12 December 2011

Celebrating the Dark, Welcoming the Light

Many of us in the cold North struggle with seasonal depression due to decreasing light. Add to that the darkest nights of the year forcing us to go inward and it's a recipe for the lowest lows and the most difficult of seasons.  Having been born and raised along the 43rd parallel, seasonal sensitivity is a struggle for me every year and has been much of my life. While I embrace the deep, dark nights of Samhuinn it is the fickle Autumnal weather which teases me cruelly.  Our late Autumns and early springs are very similar and sometimes our days remind me more of Spring, which lifts my spirits only to crush that hope when I realise once again I have an entire winter to get through first.

When Pixie was a baby I also battled post partum depression in the months following her birth, it was compounded by the fact we were going into late Autumn/Winter in the months following her birth.  After that first year I began reclaiming old December traditions and celebrations as well as adopting new ones. After several years our dark of the year was filled with happiness, celebration and light.  The longest nights were embraced and welcomed as a way to rest and recuperate before the bustle of the holiday season.  The month of light and love got me through to the point where the days truly do begin to lengthen again (circa 28 Dec).  This year the days will begin lengthening again 31 December so starting a new calendar year with lengthening days leaves me feeling as though I have gotten over the hump of the short days.

For the month of December we start actually with Thankgiving, family gatherings for the actual day as well as birthdays for my nephew (and in future years my new nieces).  It is about this time I would start assembling my "Yule Cookie" list (found here), a listing of 13 types of cookies baked and gifted out for the holiday season.  I started documenting this tradition in 2003 and unfortunately lost a listing and was unable to assemble a new list last year (for obvious reasons).  So I still have five years worth of lists (with recipes) assembled and I hope that next year finds Pixie and I in our own home with a wonderful kitchen and financially abundant and secure to revisit this tradition.  Pixie loves cooking and is developing quite a discerning palate, so where this takes us over the years will be exciting to see.

December starts with Pixie looking forward to St. Nicholas/Sinterklaas on the 5/6th of December. She will leave her shoe out for the traditional treats left by St. Nick. coming off the heels of the month of Samhuinn we have been remembering our ancestors so by the point in December we are honoring our German/Dutch line in the family from my paternal great grandmother.  As we are mostly UK *mutts* this nice flavor of something a bit different is wonderful.

The next week finds us celebrating Lucia Day, it started when I was in 8th grade and did a report on Sweden.  My mother and researched foods and recipes and as a part of my project I brought in some delicious baked goods including lussekatter (Lucia Cats) which are cardamom-scented sweet rolls served on Lucia.  This is in celebration of the feast of St. Lucia and our family adopted the baking of these delicious treats every year on 13th December.  This is a christian feast day for St. Lucia however recent years I found that Lucia had pagan roots and was once acknowledged as the Goddess Freyja, hence the lussekatter (cats being sacred to Freyja).  Whether this is accurate or not it resonated with me so we use this day to honor Freyja and beckoning the return or light.

The following week brings us the Winter Solstice in all of it's glory, we make bird seed treats for our feathered neighbors and we donate goods to various charities, lots of outgrown winter clothes from the previous year go.  In our family it's gifting to others and celebrating that is the focus, we don't give gifts amongst ourselves on this day.   Our gift-giving comes later in the week and tends to trickle through to year's end when we really celebrate the returning light.  The hope helps me to get through the longest months (for me), January and February.

23 November 2011

This Thanksgiving....

After a much needed respite from blogging I wanted to stop and take a moment to give thanks for all of the blessings in my life.  After finishing my daily entries and honoring the ancestors at Samhuinn I turned to a rest and preparing for Yule.  Knitting has been my favorite activity in the past few weeks.  I have started a Fair Isle knit scarf a la Hermione's scarf in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, it is time consuming, a bit challenging but infinitely easier for me than my tearful tackling in making socks. A photo of the scarf thus far is needed, and I really want to share it as it is a beautiful sight!

My big thankfulness this year, is another year of Pixie's healing.  My beautiful girl is doing well in her leukemia treatment and is strong, happy and healthy.  All of her numbers continue to be fantastic and where they want them to be and every day we are closer to her end of treatment in August.  I am thankful for my beloved daughter's healing! We are also so thankful for our friends who have done so much to help up emotionally, mentally and financially when we had no other resources.  We are blessed!

The amazingly wonderful, spectacular news is that my niece Olivia was born on Monday!  She is healthy, whole and perfect and a wonderful combination of my brother and his wife.  She is most definitely another old soul for our family and is instantly loved.  A gift!

I got to see her shortly after she was born and the most amazing sight for me, that I really cannot talk to my family about as some really don't get my seeing spirits lately, was how all of my brother's and my four deceased grandparents were encircled all around her.  I'm sure my sister in law's family were there too but I was not seeing them because two of my grandparents really stood out to me and took my breath away. Firstly our maternal grandmother, for whom one of Olivia's middle in names is from, was just enveloping her.  Her energy just embracing this wee new baby.  Secondly our paternal grandfather was standing over all of them, his energy so large and encompassing and so proud and loving.  I have just recently reconnected with him after mourning his passing for the last 30 years, he finally got through to me on the 31st.   Our paternal grandmother and maternal grandfather were there too but their energy was not as pronounced.  Combine with my brother's sheer joy and love for his firstborn child this was a VERY emotional afternoon.  Such a joy and a gift.

