28 February, 2010

Quickening Moon Ritual

 
View of the Quickening Moon from Between the Trees at my Home

The Quickening Moon

The Quickening Moon is also known as the Snow Moon or the Bone Moon to the Cherokee.  It is considered the last moon of winter and is when the "quickening" can be felt in the pregnant animals whose babies are due in springtime.  It is a time when the Earth herself is reminding us that she is still alive underneath all of that snow.


Full Moons are sometimes a time for magic or for reflection.  For this Quickening Moon, I will be reflecting on my own mistakes and on how I'd like to improve myself.  Even though Imbolc has past, I still feel that its intentions are still in the air on this last night of February.  Imbolc is about cleansing the soul and meditating under the Quickening Moon is an excellent way to do that.  So, if you can find a window where the Moon can gaze down upon you or if you are brave enough to withstand the elements, light a candle (I always use white) and think about what you want to improve about yourself or in your life.  Concentrate on what you must do to make these changes possible.  You can even say this chant to yourself: 

I rejoice in the light of the moon
and in the presence of the Lord and the Lady.
I celebrate the season of darkness,
knowing that the next turn of the Wheel will bring light.
I use this time of darkness for thought,
introspection, and growth.
 
As the moon above, so the earth below.*




After this you may wish to go into a formal ceremony or have a meal with loved ones and share in the warmth that they bring to the home.  This can be a reminder of the warmer weather that is on the way.  Decorate the table with signs of spring or just have a simple bouquet of spring flowers as your centerpiece (they can be real or silk).  Remember to give thanks (verbally or internally) for those who can share the meal with you and for the meal itself.

As you may have noticed. . .

I did quite a few updates to the appearance of this blog.  It may morph a few more times, but for now, I'm a lot happier with how it looks.  *squee*

Sleepy Children

A sleepy Marty:


and a sleepy Frankie:

 

Frankie also likes to peek in on our neighbors:

I guess this is how he plans to keep his little paws off the cold snow (and why he's so sleepy!).  Such a naughty fur child!

Quickening Moon Meeting

The Gods always know.  I was driving to the Full Moon Circle meeting just a little while ago.  I reached into my purse to grab my wallet and make sure I had enough money for the altar supply donation.  My wallet was missing.  I looked at my phone and sure enough, there was a message from my friend whose house I was at last night telling me she had my wallet.  I guess the Gods knew today was not a good idea and knew how to keep me home.

I should learn to trust my nerves more often.

26 February, 2010

"Where will I find that wishing stone?"

I guess all of those late night talks with the Lord and Lady about having a white winter were a bit much.  The hubby and my Dad are out shoveling the white stuff.  I'm stuck inside with a sour stomach.

This weekend I'm (hopefully) meeting with a group to celebrate the new full moon.  I'm a bit nervous as I've never met anyone in this group in person.  I took some advice and used meetup.com.  They all seem nice from reading their e-mails and message board posts, but I'm unsure.  I've never spoken with anyone in person about my beliefs besides my two friends.  I'm nervous about them being all about showy rituals rather than actual worship.  You hear stories about covens which is why I've played the part of a solitary.  But I've grown tired of being alone.  Although my husband is supportive of my beliefs, he does not wish to join me in them.  I do have my two friends, but one of them lives rather far away and the other is dealing with her own personal problems, so it makes it hard to get together without her worrying about 70,000 other things.

How should I approach this?  I plan on mainly observing when I'm with the group on Sunday.  I just hope all goes well and I'm not weirded out by them.  I wish I could stop being so nervous.

