Lamenting Lost Lammas

This week was Lammas, and I’ve been so embroiled in wedding planning I didn’t even light a candle.

I love Lammas! The smell of bread baking. The fruit trees bearing sweet, juicy fruit. The thought of Samhain around the corner. The crisp change in the air. Oh! And my favorite… ham and 15 bean soup with corn bread!

15 Bean Ham and Bean Soup

1 pkg Hurst’s® HamBeens® 15 Bean Soup®
8 cups water (use chicken, beef, or vegetable broth for added flavor)
1 lb. smoked sausage, ground sausage (browned in pan), ham hocks or diced ham. You can also use a leftover hambone with some meat on it.
1 lg. onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp chili powder (optional)
1 can tomatoes (15 oz.)
Juice from 1 lemon
Optional: Hot sauce or crushed red pepper to taste

NO SOAK METHOD
Sort and rinse beans, check for any unwanted debris and discard.
Drain and place in a slow cooker with 8 cups of water, onions, meat or hambone, garlic and chili powder. (Not tomato or lemon juice yet!)
Set slow cooker on high and cook for 5 hours (or low for 7-8), or until beans are tender, but not falling apart.
After the beans are tender, remove the hambone (leave any ham in the pot), stir in the can of tomatoes, our Ham Flavor packet, and the lemon juice.
Cook for additional 30 minutes then keep warm until ready to serve.
We recommend to serve with a freshly baked slice of corn bread! You can also serve over rice as well.
Please keep in mind that every time the lid is opened, your cooking time will be longer.

For even more flavor, substitute beef, chicken or vegetable stock instead of water.
You can also try 1 lb. boneless chicken breasts or 1 lb. beef roast, then shred meat before Step 5 above.
As with all dry bean recipes, it’s best to wait until AFTER the beans have become tender or fully cooked before adding any acidic ingredients like tomatoes, citrus, vinegars, etc.
Remember that this is a NO SOAK recipe, but if you have already soaked the beans that’s not a problem, just use 1 cup of water/stock less.
Variations on the recipe will work for almost all of Hurst’s HamBeens items.
If you prefer a more “brothy” soup, add an extra cup of liquid when preparing

 

Corn Bread

2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
3 tbsp shortening melted
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda

Beat eggs, add buttermilk and melted shortening mix well
mix dry ingredients add to egg mixture
beat until smooth pour into greased pan\bake at 375 about 25 minutes serve hot

I found this recipe for Lammas Bread a while back. Swore I was going to try it this year.

Lammas Loaf 

1 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 slightly beaten eggs
1 cup milk
1/4 cup shortening

Preheat oven to 220C.  Sift flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder in large bowl.  Blend in eggs, milk, and shortening.  Beat the combined mixture as you chant:

The Earth Mother grants us the grain,
The Horned God goes to dark domain.
By giving life into Her grain,
The God dies, then is born again.

Pour mixture into greased corn cob molds for cornbread sticks, or into greased or lined cupcake pan.  Mixture can also be baked in a square pan, then sliced when cooled.  Bake 20-35 minutes until top no longer indents when touched.

Someone made a nutty Lammas bread years ago. I wrote the recipe down, put it in a safe place. So I wouldn’t lose it…and… lost it. If anyone has a recipe for Lammas bread which contains sunflower seeds…you would save me from a multi-year craving!

All this talk of food is making me hungry! A blueberry cobbler would be perfect right now. Great for a Lammas celebration. And my Lavender Tea Loaf….baking could be in order this weekend!

Oh! Let’s not forget this Lammas Bread….

LAMMAS OATMEAL APPLE BREAD

1 C Wheat Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons Salt
1 teaspoon Nutmeg
1/2 C Brown Sugar
1 C Butter
1/2 C Nuts (if you are not a nut person these are optional)
3 Medium Apples (chopped)
1 C Raisins
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
1 teaspoon Ginger
1-1/2 C Rolled Oats
1 Egg
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla or orange extract

Mix above ingredients together, then place in a greased 9 inch cake pan.
Bake at 350º for 30 minutes, until it begins to move away from the sides of the pan. This bread may be shaped for ritual as well, and the fruits and nuts may be changed for different seasons.

