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Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

September 1st, 2016

Mabon 2016 for Celebrating the Old Ways in New Times

Bright Blessings!

Mabon, or Autumnal Equinox always sneaks up on me. It is August 19, and while our tomato and cucumber harvest is going well, I can hardly believe that in a little over a month, we will be harvesting even more, and we’ll be quickly headed to Samhain!

An especially harsh Winter is forecast for this year. I suppose that is the price some of us in Central Ohio will just have to pay for the fact last year’s Winter was quite mild! I was told the insects were heavier this year as a result of the mild Winter- so the shrieking little girl in me hopes next year’s insect population will be less thick!

I say this, covered in chigger bites from my knees to my toes. Every Lughnassadh that I garden finds me covered in bites and unable to sleep until they heal- which takes at least a month. I spend so much time in the garden, refusing to wear shoes, long pants, or DEET, and would rather struggle for a few weeks than cover up. I guess the bugs figure since I am harvesting tomatoes and cucumbers they feel I grew simply for their consumption, they will just eat me instead!

I always review last year’s article before composing this years to ensure they are not similar- you can read last years here-

http://paganpages.org/content/2015/09/celebrating-the-old-ways-in-new-times-11/

– and I was reminded that last year was the very first time I gardened from early Spring, all Summer long, and into Autumnal Equinox. I am pleased to say, this year, I did too!

The difference is that somehow, I failed miserably at radishes this time- but learned to grow cucumbers. We have about a dozen vines prolifically producing as I write this, as well as ten tomato plants, and new sprouts of snap peas- a first harvest of which was quite successful. I am pleased to say our blueberry we planted last year produced so beautifully, we bought another to plant beside it.

We are doing so well with veggies this year because of an agreement with a neighbor across the street. For the past three years, she has allowed us to grow things in her unused garden area. The first year, I planted perennial flowers- which did not come back. So, the next year, we planted lots of radishes and shared with her and a couple other neighbors. This year’s success with monstrous amounts of cucumbers and tomatoes came after amending the soil with a lot of compost and manure, diligent watering, and staking and careful managing of the long, flowering veggie vines. This is also the second year we have used mostly seeds as opposed to greenhouse sprouted plants.

As far as seeds go, marigolds can be planted from last year’s withered blooms, the flower heads opened up to get them, and each tiny seed laid about two inches away from the last. The rest of our seeds, we buy in Winter, usually starting in January or February, and they are gleefully planted after weeks of gawking at them in eager anticipation.

Our Own Harvests

Mabon, or time of Second Harvest is a good time to take stock of all you have accomplished and while some use it as time for review and of setting new goals, I see it as more of a time for building on what has already been done.

For example, one of my friends wants to do a full-house purge. He’s a pack rat and is too ashamed to let people into his house to see. I used to joke with him that I believed he had bodies stacked up from his serial killing sprees- until I caught a view of his back patio- in all of it’s cluttered glory- and I caught a glimpse of the disaster his living room is by peering in through his sliding glass door. There was not a body in sight, of course!

But realistically, he has already started his purge- it began in the front yard. He did quite a bit of the gardening WITH me this year. Any further progress is just building upon that. He is a big reason the garden has done so well. His encouragement was wind in my sails many times, and he even bought supplies and did some of the labor as well. He does not realize how much progress he has already made- but in the next couple of days, he will get back from a trip out of town and see the huge sunflowers that opened by his door while he was away- and I am pretty sure that will drive the message home.

Later on in the article, I will provide a working, but in the meantime, I’d like to share some information about an exciting historical landmark that shares the name with this Sabbat.

The Lochmaben Stone and The Once and Future King

The Lochmaben Stone is the one stone that is still visible of a ring of megalithic stones in Scotland- this one stone weighing ten tons just by itself. Local legend states it is from this stone that King Arthur drew his sword. Belief in the existence of a historical Arthur in general as well as him drawing a sword from a stone are worth discussing, and holds far more tradition than many modern folk suspect.

Sarmartians, Romans, and Brits, Oh My!

About him in general, it is speculated that many different warlords formed the basis for the legends about him, some of whom were not even British. One was a Sarmartian, and was named Batraz. The Sarmartians were from a confederation of Iranian peoples who dominated and later adapted the language of the Scythians, who gave us the torcs so cherished by the Celts. Like Arthur, Batraz had a magical sword of power that he had cast into the waters when he died. There was heavy Sarmatian presence in Britain just before Arthur was said to have lived. Sarmatians also buried their swords in the roots of trees, or stones where they buried their dead- and it is said Batraz pulled his magical sword from the roots of a tree.

The Sarmatians were there under a Roman military leader named Lucious Artorious Castus, and it is speculated the Sarmatians brought with them their stories of Batraz, which might have contributed to the Arthur myths. As you may have guessed, it is also speculated Lucious, whose middle named was Artorious, was the basis for the name Arthur as well. It is speculated he may have been guarding Hadrian’s Wall, and his career sent him to Judaea, Macedonia, and Italy as well. By the time he reached Great Britain, he was a good 50-60 years old with quite a track record.

As well as being called “The Once and Future King”, Arthur was viewed as tied to the land. Legend has it when he fell ill, and the Knights were questing for the Holy Grail, all the land fell ill, and the people suffered. This came from Pre-Christian beliefs about divine kingship. The king was responsible for the people. He both blessed and defended them. If he suffered, both the land and the people suffered.

For a lot of modern Neo-Pagans, the Wheel of the year links the land to the life of the god who is born of the goddess at Yule, and develops, and is killed and returned to the earth with harvest. Arthur’s myths fit right in with this.

Papa Was a Royal Stone

Backtracking to the topic of the stones, both Scotland and Ireland had sacred stones used in coronation of kings. The Lia Fal, or Stone of Destiny which still stands in Ireland, was supposed to emit a shout when he who was meant to be king put his feet on the stone. It has been damaged a few times, once being back in antiquity by being split in anger by Cuchulainn when it did not choose the man he wanted to be king- and it only emitted the cry twice after that- for Conn of the Hundred Battles and Brian Boru. It was also hit with hammers and painted in recent years, but it still stands.

In Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle is housed an ancient Stone of Destiny where kings were placed for coronation. Queen Elizabeth the II is the last monarch crowned on the stone. In the 13th century, it was taken by Edward I and transported to Westminster Abbey in Britain. There, it was installed in a seat , used for coronation of British kings. After townsfolk prevented the crown from giving it back to Scotland close to a century later, it is said monks snuck the real stone away, burying it and replacing it with another. Nobody seems to know if this is true or not.

In 1950, it was stolen by some students, and hidden- but after being returned several months later, it was agreed the stone should return to Scotland. In 1996, was taken to Edinburgh Castle to be kept when not used during coronations.

As far as the god whose name the Lochmaben stone contains, nothing is known of what kind of worship of him took place there, but it is known stones held power, and were the places the kings and leaders were crowned or elected.

The Lochmabon Stone itself was used for various purposes after Christianization. It stood as a boundary marker between England and Scotland, and a landmark where people met for doing business. It was recorded that prisoners between Britain and Scotland were exchanged at the stone in the fourteenth century. A Battle where Scotland crushed the invading English occurred in the Fifteenth century, and in the 1800’s a tenant farmer shifted the stones around, trying to find valuables. In the 1995, a re-erection of the stone was had. And although various other stones that comprised the circle are now below ground, the Lochmabon stone still stands today.

It can be argued the idea of divine kingship Arthur and the rulers chosen at Lia Fal embodied so well was carried over into feudalism with the concept of the god of Abraham selecting the monarchy. That the king or leader was selected by omens or birth is something few neo-Pagans might submit to in this day and age of voting in leaders although Pre-Christian Pagans swore by it.

Mabon and Maponos

What all of this has to do with Mabon itself goes back to the name of the god whose name the stone takes- it is accepted there was at one time some sort of devotions done to the god Mabon- or Maponos at the Lochmabon Stone because simply because the stone is named after him. A god revered by ancient Gauls in France, and later by Celts in the British Isles, little is known about him, save he was believed to be a son of a mother goddess, who we likewise know little about!

Today’s neo-Pagans often have a second harvest celebration and decorate their altars with leaves, and flowers and fruits of the season. Some have a kind of thanksgiving celebration. However, I have never personally met a devotee of the god Maponos, although I am sure they are out there. So for many, this Sabbat has little, if anything to do with the god whose name it bears.

Although we all know that our neo-Pagan celebrations are neo- or new- I always look to see if I can find what was done in the pre-Christian days. I specifically wanted to see what was harvested at second harvest time.

Pass the Bottle and the Bag of Wheat

What I found was that before Prohibition in the US, Ireland was responsible for 90% of the world’s whiskey at the start of the 20th century! Now, Ireland’s whiskey accounts for just 2% of what is consumed and has only seven whiskey breweries. A lot of breweries went out of business due to Prohibition.

Whiskey is made using a yeast distilled mash of cereal grains, which may include any of the following- barley, corn, rye, or wheat. The sources I found indicated Irish whiskey is only made using barley. Barley is harvested in mid-July, and it takes years for the barley whiskey to age before it is ready to be consumed. So the barley harvest is not what would be celebrated Mabon time.

Wheat, however, is harvested in September, and despite the modern dislike of all things glutinous- wheat has been a staple in Europe for centuries. It stores well, and grows very well in Ireland, I discovered. So well, as a matter of fact, it is said Irish wheat growers have a leg up on wheat farmers in other Nations. It is said the weather there is best for the wheat. I found that pre Christian Pagan devotees released bags of flour from the newly harvested batch to the wind as gifts to the gods and in thanks for a successful harvest.

Many neo Pagans celebrate the equinox as a thanksgiving and for saying goodbye to long Summer days. I have never found that a good thing- some of us are tired from Fall through mid Spring- so I admit, Mabon is not a favorite of mine. But a lot of people look forward to the cooling days, and view the coming Winter as time to rest and die back with the earth.

Taking all the things I have read over in the past few days into account, the suggested working this time will include taking stock of our own personal power through the accomplishments of the harvests in each of our lives. Like our once and future king, we are the kings and queens of our own worlds. Our people- loved ones- and land…yards and work lives- reflect how we are doing. If we suffer, they suffer. Likewise, if we thrive, so do they. Some harvest celebrations will find us feeling we have accomplished more than others- but all in all, what we HAVE done is what needs to be celebrated.

Saoirse’s 2016 Mabon Working

Like most of my suggested rites, invite everybody over and have a potluck. Before the ritual begins, set a gorgeous table with all the things that makes you think of Fall Equinox time. Use whatever seasonal decorations you desire- or if you just don’t decorate- line the table with the food only, and that will look plenty festive enough!

I like to use a great free Sabbat decoration come Fall time… LEAVES! I stuff jars and vases full of branches of leaves and scatter leaves from outside EVERYWHERE, even the floor! You can sweep them right out the door and vacuum up any particles left behind. If you think about this, fallen leaves are the perfect symbol of the Sabbat. The trees have produced all they are going to and are now changing colors as they die back, and nothing looks prettier.

Also, if it is affordable, buy a bottle of Irish whiskey to use in this ritual. You can have a little something from the motherland right in your home anywhere on earth for Mabon that way!

To prepare for the ritual, come with a story. It should be a story of some accomplishment of yours- the proudest moment for you this harvest season. For some, it will be they got a new job. For others, it will be figuring out how to fix the plumbing. For others, it will be overcoming the urge to honk at people in traffic- thus defeating your own road rage!

No accomplishment is too small, but let there be a twist in how this is done. Amplify the story to some heroic level. For example- a friend was selected to be the one who chases geese off of her place of businesses property. When she told us about a bloody battle in which she emerged victorious- she started by saying she stealthily inched out the front door with her mighty broom in hand, and looked the largest geese in the bunch in the eye and said “You have slept your LAST peaceful night, goose!” Realistically, all she did was charge at them and scatter them a couple of times until they flew away. Yet to hear her tell it, the battle was a major military excursion, and will go down in the annals of history as the time the Great Anna defeated the Gang of the Filthy Tailfeathers.

