A Wise Word:

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

Friday, December 4, 2015

Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman

At our house, Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You  is what I think of as "the blessing book."  The littles and I read it nearly every day and although it is not specifically a Pagan book I find it to be jam packed with magick. 
The beautiful rhymed verses read like a sweet love spell and even Little Moon who is not very story friendly at this point seems compelled to sit and listen.  On it's own it is a lovely story, but infused with a parents love and fervent intentions it becomes a powerful blessing.  I use it on a daily basis, but it would also make great text for a new birth blessing ceremony. 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

No More Itching

Remember about a year ago, when I made some Plantain Tincture From the Weed Patch?  Yeah, I forgot too.  At least until we started this latest move last week we're going to outgrow our two bedroom apartment in March, so the university housing office is moving us now.  I couldn't have found it at a better time. 

For the past few months, I have been getting unexplained hives every night.  Not completely unheard of for me since I do have environmental allergies, but very unnerving.  It is absolutely horrible to wake up in the middle of the night itching everywhere!  We tore the house apart looking for a source, but never quite hit on it.  Benadryl crème offered minimal relief and I was tired!  After the worst night on record, I pulled myself out of bed and packed my herb cabinet.  There in the back was my miracle. 

I splashed some tincture on a gauze pad and laid the pad on the worst of the hives.  It was instant relief.  The itching just vanished.  With in moments, the hives themselves were visibly smaller.  Over and over I targeted new areas and was absolutely euphoric as the discomfort disappeared.  When I was done, Miss Busy had to see what all the fuss was about and used the damp pad on her feet.  Why hadn't I thought of this sooner?!

After using the tincture for a few days, the hives are no longer returning.  Maybe my allergen isn't in this new apartment or maybe as Superman theorizes, the first hives were an allergic reaction and made me so miserable that I was getting stress hives over the anxiety that I may get hives. Whatever the case, I am sure grateful that nature has provided relief. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Vegetable Soup: A Bit of Kitchen Witchery

Life with two toddlers is hard.  I go to bed exhausted at the end of the day and climb out of bed still tired.  It just doesn't seem fair that these little people get so much more energy than we do!  Often, I feel like a lackluster witch.  By the end of the day, I just have no energy left for magic.  Then I remember that the magic doesn't make me, I make the magic.  Anything I do can be magic.  And one thing I do a lot of this time of year make soup. 

Soup is not just the perfect cold weather food, it is the perfect busy mommy food.  It requires the use of just four utensils: a cutting board, a knife, a pot, and a spoon.  It is prepared ahead of time i.e. while the kids nap so there is no end of day rush.  It can be a great way to use up odds and ends in the produce bin before grocery day.  And for me atleast it comes with an amazing sense of accomplishment. 

Best of all soup is really delicious, nutritious magic!  Any time there is a  big cauldron bubbling on the stove there is magic in the air.  Superman comes home on soup days swearing he could smell his witch's kitchen for an entire block! So I love soup!  I think that fact is well established, lets get to the making of this magic.

A my house, there is no recipe for soup. Just like a spell, soup is full of love and intent.  It is really more art than science.  That said, I do have three rules for soup.
  1. Start with onions and garlic, plenty of both.   
  2. Clarify the pan with alcohol, drink a little too if you're not pregnant.
  3. Salt is your friend, use it liberally. 

How I make my soup:

I start by heating up my largest pan over medium heat with a splash of oil in the bottom.  When the oil is hot, I add a whole diced onion and at least two cloves of garlic.  This is like prepping the canvas. 

While the onion softens, I start dicing a whole mountain of vegetables.   Starting with the root vegetables that take longer to cook. The goal is to fill my pot halfway line.  Everything gets tossed in the pot with a good stir as it comes off the cutting board.  Just about anything that grows in the garden is subject to my soup pot.  Zucchini, celery, kale, and dried tomatoes are some of my favorites.  While I dice, I focus on the love and care I feel for my family and the strength they will gain from eating my concoction.  Since my hands are all over the vegetables at this stage, it is the perfect time to charge them!  If you're feeling creative now is the time to add some herbs. Go with flavors you know work elsewhere and be generous. 

Once everything is in the pot, I look at it with a painters eye and ask myself if anything is missing.  If it is looking at bit too beige, I add some more tomatoes or carrots.  If it seems to heavy, I add corn or peas for a hint of brightness.  Ha!  Imagine reading these instructions in a cookbook!  When the veggies feel balanced, add salt and cover them with the lid to cook slowly for 30-45 minutes, stirring frequently.  This is a great time to clean the kitchen. 

Now it's time to break open the bottle! White or red wine are probably the acceptable choices, but I have been known to use Wild Turkey very successfully.   Clarifying the pan with the alcohol of your choice helps create a very light and lively broth.  To me, this step is the blessing of the vegetables.  So, pour at least a serving of spirits in the pan and listen to it sizzle happily while the aroma rolls around the kitchen.  Let the alcohol stew directly into the vegetable for a few minutes before adding fresh water to fill the pan.  I consider full to be about two inches below the lip.  At this point I will add 1/2 cup of raw grain and possibly some precooked, mashed squash.  Replace lid and turn heat to simmer. 

Now, go enjoy your afternoon.  Take the kids out to play, sit down with glass of wine, call a friend... Super is well on the way to being ready and you have the evening handled like a boss.  In about an hour, peek at your soup and give it a taste.  There is a good chance you'll need to add more salt.  After three hours or so, your soup is ready and your house smells amazing.  I always think of the aroma as my magic diffusing to all corners of our home.  If it's not quite supper time, turn the heat to low.  Super will be hot and ready when the time comes. 

