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Showing posts with label wicca. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wicca. Show all posts

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Litha/Father's Day

Here, we have a Green Man Mask, and Litha-in-a-Jar, cool swag from my dear friend, WitchyWords!

Happy Litha, everybody!

Today is the Longest Day of the year, and a sunny and/or sweltering 78 degrees F with a humidity of 85%. Basically, it's hot, muggy, and gods-awful. But when you look out at all of this gorgeous greenery, you can hardly notice! 

With Litha being the longest day of the year, we celebrate the here, the now, the fertility of the land. This is a celebration where a lot of Pagans/Wiccans choose for their wedding days, and often choose today as a day of dedication, be it to themselves, their Crafts, or their loved ones. This is also a day to remember that now the days will grow shorter, now the days of summer will begin to wane...so it's very important to celebrate the here and now. 

This is my dad and me vacationing in Chicago. I think I was 21 in this picture. So that's
about 6 years ago!
Another reason to celebrate today is because today is Father's Day! How fitting! The celebration of God, the Green Man, the giver of Sun and provider, protector, Father to All...having the same day as this years' Father's Day!

My dad was a single dad for most of my life. He and my mother had me when they were 22, and he fought tooth and nail for custody of me when my parents divorced. It's kind of rare that men get the custody, but he did it.

My dad never married until I was older and out of the house, and never stopped. I remember being alone while he worked, and learning to take care of myself. I remember cooking dinner for us so I didn't have to do the dishes(our house rule: whoever cooks doesn't have to clean). In reality, it was my dad that taught me how to cook, so it's really him that I owe my career to.

 I remember him showing me how to cook. I remember him fighting for me, calling out teachers for calling me "Bossy" while the boys were praised for "leadership skills." I remember him telling me that if he had to come into the principal's office because I got into a fight for defending myself, or someone that couldn't, I would never be in trouble. I remember, mostly, him just being there. He was pretty gender forward-thinking when I was a kid; I remember him kind of getting this look of shock on his face when I would say certain things, or when other people would say certain things. I don't think he thought about gender roles a lot, since he's(y'know) a straight white man, so I think having a little brown daughter really woke him up. He told me to fight back, and never treated me "like a girl" because...well, I don't actually know. But he never treated me "like a girl." He treated me like the little person that would eventually grow up into a big person. He was crazy-forward-thinking until he realized the little monster he created(i.e. high school), which was a loud-mouthed teenager that yelled at a lot of boys in her class. Things like "I'M NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR DUMB-ASS THOUGHTS" or "YOU JUST ACT LIKE THIS BECAUSE YOUR DAD DOESN'T LOVE YOU" or whatever. So, uh, sorry, Dad.

Anyway, what I want to say most is that a lot of single dads don't get the mad props they deserve. Well, screw that! 

Here's to you, Single Dads! You're the real MVP! (I'm also really sorry for being so fucking hellish as a teenager. I wish I could give you a medal of honor or a Purple Heart or something to commemorate your achievement.) 

An old addage says to plant on the shortest day of the year(Yule/Winter solstice) and harvest on the longest(today). In the spirit of that, and celebrating all of what the God, the Green Man, has given, allow me to say thanks and honor Him by showing the bounty of my garden. Let the garden pics commence!

Here's my first harvest of beets! I know they're odd-looking. That's okay! They were delicious!

Here's an auto-awesome of my Indigo Rose tomatoes. They're so cute, and I can't believe that I started these beefy mothertruckers from seed! The plants' stalks are almost as thick as my pinkie. I think they'll be ready to harvest in another two weeks.

Here's my pumpkin patch, which actually vines out past where I was taking the picture. I don't mind the tall grass so much as it's perfect for the vines to grasp onto. These pumpkins are a mixture of varying types, so it'll be a really fun surprise to see what I get! There are more blooms every day, and bees and dragonflies are buzzing all around the blooms in the early morning! It really fills my heart with joy to see bees...

This was too cute! One of my blooms popped off and into the leaf of another plant! It was like a little baby, tucked in it's little faery crib....

I later went back and harvested more garlic. This was all of it from my garden. This is Spanish Red garlic, and the flavor is bomb! It's like...it's not mild, but the flavor is a combination of taking a nice bite of roasted garlic while inhaling some freshly-tilled garden soil. It's earthy and acrid, all at once. Crazy! 

