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Posts Tagged ‘kitchen magic’

Once more, in an effort to update my blog more regularly, here’s another installment of Three Things Thursday! Three mini posts nestled together in one for your viewing pleasure!

A warm cup of tea on a cold day. Photo by M. A. Phillips, 2020

Kitchen Magic With My Daughter

Bee is showing more interest in both cooking and magic, so showing her how they can mix is a no brainer! Tonight I taught her how to boil water in the kettle (with supervision, of course). She likes to make things for other people, so I suggested she prepare me a cup of tea while I bake. I instructed her to focus on the water and send a happy wish for me into the beverage. Watching her concentrate was adorable, and she was so proud of herself!

spring equinox river magic excerpt

A dusting of snow fell the morning of ritual, but the group was determined to meet outside among the trees. They gathered at the trail they recently walked in Alexandria Bay. Crimson buds dotted some branches, but the lack of leaves gave their Vernal Equinox an ironic, wintry character.” – Excerpt from RIVER MAGIC by M. A. Phillips

Writing Community

Over on Instagram, I’m participating in a couple writing challenges. It’s been a great way to make new connections in the writing community. It comes with so much inspiration, feedback, and support! I’m so grateful to everyone who takes the time to read my posts, especially the excerpts from my writing. Furthermore, I was touched this week when two more wonderful people stepped forward to beta read my manuscript! As the cherry on top, many others sent me messages of encouragement and excitement as I strive toward my dreams. I’m pleased to inspire others. The writing community is such a vibrant and beautiful place.

“Mercury in Gatorade”

 

My friend Artemis Fox in Watertown recently started a Pagan podcast called “Fire Burn Cauldron Bubble.” He and Luna Hawks are three episodes in, and their most recent episode was particularly interesting. Cheekily titled “Mercury in Gatorade,” they interview astrologer @illexxandra about the notorious Mercury in Retrograde. I learned a lot! Be forewarned, this show is for adults. They occasionally swear, so you may want to save this until the kiddos are in bed! There are a couple audio issues in places, but they don’t detract from the content. You can download or subscribe to the podcast on Spotify or Libsyn.

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Once more, in an effort to update my blog more regularly, here’s another installment of Three Things Thursday! Three mini posts nestled together in one for your viewing pleasure!

1) Hagstone Publishing recently released a little interview with me. In it, I share one of the most significant, spiritual moments of my life. It actually inspired part of my recent short story, “Through the Brambles,” which you can find in issue 2 of “Stone, Root, and Bone” magazine. It’s part of their “Meet the Authors” series. I’m thrilled to be included, and it’s been fun reading about my fellow creative polytheists. I know it’s not the greatest photo, but it’s the first I shared with Hagstone when I participated in the Plant Spirit Challenge last summer. I really need to hire one of my photographer friends to get some decent shots.


2) I spend an inordinate amount of time inside slouched over a keyboard as I write, revise, and edit. For my own sanity and health, I need to get outside. Many of my characters are polytheists, so it’s important to me that I stay connected with my spirituality and remain authentically tied to my stories. My short walks are meditative affirmations on what I do and why. They provide me an opportunity to breathe in fresh air and make offerings to the land. The last time I made my circuit, I caught myself admiring the brown and gray remnants of our pollinator garden. Many people seem to cut their gardens back. The dead, dry ends of spent flowers offend them, I suppose. Perhaps they clashed with their Christmas decor. I’ve learned to leave them. The seeds provide food for wildlife, and they may propagate and fill the garden out more in the spring! The stems and leaves also provide nesting materials for hibernating insects and then birds when it’s time to lay eggs. I love my gardens in all seasons!

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3)Pagan Parenting with Waffles! Due to illness, transportation issues, and other conflicts, my grove canceled our public celebration. Though I was sad to miss my grovemates, and uncomfortable due to a health concern, I soldiered through and made the most of the special day! We kept our tradition of weaving Brigid crosses (Cros Bríde) and adding on to our Brigid cloaks (brat bhríde). We did those activities on Brigid’s eve. On February first, I gave my daughter the choice of pancakes or waffles for breakfast. As you can tell from the photo, she chose the later. She was enthusiastic about helping. The night before, we talked about three as a magical number, so we stirred three times for each of the Kindred and prayed for their blessings. We then discussed the importance of discipline with magic, and I did the old “visualize the apple” lesson. Big ritual with other druids is wonderful, but my path is also about those small, quiet moments with family – with my daughter. Teaching her about folk magic and carrying on our ancestral traditions is so beautiful. It warmed my heart.

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I feel like there’s a maelstrom swirling around inside me lately.  Along with relaxing to some of my favorite shows, I’ve been throwing myself into writing.  Writing anything – my book, blog updates, tweets, even my first fanfic – just to keep that swirl of stressful worries from tearing me open.  With that in mind, here’s the next bit of the Magical Roots Challenge.

