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Bringing Up the Next Generation of Witches

November, 2018

October is quickly coming to an end, and I have never been more thankful. October brought sickness and trials. It was a difficult month to say the least.

But with October coming to a close, Samhain is fast approaching.

Samhain (or Halloween as Little Bear calls it) has always been one of my favorite holidays. Even when it was banned from my childhood home life.

The veil is thinning, the days grow darker, and the nights become almost black.

Living in the Midwest means the weather is unpredictable at the end of October. It could be sunny and hot, or rainy and wet. As a child, “Halloween” meant snow. I can remember more snowy Halloweens than not.

Little Bear and I will make the best of it regardless of the weather. He has his costume picked out. He is going as a zombie SWAT guy. He’s talked me into being a zombie also. He’s a bit obsessed with The Walking Dead right now.

This year, I let Little Bear go wild and decorate the whole house. We put up window clings, black garland, laid out fake spiders, decorated foam pumpkins, and hung up door covers.

Yesterday, we visited the local pumpkin field/corn maze. They have so many activities and it’s a must every year. They have goats, chickens, rabbits, long horn cattle, corn boxes, corn mazes, pumpkin guns, tug a war ropes, inflatables, wooden trains, etc. It is a full day.

Tonight, is pumpkin carving time. I’m sure that my excitement is at a way higher level than Little Bear’s because of the pumpkin seeds. I have dug out some recipes from Pinterest and plan on trying at least three. I have to do normal salt pumpkin seeds. But I’m going to try a sweet version with cinnamon and brown sugar. The other one I haven’t decided on because there is so many variations that can be done. However, I’m leaning towards a savory that uses sea salt and white vinegar. Not sure how it’ll turn out, but we shall see!

One of my favorite traditions for Samhain is the dinner. Eating dinner at the table is something that rarely happens in our home because of scheduling. But when Samhain rolls around, I take the day off. I plan a meal as if it were Thanksgiving and I set the table. I always set a spot for my sister who we lost back in 2015. It helps to bring her close. Little Bear gets excited and will start talking to her spot as if she never left.

Little Bear started asking questions again about “God” last week. This is a conversation that we have quite frequently as he has a hard time understanding something that he cannot see. So, I go into the explanation again. We have talked about the many different religions of the world. Although I am raising him in a Pagan home, I understand that the Pagan path may not be for him.

I found a wonderful series that touches on the spiritual side without focusing on one certain religion. It’s the The Giggles and Joy series. A three-part series that focuses on positive poems. It’s a neat series that I recommend. You can check out my review on them in this same issue!

The Kitchen Witch

November, 2018

Wicked Simple and Easy Black Beans and Rice

Every Thanksgiving, I make a huge dinner for my son and myself and sometimes his father – if he is in town from Florida – and maybe one or two other people. I always make homemade bread stuffing for the turkey that I lovingly roast. I make garlic mashed potatoes with creamy gravy. There is always some kind of squash on the table – butternut squash or acorn squash or perhaps a nice creamy mixture of several squashes, delicately seasoned. I can’t imagine any meal without a salad, so of course there is a large bowl filled with mixed greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, sliced red onions, and other salad goodies. Neither my son nor I are great fans of cranberry sauce but if I have guests who crave some of that condiment, I happily cook down fresh cranberries, sugar, some citrus and spring water into a toothsome treat. And of course, there has to be some corn and some beans. I used to make either succotash or a green bean casserole – both yummy dishes – but now I make beans and rice. There are several reasons for this. The first is that I can make it up a day or two before the holiday and reheat it in minutes before the meal and it’s always yummy good. The second is that if I happen to have any vegetarians at my meal, I don’t have to worry about them not getting a nutritionally complete meal – beans and rice are a complete protein all by themselves. The third is – of course – I can have corn and beans on my table all in one luscious dish!

I make beans and rice all the time. It’s one of those things that I make a little differently every time I make it, depending on what I have on hand – I almost always have leftover rice, so I make a batch of beans and rice usually once a week. I prefer black beans over all other beans but I will use red beans or garbanzos or black-eyed peas or lentils or any kind of bean at all.

