Daily Archives: October 27, 2011

The Call of the Elements

The Call of the Elements

by Olwen

ritual poetry

Callings

East: Come all spirits of air and mind,
Knowledge gain and memory bind,
Come rookery and eagle in flight,
Fresh spring breeze and dawn’s first light,
Come wind whipping ’round tree and tower,
Please bless our circle with your power!
South: Come all spirits of flame and fire,
Blood of life, heat of pyre,
Come fierce lion and phoenix raise,
Soft candlelight and bright bonfire blaze,
Come summer sun, wild untamed flower,
Please bless our circle with your power!
West: Come all spirits of water and ocean,
Mother’s womb and tide of emotion,
Come playful dolphin and fish, lake deep,
Silvery moon and dreams in sleep,
Come twilight mist and autumn shower,
Please bless our circle with your power!
North: Come all spirits of the growing earth,
Sacred mysteries of death and birth,
Come lumbering bear and antlered stag,
Hidden cavern and mountain crag,
Come furrowed fields and verdant bower,
Please bless our circle with your power!
Spirit: Come all spirits of the turning wheel,
Elements balance and circle seal,
Around and about, through in and though out,
Change within manifest without,
Beyond place and beyond hour,
Please bless our circle with your power!

Dismissals

Spirit: Clear the temple, undo the ward,
The veil closed and reality restored.
Thank you all spirits of balance and light
For blessing our circle and sacred rite!

North: Wild beasts return to rest and feed,
Majestic forests shrink to seed.
Thank you all spirits of earth and night
For blessing our circle and sacred rite!

West: Dreamer awake, turn ocean tide,
Untamed emotions ease and subside.
Thank you all spirits of water and insight
For blessing our circle and sacred rite!

South: Flickering flame fade back to spark,
Blazing bonfire return to dark.
Thank you all spirits of fire and might
For blessing our circle and sacred rite!

East: Wild winds ebb to gentle breeze,
Mysteries revealed become mental tease.
Thank you all spirits of air and flight
For blessing our circle and sacred rite!

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A Witch’s Pantry: Foods to Warm Your Samhain and Winter

A Witch’s Pantry: Foods to Warm Your Samhain and Winter

by Catherine Harper

The year has turned towards dark, and the last of the autumn harvest is in. Every year, I grieve a little more for summer — this year all the more as the squash and beets come in, the farmer’s markets roll up for the year and I contemplate the long winter without the abundance of produce that has made the bulk of my diet. The more time I spend outside, the more I regret the fading of the light. Every year, the seasons penetrate a little deeper.

But it is also a good time. The winds come back, making the cedars dance, and I hardly had realized I’d missed them. On the best days, they carry the orange leaves of big leaf maples and just a few drops of rain swirling around. The grass turns green again, and then grows, until the light becomes too scant even for that. The rooms of our house grow, at least in import, and the kitchen is cheery and warm from the oven despite the dark and rain outside.

I wonder, sometimes, if there is an inherited factor in my relationship to my pantry. (I can certainly imagine that it might carry survival advantage.) There is something very satisfying for me about deep shelves full of canisters and gallon jars of rye, split peas, rice and lentils. Some of it makes a kind of sense, even in this world: Most years, for instance, I dry several gallons’ worth of boletes for use during the rest of the year. Home-dried tomatoes from our garden or wild ginger from the woods also has an obvious place, things that cannot simply be purchased as needed. And my (in part environmentally motivated) hatred of excessive packaging, love of durable storage and a bad experience with grain moths in my last apartment has combined to make me prefer jars and canisters to cardboard boxes and plastic bags for those things I can buy in bulk.

But there is also an almost atavistic sense wherein I know that my dry goods and what I could glean from the woods even in this dark time of year could keep a family fed and healthy for many months. (When I was first on my own, I lived this way quite often, though not really by choice. And indeed, in many ways it was healthier than the richer and more varied diet I am blessed with today.) And there is something very honest in the piles of squash, onions and garlic in the downstairs pantry, and the kales and chard that hold so well in the garden.

Much of this borders on ritual use. I may grow most of our green onions and kale and stock up on local squash near the end of the season, but almost all of the storage squash from our own garden is eaten either at Samhain (pumpkin soup with chili anchos, a touch of bitter chocolate, and a dollop of cream, some years) or Thanksgiving (traditions are easily established, and I will make stuffed squash each year until my dying day, I fear). In many things, our garden doesn’t meet our needs, but the things we’ve grown and saved ourselves are special and usually hold places of significance in the meal.

