31 July, 2010

Fur Baby Friday (one day late - whoops!)

Don't touch my toys!!!

29 July, 2010

July Full Moon Pictures

I didn't get to post them on Monday, but here are pictures of Mamma Moon.

My husband took all of these for me while I was working on my Grad School homework.  Such a good man he is!

Come Walk in the Woods with Me!

On Tuesday I went for a hike with my close friend Kat in the Long Island Pine Barrens.  We came out covered in ticks despite our bug spray with deet but we still had an amazing time.  It's hard to find hiking trails in the land of suburbia that aren't paved or swarming with people.  This particular trail was peaceful and we could almost block out the sounds of the passing traffic.  I took a few pictures and thought I'd share them with you.


Kat (blonde) and I by Owl Pond
 Red Caterpillars hanging out on a branch 

 The famous Flanders Duck or as we call it The Big Duck
 The hubby and I with the Big Duck

28 July, 2010

Witchcraft Wednesday: The Realm of the Spirit

What are Spirit Animals?  Are they the same as familiars?  As Spirit Guides?  All three of these are easily confused and all are different. 

Spirit Guides are like, to use a Christian reference, Guardian Angels and are given to us at birth.  You can request their pressence during a ritual if you'd like to speak/communicate/meditate with them or, as I tend to do, just talk to them any time you feel you need guidance.  They are meant to guide/help you through life and help you learn a spiritual lesson.

Familiars are individual animals that are inhabited by a single spirit.  These animals will usually seek you out rather than you seeking them.  These animals tend to be drawn to magick and rituals and don't need to be "asked" to attend.  They can also enter and exit the circle without a door being cut for them with your athame/finger.  Familiar's can enhance your magick and they are more able to communicate with you than a regular pet.

Spirit Animals are the spirit of a breed of animal and not one animal/pet in particular.  These animals possess all knowledge and habits of their breed.  This is the animal that you feel best represents you and can be found through deep meditation.  It may take more than one session of meditating before you can see your Spirit Animal.  They can take messages for you or aide you in your magick.

All three of these can be very powerful and helpful to you while you seek direction on your path.  Don't fret if you don't have a familiar.  It just may not be the right time for it.  Spirit Animals can be difficult to see or sometimes you may just have a particular animal you've always identified with.  For instance, I've always connected with Horses and Crows.  Crows, despite their dark symbolism and connection with death, have always followed me.  They often appear before I receive good news.  I even have one that took residence in the tree outside my classroom.  He would often "talk" to me in the middle of my lessons.  My students didn't think it was as adorable as I did.

27 July, 2010

Witchcraft on a Shoestring: How to Deepen Your Practice without Breaking the Bank

Since I don't have a lot of time to post today (Graduate work comes first!), I thought I might share an article that may be helpful. Let's face it. The economy isn't doing well and being a witch can get pricey. Deborah Blake is one of my favorite Pagan authors and this article makes a lot of sense. Plus, it's pretty grounding. Being Pagan should never be about owning tons of "things;" It should be about becoming one with the God and the Goddess. Read away!

Witchcraft on a Shoestring: How to Deepen Your Practice without Breaking the Bank

26 July, 2010

Monday Mutterings: July Full Moon/Power Outages

The July full moon, also known as the Blessing Moon, began yesterday evening.  However, for myself and my friends living in the Tri-State area, we could not see her.  For the past few days Mother Nature has been sending us some interesting weather, including some water spouts and tornadoes.  We lost power at my house for about two hours yesterday, which isn't too serious, but it made me a bit crazy since the outage was shorty before True Blood.  The Lord and Lady must understand my lust for Eric Northman because power was restored 10 minutes before the show was about to begin.

Later today I will be posting my July full moon ritual.  I need to complete homework for my Shakespeare Graduate class as well as dragging my rear end to the gym.  I've been a bit of a slacker on my weightloss regimine.  I did want to post a picture of my power outage activity with the hubby from yesterday.  It seems like I always go back to the same activity when the lights go out: puzzles.  I rounded up some candles and the hubby and I set to work on seperating our pieces by color and type.  It's a work in progress but it will be a nice indoor activity when the humidity spikes.

You have to click on the photo to really see the puzzle pieces, but it was a lot of fun sitting by candlelight.  It gave me some ideas for candle chandeliers when I have my own house. 

23 July, 2010

Fur Baby Fridays

Don't wake a sleeping Marty.  He may just kill you with his cuteness!

21 July, 2010

Witchcraft Wednesday

Lughnassad (also known as Lammas) is fast approaching and for those of you who are celebrating, now is a good time to start preparing, even if it's just in small ways.

