth. (Ritual of gestures by Scott Cunningham)
North:  Powers of the North and of Earth.  Manifest our magick, lend solidity to our purpose.  As above, so below. Thank you for your blessings tonight.  Hail and farewell!  (Draws the banishing pentagram)

All: Hail and Farewell!

Everyone faces West, making gesture of water.

West:  Powers of the west and of water.  Nourish our magick and succor our hearts.  Thank you for your blessings tonight.  Hail and farewell!  (Draws the banishing pentagram)

All: Hail and Farewell!

Everyone faces South, making gesture of fire.
South:  Powers of the South and of Fire.  Empower our magick and lend your transformation to our purpose.  Thank you for your blessings tonight.  Hail and farewell!  (Draws the banishing pentagram)

All: Hail and Farewell!

Everyone faces east, making gesture of air.
East: Powers of the East and of air.  Blow quickly our magick to its purpose. Thank you for your blessings tonight.  Hail and farewell!  (Draws the banishing pentagram)

All: Hail and Farewell!
Circle release:
RL:  We’ll release the energy of our circle to light our paths during the darkening half of the year.  With your hands, gather the bubble of energy we’ve created.  Feel it tingling in your hands as together we push it, mold it into an intense ball of energy.  Smaller and smaller, charge it with all your intent, your will.  We charge this sphere to be the light on the path before us, leading us back together again! On the count of three, release it into the universe for the highest good of all! One, two, three…RELEASE! (We throw our hands upward, and clap, to break the space.)

The circle is open, but never broken!  Merry meet, Merry part…
All:  And Merry meet again!

(We sing the song and usually frolic around a bit like a square dance….)

Grounding as needed.

Spell working: After the sun wheel is turned to ash, and cooled, we collect that ash, mix it with the self hardening clay, and fashion a sun-shaped fetish that can either be turned into a pendant, or a figurine for personal use in the furthering of the celebrants great work through The Wheel of the Year. The fetish should be hardened and charged in the summer sunlight. Powdered herbs of the sun can also be added into the mix in small quantity, like cinnamon, or painted later in gold leaf.

The Great Work: Holding the Space

Gouache on paper by Heron Michelle

Gouache on paper by Heron Michelle

As part of my spiritual practice each year I choose an area of study or devotion to which I will dedicate myself for the course of that turning of the wheel. I call this year-long working, that is furthered through 8 sabbats and many esbats, the Great Work.

Beginning sometime after Samhain, which is the end of the cycle, and beginning in earnest during the Yule rites, which is the beginning of the cycle, I use various means of meditation and divination, to open my heart, mind and eyes to the Awen (divine inspiration) about what that next Great Work should be. Then I make the dedication at Imbolc like the planting of the seeds. Throughout the remaining year the work is fertilized at Ostara, empowered at Beltane, cultivated at Litha, harvested at Lammas, and the fruits of those labors applied and integrated at Mabon, before laying to rest at Samhain what aspects of my life and process no longer serve my highest good, in light of the new development.

That time of rest between Samhain and Imbolc becomes a very wide open, reflective and intuitive time. Without fail, once I broadcast to the Universe that I seek their guidance and I am open to their messages, the synchronicity, signs, symbols, and omens blaze and sizzle into my awareness like fireworks. It becomes almost comically clear what threads I’m meant to begin weaving into the tapestry of my evolving consciousness through the next cycle of the Great Work.

The way that I utilize the energies of the solar cycle that we call “The Wheel of the Year”  allows for a time to “hold the space” during that dark time of late fall, early winter, when we celebrate the mythos of the God/dess descending into the underworld and arriving at Samhain. For me, the waning Samhaintides, are a time of rest and reflection. It is a time when the lessons of the previous harvest are taken into account with gratitude, and in the silence I find conclusion to what the year taught me. Then I turn my eyes to the future, into the birth of the new cycle, to begin a new vision.

cropped-moon3.png

Gouache on paper by Heron Michelle

It takes this time of metaphorical “darkness,” to refocus one’s inner vision.  Just as when one sits in the dark back yard, when there is no moon, nor glare of artificial light, and your eyes can relax into the low light. Perception expands, deepens, and points of starlight previously imperceptible, now come into our view; the patterns of the stars take on new clarity and meaning.

“Hold the Space” is the term I use more frequently than “be silent” when referring to the active principle of the elemental earth mysteries of the Witches’ Pyramid of Power, the foundation principles of my magickal practice.  To hold the space means that I hold open the void of potential, like playing midwife to a birth, and deliver into the world whatever my Divine Will deems appropriate for me at that time. Meanwhile, I withhold any sort of critical analysis, judgement, or action.  I merely PAY ATTENTION, gather the strands of data, and SHUT UP for a while (that is the be silent part.)

“Speak ye little, listen much.” ~The Wiccan Rede.

As Imbolc approaches and  I begin to formulate the new dedication, all those strands of data begin forming a pattern, like a big arrow pointing in a direction, that I can discern.  But its for the best that I still withhold judgement and just begin that journey with the first step, since there are no guarantees to be had, anyway. Truth be told, even if I think I have an idea where Spirit is leading me, I’m always amazed by the journey. I may THINK I have a map, but I’m not going where I’ve been before, that is behind me, and every person’s journey is unique, so other people’s maps would do me no good anyway. You know what is said about the difference between Religion and Spirituality, don’t you?

“Religion is belief in someone else’s experience.
Spirituality is having your own experience.”
-Deepak Chopra

I’ve been consciously traveling this river of Wyrd, this flow of Spirit, or my fate or personal destiny, as my Anglo-Saxon ancestors may have called it, now for over a decade. I can trust that the boat I’ve made for myself is well-crafted and strong, because I built it myself, one bit of praxis at a time. I can trust that my Wyrd is flowing in accordance to Divine Will, and that the wisdom, skills and experience I’ve gained through my spiritual practice will be sufficient to navigate whatever rocks, eddies and rapids may lie ahead. I also know that as a sovereign being with free-will, I have choices:

  1. Do I cling to the edge in terror of the unknown before me; paralyzed by my fear? Am I so powerless and dependent on anything or anyone else to allow my personal destiny to unfold? I’m no sheep.
  2. Do I turn my boat around and paddle feverishly and pointlessly against the current, attempting to cling to the past or to old ideas, and outmoded ways?  We know that is an exhausting, frustrating, pointless endeavor at best, and is seething fundamentalism at worst, getting you no where; I am no fool.
  3. Do I allow myself to become diverted and mired in some murky bog of avoidance, self-loathing, addictions, heart-break, disillusionment, or entrapment in old ideas, or systems that no longer serve me? I’m no slave.
  4. Or might I have the courage and open mindedness to take responsibility for my own evolution by pointing the prow of my boat into the future, flowing with the current of wyrd, my Divine Will, and using all the tools I’ve honed and wisdom I’ve mapped for myself, to tackle what new vistas and lessons are out there waiting for me? Yes. I am the Witch; I am the Magickian.
Gouache on Paper by Heron Michelle

Gouache on Paper by Heron Michelle

With gratitude to the mystery teachings and techniques I weave through the Wheel of the Year, I have a praxis through which I can build the strong boat, map the wyrd through my own wisdom, and learn the skills of navigation through magick.  I will not let fear paralyze me, nor will I waste my energy on the pointless avoidance of change. I will not be blinded by personal ego, misdirected by personal will, nor will I let despair nor hatred bind me.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” ― Frank Herbert, Dune