In our culture, we are encouraged to tear ourselves down, hate our bodies, downplay our accomplishments, and then everybody wonders why our self-esteem is so low and depression levels are so high in this country! At this Sabbat, we are going to reverse this, at least for our dinner. I suggest a Mabon Bragfest Dinner where everybody takes a turn bragging about some major accomplishment before the food is blessed and everybody feasts.

I highly suggest beginning by first blessing and opening the bottle of whiskey, giving some as offering to the gods, and then passing it from person to person and having everybody take a sip to get nice and warm.

Next, begin the storytelling. Each person will first pour a bit out to the gods, as the gods come first, then take a sip themselves, tell their story of esteem, and pass the bottle to the next person. If your party does not want to drink alcohol, grab some amazing sparkling juice or fresh cider. Remember that you can always give the gods the whiskey, even if you prefer non-alcoholic beverages yourself.

While I understand modern people cannot do all just as the ancients did, these ARE still ancient gods. Many are used to getting whole herds of animals or even human being sacrificed to them as well as caches of bronze, gold, silver, and whatnot. To just give this god a little sip of apple cider or juice or milk or something seems like little effort, and is a far cry from what they are used to. Give em’ the whiskey!

Make sure that after each person has told their story of mighty accomplishment, everybody cheers and claps riotously- the whiskey should help with this. Not only are we tooting our own horn, but we are encouraging and tooting each other’s horns!

To bless the food, once everybody has spoken, join hands, or do a group hug in a circle around the table and say something like,

Lady and Lord, we thank you for this second harvest and for all of the beautiful things we have brought into our lives. Accept the offerings of all good things we have done, and all good things we plan to do and build up our strengths, and let us build one another up.

We have enjoyed another harvest together, and a third is yet to come as the days shorten, and the nights cool and lengthen. Thank you for all we have been blessed with, and for all the blessings we have bestowed upon one another. We are the sons and daughters of the gods of the Old Ways. Let us never hunger. Let us never thirst, and let us never wither or weaken before our time to join our brethren in the Summerlands comes. So Mote it Be.”

Then feast and have wonderful fellowship.

Blessed Mabon.

Blessed Be.

 

Mabon Kitchen Magic

Merry meet.

You have to eat something, so why not make it magical to celebrate the second harvest? It could be a dessert, something for cakes and ale, dinner or a feast. Making it yourself makes it thrifty, and allows you to infuse it with your intentions.

Whatever the food is for, apples are a Mabon staple in any form: applesauce, apple butter, baked apple chips, baked apples with caramel sauce, apple cake, apple and acorn or butternut squash soup, apple muffins, apple pie, apple pound cake, apple fritters, applesauce cake, apple crisp, apple cider doughnuts, apple cobbler or Waldorf salad.

Where I live, the last of the summer squash, peppers, eggplant and tomatoes are harvested, making ratatouille another good Mabon food.

Wild mushrooms are generally plentiful in September. Beans, beets and corn are also in season in many places. Pomegranates – which are part of the Persephone story – make for another Mabon food.

The winter squashes such as butternut and acorn are traditional this time of year, and lend themselves to roasting, stuffing, mashing and baking. They are good for making soups and casseroles, too. Pie pumpkins can be used in the same recipes, in addition to making pies, of course.

I found a paleo pumpkin pancake recipe by Paleo Grubs that I’m going to try at our Mabon retreat this year.

It calls for combining 1/2 cup well-drained pureed pumpkin, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons almond flour and 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon. The caramel sauce that goes with it is made by boiling 1/8 cup coconut milk, 1 1/2 tablespoon honey and 1 teaspoon coconut oil until it thickens, then adding 1/2 tablespoon chopped walnuts and mixing well.

I found another recipe I plan to make at  wickedspatula.com. Its DIY Autumn herbal Tea Blend could just be the best of the season in a mug. The recipe calls for 1 part each of chicory, cardamom, cloves, pink peppercorns and star anise; 2 parts ginger and 3 parts crushed cinnamon. Store in an airtight glass container. Use 2 teaspoons per cup of water. Steep for 5 minutes.

Although Mabon is considered the witch’s Thanksgiving, the one food that is difficult to secure – at least in my neck of the woods – is cranberries. The fresh ones don’t start showing up in grocery stores until sometime toward the end of October. I learned to buy two bags at the end of the holiday season in January and freeze them in case I want them.

To bless your Mabon food, “A Pagan Ritual Prayer Book,” by Ceisiwr Serith offers this simple sentence, “I offer to the gods [or goddess] of the dark season this fruit of the light.”

Merry part.

And merry meet again.

Bright Blessings!

Lughnassadh is upon us.

Already, those of us who garden have been proudly plucking things from branches, vines, and stems, and bringing them to loved ones to share. In our garden grows tomatoes- OF COURSE- blackberries, cucumbers, snap peas, potatoes, mint, lavender, sage, thyme, nasturtiums, cabbages, blueberries, and PLENTY of flowers as well. Snap peas, our herbs, blueberries, and nasturtiums have already been picked, and shared, and enjoyed. The cabbage leaves are folding into themselves nicely to form little purple balls that will grow huge by fall. We are waiting for the greens to die back, indicating the potatoes are ready to pull from the ground. Already, we have dozens of tiny, jewel like tomatoes that grow larger every day. I’ll be planting more seeds so we can have another crop of radishes and snap peas.

All over the British Isles, this time was celebrated as first harvest. Depending on where you lived, offering of whatever was grown was used in rituals. In England, the offering would be wheat, whereas Irish celebrations would include offerings of the first corn harvested.

Since food was central to the pre-Christian Pagan celebrations, I’d like to write a little about Lughnassadh history, and discuss some of today’s magical uses of food.

Lammas andLughnassadh

Last year’s August Article focused on Lughnassadh and the Irish traditions and their history. So, this year, I will write about Lammas, which is English, instead.

For Neo Paganism, of course, Lammas, or Lughnassadh is the first of the three harvest festivals, the other two being Mabon and Samhain. Today, we celebrate with modern Sabbats and gatherings of oftentimes storebought goods for potlucking. But in ancient times, the English in particular did things differently at this time.

What was Lammas?

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle referred to this time as the feast of first fruits, and specifically, celebration of the wheat harvest. Midsummer began the hay harvest, which winds up to a finish just before the wheat harvest starts. It is speculated that there may have been wheat shortage close to the time of Lammas- as the last year’s wheat ran low, so new wheat was a big deal.

