A Wise Word:

Witchcraft is all about living to the heights and depths of life as a way of worship. --LY DE ANGELES

Friday, July 11, 2014

From the Weed Patch

Sometimes our landlord just makes me angry.  So angry that I have been known to very verbally predict that with in five years he will be the local slum lord.  When I saw the mess starting to grow up underneath the clothes line last week he had the rest of the yard mowed, but neglected the area I use the most I was fuming at him once again.  
Then I noticed what was growing up: Plantain, Dandelion, and Lambs Quarters.    Since I already know that he doesn't spray anything, I decided to make the best of the situation.  A few days ago, I harvested the Plantain and made a quart of tincture and a pint of slave.  Tomorrow, I am hoping to bring in some of the Dandelion to dry for use in teas.  The Lambs Quarters will be snuck into the salad green as soon as it gets a bit more growth on it.  Superman and I have an agreement that he doesn't always need to know what he's being fed as long as it tastes good. 
I am still not happy with the landlord there is a leak over my bed that he has known about for weeks and not even looked at, but the convenient wild harvest does make me smile. 

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Feeling Crafty: Wands

So, I wanted to make a wand and ended up making three.  It was just so much fun once I got started.  All of the wood was collected dead fall or in the case of the final wand salvaged from pruning sites.   Each was hand sanded then treated with three coats of coconut oil. 

This first one is just plain and unembellished, but the grain of the wood is so pretty I can't bear to cover it up.  It is made from Box Elder wood which according to multiple sources has no magical properties, but I really find that hard to believe.   Knowing where these trees grow and how much they have to overcome to grow there, I feel that the magic of this wood is strength and perseverance.  The marbled coloring on the wood is created when the wood is somehow damaged, on a branch this size the damage was most likely done by one of our fierce prairie winds.   

In the case of this second wand, I added the very simple embellishment by wrapping the handle with a length of raw wool yarn.  With this wand, we are looking at another "non-magical"  wood: Cottonwood.  One source I found went as far to say that Cottonwood was "junk" wood.  As you can imagine, I was indignant.  Cottonwoods are by far the most common tree here on the prairie.  They grow in stands along the creek bottoms and are often hauntingly twisted in form from being pushed and molded by the wind.  To me, the magic of the Cottonwood is resilience and adaptability.   Cotton wood buds are also used to make a healing salve and the pollen is used in gypsy magic to bring rain.

Finally, my fancy wand.  This wand is made from pine and wrapped in a strip of torn coral cotton embellished with a mid-frequency river rock, a barred feather, and re-purposed wooden beads.  Pine is known magically for the qualities of protection, prosperity, and fertility. 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Southern Style Biscuits: A Bit of Kitchen Witchery

Although I do not consider myself a Kitchen Witch, I do practice a bit of Kitchen Witchery from time to time.  To tell the truth, I believe that any one who has ever whipped up special comfort food for a loved one has knowingly or unknowingly practiced this form of the craft.  Yesterday morning, getting ready for work, Superman was dragging his feet like a school boy with a history test he hadn't studied for.  The previous day had been particularly stressful and he was dreading a repeat.  There wasn't much I could do to ease his frustration, so I did what I could. I gave him something to look forward to-the promise of a batch of fresh, homemade biscuits when he came home for lunch.  Now Superman is all Southern and nothing says love to a Southern man like biscuits and sweet tea.  Since we are never without sweet tea, I was already halfway there. 
About an hour before he was due to arrive home, I smudged the house and started mixing up his favorite biscuits.  I started my milk to clabbering and mixed all my dry ingredients.  This is where the magic comes in.  Then instead of cutting the butter in, I used my clean hands to sift and squeeze, incorporating the two together.  While I mixed those ingredients, I silently focused my energy and love through my hands while envisioning a comfortable, content husband.   I saw him sitting at the counter, happily eating his buttered biscuits while all the stress of his morning flowed away.  After adding the clabbered milk my go-to substitution of buttermilk I lightly kneaded the dough, once again focusing on my husband and the relaxed state I wanted to evoke.  Finally, I shaped the biscuits and put them in the fridge to wait and be slid into the hot oven as my Superman walked through the door.   
The magic was a complete success.  Not only did my husband feel loved and happy eating his biscuits, that feeling of relaxation carried him into the afternoon.  He didn't have a wonderful day at work, but he managed to get through it with minimal frustration.  He was even able to shake off an incident that would usually have caused a confrontation. 
Even though I do say so myself, I have never found a biscuit recipe better than mine.  It is many batches worth of experimentation using various recipes as sources until I found just the right combination and technique.  The ingredients are pretty basic, but there are a few guidelines that come with this recipe. 
For the absolute best biscuits, use real butter and use it cold.  Also, make sure the shaped biscuits are cold when you put them in the oven.  I like to pan my biscuits ahead of time and put the pan into the fridge.  Then, just before we are ready to eat, I put my cold biscuits into a hot oven.  This technique is the big secret to tender, fluffy biscuits. 
Southern Style Biscuits
3/4 cup milk
1 TBL lemon juice or apple cider vinegar
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup cold butter, cubed
Combine milk and lemon juice/vinegar in a cup or bowl and set aside to clabber.  If you've never done this, don't be surprised at the outcome.  The milk will sour and curd up.  That is exactly the result we are looking for. 
Mix dry ingredients and cut in cold butter cubes.  Stir in clabbered milk and knead lightly.  At this point, I sometimes add yummy extras to create fancy "steak house biscuits."  Fresh rosemary and parmesan or fresh cracked pepper and cheddar are two of my favorites.  Shape biscuits either in the traditional way by rolling and cutting or by hand like I do.  By hand keeps the working of the dough to a minimum and results in more tender biscuits.  In my home, biscuits are big and always eaten fresh from the oven: this recipe creates six, but doubles or even triples easily. 
Pan biscuits and allow to chill while oven heats to 475.  Bake for 12 minutes and serve hot with butter gravy, jelly, honey, plain, how ever you want. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Exporing Pagan Music

Cottonwoods Growing In a Coulee: Eastern MT

Yesterday, I mentioned the music that creates ambiance in our home.  Since it seems to surprise some that Pagan music even exists, I decided to share a sampling this morning. These two play lists are the most frequently heard around here.   I hope they brighten your day. 


Witchy Music: Various Artists