Monday, March 26, 2018

A crackling in the air

and POOF!

I love those moments.

.................. it's no secret the last few months have been HORRIFIC for me. Constant stress. Constant inability to sleep well or rest, upset stomach all the time, rumbling GI tract... all the villainous stress wreaking havoc on my body and mind.

Then, slowly, the light comes again. The stress lowers. The clouds retreat and look a little less threatening.

I can breathe again, and it doesn't hurt as much. There's still pain, but the hard times are not over yet.

How can I tell that things are getting better? I have that itchy "someone's coming" again. I didn't for a while, a long while, and it bothered me that it was gone - like losing the ability to feel one of your fingers. Now that it's back (and wow is it back) I smiled all afternoon. I got more good news this afternoon too and yeah... the shoulders are a little easier today.

---
Recipe time! I am a kitchen witch after all.

Ok, so today I'm laying on you a recipe I've tried a few times with great success: REAL Irish soda bread. (yes, i know it's past st. patrick's day. no, i don't care)

So the stuff you buy in the store all chock full of caraway seeds or raisins or some rubbish is tasty, but crumbly and not actually soda bread. Too many ingredients, see? Think about it - Soda bread by definition isn't a yeast bread. You need something to make it rise, and you need those ingredients to be easy, cheap, and available. Flour, Buttermilk, Salt, Baking Soda. That's it. Nothing else.

The Irish were making a quick, no rise, straight bake bread that was hearty, filling, cheap, and easy. No knead. In fact, the less you stir it the better off you are. I did a little researching (and talked to a few of my Irish friends) and yes - this is the soda bread they know and love. The other stuff? Eh. Not so much.

Ok! on to the recipe. I made this on St. Patrick's day, and left the window open for a while while I made a ginormous pot of potato leek and bacon soup to go with the bread. (yeah, that's the right order. try it, I recommend it highly) I also recommend leaving a small saucer of buttermilk out for the Faerie over night... you know why. ;)

Old School Irish Soda Bread - this will take you off to their website and I recommend you pin it or bookmark it or print it out and save it forever because you will always want to make this bread.

and, because I love you guys... Potato Leek Soup, Irish style

Eat well, thank the gods, and rest.

Monday, February 26, 2018

My skin is covered in bark

Unless you're a fan of Lord of the Rings, trees are very static things. Trees don't fight back, they don't wage war. They stay, and watch, and listen, and wait. Trees let time pass them, and don't worry much about it.

The Magical Workings that the brilliant HecateDemeter is leading us through as we work for the bettering of America brought trees to the forefront of my mind recently. (as in, the linked post recently) She bids you sit, listen, and find out what the trees have to tell you.

I did so - I did as I was bid and walked through the meditation. The trees welcomed me as they have in the past, but this time one step further. One step closer. I was brought inside.

It's odd feeling the bark on your skin, or more accurately AS your skin. The leaves not just in your hair, but coming from your hair. The soil in and under and through your toes. Light is so much brighter, so much cleaner, and so much more warming. It's not hard to see why trees like to grow so tall. It's snuggling up to your favorite heat source.

There's a smell that comes with all this, a deep scent that is equal parts inviting and repulsing. It's sort of sticky, you'll smell it for days after you wash it off and I get it every time I go into my garden. It's rot and birth all in one. Trees smell like that when you go deep enough. Parts of them are dying while other parts thrive. It's a cycle. We have to remember that.

The wind doesn't feel the same through leaves as it does through hair or fingers or eyelashes. It tickles your nose, but trees don't have noses to tickle. Wind, against a tree, is a dress or a scarf or a shroud. A gentle breeze is a loose silk skirt dancing around the bark, touching and caressing and playing with the leaves as they fall. A gale force storm is a heavy boiled wool coat smacking and gaping and being thrown around against the trunk, ripping leaves off their branches like hair caught in a brush or a car door.