Sometimes, the very first sheath of wheat cut was separated from the rest of the harvest and individually processed and baked into a special loaf of bread. The bread would be used magically to place in the four corners of the building used to store the wheat, in belief this protected it. After Christianization, people would take a loaf of bread baked from the first wheat to church. It was used at the communion for that service, thanking their god for the harvest.

In the 1500’s, it has been recorded that a bit of secular pageantry included the men who had worked the harvest dressing in costumes, driving the carts of wheat around, asking for money. The carts would have been decorated with ribbons and made to look absolutely beautiful. Harvest celebrations included a feast- and it is the European harvest festivals that further developed into Thanksgiving in America. As with any harvest pre-industrialization, food could be salted, dried, canned, or pickled, and eaten at a later date. But the fresh produce would be cooked into elaborate dishes and enjoyed at the festivals.

Until the 20th century, it was considered bad luck to cut the last sheath of grain, so people would race to see who could complete their own harvest first. Sometimes, the very last stalk or sheath was harvested by people taking turns tossing blades at it.

After Christianization, people might have changed deities, but the harvest celebrations continued. First, Lammas was turned into the feast day of when St. John the Baptist is believed to have been rescued from prison by an angel. Beginning in 1969, it changed into the celebration of the life of a different Saint- one who was seen as a reformer, who freed the Catholic Church of some of its excess, reworking not only policies, but also seminaries. He suspended Priests who tried to say Mass in just fifteen minutes, and sold his carriage and ecclesiastical ring to help the poor. You might imagine this made him unpopular with other Priests, and when advanced age and illness set in, he was kicked out of the very church he founded! It is fitting that a most holy feast day of being thankful for the beginning of harvest is now one seen as a day to remember one of the people who worked to police the clergy and advocate for the poor.

Food is Magic!

At this time of food harvest, I think it fitting to explore also the ways we use food as magical tools in our lives.

Sometimes, we think of magic as being something you have to take a lot of time to study and prepare for before doing an operation. While magic certainly can be, it can also be something as simple as saying “bless you” when somebody sneezes, or saying a healing prayer silently while stopped in traffic as an ambulance to goes by. Like the ancient English would simply break bread in four pieces to place it in the four corners of the barn holding their harvested grain, we do simple things every day we don’t even think about and we use food to do it.

Aside from blessing food in ritual or eating certain foods at specific Sabbats, witchcraft using food is a practice that is alive and well in modern times- and not just in Pagan communities.

Blessings All!

How many people have you seen say a prayer before they eat? The magic words of the prayer are supposed to thank whatever god/ess the person worships, and a blessing of the food is asked. An even nicer addition I have heard over the years is when people say , “And may god bless the hands that prepared this food.” In my tradition, we bless our foods ourselves as opposed to asking a god/ess to bless it for us- and I am not supposed to eat anything unless it has been blessed. It is believed by some that food itself can have unclean energy in it and a simple spiritual cleansing of a prayer cleanses it and this cleanses your body.

Along with this concept is that of food taboos. Certain foods are considered unclean by some. Very famous is the Jewish and Muslim prohibition against pork. But some refuse to eat any animal products at all because they believe it is cruel and sinful to kill and ingest another living creature.

Gather Round , One and All

The simplest form of magic that food is used for is to bring people together in fellowship. Food has the ability to get people to come to things they otherwise would not attend. People might be grumbling, but if you say “Refreshments will be served”, people will come out of the woodwork from all directions.

Birthdays, weddings, wakes, or even business team building lunches are well-attended and everybody welcomes the chance to sit down and eat. Food helps relax people, quell hunger, tastes good, and makes people stay at the gathering longer, and thus more communication happens. I used to dread the monthly quality assurance meetings I had to attend when I was an Activity Coordinator on a Skilled Rehab Unit. However, I always looked forward to the free pizza and salad they catered for us to eat when our kitchen was not laying out a dazzling spread. It also gave us opportunity to host to our M.D. who was responsible for our Resident’s care. It made me happy to see him wolfing down the good food, because not only was he a good doctor, but he was a good person. He used to sit and play piano for our residents even though that was not his job. I don’t really remember all the frustrating arguments that took place at those meetings, but I do remember the food. That was just a way to sweeten the mandatory attendance at a very unpleasant meeting every month.

Specialty breads and cakes

Think of one thing that is used at a lot of rites of passage- a cake or special bread. Think of what is in it oftentimes- it’s the basic sugar, flour, butter combination. Three ingredients that deliver energy very fast, and not only taste good, which makes us happy, but is extra special when it is made just for you and your occasion.

At a Macedonian wedding reception I attended, breads were baked at home by family members, and a special ring dance was done in which everybody took turns dancing with the breads, putting in well-wishes for the couple. Some of the breads were kept for the couple only, and other bread was broken up and everybody at the reception got some. I was floored because these people are all modern Christians and they were using ancient magical practice- which I refer to as witchcraft, to wish the bride and groom well- as if their dance would ensure a successful marriage. The breads were made from a specific recipe, and probably made in the same pans the bride or grooms grandparents made their parents wedding breads from. Handkerchiefs that had been made by a great grandmother and had been used at many other family gatherings were also twirled by dancers- thus consecrating and unifying the family even more. I was very pleased to see this tradition kept alive in modern times. (But I did not tell anybody they were doing witchcraft! ? )

That Warm Welcome

Food is also used to make people feel welcomed and loved. My Mother was a Christian, but she was a witch- although she did not know it. One of the things she understood intimately was the enchantment food held over people. If you feed people, it almost always endears you to them. Mom was a homebody even before she became disabled- and she especially loved it when she got visitors. The first thing out of her mouth to a visitor- which she taught me to say also was- “Can I get you anything to drink?” She kept LOTS of drinks stashed in her fridge. And a TON of ice. AND lots of soda, most especially Coca-Cola.

