A Thanksgiving Transmutation of Tens

[This article can be found in it’s entirety posted on my column, Witch on Fire, November 24th, 2015.]

It is Thanksgiving week here in the US and as usual there is some tension between the materialism of Black Friday, and the spiritual considerations of gratitude and benevolence.  Recently, I had what some would call a crises of faith regarding my own material needs. I’m walking the tight rope between a need to pay for the necessities of life and my sacred mission of service. In short, I think about money, or the lack thereof, a lot. Some might think that isn’t enlightened to admit publicly. I beg to differ.

My witchcraft is about a healthy balance between all the five elements of life: physical, emotional, mental, will, and spirit. You know, the equal interweaving of the 5 points of the pentacle. None of that “denial of the flesh,” or “vow of poverty” bull around this witch’s cottage. Nope, we aim to “drink the good wine to the old gods” here, especially so when we feast in thanksgiving. Well, that feast comes with a price tag, so a required part of my praxis is the hard work spent manifesting the resources we need to not just survive, but thrive.

The tens cards of the Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley and Frieda Harris.

The tens cards of the Thoth Tarot by Aleister Crowley and Frieda Harris.

A Transmutation of Tens

Let us not forget that the tarot deck, the bread and butter of a witches’ tool box, has an entire suit devoted to the lessons of our survival through good health and enough wealth; the job that puts food on the table and pays the doctor’s bills. In some decks that is the suit of coins, or pentacles; in my beloved Thoth Tarot deck it is the suit of disks.

During my soul searching these past weeks, I found wise guidance through the tens cards of my deck. I recognized that the last years of my life flowed through these lessons…like a transmutation, a change from something base to something precious. A pattern in my life emerged that can be illustrated by the tens cards of Wealth, Oppression, Ruin and Satiety.

[Click here to read the rest of the story at Patheos Pagan Channel, at Witch on Fire.]

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Vegan Recipes: Thai Autumn Squash Casserole

Thai Autumn SquashAt Thanksgiving this year, I set out to recreate my favorite holiday flavors as vegan dishes because I’d invited my sweetheart to join my family, and as far as I’m concerned, the way you love someone is to respect their personal choices in support of their health.  That being said, there is absolutely no reason that creative people must suffer through anything less than the yummiest of foods. You truly can have your vegan, gluten-free cake, and eat it too! Yes, we made a ham and deviled eggs for the omnivores, but on the side-dishes, going vegan was not only easy to do, but stunningly delicious! Necessity is the mother of invention!

I started this “Thai Autumn Squash” recipe as an answer to the age old “sweet potato casserole” requirement we seem to have in my family. I have never liked that dish, floating in marshmallows and cloyingly sweet. So, I began with the basic idea in my Autumn Harvest Bisque recipe, but rather than a soup, I aimed for a whipped and baked in a casserole dish idea. Plus, my sweetheart made some amazing tamari roasted pecans that I used as a topping!

Thai Autumn Squash Casserole (Vegan, gluten free)

3 acorn squash, prepared

1 butternut squash, prepared

1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and chopped

1/2 cup diced onion

1 tablespoon chopped fresh garlic

3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin organic coconut oil

3 teaspoons yellow curry powder

1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger

1 tablespoon chopped fresh lemongrass

1/3 cup mulled apple cider (mulled with clove, cinnamon, allspice and orange peel.)

1 cup coconut milk

6 tablespoons organic, gluten-free tamari sauce

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon berbere powder, or paprika

1/4 cup maple syrup (Organic,Grade B is best.)

1 cup chopped sweet tamari pecans

Pull out your electric mixer, if you have one.

Ahead of time you can mull some apple cider by slowing warming on the stove, or in a crock pot, a gallon of apple cider with 1 tablespoon each of whole clove, whole allspice, and an orange peel, with 1 cinnamon stick. Let soak for a few hours, then remove the spices and enjoy as a warming holiday beverage, but save out 1/3 cup for the squash! Prepare your Sweet Tamari Pecans ahead of time, according to this recipe over at Lipbone Redding’s blog, but try not to eat them all! Save about 1/2 cup for the squash.