I have to stop writing and go find food….or bake….or both!

Blessed Be My Friends!

Honoring Lives Entwined

“Love and Friendship, Kin and Kind.
Ever in Our Hearts and Minds.
Magic made and Lives Entwined,
Thus we honor, Ties that Bind.”

I’ve learned to expect death between November and January. It puts a damper on the ‘Happy’ Holiday season. It tends to come in threes. Family, friend, and acquaintance. Some years, it skips family which leaves me thankful. Still, death darkening your doorstep leaves you contemplating your demise.

I’ve experienced death. I’m not afraid of its looming arrival. I won’t actively seek it out, and hope its arrival is far in the future. I also don’t mourn the loss of those who pass. We will meet again. I’m a firm believer a life should be celebrated.

We had the pleasure of knowing these wonderful people. Their lives touched our in ways we’ll never fully comprehend. We are better because of their contribution to who we are; should that be mourned? Yes, their passing will leave a hole within our lives. Yes, that phone call will go unanswered. The birthday card unsent. The laughter unheard, and conversation unspoken. It is these things we must honor.

Call the high school friend you’ve been missing. Celebrate birthdays of co-workers, friends, family and those who have no one who celebrates them. Laugh more, and speak more kindness. Light the candles in memory. Include the ancestors and all who have passed in all you do. Have those conversation. They hear you, and still care.

We learn from the loss. Even as our hearts break, our souls grow. We evaluate who we have become, and what we will leave behind. We write our wills and purchase burial plots. We accomplish what we’d otherwise leave to chance. It is the motivation and awakening of realization we need.

So cry the tears, mend the hearts, but do not let the darkness consume you. Look instead to the miracle of those who passed. Their wonder and greatness is our treasure. Let them always be part of your life.

I celebrate those who have recently passed. May the candle burn bright in your memory. You will continue to be a great treasure.

Blessed Be to All!

I do, but I must be Crazy!

FB_IMG_1439993087923So…. I have been planning a wedding.

Let me tell you how this adventure has gone so far. Being who I am. I, of course, came up with the brilliant idea of having a medieval wedding. That doesn’t sound complicated. Most people would say it sounds rather fun.

Now, I had visions of beautiful dresses. Men in fancy jackets with gorgeous boots. Swords dangling from their sides. Maidens all in a row. The officiant in monk robes. Flowers as far as the eyes can see. Flickering candles marching down the aisle. Notice… I said HAD.

We have had to contact other countries for clothing! A large portion of garments will be coming from the UK. A local search for fitting clothes yielded absolutely nothing! We have one seamstress in this town, and she only does alterations. The one wedding shop we do have caters to the strapless mindset. I am far too old to rock the strapless look.

Once upon a time I would have naively believed wedding planning would be fun. I’m still trying to decide whether there will be centerpieces, or if people will get to stare vacantly at each other across the table. The vacant option is winning! Simply because I won’t have to look at any more flowers. Death by Flowers – the new message for my tombstone.

Don’t get me started on wedding invitations. There are invitations to be sent to the bridesmaids and grooms men. Asking them to be bridesmaids and grooms men. There are save the date invitations. So people are forewarned a year in advance. There are invitations to the wedding ceremony, and invitations to the reception. There are RSVP cards to place in the invitations.

Ah…and the guest list. Let me tell you the joys of the guest list. First you write down everyone you’d like to invite. Then, you review the list because 1500 people is far too many to invite. Especially when you’re attempting to keep the budget in check. You slowly remove people from the list. Who will show, who won’t show, who will embarrass you, who you’ll let embarrass you, who will drink too much, who won’t drink enough. All the pros and cons and…ugh!