But for this recipe, you are going to want a can of black beans. I used day-old leftover rice but if you make it fresh, you will need a cup and a half. You will also need a half a can of corn, a medium-sized green pepper, a small onion or half a medium-sized one, some chunky salsa, and about two tablespoons of olive oil. And your seasonings: dried cilantro, dried parsley, garlic powder, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Start by chopping the green pepper and onion. You can have a rough chop on these. You need about a cup of each.

Put the olive oil in your pan and heat for sautéing and then add the peppers and onions. Give them a good stir and let sauté in the hot oil for about two minutes.

Then add the rice and mix well. Reduce the heat.

The next thing you want to do is add the black beans, but before you do that, you need to drain them and rinse them or else the liquid in the can will stain the entire dish. This is the only time I strain black beans.

After making sure there’s no moisture left on the beans, add them to the rice and peppers and onions mixture, mixing well.

You are not going to need the entire can of corn – if you want to buy a smaller can, go ahead but that’s much more expensive and there’s always something extra corn can be thrown into – soups, casseroles, potpies – so I don’t mind using half a can of corn and then saving the rest for some other use. And of course, you can always use frozen corn – the amount comes out to about 2/3 cup. And maybe you like lots of corn! And you want the entire can in there! Who knows? We’re all different. Anyway – add the corn and mix well. It’s looking really pretty, isn’t it?

After mixing the corn in, I add the salsa. I have to admit – I was a little light in the salsa department but there was enough to make it pretty and give it flavor. I also seasoned it with garlic powder, dried cilantro, dried parsley, sea salt and lots of black pepper.

At this point, it’s ready for serving or for putting into a container for saving for Thanksgiving dinner. This works well if you make it twenty-four hours in advance but I wouldn’t try to make it three or four days in advance. The peppers and onions don’t sit around that long very well.

Whether you are making this for your Thanksgiving dinner or just a quick meal on a chilly winter night, you can’t go wrong with the perfection of Wicked Simple and Easy Black Beans and Rice.

Until next month, Brightest Blessings!

***

About the Author:

Polly MacDavid lives in Buffalo, New York at the moment but that could easily change, since she is a gypsy at heart. Like a gypsy, she is attracted to the divinatory arts, as well as camp fires and dancing barefoot. She has three cats who all help her with her magic.

Her philosophy about religion and magic is that it must be thoroughly based in science and logic. She is Dianic Wiccan and she is solitary.

She blogs at silverapplequeen.wordpress.com. She writes about general life, politics and poetry. She is writing a novel about sex, drugs and recovery.

Wicca 101

April, 2010

Witch Not to Wear

hat-witches


How many of us remember having to wear stiff dress clothes in church, especially on Easter?  As children, we couldn’t wait to get home and out of them.  We hear people use the terms “Sunday best” and “goin’ to meetin’ clothes”.  Often there is an expected wardrobe for the clergy as well.  Even outside of church, Christian clergy often wear special clothes or business attire (suits).  Similarly, Buddhist monks and Muslim clerics wear distinctive clothes.  We have choices in both our daily and ritual garb, but also face stereotypes and misconceptions.

The most common misconceptions are that witches wear black all the time and we are always naked during rituals.   Both have an element of truth, but are not the whole truth. (1)

Gerald Gardner believed in ritual nudity, commonly known as skyclad, and it became a common practice of Gardernian groups to this day.  Many other groups and individuals, especially in the 60s and 70s practiced skyclad and it is common to find photos of this in publications from those decades.  Even books published later when it was declining in popularity, such as ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present by Doreen Valiente (2), Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft and Witch by Fiona Horne have photos of skyclad witches.  Since Gardner was a nudist it is possible that he simply incorporated this into his practices and there are those who call him a “dirty old man”.  But, there are spiritual reasons for nudity as well.  Since Wicca is a nature/fertility religion, nudity is viewed as a natural state for the practice of such beliefs.  Also, since being naked removes the evidence of socio-economic status often displayed by clothes, it is a way of making everyone equal, since we should disregard class distinctions in the circle.  We tend to be less “hung up” over nudity than most religions and it is certainly a way to challenge taboos.  It has been said that clothes hinder the transmission of magickal energy, but that raises the question of how does it pass through walls and space to function?  Claims have been made that covens in centuries past met in the nude, but given the climate of Europe most of the year, especially hundreds of years ago, this is unlikely. There is art from this period which depicts nude witches, such as Albrecht Duerer’s “Four Witches,” but these are artists fantasies.  (3)  Many, if not most, people are uncomfortable with the idea of being naked in front of others,  which is not conducive to a pleasant experience and there are places, such as a public park, in which it is unadvised.  Please note that nudity does not equal sex and just because a group is skyclad does not necessarily mean that it involves sex magick.

