Just an FYI this site will be going down for maintenance in the next couple of hours. Should be up by tomorrow. I apologize for any incovenience.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Hope that your holiday is joyous and bright. OK, I know that that is a cliche but I really mean it. This holiday is about family and giving thanks for the bounties that we have received. So take some time to do that and I will see you all again on Friday.

And oh yeah, enjoy all the food!




Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanksgiving Recipes -- Part 2

Tuesday, November 25, 2008
A few hours before I sat down to write this post, me and my youngest daughter prepared the turkey for cooking on Thanksgiving. This involved finishing thawing the turkey and washing it thoroughly. I then rub the turkey down with butter and then olive oil. Followed with kosher salt and poultry seasoning. Now the turkey is in two plastic bags sitting in the fridge.

Tomorrow I am planning on boiling the turkey necks for broth and making the cornbread for the stuffing.

But today I am going to share with you my recipe for macaroni and cheese.

You will need:
  • 1 lb colby jack cheese
  • 1/2 lb mozzarella
  • 1/2 lb sharp cheddar
  • 1 lb elbow macaroni
  • Small amount of milk around 2 cups
  • Two eggs
  1. Boil macaroni according to directions on box.
  2. Shred all cheese together in a bowl.
  3. In a large pot beat the eggs and milk together. 
  4. Then scald the mixture. In other words get it to just before boiling.
  5. Now add the cheese by the handfuls allowing time between each for it to melt nearly completely.
  6. When the cheese has all been added and given time to melt thoroughly, resembling a fondue, pour cheese mixture into elbow macaroni and stir in.
  7. Next bake at 325 degrees for about an hour or until the top has become golden and crispy. If the edges are cooking to fast you can cover them with aluminum foil.
Blessed Be and Happy Cooking!


Monday, November 24, 2008

Thanksgiving Recipes -- Part 1

Monday, November 24, 2008
With Thanksgiving a mere three days away. I figured I would share some recipes and tips that I use for this holiday. But today won't be all of them, so stay tuned for tomorrow when I will put up some more.

I bought my turkey this weekend so that it is thawed by Tuesday night (I may have to do some additional thawing in cool water Tuesday evening). The reason for this is that I rub the turkey down with butter and olive oil and a combination of spices (typically kosher salt and poultry seasoning) on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The result, come Turkey day? One of the moistest turkeys that I have ever tasted.

Although I don't stuff my turkey, I do make some stuffing as a side dish. Here is the basic recipe I follow.
  • 4 lbs turkey necks
  • 1 box of Jiffy Corn Bread Mix
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Green Bell Peppers
  • Poultry Seasoning
  1. Boil turkey necks to make a broth. I usually make nearly a gallon of this. In this I also add the celery, carrots, onions, and peppers. Two notes here, I put the onions in chopped in half with skins intact for the best flavor. And second the peppers on day two and three tend to turn mushy, so it is up to you whether or not you add them
  2. Make corn bread and when cool crumble up in same pan used to bake it.
  3. To this add the boiled vegetables and shredded meat from turkey necks. Turkey necks have small verterbrae in them, easy to see but a pain to debone.
  4. Then add some broth. I have never measured the broth I use, aim low and then add more if it is to dry. The ideal amount is enough to soak everything but not enough to have the bits swimming.
  5. You can also add some poultry seasoning for flavor. If you so desire.
 Blessed Be and Happy Cooking!


Thursday, November 20, 2008

So Do We Offer Up Thanksgiving

Thursday, November 20, 2008
Finally, we have come to the end on my series on the Creed of my Family Coven. Hopefully I have shown that this is a system that actually works to improve those that follow it. Now don't get me wrong, I am not trying to get people to convert to my way of thinking. I just was trying to show merit.

The end of the Creed talks about offering up Thanksgivings. A topic which I think is appropriate since Thanksgiving is next week. I have talked yesterday about what I had to be thankful for.

But what about you, my reader, what do you have to be thankful for? Comment below.

Blessed Be!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

And as We Receive Power and Blessings

Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Back on last Friday, I began talking about the Creed of my Family Coven. And in that article I talked about how until recently they were a working theory. Today's article addresses that idea.