Monday, August 24, 2015

Wild Woman Hair: Six Month Dread Update

Sometimes, it's hard to believe how long I've already been on this road.  It's been six months since I set my baby dreads and they have been such an up and down experience.  It seems like they can go from looking like a horrendous mess one day to tightening up over night and suddenly looking pretty fantastic the next day.  Since I washed and dried yesterday afternoon and separated this morning, I felt it was a good time to do a few selfies and update.  Let's just over look the blurry eyes.  It's been a hectic week. 
With my hair is still growing faster than my dreads are shrinking, I have far more open end than dread right now.  Also, it is a bit of a motley crew of dread styles.  Like I said before, I started out with twist and rip dreads in February, but now have a few back combed dreads in stubborn areas that didn't want to hold a dread and several free form dreads in the back where dreads fell out and I just didn't get around to putting them back in.  I am kind of partial to those extra messy little guys, too. I am still washing only with Dr. Bronners and a combination of baking soda, peroxide, and vinegar.  With one exception.  I have learned to put a few drops of essential oil into my soap every few weeks when the frizzies start building up. At this point, I still want my hair to be dry to help form the locs, but there really is such a thing as too dry.    
Here I am!  All put together for the day, wearing my favorite cardigan and scarf.  The cardigan is vintage Liz Claiborne circa 1980's.  I picked it up at a church thrift shop for fifty cents.  Whoot! Whoot!  I am really happy with my look.  I find that there is almost a spell like quality to my dreads that gives me a great boost of confidence in who I am.  The funny thing is, Superman's new co-workers are picking me out of a crowd in an instant.  They know I'm a witch from talking with him and I guess I just look witchy these days.  To sum it up.  I feel completely me and I feel like a BOSS!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Good morning, Mr. Magpie

I was only four or five years old the first time a magpie was pointed out to me.  Staring at those cobalt blue wings gleam in the Montana sunshine, all I could do was wonder at its beauty.   When I opened my pint sized mouth and commented in admiration, I was instantly shut down.  Magpies were "bad" birds.  (According to cattlemen, magpies are the scourge of the range preferable only to coyotes.  Because they will occasionally nibble a raw brand or preen the back of a cow so intently as to cause abrasions, most ranchers will shoot at every magpie they see.)  Feeling shamed to admire such a creature, I turned away from this bird who had instantly intrigued me and over the years nearly forgot about them.
Illustration by National Geographic
Recently, when we moved to Bozeman, I once again fell in love with magpies.  In our new neighborhood, magpies are as plentiful as children which is saying a lot.  People here still grumble and call them "dirty," but I no longer care.  The magpies are my friends.  Superman and I both make a point to speak to them on a regular basis and Miss Busy loves to yell "pie-pie" as she tries to coax them in for a closer inspection.  We have also had many hours of entertainment watching through the living room window as they play, fight, steal, and gather material to build their rather messy nests.

This past month, I have begin noticing that the magpies seem to pay a lot more attention to my porch than to those of the neighbors.  They pluck drying garment from my rail, uproot small plants, leave perfect beak shaped bite marks in my mother-in-laws tongue, and rearrange the decorations on my table.  At first, I chalked it up to knowing that they were safe in my space, but then they started leaving gifts. 

One night about a week ago, I heard a clattering out on the porch.  Considering it was a rather stormy night, I shrugged my shoulders and blamed it on the wind tossing around my mop bucket.  The next morning, I found a resin skull that usually sits on the table thrown back against the rail in the opposite direct that the wind would have moved it.  In the space usually occupied by the skull were two small rocks confirming who the culprit(s) had been.  Then a few days later, I went out in the morning to find a perfect magpie feather sitting in front of my garden shoes. 

As a result of all these goings on, I have made it a point to learn more about magpies.  The more I learn, the more fascinating they become.  In this past week, I have learned: magpies have a long association with witches and the occult, are known to hold "wakes" for fallen comrades, and that a magpie is the only non-mammal who can recognize themselves in a mirror.   They are also resourceful, attracted to human company on their own terms, and take on long term projects. 

From a magickal standpoint, magpies often symbolize a person who could experience more if they would only trust their limited occultic knowledge and the possibility of learning and/or experiencing the supernatural in a less than conventional manner. Folk lore also teaches that witches can turn into magpies, that's one bit of knowledge I'd like to gain.  As with most magickal symbolism, there is also a warning.  Those who relate to magpies run the risk of all alternative learners and relying on incomplete knowledge.  The lesson I personally take from this is: use what knowledge you have, but continue to learn and grow.  Pretty timely advice. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Spiritual Gardening

A few weeks ago, Superman walked past my alter and mentioned that it looked rather sad.  He was right. I have since fixed it, only to get wax all over it on Lammas.   With all the time I have been spending in the garden, I have been substituting my altar time with Earth time. If I had a garden space of my own, I would completely move my altar outdoors during the more temperate months. 
Several mornings a week, I take Miss Busy and Little Moon to the garden with me.  Perched in their double stroller and armed with snacks and sippy cups, the girls settle into a meditate state of stuffing their faces. In the silence that ensues, I invoke the elements and offer praise to the Universe while I weed, sucker, and harvest.  Standing barefooted in my garden with soil on my hands, I connect with nature and am nature. 

Even now, when my garden is not nearly as beautiful as it was when these photos were taken, a rather intense hail storm battered all the beautiful leaves  I find great inspiration in the strength and resilience found springing from the earth.  The plants are beginning to show the signs of weather and age, yet still they are producing food for my family.  In fact, the stress of our recent storm seems to have spurred some plants my cucumbers and zinnias to finally produce.  It makes me think of how we as individuals often require hard times to nudge us along in our own development.  Mountain gardening is a challenge in so many ways, but the struggles associated with it are teaching me so much.  Not just about this ecosystem and climate, but about myself and my relationship with the Earth. 


Monday, August 3, 2015

Celebrating the Beginning of Harvest

This time around the wheel I am trying not to get too caught up in the philosophy of our Pagan holydays, but to enjoy them at their simple point of origin.  I want to celebrate the passage of time as told by the rhythms of nature.  Being so immersed in my garden this summer made Lammas a little extra special.  Garden season goes so quickly here that it really is the beginning of the end.  I could really get into telling you all about my garden, but that is a different post. 

