Food

A Week from Beltane


Probably one of the most famous, popular and fun of the pagan Sabbats, we are now a week away from Beltane!  As I’ve written before (on various platforms) in our modern times, we see and feel echoes from days long ago in May Day celebrations.  Though, as we move ever forward, our quaint practices from decades ago fade from more mainstream practices.  I can remember making May baskets in school when I was a child, filling them with flowers (most crepe paper flowers).  My grandmother tells me that when she was a child, the May baskets would be left on the door of a neighbors house to give them a nice surprise.

Now, we’re afraid of our neighbors.  Now, we’re afraid of offending someone so we banish any sort of holidays, because Goddess forbid our kids learn anything about anything outside of their own families traditions and practices.  It’s kind of sad.

But that’s not the point of this post.  We are a week away from one of the biggest sabbats of the year and I’ve got very little planned for it.  About the only thing set in stone for the menu is the May Wine I’ll be preparing since I checked my sweet little woodruff plant and it will bloom in time for the holiday. I’m really looking forward to that, last year when I made it, everyone seemed to like it, so yay!

I’m still trying to decide what my main dish will be, I’m thinking Medallions of Pork with Riesling sauce OR Balsamic Chicken with an Orange Glaze.  Both sound good, and at this point, I can’t care what the kids will think, because they never eat anything I make anymore, haha.  For the side dish, I can’t decide if I want to make Spanakopita or Asparagus with Chives and Blossoms.  Or maybe both.  Actually, I think that’s a great idea and I will make both.  Now what to do for dessert? There are like a million recipes for various Beltane themed desserts, so I guess it’s whatever floats my boat.

Oh.  Wait.  I know.  Last year I had a recipe for Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone and Vanilla Bourbon drizzle.  It was amazing.  Then a couple months later, I was watching Fixate with Beachbody onDemand and boom! There it was, almost the exact same recipe and I knew it was meant to be.  I think I will do that.

Okay, that’s out of the way, time to decide on the ritual.

buds

Typically, Beltaine is revered as a holiday of fertility, love and lust.  As the old saying goes “Hooray, hooray! ’tis the first of May! Outdoor diddling starts today!” or at least that’s what my Grandmother said it was, many people focus on the physical aspects of this day.  I used to go to the Tacoma Earth Religions Revival Association (TERRA) Beltane event whenever I could (though that group is disbanded and I haven’t yet found another public event to attend)  and I remember vividly a few years ago (wrote about it, here, too!) attending a ritual lead by a male Dianic priest who invoked Lilith as a goddess of sexual healing.  I’ve been to a ritual invoking Pan and Aphrodite and I’ve been a part of an incredible Beltane ritual play that involved a love chase between the Goddess Flora and the God Faunus.

These days, I am content to spend my sabbats in quiet contemplation, though I confess, I feel a stirring in my heart when it comes to Beltane and a desire to celebrate with others of like mind.

I think this year I will spend my Beltane, not with ritual, but with fun.  It’s not always about serious ritual, and sometimes, saying “I’m just going to play” is a great way to spend a sabbat.  The Goddess says “All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals”, so perhaps I will (weather pending) spend the day at the park and have a picnic.

Oooh.  I like that.

buds

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Seriously, this is amazing!

 

Now for the Fixate Grilled Peaches with Mascarpone (found on Beachbody ondemand)

Ingredients

  • 3 Tbsp. mascarpone cheese
  • ¼ tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
  • ½ medium orange, orange peel finely grated (orange zest), juice reserved
  • 2 tsp. Kentucky bourbon
  • 2 medium peaches (preferably late-season freestones)
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  1. Beat together mascarpone and extract in a small bowl; refrigerate, covered.
  2. To make maple bourbon sauce, combine maple syrup, orange peel, orange juice, and bourbon in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a gentle boil; cook, stirring constantly (being careful not to burn it), for approximately 5 minutes, or until sauce is reduced by half. Remove from heat. Set aside.
  3. Coat grill with spray. Preheat grill (or cast iron grill pan) on high.
  4. Cut peaches in half; remove stones.
  5. Grill peaches, flesh side down, for 12 to 15 minutes, or until you can see juices bubbling beneath the skin, flesh is slightly charred, and peaches are soft to their core. Place peaches on a serving platter.
  6. Fill each peach center with about 2 heaping teaspoons of mascarpone mixture; drizzle with maple sauce.
  7. If desired, top each with a few crystals of fleur de sel (or any large, flaky salt) and enjoy!

