Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lughnasadh



     Harvest...it begins! Things are changing. It is time to collect our years hard work. Not just physically in our crops, but also in our lives. It is a time to reflect on what has come to pass. Our trials, our achievements, our losses, our gains. It is time to reap what we have sown. 
  Celebrated on August 1st, the festival of Lughnasadh is named in honor of Lugh, by his Irish name. He is also known as and associated with: Lug (Continental), Llew, Lugos (Gallic), Lleu Llaw Gyffes ("The Lion of the Sure/Long Hand" Welsh) and Lugh Lamfada ("Lugh of the Long Arm/Hand"). He is also associated with the Roman God, Mercury. There are many names through many cultures. Lugh is "The God of Light", "God of All Skills", the "Bright or Shining One". He is associated with both the Sun and agricultural fertility. The games of Lughnasadh were originally played in funerary tribute of Tailtiu, Lugh's foster mother. Tailtiu is said to be the daughter of the King of Spain, wife of Eochaid of the Tuatha de Danaan and is recognized as a Celtic Earth Goddess. She cleared the field at Coill Chuan in Ireland for agricultural use and died from the intensity of this labor. The area carries her name in memory; Teltown Kelis, Co. Meath. This tradition of games was begun by Lugh and played by the kings who followed. 
   How does one celebrate Lughnasadh, you ask? Well, there are many ways to celebrate. Most people get together and reflect on the year and think about changes they want to make in the year to come. They harvest their crops/garden or buy from a local farmer if they do not have crops/gardens of their own, do crafts, play games in honor of the Tailtean games, bake bread and other goods and have a feast! But, what if you don't know any other Pagans that celebrate Lughnasadh, you say? Well, that's ok. Bake bread anyway! Take a nature walk. As you take your walk, pick up stones. For every stone you pick up, think of a bad habit you want to kick and toss the stone aside. Share a meal with friends or buy local produce and give it away to someone in need. Make a Goddess figure out of dried corn husks and keep it on your altar. This is a great holiday to introduce your kids to. It's filled with activity! I love Lugnasadh, because it sort of reminds me of Thanksgiving and New Years wrapped up together! I also love it because it reminds me that my favorite Sabbat of all is coming soon...Samhain!
   If you want to find other Pagans in your area to share in the festivities, I would recommend going to www.meetup.com or www.witchvox.com. I have found great groups of people on both! I am going to try and attend a Lughnasadh get together with a group I found. I will let you know how it goes! Blessed Be! )O(





Sunday, July 22, 2012

Thai cucumber salad


1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon Huy Fong brand chili garlic sauce
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 seedless cucumbers, chopped into bite sized pieces 
3/4 cups onion
3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped lightly salted roasted peanuts

  • Mix lime juice, fish sauce, sugar, chili garlic sauce, garlic, cilantro and mint together. Add to cucumber and onion. Mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle on peanuts. Serve. It's really that easy...and freakin' delicious! I love to serve this on a hot summer day for a snack with a glass of sweet tea.  Now, if I could just figure out how to make bubble tea at home, I would be in Heaven! :D
  • Tummy healers