I have so much crafting to do between now and Yule, not sure how much blogging will happen however I really want to share favorite Yule recipes here.  In the meantime, blessings to anyone reading here, hoping your end of November is warm and love-filled.

09 November 2011

Day 44-44 Days of Witchery-Witch’s choice!

This witch's choice is a few words on what a pagan/witch path is from someone long on a pagan path. Please bear with me, I'm working on a serious sleep deficit as this past month of Samhuinn was especially disruptive as my psychic gifts really took off in a major way, and I was not prepared for the onslaught that came at me.

I began questioning religion and slowly uncovering spirituality at a young age.  I was a teenager when I consciously sought out this path for myself, as it was so familiar and so like how my grandparents and ancestors lived.  This was the perfect path for ME.

Dear ones new to this path, yes this is an exciting time for you, you are learning and growing at a exponential rate.  You have so much ahead of you!  Please remember, that it is not for you to educate or *correct* others.  If you study your path you are reading another person's perspective.  Not the collective, but one person's perspective.  This is not the be all, end all. This is one view.  Your journey is to discover what your perspective is.  Our paths are unique to each of us.  Following the herd inhibits our own growth, take the time to learn for yourself, trust in yourself. Use what you study as a guide, if it resonates with you, fantastic.  However, it is not your place to pontificate the teachings of a fallible human.  It is not your place to push your ideals and perceptions on others.  It is not their path, theirs is unique to them.  We do not need to be lectured, or *corrected* by a new to the path upstart who still has much to learn.  Even if you believe your are an old soul, it is not your place to push.  We gain wisdom with hard work and introspection as we learn from our experiences and from other's experiences as well.

This has been a long time coming, this disjointed note.  I've been connected to the pagan community on the world wide web for nearly 20 years.  I have seen many newbies feel they know everything and stomp in with a huge chip on their shoulder. Insisting their way is the correct way and all others are misguided and misinformed.  Not all of us follow Wicca, Wicca is a modern day revamp of a plethora of old ways.  I do not follow it because it smacks too much of my Catholic upbringing for me.  I recall the years of warring where *eclectics* were not true pagans.  The flame wars over who was right and who was wrong threatened such a serious split to a group that was already battling for acceptance in a Christian-dominant world.  Perhaps it is where my path has taken me, or perhaps it is a maturing of the pagan community, but I no longer see these flame wars like they once were.  We are more accepting of each other's paths and embrace these differences that make us unique.  My 27 years actively on my pagan path has brought such amazing wonders, so much growth, change, I am always evolving and growing and I wish the same for everyone just starting out. Slow down and take time to marinate in all that you are learning.  Embrace all the lessons that the earth, universe and your fellow pagans on the path have to offer. All of it will contribute to your path.

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery
If you followed this journey with me, thanks for reading.

08 November 2011

Day 43-44 Days of Witchery-A magical recipe-Smell Of Yule

As my 44 days of Witchery, as well as Samhuinn, wind down our attention will soon slip to Yule.  This is my favorite magical Yule simmering recipe.  I use my simmering crockpot and dump these spices along with some orange peel, perhaps a star anise and a few gratings of whole nutmeg and let the scent infuse my home with magical Yuletide cheer.

Smell Of Yule

1/3 cup crushed cinnamon sticks (2 - 1 oz. cans) -(energy, good luck, love, money, passion, peace, prosperity, protection)
1/3 cup whole cloves (2 - 1.12 oz. cans) -(love, memory, money, passion, peace of mind, protection, purification)
2/3 cup whole allspice berries (2 - 1.25 oz. cans) (Communication, compassion, determination, energy, healing, money & luck)
cheesecloth, cut in 4" squares

Place cinnamon sticks in an old towel and crush with a mallet. Place
in bowl and add remaining ingredients; mix well.

To make bags, place 1 tablespoon of mix on a double thickness of
cheesecloth squares. Tie corners together with string. Place in

TO USE: Simmer 1 bag in small saucepan of water to spread smell
throughout house. Also, simmer 1 bag in 1 quart cider, apple juice,
or red wine for a delicious spiced drink. Makes 7 half-pints. Attach
instructions to jars.

Source: unknown

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

07 November 2011

Day 42-44 Days of Witchery-A favourite nature spirit.

This is the forest primeval. 
The murmuring pines and the hemlocks, 
Bearded with moss, 
and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight...
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 
I cannot think of one favorite nature spirit. Having once lived in an area with all elements represented I found exposure to all sorts of devas/elementals/nature spirits.  This forest captured in a Winter Solstice sunrise was filled with everything imaginable.  We lived at the edge of hundreds upon hundreds of untouched forest acreage.  The above snippet of Longfellow's Evangeline truly captured the wood around my home.  Everything bearded in moss, hemlocks whispering, it truly was magical.  Despite the 30 acres atop the ridge which had been clear cut (horridly devastating) our magical 5 acres were a safe haven for all creatures and spirits. Each spirit brings such a unique energy and role to this environment that I simply cannot find a favorite. They are all favorites.

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

06 November 2011

Day 41-44 Days of Witchery-A spell you’ve done.

Freezer binding spell is the most recent spell done.  As a protective measure from the negative actions of someone no longer in my life.  What I like about this spell is that it prevents the effects of another's actions from affecting you. 