Tomato vines that still bear unripe tomatoes when the cold comes can be cut and hung upside down in the garage or basement. Squash, kept somewhere cool, dry and well-ventilated, can last through the next spring (some varieties better than others, of course). It will sweeten in storage, and the flesh will become drier. The first new squash of the year is always a shock to me because in comparison to the older squash it has so little sugar. Potatoes (which I don’t grow, though I know people who do in strange wire mesh and straw contraptions that keep the tubers out of our heavy clay soil) keep well if they are dry, well-ventilated and out of the light. Onions, too, prefer the dry and dark, but one must check them frequently for rot, or a single rotted onion will taint its neighbors.

And of course the dried grains and legumes will keep almost indefinitely. Whole-grain flour will often go rancid, but the whole grain will not if you have a hand mill to grind it at need. (It is my understanding that fresh ground flour, wherein the nutrients have not had a chance to oxidize, is also more nutritious. But mostly, I like the taste and texture.) Dried beans, which must be soaked in water at least overnight and then simmered for a good portion of the day, have fallen a bit in popular favor, but the slow-cooked soups that simmer and warm your kitchen are worth remembering. Oats, whole, rolled or steel cut, can be mixed with liquid, nuts and dried fruit and left to sit in a still-warm brick oven overnight. And many whole grains can be cooked with meat, broth and sturdy vegetables rather in the manner of a risotto. There is much good food in winter that relies neither on refrigeration or transport from sunnier climes.

Barlotto-Stuffed Pumpkins

Barley is a grain too seldom used. Mild and creamy in texture, it is a good foil for many hearty winter foods. The pumpkins described here are small pie pumpkins, measuring about four inches across — pumpkins are not the best storage squash, but these little pumpkins are available each year from our local organic farmer’s stand, and make for particularly attractive presentation. If they are not available near you, halved and seeded delicata or acorn squash also works well. These should be baked at 350 degrees, cut side down, for at least half an hour or until just tender before being stuffed, for their thicker walls will not quickly bake through after stuffing.

Barlotto

1 onion, chopped
1 tablespoon oil
2-4 cloves garlic
4-6 dried shiitake mushrooms
1&fraq12; cup hulled barley
2 cups water
Salt

A note on the mushrooms: Fresh shiitake or other strongly flavored fresh or dried mushroom can be substituted. If anything, increase the amount. Or add grocery-store button mushrooms to the shiitake.

Soak the shiitake mushrooms in a couple of cups of warm water for 20 minutes. In a medium-sized (and thick-bottomed) sauce pan, caramelize the onion in a little oil over medium heat. As the onion begins to turn a nice brown, slice the shiitake mushrooms and add them to the pot, continuing to stir gently. Add next the garlic, crushed or pressed. Let everything get a chance to brown — better browning will improve the flavor, but if you’re in a rush you can cut this down to a token browning. Then add the dry-hulled barley, stirring it to absorb the oil and letting it, too, brown lightly.

Add to this the two cups of water, and salt to taste. (The water you soaked the mushrooms in is particularly good for this, if you are careful not to pour in any sediment.) Bring to a simmer, reduce to low heat, and cover. The barley will need to simmer for at least 40 minutes. Check every 10 minutes or so, and add more water if needed. Simmer until the barley is tender.

Stuffing Your Pumpkins

To stuff the pumpkins, use a small knife or pumpkin saw to cut a large circle out around the stem of the pumpkin, as you would to make a jack-o-lantern. Remove seeds, and fill with the hot barley mixture (the heat will speed the cooking time). A little grated cheese can be added if desired. Replace the lids, and cook at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until the pumpkins are tender.

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Honoring Yourself – Adjusting to the Dark Time of Year

Honoring Yourself – Adjusting to the Dark Time of Year
Did you know that you can maximize your energy levels by adjusting your food and exercise to match the season? Now Autumn is in full swing, and it’s chilly! It’s a lot more work for your body to stay warm, but you can ease the process by focusing your diet on warm dishes using seasonal foods to give yourself that extra nutritional boost and exercising regularly to heat your body up! Adding pungent and spicy herbs can warm you up too: garlic, oregano, thyme, onions, cayenne, chili, curry, rosemary, basil etc…
Colds, congestion and constipation are pretty typical this time of year. We’re too busy to rest and exercise as much as we need or we indulge on sweets during the holidays or all of the above! These conditions are simply signals from the body that you need to simplify and cleanse a bit. To balance out: rest, hydrate, exercise and eat plenty of seasonal produce, especially in soup our stew form. Even the seasonal fruit is cleansing for your system. Check your local farmer’s market, but it’s likely you’ll find these seasonal foods available: cranberries, apples, pears, pomegranite, oranges, pumpkins, squashs, turnips, parsnips, beets, brussel sprouts, peppers, and sweet potatoes, garlic, and onions.
One way to lower your chances of coming down with a cold or the flu this season is to practice deep relaxation on a daily basis. Often relaxing deeply will give you an energy boost because the energy your muscles were using to stay tense is now directed back into the body system and available for you to repair damage, neutralize a “bug”, or simply to recharge. The most simple at home technique for deep relaxation is to sit comfortably and breath slowly. Inhale for a count of four, pause briefly, and then exhale for a count of 8. Repeat for 5 or 10 minutes until you feel peaceful and calm. You can do this simple breathing exercise anytime and anyplace – while sitting in traffic, in a meeting, waiting in line, while on hold on the phone, when you first wake up, in bed to help you fall asleep, etc…