TIPS:

  • For a kid-friendly version, skip the maple bourbon sauce and drizzle the grilled peaches with plain maple syrup or honey.
  • When possible, use Freestone peaches (available mid-June through August) since their stones can be easily removed. If using regular peaches, be sure to split them along their equator, not lengthwise, and remove the stone with a sharp paring knife.
  • If you don’t have a grill, you can arrange peaches flesh side up on a baking sheet and place under the broiler for 10 to 12 minutes. Watch carefully so they don’t burn!

buds

Many Blessings,

~ Ravenna

Categories: Food, Life, Paganism, Sabbats

It’s that time of year again!


So we’re a few days away from the winter solstice, also known as Yule… which comes a few days before the Christian/Secular holiday of Christmas.  What’s that?  I called Christmas secular??  Well, actually, it is a secular holiday, AND a religious holiday.  An important one at that.  Before people get all up in arms about it, there’s nothing wrong with a religious holiday – especially one as widely celebrated as Christmas – being a secular holiday as well.  Granted, 75% of celebrants are most likely Christians, other people who don’t identify as Christian will celebrate it too.  And what’s more?  I know ATHEISTS who celebrate it!  Oh my Gosh! Really?  Yep!

All over the world people celebrate a winter holiday, typically in the month of December (I say typically because from what I learned, Chanukah moves around the calendar a bit, and I guess last year it was in November.  Honestly, I don’t know a lot about Chanukah, so maybe I should ask my sister’s hubby’s family about it, since they’re Jewish and can probably explain it nicely for me so I know what it is!  Anyway!  So people all around the world celebrate a holiday in the winter months to mark the return of the sun.  With the Winter Solstice falling on or around the 22nd of December (in the northern hemisphere I should say), it is the longest night of the year, and for our ancestors, it seemed like the sun would never return.  Of course we know better, but back then things were a little different.

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Imagine if you will, hundreds of years ago, before the industrial revolution, before electricity, hell, before we “discovered” the Americas, our ancestors lived in a time of hardship.  We had to work the fields, tend to farms, tend to families and hope that we survive the winter.  Our herds were culled back in October for Samhain, and we’ve now reached a time where it is cold and dark.  The nights are long, and sometimes it was hard to believe that the sun god would ever return to lighten our days and warm the lands.  Then we reach that point… where the night is the longest it’s ever been during the year, the winter solstice, and during those few days where the night is longest, the Goddess of the land begins to labor to bring forth the reborn Sun Child.  After a few days, our ancestors would notice that the sun was up a little more each day and would celebrate the reborn sun.  It would be a time of feasting, celebrating and gift giving.  Eventually, this would become the basis for our modern day Christmas celebrations.

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Modern day Christmas is a blend of traditions and practices from all over the world, from different time frames, different cultures, and different beliefs that would somehow blend together in a beautiful harmony and give rise to some of the most classic icons of Christmas.  Christmas itself is the celebration of Christ’s Mass, and while we now know that Jesus was very likely born in the spring time, we celebrate his birth in December because he is the Son/Sun of God.  The Child of Light, who brings peace and goodwill to all mankind.  It fits that the Christian savior would have his birth celebration at this time, his mythos blends in to the season in a beautiful way.