I say that it was a working theory since it had not come to full fruition. The reason for that was that I wasn't truly embracing the edict of the former line. I was not living my life as truthfully as I should have, I was not following the Will of the Universe, my True Will.

So I decided to stop fighting and give in to the flow. The first thing was the beginning of this blog, which led to me finding Lydia Crabtree and through her, Family Wiccan Tradition International. While in FWTI I was led to the Clergy program, in which I am currently halfway through my first year of study. Now I am the Family Coven Weaver for FWTI as well.

All of these things are the embodient of what I mean when I say that we receive power. It is not power over anyone or anything. Rather it is the power of influence that living a loving, light-filled and truthful will enable you to have. But the condition is that if you fail to live any part of this life, then the power will leave you.

Then we come to Blessings. As I have learned to accept the fact that I am valuable and people listen to me and value my opinions, I have realized blessings beyond anything I can imagine. I have found new friends which have fast become like family. I am genuinely happy and stress free for the first time in a long time. My bills which are not gone are at the very least paid on time and I continue to have a loving wife and children and a house that will keep me warm during this upcoming winter.

So as you can hopefully see, this Creed can lead you to a rich life. One that is truly blessed by the Gods.

Blessed Be!


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

So That We May Have Strength and Truth

Tuesday, November 18, 2008
As I continued my personal journey through this Creed, I realized that I gained strength through doing so. This strength was emotional, in that I was more stable and level-headed. And it was spiritual as I came closer to living and realizing my true Will, which is really just the Will of the Gods and the Universe.

But then the dilemna arose. How do I continue to live in Love and Light? I thought that I must have some ethical code to live by. Some set of virtues to adhere to. For as the old saying goes, 'Pride goeth before the Fall'.

This ethical code and the need for it is embodied in the single word, Truth. Live a life that will enable you to never have to lie about anything that you do. If you do nothing that you are ashamed of, or have the need to be, then why would you have to lie about doing it?

Yet one must also be vigilant in pursuing truth and a pure method of living. Simply saying I can do whatever I want, as long as I harm none does not cut it. Too many Pagans I have met, do not have a moral compass. And I feel that it is important to have a strong moral compass so that you know how to shape your life and give it some form of structure.

Blessed Be!


Monday, November 17, 2008

Go Into The Light My Friend

Monday, November 17, 2008
The second half of the first refrain in my Family's Creed talks about living in light as well as love. But what exactly does this mean? In this case I am talking about the natural occurence that happens after learning to love one's self.

In Plato's Republic he tells the story of a cave and the inhabinants inside.

[Socrates is speaking with Glaucon]

[Socrates:]  And now, I said, let me show in a figure how far our nature is enlightened or unenlightened: --Behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads. Above and behind them a fire is blazing at a distance, and between the fire and the prisoners there is a raised way; and you will see, if you look, a low wall built along the way, like the screen which marionette players have in front of them, over which they show the puppets.

[Glaucon:]  I see.

And do you see, I said, men passing along the wall carrying all sorts of vessels, and statues and figures of animals made of wood and stone and various materials, which appear over the wall? Some of them are talking, others silent.

You have shown me a strange image, and they are strange prisoners.

Like ourselves, I replied; and they see only their own shadows, or the shadows of one another, which the fire throws on the opposite wall of the cave?

True, he said; how could they see anything but the shadows if they were never allowed to move their heads?

And of the objects which are being carried in like manner they would only see the shadows?

Yes, he said.

And if they were able to converse with one another, would they not suppose that they were naming what was actually before them?

Very true.

And suppose further that the prison had an echo which came from the other side, would they not be sure to fancy when one of the passers-by spoke that the voice which they heard came from the passing shadow?

No question, he replied.

To them, I said, the truth would be literally nothing but the shadows of the images.

That is certain.

And now look again, and see what will naturally follow if the prisoners are released and disabused of their error. At first, when any of them is liberated and compelled suddenly to stand up and turn his neck round and walk and look towards the light, he will suffer sharp pains; the glare will distress him, and he will be unable to see the realities of which in his former state he had seen the shadows; and then conceive some one saying to him, that what he saw before was an illusion, but that now, when he is approaching nearer to being and his eye is turned towards more real existence, he has a clearer vision, -what will be his reply? And you may further imagine that his instructor is pointing to the objects as they pass and requiring him to name them, -- will he not be perplexed? Will he not fancy that the shadows which he formerly saw are truer than the objects which are now shown to him?