As usual, I kept things pretty simple.  I decorated my altar with my most recently harvested garden produce, held a sparse 5 minute ritual which even that was too long since Miss Busy managed to pull a page out of her daddy's new book in that time, and made grain cakes for supper.  Once I got the girls settled for the night, I spent about an hour in the garden doing some maintenance and just enjoying the evening.  I left the candles burning, with the fan in the hall and they melted down very quickly so now I have a waxy mess to clean up off my altar, but I did enjoy my little holyday.  As the littles get a bit older it will all get a bit more in depth.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Mini Meditations

Lately, I've really been trying to focus on making my spirituality fit my life.  The hardest part is meditation.  It requires quiet, uninterrupted time that I just don't have.  So I am focusing more on mini-meditations, stolen moments to quiet myself and reflect.  A few of my favorites are listed below.

Hang the Laundry: I know it sounds like a chore and some may see it as extra work, but it's quite relaxing.  The repetitive motion and no brainer activity makes it a great time to think and reflect.  I leave the girls inside and use this time to focus on the invigorating power of the sun and the wind.  It always improves my outlook on the day. Plus the sight of colorful cloth diapers dancing in the wind gives me an enormous sense of accomplishment. 

Sit on the ToiletYes, I did go there.  If you can't get a few moments any other way, hide in the bathroom.  Find a comfortable seat the floor or edge of the tub work just as well as the toilet and just quiet your mind.  The distinctive bath room white noise really helps.  Usually, I find myself hiding in the bathroom when it's been a particularly active day for Miss Busy.  Once I've found a few moments of comfortable balance, I try to focus on all the good, funny, silly things she has done.  It helps me feel far less frazzled. 

Get Something Done:  Maybe this sounds like the opposite of meditation, but stay with me.  If there is something you love to do, but feel you never have time, give it the time that you do have.  I keep some knitting or hand sewing easily accessible through out the day and sneak in a few minutes of work every chance I get.  The act of creating is very meditative for me and unless Miss Busy pulls my knitting down it is something that will never have to be redone.  If I knit one row, that one row will still be there tomorrow. 

Speed Write:  When there are just way too many things running around in my brain, I sit down and write them down as fast as I can.  Give it a try. No editing, no grammar checks, no reading over previous ideas.  Just toss them down on the paper as quickly as they pop into your head.  When you have finished, sit and relish a few moments of mental stillness before throwing the paper away or burning it on your altar. 

Fresh basil from the garden. It has nothing to do with this post
other than the fact that the smell of fresh basil makes me happy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Mama Magick

Some days, with the inherent business of mothering two little people, I feel like my life has lost all of it's magickal aspects.  Although I make a point to light my altar a few times a week, it has been months since I've done any spell work or meditated.  There just isn't a moment where I can take my eyes off Miss Busy that long and, when her naptime rolls around, I fall asleep every time I sit down to meditate.  Rituals are hit and miss too since, by the time the moon is up, the only place I want to be is in my bed.  It's enough to become discouraging at times, but then I remember that "mother" is one of the magickal phases of a women's life.

Mothering is not just a chore like washing the dishes or filing paperwork.  The very act of being Mama is magick.  If you're feeling skeptical, consider breast milk.  Everyday, all day, my body and the body of every breastfeeding mama produces a very special magickal elixir.  It is far more than nutrition.  It is comfort and love and security.  It is healing tonic and soothing salve.  It is the start to a life time of good physical and emotional health. 

Just like knowingly casting a spell takes huge quantities of energy, the bodies automatic act of creating breast milk and nursing can be physically taxing.  When I choose to nourish my children with my own body, I choose not just to fill their stomachs with the healthiest substance known to man, I also choose to give them large blocks of time to soak in my love and affection unhindered.  Love is the intent of all I do for my children and intent is at the base of all magickal working. 

At this stage in my life, magick looks a little different than it did before.  I cannot let the spiritual side of myself go, but I do have to recognize that being a mama and a witch are not two different things.  I am both and as of this moment, my intent is focused mainly on two very small people.  Although I sometimes want to follow modern society and demand more of myself, in my heart I know that this is the natural order of things.  I may be doing the greatest magick of my life right now. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Goddess and God - Earth and Sky

Once again, I am turning to Mom's a Witch for a blog prompt.  The truth is, I am a bit exhausted and out of touch these days.  In our new location I am spending more time out doors, but with two very small people both are mobile now it is not a time for spiritual tuning.  Yes, I passingly notice the sun on my face...the wind in my hair...the cool earth beneath me, but it all flutters by before I can fully soak it in.  I suppose it's no different for any mama of little ones, I just don't remember being so worn out when the big kids were young.

Ok, back to this blog topic.  Since I missed April lets forget for a moment that May is almost gone as well I am mashing up a pair of topics from April and May: Who is your patron Goddess and God?

When I first started exploring Paganism, I thought that I had to choose patron deities.  Everything I read talked about finding your patrons, learning to work with them, growing your spiritual strength through them.  There really wasn't much room for negotiation.  I needed to find a Goddess and a God. Yet, no matter how deeply I delved I could not come to grips with the concept of embracing a deity.  So I focused on Earth Magick and just kept learning and studying while skirting the whole higher being issue.

Somewhere along the way, my attention turned toward Shamanism maybe because I play a Shammy on WOW and I started finding answers that suited my natural bents.  Going back, way back to the first family groups living in mud huts, people did not seek answers from sacred personalities, but from nature.  Shamans spent a life time learning to communicate with the Elementals and the spirits of nature and the ancestors: they spoke to trees and read the clouds and received messages on the wind.  This made sense to me.  This is what I had been tinkering with my entire life, but had never been able to put a name on.  My deeper primitive self connects to the energy of The Universe through raw nature. 

I am a Animistic Witch. As recently as last fall, I would have labeled myself an pantheistic witch, but that was simply because it was the only label I knew that somewhat fit.  My magick comes from fostering a close relationship with the Universal Power and the Elementals.  I am "A child of the Earth and the Sky: kindred of the Elementals."  My allegiance is to the natural world around me.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Meanwhile Across the State

If I start writing about this past month, things are going to get ugly.  Like really long and boring.  So, I decided to do this update with as many photos and as few words as possible. 

Dread update first, since I am a month behind.  These are just freshly washed and dried and just over two months old.  Superman still isn't sure he likes them.  I adore them. 
Now for the really important business...

