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, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Carving

Wednesday, October 27, 2010
What is more iconic for Samhain then the carved Jack O' Lantern? Tracing its roots to the imigrants to America of the 1800's, this tradition was originally done with turnips. Carved and lit with a small candle these lanterns represented the souls of departed loved ones and were placed in windows and on doorsteps to welcome those spirits back.

Since I don't have a lot of artistic talent, I have always done just the traditional jack o' lantern. But for those who either have more talent or are just a little more adventurous, here are some links to both a how-to and some sample templates.

Then the next thing is how do you light the thing? There are several options available from glow sticks to candles, whether those candles are the "real thing" or the battery operated ones. Just be sure to exercise caution and not set anything on fire. i.e. Do not leave it unattended.

Here is another link to a blog that I read that has the definitive how-to on pumpkins for Samhain. From selecting to carving and preserving to lighting.

Blessed Be!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Samhain Recipes - Meat and Vegetarian

Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Since Samhain is around the corner, I figured that I should share some recipes for the meat lovers and the vegetarians in my readership. Hope you enjoy!


Leg of Lamb
  • 1 leg of lamb (about 6 lbs.) not sirloin half
  • Several lg. cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. thyme leaves, crushed
  • 1 tsp. rosemary leaves, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. flour
  • 1/4 c. tarragon vinegar
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 lg. onion, quartered
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced
  • 1 c. dry red wine
  1. Cut garlic into slivers and insert randomly into lamb, using point of sharp knife. 
  2. Mix together thyme, oregano, rosemary, salt, pepper, and flour. Rub mixture well into lamb. 
  3. Pour over lamb leg mixture of tarragon vinegar and water. 
  4. Roast lamb in preheated 350 degree oven for 1 hour.
  5. Lower oven to 300 degrees and remove lamb and scatter vegetables on bottom of roasting pan and return lamb to pan on top of vegetables. Insert meat thermometer into fleshy part of lamb without touching bone. 
  6. Pour wine all over; return to oven. Continue roasting for about 1 1/2 hours, basting a few times. Meat is medium rare at 145 degrees, 155-160 degrees for medium, and 165 to 170 degrees for well done.
  7. Remove lamb leg and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Pour off fat from pan. Add 1/2 cup boiling water to pan; allow to boil up, scraping pan well. Pour liquids and vegetables into blender and blend until smooth.
Gravy for Lamb
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp. flour
  • 1/2 to 1 c. reserved liquids from roasting pan
  • 1 can beef consomme, undiluted
  • Dash of freshly ground pepper
  • 2-4 tbsp. dry red wine
  1. On board, mix flour and butter into paste.
  2. In saucepan, heat reserved liquids and consomme. Add butter/flour mixture, bit by bit, beating with wire whisk until sauce comes to boil and is slightly thickened.
  3. Stir in pepper and wine; return just to boiling. Serve with roast lamb.
Recipe courtesy of cooks.com


There are a few fruits and vegetables that are traditional for Samhain, besides pumpkin that is. A couple of these are squash, and apples. Nuts are also traditional for this time of the year. It is the time of the last harvest and so those things that we associate with late fall are the foods we will be wanting to prepare.

So here are a few recipes for you to enjoy:

  • 2 acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 6 slices of white bread, cut into small cubes
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • 1/2 tsp. dried poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp. each rosemary and thyme
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 4 dried apple rings, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp. pine nuts
  • 2 tbsp. slivered almonds
  • 1/4 cup warmed milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tsps. butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare squash, set aside. 
  3. In a medium bowl, toss together bread and spices, set aside.
  4. In a medium saute pan, heat 1 tsp. butter until melted. Add chopped apple rings and nuts. Saute until apple is slightly softened and nuts are golden in color.
  5. Add apple and nut mixture to bread mixture.
  6. Add warmed milk and salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Dot squash halves with butter.
  8. Scoop stuffing into hollow squash halves
  9. Put squash halves on a baking sheet, brush lightly with butter, cover with foil and bake for 1 hour.
  10. Squash will be ready when soft and fragrant

Ingredients:
  • 3 cups sliced carrots
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions

Boil or steam the carrots until tender. Drain. Add the butter, brown sugar, ginger, and cinnamon; stir until the carrots are well-coated.http://www.pagandad.com/2009/10/samhain-mute-supper.html



Monday, October 25, 2010

Making an Ancestor Wall

Monday, October 25, 2010
Credit for today's post goes to my wife. Over on the Village, a few weeks ago, we had a discussion about honoring the Ancestors this October and she remarked on her side project, her Ancestor Wall. Basically what this is is a family tree with some additional photos of loved ones who have passed on.

