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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Happy Lughnasadh! (Ritual for Families)

Thursday, July 31, 2008
Happy Lughnasadh to All of You!

Supplies:

Five Candles -- yellow, red, blue, green, brown
A bowl of water
A bowl of dirt
A feather
Musical Instruments if you so wish
Bell for each of the children participating

Ritual:

Arrange the colored candles and other items in a circle around you. In the East put the yellow candle and the feather. In the South put the red candle. In the West put the bowl of water and the blue candle. And finally in the North put the bowl of dirt and the green candle. Light these candles as you set them out. Walk with your children from candle to candle, ringing a bell as you leave from candle to another.
Start in the East and tell them that it represents Air. Wave the feather at them so that they can feel the wind.
In the South tell them that here is Fire represented. Carefully let them feel the heat from the candle.
In the West talk to them about Water. Have them wash their hands in the water.
In the North speak about the element of Earth. Let them touch the dirt.
When you return to the Center talk to them about the Goddess and the God and how they are always there. Let them know about Love and the Blessings that the Gods can give us.

Now sit with your children and tell them about Lughnasadh, while you light the brown candle. Tell them about the Sacrifice of the God, the harvesting of the grain and the passing of the year to the control of the Holly King. You could read them the Rede of the Harvest Lord.
Now have some fun and celebrate. Play some music and sing some chants. Raise some energy. One of the traditional songs for this time of the year goes:

Horned One, Lover, Son
Leaper in the Corn
Deep in the Mother
Die and be Reborn

After you are done with this take the time to break bread with your family and have each one tell what it is that they are thankful for. Be sure to leave a offering for the Gods when you are done.
Blessed Be!



Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Harvest Gods -- Saturn

Wednesday, July 30, 2008
The Roman God Saturn was an ancient god of fertility. He was known as the Protector and Sower of the Seed. In pictures he is portrayed as having a sickle in his left hand and a sheaf of wheat in his right.
His wife was Rhea or Ops who was the goddess of plenty and the patroness of riches, abundance, and prosperity both personal and national. Together they insured a bountiful harvest for the land.
He was honored at a harvest-home or winter solstice celebration marked by carnival, exchange of gifts, feasting, license and misrule, and a cessation of all public works.
At which the God was slain in surrogate to represent his travel to the Underworld and merger with his opposite self.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Pagan Virtues -- Tolerance

Tuesday, July 29, 2008
In this first chapter of my series on Pagan Virtues I am going to discuss tolerance. Webster defines as tolerance as 'sympathy or indulgence for beliefs or practices differing from or conflicting with one's own.'
So how does one, as a parent, teach this to their kids? It is my belief that children are born tolerant. The idea of bigotry and racism is, in my opinion, something that is taught. So the real question here is not what can be done to teach it, but what can be done to encourage it to stick around.
The first step would be to examine yourself. Are you tolerant of all? Do you ever speak unkindly of people in a general manner? Children have few else to learn from, then their parents.
Then you need to wipe these things out of your thoughts and vocabulary.
If this doesn't apply or you are ready to move on then you can work to expose your kids to different cultures and (if they are old enough) different religions. I know that in the plans for homeschooling my youngest, that when she gets old enough that the religious books of other faiths will be required. Tolerance comes from true knowledge of others.
For some tolerance will be an easy virtue to teach and for others it will be a difficult learning process for everyone involved.
For extra tips and exercises check out tolerance.org.
Blessed Be!
part 2-->


Monday, July 28, 2008

Children's Crafts for Lughnasadh -- Corn Dolly

Monday, July 28, 2008
One of the biggest traditions for this Sabbat is the making of the Corn Dolly out of the first grain harvested. I recommend making a Corn Dolly now and using it in ritual and on the family altar until this time next year.
Here are some instuctions courtesy of Pagan Hearth Recipes.

The best part of the stem is the top length from the ear (the seed head) down to where the last leaf leaves the stem. Leaving the ear intact, strip off the dead leaves and sort the stems according to size: thick, medium, and fine.
Dry straw must be soaked flat in cold water for about 15 minutes and then stood upright to drain before plaiting.
The Five-Straw Plait is the easiest to work with for a beginner:

1.) Tie 5 straws together close to the ears.