We are here!  The beautiful Gallatin Valley, where even the parking lots have a view. 

Our living room window has a great view of the mountains, even if it is a bit dirty.  BTW...we are now in a second story apartment great excuse not to wash the windows.  Should I change the name of my blog? 

We've had snow twice since we got here April 9th.  I am looking forward to gardening, but we only have 92 frost free days here.  It's going to be a garden sprint. 
Our apartment overlooks a nice common area with a full playground and sandbox.  The girls are loving the outdoor space.  This picture was taken just a few days after one snow storm and a few days before another.  Hopefully, we are heading into the warm weather for good now. 
This "I Love Montana" mural is a downtown center piece.  It was painted by a local artist with the assistance of a group of elementary school children.  I hope to take more photographs when the sun is not casting shadows over the artwork. 

Yarnbomb Bozeman! 
So far, I am absolutely in love with this place!  Of the many places I've called home, this one is by far my favorite. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

A Witch is Free

The move and all the business that comes with the seasons changing has had me feeling a bit uninspired in the blogging realm.  Thankfully, this morning I saw a post from Nar's Witchy Kitchen in which she used a blog prompt from Mom's a Witch.  Just what I need!  This is a new project that was started in February and like Nar, I am going to go back to the original post and choose one of those prompts.  Next week I will visit the March prompts and post from them.  Then I will be all caught up and try to make the monthly post with in the first seven days of the new calendar. No promises though, I have toddler. 

Pagan Blog Prompts: February 2015

My favourite thing about being a Witch/Pagan is... the confidence I now have that comes from the ability to take control of my own life and situation.  No matter how much talk goes around about free will, as part of a mono-theist religion, one is completely at the whim of a fickle and somewhat sadistic higher power.  The effects of this is a feeling of immense helplessness and the sensation of being tossed around like a straw hat loose in a cold wind.  As a witch, I no longer make pleading petitions and then hold on to the edge of my seat hoping that the world goes my way.  I don't have to leave it all up to "god" and hope he doesn't pull the rug out from under me once again.  These days, I make life happen.  I bring positive changes to my family and cushion us from the inevitable ups and downs of life.  I fall asleep quickly and sleep soundly because I know that my home and family are warded and we have nothing to fear.  Being a witch is being free. 

**The image for this weeks post is borrowed and I honestly have no idea where it came from.  I pulled it out of my tattoo inspiration file.  It is certainly lovely and I thank whoever shared it originally.  If it belongs to you, please let me know and I will gladly give you credit. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Hiding Behind the Boxes

The smoke wafting from my altar not yet dressed for Ostara seemed particularly beautiful this morning while I did a bit of spell work and then puttered around putting the house in order.  I always get more done to the smell of incense and the flicker of altar candles. 

I really can't tell you where the last week and a half has gone. We are looking at yet another big change in our little world and it is turning things upside down. For the past year, Superman has been playing around with the idea of going back to school.  Two months ago, he started working with MSU on the enrollment process.  Then last Monday, we made the trip across the state for him to meet with his advisor and get everything in line to enroll for the summer semester.  Now I am looking at organizing another move.  Just the thought makes me tired! 

I may fuss about making the move, but there are so many good things that I can see coming from this relocation. 
  • The area around MSU is breath takingly beautiful and has a plethora of public lands for outdoor recreation. 
  • We will be living in married student housing with a family neighborhood, many playgrounds, two community gardens, and free onsite laundry.
  • There is a metaphysical store and a large natural foods co-op with in two miles of the school.
  • It is a much more diverse area and I am feel it will be much easier for us to find a place with in that community.
So...that is where I have been hiding. Plotting a move and trying to get all my fun artsy projects done in the meantime. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Sourdough and More Sourdough

A few years ago, I had a little homemaking blog that never took off.  It was a bit random and I didn't know how to do the networking involved in being a successful blogger.  That said, there were a few good posts.  The two I want to share with you today are my favorites.  I just recently got my sourdough starter up and going again, so this topic has been on my mind lately.  The witch is in the kitchen this week! 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Just Like Grandpa's...

My kitchen is starting to smell like sourdough!

Sourdough flap jacks were the comfort food of my childhood.  My grandpa made them every morning for over 50 years and even when he traveled his crock of starter rode along with him in a red Coleman cooler.  I have kept a starter myself off and on most of my adult life and now that I am once again settled in to a domestic existence, I just had to get one going again. 

Growing a starter is a process that to initiate takes 5-7 days.  It also requires adhering to a few simple rules.

  1. Use clean, preferably seamless, metal utensils.  The spoon in the photo is NOT ideal because of the rivets and seam that can collect bacteria you wont want added to your starter. 
  2. Keep loosely covered.  I use a square of clean, light weight cotton secured with a  rubber band.
  3. Don't neglect it.  Feed your starter every evening and stir it down every morning.  If you are not going to be using it at least every other day, store in the refrigerator and remove 12 hours prior to planned use. 
  4. Keep the sides of your sourdough crock clean. 
With those few things in mind, the only materials required to get started are a glass jar or crock with a loose covering, a clean metal spoon, flour, and water.  Any kind of flour can be used in a starter, but for the initial week I prefer rye since it is less likely to mold than other varieties.  After the bacteria has taken hold and my starter is going well, I switch over to all purpose white flour. 

Day 1:  Mix 1 cup of rye flour with 1 cup water in your very clean container.  Cover loosely and set aside for 24 hours.

Day 2-6:  Stir down and feed your starter 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup water every evening.  Over the course of this week you will start to notice first a sour smell coming from your starter and then see some bubbling activity.  The consistency of the starter should be like thick pancake batter and the ratio of flour/water can be adjusted to obtain this. 

Day 7: Use 1-2 cups of your starter today!  Stir it down early in the day and remove what you want to use. Good first uses for sourdough include biscuits and bread.  I usually give two weeks before attempting flap jacks. 
Tonight feed your starter as usual, but switch to white flour if you have been using rye. 

A well cared for starter can live indefinitely and with all the fun recipes to try there is little chance you will grow tired of it's use. 