You finally dwindle the list down to a manageable number of people. Then you realize you forgot Aunt June and Uncle March. You can’t forget the fireman who saved your cat 50 times. There are co-workers and friends. Family you like and family you don’t. I just want to throw all the names in a hat and pick 50 people. Someone is always going to be upset because you didn’t invite them. Then there are those who get upset because you did.

Oh, and finding a venue! That has been an adventure all its own. The place you really want, of course, is already booked. The place you really do not want is available from now until forever. Probably because no one really wants it. Then there are the places where you can hold the ceremony but not the reception, or vice versa.

An October wedding adds a challenge. It tends to snow here in October, and always around Halloween. So an outdoor wedding, while preferable, is out of the question. Although I would do it, just to see the false teeth chattering. An indoor wedding means decorating. Lots and lots of decorating. Some venues you can have a couple of days to decorate. Others, you can decorate the night before but all decorations have to be removed by midnight the day of the wedding. I’d hire a decorating firm if such a thing existed in this town.

And then the honeymoon. I love the idea of a honeymoon. Escaping the rat race which lead up to the wedding. Running from relatives and well-wishers. Going someplace where someone else cleans up the mess. Such joy, such bliss, such bull s***. The only thing we’re going to want to do after the wedding is sleep for a week. By the time out of town family leaves, the whole wedding paraphilia gets put away/given away and a sense of normalcy returns. You better just give me comfy clothes, a couch and a remote.

Let’s not forget about registering for gifts. We’ve lived together for so long we have everything…plus lots of extra. Any gifts we’d receive would be additional clutter. Thankfully we did find a solution. There is a registry where cash donations can be made. We’ve decided any money we receive will be donated to a couple of charities we support. One of them being the Black Cat Rescue.

We’re not inviting people for them to give us gifts, or money. We’re inviting them because hey, this is a big deal! We want them there to celebrate with us. We want them to have fun! Maybe see us act a little goofy; step out of our usual comfort zone. Sing, dance, sword fight. THIS is what we invite them for…the rest is just noise.

I understand now why people elope. It is quick and simple and cost effective. You tick everyone off all at once. They can’t get mad because they perceive you playing favorites. No decorations. No invitations. No fancy garb and uncomfortable shoes. Just “I do’s” and it is done.

But….with all of the complaints and frustrations. All of the work and the plotting. There is a moment, when you think about the actual day, and you realize…people who get married have to be crazy! Still… you know you’re going to do it anyway. Simply because it is going to be the best day ever!

Blessed By My Friends!

Seriously Sucky Sinuses!

Apothecary

Sinus infections suck!

I’ve said that, loudly, over the past couple of weeks. The fires burning in various parts of our country send smoke wafting into our small valley. It is inescapable! Compound it with the corn tasseling, and allergens. You have the makings for the perfect sinus storm.

When these sinus storms wreak havoc with their pressure, pain, and unending headaches. I start brewing sinus remedies.

Over the years I’ve tried many. I even recently tried a new one. It was slated as a sinus reliever. I found it…un-relieving. It smelled fantastic! I loved that it was made with coconut oil. As relief though, it failed to live up to its name. That doesn’t mean you won’t have better luck. So, if you’d like to try it…. Here it is:

Mix together:

2 drops Frankincense EO
2 drops Peppermint EO
2 drops Lavender EO
1 teaspoon coconut oil

Massage mixture into your forehead and sinus area. Repeat as necessary.

Again, this one smelled fantastic, but didn’t have the results I would have liked. My usual guinea pigs didn’t find it helpful either. One did find it pleasing enough to use it for a car freshener. I may toss this combination into bath salts, a soap or a lotion/foot rub. Everything can be useful!

My tried and true sinus remedy works fabulously! It has one drawback – it tastes horrible! I’ve grown accustomed to the taste, but I’m a bit stubborn. I use this recipe when I feel a sinus infection coming on. If I don’t have a batch mixed up when a sinus infection hits. I will spend a day or two fighting a combination sinus infection/migraine. It is miserable!

