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.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Happy Imbolc as Well!

Sunday, July 31, 2011
I didn't forget you guys to the South this time. Here are some links to make getting ready for Imbolc easier.


Hope you all have a Blessed Imbolc!



Family Lughnasadh Ritual

Hope you all have a Blessed Lughnasadh!


Circle Casting

Have all join hands and still their thoughts. Let the first to speak say;

From Me to You; followed by the next person saying
From You to Me
and repeat until all have said both lines.
For the purpose of tonight's ritual have the chant move deosil (clockwise) around the circle of people.

Then when it gets back to the first let them say;

The Circle is Cast and the Temple is raised.
So Mote It Be! (All can repeat)

Quarter Callings

If you would like you can give the children bells and have them ring them after the invocations are spoken.

Start today in the East, the direction for new beginnings. Have a fan here and wave it at all present so that they can feel the presence of air.

In the East we call Air.
May it clear all obstacles that seek
To block us in our search.

Now move to South where you have a candle ready to be lit. Light it now. And have all focus on its flame. Carefully let them feel its heat.

In the South we call Fire.
May it light our way
To find wisdom tonight.

Come to the West. Have a cup of water there and have all take a small drink. Have all think about the water and how much we need it.

In the West we call Water.
May we have the vision tonight
To see inside its murky depths.

Finally we come to the North. In my practice I like to have a bowl of patchouli here so that we can smell it and be reminded about the Earth.

In the North we call Earth.
May it grant us the strength
To face the wisdom granted us.

Take this time to talk to the children about what this Sabbat means. Read to them the Children's Story for Lughnasadh. This Sabbat is a time for family to join in celebration at the successful harvests that we have all managed to bring in, whether physically or in some other way. But it is also a time to honor the passing of the Grain God, to recognize his sacrifice. Because without that we could not eat.

So in that spirit I wanted to suggest that you spend some time with your family. Break some bread and share the stories of the year so far. Your successes and your failures, share them both equally. Support each other and draw close together.

When you are finished you can do Cakes and Juice to ground or feast afterwards.

Cakes and Juice

Touch the plate of cookies or cakes and say; Flesh of my Flesh
Then touch the juice in the goblet and say; Blood of my Blood

We are of Them as They are of us
Joined in Love and Light
Married in Strength and Truth
Showered in Power and Blessings
We Drink from Her womb
We Eat from His hand

Drink from the chalice and then eat from the plate of food feeling Their Love and Strength.
So that we always remember our Love for Them and Their Love for Us
Pour out a libation and leave some food for the Earth and for the Gods.

Closing

Return to the North;

Element of Earth we thank you for your presence
Hail and Farewell! (All can repeat)

West

Element of Water we thank you for your presence
Hail and Farewell! (All can repeat)

South

Element of Fire we thank you for your presence
Hail and Farewell! (All can repeat)

East

Element of Air we thank you for your presence
Hail and Farewell! (All can repeat)

To close circle have all join hands. And the first to speak at the casting releases his grip on his left hand and says; We open the Circle.

Moving widdershins (counter-clockwise) have each member repeat until the chant moves back to the first person. Who says; But we remain a Circle. Family united in spirit. Circle open but unbroken.

Then have all have a group hug. Remembering that we are all one family. Not just those present but all those on the Earth.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Duotheism or Pantheism?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Another repost today but it relates to an upcoming series that I will be starting at the beginning of August. The first half will be my thoughts on Masculine Archetypes and the second half will be a series of guest posters on the Feminine Archetypes. I'm not sure how this will shake out but I'm pretty sure that the Gods will make a showing somewhere in the writing. Interested? Use the contact form and send me an email.

I have noticed in Wicca and Paganism in general as it grows as a faith, that there is a move from its duotheistic roots towards a more pantheistic worldview. Much like the Pagans of the Old World (pre-Christianity) Pagans are beginning to worship multiple Gods and oftentimes venerating whole Pantheons.

Before I go any further, I guess I should share my viewpoint on this, which as is to be expected is slightly outside of the normal view of most Pagans. I believe that there is One Source, the All for lack of a better term, that all things are part of. From this comes the Archetypes of the Goddess and the God in all their aspects. But within these Archetypes is the many Gods of the many pantheons.