Autumn squashes are notoriously tough and difficult to peel. I think it is easiest to just prick the skin of the butternut squash with a fork a bunch of times, then put in the microwave on a plate, and cook on high for 5 minutes, then give it a cold bath in ice water. After it has cooled enough to touch, the peeling should strip away with a vegetable peeler pretty easily. Cut in half, scoop out and discard the seeds/pulp, then dice up the remaining squash. IMG_8409To prepare the acorn squash, I quarter them, scoop out and discard the pulp/seeds, then place raw side up in a casserole dish with about a 1/4 inch of water in the bottom, cover with foil, then bake at 350 degrees for about half an hour. Remove from oven, let cool. I then use a spoon to scoop out the squashy goodness, discarding the peels. IMG_8411Go ahead and peel/chop the apple, garlic, onion, ginger and lemongrass. In a large, deep skillet, (I used my electric skillet) heat up the coconut oil over medium high heat and saute the onions until glossy, then add the acorn and butternut squash. Saute for about 5 more minutes, then add the apple, garlic, curry, ginger and lemongrass and the mulled apple cider. Reduce heat to medium, and stir frequently for 5-10 more minutes as the liquid reduces and it caramelizes a bit. It is done when the apples are mashable.Remove from heat and transfer to a mixing bowl, get out the electric mixer, if you have one.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. With the electric mixer, whip the vegetable mixture with the coconut milk, tamari sauce, black pepper and berbere powder (or paprika) until smooth and fluffy. Taste-test and adjust salt and pepper to suit your preference. Spoon into a casserole dish and smooth flat. Sprinkle the chopped sweet tamari pecans evenly over the top, then drizzle the maple syrup over the top. Bake at 350 degrees, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. VOILA! This recipe served 6-8 people with left-overs.

See also my Vegan Recipes: Marinated Collard Greens post.

Creating Sacred Space: Calls of Thanksgiving

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Tomorrow, The Sojo Circle participates in the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service alongside our Abrahamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Secular Humanist, and Unitarian Universalist neighbors. I’m proud to say that a member of our circle is now the Director of the Interfaith Alliance of Eastern North Carolina, so we feel right at home in their lovely services. Every year this is a beneficial experience, and I look forward to reprising these poetic calls that we first shared in 2011.  Of course, we celebrated the Mabon Thanksgiving sabbat and feast back in September, but I’m happy to join my neighbors during this time our nation sets aside for gratitude.

Should the opportunity present itself, I welcome you to use these words to create your own sacred space. Happy Thanksgiving, and many blessings of abundance to you all!

Mabon Calls of Thanksgiving

~By Heron Michelle

Blessings of the East and of Air!
Amber twilight and crisp autumn chill, reddening the cheeks and painting the hills!
As the harvest ends, I greet you in this sacred space!
Open the gates of thought and inspire us!
Let there be wonder and wisdom as we gather in Thanksgiving!
Welcome Air!

Blessings of the South and of Fire!
Crimson sun and hearth fire burning, warming heart and home this autumn turning,
As the nights lengthen, I greet you in this sacred space!
Open the gates of action and revitalize us!
Let there be generosity and gratitude as we gather in Thanksgiving!
Welcome Fire!

Blessings of the West and of Water!
Silver rains and misty morning, hot mulled cider and memory swirling!
As the tides ebb, I greet you in this sacred space!
Open the gates of emotion and stir our hearts!
Let there be compassion and benevolence as we gather in Thanksgiving!
Welcome Water!

Blessings of the North and of Earth!
Russet fields and bounty gathered, family recipes prepared on heaping platters,
As the feast is celebrated, I greet you in this sacred space!
Open the gates of growth and nurture us!
Let there be abundance and fulfillment as we gather in Thanksgiving!
Welcome, Earth!

Blessings of the Center, Great Spirit!
Known by many names and many faces, Mother and Father, Nurturer and Provider!
Dark fertile earth and flaming sun, when met with love brings forth the bounty of the land and all that can sustain us.
As we assemble with our greater family, I greet you in this sacred space!
Open the gates of Spirit and unite us!
Let there be acceptance and peace for our community as we gather in Thanksgiving!
Welcome, Spirit!

Release

Blessings of the Center, Great Spirit!
From this sacred space we send the light of acceptance and peace into our community!
With gratitude and reverence, we walk in Spirit.
Blessed be!

Blessings of the North and of Earth!
From this sacred space we send the light of abundance and fulfillment into our community!
With gratitude and reverence, we bid you farewell.
Blessed be!

Blessings of the West and of Water!
From this sacred space we send the light of compassion and benevolence into our community!
With gratitude and reverence, we bid you farewell.
Blessed be!

Blessings of the South and of Fire!
From this sacred space we send the light of generosity and gratitude into our community.
With gratitude and reverence, we bid you farewell.
Blessed be!

Blessings of the East and of Air!
From this sacred space we send the light of wonder and wisdom into our community.
With gratitude and reverence, we bid you farewell.
Blessed be!

All!

The circle is open, but never broken. Merry Meet, Merry Part and Merry Meet Again!