Since this remedy doesn’t taste the best. I’ve started reducing it down. That way it only takes a quick teaspoon, or shot glass half full. The relief is almost instantaneous. I warn people to be close to a box of Kleenex when they take it.

If you’re brave enough to try it, here is the recipe:

INGREDIENTS
 
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 wedge lemon

DIRECTIONS

  1. Bring water to a boil.
  2. Combine hot water and apple cider vinegar in a small glass or mug.
  3. Add honey and cayenne pepper. Stir well. Top off with a squeeze of lemon.
  4. Take a deep breath of the mixture, and start drinking.

It isn’t the best smelling either, but the steam helps moisten the sinuses.

I am still on the search for a good sinus ointment. Eucalyptus in the shower is still my go to remedy for a beginning sinus headache. It is quick and easy, and smells great.

If you have a remedy you use often, or try one of the above, I’d love to hear about them! As for me, I’m off for a shot of the terrible tasting stuff.

Blessed Be My Friends!

Witchy Witch Book Addiction

Books

Books

Let’s talk books!

This is a dangerous subject for a book-a-holic. Admittedly, not recovering. If I am to be addicted to anything, books are the safest. Although, in the far crevices of my mind. I see myself dying in an avalanche of badly stacked books. Me, in my overstuffed wing chair, lost in the latest Penczak book. In the fun, warped part of my mind… I find that thought comforting.

When I first discovered books on ‘Witchy’ things, I was sure I’d stumbled into a secret library. In a way, I had. The section was dingy, dark, lost in the furthest corner of the library. In an overtly biblical bible state, the accumulating dust was no surprise. It brought my allergies to my attention quickly though. Ah, the smell of dusty libraries and old books. Still a love of mine.

Once I discovered the secret library. I read everything voraciously! The librarian became my best friend. Even the libraries aged plastic bricks, they lovingly called chairs, became bearably comfortable. Funny the things you remember.

I don’t remember the titles of the books I read. Most of them were on the Witch hunts. Handy at the time, since most of my research papers lent themselves to the subject. There was no Silver Ravenwolf, or Christopher Penczac. Scott Cunningham was a name I’d never heard. Raymond Buckland was yet undiscovered.

Then summer came. I could no longer hideout in the school library. A summer job kept me from the local library. I worked an abundance of hours to avoid being home. I was different than the rest of my family. I was okay with it….them… not so much. The ‘conversion’ was always in process. That was okay too.

Curious by nature I look at everything as a learning adventure. Plus, church meant time to hang out with cousins and other family. There were some wild times. I tried different things. Singing solos for church services. I found I wasn’t really good at it and graciously resolved to never do it again. I decided puppet shows were the way to go.

So, I started writing my own puppet shows. I wrote them better than I performed them. Church patrons were entertained though. I couldn’t ask for more. In the mish-mash of it all I did tend to challenge the pastor. To many questions, not enough blind faith. Our conversations would end with him shaking his head and quietly smiling. I will always remember him with fondness. Throughout it all I never shook his faith. I still find it admirable.

In many ways, he was the inspiration for my search for self. My delving into religions and spiritual practices to find “The One!” I’ve tried on many over the years. I always come back to Witchcraft. The herbs, the nature, the ritual, the connection, the peace….and the books!

I’ve often thought about the books I would recommend to a novice. Where would I have started had I had access to hundreds of books? I’m sure I would have started with any book containing “Spell” in the title. Spell writing, spell casting always my favorite things!

If it was a youth who would ask for recommendations. I would start them out with Pagans and Christians: The Personal Spiritual Experience by Gus DiZerega. Largely because of the area I reside in but, also because knowledge is strength. The comparison of the two spiritual paths within DiZerega’s book lends to a solid foundation. It also gives you good fodder to fighting the perceived stereotype perpetuated by the church….and media….and government offices….and TV…and Oh the list!