My grandmother also kept drinks for people- Coke and Pepsi as well, because not all the grandkids preferred Coke, and not all preferred Pepsi. Unlike my mom, Granny always- until she was too old to do so- kept a pot of coffee going all day long until after dinnertime. This was both because her last husband loved coffee, and so she could have plenty on hand whenever anybody wanted some. As a result, whenever I smell coffee or see cold Coca-Cola, I automatically feel relaxed and welcomed. Some might call this psychological conditioning- but I call it magic.

If you do things like this, your visitors know they won’t be thirsty and will be comforted, and if they know you have a variety of drinks, including their favorite, that makes them feel special. This will make people want to keep going back to see you- which is exactly what Mom and Granny wanted!

At my house, we don’t always have something in the fridge- but we DO have a nice stash of teas. I also have doilies, a lovely teapot, or mugs and bagged teas for people who don’t want the fuss of loose leaf tea prepping. I find tea to be more relaxing that sodas, but I offer coffee as well. Sometimes, you want a cold drink, especially if it is hot- but sometimes, even in Summertime, a hot drink soothes the nerves. Herbally, I keep either chamomile or lavender in the house as well, for their relaxing properties, and of course, I have plenty of caffeinated concoctions for when people are tired and need a pick-me-up!

I Can Keep You Very Well!

In modern times, a courtship ritual when somebody wants to date you is they will take you out to eat- buying you a meal. A lot of young ladies like the idea of a man spending a lot of money to treat her to a fancy restaurant. This is done to show the man can afford to support her well in a relationship. While relationships have changed, and most people now live in two earner households, this tradition is one that is not died out.

Always on My Mind!

Remembering people’s dietary restrictions or their preferences can also be used as an enchantment to endear you to them. Unless you are like me, and have to ask for reminders- which all my friends understand- remembering what people can and will eat will make them feel closer to you.

I used to know a very hard to please lady- one who I actually don’t miss…because she was SO hard to please. But during the time I knew her, she taught me a very valuable lesson through all of her complaining. MANY times, I listened to her tell the story of the time she went for Thanksgiving at a friend’s house. Now to me, when somebody invites you to join their family for Thanksgiving, it’s an honor, not something to gripe about afterwards, but this lady felt otherwise. She said it was her worst Thanksgiving ever because there was NOTHING at the house she could eat. She had anxiety driven self inflicted food restrictions which meant she could hardly ever eat anything unless she, herself prepared it. A lot of people just did not bother to invite her to eat, but I had her give me a list of her food restrictions- and I can’t remember if it was two pages or five pages, but it was an absolute tome. I memorized it and fed her on numerous occasions. More than once, she told me I was one of the only people who ever had things she could eat. The fact I remembered what she would eat was one of the things that held us together,

Pass the Recipes, Please!

Recipes, too, are magical. I never understood the desire to keep recipes secret or only in the family. But apparently, this makes a lot of people feel it is more special that way, and for them and theirs only. This works very well for some people because it helps solidify family ties and strengthen that sense of family identity.

In my family, there were no secret recipes- but the women developing their own variation of basic things their mother, my Granny had cooked. For example, Granny used Lipton’s onion soup mix in her meatloaf, whereas Mom abhorred it and used spaghetti sauce instead. I liked both, and developed my own variation which is somewhere in between, but using ingredients neither did. Rather than sticking with a top secret way of doing a recipe and not changing it, the cooking tradition I learned was to experiment and make the recipe your own. Each generation thus contributes to a living tradition that is ever changing, and that is very magical.

Don’t Eat the Fairy Food! Or DO!

In lore, it is said some people refused the food placed before them by the Sidhe. This was out of belief that if they ate fairy food, they would never be able to leave that realm. This is because those foods bestowed immortality- but when the kidnapped person returned to the world of men, that wore off and they would immediately turn into a very old, and dying person. Immortality is what some thirsted for and they wondered, why would you ever want to leave such a good thing behind? However, in some stories, this was actually not a good thing. One account tells us a man was transported to what he beheld as the very splendid realm of the Sidhe, and he PRETENDED to partake of their wine they gave him, but instead just watched them. After a few minutes, he saw that the splendor he had initially beheld to be but an illusion, and the attendees were horrifying, and some were actually just dead, decaying bodies. He escaped and returned home safely.

When a fairy wanted to become human, he or she need eat only mortals food, and thus became such! If a human being wanted the Sidhe to work for them, they would leave them food- oftentimes, bowls of cream.

Magically, lore would tell us, the foods we eat in fellowship with others makes us all become one with each other, mortal and immortal alike. Seeing how people identify their families and cultural groups through things including foods shows that this magic works.

Tantalizing Aphrodisiacs and Love Spells!

If you want to be really sneaky when you are attracted to somebody, you can use aphrodisiacs and aromatherapy to try and sexually arouse them. It is said that lavender, pumpkin pie, oysters, chili peppers, avocado, chocolate, honey, bananas, coffee, and watermelon, are just some of the foods said to also be aphrodisiacs. This is definitely magical! Now, as for love spells with food- I never do love spells. I believe somebody should love me on their own, or they can hit the road…but I’ve used aphrodisiacs on occasion.

A whole other take on witchcraft with food is PUTTING substances in the food you feed to people. It’s a very easy way to get some energy inside the person to get them to act favorably towards you. While I’m not going to put a drop of my blood or urine into somebody else’s food or drink, I think this article I will share article is absolutely worth reading for educational purposes. In this article also are some opinions from people who feel witchcraft is wrong or not valid at all. I disagree with this. I have done a lot of successful spellwork. Although I do agree with the suggestion you communicate rather than just casting a spell if you are having relationship woes.

http://www.newvision.co.ug/new_vision/news/1313399/witchcraft-women

Charge the Food!

Other things you can do is to just charge the serving plates, utensils, the dining table, or the very foods themselves with your intentions. Say you want somebody to hire you for a job and they just happen to be coming for dinner- chant over the food, table, or serving ware to help influence the person to hire you. You don’t even have to use any fancy ingredients for that. You can write your intentions on paper, placed under the plates or taped to the underside of the table. You can also write your intentions on a piece of paper, and burn it, letting the smoke from the burning paper blow over the cooking ingredients, being careful not to let the ashes fall into the food of course…or you COULD let a little of the ashes fall into the food!!!!! The food can just absorb the energy of your thoughts.