2-5.) Each time the straw being folded passes over two corners, it is then left and the one at the last corner is picked up and used in its place until the round is completed.

The attractive spiral pattern grows as round succeeds round.

6.) When completed, the ends are tied to the starting point below the ears, making a decorative circle.

To feed in new straws, cut the old straw off after it has passed the second straw. The thin end of the new straw is inserted in the hole, making sure of a firm fit which is hidden under the fold of the straw of the next round.

Simple corn dollies can also be made with the standard three-straw plait.

More complex corn dollies involve multiple straws, intricate braids, and sometimes the creation of a straw core shape around which the outer straw is plaited.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Magickal Picnic

Thursday, July 24, 2008
This is a time, as the three harvests approach, for connecting to you family. And since the weather is going to move quickly towards winter, what better way to do so then to have a picnic. So gather together the family and bake some bread. Bring food and other drink and head to the park or the woods.
While you are there talk about each other. Tell your kids things that you are proud of them for. Tell them and your significant other things that you love them for. And let them do the same for you.
Then turn your attentions to larger things. About the blessings that you all have received in the past year.
Take a moment to lay out a libation for the Gods. Say thank you with reverence.
Since we are a week to Lughnassadh, I would like to hear what all of you are doing for this Sabbat. And for those readers that are visiting from the Southern Hemisphere, what are you doing for Imbolc?
Blessed Be!


Monday, July 21, 2008

Pagan Virtues

Monday, July 21, 2008
As the Dark Half of the year is approaching it is a time for reflection. A time to ponder the mysteries of the world around us and within. To explore, question and challenge our beliefs.
So I wanted to focus today on virtues of the Pagan kind. There are many schools of thought on this from simply just stating the Rede - 'An it harm none, do as ye will'. To more complex systems such as the Nine Noble Virtues (1 , 2) or the Thirteen Virtues of the Witch.
  1. Tolerance
  2. Charity
  3. Humility
  4. Devotion
  5. Patience
  6. Kindliness
  7. Forbearance
  8. Sincerity
  9. Courage
  10. Precision
  11. Efficiency
  12. Discrimination
  13. Wisdom
What among these or any are a part of the virtues that you hold dear and teach to your children?

Over the next few weeks, I am going to cover each of these in greater detail as they relate to children.
I hope that you join me on this journey deep into ourselves as we explore this ethical system.
Blessed Be!


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Lughnassadh Children Crafts -- Natural Candleholders

Sunday, July 20, 2008
I talked last week about using the bounty of the Earth to make crafts in celebration of Lughnassadh. So today I wanted to post some instructions to make apple candle holders that I found on about.com.

First, you’ll want to select some firm fruits. Red apples, early acorn squash, even eggplants work well -- apples seem to last the longest. Rinse and dry the fruit or vegetable thoroughly. Polish the outside with a soft cloth until the apple is shiny. Stand the apple up on its bottom, and use a knife or a corer to make a hole in the top where the stem is located. Go about halfway down into the apple so that the candle will have a sturdy base. Widen the hole until it’s the same diameter as your candle.
Pour some lemon juice into the hole and allow it to sit for ten minutes. This will prevent the apple from browning and softening too quickly. Pour out the lemon juice, dry out the hole, and insert a sprig of rosemary, basil, or other fresh herb of your choice. Finally, add the taper candle. Use a little bit of dripped wax to secure the taper in place.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lughnassadh Time Activities

Thursday, July 17, 2008
Lughnassadh also, in addition to being a time for friendly athletic competition, was a time of councils and meetings. When the lawmakers and leaders of the land would gather and talk over laws and the running of the land. The Saxons called this Thingtide.
You can apply this to your own family. Take the time now to gather the family and talk over the last year. The good times and the bad. Talk about the ethics of the family and whether everyone has met their New Year's resolutions.
If this is the first time in a long time that your family has all gathered together, then make a commitment to continue these gatherings. Family is one of the most important things that humans have made, treasure it as such.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Lughnasadh Recipes -- Vegetables

Tuesday, July 15, 2008
There are many traditional dishes served on this Sabbat. Since it is the first harvest, vegetables are a big part of the meals served on Lughnassadh. Below are some recipes for you to enjoy.