       One of my favorite things about the house I live in is that the back yard gets perfect sunlight to grow herbs. I am currently growing a small herb garden, because we are renting the place, but when I finally own a house my yard will be full of the Goddess' wonderful gifts!  Right now, I have basil, chives, rosemary, echinacea, lemon verbena, lemon balm and mint. I also have some cilantro, but I grow that indoors, because it will not stand this humid North Carolina heat. Though I use all of my herbs for cooking, the ones that I find myself using the most are my mint and lemon verbena. Lemon balm is a part of the mint family so it is included when I say mint.
       The first thing you need to know about me is that I LOVE tea! I'm a southerner, so sweet tea (that is, a ridiculous amount of sugar with a little tea flavor) is ultimately my favorite! However, I do love a good pot of herbal tea. If the herbs come from my own garden, grown with love and gathered by my hands, which give thanks to our Goddess, then that is even better! Mint and lemon verbena make some of the best herbal tea to use when you are having ANY stomach issues or if you have a cold and/or fever. It is safe to use even for infants. When my three year old daughter gets sick, the first thing she asks for is some tea from mommy's garden. She had a cold a couple of weeks ago and was running a temperature of 102º F. Before I gave her any over the counter medicines I decided to give her some tea. Her fever broke within an hour! It also soothed her throat from all the coughing she did. I like to drink some mint tea before and after spicy meals so I don't have as much heartburn. Some people I know drink a cup of mint tea about thirty minutes before they eat, because it curbs your appetite and you lose weight. I like to use the herbs fresh, but some people like to dry them out to keep on hand. I will instruct you on how to do both.
       For fresh mint and lemon balm: Harvest your herbs by cutting the upper third of the plant. Go down to where two leaves are growing on the stem and cut just above the leaves. That's where new growth will start. Don't cut more than 1/3 of the plant at a time.
       For fresh lemon verbena: Harvest small stems from the lower branches of the lemon verbena plant when the plant reaches 2 feet high. Cut a stem with three or more sets of leaves at the base, where the stem joins the main branch. Use sharp garden pruners and only take two to three stems from each branch. Snip longer stems from the lemon verbena plant as it matures. Collect up to four or five stems from each branch when the plant has reached a height of 3 feet or more. Stems may be harvested every other week to keep the plant healthy and productive.
       Now that you have gathered your herbs, take them inside and soak them for a few minutes in cold water. Drain your water and repeat the process until you no longer see dirt in the water. Separate the leaves from the stem. I usually use a tea ball for one cup of tea and a tea pot with a strainer for larger amounts. Take your leaves and crush them between your fingers before putting them into the strainer or tea ball. That releases the oils from the leaves to make a stronger tasting tea. You will need the leaves from 10 lemon balm sprigs, the leaves from 5 mint sprigs, and the leaves from 5 lemon verbena sprigs. Add them into about 4 or 5 cups of boiling water. Let the leaves steep in the boiling water for about 10 minutes. It will get stronger the longer you leave them in, but be careful not to over boil, because lemon balm gets bitter if over boiled. Add some honey or sugar and voila! You can also pour it into a pitcher with some ice for a refreshing spring or summer drink! Add a couple of mint sprigs for a colorful touch!

       How to dry mint and lemon verbena leaves using the hanging method: All herbs must be dried thoroughly before storing and particularly those with high moisture content such as mint and lemon balm. Gather a bunch of herbs together by the stems and tie tightly with twine. Cover the bunch of mint with a brown lunch bag and secure. Covering the herbs with a brown bag will help them retain their color and oil content during the drying process. Hang the bunch of herbs upside down in a dark, warm (70-80 degrees F) well ventilated, dust free area. A garage works well. It typically takes 1-2 weeks for the herbs to dry completely.
       How to dry mint and lemon verbena leaves using the oven method: Drying herbs in an oven is a faster way to complete the process, but you will lose some of the oil content from the leaves. Dry in a very cool oven (high temperatures will result in a tasteless herb). Make sure your herbs are dried completely from the cleaning process before putting them into the oven. Place them in a single layer on dry paper towels, then cover with another paper towel. Wait a few minutes and check them. Do this until dry. Strip dried leaves from the stems and discard the stems. Take care not to crush the leaves as this will result in flavorless herbs. Place the leaves on a baking sheet in a single layer. Turn the oven on to "warm" (140-200 degrees F) for 20 minutes, then turn it off and pop in the herbs until they are dry. I usually do this before bed so they can sit in the oven overnight. You can use dried herbs whole or you can crush them, but make sure you keep them in a tightly closed container in a dark space.
       *Fresh herbs (not dried) will keep in a refrigerator for about a week if you place them in damp (not wet) paper towels and place them in ziploc bags.*

    For more information on the benefits of mint visit 
    http://www.helpwithcooking.com/herb-guide/mint.html
    For lemon balm visit http://www.natural-herbal-remedies.net/lemon-balm-plant.html
    For lemon verbena visit http://lifestyle.iloveindia.com/lounge/benefits-of-lemon-verbena-9300.html







    Wednesday, July 18, 2012

    Feedback

    Hey guys! Thank you for reading my blog! I realize it is new and there aren't many posts yet, but I am working on that to keep you entertained and informed! What I need from you, though, is to follow me and comment. Tell me what you like, dislike and want to read. Ask me questions if you want! I look forward to this journey with you!
      Blessed be! )O(

    Sweet Potato Hashbrowns!



    So, tonight was my second attempt at making sweet potato hashbrowns. :)
    If you have never tried this delightful recipe...I urge you to try it.  It will soon become a favorite!
    I usually cook without measurements so I will try and do my best to explain the quantity of stuff to add.

    2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and shredded
    1 teaspoon of ground Cumin
    1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
    Salt and pepper to taste
    1/4 cup coconut oil for frying (I also added a little vegetable oil because I am running low on my sweet sweet coconut oil) Basically enough oil to cover the bottom of your pan.

    Heat your oil in a large frying pan on medium. In a large mixing bowl, combine shredded potatoes, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper and mix well. Once your oil is hot, add potatoes evenly to the pan. Press down to flatten. Let that side cook for a few minutes until brown, then flip. Continue to flip every few minutes until they are browned well all over. *These will not crisp like regular hashbrowns* Enjoy!