This is because of when and how I began my studies in the Craft. The movement towards that pantheistic world view had not reached any sort of large numbers at that time. But if I was to begin today, I would probably choose to believe in that Pantheistic worldview. Because many of the individual deities do not fit into one of the more classic Archetypes. A problem which people have tried to solve by adding archetypes, such as Warrior or Amazon or Grandfather/mother.

As part of my degree studies I read Progressive Witchcraft, by Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone. They broached this topic of view of deity, and drew a correlation between the African Diasporic traditions today (voodoo and the like), and of how Western Paganism may have looked in the early days of Christianity or even if Christianity had grown to the prevalence that it enjoys today. Much like the reconstructed religions of Heathenism and other Germanic traditions, the African Diasporic traditions are very pantheistic. With little, if any at all, mention of larger Archetypes.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. In your own personal practice who do you worship? Do you follow a pantheon or do you follow the larger Archetypes?

Blessed Be!


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Lessons from a Father to his Children - Repost

Tuesday, July 26, 2011
What is it that a father should teach his children? I have stressed in previous articles about the importance of being a good father, but what exactly is it that makes someone a good father? We have covered how to be good men which leads to being a great father. But what is it that we should teach our children? What lessons are there that they need to learn?

The most important lesson a father can teach his children is love. We are a nation of people that have forgotten how to love. There is a Greek word, a'stor-gos, that embodies this. It translates roughly, to having no natural affection and suggests a lack of a love that should exist among family members, specifically between children and their parents. You can easily see how this leads to problems. This lack of affection and love has led to all of the crimes against our children by both parents and non-parents alike. Parents have stopped loving their kids and subsequently the kids have stopped loving and respecting their parents in return.

If the children are corrupted and wandering in the dark, then there is truly no hope for the future. Men need to step up and overcome their backgrounds and upbringing. To forgive themselves and learn to love themselves. For if we have love in our hearts than that love will spread to the other people around us in our life. If we as men can overcome our backgrounds and learn to love then we can teach this most important lesson to our children and stop the long cycle of self-hate, pity and loathing.

Yet this does not just include how we treat our children or the children of others it should include how we treat all of the women in our lives. For if the women, who raise our children, are messed up and have issues then how are they to help raise the children of the world?

One of the easiest ways to teach our children love is through spirituality. It really does not matter what it is that you believe in, as long as you believe in something and that it is rooted in love. Teach them that love is the center and root of all things good in this world. And that there is a deity out there that loves them regardless of who or what they are and with very little extra effort on your part than your children will learn about love.

If you can succeed in learning love and then in passing that lesson on to your children. You can begin to show them how to live in light and how to spread that light to the world around them. Kindness and compassion is the key to this. To have a smile and a kind word for your fellow man is the easiest gift that you can ever give.

Teach your children to do good deeds and to have compassion for those that deserve it and for those that will appreciate it. I am a conservative libertarian who does not believe in our entitlement welfare society. Rather I believe in teaching people how to grow food and how to make money, rather than teaching them to just sit by and wait for the powers to be to hand them a check or food. But if someone is in need of food or of help then I will help them if I can as long as I am able to take care of me and my own first. I do this because I understand that sometimes hard times fall on good people.

But people should first work hard to achieve something in their lives and to stop waiting for other people to care for them. This is the third lesson to teach children; self-independence. For if we could all learn how to live in love and to show light to the world around us and then learn how to take care of ourselves then the world would be a much better place indeed.

Now while these are the most important lessons to teach your children, they are also the hardest lessons to learn ourselves and the hardest lessons to teach our children. But no one ever said that being a father was an easy job.

Blessed Be!


Monday, July 25, 2011

Sabbats and Locations

Monday, July 25, 2011
Back at the beginning of the month I had put out a request for suggestions on my Facebook page for articles. And one of those suggestions was about the difference in climate and whether that should affect the theme of the different Sabbats.

And after spending a month occasionally thinking on this topic. I just can't come to a clear answer. But I did want to make an effort to lay out my thoughts on this. And for the record I live in Florida where Summer starts in May and Fall lasts for all of November and Winter til March.

