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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ethics and Pagan Families

Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Family is defined by a common sense of morals and traditions. I know that seems to be common sense but bear with me as I go on.

It has been my experience, that other then a vague sense of right and wrong and a belief in the Wiccan Rede, that many Pagans don't have a well defined list of Virtues. Although they have a personal code, they often can not say what that is. Now I am not saying that Pagans are unethical or that there is something wrong with them. But rather what I am saying is that many of us grew up in a strict religion and/or household that ranted about sin and hellfire. And when we left that religion we chose to stay as far away from anything remotely like what we came from before.

This is a problem because ethics and virtues are very important for the individual and even more so for the family as a whole, not to mention the community at large. But the question is, how do we mesh all our individual senses of right and wrong into a common one? This is a simple exercise for the adults of the family. I say the adults because kids are still too young, for the most part to have their own sense of morals. For the older kids I leave that up to your judgement. You know your children better then anyone else.

I have included a list of thirteen virtues and my thoughts on them at the bottom of today's article. But do not think that you are limited to just those. Compile a large list of virtues and ethics and then whittle it down to around thirteen. This will be a manageable list that you can implement in your family.

Just remember do not do this lightly. I know that this may seem like a common sense statement but you must be sure that each virtue fully reflects your visions for what a family is and should be. And how it governs itself with each other and the world around us.

Now after you have created this list you need to have a family meeting and share it with everyone. And, most importantly, hold them to it. How you enforce the breaking of these rules is up to you. I have been blessed with two great kids, who usually listen without any problem. So the question of punishment is one that hardly arises. Although when it has I have had problems with guilt, wondering if I have been to hard and should just relax the rules a bit. When these doubts come up, I silence them with the thought that these rules are a microcosm of the rules that we all have to follow as adults in society. Whether in our relationships, our jobs, or just in day to day interaction with others of our species. And as I have been saying for a long time, my job is not to raise kids but to create normal well-adjusted adults.

As promised here is a list of virtues and some of my thoughts on them. These were found originally through FWTI which cites the Unicorn Tradition as the source.
  • 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 other 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.
  • Charity - Webster defines this as benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity.
    The love I speak of is not just passionate love, or even brotherly love. The term for this love is Agape. Defined as the selfless love of one person for another without sexual implications (especially love that is spiritual in nature).
    I know, its a mouthful, but what better lesson can you teach your kid then love?
    Children start off being obsessed with me and mine, so for them to not just be tolerant of others but to love them and to have goodwill towards, they must have good examples i.e. Parents.
    Teach your children to love others and to do nice things for others. It has been my experience that to make them do so, is a wrong choice. They will only rebel. Point out the world around them and step back to give them chances to develop a sense of Charity for their fellow man.
  • Humility - I think that humility is something that is missing in our culture. We are afraid of letting our kids lose, at anything. They have done away with keeping score and/or lowered the standards in school, so that no one's self-esteem is damaged. And what has been the result? We have a generation of children with no drive. They do not understand that they have limitations and so they can't understand why they fail in the real world.
  • Devotion - I define this as the following and worshiping of the Gods, and all that that entails. 
  • Patience - Probably one of the hardest things for anyone to learn. But also one of the most important lessons to learn. My spiritual teacher always talks about Wicca and the organic method. Meaning that things happen in the time and way they are supposed to happen, we just have to be patient enough to wait for it to happen. Now this doesn't mean that we can sit idly by and wait for the bills to be paid. Rather it is to take life one day at a time and to just let things flow.
  • Kindliness- Probably one of the easiest of the virtues to learn. So what is kindliness? Well simply speaking it is the act of being kind. And it is the end result of following the Wiccan Rede, 'An it harm none, do as ye will. For doing no harm is the end result of being kind.
  • Forbearance - Forbearance is the art of self-control. Yes, I know short answer but it is the easiest to say.
    Forbearance is the act of restraining oneself and not giving into our baser natures. It is what keeps us from being vicious and cruel and allows us to show compassion and love.
    All good parents already teach this to their children whether they call it that or not. We teach our kids the difference between right and wrong. Some of us probably even say to them, "control yourselves."
    On another level forbearance becomes the act of letting things go. To not hold grudges or to turn the other cheek. Now this doesn't mean that we should let the world walk all over us, but rather that we should not be ruled by our anger and our hate. Rather that we do not act as the world acts
  • Sincerity - This means truth in word and act. That when you say something that that is what you mean and follow through. It goes far beyond just honesty and good follow through.
    Rather it is knowing that you can do what you say and not saying what you know you can't do. I know that I keep falling back on the old cliche. But it continues to be true. Lead by example. If your kids know that you mean what you say then they will eventually seek to emulate that in their own life.
  • Courage - defined by Webster as: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. The ability to face fear and overcome it so that we can persevere. Whether that fear is a fear of ones self or of failure.
    But this must not be confused with bravery. For fools are brave and rush into things with fear and thinking. But wise people are courageous and overcome adversity.
  • Precision - is being precise in thought, word and action. Meaning that we should strive to be unambiguous in speech and action.
    To many people I have met seem to have a problem just speaking their mind. We couch ourselves in half truths and hesitate to speak our minds. Instead we should be upfront and honest with first ourselves and then with everyone else in our lives.
  • Efficiency - This goes back to my post on cutting out the clutter in your lives. If we have to much then our energies are scattered and we cannot be efficient.
  • Discrimination - is the ability to be able to discern the truth in others. To see the real meaning of what people say. In other words to not be gullible.
  • Wisdom - is the proper use of knowledge and thoughts. We can have knowledge but if we don't act on it in a proper and "wise" manner, what good is it?
    Wisdom is also that which allows us to make decisions that do not involve ourselves getting drowned in drama or calamity. And as to be expected, wisdom cannot be taught. It can only be gained through experience, whether in this life or in past lives.
Blessed Be!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Twas the Night of the Solstice and Ritual Ideas

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

by Suncat of Hearthfire, with apologies to Clement Moore

Twas the night of the Solstice, the party was done
Soon we would gather to call back the Sun
The season of Winter was half the way through
We called for the Mother to birth Him anew

The children were quiet or now fast asleep
The elders drew near, the solstice to keep
All were prepared and the circle was raised
In peace and in silence as deep as a cave

The Priestess then lifted the sword upon high
The Priest made the ancient call to the sky
So ancient. that cry that asks for rebirth
As Mother and Sun Child are called to the Earth

Then what to our wondering eyes did appear?
The Lord and the Lady our folk all revere
"What is your need that you call us this night?"
"Bring us," we chorused, "the Child of Light."

"Lady, Who art the season of birth
"Come to us, bless us, dear Mother Earth."
"We here you," She answered, "and so it shall be
"As Solstice is here, I return Him to thee."

"But remember your promise and cherish your land
"For He gives both the seed and death by His hand."
The silence was total, the Priestess bowed low
The priest gave salute, asking, "What do we owe?"

"You owe Us your laughter," He said, "and you your love
"And in all your magicks, respect for Her Grove
"Rape not Her body, nor pillage Her soil
"Labor with love and give free of your toil

"And follow the seasons of Moon and of Sun
"Do so with love and We always will come
"To comfort and guide you, to bring you rebirth
"So give of your love and your land, Mother Earth."

So saying, They faded, we wondering looked on
The Solstice rite done with morning birdsong
The message They gave was of love, not of pain
That the land that we cherish be fruitful again

The circle was ended, the peace yet abides
Through cycles of seasons and love we'll not hide.
Her children who met Them that night in the grove'
Still cherish the land and their message of love.

Happy Solstice to all!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Twas the Night Before Yule

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

This is a delightful poem by Richard De Angelis, that I found again after hearing it years ago in ritual. Hope you all like it as much as I did.

'Twas the night before Yule, when all 'cross the heath,
not a being was stirring; Pagan, faerie, or beast.
Wassail was left out & the alter adorned,
to rejoice that the Sun King would soon be reborn.

The children lay sleeping by the warmth of the hearth,
their dreams filled with visions of belov'd Mother Earth.
M'lady & I beneath blankets piled deep,
had just settled down to our own Solstice sleep.

Then a noise in the night that would leave us no peace,
Awakened us both to the honking of geese.
Eager to see such a boisterous flock,
When we raced to the window, our mouths dropped in shock!

On the west wind flew a gaggle of geese white & gray,
With Frau Holda behind them in her giftladen dray.
The figure on her broomstick in the north sky made it clear,
La Befana was approaching to bestow Yuletide cheer.

From the south came a comet more bright than the moon,
And we knew that Lucia would be with us soon.
As these spirits sailed earthward o'er hilltops & trees,
Frau Holda serenaded her feathery steeds:

"Fly Isolde! Fly Tristan! Fly Odin & Freya!
Fly Morgaine! Fly Merlin! Fly Uranus & Gaea!
"May the God & the Goddess inside you soar,
From the clouds in the heavens to yon cottage door."

As soft & silent as snowflakes they fell:
Their arrival announced by a faint chiming bell.
They landed like angels, their bodies aglow.
Their feet left no marks in the new fallen snow.

Before we could ponder what next lay in store,
There came a slow creaking from our threshold door.
We crept from our bedroom & were spellbound to see
...There in our parlor stood the Yule Trinity!

Lucia, the Maiden, with her head wreathed in flame,
Shown with the radiance for which she was named.
The Lightbringer' s eyes held the joy of a child,
And she spoke with a voice that was gentle, yet wild:

"May the warmth of this household ne'er fade away."
Then she lit our Yule log which still burns to this day.
Frau Holda in her down cloak stood regal & tall;
The Matron of Solstice, the Mother of all.

Under her gaze we felt safe & secure.
Her voice was commanding, yet almost demure:
"May the love of this family enrich young & old."
And from the folds of her cloak showered coins of pure gold.

Le Befana wore a kerchief on her silvery hair;
The veil of the Crone who has secrets to share.
In her eyes gleamed a wisdom only gained by spent youth.
Her voice was a whisper but her words rung with truth:

"May health, glad tidings, and peace fill these rooms."
And she banished misfortune with a sweep of her broom.
They then left a gift by each sleeping child's head,
Took a drink of our wassail, and away they sped.

While we watched them fly off through the night sky we laughed,
At the wondrous magick we had found in the Craft
As they departed, the spirits decreed
Merry Yule To You All & May All Blessed Be!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Children's Yule Ritual

Monday, December 19, 2011
Yes I know that Yule is technically this coming Thursday. But I wanted to give you all some time to prepare. I will be posting some stories I have posted in the past this weekend, so stay tuned.

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

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 Yule. Talk about the battle between Holly King and Oak King after the rebirth of the Sun. If they are worried then you can assure them that the Holly King will return in the Fall. Read to them the Children's Story I posted for Yule.

Have some fun and celebrate. Play some music and sing some chants. Raise some energy.

When you are done spend the rest of this Sabbat enjoying a huge feast. Take a look through the different recipes that I have posted in the last few weeks or cook some of your own. But most important of all spend time with family and friends.

Blessed Be!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Pagans and Santa

Sunday, December 18, 2011
Woodland Santa
We live in a world that is often very unfriendly to Paganism, which is ironic because many of the commonly practiced traditions are typically co-opted from ancient Pagan traditions. Now let me say that I am not saying that any of our religious systems go back much further then the 1950's with only a few possible exceptions. Rather what I am saying is that Christianity took many of the traditions from the "Pagans" of their time and made them their own.

This article comes out of a question posed on Facebook Page the other day. This questions was pretty much about the confusion between Christmas and Yule. Mainly because she had decided to not include Santa in her holiday tradition. The reason being because he says Merry Christmas. I can understand this even though we include Santa in our traditions.

My household is a multi-faith one, in a sense. My oldest daughter, from my first marriage, is being raised Christian and of course her mother has no issue with Santa, so if I had made the decision to cut out Santa then there would be some confused children. But how does one, if they make this decision, reconcile Santa's very Christian image with one's own Pagan traditions?

Where He Comes From?

One of the Gods that Santa bears the most striking resemblance to is Odin and his eight legged horse Sleipnir. Many traditions had him leading a night time hunt around this time of the year. And in other traditions children would leave out their boots, filled with carrots or straw or sugar (all for Sleipnir). In exchange for this kindness Papa Odin would leave gifts for the children.

While not necessarily a God, their is an archetype from modern Paganism that Santa bears a similarity to as well, the Holly King. Dressed in a long flowing robe, sometimes red, and surrounded by the animals of the forest he was the God of the Dark Half of the year. Rising to power between Litha and Lughnasadh (depending on your tradition) and leaving us at Yule. Replaced by the Oak/Sun King.

So as you can see, as the song says Santa Claus is Pagan Too. But this doesn't really answer the question. Santa is still portrayed as Christian and still is all about Christmas, so what is a Pagan to do? Well either teach and portray him as really Pagan, telling the truth of where he comes from. Or skip him entirely and replace him with the Holly King or Odin, if you lend more towards the Norse/Germanic side of things.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this one. Santa or No?

And oh yeah the picture was found on Flikr, check out the other photos.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Yule Recipes -- Desserts

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I figured I would post my carrot cake recipe. It may take a little bit of work but it does make a truly fantastic carrot cake. I promise.

  • 6 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup brown sugar - packed
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
  • 3 cups flour - all purpose is fine
  • 1 2/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp ground cinnamon
  1. In a medium bowl mix the grated carrots and brown sugar and set aside for 30 minutes
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour two 10 inch cake pans
  3. Beat eggs until light. Gradually beat in white sugar, oil and vanilla. 
  4. Stir in the pineapple
  5. Combine dry ingredients and then mix them into wet mixture until absorbed
  6. Stir in carrots and pour into pans
  7. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until toothpick tests clean
  8. Let cool and then frost
Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 5 Tbsp butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups powdered sugar - minimum
  1. Mix first three ingredients until well blended
  2. Then slowly mix in powdered sugar. You can add more sugar to your personal taste and consistency

Monday, December 12, 2011

Yule Cookies

Monday, December 12, 2011

Yule Wreaths 

  • 3 Tablespoons butter 
  • 3 cups mini marshmallows 
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1/2 teaspoon green food coloring 
  • 4 cups crispy rice cereal 

Melt butter and marshmallows over low heat, stirring. Remove from heat and add vanilla and food coloring. Stir. Fold in rice crispies. On wax paper, with buttered hands, shape into wreaths. Add red hot candies, raisins, or chocolate chips to decorate. Let cool.

Magical Molasses Cookies 

  • 2/3 cup butter 
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • 1/4 cup molasses 
  • 1 egg 
  • 2 1/2 cups flour 
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda 
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice 

Mix together butter and sugar in a large bowl. Add the molasses and the egg and stir until creamy. Sift together flour, baking soda, and pumpkin pie spice in a seperate bowl. Add to molasses mixture a little at a time while stirring. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll the dough balls in some sugar on a plate. Bake 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Cool 1 minute, sprinkle more sugar on top.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Two Kings

Sunday, December 11, 2011

As we draw closer to Yule, there will be a shift in power. The Holly King, who began his rule at Lughnasadh is going to be struck down and replaced by Sun King. By this is the year measured and marked. So with this in mind I wanted to talk about the two Kings in some more detail.

First I wanted to talk about the Holly King for the season of Yule is really his season. The time when he is strongest. But it also signals his end, for as the sun is reborn on Yule morning so does he pass away into the Underworld.

But who exactly is he? He is Jupiter, streaking across the sky. He is Cronos, or Old Man Time. He is Odin on his eight-legged horse and Thor in his goat drawn chariot traveling the winter sky. A modern name for him is Santa Claus.

While He is responsible for the winter season and the suffering of the Goddess and the Earth. He is also responsible for bringing us gifts and the Earth a much needed and deserved rest.

So turn to him in this time of reflection and give thanks for that chance to breathe. And if you feel that you can't take the time, then slow down and ask him for that time. But don't let this resting time be a period of laziness. Instead let it be a time for renewal and rebirth.

His pair, ruler of the light half of the year, is the Oak King. One of his other names is the Horned Lord. And as such I figured I would share a poem I wrote a while back entitled, 'The Charge of the Horned Lord'.
I am the Horned Lord, Cernunnos, guardian of the cycle of birth and rebirth. I am the youth of Spring and exuberant life. My breath is the warming Southern wind. I am the Oak dressed in Brown and Green. I am the protective hunter, King of the animals and I am the wild Pan. Lovemaking, laughter and feasting are all testaments to my power and might. To love is to worship me. I am the Lord of the Greenwood, The Sun King and Heaven's Lord among countless other incarnations. I give to man these gifts; little children of all ages, ecstasy of the spirit and of the body, and I provide the path to self-illumination.

I am the Sun and consort to the Earth Mother and the Star Goddess. I am the priest of the Sun. I am the gnostic upon the throne at the center of all life. And I am the leader of the Wild Rade that leads to the Underworld, which is your inner self.

I am the fire in every beating heart and the waters of the soul, the Earth of the body and the breath of the mind. Call on me as protector and warrior for I am the God of Battles.
I bring the rain, the ultimate promise of life, hear my voice and my laughter in the sound of the falling rain and be joyous.
Blessed Be!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Decorations and Symbols of Yule -- Part Two - Crafty Edition

Thursday, December 8, 2011

There are many decorations for Yule, that you as a family can make. Take a nature walk with your kids and collect pine cones. We buy spray paint, the colors do not matter too much, but I would stay away from oranges and pinks. Reds, greens and silver and gold are all great colors for Yule.
Take gold foil paper and cut out sun and star symbols to use as ornaments and for decorations in the rest of your house.
Another great addition to your holiday planning is the wreath. There are different kinds of wreaths that you can make. Here is a link to one kind:
You can also use a grapevine wreath and decorate it for the holidays with either real or fake greenery and other symbols of the holiday. In fact this is a great addition to your house, because as one holiday goes you can then remove the decorations and replace them for the next holiday.
You can also make a pagan version of the Advent wreath. Traditionally the wreath is made of evergreens with four candles set within, and its rituals begins four weeks before Christmas. A candle is lit each Sunday and burns throughout the week to welcome the "light of the world." On the fourth Sunday, all four candles burn together in welcome. Although it is a little late to begin this year, next year you could make one of these and light the first candle four weeks before Yule, adding one candle each seven days. Leave the candles lit over night to battle the growing dark.
I will leave you with this link to a tutorial on making a wonderful 3d snowflake.

Blessed Be!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The First Yule

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I found this story floating around the internet a couple of years back and wanted to share it with you all again. Of course I can't find anyone to credit for this. So if you know who wrote it send me a link in the comments below. Hope you enjoy!

Once upon a time, long, long ago, a beautiful young woman lived on a blue and green island. She had many friends on the island, fairies, trees, flowers, rabbits, deer and birds... but she was the only person who lived there. She wanted to share her friends and her secrets with other people just like her, so she began to give birth. Every month when the moon was hiding, she gave birth. For the first six months, she gave birth to daughters with dark skin and eyes. For the last six moons of the year she gave birth to fair skinned daughters. On the seventh moon of every year the First Mother gave birth to a magickal, sacred oak.

As the years turned, many, many daughters were born, and quite a few oak trees as well. The daughters played games with the animals and each other, they climbed in the branches of the oak trees and gathered flowers with the fairies. One day the first born daughter of the First Mother gave birth herself. The First Mother was very proud and happy, her favorite friend Oak Tree(who was very wise) gave her a silver crown to wear and told her that she was now a Grandmother. Soon many of the daughters gave birth, and the island became an even happier place, full of babies and big girls and mommies who all played together with the animals, the trees and the fairies.

One winter night when the moon was hiding, one of the daughters gave birth to a baby that was different from anything they had ever known. It was not a daughter, it was not even an oak tree, it was a baby BOY! It was a very dark cold night, the longest winter's night of the year, so all the daughters and all the animals were snuggled up together to keep cozy and warm. After their excitement of seeing a brand new baby born passed, the daughters and the animals realized that the baby boy was not feeling well. He was not as strong or as warm as the babies and trees that were usually born on the island. They all began to worry about the new baby, and tried to help keep him warm. The animals with the furriest coats pushed up close to the mother and baby, the fairies sprinkled magick dust above him, and the little girls sang wonderful songs and danced around and around the room.

But the baby boy couldn't get warm enough and soon he was too cold and tired even to cry or to drink the healing milk from his mother. The First Grandmother was so afraid for the baby boy. She tried to hide her tears from her daughters and ran out into the forest. The snow was very deep and full of white glitter. She tried to walk but it was just to deep. So her friend the owl carried up above the snow filled clouds deep into the magick forest where her firstborn, most sacred wise friend Oak lived. The First Grandmother intended to ask Her friend for advise about the baby boy. When the owl reached the clearing where the sacred First Oak tree lived, the Grandmother gasped! There was no snow on the ground there, and in the middle of a perfect circle lay her friend the Oak. The tree had Fallen to the ground and broken into a pile of logs and branches. She rushed to kneel beside the broken tree, and her teardrops turned into sparkling icicles on her cheeks.

While she was trying to understand what had happened to her dear friend, a coyote entered the circle and brushed up beside her. First the coyote kissed her tears dry, and then whispered a secret in the First Grandmother's ear. The Grandmother nodded, and with the help of the coyote and the owl, she gathered some of the branches from her oldest friend Oak and they returned to her daughter and the baby boy.
Using the gifts from the Oak, and the secrets from the coyote, the Grandmother built the very first fire that anyone on the blue and green island had ever seen. The fairies were shocked, they had never seen anything dance like that without wings. The animals laughed, they had never seen colors so bright except on springtime flowers. The daughters didn't know WHAT to do, they had never felt anything as warm as the summer sand on the beach in the middle of winter.

The mother brought the baby boy close to the edge of the fire, closer than everyone else( they were still just a little bit scared of this new thing called fire). The baby boy opened his eyes just a little bit, and began to wiggle his fingers. Then he smiled and moved his toes too. When he was warm enough, he snuggled with his Mother and drank her milk, soon everyone was certain the baby boy would be okay. They were all so happy, they danced around the fire singing their favorite special songs and giving little gifts to the fire.

The baby boy grew up strong and happy because of the gift of the First Oak Tree. He had many sons of his own, and taught them all to plant acorns on the seventh dark moon of the year so that there would always be many, many oak trees on the island. Every winter, on the longest coldest darkest night of the year, all the people who lived on the blue and green island built a very special fire. They brought in a special tree and honored it with shiny ornaments and glittery fairy dust. They picked one very special branch or log and sang their favorite songs while they decorated it. Then they would give this beautiful log to the fore as a present... and all the children would hear the story of the gift of the First Oak tree.
On the longest night of the year, whenever you light a candle or build a fire, remember the story of the First Grandmother and the coyote who told her the secret. No matter how cold and dark it seems, The Sun will always be reborn and bring us warmth and light again.

Blessed Be!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Yule Recipes- Meat

Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Ham is the most traditional dish for this holiday season. And while a ham is easy to cook, the glaze for it is sometimes tougher to make. Here is a recipe that I have used on several occasions to fantastic reviews.
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 Tbsp mustard
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp Dark Rum
In a medium size saucepan whisk together and heat to just before boiling these ingredients. Pour over a fully cooked ham and bake for ten to fifteen minutes more. Now don't worry about the alcoholic content the cooking should cook out the alcohol. If you are still antsy then you can let the glaze simmer for about five minutes.

One more thing on hams, I think that ham tends to have to much salt for human consumption. So I boil some water and place the ham in it for about five to ten minutes. This will serve to bring out much of the salt.

This brings me to the other animal that I choose to cook at this season. The duck. While tasty it is very greasy. You can boil the duck, to get rid of the grease, in the same way as you did the ham to get rid of the salt.

The last duck I cooked was on the BBQ grill. Hey I live in Florida, we can nearly BBQ all year down here. To do this I arranged coals around a drip pan in the center of the grill. And after dipping the duck in boiling water, I dried it off and placed in on the grill on a low heat and let it slowly cook. I didn't add anything else to the duck, but I enjoy the taste of the duck alone without any additions.