  • Day 12 – Deity

 

Photo and doll by Grey Catsidhe

I’m a polytheist, usually leaning towards the hard side, but somewhat soft in regards to PanCeltic deities I suppose (for example, I see Brighid being the same as Brigantia).  I primarily work with Brighid, and I consider myself her priestess.  I’m always working to improve in this aspect.  I’ve been trying to revitalize my flamekeeping practices to make them more reflective and spiritually oriented, but it’s difficult as a mother.  I mean… you can’t meditate all day when the child wants to watch cartoons or would prefer to race you up and down the sidewalk instead of taking a walk along the hedge.  But I try, and consider motherhood one of the challenges she has given me through which to learn and grow as an individual.  I also work with her as my primary muse, the protector of our hearth and home, and unofficial grove patron*.  I even work with her as my gatekeeper in most rituals simply because of the closeness I feel to her, and her connection to all three hallows.  It just makes sense to me.  It’s worked really well in my personal and grove rites.  Rather than a poem, I’m including a photo of a simple doll I made to represent her.  She sits on my altar, always a reminder and focal point during my flametending work.  I should write a poem to her though… The thoughts are there, especially with what I’m going through and all the chaos in the world… I just need to organize them.  I’ve also been thinking about a short story… Soon, my friends.  Soon.

 

  • Day 13 – Stone/Crystal

Photo by Grey Catsidhe


I don’t often work with crystals.  In fact, I usually don’t buy them anymore.  I’ve written in the past on the reasons and why I prefer to work with stones I find in the forest, in lakes, or rivers.  I do some work with my quartz crystal ball, though.  I brought him home years ago from one of my favorite and most trusted mineral stores – Sticks n Stones.  I put him in the window during the full moon to charge, and he usually hangs out on my altar to energize things as I need.  Fun fact – he has a bit of a crack.  I got him on a discount, but I love him all the same.  As a young Pagan just finding my way, I thought having a crystal ball would be très chic, and I was curious about scrying.  I wouldn’t have been able to afford one of the flawless balls, so I adopted what most people would have overlooked as a flawed piece.  Regardless, he still came from the Earth mother and is one of my treasures.

  • Day 14 – Incense
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Photo and incense by Grey Catsidhe

Incense is one of my favorite offerings to give.  As a Sagittarius, I’m drawn to flames. I love the way my prayers spiral upward and outward to the spirits on perfumed smoke. Brighid often requests it.  UPG- she loves spicy scents like cinnamon.  This prompted me to try making cones with ground cinnamon.  So easy!   I aspire to make more incense by hand.  I attempted some simple kyphi, but it didn’t turn out well.  My goal is to get makko powder and experiment with that, and I would really like to work with resin from local trees.

  • Day 15 – Kitchen Witchery 
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Photo and cookies by Grey Catsidhe

I fancy myself a bit of a kitchen witch.  Much of what I do revolves around the hearth, and it’s a natural extension of my work with Brighid.  (I mean, really… weren’t most of our ancestral mothers doing folk magic in the kitchen at some point?)  Along with candle magic, doing work with food or tea is one of my favorites.  It’s easy and practical.  Feeling ill?  Make a tea to help you physically and spiritually.  Stir some energy and say a prayer over that ginger, lemon, and honey.  Cut some sigils into your dough.  Stir the pot of soup a certain number of times as you add seasonings and pray for blessings and nourishment.  Make special dishes to reflect the seasons, and be sure to give some as an offering!  Most importantly, say prayers of gratitude before eating and, if possible, start to compost and garden so you can bring the magic of the plant world and its cycles into your kitchen.  Connect to the land during the high days – literally and not just metaphorically.  Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

 

*The only reason I say Brighid is our unofficial grove patroness is because, while many of us work with her, many others are not dedicated to her.  Some of our members are of other hearth cultures, even though we have an Irish focus.  So, out of respect to grove members, we haven’t pushed that.  We do give her a lot of offerings though…

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Sweet Kitchen Magic

Sweet kitchen magic in the form of homemade cheesecake topped with cherry sauce. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

Each year for my husband’s birthday, I make him a New York style cheesecake.  He adores it, and each year, it gets better and better.  It’s quite a time-consuming dessert to make, which is why it’s a rare treat and one of my gifts to him.  This year was especially demanding because we don’t have a working mixer, and cream cheese can be stiff to stir, even after sitting out for a bit.  Needless to say, I put a lot of love into his birthday cake each year.

As I made the cake, I thought about this – how much effort and love go into it.  I realized that this is kitchen magic – pure and simple!  Each sunwise stir adds more intention, especially when you’re focused on making something that will give joy to the recipient.  Our daughter did some of her own kitchen magic, too – she enjoys stirring lately, so she gave it a go herself while I told her to think about daddy.  For the finishing touch, I made cherry sauce from scratch using locally grown fruit I bought at the farmers’ market and froze with my husband’s birthday in mind. No artificial coloring for us!