Using the coming Sabbat, Lughnasadh, as an example it can be very difficult to get into the spirit of the first Harvest when the temperature is hitting 97 degrees. And in some places it is worse than that, at least right now it is. And with the longer growing season I have already had several harvests from our personal garden.

But then on the other hand there is something to be said for numbers. The sheer numbers of people practicing on and around that day could in theory overwhelm any environmental factors.Not to mention the tide of history. Not that people celebrated Pagan Sabbats in days long ago, but rather they pull on older archetypal themes, like the first harvest.

I also want to note that right now I am speaking only for the Northern Hemisphere. You fine people at the furthest South of us have adapted well on switching the Sabbats to account for the different seasons there.

So I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Do you adjust the Sabbats for the area you live in?

I almost forgot to say, my newest free ebook is up! Check out the link at the bottom of the article if you have subscribed if not you can click here.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Lugnasadh Recipes -- Desserts

Sunday, July 24, 2011
What is more evocative of the Harvest, then fruit cobblers and fruit pies. Taking the bounty of sun-ripened berry bushes and baking them into wonderful desserts. So here are a few recipes, enjoy.

Easy Peach Cobbler courtesy of about.com

Ingredients
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) butter, melted
  • 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 to 4 ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Instructions

Heat oven to 375°.

Pour melted butter into a 2-quart baking dish (11x7 or 8-inch square). In a mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of the sugar, the flour, baking powder, and salt; stir to blend. Stir in the milk and vanilla until blended. Pour the batter over the melted butter. Toss the peaches with the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon. Arrange the peach slices over the batter. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean. The top will be browned and the cake will begin to pull away from the sides of the pan. Serve warm with a little heavy cream, whipped topping, or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Blackberry Pie Recipe courtesy of about.com

Ingredients
  • 1 quart fresh blackberries, washed & drained
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • pastry for 2-crust 9-inch pie
  • 1 tablespoon butter
Preparation
Roll out half of the pie pastry and line a pie plate, leaving some overhang. Mix blackberries with sugar, salt, and flour. Fill pastry lined pie pan. Dot with butter. Roll out top crust; place carefully over filling and flute edges. Cut 3 or 4 slits in the top. Bake in a preheated 450° oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350° and bake 25 minutes longer.
Serves 6 to 8.


Thursday, July 21, 2011

Vegetable Recipes for Lughnasadh

Thursday, July 21, 2011
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.
  5. Transfer the whole mixture to an ovenproof dish, make a pattern on the surface and place under the broiler to brown.
Pumpkin Ginger Soup

Ingredients:
  • 1 small cooking pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger (or to taste)
  • salt to taste
Directions:
  1. Soak cashews in water to cover for several hours. This step is optional, but helps them blend better. 
  2. Cut pumpkin in half, remove seeds, and bake cut side down at 350 degrees F until very tender (45 minutes to one hour). 
  3. Scrape pumpkin from the peel and puree in a blender, with any juices, in batches. Put pureed pumpkin into your soup pot. 
  4. Blend cashews in blender until smooth and add to the pumpkin puree. 
  5. Rinse the blender with a little water and add to the pot. 
  6. Add a little more water if it’s too thick. 
  7. Add ginger and salt to taste and heat gently for a few minutes to blend the flavors.



Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Harvest Your Life

Wednesday, July 20, 2011
courtesy of photos8.com
This Sabbat is the Harvest of grain and like the grain we all have chaff and wheat within us. The things that we need to cut away and the things that we need to sow and multiply. What are those things? This is where our focus should be on this Sabbat. Or at least a portion of our focus.

I know that the Sabbats, as they stand, are set to a Northern European system. The first Harvest for many comes earlier or later then Lughnasadh but to me the energy is still present somewhere when the first of August comes. But what exactly does this energy mean? How can we take advantage of this time to work beneficial magick in our lives?

I had the honor to attend a ritual where the High Priestess used a scythe to do this very thing. We each took time to meditate on the things that we needed to cut away and then again on the things that we wanted to harvest in our lives.

Yet not all of us have a spare scythe lying around. Well at least I don't. So what can we do? Well I think that the meditation should be enough. Intent is everything right?