Lughnassad marks the beginning of the fall harvest or the day when the first grain is cut.  This Sabbat gets is name from the Celtic God Lugh, who is both king of the Gods and is associated with the Sun, magick, art, strength, courage and music.

As fall approaches, the God begins to lose his strength.  However, the Goddess is already carrying the God and he will be born again at Yule.  Even though the sun is dwindling, we celebrate the plentiful harvest that arrives with this time of year.  Lughnassad is the bread festival.  Decorate your altar with grains and fruits and vegetables of the harvest.  Bake homemade bread with your seeds you planted at Ostara.  Your intentions grew within those seeds and now you can put them within you and make them possible.  Now those intentions can grow within you.

Lammas Bread Recipe
This is a link to a wonderful Lammas bread recipe.  Some of the others that I've tried are too doughy and don't taste as good.  However, it does take four days to make.  So, if you want a project, this is the recipe for you.

If not, try this one.  It's much easier and uses pre-made ingredients.  I don't like to use it because I like using things I've grown.  I might have to use it this year because I have no grains in my garden. 

20 July, 2010

Tarot Tuesday

I haven't been feeling well since last night, so my post today will be short.  Today I did a 5 card spread asking about a friendship that I happen to be dancing around picking up again.  These were the cards in order:

3 of Pentacles (R); The Empress; The Sun; The Hierophant (R); Death

This person was a part of my life before I met my husband.  In fact, we used to date.  The final card, death, is my advice.  I need to break away from this person.  It's only going to lead to disaster, most likely for my marriage.  Deep down, I know that the intentions this man has for me are not really for friendship.  He wants me back and I must let him go.  The Death card does not always mean "killing" or harm.  In this set of cards, I take it to me the letting go of my past.  This man is from there and there he must stay.

19 July, 2010

Monday Recipe Swap: Zucchini

Mrs. B gave me a wonderful idea for a post today: Recipe Swap!  Zucchini is one of my favorite summer veggies.  It can be used for almost anything.  Plus, for those of us who are trying to lose weight, it is a very versatile vegetable.  

This is my favorite pasta recipe for zucchini and worked very well for friends who had kids that refused to eat any kind of vegetable.  I love being sneaky!  Please post your favorite zucchini recipes in the comments section!

Stuffed Shells
serves about 10

You Will Need
12 oz (1 box) jumbo pasta shells (approx. 40 shells)

For Sauce:
1 (28oz) can peeled plum tomatoes
1 (14oz) can peeled plum tomatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
3/4 cup chopped red onion
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin or pressed - I press my garlic
Salt and Pepper (to taste) - I never use salt
2 - 4 sprigs of fresh basil

For Stuffing:
1 lb bag of baby spinach
2 tspns olive oil
2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced thin (use a mandolin if you have one)
2 scallions, chopped
2 cups (16 oz) part-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded reduced fat part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 thin slice ham, chopped
2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Pinch grated nutmeg
Salt and Pepper (to taste)

1. Spray a baking sheet lightly with cooking spray.  Bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add shells and cook partially (they should still be firm) for 6 to 7 minutes.  Drain in colander and immediately transfer to baking sheet.  Spread out so they do not stick together.

2. Pour tomatoes into a bowl and mash with hands or in a food processor.  Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook for about 1 minute.  Cover, reduce heat to low.  Add tomatoes with juice and basil.  Bring to a simmer and cover for 5 minutes.  After 5 minutes, partially cover until thickened (about 20 minutes).  Remove from heat and set aside.

3.  Add spinach to a skillet.  Place over medium heat, cover and cook, tossing every now and then with tongs until wilted.  Drain and let cool.  Chop and transfer to a bowl.  Set aside.

4. Using the same skillet heat oil over medium heat.  Add zucchini and cook until tender and lightly browned.  Add scallions and cook with zucchini for about a minute.  Add to the bowl of spinach.  Add the ricotta, the ham and 1/2 cup of mozzarella, the parsley and nutmeg.  Stir to combine.

5. Pre-heat oven to 350.

6. Spoon a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a two 9 X13" baking dishes.  Fill cooked shells with the cheese mixture (about 1 Tbsp/shell) and arrange shells side-by-side in prepared dishes.  Spoon remaining sauce over the shells.  Sprinkle remaining mozzarella and 1/4 cup of Parmesan.

7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake until filing is heated through and cheese is melted (25-30 minutes). 

- from Cook Yourself Thin

*If you're making this a magical recipe, you can obviously add intentions or "extra ingredients" as needed.  Whenever I cook something I add intentions and love while mixing the ingredients together.  With this recipe you can add your specific intentions when mixing the cheeses together or when sprinkling them over the shells before baking.