    I usually make these with barbecued something like chicken or pork chops. Tonight it was chicken thighs. I made my own sauce from ketchup, apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, molasses, a little garlic powder and a little chili powder. All to taste.  :)

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012

    It's a MIRACLE!!!

    I AM AMAZED!  I mean, A-M-A-Z-E-D! I believe in the healing power of herbs and stuff, but really...even I am having a hard time believing this!

    Backstory: I have a very heavy, older, sliding glass door in my kitchen that leads to my back porch. One day, while being my witchy self and arguing with my partner, I accidentally slammed my hand in this door! This proves that anger causes negative energy to be released and karma will bite you in the butt!  :)
    Anyway, I could have sworn I broke three of my fingers. I cussed, screamed, stomped and fell to the ground in so much pain I curled up in the fetal position! lol My partner came running downstairs, picked me up and then forced me to let him clean my hand with peroxide! This was not an easy task for him I am sure. We then packed the kiddos up, dropped them off at grammies and headed to the ER. Fortunately, after a couple of hours we found out they weren't broken, but pretty banged up and severely bruised. I was given some awesome pain meds and sent on my way.  :D

    Now, jump forward about a week. My fingers are almost all healed up, except for one extremely deep cut on my middle finger...which I like to show people. lol It hurts badly, is swollen and red around the wound. I tried leaving it open to the air and just cleaning it with peroxide...that didn't help. I tried putting triple antibiotic ointment on it and keeping a band-aid on it after cleaning it with peroxide...that didn't help, either. I did the ointment for 3 days and it still didn't heal, or feel any better. Well, last night...I wised up and remembered that I have an all natural, homemade salve my best friend made me a while back. It's made out of beeswax, olive oil, comfrey and plantain. I cleaned the wound with peroxide, put a good helping of that on my finger, covered it with a band-aid and went to sleep. I didn't take the band-aid off until this evening and like I said...AMAZED!!! The pain has died down sooooo much, the redness isn't nearly as bad and the skin around the wound has seemed to heal lightning fast! I kid you not...I am SHOCKED AND AMAZED!
    I have another friend who makes these salves for a living. She is from up north, but if you are looking for a supplier, take a look at her stuff.  :) https://www.facebook.com/WytchesBrew

    Being solitary...

    Being a solitary eclectic Wiccan witch can be very lonely sometimes. I grew up going to Christian church with my family and I must admit that I miss the fellowship that church brings. I definitely don't miss the hypocrisy or the gossip, but I do miss the friendships I made. I find that it's pretty difficult being anything other than a Bible thumper down here in the southern United States. I sense the uncomfortable energy people get when I mention that I'm not a Christian...and then the freaked out, "you're a devil worshipper" face when I then tell them I am a Wiccan witch. It's hard for me to find other people that are like minded that I can hang out with. Most people are die hard Dianic or something. I'm more of an easy going, God and Goddess are symbolic, I don't really know what happens when you die type of Wiccan. I would love to meet a few people who shared in my beliefs so that we could join together for the Sabbats and a ritual or spell here and there. I would also love someone to hang out with who knows more about the Craft so they could teach me a thing or two. I question myself daily (like every other newcomer). I wasn't raised in Wicca, so I am teaching myself. But, what's most important to me is sticking to what I have always believed in. Stuff that no book or Bible or Koran can teach me. My fundamental beliefs are that we were created by something or someone. And that being or energy loves us, because it has instilled love in us. And the more we love, the purer we are and therefore the closer we get to that being. That what we do comes back to us. That in order to understand our creator we have to live in perfect love and perfect trust and spend time daily getting close to that creator. I love picturing the creator as a God and Goddess...but to me they are one. One being having both masculinity and femininity. This being can take on either form depending on the task at hand, but when it comes together (like for Beltane) it is at its strongest. I believe this being can show itself to us in many forms...whichever one speaks to us the best. I believe that is why everyone has a different idea of what our creator is like, because we all have our own personal experiences...and none of them are wrong. I believe this creator gave us ALL psychic abilities or a sixth sense. We have just lost touch with it along the way. And if you choose to exercise this sixth sense through meditation, spellcrafting, rituals, prayer, love and yes, good nutrition, you can achieve all that the creator has in store for you! These are my truths. Other Wiccans may knock me down and say that I am wrong for what I believe, but there is no rule book to Wicca. There is only what feels right to you. Never doubt what you believe...you believe it for a reason.  Blessed be! )O(

    Monday, July 16, 2012


    Soothing song for my soul...