Then… I would recommend Christopher Penczack books. Any of the Witchcraft series: Inner Temple of Witchcraft, Outer Temple of Witchcraft, etc. He provides not only historical data, but scientifically founded data. They are worth the time to truly delve into them.

I’d throw in the Witches bible, and Buckland’s Complete book of Witchcraft. Any of Buckland’s books would be a good addition to learning. Let’s not forget Witchcraft: Theory and Practice by Ly De Angeles. And…. So many books!

If you truly study the books listed. If you spend the year and a day on Christopher’s books. There is years’ worth of reading there.  The last one I would throw in is Power Spellcraft for life: The Art of Crafting and Casting for Positive Change by Arin Murphy-Hiscock. I have worn out multiple copies over the years.

Just remember, this is only what I would recommend but, I am a history and science person. Everyone has their own individual path. There are hundreds, thousands of fantastic books out there. I would caution you though to choose your books wisely. Research the author. Just as there are fantastic books. There are also glaringly horrible books. I’ve purchased some to show others ‘what not to buy.’

Relish your path. Choose wisely. And above all…make the journey uniquely yours!

Blessed By my Friends!

Un-Stalking the Stalked

when hope dies
Bindings are not my favorite thing.

I believe by binding a person we take away their chance to learn a karmic lesson. Having said that…I do believe bindings are necessary. We have a current case where not only I, but the cards believe a binding is in order.

I won’t detail the whole story but… there is a young lady who is being stalked. Not just stalked but tormented. The young gentleman’s actions are fit for an episode of Stalked. He truly makes me fear for the young ladies safety – both physically and mentally. Through it all though, she has remained the wonderful young lady you’d be honored to call friend.

So… the solution is the binding below. I welcome comments, questions, and feedback.

General Binding Ritual
Modified for a Stalker

Items Needed:

  • Pink Rose
  • Paper
  • White Ribbon
  • Poppet
  • Picture of person
  • Markers

Start by casting your circle.

In this place, this circle round
I consecrate the sacred ground
With golden light this space Surround
All power here contained and bound

From earth, the things that manifest
From air, the things of mind
From fire, the things that motivate
From water the souls refined

And yet no place or time there be
Between the worlds, my word and me
Welcome, ancient ones and see
This place is sealed, so mote it be.
 

Call your quarters. Start with North. Light your elemental candles. Here is what I generally use:

To the North, I call upon the guardians of the element of Earth.
Guard and Guide Me. Hail and Welcome

 
To the East, I call upon the guardians of the element of Air.
Guard and Guide Me. Hail and Welcome

 
To the South, I call upon the guardians of the element of Fire.
Guard and Guide Me. Hail and Welcome.

 
To the West, I call upon the guardians of the element of Water.
Guard and Guide Me. Hail and Welcome.

Invocation:

We call forth from time and space
The Ancients who protect this place
Angels, Sages, Spirit Guides
Stand beside us, be our guides

Intention:

Is it our intention this night, to redirect negative energy
To make what has been wrong, right.
For the good of all, harming none.

*At this point we will need the pink rose, white paper, and bowl. The person trying to ride themselves of the negative person/energy will need to remove all the petals from the rose and place them in the bowl. Next they will need to write a description of the relationship problem on a small piece of paper. Once they are done, they’ll need to tear the paper into small pieces focusing al of their energy on the task of ridding themselves of the person. HPS or HP will then stir the petals and papers. Then hold the bowl out over the altar and have everyone place their hands above the bowl while chanting:

Goddess Freya, hear our plea
Help solve this problem gracefully
By your gentle love we ask
Guide us in this special task.