Colcannon
  • 1 medium cabbage, quartered and core removed
  • 2 lb potatoes, scrubbed and sliced with skins left on
  • 2 medium leeks, thoroughly washed and sliced
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoons each mace, salt, pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  1. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and boil the cabbage until tender, about 12-15 minutes. Drain off the water and chop the cabbage. Set aside.
  2. Bring another pot of water to a boil and boil the potatoes until tender. Drain off the water and set aside.
  3. Put the leeks in a saucepan, cover with the milk, bring close to boiling and then turn down to a simmer until tender. Set aside.
  4. Add the mace, salt and pepper, and garlic to the pot with the potatoes and mash well with a hand masher. Now add the leeks and their milk and mix in with the potatoes, taking care not to break down the leeks too much. Add a little more milk if necessary to make it smooth. Now mash in the cabbage and lastly the butter. The texture that you want to achieve is smooth-buttery-potato with interesting pieces of leek and cabbage well distributed in it.
Ratatouille Pasta
  • 2 cups diced peeled eggplant
  • 2 cups sliced zucchini
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/3 cups uncooked spiral pasta
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • Dash pepper
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  1. Place eggplant and zucchini in a colander over a plate; sprinkle with salt and toss. Let stand for 30 minutes; rinse and drain well.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, saute the eggplant, zucchini and onion in oil until tender. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, oregano, garlic powder, basil and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cook, uncovered, over medium-low heat for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Drain pasta; place on an ovenproof platter. Top with vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Broil 4-6 in. from the heat until cheese is melted.



Monday, July 14, 2008

Self-Sustaining Lifestyle

Monday, July 14, 2008
What does this mean? Is it to live off the grid, like the Amish? Or is it rather to walk softly upon our Mother the Earth? To me I would say that it can be both.
We can live shut away from the Earth, living in harmony with the land. Grow our own food and raise animals for food (or not if you are vegetarian).
But we can also decide to just minimize our own footprint on the earth. Where we are careful where our food comes from, growing our own if we can. Where we drive less, walking or taking mass transit if we can.
Very little in our world is perfect. And so our aim towards a self-sustaining lifestyle does not have to be one towards an absolutely perfect self-sustaining lifestyle.
Now that we have defined what this lifestyle can be. The question arises, Should we as Pagans try to aim for this lifestyle?
My answer to that is yes. We speak of harming none, and of being in harmony with the Gods, the universe and the Earth. But do we really live that lifestyle?
So as harvest time comes upon us, once again, I challenge you to try and live in such a way that you minimize your impact on the Earth. And I also ask for comments on how we can live that way.
Blessed Be!


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Rede of the Lord of the Harvest

Wednesday, July 9, 2008
I am the aging man toiling day after day to provide for his children. I am the Father who regardless of his worries always has a smile for his fellow man. I am the Earth aging and giving up its last crop. Yet I am also the promise of life unending even into Death. I am true love made real by a willing sacrifice. I am the yellow corn that gives life to the masses.

But still I am feared because I bring death soon, robed in black I bring the scythe that cuts down the wheat. Yet do not worry for does not the wheat continue your life? See my willing death in the waning sun and the leaves turning crimson and orange.

Yet remember my death is willing for in my death I end the battle between Son and Father and I spare the Earth. Look for me on the other side of this world in Summerland for I will be there to guide th esouls of the dead and give them a chance at rebirth


Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Lughnasadh Recipes -- Bread

Tuesday, July 8, 2008
To me, one of the most delicious smells that will ever pervade a house is the smell of fresh baked yeast bread. My only regret is that during the hot times here in Florida where I live, I can't run my oven that much and not pay for it when the bill comes.
So what is it that you need to get started on making bread? Surprisingly a very small list.
  • Flour
  • Yeast
  • Water
  • Salt
  • A warm place to let the dough rise
  • A place to knead the dough
Yes, that is it. Now of course the recipes vary but these are the basics. The steps are equally simple. Mix, knead, rise and punch down. Then bake. Now with all of this here are some recipes for you to try. Happy Baking!