The best part though? Is the sound. Trees may be silent to the vast majority, and from the outside it's easy to mistake their quiet as complete. But quite the contrary. Their always talking. There's always movement. They cannot contain the sound but we have to slow down to hear it.

You may go, you may gain entry, you may want to stay forever but that is not your place. You are not a tree. You may visit, but you may not stay.

If you go, and try, and cannot gain entry, don't cry. There are other places for you to go, to visit. Perhaps the stars have messages for you, or the water is waiting patiently to show you secrets. Perhaps the stones have notes to leave you, or the animals wonder what is taking you so long to find them.

So sit, meditate, and see if anyone is waiting to talk to you.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Raining, raining, raining

I moved to Massachusetts for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the weather. 

See, I visited here once, for a scant 3 hours, while on a road trip from New Hampshire back to Delaware. It was an amazingly beautiful fall day and we went to the only place we could think of in our pre-smart phone days... Boston Common. I was armed with a film camera and enough money to buy lunch somewhere reasonable (which never happened, but that's another story) and instead of stopping at all, we walked like crazy people around the Common and saw everything and nothing, and one of my all time favorite travel pictures (which hangs in my house now) is from the fountain, the only decent photo I got all day. 

I wanted to stay longer. I wanted to see more of the city, to learn more about the place I'd seen on screen, to listen to the people and take in the culture. I wanted to see the water and have lobster and grab a pint somewhere. None of that was to be and for another almost decade I didn't set foot in MA again. Then, well, it all changed. I moved about 10 times, bouncing all over one state before branching out into other states, and finally landed up here. And trust me, I'm not leaving. 
_____

I'm a water sign, and a fire sign - cusp babies are often conflicted sorts - but for all that my zodiac says I'm fire and water the only thing that really calms me is earth. The smell of it, the feel of it. Growing things in black soil gives me a smile like no other. 

I know, however, when the stars have decided something for me. See, I was ill to the point of the ER last week. It's taken many days and I'm still recovering. I've been cleaning the house more and more as I grow stronger and feel more like myself and apparently the weather has decided to cooperate. We're in our second day of rain here in New England, and today is rain in buckets and sheets, as though a waterfall has taken up residence over us. 

I am totally on board with this idea. 

See, there's a quote that I come back to a lot. My mother has it on her fridge, and has for a long as I can remember. It's quite simple: 

"The cure for anything is salt water; sweat, tears, or the sea." - Isak Dinesen

So close to the water, and we are only 1 mile from the bay here, I know that some of the water that's falling has come from the ocean. I know that some is fresh, and it's all cycled through the air. I know heat plays a part, and I know that some of it was in the earth at one point. Rain, to me, carries all the elements together when it travels. 

So much falling, running in fat streams down the house, across the trees and through the grass and bushes, soaking everything it touches... it's carrying away, into the earth, the impurities it touches. It's washing everything. 

Imbolic is coming. My winter greenery is still up and I can feel that ticking clock counting down. I have a guest coming into town though, so I'll leave it up for a few days more. I don't always wait, but when life gets in the way of plans, well, these things happen. There has been a lot of injury and illness at the house lately. We need some cleansing and healing time. 

May the rain be cleansing for you, and if dry is what you need to heal I hope it comes softly, warmly, and quickly to you. 

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Thoughts in the Dark

In October, just before the fullness of Samhain, I left my job. I realized that I was appreciated not for my abilities but as a whipping boy and that was not ok. It was hard, but it pulled me into lean times, into a space where I was better able to meditate on the passing of the year. That wasn't my initial intent, but it worked out nonetheless.

That meditating took me back to times in the past where I'd sat at the hem of the Goddess and listened to the stir of the Cauldron. If you've never meditated that, I encourage you to do so now - we're in the Crone's time right now and she has lots to tell us. People are always excited to run out to the Maiden in the Spring, to sample her delights and listen to the sounds of life returning. People always listen to the Mother, she's Mother after all. Who listens to the Crone? Us witches, that's who. And so I sat at her hem again, and listened for what she had to tell me.