Now for the binding. I do not like to bind a person….unless they really, really need it. Instead I like to bind the negativity they send out. Encourage the universe to help them be a better person without them being able to harm others. So…this is what I use. I use a poppet with the person name written on it, or put inside it. If I use a cloth poppet I put a picture of their face in the place of the poppets face…if I have a picture. If I’m doing the binding for another person, I have them write what the person is doing wrong. This is great for stalkers! Once the poppet is prepared, I use a white ribbon to bind the poppet three times nine times, while saying the following:

We bind you (persons name)
Bind you to be the person you are meant to be
Bind you to do what matters, not what is easy
Bind you to find solutions to your troubles
Bind you to face your fears, and overcome them
Bind you to walk a path of truth and honesty
We bind you (persons name) for the good of all, harming none.
 

Once the poppet is wrapped, and it is time to tie the knot. I use this:

By the karmic power of three
This spell, tied and knotted be
To cause no harm, or return to me
As I will it, so mote it be

Then I place the poppet in a metal can and bury it where it won’t be found. Release your quarters. Starting in the North and working backwards:

To the North, I thank and release the guardians of the element Earth
Hail, and Farewell

To the West, I thank and release the guardians of the element of Water.
Hail, and Farewell

To the South, I thank and release the guardians of the element of Fire.
Hail, and Farewell

To the East, I thank and release the guardians of the element of Air.
Hail, and Farewell.

Then, release your circle. I am a creature of habit and always use:

Open now this sacred space
Send all energies back to place
Fare the well, and safe return
Let not our magick ere be turned

May you never need to use this binding.

Blessed By my friends!

Practicing Patience and Learning Lessons

What I have learned about starting a Pagan organization.

1. You will spend an exorbitant amount of time defending any organization name.

It never occurred to me the name of the organization would be a pain point. It never occurred to me because, I’ve been of the mindset the purpose of an organization was the most important. I have found Pagan organizations with comical names, redundant names, traditional names, out of this world names….but did not judge, or condemn them, by their name.

My decision to interact with them, or let them go about their business, has always been based on two things:

a. Do they appear to be knowledgeable.
b. Are they actively raising awareness and benefiting the community.

I could add a ‘c’ also…do they promote other pagan organizations, whether in their local area or outside of it. That leads me to…..

2. When reaching out to local Pagan organizations, never expect a response.

I reached out to multiple pagan organizations within Colorado and Nebraska. I called phone numbers, left voice mails, and emailed. I did not receive one single reply. None. Nada. Zilch. Zip. Nothing! So… I thought maybe a letter of introduction would trigger a response. Nope.

I turned to Facebook to try to drum up some kind of response. That action lead to these lessons learned. I ended up deleting every post. The responses were not beneficial to either our organization, or the organization represented by the Facebook page.

I added a couple of groups to my ‘Never contact, work with, or support ever, ever!’ list. However, it is a personal list. If our organization would decide to work with them I would support it. I cannot fault an organization for the actions of its people. I would recommend caution. I would be very suspect of any request from them. I would put our organization first and break ties immediately if it adversely affected our reputation or relationships.

That leads me to….

3. When starting a Pagan organization, be prepared to be disappointed and disillusioned.

My belief that Pagan organizations, and Pagan path followers, were peaceful, proactive, supportive, and above pettiness was drastically blown apart. I blame my naive view on my own experience. I have been very fortunate to be surrounded by pagans who embody my beliefs. I am extremely lucky to be surrounded by these amazing people. Spoiled by them.

My only hope is, we as an organization, will go above and beyond to ensure we embody the values we’ve set forth. That we excel at being supportive, peaceful and proactive. And that we leave pettiness and judgement at the door.

The one last thing I’ve learned….

4. Do not give up!

It may be my stubborn streak. I may also be insane. Either way I believe in what we’re doing. Our organization may be young. It may be a challenge defining our true identity right now but, we’ll struggle through. And we will be there for other Pagan organizations. We may not have the answers, but it is only when we work together that we find the answers. All we can do is…

Have a little faith
Say a little spell
And live well!

Blessed be my friends!