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

More on Sourdough

After posting what I thought was a fairly thorough article on sourdough starter, I started thinking about all the little details I take as a simple matter of course when working my "doughs."  Since I want the best out come possible for anybody who attempts a starter, I decided to expand this topic a bit and add a few more tips. 

-When feeding the starter, use room temperature to lukewarm water.  Hot water can kill the culture and cold will slow down its activity. 

-To keep the sides of the sourdough crock clean, use a sharp knife to scrape the sides when you stir it down in the morning.  The dried scraping will fall into the crock and be incorporated back into the starter. These dried bits end up on the side of the crock because after feeding the bacteria works on the added ingredients and will raise the content level slightly before settling back down. 

-Always stir the starter gently.  It is a living thing and does not like to be radically disturbed.  One thing I always remember about my Grandpa was how slowly and methodically he maintained his starter.  Everything was done carefully, properly, and with love. 

-A forgotten feeding or stirring down is not the end of the world.  It's not a good habit to get into, but on occasion it will do little to harm the starter.  Just resume regular care as soon as possible.

-Any sign of mold or black scum on the starter is a red light.   Throw it away, sterilize the crock, and start over.  Between workings the starter will separate with the ticker starter below and a light brown liquid on top, this is normal.  Any nasty growth is fairly unmistakable and is usually accompanied by an unpleasant odor. 

-After spooning out the starter required for cooking, use a just laundered dish rag moistened in hot water to clean any starter that may have dripped on the rim of the crock.  Do not let the rag come in contact with the remaining starter. 

Grandpa and I, the last time I saw him. 
***Please note: since my last post on sourdough starter, my sweet hubby bought me a proper sourdough spoon. 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Changes and Making Progress: 3 Month Dread Update

Let me just come out and say it.  I gave up on free form dreading.  Although the messiness and uncertainty didn't bother me at all I actually kind of liked looking like a hot mess all the time, it did bother Superman.  He's quite OCD about things being neat and tidy and the extended messy, in between stage of my hairstyle drove him bonkers.  So, in the name of love I decided to step in and make locs happen. 

What I have now is a head full of twist and rip baby locs.  As one friend pointed out, anything that involves hair and ripping sounds horrendous, but it's really not.  In the spectrum of dread installation, twist and rip is one of the most gentle methods.  Since my hair is quite short, I do have bands on the bottom of my little creations that I will leave on for a few weeks.  I am still going natural in the sense that I am not using any product besides Dr. Bronner's soap, baking soda, and vinegar. 

Overall, the look is neater and I like it.  My little sprouts of hair sticking out in amazing randomness make me smile one is particularly naughty and doesn't know which direction he wants to go.  There are a few of these little guys that are barely holding their own and will need reworking after all there is a learning curve, but since I started at working the underside of my hair in the back they are not noticeable.  I also should have viewed this particular video before I started the one I watched was not nearly as good because I did a bit too much twisting at the onset and my locs are quite loose at the root.  Fortunately, they will tighten up in time. 

I am completely loving my new look and am once again putting my massive collection of scarves to good use. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Smell My Breath

Like most girls growing up in the 90's I read Teen Magazine, YM, and Seventeen.  As silly as they seem now, the advice they gave was imperative to a successful social life for girls of my generation.  Where else were we going to learn to NEVER eat garlic on a date?! Fast forward twenty years and garlic is my stand herb for cooking and health.  Who cares if I smell like garlic?  Not me and Superman doesn't complain either

Since garlic is such an easy herb to obtain, it is usually the first thing I recommend for individuals wanting to try natural healing.  It is cheap, versatile, and effective.  As a detoxifying herb and natures anti-biotic it's uses are immeasurable and has been used for disease control as far back as the bubonic plague.  In Russia, garlic is actually referred to as "Russian Penicillin."  Contemporary medical studies have also found that it is effective for controlling glucose tolerance and lowering negative cholesterol while increasing the positive.  Just adding a clove or two during meal preparation on a regular basis can help maintain good health. 

Being in the middle of cold season, garlic is at the height of it's glory in my home right now.  I honestly can't seem to keep it in the house.  My favorite use for garlic this time of year is as a tea.  I slightly crush, peel, and then slice three large cloves before dropping them into my favorite mug and covering them with boiling water.  When the water is cool enough to drink, it is nicely infused with garlic I find it quite pleasantly flavored.  It has the immediate effect of relieving cold symptoms (headache, stuffiness, sore throat) and in the long run works to detoxify the body and actually send the cold packing.  Having caught a cold this past weekend, I am drinking this tea continually.  Just adding more garlic and boiling water to my cup though out the day. 

Another of my favorite applications of the herb is in the form of an infused oil.  I make it a pint at a time and use it for everything from cleaning cuts, to treating ear infections, to slathering on congested chests.  The concoction of this highly useful oil is ridiculously simple.  Start by pouring a pint of good olive oil into the top of a double boiler and adding a head of crushed, peeled, and chopped garlic.  Cover and simmer for 4 hours, making sure that the bottom pan does not boil dry.  After four hours, remove the oil from heat and allow to cool.  Strain out the garlic chunks and return the oil to the double boiler with yet another head of crushed, peeled, and chopped garlic.  Boil for another four hours.  At the end of this second cooking period, cool, strain, and store in an air tight container. I simply return it to the bottle I purchased the oil in.  It stores in a cool, dark cupboard for about six months. 

Magickaly, garlic is used for protection and exorcism.  Hence the traditional garlic rope hung in country kitchens.  According to the trustworthy Mr. Cunningham, in the old days Italians would bite a clove of garlic to ward of evil spirits and sailors would carry cloves with them on voyages to prevent shipwreck. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Life Really is Like a Box of Chocolates

I've spent most of my life knowing I was clairaudient, but not having a name to place on it.  Having begin my witchy life, I now have a better understanding of my gift and have been working to strengthen and trust it.  Last week, it gave me a beautiful experience that I am sure I will never forget.  It started out with a simple stroll downtown.