Another *spell* of sorts that I highly recommend to everyone is making a witch jar.  I have found tremendous success with them and people who have directed negativity toward me have quickly found that it comes right back at them, multiplied.  I've made believers out of non-Pagans over this highly protective resource.  Recipe for the jar can be found on my site.

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

05 November 2011

Stitch Witchery

I've been knitting like crazy since about July and have little to show for it.  I have a new niece coming very soon, so I am knitting lots of love into goodies for her.  I am a great starter, I start up a storm!  It's the finishing that trips me up, so I have a lot of unfinished starts for my niece- booties, a blanket (which was actually unravelled and started over).  What I have finished, and am quite chuffed over finishing, are two hats...a pumpkin, and some sort or purple berry hat.  Currently I am wrestling with an olive version for Miss Olivia, as requested by my brother (her daddy).  Hope to have it done today...Then on to tackling my first attempt at socks for Pixie...however I have a healing quilt that needs to be completed, fat lot of good it's doing her right now!....

and so many Yule pressies to create!

Day 40-44 Days of Witchery-Your altar, if you have one!

Sadly, I don't have one at present, due to sharing a room with Pixie while she's in treatment (she was set up in a makeshift bedroom with bath attached on first floor away from the other bedrooms all on second floor last year when her treatment started). I suppose we could've shown some initiative and created one somewhere but space is lacking and I live with Catholic parents so...images of altars past...

old kitchen altar, with my first salt dough goddess


Spring altar

Spring Equinox 2004

Ancestral Altar

Samhuinn altar

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

04 November 2011

Day 39-44 Days of Witchery-Something that inspires you.

Nature and all the glorious treasures it contains is my main inspiration

all photos by Stephanie Lowell-Libby

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

03 November 2011

Day 38-44 Days of Witchery- Witchy tools: cauldron.

My favorite witchy item, if I had the space I'd probably have a mad collection of them.  Instead it's mortar and pestles, which look rather like a cauldron cousin.

The cauldron is source of life, nourishment and mysteries. Symbol of the feminine, of water....When I was new to the path I tried to come up with a witchy name, a la Raymond Buckland's method of finding a magically correct name via numerology.  It never stuck but the name that came to me at that time was Cerridwen. I'm not sure if that is about the time I became so enamoured by cauldrons or if it came later. The early days of the path are rather hazy. ;)

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

02 November 2011

Day 37-44 Days of Witchery-A famous pagan/witch!

Zsuzsanna Budapest

My studies have always danced around the teachings, etc. of Z. Budapest, never really digging in to focus, however she has always held a fascination for me. I read bits and pieces in snippets, I love the energy I get from what I have read from her.  I just do not connect with a Dianic or Wiccan focus.  I think the draw is the old world energy she brings, what she learned from her mother and how she shares it.  It is old ways that are untainted, unlike the old ways of my ancestors, which was tainted by early christian and then Puritanical closemindedness.

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

01 November 2011

Day 36-44 Days of Witchery-Flower of your choice, and its magical properties.


Flowers, petals, leaves

GENDER: Feminine
ELEMENTS: Fire and Water
PLANETS: Mars and Venus

Love Divination
Psychic Powers
Ultimate Love


Magical Uses
The ultimate in love wishes,
this will aid in bringing a true lasting
love and help to mend any spats
between you in an already committed relationship.

The petals can be bathed with
while thinking a new love to you,
the dried flowers are burned in love wishes.

Sleeping with the flowers will
protect your dreams.

Carry a sachet or amulet for protection against
bodily injury or when working healing wishes.

Roses have long been used in love mixtures,
owing to the flowers' association with the emotions.

A chaplet of roses worn when performing love spells
(remove the thorns), or a single rose in a vase
on the alter, are powerful love magic aids.

Rose water distilled from the petals
is added to love baths.

Rose Hips (the fruit of the rose) are
strung and worn as love-attracting beads.

A tea of rosebuds drunk before sleep
induces prophetic dreams.

To discover their romantic future,
women used to take three green rose leaves
and name each for one of their lovers.
The one that stayed green the longest answered
the question of "Which One?"

Rose petals and hips are used in healing spells
and mixtures, and rosewater saturated cloth
laid to the temples will relieve headache pain.

Roses are added to fast-luck mixtures and, when
carried, act as personal protectants.

Rose petals sprinkled around the house
calm personal stress and household upheavals.

Roses planted in the garden attract fairies, and
are said to grow best when stolen.

Cunningham's Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs
by Scott Cunningham

Witchcraft and Magic

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

31 October 2011

Day 35-44 Days of Witchery-Something that I think people who don’t know much about paganism/witchcraft should know.

Samhuinn 2009 ancestral altar
Many of us who are pagan, are not wiccan, we are not the stereotypical *witch*, pagan or whatever.  Not all of us go around wearing big assed pentacles the size of a dinner plate (we have a guy in town who does this).  Appearances are often very deceiving.   I find my spiritual path to be VERY personal.  I am not in the closet, per se, however as a mother I am guarded and careful who knows what about me.  I live my spirituality so people who get to know me eventually discover this about me on their own.  This is the case for many pagans, I've found.  We are from all walks of life, I'd like to say we are no different from non-pagans however I don't often see that.  Having lived in the Christian and non-Christian worlds I have witnessed more loving, generous,thoughtful acts from pagans who frequently act with more respect than most christians I come across.  They honor the divine in themselves, their world and the earth far more consistently than I see from any others.  We tend to not be a one day a week pagan, we walk our walks and talk our talks.

