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Posts Tagged ‘food’

The #30DaysMagicalRoots challenge started yesterday.  True to form, I’m a bit late!  Given that it was a major holiday in my tradition, I feel that’s entirely forgivable, right?  Right.  My family had a lovely, low-key Lughnasadh full of blueberry pancakes, board games, and a big dinner.  I also made offerings and went on a run, which felt particularly appropriate on a day for competitions.  Only, I was competing against myself.

So, day 1 of the 30 Days Magical Roots challenge is all about Divination.  I mostly work with the Druid Animal Oracle.  The symbolism resonates with me.  My focus this month is definitely moving.  The waiting is stressing me out.  I asked for insight into that and drew the otter – a card of play.  The Kindreds seemed to tell me to try and enjoy the process, and to not take everything so seriously.  I’m trying… but it is very difficult.

Today is day 2 and the focus is grounding.  My absolute favorite way to ground is through movement.  I reach up to the sky and let the fiery sky energy return to where it is needed.  Then I move into the yoga movement called child’s pose on the floor or ground. I let the watery, underworld energy seep back into the Earth Mother.  It is especially potent outside when you can feel the heat from the sun and the moisture in the grass or soil.

 

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Another year, another lovely garden. Each year I learn more about and from the Nature Spirits. This year, my husband joined me in the adventure as he experiments with hydroponics. Once more, we are renters who largely rely on containers for our gardening. It has pros and cons, and I definitely look forward to having our own land one day, but for now, I’m happy that our garden improves each year! 

We have many representationns of Nature Spirits around the garden.

Veggies in-progress.

Herbs and small trees.



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Basil leaves 
and rose petals drying on my homemade drying rack. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

The warm weather is here, and I’m working to improve my relationships with plants. I’m always learning about herbal properties, plant identification, methods of preservation, and various magical uses. My paternal grandmother started to teach me when I was little.  She had a beautiful herb garden and apple trees at her home.  Some of my favorite childhood memories are of our time exploring the garden together.

Presently, I have various plants drying from my drying racks.  Some will season food, others will become tea, some offerings, and many will serve multiple purposes!

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A basketful of freshly picked strawberries from a local farm.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

Today we went strawberry picking.  It’s alway a lot of work but great fun!  My daughter certainly enjoys it.  We picked three big baskets.  As soon as I got home, I started to process them.  I have several in the freezer and made some jam.  I’m going to throw some on the dehydrator later.  A friend suggested I make strawberry shrub syrup which I hadn’t ever heard of before, but I’m intrigued!  Perhaps tomorrow.  I may even have enough to make more jam!

While picking, I found several patches of wild chamomile and red clover.  I brought some home to dry.  Both are great in tisanes.  My hands smell delicious…

A few days ago, we had our first bonfire of the year at our home.  We decided that we would  toast some vegan marshmallows we had leftover from Bee’s birthday party.  I taught Bee that we need young wood on which to place the marshmallows while we toast them.  We brought an offering of water to the nearby apple tree.  Bee reached up and asked permission without any prompting!  She then held the cup of water up, presenting it to the tree.  She poured the water and then I found suitable branches to cut.  We gave the tree our thanks.  I explained to Bee that I normally don’t harm trees, but sometimes young wood is necessary.  I was really impressed with her respect and how easily the words came to her.  I’m definitely a proud Druid mama!  Hopefully the tradition of working with plants will continue in my family for another generation.

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Bealtaine is one of my favorite holidays.  One reason is simply because, unlike the Spring Equinox, Bealtaine truly brings the warmer weather to Northern NY.  Another reason for my fondness is that it’s basically my unofficial Pagan anniversary.  I don’t know exactly when I started the conversion process, but my first experiences with two Pagan groups that shaped my practice occurred on two separate Bealtaines.  I get really excited about the High Day.