This Sabbat also marks the start of the Dark Half of the Year, the time when our Ancestors worked on repairing the tools of their lives and on other projects. We can also use this time to do just that. As the Harvests come let us use their energy to affect the changes we want in our own lives. So as we move closer to Lughnasadh let us all spend some time in prayer and meditation. What things do you need to let go like chaff in the wind? And what things need your focus to bring to a successful harvest?

Blessed Be!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Let's Bake Some Bread

Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Although sometimes it is still to hot at this time of the year for me to cook bread, I usually manage to bake some bread to celebrate Lughnasadh with. Many people seem to be turned away on the idea of making bread. They either consider it to difficult or just to many steps, which I guess could be the same thing.
But there are only four steps to making bread; Preparing, Letting Rise, Kneading and Baking. Most yeast you buy in the stores don't require a second rise. So after you prepare the mixture you leave it alone until it is finished rising (this usually means it doubles in size) then you break it down by folding it until it becomes tough to manage. Followed by baking and then of course enjoying.
I hope that you enjoy this recipes that I have shared below. Happy Baking!

Ingredients
  • 3 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 3 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
Directions
  1. In a large bowl, mix warm water, yeast, and 1/3 cup honey. Add 5 cups white bread flour, and stir to combine. Let set for 30 minutes, or until big and bubbly.
  2. Mix in 3 tablespoons melted butter, 1/3 cup honey, and salt. Stir in 2 cups whole wheat flour. Flour a flat surface and knead with whole wheat flour until not real sticky - just pulling away from the counter, but still sticky to touch. This may take an additional 2 to 4 cups of whole wheat flour. Place in a greased bowl, turning once to coat the surface of the dough. Cover with a dishtowel. Let rise in a warm place until doubled.
  3. Punch down, and divide into 3 loaves. Place in greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans, and allow to rise until dough has topped the pans by one inch.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 25 to 30 minutes; do not overbake. Lightly brush the tops of loaves with 2 tablespoons melted butter or margarine when done to prevent crust from getting hard. Cool completely



Monday, July 18, 2011

Spend Time With Your Family

Monday, July 18, 2011
In times past this upcoming Harvest was a time for families to reconnect. So in that vein I wanted to offer this repost from last year.

My advice for today is, "Just spend time with your Family." A strong family is one that spends time together.

I have seen research that said that one in ten families only spend time together when they watch television. This should not be the case, it is OK to have family TV night but let us make an effort for that to not be the only time we interact with our families.

As I write this the perseid meteor shower is approaching its second night. And while the weather was and probably will continue to be cloudy, we did and do have good intentions of dragging ourselves outside and see what we could see.

But this is not your only option, when the weather gets cooler here in Florida, we go and camp and fish and just hike. This past year we started picnics with the dogs and plan on starting again in a couple of months. And for those that live in a major city or not near the wilderness, take a look at parks or other free activities in your city. Not that there is a problem with paying for activities but to me free is always better.

Another great activity is family game tonight. Go find a board game and gather the family around see who can have the most fun. Or you can take your kids into the kitchen and bake a cake or even just make dinner. My kids argue over who is going to help me in the kitchen. Not only does this provide them essential life skills it furthers strengthens the bonds between us.

All of this may take a little planning but the benefits far outweigh any trouble.

For starters those benefits include helping to make children feel important, especially if you leave the phone, office, work etc. at home when you go to spend time with them. We live in a very busy and very connected world. One in which we hardly ever are distant from anything. So not only do we need this disconnect time, our children need it as well.

Also if we spend time with our family, or any group of people, we begin to 'harmonize' and get in sync with them. This is often times seen in workplaces where teams of people churn out amazing products or ideas on a regular basis. But this is not something that is often seen in familial units. And it is sorely needed in these turbulent times.

So today or this next weekend, take some time out and take your family out as well. Disconnect from the world and watch the wonder in your children's face. Whether they are catching their first fish or watching a coyote or bird play in a field, these things will be memories that they will always remember. And even if none of those things happen when they get older they will appreciate the time you made for them.