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

Day 31-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Spiced Apples

We have half a bushel of apples left from our apple picking adventures. What better than sweet, flavorful and gooey apples to top waffles, pancakes, ice cream, pork chops, roast, chicken, turkey, whatever you can think of.  I have been poking about here and there trying to find a good recipe for spiced apples and have come up empty.  So I have come up with my own combo using the last of the apples.  The ratios are probably a bit off, I'm working with nearly 2 dozen apples of varying sizes. We'll be canning our spiced apples as soon as they are ready.

Spiced Apples

6-8 apples, peeled, cored and sliced 1-1 1/2in thick
1 cup apple cider
1/2 cup demarera sugar (or brown sugar)
1-2 tsp cornstarch (mixed with the cold apple cider)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
pinch of sea salt

Over medium high heat bring apple cider/cornstarch mixture nearly to a boil. Reduce heat and add apples, sugar and spices. Cover and let simmer until apples are soft and liquid has thickened.

~Stephanie Lowell-Libby

Day 30-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Pumpkin Pasties

Our surprise 13 1/2 inches of snow that fell this weekend has put a wrench in my to do list so I am behind on my Samhuinn preparations.  However, we enjoyed making a snow witch yesterday and enjoyed a family gathering. Hoping to get our pumpkins carved this afternoon and thankfully our city has not cancelled trick or treating tonight so Pixie can go experience her first ToT in snow. 

So my Day 30 entry for the 31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking is a fun one on my "to try" list.  Possibly for Pixie's 13th birthday party next October as she loves Harry Potter....and pumpkin.

Pumpkin Pasties

Makes about 3 dozen miniature pasties.

2 eggs, slightly beaten
3/4 cup sugar
1 1 lb. can pumpkin
(or 2 cups fresh, roasted in the oven then pressed
through a strainer to save your Pumpkin Juice to drink!)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. cloves
1 2/3 cups evap. milk (1 can)
1/2 tsp. allspice
9 oz pie crust pastry (enough for two single standard pie crusts)

Bake the pie filling only (no crust) in a large casserole dish in hot oven (425 degrees) for 15 minutes. Keep oven door closed and reduce temp to moderate (350 degrees F/180 degrees Celsius) and continue baking for 45 minutes or until table knife inserted in center of dish comes out clean. Cool on wire rack.

Make or purchase pie crust pastry. Roll thin and cut into circles approx 4" in diameter. Put a spoonful of the cool pumpkin mixture towards one side of the center of the circle. Fold over the crust into a half-circle and firmly crimp the edges closed. Slice three small slits in the top for venting, place on a greased cookie sheet, and bake only until crust is a light golden-brown.


30 October 2011

Day 34-44 Days of Witchery-Rune of your choice.

This piece was made by my friend Dawn years back when she first started her journey to polymer artist.


Laguz - “Log-uhz” – Literally: “Water” or Ocean – Esoteric: Unconscious, Collective Memory

Rune of the unconscious context of becoming or the evolutionary process. Rune of Life’s longing for itself.

Psi: emotion, psychic powers, unconscious mental processes, love, dreaming

Energy: life energy, ocean spirit, origins of life, collective unconscious, the astral plane, love as unity, evolution

Mundane: water, imagination, occultism, dreams

Divinations: Life, passing a test, sea of vitality and of the unconscious growth, memory, dreams; or fear, circular motion, avoidance, withering, depression, manipulations, emotional blackmail, lack of moral fiber, fantasy, poison, toxicity

Transpersonal powers
Mastery of emotion in order to shape wyrd
Guidance through difficult initiatory tests, ie. initiation into life
Increase in vitality and life force
Communication between your conscious mind to another’s unconscious mind
Development of ‘second sight’ or prophetic wisdom
All powers of dreaming (lucid dreams, astral projection)

from: runesecrets.com/rune-meanings/laguz

This post is part of the 44 days of Witchery

29 October 2011

Day 29-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Avocado Goat Cheese Dip

Getting today's recipe in under the wire.  We spent the afternoon at a Witches Tea Party, so much fun with free mini classes, readings, lots of witchy folk, and delicious food and herbal tea blends.  There was this dip there that I could not stop heading back for.  It was some sort of cheesy-guac combo so I'm on the search for recipes to try until I get the right flavor.  The following is the one that looks most interesting so far, especially considering we are lactose intolerant and love our goat cheese!  I find this fits in with my Samhuinn collection of recipes because I can see this as a *slime* themed appetizer at a Hallowe'en party, with finger shaped crackers!

Avocado Goat Cheese Dip with Whole-Wheat Pita Chips

1 package whole-wheat pita chips (cut into 6 triangles each)
3 ripe avocados, peeled pitted and cut into chunks
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more, if needed
3 tablespoons lime juice
4 ounces cream cheese
4 ounces goat cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spread pita triangles on a sheet tray. Bake in the oven until crisp and slightly toasted. Chips will need to be rotated twice while baking.

In a bowl combine avocados, garlic, cumin and salt. Use an electric hand mixer to mix ingredients together. Add lime juice, cream cheese and goat cheese pulsing until smooth and blended well. Add a bit more salt, if necessary.

2 to 3 cups

Recipe courtesy Libbie Summers

Day 33-44 Days of Witchery-Faerie of your choice.