Something many people know about me, is that I love Christmas, I love the music, the lights, the food, so many different things.  I tend to get overly emotional about the music especially, Christmas music reduces me to tears every time.  Particularly “Happy X-Mas/War is Over” by John Lennon and “O Holy Night”, though I particularly love Michael Crawford’s rendition of that song.  I love watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” and the scene where Linus recites the Christmas story from the Bible, makes me cry, and my heart is so full.  There’s something about children telling that story that just moves me.  I’m not a Christian, but I can find joy and peace in the message of their Christ.  When I was a child, Christmas was magical, and it seemed like everyone really took the message of peace and goodwill to all mankind to heart, and even the biggest jerks would be kind and generous even for a few days.  I used to give out Christmas cards every year, and would personalize the messages and even the envelopes.   One year in high school I gave a card to a boy who was well… he was an ass to me on a regular basis, but the look on his face as I gave him this beautiful card, with a message of kindness and a doodled envelope was something that is still etched in my memory.  He looked at me with confusion and said “But I’m not nice to you.  I don’t like you.  Why would you give me a card?”  And I smiled at him and said “You’re my friend Erika’s friend, and it’s Christmas! Why wouldn’t I give you a card?  Happy Christmas!” and off I went to class.  He was nicer to me after that, but we were never friends, and that is okay.

yulebulbsSomething that bothers me every year is the “battle for Christmas” that seems to be ever more prevalent each year.  Christians claiming that pagans “stole” their holiday, pagans arguing back that no it was the Christians who “stole” their holiday… and then everyone else who is like who the hell cares?  I don’t understand what the big deal is.  Why can we not all just get along and wish each other joy and happiness (not just at Christmas, but every day of the year) and stop fighting.  We’re fighting over a greeting for heaven’s sake.  Merry Christmas, Happy Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Chanukah, Blessed Solstice, Happy Kwanzaa… whatever the holiday greeting… it’s turning into this big huge deal that is quite honestly, stupid.  I mean it.  Arguing over how you greet people is STUPID.  There are far greater and more pressing issues going on in the world and you’re going to be all butt hurt over the fact that someone said “Happy Holidays” vs “Merry Christmas”?  You know, Christmas ISN’T the only holiday in the month… aside from other winter celebrations, we also happen to have the secular New Year’s celebration at the end of the month.  Perhaps your greeter is wishing you not only a happy Christmas, but a wonderful new year as well.  Didn’t think of that, did you?  Ha!  Really people, get over yourselves and stop puffing up in false pride.  I believe Jesus warns against that you know.  Again, not Christian, but I am quite familiar with the Bible, and I think Jesus had a lot of good things to say and teach.  I wish more of his followers would, well, follow in his example.  Unfortunately, it is something I don’t ever see happening.  Though, I will admit, it’s not just the Christians, it’s everyone.  It doesn’t matter the religion, there are assholes everywhere.  *sighs*  I wish it was different.  I wish that mankind was more gentle with one another, more caring, less selfish, less greedy.  I wish were more hopeful, kind, selfless, generous.  Maybe someday.  We’ll see.

yulebarAnyway, this is it for now, I hope to write more later, but it’s going to be a busy week as we gear up for both my pagan Yule celebration and the family’s Christmas celebrations (which I LOVE).  Any time where there is joy and family and food, I am up for it.

In the meantime, Peace, Joy, Harmony, Blessings and Goodwill to you all and have a Blessed Christmahanakwanzisolstica!!  LOL!

~ Ravenna

Categories: Food, Life, Paganism, Sabbats, The Kids

Prepping for Samhain, and some Stuff


First things first… Samhain is a WEEK away!! HA! For once I am on top of things!!  The last few years, it’s felt like the sabbats have been sneaking up on me, and this year I’ve been feeling keenly aware of the cycling of the seasons.  Which, as a Witch, is a good thing!  I’ve got what feels like a million things going on all at the same time, and I’m learning how to deal with it all.  It sure as hell isn’t easy though.  It’s okay, I can work through it!