Tuesday morning, I loaded up the little girls and headed to the library.  Story hour starts at ten and we were a bit early, but Miss Busy insisted on going as soon as she saw me getting our things together.  It was an unseasonably warm morning and I was enjoying our walk completely as I turned the corner onto Main Street and walked past the local drug store.  Since I never shop the drug store, I really didn't pay much attention as I walked by both entrances.  I had just about passed the jewelry store next door when I stopped in my tracks, completely consumed by the need to go back to the drug store for a box of clearance Valentine chocolate.  Since I rarely eat chocolate, this was very odd for me. 

Unable to shake the need for chocolate, I turned around and wrestled the stroller though the tight entrance remembering why I never visit this shop.  Standing at the counter, behind a stack of clearance Valentine chocolates was a pharmacy tech about my age.  Under her minty green smock that hung unbuttoned, she was wearing a t-shirt depicting a beautiful moon image and the inscription "We live by the rhythm of the moon."  I did a double take.  Was there another pagan in town? I just had to ask.

Now, once before I had asked someone if they were pagan the children's librarian always wears an ankh necklace, but it is in honor of her favorite comic book character  and their response had been nearly horrified shock, so I knew I had lead into this carefully.  I complimented her on the beautiful shirt and then followed it up with "are you pagan, too?"  At first, her gaping stare led me to believe I had made yet another mistake.  Then she smiled ear to ear, looking at my quite obvious pentacle necklace. 

She told me that she was not a pagan, but her mama had been.  The shirt and other similar shirts that she owned were homages to her.  She spoke for a minute about what a wonderful childhood she had experienced growing up with a pagan mother.  Before I left, she thanked me for asking as most people in this very conservative town pretended not to notice like they do with anything that makes them uncomfortable.  Those few minutes made both of our day. I received reaffirmation of my gift and she received a little love from the mama she misses. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What's In a Name

As pagans, we are quick to see the importance of a name.  We are so in tune with the idea of a name holding power that we anoint ourselves with monikers that we feel suit our spiritual self and even petition our patrons to reveal a sacred name to be used only in ritual.  We are very careful when we name our children, seeking names of power and significance.  Still, even we may occasionally under estimate how much names mean.  Let's take my youngest daughter for example.

Little Bitty Baby who is no longer so little bitty and probably deserves a more fitting screen name was named very specifically pagan.  Her full name very literally translates into "dark moon." It is a beautiful, powerful and witchy name, but it has it's draw backs.  Our Little Moon as I will refer to her from now on loves the night.  At nearly six months old she still wakes up multiple times a night to just hang out.  She want her mama to come sit on the couch and talk to her while she half heartedly pretends to nurse.  It is exhausting for me, but thankfully it is not consistent.  Her nocturnal habits follow the moon phases.  When the moon is small and dark like this past week, she sleeps very little during the night.  Last night alone, she was up six times.  Then as the moon waxes to full her sleep time increases and I am only wakened twice during the night.  Some times exhaustion makes me want to grumble and fuss over the situation, but in my heart I know that I brought it upon myself.  One does not name a child for the great power of the night and expect her to sleep soundly from sun set to sun rise. 

Another prime example is Miss Busy.  Besides driving me crazy in new ways every day yesterday we had an ongoing debate over rather or not making cat food soup was an appropriate activity for a toddler she has an intense fascination with anything magickal.  She is constantly digging in my magickal cabinet bringing me incense cones, thumbing through my books, and trying to add to my stack of notes.  Just the other day, I caught her sitting on the kitchen floor sorting through my Oracle Cards as if she were reading them. Please note that none of these items are left where she can access them with any ease, she is simply determined and continually finds ways around my solutions intended to keep her out.  Once again, it's my fault.  I named her.  Her given name means "woman with great magickal power."  She accepts the fact that my sewing table is off limits and that certain drawers in the kitchen are not for her access, but she stubbornly refuses to stay out of my magickal cabinet.  She is so obsessed with my pentacle necklace that Superman has suggested that I make her one of her own. 

The power of names hold true even when the child is not named with the careful thought that most pagan parents put into choosing a name.  The older children from our first marriages were named with totally different perspectives and still live up to their names.  The child named after greenery and plant life loves flowers.  The one who's name is means "a feminine warlike bird" is small, graceful, and lethal in any verbal match.  The one who in utero was already named for his grandfather, is a small version of the man he was named for.  It goes on and on to even include Superman and myself.  When I pause to consider, names are far more powerful than I ever realized.  It is as if they are a life long spell we place on our children. 

Friday, February 13, 2015

Feeling Crafty: Pentacle Necklace

Every witch needs a pentacle necklace or a ring/bracelet/etc.  After shopping countless online stores and not finding a prefab piece that spoke to me, I decided to make my own.  I came up with the design using materials I already had around the house:  sculpy, a plastic ring, a metal jump ring, glass seed beads, a piece of chain for making the impression, black paint,  and some variegated ribbon. The back is a bit messy, but overall I love it.  I don't wear it as often as I'd like since the girls pull on it a lot.  Big smile, I just thought I'd share! 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

There's The Kind of Help I Need and The Kind of Help I Don't Need

Let's start with the kind of help I apparently do need.  Yesterday I was convinced that the computer was broke.  I pushed the button and nothing happened.  All the cords appeared to be attached to the back of the tower I even jiggled them a bit for good measure, but with no results.  Now the device has been behaving a bit "off" the past few weeks, so the idea of it giving up the ghost was not a foreign thought.  I just pushed the button a few more times and then shrugged my shoulders and went about my day. 

When the littles napped, I snagged Miss Busy's tablet and blogged about my sad, broken, computer.  I also resolved to put my new found spare time to work and get more art, magic, meditation, and living done.  Then Superman got home from work.  He jiggled the same cords I did then pulled out the desk and plugged the unit back in.  Vola!  We had a working computer.  He smirked at me and named himself a computer genius, but said no more.  That means I'm in trouble and he's saving up all the smart comments he could have made about this escapade.  Next time I think I've gotten the upper hand in some silly, verbal sparing match he's going to pull out the material about the computer.  I'm sure he's already got the outline written. 