I have no idea what to call it, Dryad, Sidhe Draoi, who knows.   However, six or seven years ago when I lived in western NH, deep in the boonies.  I was living in an amazing area-earth and water were in abundance as I lived in the mountains that was home to the watersheds for three large rivers.  The energy here was amazing and the land welcomed Pixie and I with open arms.  It was here I saw my first *faerie*, a nature spirit that ran by me while I was out hanging laundry one early June afternoon.  Movement out of the corner of my eye caught my attention and I turned to see this being about 2 1/2-3ft tall and it sprinted past me from a grouping up saplings and out past a large pine tree. *Her* (I felt a feminine presence to it) hair was leaves, with a brown/coppery hue to them and she was thin and delicate, with limbs that were proportionately longer than a human form would have.  They also had more of a branch like look to them.  The figure skipped/ran past me.  there were no trees or bushes to obscure my vision, it was all open and the ground dappled with sunlight and I stood there staring.  Minutes passed by and I just stood there, in shock, questioning my sanity, confirming I had not been drinking or taking any drugs (I didn't drink then even socially when Pixie was small).  It took several minutes to absorb what I had just seen and months of searching imagery to try and relate what I saw.  I cannot draw or paint to save my life so I've never been able to fully capture what I saw, or even identify it.  It was this time I really became connected and enamoured by nature spirits. 

We were so connected to the hum and rhythm there and when it came time to leave we sadly said goodbye and gave our love and thanks for the welcome we received.  When I returned a year later, to collect garden plants I was unable to take with me the year before, the energy was no longer there.  It was empty, bleak and remote.  As if whomever was there to welcome me four years earlier and moved on.

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

28 October 2011

Day 28-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Cream of Roasted Garlic Soup

While visiting my grandfather and his families hometown of Wiscasset, Maine I ate at a local restaurant there that served cream of roast garlic soup.  It was the BEST soup I have ever tasted.  That was about 20 years ago and a longtime search led me to this recipe several years back.

Cream of Roasted Garlic Soup

2 med heads fresh garlic
Olive oil
1/2 c onion, finely chopped
2 TB unsalted butter
1 1/2 c buttermilk
1/2 c cream
2 small potatoes, baked, skins removed
2 tb cognac
1/8 ts fresh dill
Salt to taste

Place garlic heads on cookie sheet, sprinkle with olive oil and bake in 350-degree oven for 1 hour. Let cool. Cut off end of each clove and squeeze out contents. (Garlic will be soft and creamy.) Set aside.

Saute chopped onion in butter until softened. Add buttermilk and cream and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour mixture into a food processor. Rice potato and add with garlic to onion and buttermilk mixture. Puree until smooth. Return mixture to saute pan. Add cognac, dill and salt. Heat thoroughly. If soup is too thin, add additional potato. If soup is too thick, add additional buttermilk. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: unknown

Day 32-44 Days of Witchery-A pagan/witchy artwork.

"Beltane Reunion" by Emily Balivet

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

27 October 2011

Day 27-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Maple Pumpkin Butter

Maple Pumpkin Butter

2 cups pumpkin puree
1/2 cup apple cider
1/4 cup maple syrup (if you can find grade B I recommend it)
3 TB demarera sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/8 tsp ground cloves

In a large saucepan over medium high heat add all ingredients and bring to a full boil, stirring frequently.
Reduce heat to a simmer and cook slowly for 15-20 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently.
Cool and pour into air tight container and refrigerate.
If you wish to store long term pour into hot, clean canning jars and follow instructions for canning.

This butter lasts about 3 months if kept cold and air tight

Serve with fruit or on scones, toast, pancakes, waffles, etc.

~Stephanie Lowell-Libby

Day 31- 44 Days of Witchery-A favourite pagan/witchy movie

Bell, Book and Candle is the first witchy movie I ever saw and a long time favorite.  Kim Novak as Gillian Holroyd, a Greenwich Village witch and her beloved familiar, Pyewacket, takes top honors.  James Stewart and Jack Lemmon are two of my favorite actors from the era this movie was released. My mother had a siamese also named Pyewacket, which probably added to the influence to my young mind. 

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

26 October 2011

Day 26-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Colcannon

If you're Irish, you probably know this dish.  Hopefully not the version where the cabbage and leeks are cooked until anemic-looking and utterly tasteless and foul!  Maybe that's the New England Irish way?  hee hee Below is the version I first posted on my site, Hearth and Home Witchery, many many years ago.  At the time I did not have the time to finesse all the recipes, I was going for quantity over quality. I have never actually cooked this recipe as it reads below, I'd never get Pixie to eat it otherwise.   For this recipe, I reworked it as follows-saute the cabbage/kale with the leeks after cooking the potatoes.  Add to the potatoes, followed by the warmed milk and cook a bit to let flavors meld.  You can either serve as is or take an electric hand blender and whiz this all up.


1 pound cabbage or kale
1 pound potatoes
2 leeks
1 cup milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 pinch ground mace
1/2 cup butter

In a large saucepan, boil cabbage until tender; remove and chop or blend well. Set aside and keep warm. Boil potatoes until tender. Remove from heat and drain. Chop leeks, green parts as well as white, and simmer them in just enough milk to cover, until they are soft. Season and mash potatoes well. Stir in cooked leeks and milk. Blend in the kale or cabbage and heat until the whole is a pale green fluff. Make a well in the center and pour in the melted butter. Mix well.