Remember in Like Water for Chocolate, the heroine of the story is forced by her cruel mother to cook the wedding feast for her sister who stole and married her lover? Everybody got terribly sick after eating the food, because the heroine had wept into it, and her agony seeped into it. Bad things can absorb in food that way- but goodness, so can wonderful things! Why else do you think “mom’s food” prepped with the exact same ingredients tastes better than when you prep it?

You Can Add and you CAN Take Away As Well

One thing I had forgotten was fasting and purging as means of purification. This is considered more worship, but this ritual practice is a magical one. How many people do you know who say they “practice clean eating” as if certain foods will dirty up their nice, pure bodies? The view that certain foods bless and others defile is a universal belief, but nobody seems to be able to agree on which foods are good and which are bad. Shunning pork and animal products have already been mentioned, but fad diets as a means of trying to purify the body are magical in nature as well.

I remember when nobody would touch carbs because of the Atkins diet craze, and after that nobody would touch any sugar. Soonafter, artificial sweeteners became the “great satan”, and anything non organic is considered the epitome of filth in some circles. Some who have no health reason to shun gluten do so because it is trendy to believe gluten is bad- and then there are those who are doing the paleo diet, claiming it is better for us, because our ancestors ate it. Yet they forget that the Paleolithic period began two million years ago, and ended ten thousand years ago with the agricultural revolution. This added farming to our lifestyles which brought about more variety in our diets, which increased our health and longevity. I always say that it must be really nice to be rich enough to be able to afford such self inflicted dietary restrictions!

Fasting before mass or shunning certain things during Lent has been a Catholic practice for generations. A ritual fast may be for short term deprivation as a sacrifice to a god, like during Ramadan, or to induce what some call visions, but what medical science calls hallucinations from food deprivation. It is said the aesthetics the Buddha studied with practiced extreme fasting, but the Buddha believed too little food was as bad as too MUCH food and that neither was good for people.

As far back as ancient Mesopotamia, people have been purging through induced vomiting or enemas- mixed with herbs- to expel what was believed to be evil spirits or witchcraft they believed had been snuck into their food.

People do this because they believe certain substances will damage or defile the body or spirit. But certain things also can bless and heal the body. This is done through good energy, and focusing love into food- which anybody can do, even if they don’t consider themselves a very powerful witch!

Aside from these ideas I have shared, I have a suggested working for the Sabbat!

First Harvest Favorite Foods Celebration

For your Lammas or Lughnassadh celebration, you don’t necessarily need to harvest your own corn or wheat and use it in the meal and as gifts to the gods. What you can do is have a potluck where everybody brings one of their favorite foods. But do this with a twist…have each person bring a dish that is not only one of their favorite things to eat because they especially like the taste- have them bring a food that has a special story to go along with it. Have everybody take turns sharing their story. Instead of casting circle, stand in a circle to do this and begin with the person who is at the east and move clockwise to tell the food stories. Instead of a formal blessing of the food, each person should focus happiness, joy, and the good things this food makes them feel, and the hope that the people eating the food will also experience that happiness.

To keep with the tradition of the gods feasting with the people, have each person put a little of the food they brought on a plate. They then pass it to the next person who will in turn put a bit of their dish on the plate, until a little of everybody’s food is on the plate. Then hold the plate up, and say something like “Together, we offer this to the gods of our hearts and lives. Look down upon the harvest of our joys we share with one another, and partake of this with us. We thank you for the good things, good people, and good experiences we have in our lives. Blessed Be!” Set the food at a place of honor at the table or at your altar- wherever you feel is the best spot to give to your gods.

Then eat!!!!!

Blessed First Harvest!

Blessed Be!

Welcoming Mabon – The Autumn Equinox


Subtle whispers of the approaching season are everywhere: The night air is cooling, plants are producing seed heads, birds are beginning their migration, animals are storing food and building shelters and leaves are beginning to transform from deep green to richer shades of the autumn harvest. With all this splendor, we welcome in Mabon, the Autumn Equinox, on September 23, 2011, also known as The Witches Thanksgiving.

Being the second of three harvest festivals, Mabon is largely centered around celebrating the unending generosity the earth provides along with the bounty with which you have been blessed.  It is for joining with family and friends to share the wealth of fall crops, tales of the past, plans for the coming months and to remember there are those who struggle and to pass along what you can do without.

The other side of this celebration is balance, being that light and dark are equal on this day.  Balance teaches us that where there is life there is also death. Though we are celebrating our bounty, we are aware that the fields are drying out, the soil losing its nutrients and the crops are going dormant. The wheel of the year turns once again through the seasons. With each coming day, as in the ancient Greek myths of Demeter and Persephone, the sun’s strength will diminish as darkness claims its rightful place within the universe. So continues the harmony of the dance of life.

A traditional Autumn Equinox feast would include fall fruits, grains, nut breads, lots of vegetables and wine or apple cider. Apple cider is magical in itself as apple rules the heart and cider is a self-love potion. Add a stick of cinnamon ruled by the sun, and symbolically you are taking in sunlight.

May your Autumn Equinox be filled with an overflowing bounty as you prepare for the coming winter.

MAY-bon, MAY-bun, MAY-bone, MAH-boon or MAH-bawn, – Lesser Sabbat

Fall/Autumn Equinox, September 21-23

Michaelmas (September 25th, Christian), Second Harvest Festival, Witches’ Thanksgiving, Harvest Home (Anglo-Celtic), Feast of Avalon, Wine Harvest, Festival of Dionysus, Cornucopia, Equinozio di Autunno (Strega), Chung Chiu (China), Night of the Hunter, Alban Elfed “The Light of the Water”(Caledonii/ Druidic-celebrates Lord of the Mysteries), Winter Finding (Teutonic, from Equinox ’til Winter Night or Nordic New Year, Oct 15th.)

Mabon is considered a time of the Mysteries. It is a time to honor Aging Deities and the Spirit World. Considered a time of balance, it is when we stop and relax and enjoy the fruits of our personal harvests, whether they be from toiling in our gardens, working at our jobs, raising our families, or just coping with the hussle-bussle of everyday life. May your Mabon be memorable, and your hearts and spirits be filled to overflowing!