So anyway, I’ve been busy plugging along on my website lately, changing up the way it looks, and I have to say, I’m really happy with the changes I’m making.  Still playing with bits of code to try and have new components to the site, but I’m going to put that stuff on the back burner right now, so I can focus on other things.  Which is good!

pumpkinbar

So I’m doing something new lately as I said in an earlier post, a fitness and nutrition program.  This is a GOOD thing, trust me.  I’ll actually be chronicling my journey and progress here, on Facebook, and my BeachBody Profile.  I’m not sure if I’ll post pictures here, but I might.  We’ll see.  But anyway, what I was starting to say is that, I am teaching myself how to eat properly again.  In this day in age, where everything is go, go, GO! We fill ourselves up on junk food, fast foods, processed foods… and then we feel icky.  Well, I for one am tired of feeling icky!  So I’m pretty excited about going back and giving in to my love of food, making it tasty AND healthy!!  And I’m doing this right before a major Sabbat.  Wow.  It actually dawned on me last night as I was thinking about what I was planning to make for my feast… that I’m going to have to rethink my usual go-tos and try something new this year.  So that’s what I’ll be doing this weekend, going over my menu and tweaking it so it will not only be delicious, but healthy.  It’s going to be AWESOME!!  So far, I’m looking at a more vegetarian friendly menu, because I’ll be honest, I am an omnivore to the core and I like to eat some meat, cheese and milk… though I’m starting to wonder if I’m going to have to strike the milk from my diet as I’ve been having umm… issues lately.  Not fun times, trust me!  But it’ll be okay.

pumpkinbar

So what are some things I’m doing for Samhain this year?  Well, I’m going to do pretty much what I do every year… meditation, simple ritual honoring those in my family and friends who have passed away, celebrating Life and eating.  Also, there will be trick or treating.  I should never forget trick or treating, haha!  The boys are pretty excited for Halloween this year, or at least, the younger two boys are.  Finn especially loves his costume, he’s an archer.  We went to the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire over the summer and he absolutely fell in love with the concept, he’s been planning his costume since August.  He also keeps asking me about when we can have another D&D session, which I don’t know, because most of the kids who were playing with him are much older, or have moved away, so we’ll see what I can set up.  Finn is very much an imaginative and creative soul, and I love that he wants to use his imagination so much.

Dylan is obsessed with Dragons.  It goes beyond his previous love of all things Thomas and Friends and has become a full on passion for dragons.  And Godzilla.  He loves Godzilla, too.  The old ones, like original terrible English dubbed Godzilla movies are his favorite.  But back to Dragons.  From the moment my little boy laid eyes on “How to Train Your Dragon” he was done for.  After that it was the tv series, the HTTYD Live Action Spectacular show (which was awesome), and then “How to Train Your Dragon 2” (not out on DVD yet, dammit!).  So he’s got the special “tankard” with Toothless on it.  He’s got Toothless pajamas, HTTYD t-shirts… and like 30 dragon toys.  He’s got a whole collection of them!  And he wants more.  Jeez.  Well, I don’t actually mind, because he is so cute when he plays with them.  Anyway, Dylan is going as Toothless for Halloween, and I swear that boy practically cried when he got his costume, he was beyond thrilled with it.  Should be fun times!!

The teenager has decided he’s too old for trick or treating and thinks it’ll be far more fun to attempt to terrify anyone who comes to our house for treats.  I might have to discourage this idea of his.  We don’t want the neighborhood afraid of our house, lol.  When I was a kid, everyone was terrified to go down my Gramma’s driveway because it was so spooky.  Until one year when one of my sister’s classmates overheard us saying we always got full sized candy bars, and he came to our house and trick or treated.