Makes 5 servings 

more Samhuinn recipes found on my site

Lunar Samhuinn

Today is Lunar Samhuinn, the New Moon in Scorpio.  I find today especially to be auspicious as it also marks my anniversary, 27 years actively walking my pagan path.

I have found today quite still, energy-wise.  The cats have been racing up a storm in recent days and once darkness falls this house gets rather loud with unseen activity.  I made the mistake several days back of digging into my family tree at around midnight.  My nephew is reading The Crucible in school and had an interest in our ancestors from that time.  We are descendants and relatives of several of those poor souls accused and also put to death at the Salem Witch Trials.  I've known of these people for years, being a part of my ancestry.  I know their sad stories, persecuted and murdered all because of jealousy, greed and pettiness. While I tried to assemble my info and find out exactly how many generations back they are, so my nephew could bring that information with him to school this week, I began getting tapped and feeling the room get crowded.  There was a pushing insistence filling the room rather oppressively.  It took me a few days to figure out what and why and over the weekend I discovered that several of those families from that time were related in some way, or became related after the trials.  So my ancestral lines overlap to and fro and it was here I discovered that some of those petty, greedy accusers are also family.  These were the presences I was feeling that late night, their insistence, pushiness and wanting to be heard. They were denied of course, because it was very late and I was not physically or mentally prepared.  Since then it has quieted.  I am thinking that with my interest in ancestral healing I have a very interesting task before me.  Healing my ancestral lines when I am related to all involved.  Fascinating!

So on this Lunar Samhuinn, Scorpio energy swirling all about, I am plotting out a healing in time. To utilise this energies between now and the next New Moon.  To release all that energy, free it and anything attached to it. I feel this is exactly what is needed right now, not just for me, but for so many.  My 27th anniversary, in numerology that breaks down to a 9, the ending of a cycle. So what better time to release the past and start fresh with all of this incredible 'new start' energy coming in the year ahead? 

I invite others to join me in this, work with your own family, whether you know your ancestry or not, if you feel this is necessary to benefit your family then by all means, listen to your intuition.  During this time that the veil is thin I cannot think of any better opportunity to work with our ancestors than now.

I do not have any particular method or website to promote, I have looked over the following link in the past.  Passing it along in hopes someone will benefit. I will add a disclaimer that I do not necessarily agree or disagree with anything that site contains (meaning I have not read through thoroughly!).  Please keep in mind that much of the sites out there all seem to want to sell you something.  This is something you can work on yourself, if you don't feel comfortable then educate yourself and research until you do get to that place of confidence.

links: kch42.dial.pipex.com/ancestral.htm

Happy Samhuinn!!

Day 30-44 Days of Witchery-Witchy tools: wand

Wands fall under the category of ritual tools.  Ritual tools are not something I really bother using.  I do have a wand, of sorts, from my early years. A piece of apple from my late grandmother's tree.  It always adorned my altars and invariably got stuffed into a glass goblet filled with an assortment of feathers I've found over the years.  Needless to say apart from sentimental attachment it serves no purpose in my practices.  On the rare occasion I create a circle I use my finger, my source of power. Why bother with an extension to focus that energy into when I have a perfectly good pair of hands to work with.

But it's not all that surprising, coming from a body and energy worker who works with her hands ;P

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

25 October 2011

Day 25-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Venison Pasty

I first made these over the summer from a venison roast we found in the freezer. I am blessed to have a family of hunters who rely on hunting season to help provide meat throughout the winter for the families and it is done with tremendous respect on their part.

As is with all of my cooking, there are no measurements because I cook/create by the seat of my pants.  What I really need is an assistant who watches everything I do and records it all.  Anyway, this version is the latest rendition, tinkered with the filling to reflect the preparing for winter, stick to your bones type food I crave as the weather grows chilly.

Venison Pasty

2 cups venison-ground or cubed (remove all of the connective tissue from the meat)
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cubed
1/2 cup porcini mushrooms, sliced thin
1 small onion. chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2TB olive oil
1 cup marsala wine
3TB prepared horseradish(not the mayo-looking horseradish sauce)
1/2 cup chutney (apple or rhubarb are good but whatever appeals will work)
2 tsp thyme leaves
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground allspice
salt and pepper, to taste
pinch of ground sage
1 egg, beaten
sliced sharp cheddar
pastry crust (I used a packet of 2 9" crusts)

Preheat oven 400*
In a large pan over medium-high heat saute butternut squash with garlic and onion in olive oil  until soft, add mushrooms and wine and continue to cook for a few minutes until wine reduces.  Remove from heat and let cool.  In a large bowl add cubed venison, horseradish, chutney, thyme, salt and pepper, allspice, coriander and ground sage. Stir in cooled squash mixture.  Spoon mixture into one side pastry circles (abt 6"diameter) and top filling with a slice of cheddar. Paint edges of crust with egg wash and fold other half of dough over filling and press to seal, be sure to gently work all of the air out.  Finish the edges with a fork pressed gently into the dough.  Lay on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes at 400* then reduce heat to 350* and continue baking for another 45minutes of until bubbly and golden brown.

~Stephanie Lowell-Libby

Day 29-44 Days of Witchery-Water element.