And here's a picture of my dog giving me a little hug, for no reason, other than I just feel the need to document every moment of his existence. 

Happy Litha, everybody! Now go hug your dad!

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.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Modern Wiccan Girl

I might throw this post away.

I'm not shy about my religion, but I don't want it to define me. I don't think you should be defined by your religion in the sense of "I am a (X) so this is who I am." That's not all of who you are.

The beautiful thing about humanity is that we are all so different. I have a sugar maple in my front yard. That maple tree is beautiful, and I'll miss it sorely when I eventually move from this house. I watch it seed and bloom and change in the autumn. I love that tree. I haven't named it; I just call it the sugar maple. I have thought of tapping it, but the amount of effort for the minimal amount of syrup would probably be embarrassing for a novice like myself. On top of that, I don't want to harm the tree, especially when it gives me such a peaceful joy when I watch it sway in the summer winds.

As you can see, my cat loves the tree, as well.
If I were to take every single leaf off of that tree and lay them side by side in a long line, I would find that every single one of those leaves is beautiful. Maybe this one is a little fatter, or this one has a shape that looks like a dinosaur footprint, or maybe this one is the exact shade of green as my favorite Spring coat...but all of them are just beautiful. I think that people are the same way, and we so easily forget that. We are creatures of nature, and nature is beautiful.

I've been asked to be the official Kitchen Witch for Witchcraft & Wellness; I take this position with humility. I was raised a Catholic, so I suppose humility and guilt will be forever ingrained in my psyche. I haven't found humility as a theme in Wicca; just 'walk your talk.' Words are powerful things, so always be able to back it up.

I don't know why I'm posting this. I suppose I feel fear for accepting this position, but not because I'm afraid of who I am--I'm more afraid of screwing it up. I take my religion seriously. I know that I'm not the best Wiccan in the world, but I try to be a good one.

The first rule is "Know Thyself," according to Thirteen Rules of the Witch.

The second rule is "Know thy Craft."

The third is "Learn."

I guess I just try to learn everything I can. Life is a giant University that you attend every moment. Everybody has experienced this day differently from you, and that's a beautiful thing. One of the ways we can learn most easily is through food.

I was fortunate enough to find my vocation/career path early in life, and it's a gift. It brings me life, and I get to touch people's lives with what I do. I must admit, however, that the previous sentence has been sitting on my screen for the past 15 minutes and I've been staring blankly at it in hopes that I could remember what the point of all of that was.

I guess the point is that life is precious and the fact that I still feel iffy about being who I am in a sea of bigoted Christianity("What's the Matter with Kansas", Westboro Baptist Church, etc.) is just wrong, especially when I know so many Christian people that are open and loving and happy. Maybe it's people that are wrong, and not the religion they claim to be.

Blessed Be. Gotta go work. Enjoy this picture of my hot chocolate from this morning.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Ouefs au Naturale (Naturally-Dyed Easter/Ostara Eggs!)

Dyed using red cabbage and carrot tops/tumeric

Happy Spring!!!

There are so many wonderful things about spring, and dying Ostara eggs is one of my absolute favorites. I am not shy about my religion, being a Wiccan woman and proud of it is honestly one of the favorite things about myself. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I'm happy to be a Wiccan. I am happy to call myself Witch. While Wicca itself is a modernization of old Pagan values and practices, I still see it as an ancient and beautiful religion with so many fun ways to practice it in the modern day. Ostara is my favorite Sabbat, and dyeing eggs is my favorite activity, which I look forward to doing all year long. With so many creative ideas going all around Pinterest, it's easy to get caught up in all of it! Here's the thing about Pinterest, though: It's all insanity.

I've gone on quite a few Pinterest kicks in my day, and most of the pictures from my results have been burned since they were too fail-tastic to show anyone. But do you know what else is fail-tastic? Chemicals, and too much of them. We are becoming more and more aware of  the food we eat and the chemical crap that goes into it, and the body is a temple, so you must worship at it accordingly. Now, if you want your temple to be full of chemicals and GMOs and junk food, that is completely fine. It is your body. It is your temple. I honestly don't mind getting a little crap in my system. Being someone who struggled with body image and an eating disorder before(both first and second hand)I have learned to listen to my body. If my body wants some organic grapes, I feed her that. If my body wants Cheetoes and ranch dressing, I feed her that. That being said, I realize that I'm getting older, and that the world is changing...so I should learn to change and adapt with it. Why  not start with my favorite things for my favorite sabbat: the Ostara Egg.