For many this time of year also means going to and leaving work happens in the dark. You might not be getting enough sunlight to regulate your body’s rhythms so that you feel your best. If you can, expose your hands and face to the sun outside daily in the morning for 5-15 minutes to let your body know it’s time to be alert, awake and energized. If you can’t get outside, consider investing in a natural spectrum lap and give yourself a light treat every morning during breakfast for 5-15 minutes. The resulting alertness and focus is quite amazing!

 
Whether your schedule is busting at the seams, you don’t want to leave the house, or the usual holiday stressors are looming on the horizon – the best thing you can do for yourself to float through the holidays with peace and bliss this fall is to make self-care a priority.
Schedule an appointment with yourself to relax and rejuvenate every day, or at the very least every week. And, keep this appointment with yourself like it’s a date with someone important to you. (I hope you are important to you.) Taking this time out on a regular basis is the key to being energized, staying calm, and feeling good about all the decisions you have to make during the busy time of year – about what you eat, what you buy, how you spend your time, etc…

I recommend you pull out your calendar right now and set aside your self-care appointments before the holiday invitations start coming in. The trick is to honor these appointments with yourself by saying no to invitations that conflict, or if you can’t or don’t want to say no to an important event, rescheduling your self-care appointment to another time that day or day that week. The key is making self-care a priority and sticking with your commitment to relax and rejuvenate.

By Artemisia
 
About the Author– Artemisia is a High Priestess of the Order of the White Moon. She is one of the co-founders of the branch sisterhood of the Order – Sisters in Celebration. She can be reached at artemisia333@…. She lives and works in the Boston area as a Reiki & Wellness practitioner.
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Samhain Solitary Ritual

Samhain Solitary Ritual
By Eden

Decorative Suggestions:
pumpkins, apples, masks, candles, black, red, orange,cauldron, besom

Supplies:
Photos of relatives or friends who have passed
White candle for each relative ( tea lights )
36 inches of yarn ( continuous piece) bright color such as red or orange
13 hazelnuts for tradition Druid method * or candy corn for a modern twist
1 apple (traditional)** or pomegranate, either cut in half
jack o lantern
4 mini pumpkins
4 votive candles for quarters
dried leaves (enough for circle size)
two candles one black one white
long piece of yarn ( this is a separate pc from above pc.)

Prep:
break off stems of mini pumpkins, hollow out big enough place for votive candles in top, cut doesn’t have to be deep,
just enough to keep candles form falling, set at quarters (use care when cutting!)
Outline circle with leaves
Visualize jack o lantern as a protective ward (it’s traditional use) and have lit in circle from set up through ritual
Decorate according to taste
Have black and white candles on altar have black candle lit on altar, do not have white candle lit
Have photos with unlit candle in front of each, on altar if there is room or in other designated space

Ritual:

(Cleanse, Cast, Invoke)

” Blessed be the season of Samhain!
The time of the wise Crone!
The time of the last fall harvest
The time of the birth of winter
Night that we remember our loved ones who have passed from this life.
Night when we look on to the new year.
Night that reminds us that death holds the seeds of new life!”

(Prepare to light candles for departed)

” My dear loved ones, tonight as the wheel turns the veil which separates us is thin. On this night hear my words of love and honor”

(Light candles in front of photos one at a time, while lighting candle speak name of loved one and say what
you wish in honor or love, do this for each)

(Prepare to welcome the new year)

(Focus on black candle, while making banishing pentagram towards black candle)

” Farewell old year, take with you the season of summer”

(put out flame of black candle)

(Focus on unlit white candle, while making invoking pentagram)

“Welcome new year, bring with you the season of winter”

(light white candle)

“The wheel has turned yet again. Now at the time of ending that is yet also the time of beginning.
What is to come is, what was will come again, circling on and on throughout the ages.”

(prepare for meditation)

” And what of the past”

(close eyes with the intent to remember aspects of a past life, look at things in this life that you
believe could be related to a past life, focus on these things, see if this focus turns into scenes or
feelings about a past life)

( Prepare for resolutions)

” And what of the year to come”

(Take fruit, hold both halves in hands and visualize the habits you would like to rid yourself of over the next year being poured into it,when done place halves back together and tie halves together with one of the pieces of yarn, put aside to bury later)**

(Prepare for divination)

(Take bright colored yarn and make a circle on ground or altar if room, hold hazelnuts or candy corns in hands,focus on question, toss them into the circle and look for patterns of answer, such as y or n or if they make a shape or initial)*

(Offering, libation, feast)

(prayer for upcoming year)

“The wheel of the year turns on and on, from season to season, age to age. I remember and recognize that all time is here and now. I have paused to watch the wheel turn on this blessed eve, and, I praise the Wise Crone, in this time of Her glory. Blessed be Wise Crone.”