60 Minute Mini Bread

Ingredients
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package quick-rise yeast
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
Directions
  1. In a mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour, sugar, salt and yeast.
  2. In a saucepan, heat the water, milk and butter to 120 degrees F-130 degrees F.
  3. Add to dry ingredients; beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough. Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes. Do not let rise. Divide in half. Roll each portion into an 8-in. x 5-in. rectangle. Roll up, jelly-roll style, starting with a short side; pinch seam to seal. Place, seam side down, in two greased 5-3/4-in. x 3-in. x 2-in. loaf pans. Fill a 13-in. x 9-in. x 2-in. baking pan with 1 in. of hot water.
  4. Set loaf pans in water. Cover and let rise for 15 minutes. Remove loaf pans from the water bath. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.
Bread Bowls

Ingredients
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups bread flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tablespoons water
Directions
  1. In a small mixing bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast mixture with the whole wheat flour, salt and one cup of the bread flour; stir well to combine. Add the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and supple, about 8 minutes.
  3. Place into a lightly oiled bowl, and turn to coat the whole surface with oil. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes.
  4. Punch down the dough, and let rest 10 minutes. Divide into 4 balls. Place on cookie sheets, and flatten into disks. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  5. Lightly beat the egg white with the water and brush the risen loaves with this mixture. Bake at 375 degree F (190 degree C) for 40 to 50 minutes. When done bread should sound hollow when thumped on bottom. Remove from oven, and let cool.
  6. Cut a circle out of the top of each loaf, and remove that part of the crust. Either remove the soft bread beneath, or compress it to form a bowl.



Sunday, July 6, 2008

Lughnasadh Crafts for Children -- Seed Necklaces

Sunday, July 6, 2008
As the first harvest comes upon us it is very appropriate to use the fruit of the land in crafts. Or in this case seeds. And of course I must say the appropriate cautionary statement here. Adult supervision is necessary and be careful with small children and needles.
Now that I have said that, have fun making seed necklaces with your children.

Materials
  • Dried beans (several different kinds and colors)
  • Dried corn on the cob ("Indian" corn)
  • 1 yard heavy thread or dental floss for each child
  • 1 tapestry needle for each
  • finger bandages (just in case somebody gets stuck!)
Instructions
  1. Show the children the ear of dried corn and show them how the kernels can be removed from the cob. (Twist the cob firmly in your hands while holding it over a towel or blanket. The corn should pop off--once you get it started it isn't difficult to remove all the kernels.)
  2. Prepare the strings in advance by threading the needles and knotting the end. Prepare the beans and dried corn by soaking overnight in water.
  3. Show the children how to use the needle to poke a hole through the center of each corn kernel and bean. Alternate corn and beans or make some other pattern.
  4. When the strand of strung seeds is about 24" long, set it aside overnight or hang it in the sun to dry (the seeds will shrink slightly). When it is dry, push together the seeds to cover any spaces which may have formed.
  5. Tie the ends together in an overhand knot and cut off excess string. Slip the necklace over your head or wind it around your wrist as a bracelet. source: Grandma's Cauldron



Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Goddess Demeter

Wednesday, July 2, 2008
As we begin the journey into the Dark Half of the year, the story of Demeter and Persephone is an appropriate story to tell. But first, who is Demeter? Demeter was the Greek Goddess of the Harvest. She represents the grain and fertility and is the preserver of marriage.

Myth of Demeter and Persephone

Persephone was the daughter of the goddess Demeter. One day Persephone was dancing with her friends in a sunny meadow, having a good time.
Suddenly Persephone's spooky uncle Hades burst out of the ground and grabbed her and pulled her into his chariot! He took Persephone under the ground to his kingdom, the land of the dead, and told her that he wanted her to be the Queen of the Underworld and marry him.
Persephone was very sad there under the ground. She wanted to go up into the sunshine again. But Hades would not let her. Persephone was so sad that she would not eat nor drink.

Meanwhile, back up in the land of the living, Persephone's mother Demeter was looking everywhere for her and could not find her. She cried and cried and winter came for the first time. Finally she went to her brother Zeus, who was also Persephone's father, and asked him to help find Persephone. Zeus, sitting way up there on top of Mount Olympus, was able to see where Persephone was. He told Hades to give her back.

But Hades said he would only give Persephone back if she had really not eaten or drunk anything from the land of the dead. Persephone had not eaten much, but it turned out she had eaten six pomegranate seeds. So they agreed that Persephone could spend six months a year above ground with her mother, but she would have to spend the other six months in the land of the dead with her uncle/husband. And that is how it has been since then, according to the story. And that is why we have winter.