Which now brings me to the help I don't need.  In an attempt to be true to yesterday's resolutions, I got my day off to a good start in the arts and crafts department.  I prepped a canvas for a mixed media landscape and then turned my attention to the scrying mirror I've been planning.  I don't know if old Mercury is making a last ditch stab at me or if Miss Busy and Merlin have some strange allergic reaction to progress, but turmoil soon ensued.  

Just after I had applied a second coat of paint to the glass and turned my attention to the dishes, the kid and the cat broke into a racious game of tag which resulted in a foot print in my wet paint. Next was a game of peek-a-boo in the table cloth.   Not long after, I got an important phone call and ended up sounding like a nutter while I dove across the living room to rescue my tea mug from Miss Busy and then moments later was attacked by a plastic picture Merlin sent flying off the top of the fridge.  I certainly won't be able to say I had a dull day. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

So Here Goes Nothing

This morning I pushed that little button on top of my computer tower and nothing happened.  No little click followed by an electronic grunt and a flood of blue light. Just silence.  Uh-oh.  I knew it was coming for about two werks now, but it was still a sickening moment.  So now I am learning all about mobile blogging on Mise Busy's tablet. (I haven't figured out how to change the font color on my side comments or use spell check.   The buttons are there, but they don't seem to do anything.) The typing is a bit time consuming, but on the upside I dont have t8ntransfer photos from on3 device to another anymore.

Really, not having a computer may be a small loss.  I know that our society depends on them greatly (after all its how I communicate with you), but perhapse we depend on them too much.  I personaly am (or have been) addicted to the easy information a computer with Internet provides. Being the owner of a constantly wondering mind, I could spend all day at my desk chasing information trails online.   It almost seems liberating to think off all the time I will have to devote to my craft and my creations now that surfing the internet will be a little less convenient.

So what do I plan to do with my new found time?  Meditate longer, actually write the spells I have floating around in my head, create items for my future Etsy store, sew a ton on my new sewing machine, work on my BOS, and actually take the time to read.  If it all gets too low tech to handle and my thumbs can't handle doing all the typing, I can always get my fix at the library.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Making Do

I grew up making do and using what ever was available.  My parents didn't spend money unless they absolutely had to, so their artistic child had to make art with items already found around the house.  Thankfully, my mother was a seamstress so I had a fair amount to choose from.  Being resourceful is something I take great pride in and actually love doing: it is a fun challenge, expands my creativity, and is good for the earth.  I even incorporate making do into my magickal practice.  About 90% of the resources I use for creating magickal items are post consumer and nearly 75% of the resources I use for spell crafting fall into that category as well.  The trick is knowing what to save and how to use it.  My best rule of thumb is to think outside the box. 


Items I recycle on a regular basis and how I use them in my magical practice
  • Broken Jewelry: creating charms or amulets, embellishing handmade magickal items, decorating my altar
  • Brown Paper Bags: creating spell packets you intend to burn, writing spells, drawing spells for sympathetic magick
  • Candle Stubs: sealing spells or containers of herbal concoctions
  • Chicken Bones:  crafting, opportunity/positive change spells (wishbone)
  • Coconut Shells: creating amulets, peace/healing spells
  • Coffee Grounds: enhance energy with in a spell, fixing the nitrogen in my altar plants, creating exfoliating scrubs
  • Crown Royal Bags: crafting, storage, spell bags
  • Egg Shells: energy/life/new beginning/fertility spells
  • Fabric Scraps: crafting, spell and mojo bags, making twine, creating poppets, making herb pouches
  • Glass Jars and Bottles (with lids): storing herbs and herbal concoctions, creating witches bottles, impromptu candle holders, containment spells
  • Hair Clippings (with permission): personal magick
  • Scraps of Wool Yarn:  tying spell packets, making witches ladders, knot work, stringing amulets or talismans
  • Tin Cans:  to use when melting down wax with out creating a huge mess
  • Toilet Paper Tubes: making large spell packets to burn
Items I collect from nature when they are presented to me and how I use them
  • Animal Bones: species specific workings and mojo bags/talismans
  • Drift Wood: crafting
  • Fallen Leaves: crafting, decorating, clearing negative energy, wind magic
  • Feathers:  crafting, attracting energy, representation of the Elemental Air
  • Pine Cones: protective spells, holiday decorating
  • Pine Needles: protective spells, holiday decorating, creating incense
  • Pruned Tree Limbs: crafting, starting fires
  • River Rocks: crafting, representation of the Elementals Earth and Water (body/strength and blood/emotion), soothing/healing spells
  • Shells: crafting, representation of the Elemental Water
  • Shed Skins (snake or beetle): new life/growth spells
  • Stones: crafting, representation of the Elemental Earth, soothing/healing/protection spells
Of course, this is not an exhaustive list of items used in my magickal practice and the way I use these items may not be textbook, but results are what matter and magick is very individual.  I also use a lot of herbs from the health food store and some that I wild harvest locally. 

Most of my crafting items wreaths, thread, buttons, picture frames, mirrors, beads, and even fabric are purchased post consumer at yard sales and thrift stores and then cleansed.  I have read that using secondhand or post consumer items can contaminate ones magick, but I do not find a significant difference in the energy coming from the majority of the items I find used in comparison to those coming from a factory. Honestly, factory work is no fun.  How many factory workers do you know who carry around a ton of positive energy?  Rather they are new or used, items that have an icky feel to them just don't come home with me. 

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Proverbial Woodpile

Years ago, when my oldest four were small, I had a homestead not the house pictured.  Although the house was modern, it was heated solely with wood.  Usually the job of bringing in firewood belonged to G.I. Joe and I, but one fall afternoon I decided to expedite the task by including the younger three as well.  The girls took to the task quickly, but Mr. Man had other ideas.  While the rest of us were heading out the door, that little rascal disappeared.  On my second trip back into the house with an armload of wood, I decided to investigate his disappearance I had assumed that he was looking for his chronically missing shoes and found him crouched behind his bed testing the "out of sight, out of mind" theory.  Unwilling to be punked by a four year old, I hustled him outside while he howled about the cruelty of forcing such a delicate individual out into the cold. 

