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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Witchcraft And Wellness: Fun at Gathering of Pagan Souls

Taken from Gathering of Pagan Souls.com!
I'm Wiccan.

I'm not shy about who I am or what I believe in. I suppose that this feeling is new, considering I've only had to deal with it recently. But I have come to the conclusion that I'm not shy about my religion or my belief or my involvement with the community. I suppose I should be more careful, considering I'm in Kansas and all, but I really don't think that being shy and hiding is the way to go. I don't feel that being annoyingly loud is the way to go either. I feel that if you don't make a big deal about your faith, nobody else will. Your relationship with God is your own thing; and it's not my place to say...nor is it your place to say. If you aren't harming anyone, what's the problem?

Being religious doesn't make you morally superior. Being atheist doesn't make you intellectually superior.

There, now we can get on.

I had SUCH a fun time at Gathering of Pagan Souls(here's their Facebook page)! It took place on 80 Acres, a beautiful venue in Leavenworth , KS that was just perfect! I wish it had been sunnier, but the rain skirted around us. We all joked about how it was because we were all praying so hard and pushing the storm around. There might not be any science to it, but there's something to be said for 100+ Witches directing their energy to make the storm NOT come.

"If you rain, I will unleash the
flying monkeys"(Thanks 1x.com)
Anywho, my workshop was with the illustrious Mary Caldwell, a High Priestess from Texas who works with the acclaimed Ed Fitch, author. Everyone was pretty stoked at Ed Fitch was going to be there, but he was unfortunately struck with some medical issues, so he had to send Mary up to help me. She set up her hot pink tent and sold her wares. We all hung out together in the tent and talked about our presentation:

Witchcraft & Wellness.

What is that? I will tell you, faithful reader.

It's just finding the balance between spirituality and taking care of your body. Sure, you can have a glowing soul, but still have Diabetes. You can be spiritually pure, but still obese. You can be at peace, but you still eat like shit. My theory? You can't.

Your body is the vessel in which you are in. Your brain is piloting this giant meat-skeleton, and you are responsible for it. Sure, you might be reincarnated and live many lives, but you only get one body. That's it. You. Get. One. Body. Let me write that again:

You may live several lifetimes through reincarnation, but you only get one body. 

So please take care of it.

Many health-related issues here in America are diet-related. Obesity-related diseases are rampant. Sure, body issues and acceptance and body politics have all gone nuts, but it's not about image: this is about health.

There are a shit-ton of fat people in this country. I'm not saying you being fat makes you a bad person. I am saying that it's hard on your body to be fat. A few extra? Sure, whatever. But 300+ lbs overweight? You're not meant to be that big. You are not meant to be 300 lbs and above of fat. Granted, we weren't necessarily meant  to be living sedentary lives in big urban cities, eating fast food, so that's probably a factor in our weight and health. As hunter-gatherers, we sought out high-fat, high-sugar foods to binge on because we didn't know where our next meal was coming from. Nowadays, you don't even have to get out of the car to eat.

Drive-thrus are a miracle, and they are slowly killing us.

I have a pedometer on my phone, and I average about 10,000 steps per day. My boyfriend, who has an office job, averages around 3,000 per day. Our lifestyles are fairly different, because my job is extremely physical and I am constantly on my feet. A more sedentary person than my boyfriend might average 1,000 per day. My taking 10,000 steps per day, however, hasn't necessarily made me lose weight, but it has made me gain muscle.

I am a muscular girl. I build muscle fairly easily, but I also have some soft-and-squishies on my tummy. I have a resting heart rate, however, of 61 bpm(beats per minute), and that is a sign of someone who is very healthy. Health is something that's not solely dependent on one thing, and that's the kind of thing I really wanted to lead with at Witchcraft & Wellness.

Spiritual health is an easy sell with Pagans, as it is with many who subscribe to a more religious/spiritual doctrine. The basic theme of my workshop was connections through the Four Elements. These are Earth, Water, Fire, and Air, and are the four corners of all which makes up Nature, a beautiful thing from which we owe our lives. Here's how you can live a spiritually and physically balanced life using the Four Elements:

I just love this picture...

  • Gardening
    • This is a great way to connect with the earth, and a great way to make your life a little better! Whether you plant flowers or food, you're planting, and that means that bees will find the flowers....which is very important. Not to mention the great benefits you have of growing your own food. Tomato plants grow like weeds, and spinach plants couldn't be easier to maintain! You just snip off the outer leaves when you want a snack, and let the inner ones continue to grow!
  • Walking with your pets
    • Your dog loves you, and s/he needs exercise to be healthy and happy, just like you do! Walk an extra block with your dog; although this may not seem "earthy", it certainly is! Caring for pets or children unlock that 'mothering/nurturing' part of your brain that give you all sorts of calming endorphins and seratonins!
    • You will never drink too much water. Dehydration is a major energy zapper, and--often--when you think you're hungry, you're probably just thirsty. Drink water before you go for that bag of chips, as it will probably fill you up.
  • Dance
    • I know this  sounds silly and cliche, but seriously. Dancing connects you to yourself, and if you do it alone in the kitchen, just moving where your  body takes you, you'll feel better. 
  • Stretch
    • Your body and bones and blood need exercise, but also a time to relax. Do a few yoga moves, do some low impact stretching...your bloodflow will be happy.
  • Vigorous exercise!
    • Get that heart rate up! Jog! Swim! Anything that gets your heart rate going! Invest in a heart rate monitor, if you like.
  • Eat spicy foods!
    • Seriously, capsaicin jumpstarts your metabolism like crazy. It's something as small as adding a little red chili flake to your chicken salad that will seriously help you in the long run.
    • Stressed? Take a breath. Take a deeeeeeep breath. Nobody will get sick from breathing. (Allergies are a different story.)
  • Get some fresh air
    • Don't just breathe in your office. Go outside. Breathe. Seriously, it won't kill you.