She reminded me of who I am - an artist, a creative, a listener and a learner. She reminded me that I'm wasting myself when I'm not being expressive, when I'm not being myself. She reminded me that it's ok to leave abusive situations even if it means being without a paycheck for a while.

She was chatty. She wasn't done talking.

A few days later I had a new job, something creative and physically demanding. I didn't have time to think or dwell there - I had a job and I had to do it. It was absolutely wonderful and exactly what I needed. It was lucrative too, even though it was seasonal. It was still perfect.
~-~-~-~-~
Now the stillness of our first major snowstorm of the season is upon us, and people everywhere were frantic yesterday trying to get prepared. I was out getting things done, but not frantically. I mean, the snow didn't start falling till this morning for pete sake. Yesterday was a clear, crisp winter day. It was beautiful. This morning is a deep grey sky with bright white puffy flakes of snow falling steadily down. It is also beautiful.

No life happens without something dying. This is a truth we all know, sometimes too well. This snow, this is the sort of snow that brings life in the spring - a good, thickly insulating snow after a proper cold snap. This is the sort of snow that keeps the ground nice and cold, insulating it against the sun that will return as the clouds part. Insects will die, bulbs will flourish, and life will renew in snows like this. People are sad about the freezing temps. I'm not. I'm thrilled - it means we're having winter the way winter was supposed to happen, killing off what we don't need anymore and making way for the new life to come.

So remember, as you sit by the Cauldron in the dark of the winter storm, listen to what the Crone has to tell you. She's wiser than you know and isn't done talking yet.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Witchin it up in the Kitchen...

My love of cooking wasn't always so strong you know. I sort of liked it for a while, mostly when I got to cook with my grandmother. It was ok at my house, but it wasn't quite the same. I blame that on my inexperience. I was nervous about it tasting bad. (I got over that after I made a tuna noodle casserole and used condensed milk instead of 2% milk... it carmelized. We ordered pizza.)

I came across it slowly, and once I was truly out on my own I started getting experimental - after all, no one was eating it but me. If it sucked, then I was the only one who had to suffer through it. Eventually I got better, and what I was cooking made its way into my workplace because there I had people to cook for! One by one I got feedback, and little by little my confidence grew.

There were setbacks. Not everything worked so well. But whatever! That's life.

Then I brought my practice fully into the kitchen. I didn't relegate my magic work to the altar or the forest. I brought it full on into the kitchen. I set up an altar on my counter. I wove spells and cast circles at my stove. I set my "cauldron" (see: crockpot) to bubble low and slow all day, the scents of it filling the house like a song.

And everything clicked. I felt more at peace. Everything made more sense. My practice seemed whole somehow, that this was the last piece that needed to fall into place for everything to work.

(I still order pizzas on nights when the recipe just didn't really work.  No one's perfect and pizza is good.)

~
Most of the tools in my kitchen I bought for myself. I was gifted some things, and some things that I had as hand-me-downs are now gone (stolen) or fell apart. I don't think too much about those things anymore. They were what I needed at the time. I've upgraded some since then.

I have bowls from my Grandmother and from my Great-Grandmother. Those are sacred things. I have many things from my mother. Those are mostly sacred. I have things from my Grandfather too, I don't use them though. They're for remembering. I have Jello molds and plates and dishes and silver from my ancestors. I don't use them much either - they're also for remembering.

I have heavy cast iron that I bought for myself and have clutched in joy at a perfect dish and in fear as a weapon. I have knives that have seen me stand defiant at the door, ready to defend myself.

Everyone should have these things.

~
On the side, I sell kitchen tools. If you're interested, I invite you to follow the link. If you're happy with your kitchen tools, no worries.

https://pamperedchef.com/go/EndofSummerSaleShow 



Saturday, August 19, 2017

A beautiful day full of worries

It's lovely outside. My garden is thriving in the humidity and I'm going to have tomatoes and beans a plenty soon. Maybe even an eggplant or two! The strawberries are blooming again too, but I'm letting them go to seed instead of picking them - I want a bumper crop next year instead of a few this year.