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

24 October 2011

Day 24-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Pumpkin Spice Crescent Rolls

I must confess, I am losing steam and interest with this daily recipe posting. I will rally, however I think that the days of creating recipes are about at an end because the week leading to Samhuinn will be a busy one.  So that being said I am leaving today's recipe, a favorite of mine from Samhuinn feasting past.  I cannot recall where I found it but they are YUMMY!

Pumpkin Spice Crescent Rolls

 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
 1 tsp baking powder
 1/4 tsp baking soda
 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
 1/8 tsp salt
 3/4 cup canned pumpkin
 3 Tbsp olive oil
 2 Tbsp brown sugar
 2 tsp granulated sugar
 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. In a separate bowl, mix pumpkin, oil, and brown sugar. Combine pumpkin mixture and flour mixture and stir with a fork. Form into a ball.

Gently knead dough ball on lightly floured surface for 10 to 12 strokes. Divide dough in half and roll each half to a 10-inch circle. Cut each circle into 8 wedges. Beginning with the wide end of each wedge, loosely roll towards point. Curve gently into a crescent and place point side down on a foil lined baking sheet.

Combine the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle generously over the rolls. Bake at 400 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Best when served warm.

SOURCE: unknown

Day 28-44 Days of Witchery-A picture of a witchy I-Want-It-Now!

I came across this decorated Bodhran a month or so ago and fell in love

The artist has an Etsy shop here.  She has so many witchy "I want it now!"s that it was hard to choose only one.

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

23 October 2011

Day 23-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Turnip Gratin

After a long, busy day today with Pixie's birthday party I'm taking the easy way out and sharing a recipe I first made years ago when I had a ton of turnips harvested from the garden and I was on a French cooking bender.  This was flavored with dry mustard, a pinch of nutmeg and for herbs I used some basil and oregano. Don't quote me on the converted measurements, I'm half asleep. ;)

Turnip Gratin

Serves: 4

400g turnips, purple top turnips, the small ones, work best.I'm not sure how it translates but I use 3-4 small/med turnips)
half a head fresh garlic (or 1 clove dried)
75g pancetta ham (1/3c)
25g butter roughly 2 TB
150ml double cream (heavy cream here in the States) (abt 2/3c)
1 tsp dried herbs (use fresh if you have)
1. Peel the turnip and cut into thin slices. Parboil for just 2 minutes. Butter a small ovenproof dish. Cut the pancetta ham into thin julienne.

2. Put the parboiled turnip slices in a pan and add the cream, ham and salt and pepper. Simmer gently until the turnip is tender.

3. Spoon the mixture into the overproof dish and grill until lightly

You can also add sliced potatoes to this recipe but they will need to be parboiled just a bit longer than the turnips which are still young and tender.

Source: unknown

Day 27-44 Days of Witchery-Picture of nature (earth element)

I have countless photos to represent earth element.  However, it's birthday party day and I have to go find freaking kitchen string.  Who knew everyone in the city would be out of stock??

So for today's Earth Element, I leave you with late Summer/early Autumn imagery of harvest, which says earth element to me.

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

22 October 2011

Day 22-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Nutty Quinoa with Apples and Mushrooms

Nutty Quinoa with Apples and Mushrooms

2 1/2 cups broth-garlic or vegetable or, if using dried mushrooms, use the remains of the water used to reconstitute them and top off to make 2 cups total)
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 cup mushrooms-(porcini, chanterelles, woodear, etc.-your choice)
1/4 cup apple, chopped
1/4 cup nuts of your choice (walnuts or hazelnuts work quite well)
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
olive oil
1/2 tsp. thyme leaves
pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper.

If using dried mushrooms, soak in warm water until they are soft.
In a large saucepan, saute shallot and garlic in a bit of oil until soft.
Drain liquid into a bowl or large measuring cup, add garlic or vegetable broth to mushroom *broth* until you hit 2 cups.
Pour liquid into large saucepan add quinoa and chopped mushrooms and bring to a slow boil.

Cook for 5 minutes. Add nuts, apples and 1/2 cup of broth and cook another 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. 
Remove from heat, stir in nuts and thyme.  Cover and let sit 5 minutes.

Serves 4

~Stephanie Lowell-Libby

Day 26-44 Days of Witchery-A witchy podcast.

I've got nothing, the last podcast I listened to was over 5 years ago when they were first hitting the scene.  A blogging friend name Serenity had started a witch in the city-themed podcast which I enjoyed.  

Ok, so maybe I have something, I just did a search and found her in new homes.  Serenity has many podcasts now, I haven't listened in years so no idea how they've evolved.  I always loved her podcasts so I'll be giving them a listen.

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

21 October 2011

Day 21-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Low Carb Grilled Pork Chops with Chive Cream

This recipe is an adaptation of a South Beach diet recipe.  I adjusted the flavors, sorry but lemon extract is just...bleah.  I prefer natural oils fresh from the peel.  Also, trying to reduce the fat content I subbed coconut milk (the new rage coconut milk now found in the dairy aisle, not the canned stuff you find in asian food aisle)

Low Carb Grilled Pork Chops with Chive Cream

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 shallot, crushed
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 pounds pork chops (4 large chops)


1 cup coconut milk
grated peel of 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh chives

In a shallow pan, stir together oil, salt, pepper, and shallots. Place pork chops in pan, coat with marinade on both sides, and let rest for 15 to 30 minutes.

Chive Cream: In a small saucepan over medium heat, place coconut milk and lemon peel. Simmer until reduced by about one third; keep warm over low heat. Just before serving, season with salt and pepper, then stir chives into warm cream sauce.