 So here is a super-quick guide to dyeing Ostara eggs in a natural way!

A huge thanks to Radmegan.com for the awesome image and beautiful pictorial guide! Here's another, taken from WaldorfToday.com:

These recipes are done using what is known as the boiling method, which is my preferred method. You basically take your "dye" ingredients, whatever they may be, and combine them with water and a nice teaspoon of white vinegar, then boil the eggs in the liquid for 14 minutes and let set. Basically, just boil everything in the biggest pot you've got, then turn off the heat and cover. This will not only result in perfectly cooked eggs, but a beautiful bright hue. Here's the thing about this method: it takes forever for the color to set. The amounts of the dye ingredients are sort of whatever you like. Once it boils, you can add more color, if you like, and let it steep. Remember that the longer that you let it steep, the more brilliant the color will appear.

The one advantage to artificial dyes is that they are fast. Only a short 8 minutes and you have beautiful eggs, all brightly colored! For the best results on your natural dyes, it's honestly best to let them sit overnight in the liquid. There are disadvantages to this in the practical sense, especially if you have small children who just can't wait to see their beautiful creations, but your patience will be rewarded.

However! This does not mean you should be discouraged, especially because you have so much creative room. Did you know that you can "print" on your eggs using leaves and flowers that you find in  your garden? My garden isn't really  in bloom, yet, but this visual tutorial can be used as a guide.

This is a method that can be used with gauze, mesh, cheesecloth...but, honestly, I've found that a doubled-up coffee filter can work just as well in a pinch The red color seen here is from boiled beets. Instead of wasting beets, just peel the beets that you were going to roast or eat anyway and use that leftover peel in the water. Beets yield a gorgeous color, and stain everything they touch, so they're ideal. Plus, beets are tasty.

You can use red or golden beets for this application, both of which give lovely colors. Like I said, the longer you let it sit, the better. But please keep in mind that too  much vinegar will eventually soften your egg shell...which is both kinda cool and really gross. Exercise caution!

How can this kind of thing be applied to your modern Witch?

Simple! Take herbs and leaves that go with your own desires and wrap them in the eggs. Letting the eggs sit overnight will let the energies mature, penetrate your "seed" which will be an uber-powerful spell bomb in the morning!

Traditionally, this is the part where "hiding" the eggs come into play. You hide or bury these eggs in your garden or outside somewhere, with pictures of your wishes drawn on them, for the Fae to find. They take your wishes to the Goddess, and she grants it. Or something.

There are so many versions of this story and how hiding eggs came to be. I remember the stories that my own High Priestess would tell about how the eggs are seeds, and we hide them to plant them. We sow the seeds of our wishes, our desires, and nurture them throughout the seasons, which help them come to fruition. In my mind, this is all the more reason we should use natural dyes. After all, if you're going to end up planting your "seed" in the ground, in the garden, you may as well use natural stuff.

The most-beautiful natural egg dye job is this beauty, which is made from onion skins and flowers. I can just imagine the wonderful scavenger hunt you'll go on trying to find these flowers, can't you? They just look terrific. You can find the full visual tutorial here.

Like I said, there are advantages and troubles to dyeing eggs in the natural way.

Advantage: no extra chemicals in something you'll probably use for devilled eggs, if you don't intend to plant them or use them for a ritual.

Disadvantage: They take for-freaking-ever.

Advantage: They're gorgeous and fun!

Disadvantage: The ingredients for certain dyes (blueberries, beets,  turmeric, saffron, wine, etc) can get crazy expensive, which is no good if you're on a budget. Seriously, do you know how much blueberries cost? Just to not eat?

Advantage: Kids can safely enjoy without any risk of chemical reactions, as can your more delicate friends.

Disadvantage: They take for-FREAKING-EVER.

Advantage: You'll have one more fun thing to put on your Pinterest!

Disadvantage: There's a really big chance that it won't turn out like the pictures, so you might be setting yourself up for disappointment, when you could have just bought dyes.

Speaking of buying dyes, you can purchase powdered dyes off the internet for such au naturale dye jobs...but what's the fun in that? Go ahead and try these out. You're a powerful being: do the thing.

Happy eating and Happy Ostara!

Oh, and this is what mine ended up looking like after sitting in its dye for a couple of days:

Cool, right?