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

18 October 2011

Day 18-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Hazelnut Crusted Pork Loin Stuffed with Apples

This is the Happy Birthday Pixie Jane!!!!  edition of 31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking.  My beloved cancer-surviving daughter is 12 years old today!  So in her honor I prepared the meal of her choice, the main course being the following.

Hazelnut Crusted Pork Loin Stuffed with Apples

1 5lb boneless pork roast

3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup hazelnuts, fine chop
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
2 TB fresh rosemary
olive oil

1 apple, peeled and chopped
1 small red onion, fine chop
1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
1 TB olive oil
1 TB fresh thyme
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground ginger
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 350*.  Slice roast on side lengthwise until about 3/4in from opposite end and open (like a book).  cover in plastic wrap and pound the pork roast until about 3/4in thick. remove plastic and place roast in roasting pan.

Over medium-high heat, saute onion and apple in olive oil until soft.  Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup bread crumbs, thyme, coriander, ginger, salt and pepper. Let cool.

In a food processor, chop up hazelnuts, rosemary and garlic cloves to a fine meal. Add breadcrumbs and blend with enough olive oil to bind the mixture.

Spoon apple/onion mixture to one half of the pork, wrap up and tie off with kitchen string (or take skewers to hold closed). Cover all sides in hazelnut paste.

Cook according to roast size, about 20 min per pound.

Day 22-31 Days of Witchery-Current moon phase.

Waning Gibbous Moon,  21 Days !

This post if part of the 44 Days of Witchery

17 October 2011

Day 17-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Nut-crusted Chicken Stuffed with Apple and Brie

I found something like these in the freezer section and loved the idea of them.  Not one for prepackaged foods and their high sodium content I decided to give my own recipe a go.  I love the pure taste of apple and brie and hate the thought of muddying it up with other flavors, however I thought the thyme would go in nicely so I added a small amount.  The egg bath can be mixed with a bit of milk or water but i love the added apple flavor which mixes so nicely with the nutty crust.  

Nut-crusted Chicken Stuffed with Apple and Brie

4 chicken breast halves
4oz brie, room temperature
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1/4 tsp dried thyme leaves

1 egg
2 TB apple cider

1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts or walnuts, chopped fine
salt and pepper, to taste

olive oil

Preheat oven to 400*F
Pound out each breast half until 1/4in thick. 
In a bowl add brie, apple and thyme and mix well. divide into 4 equal parts and spoon onto one end of the chicken breast and roll up, tucking in sides.

beat one egg and thin with apple cider.  In a separate dish blend breadcrumbs, nuts and salt and pepper.
Carefully roll stuffed breast into egg mixture and then in breadcrumb mixture and secure with a toothpick before placing on greased baking sheet.

Drizzle breasts lightly with some olive oil and bake for 25-30 min or until done.

Serves 4

Day 21-44 Days of Witchery-A favourite scent

I don't have one favorite scent I can list, so I'll share the three that first come to mind....

#1 Cardamom

When I was in the 8th grade I did a report on Sweden.  For my project I baked a few Swedish yummies and this was when I was introduced to the glorious smell of fresh ground cardamom.  I made lussekatter, which is served on St Lucia. We have since made lussekatter for St. Lucia just about every year since then and the delight in grinding the cardamom seeds is my favorite part of the ritual.

#2  Fresh Cut Grass

This is a scent that sends me into rapturous bliss.  I love the smell of fresh cut grass or mown timothy.  I recall reading once that it's considered an aphrodisiac, I would not doubt it!

#3 Patchouli

I love this scent, but only when applied correctly.  Those dousing themselves leaves me nauseous.  I use a patchouli oil, one dot on my finger and applied wherever.  I usually mix patchouli with ylang-ylang to balance the scent out. yum.

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

16 October 2011

Day 16-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Spiced Apple Cider Waffles

We celebrated this month of Samhuinn with a day out in the glorious Autumn air.  We were treated to autumn zephyrs through the cemetery and blasts of falling leave-scented air through the apple orchard.  This morning I was inspired to break out my new to me waffle maker and try something with our harvest from yesterday's outing.  The stevia was surprisingly good with the finished product, I had no hint of aftertaste and Pixie is currently devouring her second full sized waffle with hums and sighs of delight.  So all in all a good day for kitchen alchemy!

Spiced Apple Cider Waffles

2 cups white whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup stevia
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 1/2 cups apple cider (fresh is even better)
1 apple, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil (or melted butter)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground allspice
pinch of salt (or low/no salt)

Mix flour, baking powder, stevia, spices and stir until combined. 
Add eggs, oil and apple cider and stir until well blended. 
Add in chopped apples and stir until just combined.
Pour into a hot and greased waffle maker and cook until the steam stops pouring out. 
Amount is dependent on griddle size.  I coat the bottom with batter until it just hits the edges and then close and allow to cook.

serve with butter, maple syrup or warm cider syrup.  Ours never made it that far, we ate them as soon as they cooled enough to eat!

makes 4-5 belgian waffles

~Stephanie Lowell-Libby

Day 15-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Sautéed Red Cabbage

When sautéing cabbage, cook until your preference.  I prefer mine al dente. just softened but with a bite and freshness still to it.

Mama Moon's Samhuinn Sautéed Red Cabbage

1 head of red cabbage, shredded (I use organic so its a small/med sized head)
1-2 TB olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup of finely sliced leeks
2 TB apple cider vinegar
2 tsp fresh or 1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

In a large skillet over medium high heat, saute cabbage in hot oil.  Stirring frequently.
Add leeks and garlic and continue to saute until cabbage is softened.
Add cider vinegar and stir and allow to cook off about 1 min.
Add herbs and spices, stir to combine. Reduce heat and let simmer 5 min.  Serve.

~Stephanie Lowell-Libby

Day 20-44 Days of Witchery-A picture of a tarot or oracle card, and its meaning.

The Lovers

I do tarot pulls for my year ahead in a couple of different ways.  At my birthday I do one for the year ahead, as a theme or focus for my growth/development throughout the year.  This is something I have not done in several years however this year I was inspired to give it another go.

The meaning is also an affirmation of constant messages I've had throughout this year.  'Love yourself and the rest will all fall into place'  This sounds like an easier task than it is, for me anyway, the concept seems simple enough but I have an angry inner voice in there that loves to undermine all my attempts.  I believe she is the rage child, who remembers all of the hurts, pains, abandonments, losses, fears that I experienced.  SO!  Healing Rage, the book I've written about before, is back on the forefront of my reading/working list as is Louise Hay's You Can Heal Your Life.  I have the intention every day but somehow the entire day gets away from me.

So with the affirmation that my focus has been pulled in the correct direction, I'm off to love myself with a little chai... ;0)

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

15 October 2011

Day 19-44 Days of Witchery-Fire element.

seems rather redundant after already posting fire two days ago, but. whatever. So I will take a different route and share how fire plays into my life.  In my astrological natal chart fire is the scarcest element to be found.  I have three Aries placements-Saturn, Chiron and North Node both in Aries.  So the fire energy is there but more from a karmic perhaps past life angle. Physically the red does show on me in my reddish hair, and no matter what color I may change my hair to the red highlights always manage to force themselves out. I find that the same with all of my family and friends with Aries in their charts, that warm, fiery glow especially around the head and neck.

This photo of my aura was taken last month at a psychic fair. This is the four of it's kind I've had done and it never fails to surprise me that my aura isn't this peaceful blue, purple and green. instead it pretty much stays gold, yellow and orange.  Early on there was more read but the reader (who has done all four) said its shifting more to gold, with some green hovering around my throat and heart chakras (this moves).  Past photos you can see me through the color.  This was amazing, I can barely see my face this time around!  I figure that while I may lack fire in my natal chart, the energy does manifest elsewhere in intensity and passion-and some days this is a lot more passion than one person can handle!

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

14 October 2011

Day 14-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Spiced Pumpkin and Mushroom Risotto

If you haven't noticed, I love mushrooms. I especially love wild mushrooms such as chanterelles and morels. I  find them very Samhuinn-y and adore them in dishes this time of year.  For this recipe they can be subbed with porcini or shiitake mushrooms. Also, to mix it up a bit if using fresh pumpkin, try pureeing half the pumpkin and roasting the diced second half and adding it to the risotto

Spiced Pumpkin and Mushroom Risotto

2 large shallots, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced (or more)
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil
2 cups arborio rice
1 cup dry white wine
5-6 cups of hot vegetable stock

2 cans organic pumpkin (or if you have fresh pumpkin 2 cups of finely diced and pureed)
1 cup chanterelles, large dice
1 cup morels, sliced lengthwise
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 Tb fresh thyme, minced
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground coriander
Salt and black pepper to taste
toasted pumpkin seeds, garnish (opt)

In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, warm olive oil and saute shallots and garlic.  Add rice and stir to coat rice with oil.
Add wine and continue stirring until wine has been absorbed.  Add 3 cups of the hot veg stock so that rice is completely covered.  Add more if needed.
Continue to cook, stirring frequently until stock is absorbed.

Add 1 cup of hot stock and continue to cook and stir until liquid is absorbed, repeat with last 1-2 cups. Rice should be chewy and much of the liquid absorbed.
Stir in pumpkin, thyme, nutmeg mushrooms and parmesan and turn heat to low and let cook 5 min. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.

~Stephanie Lowell-Libby

More Samhuinn recipes- at Hearth and Home Witchery

Day 18-44 Days of Witchery-Have you had any paranormal experiences?

Short answer?  Yes. I had experiences as a small child but I seemingly convinced myself it was my imagination or dreams.  The first big one that left a lasting impression happened when I was about 10 or 11 and sleeping over my then stepfather's parents' house.  They lived in this huge three story house, rather posh and very old out near the seacoast.  I was sleeping in a second floor bedroom alone when at some point during my night I woke and felt someone in the room with me. I tentatively peeked around and saw an old woman walking from the doorway toward me, she was wearing a long white nightgown and was carrying something in her hand which had her attention.  She had a pleasant old lady look to her however she kept walking toward me and not  knowing who she was I was getting a bit nervous that she had not responded to my presence, at this same time it clicked that she wasn't all that solid either.  Coldness overcame me, sheer terror, that iciness in the pit of one's stomach.  All the hairs stood up on my neck and head as she came up along side of my bed and reached for the blankets.  It was then I pulled the blankets over my head and I think I fainted, I don't remember anything after that until I woke in the morning. Now, I have replayed this over and over, was I dreaming? Absolutely not.  My dreaming style has always been very discernible for me, I see images in my dreams differently than when awake, and I have always known when I am dreaming.  So, that morning I went down to breakfast and asked my hosts who the old lady was who came into my room.  my stepfather's mother casually replied "oh that was his mother's room (stepfather's father), she passed away in there years ago.'


After that anything obviously and tangibly paranormal was scattered at best, I was already struggling with empathic and clairaudient abilities that I had no clue about so I consciously tuned out a lot in order to survive a childhood already filled with abuse, fear, and instability.  It was after Pixie was born that it started up again to the point I saw physical manifestations.  So to answer's today's question, yes, I've had a few!

This post is part of the 44 Days for Witchery

13 October 2011

Calling all Intuitives, Psychics, etc.

So I have a question for anyone who has more fine tuned intuition/psychic abilities. While out through here (Pixie and her cousins call this place "The Realm") to take photos in the back property I was overtaken by this very odd feeling.  It scared me and though I have not ruled out low blood sugar or low blood pressure I have found that once I returned to the house it cleared up. It is a bit difficult to describe but it was like I could no longer focus my eyes, it was an almost  forced tunnel vision, it reminds me of how I see in dreams-unable to focus directly on anything.  I was getting scared, thought maybe I was on the verge of a stroke or something.  So my question is, if you are psychic or highly intuitive have you ever experienced anything like this? 

Day 13-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Overnight October Oatmeal

This requires a slow cooker!  One of my favorite parts of Autumn is that I get to bust out my slow cooker breakfast recipes for darker, cooler mornings as we head toward the winter months.  This recipe utilises the more traditional October/Samhuinn related ingredients.

Overnight October Oatmeal

this is prepared just before you head to bed the night before. The spices are added in the morning so as not to cook out all of their flavor with the long cooking time. 

2 cups apple cider
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 Tbs melted butter
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup steel cut Irish oats or Scottish porridge
1 cup chopped apple
1/2 cup chopped dates
1/2 cup raisins, currants or dried cranberries or blueberries
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cinnamon (this second dousing of cinnamon is optional, we love our spice in this family)
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
pinch of ground cloves

Add first 10 ingredients to the slow cooker, stirring to combine. Cover and set on the low setting and let cook overnight.

About 20-30 minutes before serving, stir in remaining spices and let continue to cook on low. 

Serve topped with milk

Serves 4

Day 17-44 Days Witchery-Picture of nature (fire element).

This is an image I captured one evening as I randomly snapped photos of the fire before me. I love the face in the flame, to me it looks like a woman's face.  I've had others tell me that they see two faces. 

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

12 October 2011

Day 12-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Stuffed Courgettes

This recipe is not one of mine, however in trying to keep up with daily recipe postings I had to take the easy way out.   This is a lovely addition to any autumn meal.

Stuffed Courgettes

3 large courgettes (zucchini), washed,cut in half lengthwise
3/4c  uncooked wild rice
1 large onion, chopped fine & sauteed in oil
1/4c  raisins, chopped fine
8 dried apricots, chopped fine
2 tablespoon pinenuts, chopped fine
1lb  minced sausage
2 tablespoon freshly chopped parsley
2 teaspoon freshly chopped mint
salt and pepper, to taste

Yogurt Sauce

3 c. plain yogurt
1 egg white, beaten slightly
1 Tb cornstarch
2 cloves garlic

After cutting zucchini in half lengthwise, with a spoon scoop out insides. Finely chop zucchini flesh and add to a medium bowl with the rice, fruits, nuts, garlic and onion.  Add meat, herbs, salt & pepper and mix well.  Fill and mound zucchini halves with mixture, packing it in well.  Set in a baking dish.  Pour into pan 1c. water, cover with foil and bake in a 375* oven about 40-45 min, then uncover and pour yogurt mixture over zucchini.  Return to oven uncovered and bake for an additional 10 min.

Yogurt Sauce

Combine yogurt, egg white, cornstarch (add salt if desired) in a saucepan over medium heat, stir and bring to a boil. Stir constantly and cook for 5 min, while thicken as it cools.  Add garlic and cook and additional 2-3 min, stirring constantly.

Source: unknown

Day 16-44 Days of Witchery-Favourite witchy website(s).

This has been a tough one for me, I've been avoiding finishing it all day. The internet has changed a lot over the years and the websites I loved 5 to 10 years ago have faded away and been replaced with slick, blurby websites.  The only site that has really stood the test of time is Witchvox, it's a great site but not a favorite of mine.  So, for Day 16 I'll share a few websites I still love even though they are no longer updated.

Gruenwold Cottage-This is Lora Craig-Gaddis' website.  She is the creative genius behind Pooka Pages Magazine (formerly known as Pooka's Sandbox).  She is a spectacular artist and a wonderful witch whom I have known for almost ten years.  Pixie still loves her creations and we have several pieces of her artwork which we adore. 

The other is my own site, Hearth and Home Witchery.  With the exception of the pagan blogs page, this site has not been updated in years however it is celebrating it's 10 year anniversary this month!  I began building this site in the evenings after Pixie would go to sleep and my love of sharing ideas and such led to the site which I still love.