Although the cheesecake gets better each year because of my growing experience, I feel that part of this year’s success was due to my increased magical focus as I worked on finishing it.  To some, that may sound too woo and simple, but sometimes that’s how magic really is!

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My first jar of elderberry syrup. Photo by Grey Catsidhe, 2014.

My little family is feeling under the weather, so I figured it was time to finally try my hand at making elderberry syrup. It’s an old herbal remedy to help prevent and cope with colds*. I followed Mountain Rose Herbs’ video recipe.  As the mixture simmered, the divine aroma of berries, cinnamon, ginger, and clove wafted through the home.  So not only can it help internally, but this simmering syrup will add a festive atmosphere to your abode when you may otherwise feel blah.  According to European folk tradition, elder has been used to ward off negative spirits.  So think of cooking it as a sort of spiritual fumigation.  Yet another way to create a purifying fragrance without the use of incense during the winter months?  Hmmm…

As for the syrup itself, it’s delicious.  A whole cup of local honey will do that!  Even my little Bee enjoys a teaspoon here and there…

*It is not meant to replace stronger medicines should the need arise.

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Homemade Watermelon Juice.  Made and photographed by Grey Catsidhe – 2012

Although it’s hot today in the North Country, the nights keep feeling cooler and I’ve even noticed some color on the trees.  Children are preparing to go back to school and pumpkins are ripening on the vine.  The wheel of the year is turning, folks.  Take a moment and feel it!  While you’re doing that, don’t let summer slide out of your grasp just yet!  Enjoy the last few weeks of summer with some kitchen magic using local ingredients.  I picked up a watermelon from a local organic farm to make one of my favorite things – watermelon juice!

I highly doubt I’m the first one to think of this.  Plenty of people have been juicing longer than me!  I first decided to juice watermelon after a party late July.  We had a ton left over, and I have been experimenting with the juicer I purchased several months ago.  That purchase was not in vain since I’ve had so much fun playing with food using it!  Watermelon seemed like a perfect candidate since it’s already deliciously juicy and, being made mostly of water, would produce little waste*.  This fruity summer potion is perfect for potlucks and sun worshiping in the pool.  It’s also a fun virgin drink for people who can’t or choose not to drink alcohol.

Materials:

  • One medium to large watermelon (preferably local and/or organic!)
  • A large serrated knife
  • A large cutting board
  • An ice cream scoop, melon baller, or thick spoon
  • A medium or large bowl
  • Either a second bowl, a small pitcher, or a large measuring glass to catch the juice from the juicer
  • A large pitcher
  • A juicer **
  • Wooden spoon
  • Glasses for serving
Making Juice – Photo by Grey Catsidhe – 2012

Procedure:

  1. Cut the watermelon in half.  Thinly slice a small section off to save for garnishes if you desire (see top photo).
  2. Using the melon baller, scoop out the watermelon.  Put the pink “meat” into a bowl.  It’s easier to juice it all at once.
  3. Plug your juicer in and put it on the low setting.  Since watermelons aren’t very tough, extra power isn’t necessary.  Make sure you have another bowl or small pitcher below the spout to collect the juice.  Start putting your watermelon into the juicer.
  4. You’ll probably have to stop to empty your bowl or smaller pitcher into the larger pitcher.  Watermelons make a lot of juice!
  5. Stir with a wooden spoon.  This is a great time to incorporate some magic.  Pull in the Two Powers and visualize them going into the drink with the intent to refresh, to inspire, or to energize during the heat.
  6. Refrigerate when done.  You’ll probably want to stir again when chilled.
  7. To enjoy the pink glow, serve in wine glasses.  Garnish with small slices of watermelon if desired.
  8. If you really want, you could stir in some sugar but I haven’t done this and don’t recommend it.  Enjoy the natural sweetness of the watermelon!  So delightful and healthy as is!
*Fret not about the waste!  It can go right into the compost heap!  You can also use the waste for other concoctions.  If I’m making carrot juice, I do the carrots first then empty the juicer bin into a bowl, saving the finely shredded carrot for cake.  Provided you don’t have big seeds in the mix, much of the waste can be turned into filler for soups, homemade fruit rolls, or even crackers using a dehydrator!
** If you don’t have a juicer, you could use a blender or food processor – but it will be thicker.  A juicer separates the liquids from the solids.  You will also have to take the seeds into account if you do not have a juicer.  Either pick them out by hand or find a seedless variety.

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Fresh, shredded zucchini from my parents’ garden.  Add some other goodies, like local flour and eggs…
Oooey, gooey  goodness!
Multiply by two!
Fresh zucchini bread – one of my most favorite baked goods in the world.  Full of love and harvest energy!  What are you doing in the kitchen?

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