Sunday, July 17, 2011

Seed Necklaces for Children

Sunday, July 17, 2011
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 13, 2011

Highland Games for Children

Wednesday, July 13, 2011
In ancient Ireland and Scotland this time of the year was celebrated by holding the Tailteann Games. A contest to celebrate the upcoming harvest. Some of the traditional activities at this time were:
  • Caber Toss
  • Stone Put
  • Highland Hammer Toss
  • Weight Throw
  • Weight over the Bar
  • Sheaf Toss
  • Music - Bagpipes of course being the instrument of choice
  • Dance
Now many of these activities may be beyond the skill set of your family. But you can always take some away and add some of your own activities and ideas. And then hold your own Highland Games. Some suggestions are:
  • Races - Sprints are probably the easiest
  • Push up or Pull up Contests
  • Storytelling
  • Riddle Contests
Of course this isn't a complete list but with a little imagination you can come up with some ideas to fool your children into exercising. Just remember that the point isn't to win but rather to have fun. For a in depth discussion of the first list of activities check out this Wikipedia article. And if you come up with any idea, feel free to post them in the comments.

Blessed Be!


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lughnasadh Recipes -- Meat

Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Yes, it is that time again. The weekly recipe series continues. This time with recipes that include meat. I hope that you all enjoy these recipes. Blessed Be!

Baked Polenta with Sausage and Mushrooms
courtesy of katiehodges.com
1 tb olive oil
1 sm Yellow onion; chopped
2 lg Garlic cloves; minced
1 md Red sweet pepper, cored, seeded and chopped
1/2 lb Mild Italian sausage, loose
1/2 lb Fresh mushrooms, (white or brown), trimmed and thinly sliced
2 1/2 c Milk, broth or water
3/4 c Yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
1 tb Chopped fresh sage
1 tb Chopped Italian parsley
1/4 ts Ground cayenne pepper
1 c Ricotta cheese
1/2 c gruyere or swiss cheese
Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tb Butter or margarine; melted
4 tb Grated parmesan cheese

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet. Sauté onion, garlic, and sweet pepper until hot through. Add crumbled sausage and continue cooking just until meat changes color. Stir in mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid. Drain excess fat and set mixture aside.

Place milk or other liquid in a large, heavy saucepan over moderately high heat. Slowly add cornmeal, stirring briskly with a wire whisk to prevent lumping. Bring to a boil and cook 10 minutes or until mixture is very thick and smooth while stirring constantly to prevent scorching. Remove pan from heat and stir in herbs, cayenne pepper, and ricotta and gruyere cheeses. Add sausage and sweet pepper mixture. Combine all parts well and then season to taste with salt and pepper. Pour mixture into two 9-inch pie plates lined with plastic wrap. Cool on a wire rack, then cover and refrigerate at least an hour, or as long as three days.

When ready to serve dish, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut polenta in wedges and place on an oiled shallow baking pan large enough to hold polenta in one layer without crowding. Drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until polenta is lightly browned and very hot when tested with a small knife in center of wedge. Serve with a topping of Tomato Sauce and sprinked with more parmesan cheese.

Game Hens with Rosemary and Garlic
courtesy of magickalmusings.net
3 Cornish Game Hens, halved
3/4 cup Olive oil
4 Garlic cloves, crushed
3 Tablespoons Dry sherry
1 Tablespoon Fine chopped fresh rosemary
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Split each bird in half. Set aside.
Using a very large bowl mix the remaining ingredients together. Marinate the bird halves in this mixture for 1 hour, turning often. Broil in oven 7 or 8 minutes on a side, or on a charcoal barbecue. I prefer the charcoal, but be sure the coals are not too hot. Cook to your liking.


Monday, July 11, 2011

Gods of the Harvest

Monday, July 11, 2011
courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
As we are nearing the first of the three Harvests, I wanted to take some time to talk about some different Harvest Gods.

The first being Saturn. 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 Rhea, 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.

I have included him in this list although he was typically 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. This being where we get the image of Father Time from. And the idea that there was a god of half the year and the another god for the other half.

Another God and one that is lesser know is the Assyrian God Adonis. Although sometimes thought of as Greek his roots lie in Mesopotamia. Where he was honored as the God of the dying summer vegetation. And in some stories he actually dies himself and is then reborn.