So I’m feeling pretty pumped right now.  I’ve been working on planning a major Samhain event for NEXT year, which will be truly something epic to behold, I’ve got these great ideas just flowing into my mind, and of course I’m going back in my memories to other awesome public rituals I’ve been to (and been in) and I’m culling experiences from those to plan in my head this new event.  I want the works, theatrics, costumes, the altar set up, music and powerful ritual.  It can be done, it just won’t be easy.  I am feeling hopeful that we’ll be able to work it though.

My Witchcraft 4 course is plugging along fantastically.  I’m feeling great about it, actually!  The things I’m learning have been so amazing, that I’m just beyond words at times.  We’re working our way through the Qabala’s Tree of Life, and last month we worked in Netzach, the sephiroth of Victory.  Holy oh my sweet mother of maple syrup!  It was so INTENSE!  And emotional.  Like seriously, I had a powerful emotional reaction to working with Netzach.  This month is Tiphereth, and it is also pretty intense. But I’m loving every moment of it.

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Finally, let’s talk about Beach Body, this new fitness and nutrition thing I’m doing.  Guys, it’s awesome.  I’m not really someone who is going to try and push a program that doesn’t work.  In fact, I’m pretty skeptical most of the time on the vast majority of these fitness things, because they all make promises that they can’t keep, or promise results that they can’t back.  This is a little different.  Sure they make promises, too… but I’ve seen the results first hand from numerous people.  It WORKS.  Like really works.  The Shakeology is pretty phenomenal.  I’ve talked to my doctor about it and she’s even said it’s completely legit, so that’s great!  I love my Shakeology, actually.  I’m trying out different recipes for it, and I’m thinking tomorrow of making a Mayan chocolate variation tomorrow to see how that tastes.  So far, every one I’ve tried is pretty good… though you can bet your sweet behind that I will NEVER try the chocolate licorice flavor.  Eww.  Black licorice and me so do not mix.  At all.  We’re talking instant vomit session just smelling it. Ewww.  So yeah, I won’t do that flavor, but I’m eager to try every single one.  So yeah, I’m not usually one to toot the horn of some product or another… but THIS is one I will happily stand behind and say “Yeah, you SO want to try this!!”  I’m pretty jazzed, so yup!

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So this is one super long, meandering, random blog post… which is what we all know and love about Ravenna’s Random Ramblings… because they are pretty random!  Don’t worry though, I am actually planning on making some pretty regular posts from here on out, so woohoo!!

Blessings,

~ Ravenna

Categories: Food, Life, Paganism, Sabbats | Tags: ,

Happy Summer Solstice/Midsummer!!


Yesterday was the summer solstice – longest day, shortest night of the year! And what a GORGEOUS day it was!  Seriously, it was amazingly beautiful outside, the sun was warm, the skies were blue… it was fantastic!

And I stayed home.  Everyone else went out and did stuff in honor of the “first” day of summer, but I stayed home.  Actually, I had to run out and grab a pretty plant and card for Aiden’s teacher’s retirement party at the school, and then I had to rush off to get Finn from his school… and to the grocery store to pick up the stuff for last night’s dinner.  (Which I might add was totally AWESOME!!) Then come home and Steve’s having a bad day.  So he leaves… and I’m here.  Finn’s been sick, so he wound up passing out on the couch at one point, and I did some reading on Solstice history, lore, poems… lots of stuff!  Which is always good… and totally feeds my insane need for more, more, more knowledge!!

So some of the things I sat and thought about were what does Summer Solstice mean to me? What is the significance of this Sabbat in my little corner of the universe?  Generically, solstice – Midsummer – is about light, heat, the Sun God reaching the height of his power, and the Earth Goddess being pregnant with the new God to be born at Yule.  But what does it mean?

To me, Midsummer is just that – the middle of MY summer season.  It is a day to celebrate life, knowing that I still have the heat of summertime coming, but realizing that all too soon the autumn harvest will come again.  The wheel turns ever onward, timeless in its dance.  Midsummer is when the Goddess IS pregnant, not just with the new God of summer, but with the fruits of the coming harvest.  With midsummer, we take a moment in time to celebrate the sun, the light, the warmth.  The land is green, teeming with life!  The crops are planted and beginning to grow strong.  We sing, we dance, and we feast together.