Purpose: Second harvest festival, new wine pressing/making preparation for winter and Samhain, rest after labor, Pagan day of Thanksgiving, honoring the spirit world, celebration of wine.

Dynamics/Meaning: death of the God, assumption of the Crone, balance of light and dark; increase of darkness, grape harvest, completion of the harvest.

Essence: Beauty, joy; fullness of life, harvest of the year’s desires, strength; laughter; power; prosperity, equality, balance, appreciation, harvest, protection, wealth, security, self-confidence, reincarnation.

Symbolism of Mabon: Second Harvest, the Mysteries, Equality and Balance.

Symbols of Mabon: wine, gourds, pine cones, acorns, grains, corn, apples, pomegranates, vines such as ivy, dried seeds, and horns of plenty.

Tools, Symbols & Decorations: Indian corn, red fruits, autumn flowers, red poppies, hazelnuts, garlands, grains especially wheat stalks, and colorful, fallen leaves, acorns, pine & cypress cones, oak sprigs, pomegranate, statue/or figure to represent the Mother Goddess, mabon wreath, vine, grapes, gourd, cornucopia/horns of plenty, burial cairns, apples, marigolds, harvested crops, burial cairns, rattles, the Mysteries, sun wheel, all harvest symbols.

Herbs & Plants: Acorn, aster, benzoin, cedar, ferns, grains, hazel, honeysuckle, hops, ivy, marigold, milkweed, mums, myrrh, oak leaf, passionflower, pine, rose, sage, solomon’s seal, tobacco, thistle, and vegetables.

Foods of Mabon: Breads, nuts, apples, pomegranates, cornbread, wheat products, grains, berries, grapes, acorns, seeds, dried fruits, corn, beans, squash, roots (ie onions, carrots, potatoes, etc), hops, sasssafras, roast goose or mutton, wine, ale, & cider.

Incense & Oils of Mabon: Pine, sweetgrass, apple blossom, benzoin, myrrh, frankincense, jasmine, sage wood aloes, black pepper, patchouly, cinnamon, clove, oak moss, & sage.

Colors/Candles of Mabon: Red, orange, russet, maroon, brown, gold, deep gold, green, orange, scarlet, all autumn colors, purple, blue, violet, & indigo.

Stones of Mabon: Sapphire, lapis lazuli, yellow agates, carnelian, yellow topaz, & amethyst.

Customs: Offerings to land, preparing for cold weather, bringing in harvest, cutting willow wands (Druidic), eating seasonal fruit, leaving apples upon burial cairns & graves as a token of honor, walk wild places & forests, gather seed pods & dried plants, fermenting grapes to make wine,picking ripe produce, stalk bundling; fishing,. on the closest full moon (Harvest Moon) harvesting corps by moonlight.

Activities of Mabon: Making wine, gathering dried herbs, plants, seeds and seed pods, walking in the woods, scattering offerings in harvested fields, offering libations to trees, adorning burial sites with leaves, acorns, and pine cones to honor those who have passed over.

Spellworkings and Rituals of Mabon: Protection, security, and self-confidence. Also those of harmony and balance. Celtic Festival of the Vine, prosperity rituals, introspection, rituals which enact the elderly aspects of both Goddess & God, past life recall.

Animals/Mythical beings: Dogs, wolves, stag, blackbird, owl, eagle, birds of prey, salmon & goat, Gnomes, Sphinx, Minotaur, Cyclops, Andamans and Gulons.

Goddesses: Modron (Welsh), Bona Dea, Land Mother, Aging & Harvest Dieties: the Triple Goddess-Mother aspect, Persephone, Demeter/Ceres, Morgan (Welsh- Cornish), Snake Woman (aboriginal), Epona (Celtic-Gaulish), Pamona (roman), the Muses (greek)

Gods: Mabon ap Modron (Welsh), Sky Father, The Green Man, Wine Gods, Aging Gods, John Barley Corn , the Wicker-Man, the Corn Man, Thoth (Egyptian), Hermes, Hotei (Japanese), Thor, Dionysus (Roman), Bacchus (Greek) & all wine Deities

Element: Water ‘

Threshold: Evening

Photo belongs to gypsymoon.com (used with permission)

 

Merry Meet all and Blessed Mabon.

Welcome to the September issue of my column. This issue almost didn’t come to be as my fiancé went into the hospital on the 13th of August and did not come out until the 16th. So please bear with me this month if this seems disorganized.

September brings us the 2nd of harvesting months. By now I am sure a lot of you have been up to your knees, elbows, and maybe even your necks in canning, drying, and freezing of your veggies, fruits and herbs. Rest assured the end of the frenzy is in sight.

As I discussed last month I harvest my herbs in the morning after the dew has dried off, if I can’t then I do it in the last evening. I have never had very much room for drying so I get a 2 inch dowel rod and have it cut to the width of my warmest closet and clean the closet out to use for drying. I buy clothes hangers ( a 12 pack is more than enough for me) and a package of clothes pins. I tie my herbs in a bunch and place a price tag that hangs from a string with the bunch so that I know what is what and then clip the bunch to the hanger with a clothes pin. You can get about 6-7 clothes pins on each hanger depending on how far apart you space your bunches. I place the hangers about 3-4 inches apart on the dowel rod and close the door to my nice warm (now herb kiln) I make sure to check the drying status of my herbs each day as some will dry faster than others.

Once dry remove the leaves from the stems and crush the leaves you wish to crush and place in tightly sealed jars in your herb cupboard.

I need to note here: Some herbs are best harvested before they have had time to flower. Flowering on some lessens the intensity of the flavor and smell of the herb because some of the oils are lost after flowering.

I refresh my magickal cupboard during this time as well so be sure once you harvest that you have put aside enough to also store in your magickal cupboard. I try not to use the herbs I have harvested for cooking for my magickal use as I have charged them with a different intent. I also separate my magickal herbs to specific intents to. The herbs I use for incense for instance have their own shelf in my magickal cupboard, as do those for charms, ritual baths and such. I also have a shelf for the herbs I use for my beauty products. I know some may think that is going a little out there but this way I know that if I am doing a beauty product or a muscle rub which shelf to go to.