These were some of the basic things I covered through the Workshop I conducted. We had a really great turnout, too, considering the grounds were completely empty for fear of storms! I asked my faithful assistants to go out with scraps of paper and have people write down what they would like to know about eating healthy and living a more balanced life from the opinions of a professional cook. 

The questions I got were really great, and I tried to answer them to the best of my ability. I really wish I hadn't lost the actual slips of paper, but the gist of my questions were:

  1. How do you deal with picky eaters?
  2. What are some tips for feeding a large family on a budget?
  3. What raw produce to eat for the best nutritional value?
  4. How do scars effect your spiritual health?
    1. This one wasn't necessarily food-related, but I still loved it...

Let's tackle one thing at a time:

Picky Eaters
  • Children
    • Just mash it in and don't tell them. You can make soups that are chock-FULL of vegetables that they would normally not eat if you blend it up. Add a splash or two of heavy cream and some butter, then pop the soup in a blender. If it's pureed in, they won't be able to tell. 
      • A trick:
        • I once got my little sister to eat turnips and celery root by mashing it in with mashed potatoes. If you boil it all in at once, and it's all the same color, they won't know. 
    • If they still refuse, just say "Hey, you're going to bed hungry then."
      • This will happen ONCE, and never again. Trust me on this. It seems mean, but it's for the best.
    • Make them cook for themselves
      • As early as 5, kids can make themselves a sandwich, make themselves a salad...nothing that involves the stove. At 10, they can bake cookies, operate the stove, etc. If they don't like what you're cooking, they can and will make their own food. This will not only instill a feeling of responsibility in them, but be a huge  self-esteem booster. Nothing will make your kid feel as powerful as feeding themselves.
  • Adults
    • See above
      • Seriously, if someone wants to act like a child, you treat them like a child.

Feeding a large family on a budget

  • Mushrooms
    • Take a pound of ground beef(pretty cheap) and a quart or two of mushrooms(the kind you can pick up at the store for $2.99). Chop the mushrooms up and use that  as a filler for burgers, meatloaf, etc. This can be a great filler and an excellent alternative to breadcrumbs if you're needing to accommodate a gluten-free member of the family.
  • Quinoa
    • Oddly cheap, this superfood is extremely high in protein for a grain(which it technically isn't...it's a seed) and very nutritional. Make quinoa instead of rice. You can use it in literally any application:
      • Served cold, hot, as a pilaf, in a dessert, whatever
  • Portion-control
    • It's easy to buy in bulk. It's not easy to keep that bulk up. Take a day and portion out your food, plan out your meals. There are easily a thousand websites that can show you how to do this better than I can, with way better pictures, so please do some research! 
      • If you know how much food is allotted to you per day, that's one more easy way to keep yourself trim, and your family.

Veggies that are super-good for you

Oh you know, just being
fabulously girly while I talk
about health and wellness.
  • The person that asked me the question wanted to know about raw stuff, which is good...but cooking doesn't really kill off nutrients. Sure, over-cooking does, but the Gods gave us fire, so let's use it, please. If you want to eat raw? Great. If you don't? Also great. As long as you're eating veggies, I'm down.
  • Beets
    • Beets come in all sorts of colors, be it red, orange, gold...whatever! You can enjoy beets roasted, raw(sliced thin), pickled, in soups...if you can think it, the beet can do it.
  • Blueberries
    • A bit pricey, but a great antioxidant. You can have them dried, too, if you like!
  • Greens
    • Tunip greens, beet greens, carrot greens...when you buy this stuff at the farmer's market, the veggies often come with delicious greens. DO NOT THROW THEM AWAY!!! These greens are delicious, nutritious, and so easy to cook! Just braise them. Or roast them. Look up some recipes online! 
      • My favorite is beet greens, sauteed in oil with salt and pepper, maybe a little lemon juice.
  • Anything naturally colorful
    • The beautiful thing about nature is that it color-codes what's good for us! Eat orange things. eat red things. Eat purple and blue things. Eat green things! Add color to your diet. Look to the rainbow to help you!
How do scars effect spiritual health?
  • The long and short? They don't.
    • This question threw me for a loop because I have so many scars. I have burn scars, and chicken pox scars, all over my body. I was so self-conscious of them, and when you feel icky about your own skin, it tends to leak out into your spirit. But those scars on your skin tell a story of who you are, and where you've been. Wear your scars like jewels, and the blotches on your aura will fade away. You don't have to have flawless skin, but you have to have skin. Does your skin do the job? It's beautiful. Your looks only have as much effect on your soul as you allow it.

In addition to all of these things, the people mostly wanted to just see basic tutorials, how to cook, how to feed families, how to not  set a grease fire in their kitchens... I find that most people are willing to cook, but they don't know how. They want recipes that work and that don't take forever, or cost a billion dollars. I will do my best to provide this information, all through Culinary School

Happy cooking, happy eating, happy BEING.

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