Summer solstice is a time where we instinctively take the time to come together and take joy with one another.  It amused me greatly yesterday watching Ryan and all his friends going off to celebrate the Solstice, and none of them understanding the meaning behind it other than it was solstice and it was significant in some way.  EVERYone was out yesterday to celebrate, and I made the comment that it was funny that as the Only pagan in the house, I was the only one who DIDN’T go do anything particularly special to mark the occasion… well I DID make an awesome dinner.  Which is something I love to do – prepare great food to serve to my friends and family.  On the menu last night – Moroccan-style chicken, buttery herbed asparagus, and some honey poached apples for dessert.  It was so good! The kids even liked it, and they are seriously picky eaters, haha!

 Something I DID get to do, was a nice 5-minute ritual that I found on this really great blog called Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom by a woman called Mrs. B.  Really it was perfect for me and how busy I tend to be.  So I thought I’d share it with my few readers.

The Five Minute Ritual
Needs:
Candle – white  is always appropriate, but alternately use colors of the season: red, yellow,  gold or orange
Lighter or matches

Find a quiet corner to yourself,  with candle and lighter at hand.   Sit and give yourself a moment to settle and center.  Breathe deeply  in and out.  When you are ready, light the candle and  say:

“By lighting this candle, I honor the Summer Solstice.  By fire I honor  the deities of the season, the earth and the turning of the wheel.  I thank  you for warm days, and lazy summer evenings and the time to spend with family  and friends. May I remember to enjoy each and every moment spent together.   So mote it be!”

Take a minute or two to reflect on how you can spend a little time each day,  no matter how busy you get, to spend out doors enjoying the sunshine and good  weather.  Blow out or snuff the candle.

Have a little more time to  spend?
Needs:
Candle (see above)
Lighter or  matches
A carving tool (wooden skewers work great for this)
A cup or glass  of your favorite hot or cold herbal tea
A small bowl of summer fruit

Find a quiet corner to yourself,  with candle and lighter at hand.   Sit and give yourself a moment to settle and center.  Breathe deeply  in and out. Take your carving tool and carve your candle with symbols of the  season (suns, summer flowers, fairies). When you are ready, light the candle and   say:

“By lighting this candle, I honor the Summer Solstice.  By fire I honor  the deities of the season, the earth and the turning of the wheel.  I thank  you for warm days, and lazy summer evenings and the time to spend with family  and friends. May I remember to enjoy each and every moment spent together.   So mote it be!”

“Take a minute or two to reflect on how you can spend a little time each day,  no matter how busy you get, to spend out doors enjoying the sunshine and good  weather.  Relax, drink your tea and eat the fruit, saving some to place  outside as an offering.  When you are finished, blow out or snuff the  candle.

And then when Steve came home, he surprised me by building me a bit of a bonfire in the yard.  It wasn’t a large fire, or anything like that… but it was nice.  It was the first solstice bonfire I’ve had in 6 years, really, since I lived in Maple Valley.  He and I sat out there for a while talking about Solstice and sabbat meanings, and he actually had some really cool thoughts on the subject.  It made me happy that he actually took an interest in something that was important to me.  So yeah, all in all… the day was really nice – even if I didn’t get to go out and do something super fantastic and awesomely huge to celebrate the day.  Sometimes the Gods like to remind me that grandiose rituals aren’t always necessary.  Sometimes, something so simple as spending time with my boys, making a nice dinner for my loved ones and a quiet 5-minute ritual means so much more than all the special tools and items, costumes and poetic rituals in the world.  It was a good reminder, and I really had a good day.

And that my darlings, is that!  Today is the last day of school for the boys, so life is about to get CRAZY busy for me… should be fun!

Love and Blessings to you all!

~ Ravenna

Categories: Food, Life, Paganism, Sabbats

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