 

A small coven invited me to celebrate with them this weekend, but that didn’t work out for health reasons.  My husband and I contemplated visiting our friends at Muin Mound Grove, but we ultimately decided to stay closer to home and rest.  A marathon Bealtaine would have been fun, and would have taken me back to my college days when such a feat would energize rather than exhaust me.  Nowadays, I’m a little more subdued, and my daughter keeps me so busy that I’m worn out before we even leave the house!  I know many Pagan families with older children who are able to take long trips in order to attend multiple gatherings or festivals – I look forward to doing that again down the road.

So, staying home, I focused on the home.  I cleaned it as best as I could, although I admit it’s never entirely clean.  There’s always something in progress in my kitchen… I’m very hearth-centered, so I suppose that makes sense! I cleaned my altars, which Bee found fascinating as it gave her a chance to look at everything.  We decorated our family altar with symbols of the season.  We even made a little May bush with fallen birch and apple branches.  We each picked colored ribbons to tie to the branches.  It looks very festive!

In addition to making dinner, I made some scones on Bealtaine eve.  We offered some to the Good Folk.  This morning, I made pancakes as my mother told me my grandmother always made pancakes on the first of May.  I love learning about and continuing family traditions, especially when they somehow line up with my High Days!  Of course, an offering of said pancakes was made.

We did a little ritual the night before in which we gave offerings to the Kindreds and the Good Folk.  We jumped over our altar candle for blessings and purification.  Bee thought this was great fun.  She wore the flower circlet I crocheted, a tutu, and her new ballet slippers – she’s quite the performer!  This morning, it’s raining, so I just collected the rain water for purification and healing work.  I made offerings to the only flowers blooming right now – lovely purple ground ivy – and picked a few sprigs to offer to the Good Folk on my doorstep.

Simple and sweet, but certainly inspired by tradition and full of fun and meaning for my family.  Now we will look forward to the big protogrove celebration next weekend!

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An offering of locally made whiskey for An Cailleach.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016.

We had an unseasonably spring-like Imbolc, but An Cailleach isn’t done with us yet!  Northern NY will experience some seriously frigid temperatures tonight into tomorrow, and we’re experiencing lake effect snow today.  Visibility has been pretty poor around my home.  Many local businesses and offices closed or never opened today, and I was fortunate enough to stay home.  Perhaps that colors my judgement today, but I try to stay positive about the winter weather.

Since I’m an animist and a polytheist, I find it really difficult to moan too much about what Nature does. It just feels seriously disrespectful. Sure, I grumble a bit when I have to brush and scrape the car, then drive in potentially hazardous conditions… but if I want to maintain a healthy relationship with Nature and the spirit realm, I need to find the silver lining and give gratitude for blessings known and unknown.  I need to accept Nature’s rhythms to truly learn and grow in my Druidism.

An Cailleach surely blesses us with snow.  Northern climates need this as it will help with the later harvest.  It helps to control populations of parasites and disease carrying critters.  Many seeds require cold to germinate later.  Furthermore, the snow and cold teachers us humility and patience.  In our modern world, so full of conveniences, few things shake humanity out of the illusion of control like difficult weather!  And really, I feel quite blessed to live in a place that experiences an occasional ice storm or blizzard compared to hurricanes or tsunamis.  Man oh man, it must be hard to find the blessings in that! (I’d be curious if readers in other climates and locations have found blessings and would be willing to share.)

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Snow Day Snowman – Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2016

A snowy day is a great day to get in touch with your inner child, too.  Having a little one forces me to reconnect with the whimsy of winter!  Taking the time to catch snowflakes on our tongues, make snow fairies, and build snowmen is still so much fun!  (Although rolling balls for snowmen really makes me feel my age.  Choose the pain you’d like to experience later – knees or back!)

After making offerings to the Nature Spirits and playing in the snow, it’s so nice to come inside, peel off those wet gloves, and enjoy some hot cocoa.  My husband makes a delicious batch from scratch!  As I hold the mug, I feel Brighid’s warmth flowing into me.  I feel gratitude for the lessons and blessings that come with enjoying An Cailleach’s wintry weather and Brighid’s warm, sheltering hearth.