By this time the wood box was nearly full, so I informed Mr. Man that the last two armloads of wood were his responsibility.  He continued to howl about the frigid temperature in the 40's while the rest of us filtered back into the house.  For the next ten minutes, I watched from the kitchen window as he stomped back and forth in front of the woodpile, kicking at the ground as he went.  With out any prompting from me, his brother went out and offered to help him, but was answered with a screamed, "Go away!"  About fifteen minutes into the saga, I went to stoke the fire and returned to the kitchen to see that Mr. Man was laying on top of the wood pile with his arms crossed defiantly, muttering under his breath.  Cracking open the kitchen door I heard his mantra, "I'm cold.  I'm cold.  I'm cold."  Returning to the wood pile, I explained the lack of logic in his protest.  If he would just bring in two arm loads of wood he could stay in the nice warm house for the rest of the day.  In response he added kicking  feet to the crossed arm, muttering pose. 

Hamming it up for the camera: Mr. Man (13) and G.I Joe (16)

Eventually, I did get my two arm loads of wood and Mr. Man was allowed shelter from the sub-Artic temperatures found in central North Carolina.  As cute and funny as this story is, as adults we really aren't any different than my stubborn son.  Human nature is to be  addicted to comfort.  Each of us has a well defined comfort zone.  When forced out of this zone we are often stubborn and defiant, unwilling to do the work required to get back to the place we feel safe in.

Those of us on a Pagan life path would probably all agree that peace and enlightenment of some form are major goals in our lives. We have an idea image of what we long to become, but we drag our feet when it comes to study and meditation. When life is busy or stressful we seem to balk at self improvement more than ever and that is when we need centering the most.  That is how we get stuck out on the wood pile when we would rather be snuggled up near the fire. 

Read a article about chakras or alternative medicine, take a quiet nature walk, spend a few moments breathing deeply and visualizing the person you want to be...Thirty minutes of focused "me" time every day will make a noticeable difference now and a life changing difference in the long run.  Every beautiful bird starts out as a humble egg. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Peanut Butter Cookies: A Bit of Kitchen Witchery

My mother would have a heart attack if she even suspected that I added magick to her peanut butter cookie recipe, but I did! I hate to admit it, but I do find a bit of satisfaction in knowing that. For all the mama traits the woman doesn't have, she gets an A+ in cookie making.  These are the ultimate in rich, creamy, melt in your mouth goodness and they are only composed of three yes, you read right only three ingredients. 

One of my favorite witches likes to say, "Live Your Magick!"  Since I am a full time mama, my magick is in mothering.  Yesterday just seemed like a good day to add a bit of extra memory making to equation, so Miss Busy and I mixed up a batch of these cookies.  Every time we make them, I tell her the three ingredients so that she will have this special recipe memorized by the time she is ready to try the magick on her own.  Since these cookies are one of my fond childhood memories, I include a bit on my own mothers magic as well: flattening them with a potato masher to get the little knobs on the top. 

Absolutely Wonderful, Amazing, Yummy, Melt in Your Mouth Peanut Butter Cookies

1 Cup Peanut Butter
1 Cup Sugar
1 Egg

Heat the oven to 350.

Cream together your three ingredients.

Shape into balls and roll in a bit of extra sugar to coat. This is the step where you add your magick.  While I am shaping the ball I concentrate on the good, warm memories I want my children to have of their childhoods.  I then channel that energy and a good dose of love through my hands and right into the cookie.  To enhance the intent of the magick, we sit together and chat while we enjoy them. 

Set on cookie sheet and flatten with a potato masher. This creates round cookies.  Here we talk about the cookies being the same shape as the moon.  Miss Busy isn't old enough to have very in depth conversations with, but she is already learning about the tides and moon phases. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes. 

Remove from oven and let cool on pan for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. 

The hardest part about this recipe is waiting for them to cool.  Since they are really more like confections than traditional cookies, they cool very slowly and will scald your mouth if you are impatient enough to bite into one early.  Yeah, ask me how I know.  These are absolutely amazing with a glass of milk and I've been know to justify them as breakfast food.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Free Form Dreading and Embracing Myself

It's been six weeks since the last time I brushed my hair, eight since I have conditioned.  I'm looking pretty wild right now and I love it.  Already this journey has taken paths I never anticipated and I am learning more about myself everyday.  I am becoming more empowered to be completely, totally, and honestly me.  Because I have now taken the drastic step of completely rejecting societies standards of beauty, for the first time in my life I know that I am pretty.  Really, I'm not trying to sound egotistical, this is a big break through for me. From my husbands loving influence, I use to believe I was pretty.  Now I simply know it. 
Growing up in rural Montana, I saw dreadlocks in person for the first time when I was 11 or 12 years old.  They were being worn by a blond girl of 17 or 18 and I wanted to be her.  To me, she was the epitome of beauty.  Not only was her hair magnificently wild, but everything about her spoke of natural ease.  Of course, I only saw her from a distance, but it was one of those slow motion cheesy movie scene moments.  It is completely correct to say that I was drawn to dreads, although at the time I could not put my finger on any other reason than aesthetics.  Since my super conservative parents weren't about to let me dread my hair, the idea went to the back burner and continued to percolate for over twenty years. 

As I grew older and begin learning more about the culture of my ancestors, I found that my longing for dreads was calling to me from a time long ago.   I am a proud descent of the ancient Celts (Lowland Scott) and Vikings (Finn and Swede) on my dads side of the family, with more Viking (Swede) mixed with Sioux (Mandan) and German on my mom's side.  It is fair to say that the majority of my ancient ancestry likely wore their hair in some kind of natural matted style.  If we want to be completely frank, most prehistoric people probably did since there was no means to brush and maintain their hair in an "orderly" fashion.   Having always felt like an old soul and needing to connect with those who came before me, the desire to grow dreads makes perfect sense. 

Spiritually, my decision to dread goes beyond ancestor reverence and is an extension of my relationship to nature and my kindred the Elementals.  It is an acceptance of my true self similar to the way many witches take on a spiritual name, the girlish woman who still loves to dance barefooted and who wraps herself in the wind.  It is showing the Universe that I am happy with who I am and love the person I was created to be. 

**Since some of you are bound to notice, I do have five twist and rip dreads tied off with wool.