(Close Circle)

* according to Edain McCoy in ‘Sabbats’ pg. 42
** traditional Wittan Samhain practice per Edain
McCoy, ‘Witta’ pg 170 (adapted)

About The Author: Eden, is a recent level one graduate of the White Moon School of the Feminine Divine. She lives in the North
Georgia mountains with her husband and three young children, where she practices eclectic paganism both as a member of a coven and as a solitary.

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Honoring Ancestors

Honoring Ancestors
By Arteal
.
Leaves
Swirling and twirling
On the pavement
Dancing and prancing
On the ground
Could it be
What did I see
Was it leaves
Or faeries
Tricking me

Many of my loved ones have passed over the years. Some of the dearest people to me found it time to cross over and process what it is they learned in this life. I think of them often. Memories of them often bring a smile to my face. Any time of year I can see them or feel them, but it is the month of October that their presence is strongest.

This time of the thinning veil almost makes them so solid I can touch them. So it is this time that I honor them. Sometimes it is solitary and other times I invited close friends and family to be with me and we collectively honor all of our ancestors.

We begin the evening by creating an altar with symbols, pictures and mementos of our ancestors. The altar is usually kept simple with photos and small items connected to those that have gone before. Once the altar is complete we have our feast. The meal takes place in complete silence and there is always one seat kept empty with a full plate to honor our ancestors. Often a cat finds his way to the empty chair while we eat our meal in silence.

Once our meal is complete we retire to our ritual space, usually the living room. We clear the coffee table and begin clockwise. Each person takes a turn to light a tea light and share a story of an ancestor. We continue going around the circle telling stories until the table top is full. We then sit quietly watching the flames and remembering. The evening is ended with placing the full plate of food outside in our of our ancestors.

The people and spirits I share this night with seem to leave as quietly as they came. I wish you and all your ancestors a blessed Samhain.

About The Author: Arteal is an Ordained Minister and High Priestess of The Order of the White Moon. She is founder of Moonlit River, where you will find the Feminine Divine, healing and guidance. Arteal is a Shamanic Practitioner and Reiki Master.

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Astronomy Picture of the Day for October 27th

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos!Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2011 October 27
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download the highest resolution version available.

Young Suns of NGC 7129
Image Credit & Copyright: Johannes Schedler (Panther Observatory)Explanation: Young suns still lie within dusty NGC 7129, some 3,000 light-years away toward the royal constellation Cepheus. While these stars are at a relatively tender age, only a few million years old, it is likely that our own Sun formed in a similar stellar nursery some five billion years ago. Most noticeable in the sharp image are the lovely bluish dust clouds that reflect the youthful starlight. But the compact, deep red crescent shapes are also markers of energetic, young stellar objects. Known as Herbig-Haro objects, their shape and color is characteristic of glowing hydrogen gas shocked by jets streaming away from newborn stars. Paler, extended filaments of redish emission mingling with the bluish clouds are caused by dust grains effectively converting the invisible ultraviolet starlight to visible red light through photoluminesence. Ultimately the natal gas and dust in the region will be dispersed, the stars drifting apart as the loose cluster orbits the center of the Galaxy. At the estimated distance of NGC 7129, this telescopic view spans about 40 light-years.

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Feng Shui Tip of the Day for October 27th

Today’s ‘Cranky Co-workers Day’ could put a crimp in anyone’s office etiquette. After all, it’s hard to stay positive when your work colleagues are all kinds of negative. If you want to steer clear of drama then perhaps you need to know about a little co-worker cock-a-doodle do! Feng Shui says that placing an image or a statue of a rooster in the Fame area of your office space or on your desk will overcome office politics and bring backbiting to a halt. Taoist Feng Shui masters consider the red comb on the rooster’s head to be all-powerful. They also believe that the claws symbolize the ability to wipe out colleague crankiness and partisan politicking in favor of a more favorable work environment. An image of a rooster will work equally as well, but I like the idea of the rooster giving crankiness a little wake-up call.

By Ellen Whitehurst for Astrology.com

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Your Daily Number for October 27th: 6

A financial opportunity may surface today. It’s a great day to fearlessly exercise your negotiation skills. On the personal front, a relationship may become more serious as commitment issues are placed on the table

Fast Facts

About the Number 6

Theme: Family and Social Responsibility, Service, Healing
Astro Association: Gemini
Tarot Association: Lovers
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