Prepare a charcoal fire or preheat broiler. Place pork chops on grill or under broiler, about 4 inches from heat, and cook until browned on one side (about 4 minutes). Turn and cook second side until lightly browned and slightly firm. Serve chops immediately, drizzled with Chive Cream.

Makes 4 servings

Day 25-44 Days of Witchery-How do your close ones feel about your witchy path? Do they know? Why or why not?

I've been on a pagan path for 27 years next week.  I think I came out of the closet about 5-7 years after that.  I was raised Catholic and my mother goes between thinking I'm going to hell to thinking I can be lured back to the church.  Her mother was my biggest supporter, despite being LDS she was very open to other religions (she was raised Methodist) and encouraged me to find what path was best for me.  Everyone close to me knows and has for most of the time I've been pagan, how could they not?  I strive to live my spirituality and I am blessed to live in an area of the world where bible beating isn't as widely spread as in other parts of the country. I think given my region's history we learned centuries ago what happens when religious zealots persecute those they perceive different from themselves.

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

20 October 2011

Day 20-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Pixie's Poulet avec Gruyère et Pommes

Today's recipe is a combined effort with my darling daughter.  Our efforts to find a boneless pork roast locally was not successful so we had to hold off another pork dinner for the girl.  We did find some chicken breasts so while I made a batch of my pumpkin risotto today and Pixie worked on apples for her choice of an apple and cranberry pie we were tossing out ideas for what to add as a dish with our risotto.  I was lamenting the lack of brie for another yummy round of my favorite chicken stuffed with brie and apples so Pixie suggested the apple-smoked Gruyère we have in the fridge and this is the delicious yet simple end result.  Food coma commencing in 3...2...1...

(the name is my nod to her currently learning French)

Pixie's Poulet avec Gruyère et Pommes

3 boneless chicken breasts
1 apple, fine chop
1 cup shredded Gruyère cheese
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tsp fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper, to taste
olive oil

Preheat oven to 375*. 
Flatten chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap until 1/4in to 1/2in thick.
Lay chicken out on parchment lined baking sheet.  Mix garlic and thyme with cheese.
Salt and pepper each breast and then layer apple and Gruyère, both divided equally.
Drizzle lightly with olive oil and bake about 25 min (depending on thickness) until done.

serves 3

~Stephanie Lowell-Libby

Day 24-44 Days of Witchery-Your moon sign.

My Moon is in Capricorn and I've sometimes found this the bane of my existence.  The Moon sign reflects our emotional self and Capricorn, for me, manifests especially during times of stress.  It seems to temper my abundance of Scorpio energy and passion and belies a cold and remote demeanor.  So, when the Scorpio has it's way and emotions explode like a pyroclastic eruption, it tends to surprise those witness to it who may have had no idea the depth of feeling.  We Cappy Moons feel very deeply, we just have this insane need of control so we work hard to keep a calm, serene surface.

We crave order and security, both physical and emotional. Some thrive in the spotlight, I find being the center of attention a fate worse than death. 

My Moon placement brought a lot of challenges to my natal chart, it squares a lot of planets and my Sun so the battle of wills within is frequent!

Moon in 3rd House
(from horoscopeswithin.com)

With the Moon in the Third House your feeling and instinctive nature will find expression through social intercourse, daily mental diversions and general conversation. Your speech and thought are heavily influenced by feelings and moods. At times others may view you as changeable, Indecisive and a bit of a dreamer. Your day to day response to circumstance is strongly conditioned by environmental factors, especially social and domestic discussions. There is also a love of traveling and a desire for constant change.

Looking for your Moon sign?  My favorite sites for that, and more, are alabe.com/freechart and cafeastrology.com

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

19 October 2011

Day 19-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Spiced Pumpkin and Date Scones

I also make these with toasted nuts on occasion, if I am feeling ambitious.  These are delicious served with spiced pumpkin or apple butter. The sifting is necessary to bring a bit of lift to this heavier flour.  If you do not have buttermilk then equal amounts of milk with a tsp or two of vinegar to sour it will work in a pinch.

Spiced Pumpkin and Date Scones

2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup demarera sugar
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not the pie mix)
1/3 cup buttermilk (might need a bit more)

Preheat oven to 400*

Sift first 5 ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Stir in sugar.
Cut butter (I use my fingers and rub it in) into flour mixture until it resembles coarse breadcrumbs. 
Stir in dates and pumpkin and slowly add buttermilk until dough is soft but not sticky.

Now here you have a few options.  Either spoon out dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet or press out on a floured surface until 1in thick circle and slice into 8ths or cut with 2 in round cookie cutter.

Bake about 10 min or until golden.  Serve warm.

~Stephanie Lowell-Libby

*Pumpkin Pie Spice

4 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp ginger

Mix and store in a small container.

Yields 8 teaspoons

Day 23-44 Days of Witchery-A favourite candle.

Not sure what favorite candle this means, so for me....I adore beeswax candles.  their homey scent and ability to cleanse the air as the burn.  (something about ions, I haven't had coffee yet so this is as good as it gets.)  For scents, I love spicy, earthy.  though lilac in spring is a favorite too.  I am very particular about my candles after seeing what a very popular brand does to the air.  Too toxic despite it's homey yankee scents.  So I favor beeswax and soy

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery