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So how’s your balance? Not your equilibrium necessarily, but your sense of well-being?

There are two times during the year when we experience an equal number of daylight and nighttime hours. Those times are the vernal or spring equinox, and the autumnal or fall equinox. In the springtime people celebrate Ostara and in the fall they celebrate Mabon. Though each sabbat has a different theme, one thing they do have in common is that they are a time of balance. So exploring your own state of balance and the health of the world around you might be worth some meditation.

When I studied pathology we defined homeostasis as a balance in the systems of the body that produces health. The vernal equinox signals a new growing season as light increases until the summer solstice. There is a natural balance in the cycles of nature.

This year of 2020 seems to be signaling to us Earth dwellers that something is definitely awry. I agree with many that we have mistreated the planet and those living beings we share it with. That this Covid 19 virus that threatens us originated in a meat market in the midst of horrid filth is not surprising. But dwelling on the cause is pointless unless it helps to change future behavior.

As many of our lives have been changed dramatically over the past few weeks (and probably will be for some time to come), we will be forced to consider what we will need to do to adapt and survive: to return to a state of balance. Sadly, some people will hoard food and other necessities, while others will cooperate and share and care.

We won’t be gathering physically for an Ostara ritual this year in my coven. Those that can will connect via the internet. But as a solitary act of ritual observance I would like to suggest the following:

Hold a white jar candle between your hands and visualize the world in a state of balance. This would include the climate and other plant and animal beings which you see in a healthy state of balance. Feel these thoughts and their energy pass through your hands and enter the candle. Light the candle and allow it to burn down in a safe place.

Take a walk in nature. Plant some seeds or bulbs you have brought with you and return over the next few weeks to observe their growth. Of course, if you tend a garden go outside and refresh your spirit there. As they say, “Who plants a garden, plants hope.”

If you are confined to your home, set a daily schedule and stick to it. Plan time for meditation and divination and talk to the god and goddess. Cleanse and feng shui your dwelling place as you bless and ward against negative energy. Do some kitchen witchery and practice other witchy crafts. If you are there with children structure their day and teach them your magickal ways! Celebrate life and growth. Spiral dance with them and sing songs to the Goddess.

Basically do as much as you can that is positive and will help you to remain positive. Like attracts like and your thoughts are things. That is the basic premise of magick.

And one last thing to remember: you have great strength and the power to overcome. There have been some times in my life when I started to give in to feelings of helplessness. Believe it or not, at those times what helped me most was to look at myself in the mirror and say, “Snap out of it! You’re a witch! You’re a child of the Goddess and you have great power!”

May you stay safe and find balance during this time of change. The only thing that doesn’t change is the fact that things change. But don’t forget that we are magickal, and magick is all about change!

Blessings of Balance,

Sarina ☀️🌈🌧

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Need a little magickal grounding with some comfort food? I love potatoes; baked, mashed, fried…in just about every form potatoes are comfort food to me!

It makes sense that potatoes are so grounding. After all, they grow under the ground! There’s that sympathetic magick working for ya. In the case of our celtic culinary creation, colcannon, add a little green in the form of cabbage and you add some growth and prosperity to the mix.

In my vegan version I skip the dairy and use plant based milk and butter. To my way of thinking, the plant based dairy brings more grounding and better karma to boot!

So here is the simple recipe for this savory dish. Feel free to experiment with different types of potatoes and greens (kale works well) and add some herbs if you like.

Colcannon

You will need:

5 lbs of Yukon gold potatoes cut into cubes (I leave the peels on since they are thin and I like the texture)

Half a cabbage cut into thin slices

A stick (1/2 cup) of plant based butter (I like Earth Balance)

Plant based milk such as almond milk ( others can be used but make sure they are unsweetened) to be added if you want a thinner potato mixture.

Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

Cover the potatoes with water and boil them until they fall apart when stuck with a fork. Drain the potatoes and return them to the hot pot. Mash them vigorously with a hand held potato masher as the remaining steam evaporates. If you need to turn the burner on low to get rid of the remaining steam do so with care. Add the vegan butter that has been cut into pieces and continue mashing. At this point decide if you want to add a little non dairy milk to make the potatoes fluffier. Just add a little at a time so the potatoes don’t get mushy. Now fold in the cabbage and cook the mixture on low for a few minutes to cook the cabbage through. The cabbage should get tender. Season to your liking with salt and pepper.

And there you have it! Let’s celebrate the grounding and bounty of nature. Take a walk on the greening land, and return to a hot bowl of tasty colcannon!

Springtime Blessings,

Sarina

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This morning I woke up in a pissy mood. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s something to do with Mercury retrograde, or it’s maybe the constant dull headache that’s been plaguing me. At any rate, I realized that any good witch would NOT sit around boo-hooing about things, but rather find a way to take charge! Then I remembered my plant ally, lemons. The color lemon yellow is associated with the solar plexus chakra. This is the chakra where we feel happiness and joy, but also where we store our anger.

Lemons are great at cleansing an area of stuck and murky energy. Squeeze some lemon juice in your bucket with your mop water. Wipe your counters with lemon juice. Boil lemon peel in your kitchen cauldron to cleanse the air and breath in the citrusy scent to cleanse your own energy. Throw the used lemons in your garbage disposal and grind them up to cleanse the drain as well.

Today I put several drops of bergamot essential oil in my difuser for an uplifting effect. I think of bergamot oil as “the happy oil”, and as fate would have it, the bergamot plant is a citrus that is a cross between a type of lemon and orange. Some people call it sweet lemon. Bergamot is also what’s added to tea to make Earl Grey tea. A cup of Earl Grey sounds good right now…I feel better already!

Lemony Blessings,

Sarina

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Now, some of what I’m going to talk about in this post might get a little personal for some of you. You may feel like clicking on past me when you find out what I’m into, but hear me out.

Ok. Here goes. I’m a vegan kitchen witch. I don’t eat animals (meat) or any of their by products (dairy, eggs, etc.) I eat “nothing with a face or a mother”, as my vegan daughter would say. What I DON’T plan to do in this post is to preach at my readers. We all make the decision to go vegan or even to cut back on animal products on our own. There are definite health benefits to a plant based diet, but as a pagan with a nature based spirituality, the fact is that eating a plant based diet is healthier for the planet. And at this moment in time the health of Mama Gaia takes on even more importance than ever.

If you want to know more about the vegan lifestyle, then I can recommend some excellent resources:

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret: https://www.cowspiracy.com/

What the Health (on Netflix)

Game Changers (on Netflix)

And an excellent website with loads of information: https://nutritionfacts.org/

What this vegan kitchen witch DOES plan to do from now on is to post delicious vegan recipes and cooking tips that EVERYONE can enjoy along with the magickal energies that these plant based dishes contain. Stay tuned!

Yummy Plant Based Blessings,

Sarina

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Since I am hosting Imbolc this year at Sycamore Hill, I decided that for our “cakes and ale” part of the ritual to make bannocks, which are a traditional oat cake served at this time of year. These yummy, magickal bannocks will contain minced fresh rosemary and grated orange zest. Rosemary is sacred to Brighid or Brighde as we like to call her, and Imbolc is about honoring Brighde.

In kitchen witchery it’s nice to consider the magickal properties of ingredients in your food. After all, cooking is a form of alchemy! You transform ingredients into something entirely different. Magick!

In these bannocks I figure that the oats are for grounding and stability, the rosemary could be for protection, the orange zest for strength and a positive attitude and then the small bit of sugar adds some sweetness and love!

So here is the recipe:

Rosemary Bannocks

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and grease a baking sheet or large iron skillet.

Ingredients:

1cup of oat flour (You can make your own by grinding rolled oats in a food processor.)

1cup of old fashioned rolled oats

1/4 tsp salt

3Tb sugar

2Tb minced rosemary

Grated zest of a medium orange

6Tb cold Earth Balance or other plant based butter

1/2 cup of soy milk

1. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

2. Cut the Earth Balance into smaller chunks and then mix them into the dry mixture with a pastry blender.

3. Then add the soy milk.

4. Mix the ingredients until you have a dough. Turn the dough onto a surface that has been sprinkled with more oat flour and knead the dough for just about a minute. If the dough seems sticky add more oat flour.

5. You can form the dough into small cakes or divide the dough in half and make two medium sized cakes that you cut into quarters. The idea is to expose enough edges to make a brown and crispy cake.

6. Brush the tops of the bannocks with melted Earth Balance and sprinkle them with sugar.

7. Place the cakes on a greased baking sheet and bake them in a 400 degree oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the edges are brown and crispy.

So there you have it! And as an added bonus, these bannocks are vegan and gluten free!
Enjoy!
Savory Blessings
Sarina

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Walking the Spiral

Imbolc is the time in our coven when we welcome new dedicants to the priesthood. This sabbat is a time when we honor the lady Brighid who is the goddess of poetry, smith-work and midwifery. It is a time of new beginnings as represented by the goddess as midwife, and so it is appropriate to start the journey of a year and a day at this time.

Imbolc wall sconce by Mickie Mueller on Etsy

This year we are welcoming a new dedicant and hopefully at this time next year he will be elevated to first degree priest. It’s always exciting to welcome a new person to the priesthood path!

I like to set up an altar to honor Brighid with symbols that represent her. New born animals, the milk that feeds those babies, hence, the milk maids and cow cream pitcher. My fellow priestess and I decided that since red and white are the colors of Imbolc, and since Brighid is a goddess of the hearth and the hearth is the heart of the home where she lights her magick flame, the hearts we see at this time of the year are perfectly fine in our displays. How’s that for witchy logic??

The idea of taking a year and a day to study for each degree in the priesthood is partly so that the entire wheel of the year can be observed and experienced on the pagan spiritual path. There are facts to be learned, experiences to be had, and activities to participate in throughout the seasons that will transform the dedicant over the course of the year to become a priest or priestess of the God and Goddess.

It has occurred to me that even though we say that the year is like a wheel, it is really not like a circle. Certainly there are cycles that repeat throughout the year, but every year is different. There is growth and change but nothing stays the same. Once the priestess reaches the level of high priestess and clergy does she then just stop learning and growing? I hope not.

To me the year is more like a rotation in a spiral. We strive for an upward spiral to increase in spiritual knowledge and wisdom, but that spiral should never end. Every Imbolc I plan to rededicate to this pagan path as I start yet another year and a day.

Will you take some time during your Imbolc ritual to dedicate yourself to another turn on this spiral path?

As I address the Lady I may say:

Lady Brighid of the Healing Flame,

Bright and shining one, please show the way,

as I continue to walk this spiral path for another year and a day.

May I progress in becoming ever more like You!

So Mote it Be!

Blessed Imbolc,

Sarina ❤️

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Deck the halls! Yuletide approaches! I love the greenery that adorns our homes and stores at this time of year. The Yule tree is symbolic of the green new life that returns with the light of the sun at the solstice.

The song, Deck the Halls, is actually an old Welsh song that was originally sung at New Year. The falalalala warms my pagan heart. What lovelier practice could there be than hanging some magickal greenery about at Midwinter?

Pine is perhaps the most commonly seen greenery at Yule. It can be protective, as well as attract abundance. It’s fresh scent feels cleansing. When you think about the cold wintry weather and how vulnerable we are at this time to the elements and disease, plants that bring abundance and protection would seem magickally useful.

Holly, with its prickly leaves, seems obviously protective. In sympathetic magick the physical qualities of a plant relate to the magickal properties. Those blood red berries not only hint at a warning , but also attract the health and vitality needed to make it through until spring.

Mistletoe is perhaps best known for its use in kissing balls. It is useful in love magick, but once again, protection is one of its key functions in magick. Kissing under the mistletoe, in fact, is supposed to protect a love relationship. Incidentally, mistletoe is quite toxic, so be careful how you use it in spells.

Lastly, one of my favorite Yule herbs is bayberry…as in a real bayberry candle. Be sure you pay for the real thing and not bayberry scented candles if you want to stir up some magick! If you can find pure bayberry essential oil that could serve for annointing a candle, but I found it easier to find the candles. An old colonial charm states:

A bayberry candle when burned to the socket,

Brings health to the home,

And puts money in the pocket!

On Yule I will light my bayberry candle and allow it to burn down in a safe place (my fireplace 😉).

Abundance and protection: these most appreciated gifts of our Yuletide green allies surround us with their blessings! Do you use any other plants at Yule for their magickal energy? If so, please mention them in the comments below.

Let’s deck the halls and drink a toast to the return of the sunlight at Winter Solstice!

Yuletide Blessings,

Sarina

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