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

11 October 2011

Day 11-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Chai-spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

One day I will capture a photo of this glorious treat.  Pixie and I love chai, pumpkin and cheesecake so we played about one day and created this bit of scrumminess.

Chai-spiced Pumpkin Cheesecake

2 cups crushed ginger snaps
1/4 cup of melted butter

4 packages (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
1 (15oz) can pumpkin (not pie mix)
2 teaspoons ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 tsp ground star anise
1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Heat over to 300*F

Grease a 9-in springform pan and wrap the outside with heavy duty aluminum foil. This recipe uses the waterbath cooking method so heavy duty foil is a MUST to prevent the water leaking through and ruining the cheesecake.

In a small bowl, mix gingersnaps and butter and press into the springform pan to cover the bottom and up the sides 1 inch in height.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until set.  Cool 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar with a mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until blended.  DO NOT over mix. Stir in pumpkin and spices  until just combined, leaving it a bit swirled is good too.

Spread into pan over crust.

Place the foil-wrapped pan in a shallow baking pan.  Add very hot water to the pan,  filling halfway.  Being careful to not spill water into the cheesecake.

Bake for 1 hour and 20 min or until the outer 2 inches of the cake has set and the center still jiggles a bit when moved.  Shut off oven and crack oven door and allow cheesecake to sit in the oven for 35 min

Remove from oven and transfer cheesecake pan to a cooling rack and allow to cool for 30-60 minutes. 

Cover pan with foil loosely and refrigerate 6-8 hours or overnight. Allowing the cheesecake overnight allows the spices to really meld with the cake.

16 servings

~Stephanie Lowell-Libby

Day 15-44 Days of Witchery-Thoughts on the afterlife?

The idea of heaven, hell and purgatory never sat well with me as a child growing up in the Catholic church.  As an adult and after years of following my own path, growing and learning I have found that all of those three exist-for those who believe in them.

I believe we manifest in life where we end up after death.  I figured that spirits who haunt or stay about sometimes lose their way, that the power of thought of a certain mindset keeps them pigeon-holed. Just my $.02

As for my thoughts, I believe that our souls go through a system not unlike public school.  We have umpteen years of preschool, elementary, middle, and so on,  we level up as we accomplish the lessons we set out to do.  I believe that we travel in groups, our soul groups, and that when some arrive here earlier and leave before we do some choose to stay and wait until others in their group pass on as well.   I haven't quite figured out how it all works.  I've read widely varying opinions on the subject and with trying to decipher my own experiences I'm left with more questions.

Those in my family whom I was close to and have passed on have almost always come to me in dreams some time after to say goodbye or provide some sort of closure.  It took me some time to figure this out, I noticed that these particular dreams were very different from my usual dreamtime.  The colors were more sharp, I could see them and everything very clearly (whereas in most of my dreams there is a haze and I tend to only see what I try to focus on in my peripheral vision).  With the exception of my paternal grandfather I have been visited by every loved one who has passed during my life.  Ironically it is with this grandfather that I struggle with closure.  He passed when I was 12 and his was the only wake I was not allowed to attend.  This side of my family was Irish, so wakes were a part of life and I had attended wakes from a young age. So I never saw him ailing or passed and he has never visited me so this is the basis for my speculations of the afterlife and the variables therein.

I think for the most part we stay near one another, as predetermined before we enter this life.  I know my maternal grandmother is around me since her passing in 2002, I hear her, smell her and feel her presence quite often.  My grandfather (maternal) pops in and out as well.  This isn't only my family either, when I do readings for people I'll sometimes get messages and whatnot from family members.  Usually a hey or a short sentence and they toss in a pet name of the person I am doing the reading for as (I think) a way of giving their message credence.  It cements my belief that there is more beyond this earthly life.

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

10 October 2011

Day 10-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Stuffed Samhuinn Pumpkins

The sweet recipes will return later this week once Pixie is off her steroids.  She gets borderline diabetic these weeks so we have to adjust the diets accordingly, which means limited sugar and carbs.  For carnivores, this recipe can easily include some ground meat-cut the mushrooms down to  1/2 to 1 cup, and add 1/2lb of browned meat. Sub meat stock for veg if you wish.