All this beauty, from the leggy mint on my back porch to the strawberries by my front door, is not enough to change the worries in my heart. They're the same worries we all have - money, success, security. We look for more and varied ways of attaining those and so today I'm going to talk about the difference between some of the more magical options.

~
There are no shortage of spells that claim they'll drop thousands in your lap. Bay leaves in your wallet. Green stones on your altar. Green candle wax in a storm water jar stuffed with intentions sealed in green wax and bay leaves, then buried at (insert time and date and lunar position here).

Do these work? hmm.... let me check my account balance.... *crickets*

That's not to say that these won't get you in the right mindset though, and that's where the magic truly resides. Magic work is mental, physical, emotional. It charges through you and you just know that something is happening. So why isn't it raining $100 bills on your in your sleep?

because that's not how this works.

To truly access the magic we need to get done what we need to get done, we need belief in the following:
1 - yourself
2 - your ability to work
3 - your plan
4 - your friends and family (blood or chosen)

Sounds impossible? Maybe. But think for a moment. You've done other rites and had exactly the results you want. So why not here? Why not in the one rite that will most directly impact the mundane necessities of life?

Well - think about what you're asking for... are you asking for unlimited wealth, or just what you actually need to get by? And are you expecting the answer to be as loud and obvious as that thunderstorm that hit at JUST the right time or could the answer be coming as a small shift that brings just what you need to you at just the right time?

If you're asking for thousands of dollars and not offering up a plan on how to do it, think about the deity you're talking to? Are they really like that? Do you honestly think you're going to get it without working for it? Nothing comes without a price.

So: You. Believe that YOU can do what you need to do to get what you want.
Your Ability to Work. Believe that YOU can work in a way that will be productive to your goal.
Your Plan. Believe that YOU have a plan for how you will gain your desires and that your plan is CLEAR.
Your Friends and Family. Believe that YOU will not waiver from your path because of them, but will take their kindly meant advice under consideration and leave their criticisms and attempted derailments by the roadside in the dust.

So, go back. Look over your rites. Look carefully at your wording and think about what you're really asking for in the long run. And be clear - are you looking for long term or short term? Do you know?

Be clear, or you might not like what you get. "I want it to rain money on me!!!" (gets pelted in the head with random change when someone's purse tips over on a balcony above you. not quite what you wanted, but totally counts as "raining money on me". clear? ;)  )

Blessings!

Sunday, July 23, 2017

oh my dearies...

How have these days found us? How is this the place that we've arrived, crying into the void and sweating under the sun of high summer?

I don't know. I know my garden is singing songs of ripening fruit and blooming herbs, and I know that song soothes my soul.
~~

These are the days that bring me to a few weeks of freedom, when I can be a more me version of me than I can be day to day in the grind of an office. See, I found this weird group of people that sorta camp for two weeks every year out near Pittsburgh. And there, among thousands of people, I found a lovely creative outlet. It's very helpful to me, in resetting my clock in time with the sun and moon, in getting back in touch with me and my whole self. I've celebrated Lammas there almost every year for the last 16 years - sometimes with a roaring fire, sometimes with just a candle, and sometimes with a group... sometimes alone. It's always magical, and always extraordinary. The stars... oh, the stars.

So as I prepare for Lughnasad, I think about where I am in the Wheel. I think about where my family and friends are, and I think about where our country is. If all that is too much, I retreat till it's more manageable. The point of this is not to stress out. We do what we can. That is all the Gods ask of us.

I will sit at the hem of my Goddess and listen to what she has to say. I will ask my questions. I will ponder what answers she chooses to give me.

As you approach this turn in the Wheel, consider the changes in your life over the past months and think about where you want your life to go. The harvest is a time of work, but the best clarity comes to me when I'm consumed with a task.

So may it be for you.