But you can make an orange glaze for the duck. Here is a recipe from recipecircus.com.
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp brandy
  1. Combine orange juice, marmalade, honey, sugar and brandy in small saucepan and simmer over low heat for 5 to 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Spoon glaze over ducks and return to oven for 10 to 15 minutes longer.
  3. Watch to prevent scorching.
  4. Remove duck to platter and let rest for 15 minutes before carving.
Blessed Be and Happy Cooking!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Decorate Cookies with Your Kids

Monday, December 5, 2011
Growing up one of my fondest memories from the Holidays was the night that my brothers and I would get to decorate cookies with Mom. Now we never had to bake them but we sure got to decorate them and of course eat them.

This may be a tradition that you want to start with your children this Holiday Season. Below are some recipes for cookies but first I wanted to talk about what you may need to decorate them. I would recommend buying a small tub of icing and then some smaller decorating tubes of colored icing. You can also get small candy to use. The type of candy will depend on the kids, just get what they like.

Gingerbread Cookies

  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup shortening, melted and cooled slightly
  • 1 cup molasses
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Sift together the dry ingredients
  2. In a medium bowl mix together the shortening, molasses, brown sugar, water, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth.
  3. Gradually stir in dry ingredients, until they are completely absorbed
  4. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Pat down until about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least three hours.
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit
  6. Roll out dough onto lightly floured surface and cut into desired shapes.
  7. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.
  8. When done transfer to wire rack to cool.
Sugar Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • Additional sugar
  1. In a mixing bowl, cream butter, shortening and sugar.
  2. Add egg and vanilla; mix well.
  3. Combine dry ingredients and gradually add to creamed mixture.
  4. Shape into 1 inch balls.
  5. Roll in sugar and place on greased baking sheet; flatten with glass
  6. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 to 12 minutes
Blessed Be and Happy Baking!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Yule Recipes -- Drinks

Sunday, December 4, 2011
This past year one of the recipes that I got the most feedback on was the non-alcoholic mead recipe. So I figured I would post it again along with a recipe on eggnog that I found in cyberspace. Hope that you enjoy.

Soft (non-alcoholic) Mead

  • 4 cups spring water
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 orange, sliced
  1. Bring the water, honey, nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon to a boil in a non-metallic pan. 
  2. Stir until honey is dissolved; heaviness should disappear from bottom of the pan. 
  3. Use wooden spoon to skim off skin that forms at top of brew. 
  4. Add lemon and orange slices, squeezing as they are placed in the pan. 
  5. Cool completely; strain. 
  6. Store in bottle in refrigerator. courtesy of clannada.org
Indulgent Eggnog Recipe
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 + ½ cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • ½ cup brandy
  • ½ cup dark rum
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg, ground or grated (fresh is best)
  1. Begin with pre-chilled ingredients for the greatest end result.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs together hard until they're very frothy.
  3. Add sugar and continue beating.
  4. Sprinkle in nutmeg and vanilla.
  5. Continue beating.
  6. A little at a time, add in the whipping cream, continuing to beat.
  7. Again, only a little at a time, beat in the milk.
  8. Finally, beat in the rum and brandy.
  9. Give your arms a break from all that beating by putting the eggnog in the fridge to chill for 1 – 2 hours.
  10. Serve cold.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Yuletide Crafts -- The Yule Log

Thursday, December 1, 2011
Traditionally at this time of the year one would burn an Yule log in their fireplace. But what is one to do if they don't have a Yule log? Or a fireplace? Substitute candles of course. 

It really is a simple idea that makes a great centerpiece. And can be used year after year. Just remember that candles can catch other things on fire so don't leave it unsupervised or let children play with it.

To make one of these you will need the following:
  • A log about 14 – 18” long
  • Pinecones
  • Dried berries, such as cranberries
  • Cuttings of mistletoe, holly, pine needles, and ivy
  • Feathers and cinnamon sticks
  • Some festive ribbon – use paper or cloth ribbon, not the synthetic or wire-lined type
  • A hot glue gun
  • Three Candles
Use the ribbons, berries, cuttings and feather and cinnamon sticks to decorate the exterior of the log. Then drill or carve three small holes for the candle to set in. The colors of the candles don't really matter. But a suggestion would be to use; Red for the Holly King, Green for the newborn Oak King and White for the Goddess soon to become the Maiden.

Blessed Be!