Stuffed Samhuinn Pumpkins

4 small pumpkins (individual serving size or large enough to hold 1 1/2 - 2 cups of stuffing)
3 cups cooked wild rice
1 cup coarse bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped pecans (I usually do a full cup)
2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup  celery, diced
1/2 cup  carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup butter or olive oil
2 cups vegetable or garlic stock
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp winter savoury
pinch of grated nutmeg
salt & pepper, to taste
1 cup applesauce
1/4 cup apple cider

Cut a hole in the top of 4 well washed pumpkins, saving the lids. Clean out the seeds and string, rub olive oil on all surfaces.  Season the inside with salt & pepper. Arrange them in a baking dish and set aside.

Saute  onion, garlic, celery and carrot in 1TB olive oil until soft. Add the pecans and mushrooms and saute about two minutes. Mix in the bread crumbs, herbs and salt and pepper to taste. Divide the mixture evenly among the four pumpkins. Pour 1 cup stock into the pan around the outside of the pumpkins. Dot generously with butter, put the lids back on the pumpkins and cover loosely with foil.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes, or until the pumpkin is very soft and well done. Add more veg/garlic stock to the dish if too much evaporates during baking as you want these moist.

Remove the pumpkins from the pan and onto serving dish(es).  Strain the juices from the baking dish into a measuring cup, add broth until the liquid equals 2 cups.  Pour into small saucepan and add the apple sauce and apple cider, and bring to a boil and allow to reduce slightly. Drizzle over the pumpkins. Serve.

~Stephanie Lowell-Libby

Day 14-44 Days of Witchery-A favourite pagan holiday that you celebrate.

Like it's partner of light, Bealltainn, I have always found the energy during Samhuinn to be intense, passionate and breathtaking.  Perhaps it is my need for balance because I adore both points in the year. Long ago I was told that I am a child of the inbetween times, sitting on the periphery, never fully in one world or another. I took that to mean the time of year I was born, early in the morning  about one week after the Autumn Equinox. Or maybe it means my connection to the other side-whichever side that may be.  Hearing and seeing more than the Average Josephine notices throughout her day. Whatever the intended reasoning behind it it all comes down to how much I adore this time of year and how reflective it seems to be that I adore both Samhuinn and Bealltainn.  For me Samhuinn is not a fixed point, it's mutable in our calendar year.  My circle and I spoke of the thinning veil over the Summer, as that was when we noticed the changes.  By this time of year we are all overstimulated with the raucous noises and activities of the other realms (I think it's not only the deceased right now, or the fae realm is a-buzz with activity.)

What draws me to Samhuinn is how dark the nights are, the hold an inky blackness unlike any other time of year.  This darkness has a warmth to it, an energy, it is like wearing the thickest, most luxurious cloak.  During Samhuinn it is the memory and honor of my ancestors that I really focus on.  My ancestral altar gets the main focus for this month (or so) with all the photos and belongings of my deceased family.

At some point before Hallows Eve we take an afternoon and head to the local cemetery to say hi to my paternal grandparents, great aunts, great uncles, great-great grandparents and a great-great-great granny as well.  We sometimes make a picnic and hang out, leaving apples for all the stones (we have four family plots as this is the Irish side of my family and large family at that) and cleaning up the flowers planted near Bealltainn. 

Pixie, of course, has her trick or treating fun and my Samhuinn focus is pretty flexible.  I observe Samhuinn for an entire month, roughly until the second week of November.  There are variables each year, Mercury Rx tends to influence if it falls somewhere during the month.  I have always enjoyed using my time for celebration on either actual Samhuinn, which falls about November 7th, or when the Sun is about halfway through Scorpio (Sun 15* Scorpio) or Lunar Samhuinn, which is a newer focus for me thanks to a friend a few years back (gotta love continual learning!).  Lunar Samhuinn is the New Moon closest to the 31st and this year its falls on my 27 anniversary on a pagan path, October 26th. 