Being out on the road, I go thru many different climates in several days and right back in 1 week. My hair and nails suffer because of this. I use coconut oil to control the frizz in my very curly hair ( I swear by this for my hair as well as my skin), but you can also use avocado and olive oil

1/4c olive oil and ½ avocado mashed. Mix the two together to make a mask and apply to hair for 20 min. Rinse well. You can shampoo your hair the next morning to finish removing the oil. Do this about twice a week.

For my nails I carry dill seeds in the truck. I have a coffee pot that I heat water up with and make this recipe for my nails. I simply take about 6 tbsp dill seeds and 1 ½ cup very hot water, pour the water over the seeds and let step for about 10 min or until cool enough to soak my nails in it and then soak my nails for about 15 min. I call it my “Dill tough as nails.” I do this about 2 times a week and it really helps strengthen my nails. They are also not as brittle. Adding Biotin to your diet as a supplement will also help with hair and nail growth for those that have a problem.

 

 

 

 

Witchy Beauty and Skin Tips

I suffer with 2 types of psoriasis, shy of pumping my body with dangerous chemicals and using creams that damage the skin, there is pretty much nothing I can do about it. In my search for herbs to help me I found that the following flowers will help give me some relief from the pain and itching. ***NOTE: Please be sure that you have no allergies to any of the flowers***

Run your bath to about ½ a tub full with water warm enough that is does not hurt you. Add the following:

2/3 c Roman Chamomile flowers         2/3 elder flowers

¼ c lavender flowers                  ½ c lemon balm

½ c rose geranium                     ½ c rose petals

I place all the flowers loose in the tub and just soak away. Once I am done I place a flattened strainer over the drain so that the tub does not clog as I drain the water out. If you don’t want to do this you can place the flowers in a cheese cloth and hang it under the running water as you run your bath. This is not a cure, but should help with the symptoms.

Sweet almond oil on a cotton ball will remove eye make-up and hydrate and smooth the delicate eye area.

I no longer drive truck because of back and neck injuries and riding on the truck is a true test of putting up with the pain of those injuries. My muscles suffer due to the injuries so I live with constant muscle spasms. In my research I have found that Emu Oil helps to relieve those muscle spasms and pain. I troll the health food stores for Emu Oil expressed from the shed feathers only, if I can’t find that I will spend the extra money to order online and wait till I get to the mail. I do not believe in animal abuse nor will I support any product that does.

 

 

 

Pet Tips

One of my readers recently asked me if I had any tips for pet owners and if I was going to add any recipes for treats or foods. I have been planning to add this to my column since its launch. So here it is. This part of the column will grow as I grow with it.

Sometimes, pet just like children will run a fever for no reason at all. As long as the pet is not in distress, you really don’t need to seek a vet. Just simply pour rubbing alcohol onto a cotton ball and apply to the pads of their feet. This will help to bring the fever back down. A dog’s normal temp is about 101 degrees. I am a dog owner so much of my advice is turned toward like owners. However I will add tips for cat owners as I get them.

I have also been told by a vet that a chewable children’s aspirin is ok to give to your dog when fevers happen as long as there is no distress or other sign of illness. HOWEVER… just like humans dogs can have allergies. Late last year my basset hound was running one such fever and it didn’t come down with alcohol applied to his feet so I gave him a children’s aspirin, within minutes he started to cough and wheeze. Thankfully I had liquid Benadryl on hand and that stopped the reaction in its  tracks.

Today we are finding more and more chemicals in our food. The same holds true for pet foods. Gluten allergies are not specific to humans. Now I cannot make enough homemade food for my dog to travel with us so I feed him the best store bought I can get at a reasonable price. I do however make his treats and carry them with us. All the recipes will include gluten free alternatives.()

Several years ago I got the bright idea to start my own doggie treat business.(It didn’t work out at that time, but the future is not yet set) I had my faithful familiar Topaz right by my side as my treat tester so I will share one of her favorite treats this month. Sadly my familiar tester is no longer with me. Hopefully Sebastain my   Just as a note here. Gluten free products and flours can be pretty pricy. Just shop around for the best price you can get.

 

 

 

Topaz’s Nanner Bears

Makes about 4-5 dozen treats depending on the size of your cookie cutter.

2c wheat flour (buckwheat for gluten free)

1 ½ c white flour (tapioca flour)

2 large jars banana baby food (organic)

¼ c molasses

½ c olive or canola oil

1 egg

¼ tsp sea salt

 

Mix all dry ingredients together and then mix wet into them and mix well. You are going to be kneading the dough so if it is too wet add ¼ cup wheat (buckwheat) flour to tighten it up. Once kneaded well roll your dough out flat and using a small cookie cutter (shape is your choice. I used a bear shaped one for this recipe) cut out the cookies and place them ¼ inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 375 for about 20 min. Check treats for a golden brown color. Since ovens bake at different levels you can bake at 5 min intervals until the color is achieved. The treat may be slightly softer in the middle then the edges, this is ok. Store in an air tight container and treat your pet as you will. For those that have pets with skin or joint problems you can decrease the olive or canola oil by ¼ c and add ¼ c of flaxseed oil.

Next month: another one of Topaz’s favs. Peanut butter cookies!!!

I will also have something for cat owned humans.

African violets are poisonous to pets.

Never give your pet chocolate.

Plain yogurt given to a pet after a round of antibiotics will help restore the natural bacteria to their guts. DO NOT give dairy products to a guinea pig!!! It is very harmful. However yogurt treats are found in stores…go figure!!!

 

 

 

Household Tips

White vinegar applied to coffee and tea spills will remove the stains.

Instead of using baking soda in the fridge to prevent odors, place a couple of drops of vanilla on a cotton ball and place in the back of the fridge.

To get a pet stain out of the carpet mix water, lemon juice, and baking soda into a paste and rub into the stain. Allow to dry and vacuum up.

Mix ½ c lemon juice with water in a microwavable bowl and microwave for 10 min to cut the cleaning time.

 

Ok everyone, that is it for this month. Again I apologize for this issue. Next month will be better. I promise.

I love to hear from my readers and you can contact me anytime at: [email protected]

So be safe in all you do and until next time…keep your brroms under the radar.

Blessed Be

© 2013 By: Jade Owl (Margaret Creekmore)

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