18 July, 2010

Sundown on Sunday: Weekly Tarot Spread

Along with keeping up with my blog, I'm also diving back into my tarot.  If only my weekly spread were a bit more inviting.  All would be wonderful if the two of cups didn't appear in the reversed position.  I worry that it means there will be distrust or disharmony in my marriage.  The knight riding on that white horse to save me (the Knight of Cups) is my husband.  He showed me a new way of life, a new perspective on things.  He made me whole.  The two of cups makes me fear that I will lose that.  The celebration that appears in the three of cups is a little hard to feel with that reversed card.  

17 July, 2010

Some Poetry

I was out of town for the day for a bridal shower, so I won't be able to post anything substantial.  However I don't want to become a blogging slacker again.  So, I thought I might post one of my favorite poems.  I'm a huge fan of William Blake and this is by far my favorite piece of his.

"Mad Song"

The wild winds weep,
And the night is a-cold;
Come hither, Sleep,
And my griefs enfold! . . .
But lo! the morning peeps
Over the eastern steeps,
And the rustling beds of dawn
The earth do scorn.

Lo! to the vault
Of pav├Ęd heaven,
With sorrow fraught,
My notes are driven:
They strike the ear of Night,
Make weak the eyes of Day;
They make mad the roaring winds,
And with the tempests play,

Like a fiend in a cloud,
With howling woe
After night I do crowd
And with night will go;
I turn my back to the east
From whence comforts have increased;
For light doth seize my brain
With frantic pain.

16 July, 2010

Elements Series from The Domestic Witch

 The Domestic Witch is running a series on understanding Elemental Powers and being able to use them in your own craft.  Part of understanding the elements is knowing which element you have a natural affinity for.  Below are 25 questions she has posted to help you understand your natural affinities along with my answers.  I figured I'd post my answers here so I can easily access them as well as sharing them with my readers.
1. Which element do you feel you connect with or understand the most?
2. What are your hobbies and interests? 
Swimming, Snowboarding, Hiking, Biking, Cooking, Organization, Crafting, Knitting, Reading, Blogging, Teaching, and Pagan-y things.
3. How do you move through activities? For example, do you stay with one activity for a long period of time, restlessly go from one thing to the next, or do several things at once?
I tend to do several things at once and I tend to stay with them all for a long period of time (although blogging took a bit of a break).  I dive into things and I submerge myself in them.
4. Where are your favorite places?
Upstate NY, especially the Adirondacks and Catskills; Vermont; New Hampshire; Texas
5. What is your preferred divination method? Or do you prefer to rely on proven facts only?
Tarot.  I just started working with a pendulum. 
6. What color is your hair, eyes, and skin tone? Do you tan or burn easily? Is your skin oily, dry, or soft?
I have very dark brown hair (almost black) with red highlights, dark brown eyes and light olive skin tone.  During the summer I get pretty tan and I have soft skin.
7. What are your favorite colors?
Black, dark blues, purples and reds.
8. What is the style of your clothes?
I'm pretty eclectic.  I have some "hippie-ish" clothes, goth clothes, punk clothes,  my "teacher clothes" and then just regular t-shirts and jeans.  It depends on the situation I'm in.  I have many different interests and I must change my style of dress to the situation.  
9. Are you sensitive to hot or cold temperatures?
I hate humidity.  I love the winter and I think all my wishing is what caused all the snow this winter.  I'm ok with summer heat as long as there is no humidity.  Summer on Long Island is murder because of the humidity.  I'd rather be in the mountains during the summer.
10. Do you refuse to sit or walk barefoot on rough or uncomfortable textures such as grass or concrete?
I've had issues with sand since I was a baby.  When I was about 9 months old my parents took me to the beach and I would not leave the towel.  I wouldn't play in my sandbox.  I've been getting better as I've gotten older, but I'm not a huge fan of sand beneath my feet.
11. What interests you? Do you have talents in art, music, sports, or science?
I was an opera singer in high school.  I now sing in the car and the shower.  I was also a competitive swimmer.
12. Do you follow you heart or your head when making decisions?
My heart.  I've been learning to think more before I act though and it has benefited me greatly.  Following your heart gets you in trouble.
13. What's you favorite kind of music? Does it have heavy bass, is acoustic, or ethereal?
It really depends on my mood.  I like a lot of different kinds of music.  However, almost all of it, even the piano stuff, has heavy bass.
14. What kinds of things do you use to better your mood? Candles, a warm bath, garden, or a good book?
I love to read or relax in my pool.  I'll also go for walks or take a hot shower.  
15. Do you have any health issues or physical impairments?
 I suffer from depression and anxiety.  
16. What are your biggest fears?
17. What types of spells and rituals do you favor? 
Off the cuff.  I also enjoy doing my rituals outside whenever possible.
18. Do you collect anything or have extensive knowledge about a particular subject?
I collect old books and records.  I have an extensive knowledge of Victorian literature and Shakespeare.
19. How old are you? What stage of life are you in?
I'm 26 and I've been married for two years.  I'm not ready for children and have no plans to ever have any.
20. What are your best traits and talents? What are your worst traits and bad habits?
I'm a loyal friend, but I only keep a small group very close.  I always plan for the worst case scenario and am obsessively organized.  I analyze situations and it can be a downer - it plays into my anxiety.  I'm also very stubborn.  I'm sure there are more but I cannot think of it right now. 
21. What is your career or occupation?
I'm a high school English teacher.
22. What do you keep on your altar?
It changes by season but here is a picture of what it looks like for the most part:
24. What's your favorite season?
25. What is your Sun Sign, Moon Sign, and Ascendent?
Sun Sign: Scorpio, Moon Sign: Taurus Ascendent: Pisces