To wrap-up I wanted to talk about the God that this Sabbat is named for, Lugh. In the Celtic myths this holiday was in honor of his mother's, Tailte, death. Hence why the Tailtean games were called what they were. Lugh was known my many names but the most well known was his role as the God of many skills. These being healing, the craft of the warrior, poetry, music. Because this Sabbat is named in his honor I have included a story below that talk of his many skills.

It was a rainy and miserable day when Lugh arrived at the gates of Tara, the not-so-stong-anymore-hold of the Tuatha De Dannan. The Formorians had the Dannans under their oppressive force for some time now. Nuada, the King, had lost his hand in battle and, even though a silver one had been put in its place, that worked just as well, he was forced to step down from his throne. (Celtic law forbade any to be ruler who had any form of blemish on his/her self). In his place, ruled Bres: a half Formorian, half Dannan> He was a good looking man but he had the countenance of a boor (not a boar).
Lugh appraoched the gate and knocked. His knock was soon answered by a sour-faced gatekeeper.
"What do you want?" Asked the gatekeeper.
"I have come to offer my skills to your people" Replied Lugh.
"What skills could you have to offer us?"
"I am a warrior"
"We already have warriors"
"I am a healer"
"We have many"
"I am a smith"
"We already have one"
This went on and on for quite a while. The gatekeeper was about to slam the door in his face when Lugh asked one final question:
"If you already have someone who can do ALL of these things, then I shall walk away and bother you no more"
The gatekeeper went to check. When he came back, he allowed Lugh entry. They had no one who could do all those things.
Not only did Lugh "get the job", but he even became King for a year and a day with Nuada as his advisor. During his "reign", he led the Tuatha De Dannan against the Formorians in the second Battle of Mag Tuiriedh. During the battle, he finally met up with the Formorian leader, Balor (who was also his grandfather). A joyous family reunion, it was not! While Balor's men prepared to open his evil eye that when opened would kill all within its sight, Lugh prepared his slingshot. As the eye was opened, Lugh made his shot. It went through the eye, making it look in upon Balor and Balor was killed. The Formorian threat was defeated and the De Dannans were victorious. 
During his reign, his father Cian was killed by the sons of Uisnach. Lugh ruled that the sons would pay a very hefty honour price, which at the very end cost them their lives...but not at Lugh's hands. His foster mother, Tailtu died as well and Lugh held a massive funeral feast in her honour complete with warrior "games" (kind of like the Olympic games). He stated that this feast would be celebrated along with the harvest every year at the same time...hence the festival of Lughnassadh that is celebrated on August 1 to this day.






Sunday, July 10, 2011

Lughnassadh Children Crafts -- Grapevine Pentacle

Sunday, July 10, 2011
As this first harvest comes upon us, I believe that we should use the bounty of the Earth in some of our crafts. Then we aren't adding more plastic to the world and our children learn to respect the Earth.
So today I found on about.com this wonderful idea for making a pentacle decoration out of grapevine.

Here are the instructions:
  1. This is a craft which is simple to make, although it takes a little bit of patience. You’ll need several grapevines of thin to medium thickness, freshly picked so they’re pliable. If they’ve dried out, you can soften them up by soaking them overnight in a bucket of water.
  2. Strip all the leaves and stray stems from the vines. Select your longest vine and shape it into a circle about 18” in diameter. Continue coiling the vine around the circle until you reach the end, and then tuck the end up under the other layers to hold it in place. Take your next longest vine, and repeat the process. To start each new vine, tuck one end into the existing circle, coil it around, and then tuck the end in. Repeat this until your wreath is the desired thickness -- five to seven vines ought to give you a good base.
  3. Now you’ll need five pieces of grapevine that are of equal lengths, and they should each be about 2” longer than the wreath’s inside diameter. These five pieces will form the star in the center of the pentacle. Take the first piece and work it into place across the center of the wreath, anchoring each end by tucking it into the outer vines of the wreath. Repeat with the other four pieces, overlapping them where needed, until you have a star in the center. Use the florist’s wire to secure the ends in place.
  4. Finally, tie off a short length of florist’s wire to the top of the wreath, so you can hang it on your wall or door.