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The Brighid doll I made for my protogrove.  Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2015.

Many of us associate Imbolc with milk in part because, as tradition has it, the holiday falls when the sheep in Ireland are lactating.  As a result, a favorite family activity in many Pagan households is making butter, and many of us offer cow, sheep, or goat milk to Brighid.

Since becoming a mother, I’ve found myself reflecting on the milk my body produces.  Brighid has connections to motherhood and midwifery, too, and as someone who already looked to Brighid with gratitude for inspiration and warmth, I naturally embraced this other side of her.  Every year since giving birth to Bee, Imbolc is a special time for me to reflect on my ability to produce nourishment for my little one*.

Meditating on the magic of lactation took a new direction this Imbolc as I readied my Hygeia breast pump for a friend, protogrove mate, and new mama to use!  I was so happy to share this pump.  I bought it in part because it’s one of the few in the market that is meant to be shared; one of the few that is FDA approved to be shared (provided each person using buy replacement flanges and such).  I realized that this same woman watched me openly breastfeed my daughter at every protogrove event.  Part of my ability to do that was the encouragement my previous grove gave me, and their openness in letting me nurse without covering up.  It also came from watching a coven-mate nurse her daughter back from my days in an eclectic circle.  I brought that behavior to my own protogrove, and everyone was very supportive, especially members who had had children before our founding. We worked to normalize the behavior in our group and emphasize that it was natural and beautiful.  The menfolk showed their support, too, and never showed any discomfort.  In fact, I know they would all stand up for me if someone tried to tell me I should cover up.

At our last Imbolc rite, I witnessed my friend breastfeed her little one.  My daughter saw it, as did the other children.  They will grow up knowing it’s normal.  In fact, as you can read in the article I linked below, part of why so many new mothers struggle with breastfeeding is that they’ve never seen it before!  Think about it.  As children, we learn so much through imitation.  Naturally, people are reluctant to try things they’ve never seen, and many are discouraged when first attempts don’t succeed.  This is why creating a positive, nurturing environment for families is so important, and that includes mothers, fathers, doulas, lactation consultants, and midwives.

Breastfeeding has become part of my grove’s culture, and seeing my friend nurse so openly as well made it feel very communal.  I truly feel that each time mothers nurse in front of others, especially women and girls, or each time we stand up for the rights of a mother to nurse, we take on the role of the midwife in some way, birthing a new generation of nurturing people.

For more info on breastfeeding: http://www.mothering.com/articles/natural-breastfeeding/

*Yes, I’m still breastfeeding!  Going for the natural weaning approach because it works for my family.

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Homemade Pan Boxty – Photo by Grey Catsidhe

It’s been awhile since I tried anything new from Irish Traditional Cooking by Darina Allen.  I made boxty pancakes before, but I decided to try making pan boxty today.  Unlike the former, pan boxty only utilizes fresh grated potatoes.  I didn’t have any mashed potatoes sitting around.

According to Allen, this dish came about in response to famine and poverty.  By grating and then squeezing the moisture out of the potatoes, our Irish ancestors were able to use potentially rotten spuds that wouldn’t work in other dishes.  Pan boxty is dense, crispy, and filling.

The traditional recipe she shared called for six “medium” potatoes.  I think the recipe was for one boxty that could be quartered…  but I was able to make three!  It didn’t specify what size of cast iron pot one should use, so you have some wiggle room when it comes to portions!  (Heck, in a recipe that calls for a “handful” of flour, you can play around…)

Despite its simplicity, boxty is not a quick meal.  You have to grate the potatoes, squeeze the moisture out, and wait for the starch and water to separate.  Each boxty cake takes about thirty minutes to cook, so if you make more than one with a small pan… be prepared to wait around a lot.

If you have the time and energy, making boxty is worth the effort!  They are very delicious, especially with some ketchup (is my mutt American upbringing showing?). The effort they take will keep us from overindulging in these thick, buttery, crispy, potato treats, but I see myself making them whenever I have more potatoes than I know what to do with!

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