Fur baby Fridays

My parents gave my husband and me a new digital camera for our 2 year anniversary.  I'd been putting off buying a new one for a long time, but I'm very thankful for this camera.  It is the first camera I've had to have a "pets" setting.  No more evil red eye on my kitties!

So, finally, everyone gets to see Frankie and all of his blue eyed wonder.  Notice how nicely he poses to have his picture taken!

15 July, 2010

I've been absent/Thursday Herbal: Holly

I'm not sure if it's because I couldn't find inspiration, because I've been a bit depressed or because I became so involved with my Graduate classes.  I'm more inclined to think it's a combination of all three.  I did feel better when I blogged on a regular basis, so I know I do not want to give it up.  Plus, I was starting to gain a small following.  I noticed I lost a few followers because of my month long absence, but maybe because I plan to post on a regular basis again they'll come back or I'll gain some new people.  I do want to extend an apology to those of you still following.  I'm back and I honestly mean it.  I've spent the past few days looking at my life and my mental state.  I realized how much more at peace I was when I wrote here (almost) everyday and how much more in tune I was with Nature, the Goddess and the God, and the craft.  I want my faith to be with my at all times and I feel that I've let it slip away from me in the past month.  Perhaps it's fitting that I've come to this conclusion as the Celtic calendar changes from Oak to Holly.  Holly, of course, is the focus of my post tonight.

So, thus I begin the new(ish) blog format.  Thursday will be an herbal/plant reflection.  I've started reading a lot about gardening and canning and drying my own herbs.  I don't have a place to do any of this in yet, but I want to be knowledgeable enough so I can jump right in when my husband and I purchase our own home.

  • symbolic of strength gained by challenge
  • was once hardened in flames and used as spears
    • believed that when heated, holly was as strong as iron
  • associated with the spirit of vegetation and the waning forces of nature, personified as a mythical figure called the Holly King.  
    • The Holly King rules nature during its decline from the mid-summer solstice (Litha - Jun 21st) through to the mid-winter solstice (Yule – Dec 21st).  At each of the solstice Sabbats, the Holly King and his brother the Oak King engage in ritual combat for the attentions of the Goddess, from whence the victor presides over nature through the following half of the year.
  • Magickal Uses:  
    • When planted around the home it protects the inhabitants and guards against lightening, poisoning and mischievous spirits.
    •  As a charm to enhance dreams, nine Holly leaves gathered on a Friday after midnight, wrapped in a clean cloth to protect against its needles, and tied up using nine knots was placed under a pillow to make dreams come true.
    • Holly is used for magick associated with the element of fire and Holly incense is used to consecrate the athame.
    •  The Holly tree deity associations are with:  Lugh, Tannus, Taranis and Thor.  

Holly Spell (from Llewellyn's Witches' Datebook 2010)

If you wish to grow stronger from everyday challenges and overcome them, enlist the help of the holly spirit.  As you gaze into the candle's flame, feel it filling you.  It blesses you with the ability to face any challenges in your path with insight and strength.  

You Will Need:
  1. A few holly leaves or other symbol of holly
  2. A Green Candle
  3. A needle or tool to carve with
  1. Carve the holly symbol on the candle.
  2. Light it and say: 
 I salute the blessed holly tree,
In justice's name I do decree,
As every challenge comes my way,
The flame will temper my swordplay.
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