Far truer.

And if he is compelled to look straight at the light, will he not have a pain in his eyes which will make him turn away to take and take in the objects of vision which he can see, and which he will conceive to be in reality clearer than the things which are now being shown to him?

True, he said.

And suppose once more, that he is reluctantly dragged up a steep and rugged ascent, and held fast until he 's forced into the presence of the sun himself, is he not likely to be pained and irritated? When he approaches the light his eyes will be dazzled, and he will not be able to see anything at all of what are now called realities.

Not all in a moment, he said.

He will require to grow accustomed to the sight of the upper world. And first he will see the shadows best, next the reflections of men and other objects in the water, and then the objects themselves; then he will gaze upon the light of the moon and the stars and the spangled heaven; and he will see the sky and the stars by night better than the sun or the light of the sun by day?

Certainly.


Last of he will be able to see the sun, and not mere reflections of him in the water, but he will see him in his own proper place, and not in another; and he will contemplate him as he is.

Certainly.

He will then proceed to argue that this is he who gives the season and the years, and is the guardian of all that is in the visible world, and in a certain way the cause of all things which he and his fellows have been accustomed to behold?

Clearly, he said, he would first see the sun and then reason about him.

And when he remembered his old habitation, and the wisdom of the den and his fellow-prisoners, do you not suppose that he would felicitate himself on the change, and pity them?

Certainly, he would.

And if they were in the habit of conferring honours among themselves on those who were quickest to observe the passing shadows and to remark which of them went before, and which followed after, and which were together; and who were therefore best able to draw conclusions as to the future, do you think that he would care for such honours and glories, or envy the possessors of them? Would he not say with Homer,
Better to be the poor servant of a poor master, and to endure anything, rather than think as they do and live after their manner?

Yes, he said, I think that he would rather suffer anything than entertain these false notions and live in this miserable manner.

Imagine once more, I said, such an one coming suddenly out of the sun to be replaced in his old situation; would he not be certain to have his eyes full of darkness?

To be sure, he said.


And if there were a contest, and he had to compete in measuring the shadows with the prisoners who had never moved out of the den, while his sight was still weak, and before his eyes had become steady (and the time which would be needed to acquire this new habit of sight might be very considerable) would he not be ridiculous? Men would say of him that up he went and down he came without his eyes; and that it was better not even to think of ascending; and if any one tried to loose another and lead him up to the light, let them only catch the offender, and they would put him to death.

No question, he said.
This story is an allegory of the world that so many of us live in. People are content to live in darkness and despair. Ashamed and afraid of the their past (and sometimes current) actions and of theirselves, they refuse to be honest with themselves and to be real with the world.

So spend some time thinking about yourself, are you completely honest with yourself? What things do you hide from everyone, including you? I don't need to know but you do, if you hope to be complete.

Think about how much energy you spend feeling bad and how much of your energy is used to wall this stuff away.

Blessed Be!


Sunday, November 16, 2008

All You Need is Love. Love is All You Need.

Sunday, November 16, 2008
While what the title says may be true, the question is what exactly is Love?
 
On the physical side Love, as Mark Twain put it, is the irresistible feeling of the need to feel irresistible. Yet this Love that I am talking about is not just physical love, but rather it is the same Love that the Gods feel for us and that we should feel, first for ourselves and then for everyone else.

This spiritual Love, can be best summed up in a greeting from India, Namaste. This single words means, "The Divine in Me recognizes the Divine within You". In other words it recognizes that we are all part of the Gods and all worthy of Love.

So, now that we have a rough definition of Love, the question is: What are the steps towards learning to Live in Love? First you must learn to forgive and let go of all negativity, including grudges and jealousy. Then you must examine yourself and make a list.

First on this list, you need to put down the things about yourself that you do not love. Remember be honest. Second put down on the list, those things about yourself that you do love. After you finish the list you need to learn to love yourself. If you have negative habits work on changing them. Hey I never said that this would be easy.

I have always heard that learning to love oneself is the hardest thing that one can do. Because it relies so much on naked and brute honesty with one's self.

When you can learn to Love yourself then the Love for all else will follow.

I would love to hear all of your stories, thoughts and comments, so please comment below. And oh yeah, join me the rest of this week as I further explore the Creed of my Family Coven.

Blessed Be!


Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Creed of my Family Coven

Thursday, November 13, 2008
One of the most important things that a Family Coven can do to establish themselves is to create and write down a moral code. A list of ethics that they wish to live by and to instill in their children. I have already covered a good list of Pagan Virtues, but I figured that I would cover my own personal code. (For long time readers bear with me. I know I covered this before but I promise that this time will be different.)
May we learn to live in love and light
So that we may have strength and truth
And that we may receive power and blessings
These three lines are the essence of how I conduct my life. I don't need long edicts or complicated dogma. Although these three lines are much more complex then they seem. They can embody a lifetime of personal journeying to complete and embody.

Until very recently these three lines were a working theory. In essence I knew that they could make some one a better person, but I had never personally experienced or witnessed it. But now through my work with FWTI, I have begin to realize and reap the benefits of following this Creed.

For a long time I understood the part of Love, although I struggle to define it, I knew that I loved myself and the Gods and all the world. I know that sounds like a cliche, bear with me. I understood the parable of Plato's Cave, that the light was enlightenemnt and wisdom and that not everyone is comfortable with this.

I felt the strength that came from living in Love and Light. I understood living a life that was true to myself and that was an honorable one. But I struggled when it came to the part about Power and Blessings. I, first off, wanted nothing to do with power or the responsiblity that comes with it. And secondly I was struggling to much financially to understand where the Blessings came in.

But then I realized that I could not be truly living in the light, if I was not following the will of the Gods. Which at the root was really my true will, since We are all of Them as They are of Us. So I began to accept the responsibility that was being offered to me, I have accepted the position as the Family Coven Weaver for FWTI, which gives me the honor of working with other Family Coven's to build their own Family Traditions.

Through doing this, although I have suffered from some losses, overall I have received blessings in plenty. So now I can say that this a system that works, but you must be willing to accept all parts of it, without seeking for the power that it will bring.

I hope that you all will join me next week as I cover each of these things in greater detail. To make it easier here is a link to subscribe to my blog by email or rss. Hope to see you all around.

Blessed Be!


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Dealing With Loss Through Faith

Tuesday, November 11, 2008
While we can all hope for our lives to run well without hiccups, bad stuff happens. It is how we deal or learn to deal with these things that define and make us as the person we are. Right now in my life there is a mix of good and bad. Gain and loss.

I am progressing in my studies with FWTI. While not rich, I am paying all my bills and the future is looking bright. But at the same time my wife and I are dealing with the grief of a recent miscarriage. My oldest is having allergy issues, so we are having to thin the zoo that is my house i.e. get rid of some fur babies.

As a result I have spent some time over the last few weeks thinking on how faith can carry us through all things even the loss of a child. Some people blame the Gods for what has happened, rather then to just understand that bad stuff happens to good people. And that to live is to take the risk to suffer. There is no vendetta against us from the Gods. While other people turn to the Gods and ask for the will to continue on, and the strength to overcome the obstacles that have sprung up in their path.

I much prefer the second course. But I understand how difficult it is to not blame the Gods. Some has to take the blame, right? But my family coven talks about learning to love so that we may walk in the light. This means that we must learn to love if we ever are to be complete as a person. But this love can not be just for earthly things, it must include (if it is to be true love) the Gods along with ourselves.

And besides the Gods loves us as their children. How can they wish harm to any of us?

Thoughts? Comments? Please use the comment link below and let us all know.


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Teaching the Elements to Children

Thursday, November 6, 2008
I have had questions in the comments on this blog on the best way to teach children about Wicca. Below is a sample outline of an exercise that I did with my four year old. I think it worked very well so I figured I would share it with all of you.



Items Needed
  • Bowl of Earth
  • Bowl of Water
  • Feather
  • Tea light or votive candle
  • Four Candles -- Yellow, red, blue, green
Arrange colored candles in a circle around you. Putting the appropriate color candle and elemental representation in each of the quarters. Have your children sit with you and tell them that you are going to talk about the elements.

Say:
The world is made of five elements. Everything in it.

Move to the East and wave each of the children with the feather. Ask them if they feel the breeze. Tell them that is Air. Have them breathe in and out. Tell them that they have Air within them, that it is all around them. Show them the yellow candle saying that yellow is the magickal color of the element of Air.

Take them deosil to the South and light the tea light. Now, with extreme caution, let them feel the heat from the candle. Tell them that this Fire. Have them put their hand over their heart, feel the warmth and the beating of their heart. Tell them that this is a sign of Fire within them. Show them next the red candle and say the red is the magickal color of the element of Fire.

Continue on to the West and handing around a bowl of water, let each of the children dip their fingers into the water. Tell them that this water. Then have them lick their lips. Ask them if it feels wet, say that this the water within them. Show them the blue candle, telling them that this is the magickal color of the element of Water

Finally go on to the Northern quarter. Hand them the bowl of Earth and let them feel the dirt. Tell them that this is Earth. Tell them that their bodies and the bones within are made of the element of Earth. Show them the green candle, telling them that this is the magickal color of the element of Earth.

Now take time for any questions before continuing onto Spirit.

Ask them, "Are you different then me?" They should answer yes. Ask them if they know what it is that makes us different. The answer is that it is spirit that makes us different. We each have a different spirit within us. When you talk to the Goddess and God they are spirit. Spirit is what makes us alive. There is no color for spirit because you cannnot see it, you can only feel it.

Tell them next that: When we do ritual we cast a circle made of spirit around us. It separates from our world, where we have to go to work or do chores and takes us to a magickal place. And in circle we call the Four Elements as watchtowers to watch over us and protect us while we honor the Gods.

Take a few final moments for question time.


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Grandmother and Grandfather

Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Song of the Grandmother

Come nearer my grandchildren. Gather in close and listen to the words of my song. I sing of my life. Long has that life been yet its end is near.

My names are many. I have been called Cerridwen, Baba Yaga, Hecate, Morgana and by many other names. I am wisdom embodied and all of life's knowledges resides with me. Be heartened and know that I watch over you always.

So if you seek wisdom, advice, or knowledge come and ask. But do not mock me because I am old. For once was I young and beautiful. Once was I the Maiden daughter and the Mother. And to some I am those people still. So listen well and learn my lessons.

Listen for my stories in the wind. Look for me in the weaving of the winter bare branches and hear my ancient voice singing in the crackle of the fire.

Tale of the Grandfather

Grandchildren, grandchildren gathered around my chair. You warm my heart and keep me young. I am the storyteller and the keeper of tradition. My body won't let me dance the sacred dances and my voice is to old to sing the Holy Songs. But my mind is still sharp and I can pass my wisdom down to the next generation.

What was that? Oh yeah my name, who I am. Well I have been known by many names. I have been called Hephaestus, and the Holly King. I am grandfather Winter and the Ruler of the Underworld, Hades.

If you come to seek wisdom. Listen for the lonely wind rattling through the trees and rocks. Look beneath the silence of the falling snow. Come and sit by the fire and if you look hard enough you will see me smiling out at you with a glint in my eye.


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Making Soup

Tuesday, November 4, 2008
This is really a two part post, but the point of the post is to show how you can cook good food for very cheap. This past week since it has finally turned towards chilly weather, (well more like cool but one can hope right?) I decided to cook some soup but I didn't want to spend a lot of money.

So I dug in my freezer and found some chicken scraps that I had set aside, some cooked and frozen elbow macaroni and a medley of frozen vegetables as well. So I started the chicken scraps boiling in a pot, to this I added salt and some garlic powder and a tinch of black pepper for taste.

When this broth was finished, I strained out the scraps and reserved the broth. Then I started some butter to melt in another pot, I added a tinch of oil to keep the butter from burning. When the butter was thoroughly melted I added some flour and browned it to make roux. When it was brown and just before burning I stirred in the chicken broth and kept it moving to make cream of chicken soup. To this concoction I then added the frozen vegetables and the elbow macaroni, now thawed of course.

My kids have subsequently tore up the soup in the last couple days. In fact there is probably only two helpings left.

As I said the point of this post is to show that for cheap you can make some fantastic food. I save all the scraps that I can. From steak to chicken to ham and pork all can be used for something. Either for soups or for cooking beans.

Feel free to add any other recipes or tips in the comments below.

Blessed Be!