We currently have it placed above our altar but in the Spring, when we hope to repaint, I plan on moving this to the Northeast corner of the room, with a dedicated shelf for offerings and some info from my side of the family. As I have talked earlier on this blog, we use five points instead of four in our circle castings. That fifth one dedicated for the Ancestors.

Starting your own Ancestor wall is a worthwhile and easy project for you to do. I recommend starting with a family tree and trying to compile photos along the way. Here are some tips to get you started:

Getting Started


*Go to the living. Talk to your existing family and gather as much information as you can on as much family as they can remember.
*Remember that stories are important, you may even want to compile those stories. Either in written form or in video or audio form.
*Then go to the physical records. Starting with family bibles, diaries, letters, photograph albums.
*And ending up at non-federal records. By this I mean, local sources like courthouses. For birth and death certificates. Along with marriage documents or deeds.

For more tips on doing this check out archives.gov.

Where do I go from here?


Now that you have started on this project and have something that you can put up, what do you do next? There are many ways to go. Like we plan to do in the Spring, you could hang up a special shelf for your Ancestors and put up pictures and the family tree. Then regularly clean that area and leave offerings and light candles to honor them. Or you could put that material on your normal family altar and always be reminded of them. The list goes on and on about the way you could honor your Ancestors in this way. Each way is unique to the family being honored.

Yet the more you work on bringing them into your home and into your rituals the more helpful your Ancestors can be. From lending energy for magick to giving you warnings of things to come.

Do you guys do something like this? If so I would love to hear your stories. Or if not then I would still love to hear from you.

Blessed Be!


Friday, October 22, 2010

Bring Music to Your Child

Friday, October 22, 2010
I look around at the youths of today and they seem to have no appreciation for fine music. There are many benefits to music beyond the cultural ones though. According to Science Daily, music education also helps in language arts, mathematics and spatial reasoning.

I have heard this blamed on the rise of the mp3. With mp3 the music is so compressed that one loses the nuances of music, to compensate for this the music industry just cranks up the volume.

Now while this may very well contribute to this I think that a bigger influence is the parents. I say this because many parents of today only know of certain genres of music.

I am guilty of this to an extent as well. While I listen to a wide variety of music, or at the very least know of the different genres. I do not listen enough to tell you much about the music beyond what I like and don't like.

With the homeschooling of my youngest my wife and I have strived to introduce her to different music of different genres. From Big Band to the 50's to modern rock.

So this weekend crank up some older music. Either music that you love or maybe just pick something neither you nor your kids have listened to and clear some space for dancing and have fun. Your kids may start off looking at you funny but with a little encouragement they are likely to join in the fun.

Blessed Be!


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Samhain Party Crafts

Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Over the last couple of days I have talked about games and then recipes for your Samhain party. So today I wanted to share a small craft that I found. These specific instructions are for making a bowl that looks like Frankenstein. With a little craftiness and construction paper you could make this look like a jack-o-lantern instead. Or almost anything that your imagination can conceive of.

Supplies

Large Balloon
35mm Wiggle Eyes
Large Neon Green Pompoms
Two Bolts
Broad Black Marker
Bright Green and Black Paint
Newspaper
Flour
One Large Bowl
One Small/Medium Bowl
Cardboard
Low Temp Glue Gun

Instructions

Blow up a balloon and set it inside a tight bowl to hold it upright.
Mix one part flour with two parts water. Mix thoroughly. Your solution should be the consistency of wall paper paste. Add more water or flour if necessary.
Tear paper into 1-1/2" strips and dip them into the paste. Run a strip between two fingers to get off excess paste. Lay the strip on the balloon, smoothing it out. Continue until the top half of the balloon is covered with two or three layers. Let dry overnight.

Mix up another batch of paper mache. Turn the balloon over and cover the bottom half of the balloon with two or three layers. Let dry overnight.
Cut off the tied end to deflate balloon. Pull it out and discard. Cut off the bottom of the balloon all around to create a base for the bowl to sit on. Cut a circle out of a piece of cardboard and hot glue it inside the bottom of the bowl. Cut the top off. Poke a hole in each side of the "neck" for bolts. Paint Green. Let dry.

Paint a fringe in black along the top of the bowl for hair. Glue on eyes and nose. Draw on mouth. Push bolts into the neck holes, securing with hot glue. Fill with bags of candy.


Friday, October 15, 2010

Join With Your Partner in Circle

Friday, October 15, 2010
Continuing my series on the importance of spending time with your family this Holiday Season, I wanted to talk about the importance of Ritual time with your partner. With the New Moon this Sunday this is can be something you do almost immediately.

A friend of mine from Texas, Jon Edens of Blackberry Circle, has a quote that he doesn't mind me sharing. The Family That Circles Together, Dances Forever. His organization as well as FWTI believes that the inclusion of family in ritual is one of the most important things that we can do.

But for the sake of this article I wanted to focus on just doing this with your partner. Wanted us to step away from being Father Priest or Mother Priestess and instead focus on being a Husband Priest or Wife Priestess. As adults, not only do we need this alone time, we need to reconnect on an energetic and spiritual level with our partner. This is so we can present an united front when we engage as parents with our children.

So this next Full Moon or any time in between take your partner by the hand and lead them to Sacred Space. Cast a Circle and light the candles and incense and praise the Ancient Gods together. Recognize Deity in each other and be joyous.

Blessed Be!


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Should Children Learn Divination?

Thursday, October 14, 2010
The short answer to this question is, maybe. I believe that there are as many answers to this question as there are parents in Paganism. So this answer will vary from child to child and from family to family. But for myself and my family the answer is a resounding yes, when they are old enough. I say this because I am a firm believer that divination works, this is from both readings I have done for others and for readings that have been done for me.

So When Are They Old Enough?

Well they are old enough when they understand simple magick and can tap into that energy that is all around us. In divination they must be able to see, feel and understand the currents that are surrounding us. I know that much of this feeling comes with practice, but if the child can't charge a candle or a stone, then how can we expect them to be able to see the pattern of the future? So it will come with time and age. But how can you prepare them for this kind of working? You can begin by including them in rituals as active participants just not spectators. Also when they reach an age where they can understand cause and effect and are aware that they are responsible for their actions, you can begin to teach them simple magick. And finally you can train them to meditate and focus on their breath and their own energy currents. These few actions will give them the needed experience that they need to both become Wiccans with awareness and able to perform divination.

I would love to get any thoughts you have on this. So don't hesitate to comment below.


Blessed Be!


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Play With Your Kids

Saturday, October 9, 2010
Continuing with the series I started last Saturday on the importance of Family in this Holiday Season, this week I wanted to talk about the importance of spending time with your kids.

So this week the suggestion is to spend some time playing with your kids. There are many important benefits for your child to engage in play, besides bonding with you. Some of these are:
  • Building the imagination
  • Promoting their social skills
  • Advancing their physical development
  • Helping them work through their emotions
  • Teaches patience and problem solving skills
I know that for me it is difficult for me to remember how it was that I played as a child. And when my kids wanted me to play with them in the past I found it difficult. But I found that if I just let them lead in whatever we were doing that it worked out quite well. Now this does not mean that you can't choose the activity. In fact my kids oftentimes want me to pick what me do. So here are some suggested activities that you could try;
  • Play a game. Whether cards or a board game I promise you will all enjoy yourself. 
  • Get crafty together. Make something. What exactly will depend on your skill level but these are the kinds of memories that will last a lifetime. 
  • Listen to music together. Introduce them to some new music or even introduce both of you to something you've never heard before. 
  • Watch a movie together. With my oldest we are watching old classics from the 40's to the 70's.
  • Read a book together. Not only will this help to broaden your and the kids' vocabulary but you may just both learn something. 
  • Get outdoors. Play hide and seek or tag. Or just watch the clouds or the birds. There is always something new and exciting to see.
Whatever you do just make sure you have fun. Turn off the cellphone and unplug from our connected world. Make the time you set aside just about the kids.

Blessed Be!


Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Children's Story for Samhain

Wednesday, October 6, 2010
The little children ran up to the old man in the chair and yelled in unison and great excitement, "Grandfather, Grandfather! Can you tell us another story?"

With a smile and twinkle in his eye, the old man asked, "What story do you want to hear? I have told you the stories about the first seven Sabbats, why don't I tell you the last one? The one about Samhain."

With eager nods the children yelled out, "Yes. Please."

So the Grandfather settled himself comfortably into his chair and began to speak. "If you will think back and remember. The story for Mabon found the God dead and living away in Summerland. And found the Goddess returning pregnant, from a spirit quest, after she found the God and got his promise to return at Yule as her unborn child.

"But the Goddess aged from the elements, remember Winter is coming quick as we approach the end of October, was found dead in the wilderness. Or so the faeries that found her thought. They brought her to the Holly King, Lord of Winter.

"When he saw her body he turned in bitterness and fled to his drinking horn in his mighty hall. But the faeries prepared Her body and laid in rest. Then they gathered all they could from far and wide and held a wake in Her honor.

"And they were gathered and mourned Her and most of all the death of their hope for the future. For how could they carry on without a Goddess to watch over them? But then the crowd fell silent as the oldest and ugliest lady any had ever seen hobbled into the hall.

"They all, to the last person, shunned her for they were disgusted at her hideous looks. But the old lady hobbled up slowly and in great pain, to the very foot of the throne of the Holly King. And looked up at Him as he turned his head away.

"After a long moment the old lady spoke, 'Do you not recognize me, my Son? I am your mother that you had given up hope on. Near death I was but I have returned with a promise of new life and light. That will come from my womb at the end of hope. When light is at its shortest. And on that day you shall pay for your arrogance.'

"The Holly King was struck to his heart with fright at these words and he ordered her to be locked away in the tallest tower. So that he may have hope of avoiding this doom that was laid upon him by his ancient Mother.

"But as we know, since the Sun is reborn every Yule, this did little to help the Holly King avoid the punishment for his arrogance. We also should know that it is on Samhain night, since the Goddess came back to us from death, that the veil is thin and torn in some places and that we may see other friends and family that have passed on. This is why we carve a pumpkin so that those familiar spirits can find their way to our homes. And when they are there we lay out the Mute Supper for them to gather strength for their journey back to Summerland.

"What was that little one, why do we dress up? Well we dress up so that those ghosts that are not our family do not take us back with them. They can't find out who we are, if we are covered up.

"Now run along children, have your parents help you carve the Jack O' Lantern and make your costumes. And let this old man rest from all this storytelling."


Friday, October 1, 2010

Take Some Time to Reconnect With Your Partner

Friday, October 1, 2010
Last year I ran this series of weekend posts to remind us to reconnect with our family as we venture forth in to the dark half of the year. So I hope that you enjoy them. And as a side note I talk about the Holiday Season and while it isn't here yet. It won't be long until we see the decorations up. I saw my first turkey of the year at the store earlier this evening.

It is important for you and your partner to be connected and on the same page. But with life in general and now the Holiday Season it can be very difficult to find time to do just that.

So my challenge to all of us is to set aside a little time at least every couple of weeks, every week would be better, to take your partner out on a date. Whether it is the movies, a picnic in the park or just an evening walk. The most important thing to do is just spend time with them.

You both need time to decompress and talk to each other about how things are going. Both in your personal lives apart and together. Think of this as part 'State of the Relationship' address and part just continue to get you know each better talk.

Think of this as dating like you used to, before you got "serious". Get dressed up and have some fun. Go dancing if that is what you used to do or just out to eat. Again just spend time with your partner.

I hope that you find this to be of some use. Got any thoughts? Then please leave me some comments.

Blessed Be!