    Sweet Cilantro




    One of my favorite herbs to use!  It just adds such a fresh kick to things! I love adding it to my Mexican dishes, my tuna wraps. my Thai food, cucumber salad, everything! But, what I love most about it is the healing properties! I have suffered from horrible urinary tract infections for most of my adult life. Ever since I started using cilantro regularly, I don't have them anymore! That's just one of the many things cilantro is good for! It's also a powerful, natural cleansing agent. It's been effectively used to help remove heavy metals and other toxic agents from the body!  Here's a quick read to get you started! http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/benefits-of/cilantro

    New Moon...NOT the Twilight saga! ;)

    It's time to celebrate!  The dark has passed and our mother is on her way!  That's right...it's a new moon tonight!  A reminder that the full moon is coming again! Tonight is a time for starting over, for making a fresh beginning, for new romance, for hope, for optimism!  But, let's get real...I'm in a shitty mood.  I don't feel like celebrating. I just want to cry myself to sleep. Nothing seems to be going right in my little world. My son is sick (double ear infection and sinus infection). He was born with cleft lip and palate and just had his lip repaired and tubes put in his ears about 3 weeks ago. He has been so cranky and miserable. He had a doctor visit today and was put on antibiotics and ear drops. I can't seem to keep up with my household chores and when my house is cluttered I get really irritated. My partner isn't much help right now. He keeps forgetting everything and seems so caught up in his own little world. I'm having to remember literally everything. I swear he wouldn't even remember he had a butt unless it itched. And not to mention our money situation isn't that great at all right now. I just feel lost and stressed. Chaos. I hate chaos!
    So, what's a witch to do? Well, for me, the thing that helps me the most is this. Writing. But, if you don't write, try meditating. Sit in a quiet spot (I usually pick somewhere outside). Cast a circle, light a candle and just sit. Focus. Breathe. Now, imagine that your bodies energy is a light that flows through your veins. Tell that energy to head to the middle of your body...to your stomach. Picture that energy making its way to your stomach, but along the way it's picking up pieces of your stress. Think of the stress it's picking up...the things that bother you, specifically. Now, once your energy is at the center of your body, shoot it out from you! Imagine this giant beam of light shooting out of your stomach! Now, that beam explodes into the air and is transformed into new life! It slowly falls down on you like little lightning bugs and seeps into your skin. You have the power to transform your stress into strength so that you can have a new, positive beginning. The Mother, our Lady, our beautiful Goddess gives us the power to do this, because she is in every one of us. Call upon her and she will lift you up! I often picture our Lord sitting in the sky with our Lady hand in hand as she reaches up to him from the ground. I picture her lovingly looking at me when I cry out to her for help. She then looks to our Lord, smiles, lets go of his hand and pulls me into her. She holds me in her arms like I am a child again. He sits lovingly watching as his lover holds their child. Then, he reaches down from the sky and picks us both up and we sit together for a while. These images give me strength and peace so that I CAN be optimistic. THIS is how I find my strength for optimism tonight. How do you find yours on this new moon?

    Saturday, July 14, 2012

    Coconut oil...your new best friend!

        FAVORITE PRODUCT EVER!!!

     If you don't know...coconut oil is probably the best thing the Goddess ever created!  The health benefits of coconut oil include hair care, skin care, stress relief, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss, increased immunity, proper digestion and metabolism, relief from kidney problems, heart diseases, high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and cancer, dental care, and bone strength. These benefits of coconut oil can be attributed to the presence of lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid, and its properties such as antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, antibacterial, soothing, etc.  I use it for an abundance of things! Check this link out for all of its benefits! http://www.organicfacts.net/organic-oils/organic-coconut-oil/health-benefits-of-coconut-oil.html

    Being a kitchen witch

    Being a kitchen witch is my thing. I love to cook for people. I love to see happy faces and full bellies. I also like using fresh, natural ingredients. It makes me feel good to know that something I made is not only filling up the tummies of people I love, but it's also giving their bodies the nutrients they need to function properly. Now, don't get me wrong, I do love my junk food too. But, the Goddess has provided us with everything our bodies need to survive in the form of flowers, plants and animals.  Using these special creations in a particular combination makes for tasty and nourishing treats. If blended properly they can also be used medicinally. Spell crafting is a lot like that. You have an idea of what you want to happen, you gather your tools and your ingredients and you mix, stir, pour and concentrate.   When I cook, I am spell crafting. I am pouring my love into the pot, stirring my thoughts around, mixing my wisdom into the dish and concentrating on the ones I am serving. I get lost in my preparations. I thank the Goddess that I have food to cook and people to cook for. It is one of the ways I release stress. I let the steam from the pan carry it away. I love being a kitchen witch...and so does my family. They are quite content.  :)