 Since Pixie was born I have really gotten into regular observation of each celebration.  Even if it were simply a feast to celebrate, I did something.  As she grew we did activities and she learned about my path and really worked to decipher and establish her own path. As she reaches her 12th birthday it is wonderful to see how much she has grown as a pagan child, all on her own volition.  Tis beautiful..
 Living with family that is Christian and rather unaccepting of my ways makes celebrating rather tough so in the last several years my practices have suffered greatly. However, this year the need is so great that I will find some way to really incorporate something more than a meal into our Samhuinn. Regardless of how it all unfolds we will have our Samhuinn feasting, leave a bit of something that night for wandering souls  and commune with the energies of our deceased loved ones who are most definitely visiting.

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

09 October 2011

Day 9-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Mama Moon's Garlic Stuffed Pork Roast

Over the years our mandatory staple at our Samhuinn feast has been garlic-stuffed pork roast.  I'm not a big pork eater until October hits and then I am known to have it at least a few times over the course of the season.

Mama Moon's Garlic Stuffed Pork Roast with Rosemary and Onion

1 pork roast, boneless (tenderloin works too)
garlic cloves, sliced lengthwise (amount is dependent on the size of the roast and your preference)

with a sharp knife pierce the flesh about an inch or so all over and stuff with garlic slivers

in a small bowl mix; (depends on size of roast, measurements below are for a 3-5lb roast)

2 TB chopped rosemary
1 tsp chopped or dried sage
1 tsp chopped or dried thyme
sea salt

blend and rub down roast with mixture, throw away any extra if cross contaminated by your hands.  Then rub down roast with

3TB olive oil

and top roast with

1 onion, sliced into thin rings

Cook in a 325* oven for roughly 20min per pound and until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the cut registers a temperature of 160°F for medium doneness (165°F to 170°F for well done).

Day 13-44 Days of Witchery-What are some of the witchy books that influenced you?

The very first book I read on anything remotely witchy was a Scott Cunningham book when I was 21 and five years into my pagan path.  Seems odd? Yeah, probably, however at the time there were not a lot of reading materials out there for the young witch, or at least any that appealed to me or that I felt comfortable with.  Some of the old still gave me the willies and still does, so I listened to that and just did not read the "must reads" that all good pagans feel must be read.

While I thoroughly enjoy Laurie Cabot's Celebrate the Earth I have never recommended it to anyone new to the path.  This book has lovely ideas and inspiration to it however I found too much speculation treated as fact in it and to someone new to the path with no background in history, Celtic or otherwise, this book can be misleading.  Still, by the state of the book in the photo you can see it has been well read  This book represents to me my need to think critically and question everything.  Put simply, find your own truth.

Ceisiwr Serith's The Pagan Family gets the honor of my absolute favorite and most influential book. I purchased it while pregnant with Pixie and integrated several parts of it into my celebrations.  I have been publicly praising this book for years and when I learned that it was no longer in print I wrote to the author in hopes he would have a reprint at some point.  This was 5-6 years ago and at that time the answer was sadly no.  Still, should you ever find this book, snap it up because it's a wonderful read and resource.

Green Witchcraft by Ann Moura (Aoumiel) is my second favorite, actually her entire green series however I only own the first and will borrow my sister's books (and the Grimoire) when the urge strikes.  Of course it has been years.

This is only a small selection of books that have influenced me as it should have read "what witchy authors have influenced you"  Scott Cunningham, clearly one of the most influential authors for pagans new and established.  Patricia Telesco, Kristen Madden, Margie McArthur, and Ann Moura are my top five.

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery 

08 October 2011

Day 12-44 Days of Witchery-Picture of nature (air element)

These were taken at a butterfly conservatory but as I managed to use all my other *airy* photos on a similar posting a few days back I'll tuck these in and call it Day 12.