Witches wear black in the popular imagination, but only a little more often in real life than the average person.  While most witches I have met, including myself, wear black often, it is not the only color in our wardrobe.  Besides, Catholic priests, Lutheran ministers and Episcopalian/Anglican vicars often wear black and nobody says that makes them evil or sinister.  Black cloth absorbs all colors so some witches feel it better attracts energy.  (4)  Also, if you are outside at night, it does make you harder to see, so one theory was that it was easier for witches practicing in secret at night to remain hidden.  However, wearing all black in public tends to draw more attention and questions as to whether you are Goth or Emo.

Recently, the TLC show What Not to Wear featured a Witch from Salem, MA who usually wore black and witchy/goth clothes.  This is how show host Stacy London described Leann’s attitude toward her clothes, “It was on her shop-day two when she started to talk a lot about the idea of using actual witch clothing as a defense mechanism and that it was like her wall and it was her protection; it was her armor against people, and we talked to her about the idea that it wasn’t necessary for her to do that in order to be a powerful practicing witch.” (5)  I watched this episode and felt that it was respectful toward her and our beliefs and I could also understand that Witches in Salem, especially those who work at metaphysical shops are expected by the tourists to dress the part.

A common attire during ritual is a robe.  From photos I have seen and my limited experience, this is the most common choice for coven/group rituals.  Wearing a robe lends a mystical air to the workings and can serve as a uniform for a group.  Some witches prefer different colors depending on the purpose, such as green for healing, black for banishing, green and red for Yule, etc.  Robes are simple to make for those who can sew or can be purchased in cotton, poly or velvet.  During the only group ritual in which I participated, the priestesses were in similarly styled robes in different colors, while the participants were in regular clothes.  A robe can be worn over regular clothes, so it can be carried to a ritual or festival to be worn only during the event.

A choice that has become more common in recent years is alternative clothes.  More Pagans are choosing to wear renfaire, steampunk, Nordic, Celtic or fairy attire.  This often reflects their interests or beliefs but can also stem from them attending festivals with these themes that have little or nothing to do with Paganism.  All of these except fairy could to a certain extent be adapted for daily wear.

It is of course possible to simply wear your regular clothes both day to day and during ritual.  If you walked up to me, the only clue as to my religion would be a pentagram and a triquetra on chains and my “Harm None” and “Blessed Be” tattoos.  For both rituals and simple acts of magick, I have worn whatever clothes I already had on, except for two times I chose to go skyclad by myself.  In my early years, this was usually my Post Office uniform, which fits well with my craft name, Postalpagan.  To me, being a witch is simply part of what I am, not a separate part of my life and identity, so I have never felt the need to have different clothes for the purpose, but I have admired robes on others and in catalogs.  One thing that I insist upon from myself during ritual is that I am barefoot unless is it definitely too cold.  To me it is a representation of being connected to the earth and free.  But it also reflects that I wear shoes as little as possible.

A non clothing item commonly worn by Pagans is religious themed jewelry.  When I see another person wearing a pentacle, I strike up a conversation if possible.  This is the most common means I have of knowing that another shares my beliefs, although sometimes it turns out that they wear it for shock value or because it is “cool”.  There are other symbols, although they are seen less often, such as an ankh, triquetra, triple moon, Thor’s hammer, goddesses or horned gods.  It is your choice to wear something like this under your top or out in the open, depending on the situation and whether you are out of the broom closet.  Legally, you have the same right to wear Pagan jewelry to work or school as a Christian has to wear a cross, which has been upheld in numerous court cases unless all religious symbols are banned. (6)

As you can see, the choice of attire for us in both ritual and day to day wear is varied and should reflect our tastes, interests, comfort level, views and needs.   Make your choices with an understanding of why you wear or don’t wear certain things.

(1) Common Questions about Wicca, the Old Religion.

Q: “Do Witches really dance around naked or wear long, black robes?”

http://jksalescompany.com/dw/wicca.html

(2)  ABC of Witchcraft Past and Present, Doreen Valiente http://www.amazon.com/ABC-Witchcraft-Past-Present/dp/0919345778/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268965211&sr=1-1

(3)  Web Gallery of , Albrech Duerer. The Four Witches http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/d/durer/2/13/1/019.html

(4)  The Basic FAQ of Witchcraft, Why Do All Witches/Wiccans Wear Black?

http://www.incantationsotw.com/Info/wiccan/faq_of_witchcraft/faq_why_witches_wearblack.htmt

(5)  What Not to Wear Blog TLC,

  • Welcome
  • Finding Your Own Way
  • Going Back to My Roots
  • Gael Song
  • Book Review: Shamanic Qabalah – A Mystical Path to Uniting The Tree of Life and the Great Work by Daniel Moler
  • List: Stacy London on the Witch who Became a Chic Enchantress  http://blogs.discovery.com/tlc-what-not-to-wear/page/2/

    (6)  Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance, Religious Clothing and Jewelry in School  http://www.religioustolerance.org/sch_clot5.htm

    (7)  About.com  Rights of Pagans and Wiccans in the Workplace  http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/yourlegalrights/a/Work_Rights.htm

    p://www.incantatihttp:

    Why do all Wit wear black?

    Callie’s Cavern

    August, 2009

    Black-Obsidian-32

    Black Obsidian

    Obsidian is igneous rock with inclusions from lava erupting and cooling within the earth.  The speed in which it cools prevents crystallization.  There are many different forms of Obsidian.  Sometimes bubbles get trapped and when they get densely packed that can give you gold, rainbow, or silver sheens to the stone.  Clusters of small cristobalite or feldspar can also get trapped in the stone, giving you Snowflake Obsidian.  Apache Tears are the result of wind and water smoothing out the rock.  Mahogany Obsidian is formed with Iron.  Black Obsidian is one of the most commonly worked with forms of Obsidian.

    Black Obsidian is grounding and centering.  It represents strength.  This quality of Black Obsidian is why it is difficult to use.  While it is used in protection rituals and can allow you to see the situation or enemy when it is hidden, it does this in a very powerful way.

    Black Obsidian is a stone without boundaries or limitations.  It works very fast and with great power.  Its reflective qualities are merciless.  It exposes flaws, weakness, and blockages.  When working with Obsidian nothing is hidden and we are compelled to grow.  Some support is lent during this process, but if you are not ready to deal with the issue at hand the stone can be harsh.

    For example, if you are having money problems and work with Black Obsidian, it can bring the bill collectors to your door.  Without dealing with your issues of past spending, you are unable to grow.  In order to move past bad credit you have to take care of the bill collectors.  It lends you gentle support, but you may not be ready for that step.

    Negative emotions and unpleasant truths can come rushing to the surface, it can be overwhelming.  Black Obsidian brings you face to face with who you truly are.  It connects you to your shadow side and teaches you now to integrate the two.  Negative energies are magnified so they can be fully experienced.  Use with care and only if you are able to consciously process what you will see and only for the highest good.  It can be difficult to use if you are not prepared to face reality.

    Placing it under the pillow can draw out mental stress and tension and calm.  It can also bring up the reason for the stress and the reasons have to be confronted before peace can return.  This property can lead to nightmares.  Sometimes we are afraid of what we need to face.  You can combine with Clear Quartz if Black Obsidian is too powerful.

    Black Obsidian is also used for divination.  It is a popular material for scrying.  There is a truth enhancing component to Black Obsidian that brings clarity and clears away confusion.  Black Obsidian is a talking stone, hold a piece over your ear and listen carefully, it is clairaudient.

    This stone is also protective, it can block psychic attacks, dissolve emotional blockage, promote compassion, and strength.  Black Obsidian absorbs anger and can regroup scattered energies and protect from evil spirit.  If you are just beginning your work with crystals it would be better to begin working with a more gentle form of Obsidian like Snowflake, Mahogany, or Rainbow Sheen.