Thursday, July 7, 2011

Lughnasadh Crafts -- Potpourri Pie

Thursday, July 7, 2011
This was very popular last year, so I wanted to share this craft project that I came across over at Crone's Cottage. Hope you enjoy.

This is both a decorative and a functional project. This pie REALLY appears to be a freshly baked pie when completed! The large quantity of potpourri gives it's aroma for a very long time. We feel you will enjoy having as well as making this "Potpourri Pie" It also make a great gift!

Supplies:
  • One aluminum foil pie pan
  • Two squares of tan craft felt
  • 1/3 yard of pale pink net or tulle (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Glue gun
  • Any 1 quart size of dry potpourri in fruit or spice scent such as, apple, peach, cinnamon or a combination that you like.
  • White craft glue
  • Cinnamon spice in shaker
  • Small paint brush
  1. Lay pie pan upside down on netting and trace a circle 1 Inch outside the pie pan border. Cut the netting on this line.
  2. Heap your favorite potpourri in the pie tin, then lay netting over it. Using your glue gun, tack netting to rim in at least 8 places. This will secure the netting to the pie tin and keep the potpourri in place.
  3. Cut 2 strips, each 1 inch wide from long side of the tan felt. Then glue this strip to the rim of the pie plate.(over the netting) Pinch and ruffle as you glue to resemble pie crust edge. You may use all the felt strips, depending on how much you pinch and ruffle. If this happens cut more and continue around the edge until completed.
  4. Next, cut 3/4 inch strips from long side of felt. Begin the lattice top for pie by laying first strip across middle of pie. Glue down both ends. Trim off any excess and save. Lay next lattice piece over top of first piece and perpendicular to first, and place off center by I inch. Then glue both ends down.
  5. Lay next strip 1 inch over from first lattice strip that placed down and weave over and under lattice already in place. Do not glue.....It is easier to continue weaving and alternating lattice before tacking down the remaining strips. You may have to cut more strips.
  6. Dip a wet paintbrush into thinned white craft glue and very lightly brush over lattice top and crust. While glue is wet, gently shake cinnamon over top to give the pie a "browned" appearance.
Note:Place your finished pie in a glass deep dish pie plate. Keep it on your stove top, the pilot light or oven vent will spread the delicious aroma


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Children's Story for Lughnasadh

Wednesday, July 6, 2011
"Grandfather, Grandfather, you promised to tell us the story of the First Harvest. Will you tell us now?" asked the little girl as she tugged on his pant leg. The Grandfather with his feet propped before the fire, opened one eye and looked down for a long moment at his granddaughter. Then he smiled and opened his other eye and looked around at the other children gathered around him. All sitting in a circle.
"Of course, I will tell you the story. But I must warn you that this story is not a completely happy one like the others. Are you sure you want me to start?" When he saw nods all around, he nodded himself and with a breath he began.
"Now if you remember in the last story the Gods had went on a holiday after they were married. Joined together in love they felt as if nothing could happen to them. Well at least the God did for the Goddess, Mother of us All, knew something that no one else knew.
"So in sadness she in came to her husband and told him her secret. 'My Love I carry within me a child. The child will be your doom for he comes to rule over the autumn and the winter that is coming upon us. There is nothing that you can do. I just felt that I must warn you.
"'As the Grain rises so do you rise. And as the Grain is cut and falls so do you fall and go to Summerland. For such was the nature of the magick that we worked in the Spring.'