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery

Day 8-31 Days of Samhuinn Cooking-Dark of the Moon Triple Chocolate Muffins

My Pixie and I are chocolate lovers. Pixie is a chocoholic, truth be told, so I came up with this recipe to feed her chocolate cravings and my need for flavor and texture. Hazelnuts are optional or can be subbed with toasted walnuts. My other version of these is to replace the milk chocolate chips with 1/4c. of nutella for that added hazelnutty flavor. Still tinkering with that recipe though, it's a bit sweet

Dark of the Moon Triple Chocolate Muffins

1/2 c butter
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 1/4 c flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 ts salt
1 c buttermilk
1 c sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground mace
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
6 oz milk chocolate chips
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 c toasted hazelnuts, chopped

Slowly melt butter and unsweetened chocolate over medium heat in double boiler. Let cool slightly. (or microwave butter at low temp and stir in chocolate, microwaving and stirring until chocolate is melted)
While chocolate melts, blend sugar,eggs, buttermilk, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.
Sift flour, baking soda, salt, and spices together.
Add chocolate mixture to egg mixture and blend well. (Do this by slowly adding a bit of chocolate to the egg at a time, stirring quickly so as not to scramble the egg.
Add flour mixture and beat until smooth.
Fold in chocolate bits and nuts.
Line muffin tins with paper cups, filling each cup 2/3 full with batter.

Bake at 375 deg for 20 to 25 minutes.

07 October 2011

Day 11-44 Days of Witchery-Witchy tools: oils

Oils are a large part of my life, both for home and career I work with oils frequently. I have been studying aromatherapy, flower essences, herbalism, medicinal oils and what not since I was a teenager. No *official* schooling unless you count reading through my grandmother's Bach flower therapy course. Everything I have learned I learned through my grandmother and my own self-led studies.

As a massage therapist I do work with oils during aromatherapy massages, which I don't often do unless requested and a full work up of allergies, etc. is done first. I cannot work with certain oils (rosemary, geranium) in a massage one due to my high blood pressure and the other due to a scent memory trigger that leads to full blown panic attack...So neither are a part of my massage repertoire. I do frequently, especially getting into this time of year, do sinus massage with eucalyptus, peppermint or tea tree. When working at a spa we had a high rate of people who were not regulars, just tourists, wanting a massage and not caring that being sick was a contraindication for massage (not to mention exposing said MT to their germs!). So, for their comfort and my self need for flow and quiet during my work. I would start with a sinus massage to clear them right up and then proceed.

As a mother and homekeeper oils are a must have for me. I use them in medicinal remedies for various ailments-some from bought essential oils and some from home made (ie garlic oil, mullein oil for ear aches). I buy all of my oils from Mountain Rose Herbs, while it goes against my buying local stance they are the best I have found and they are really earth conscious in how they obtain their oils. For the home I use them in cleaning and keeping the house pest free and smelling fresh. I add essential oils to my cleaning water when I mop and wash. Sometimes with laundry I'll add some eucalyptus to help kill dust mites in bedding and stuffed animals. I use a blend to disinfect the air and clean surfaces (great during cold and flu season) as well as spray mint oil blends to keep mice out.

My favorite spray blend is a night time/sweet dreams blend I made to help Pixie during her bedtime routine. It was some time before we learned she had a dark elf in her closet and it was scaring her something awful as she could sense it. I cleansed, attempted banishings of whatever was hiding out in her closet as I could feel it too. Nothing worked and shortly after a friend told us what was in there and that it was not leaving, however it was harmless and more a protector for Pixie so the atmosphere changed greatly. In the meantime I had been spritzing her room with a blend of spearmint, orange and a bit of lavender to help calm her at bed time. This was no matter where she ended up as she more often than not would end up sleeping with me.

What I don't do enough is use oils in a magical sense. I do not dress candles and have not in over 15 years, I rarely use them in ritual or annointings. I am definitely more a kitchen witch in my usage, hearth and home.

This post is part of the 44 Days of Witchery