"The God then smiled and told his love that then they must enjoy the bounty that, while they could, had come to them so far. They would gather together and feast and play at games of skill.
So they gathered people for days walk in each direction. And called the faeries from their hidden homes. And the games were played in honor of Tailte the aspect of the Goddess that governed fertility. For that is what they were celebrating with these games.
"They played and challenged each other to increasingly more difficult tests of skill for two weeks. While the Perseid meteor showers played in the sky above them. But when the first of August came upon them the Goddess entered into birth.
"The birth was difficult, for you see the Holly King was coming and he was nearly completely formed and grown. But finally as the dusk fell the Holly King came forth armored and ready to rule his half of the year. For He had been told this after his death at Yule, by the Goddess herself.
Unwilling to fight the Oak King smiled and bowed his head in defeat and laid down his sword and walked away into the dark.
"Then the Holly King turned to his mother and weeped for he saw that he had aged her. Her hair was now streaked with white and her beauty was now regal and more mature. He called for attendants to take care of Her and find a place for her to rest. And he went to what was now his throne and sat with his drinking horn and though about how to make amends for how much hurt he had already brought to the Earth.
"So you see children this why we have the Tailtean games at this Sabbat. Of course we only have one day, for who can last as long as the Gods and the faeries.
"Now, hey you there little one, don't cry. Why? Well don't you remember the story of Yule when the Oak King comes back to take his turn to banish the Holly King back into Summerland?
"See now that is better, no tears because with the God's sacrifice we have grain to eat and all the bounty of the Earth.
"Now go play dear little children and let me rest from all this storytelling"
And as the children ran off to think and, some, to give thanks for what they had received, the Grandfather returned to his nap, with his feet propped up and his hands folded in his lap.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Recipes for Lughnasadh -- Corn

Tuesday, July 5, 2011
courtesty of freedigitalphotos.net
Now I know that traditionally corn meant grain, in the Old World. And technically this should be called recipes about maize, but bear with me. These are great recipes and regardless of semantics I am sure that you will enjoy them.

Tamales - You can always leave out the chile pods if you don't want the extra spice



Ingredients
  • Tamale Filling:
  • 1 1/4 pounds pork loin
  • 1 large onion, halved
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 dried California chile pods
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Tamale Dough:
  • 2 cups masa harina
  • 1 (10.5 ounce) can beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup lard
  • 1 (8 ounce) package dried corn husks
  • 1 cup sour cream
Directions
  1. Place pork into a Dutch oven with onion and garlic, and add water to cover. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until the meat is cooked through, about 2 hours.
  2. Use rubber gloves to remove stems and seeds from the chile pods. Place chiles in a saucepan with 2 cups of water. Simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes, then remove from heat to cool. Transfer the chiles and water to a blender and blend until smooth. Strain the mixture, stir in salt, and set aside. Shred the cooked meat and mix in one cup of the chile sauce.
  3. Soak the corn husks in a bowl of warm water. In a large bowl, beat the lard with a tablespoon of the broth until fluffy. Combine the masa harina, baking powder and salt; stir into the lard mixture, adding more broth as necessary to form a spongy dough.
  4. Spread the dough out over the corn husks to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Place one tablespoon of the meat filling into the center. Fold the sides of the husks in toward the center and place in a steamer. Steam for 1 hour.
  5. Remove tamales from husks and drizzle remaining chile sauce over. Top with sour cream. For a creamy sauce, mix sour cream into the chile sauce.
Corn Bread with Cream-Style Corn

Ingredients
  • 2 cups cornmeal, yellow or white
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, optional
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 can (approx. 15 ounces) cream-style corn
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted

Preparation

  1. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan. Heat oven to 425°.
  2. Combine the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and sugar in a large mixing bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and eggs; stir in the cream-style corn and melted butter. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients just until blended. Spoon into the prepared baking pan.
  3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown and the cornbread springs back when lightly touched with a finger.



Monday, July 4, 2011

Lughnasadh is Coming

Monday, July 4, 2011
courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
This month starts the beginning of our march to Lughnasadh, here at Pagandad. But what exactly is Lughnasadh? A teacher, when explaining the Sabbats, explained this and the next two Sabbats as one word Harvest. This Harvest specifically being the one of the Grain. 

It was at this time that our Ancestors begin to cut the barley and other grain from the fields. To them this was called corn, what we call corn was called maize. So at this time John BarleyCorn was honored and represented in the fields. This was also a time that they gathered to tell stories and give thanks for the things that they had received in the past year. So as we go forward from here this will be my focus.

In other news, as some of you on Facebook may know I have talked lately about making some sweeping changes to the format of this blog. Some of these changes will be this month and more in the months to come. For this month I am planning many articles in addition to the normal Sabbat related material. So I hope you will bear with me as I find what new things work and what doesn't. And like always I really appreciate any feedback you can give me. Let me know what works and what doesn't, whether by comment or by email.

Blessed Be!tfr