24 February, 2010

Garlic Grilled Lobster

   













  • 1 pound uncooked lobster meat, start with two 1 1/4 pound whole lobster (This is for serving 2-3 people)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 3-4 medium garlic cloves, pressed
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste

  1. Preheat grill. To prepare lobsters, cut off heads, split tails and crack claws; set aside. (I usually have the lobsters killed for me at the Seafood Market - I can't kill them myself - If you can do it, more power to you!)
  2. Stir together olive oil, garlic and lemon juice; season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss tails and claws with half the olive oil mixture.
  3. Grill lobster pieces, turning and moving them as they cook until shells are charred and meat is firm and opaque (8 minutes).
  4. Crack lobsters and dip meat in remaining olive oil mixture.
This is a great summer recipe and is a great, healthy way to have lobster (notice there is no butter).  I've taken my mother's version of this and essentially "South Beached" it with the Olive Oil instead of the pounds of melted butter my Mom uses.  It's also great because the lobster is already shelled and doesn't involve all the digging/cracking.

A new beginning

After doing much research on my maternal family, I was stuck in a limbo.  I was in college, a Catholic college at that, and I just never felt attached to anything.  I was depressed.  I felt like there was still a void in my life that no amount of drinking, partying, or other "extra curricular activities" could fill.  Of course, being an ignorant 20 something, I did nothing about this other than the above mentioned.  I graduated.  I found my first teaching job.  I met my husband.  I went through the motions of everything I was "supposed" to.  I hit a figurative wall: I couldn't sleep, I would panic over everything, and I could barely leave the house to go to work.  The constant burial of my anger and spiritual loneliness finally caught up with me.  I went on anti-depressants and sought therapy.  It's been a slow process, but I'm getting better.

So, how did any of this lead me to the path?  This past summer, I ordered 3 books on a whim from Amazon dot com: Scott Cunningham's Guide for the Solitary Practitioner , The Complete Idiots Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft (an excellent book, believe it or not), and Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft.  I was bored online and was searching through the recommendations and all three had come up (probably because of my purchases on Native American religions, but who knows?).  So, I ordered them.  And then I read.  Like a maniac.  Something finally clicked.  Everything that I had been taught by family was in these books.  All the morals I believed in, even the little herbal "tricks" my grandmother would use when we were sick, were in these books.  I was stunned.

I finally felt comfortable enough to approach the subject with two close friends who were Wiccan.  I asked them questions and I was given honest answers.  Talking about the emptiness I'd been feeling for so long felt so wonderful.  These were things I never thought anyone could understand, not even my therapist.  I felt better.  The missing puzzle pieces were right in front of me for years, but I'd ignored them.  I'd come home.

19 February, 2010

Retro Cooking Month - My favorite Recipe - Crockpot Chili

















This is another cold weather favorite.  I found this one online originally, but I've tweaked it with my own additions.

You Will Need:
  • 2 lbs lean ground beef (or ground turkey)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1 Tbs chili powder
  • garlic powder to taste
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  •  1 Tbs Hot Sauce (you can leave this out if too much spice bothers you)
  • 2 cans (approx. 16 oz each) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can (16 oz) tomato puree
  • 1 can (16 oz) kidney beans
  • 1 can (16 oz) black beans
To Make:

1.Brown ground beef in a large skillet.  Drain and place beef into crockpot.
2. In skillet, saute chopped onion and green pepper in olive oil (or the grease from the beef - I don't use it to make the recipe a little healthier).
3. Mix beef, onion and green pepper into the crockpot and add spices; let stand 1 hour on low heat.
4. Add tomatoes, tomato puree, beans.
5. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 9 hours.  

18 February, 2010

Finding the path . . .

Yesterday, I started my story of my journey into the craft.  After my Confirmation, I stepped away from the church.  I was offended by their outright hatred of what I felt in my heart was moral and just.  It did not make sense to me that I would be damned for eternity to hell because I myself was bisexual.  It further didn't make sense that my own family members who were gay would burn.  These were people who worked to help others and were good, moral people.  Nothing about Catholicism clicked correctly in my brain anymore.  Sundays were now mine again.

I guess, for the majority of high school and college, I was what could be labeled as an agnostic.  I knew there was something out there greater than I was, but I couldn't put a finger on what.  I began to research my own family history.  My maternal grandmother was almost 100% Native American.  I didn't grow up knowing all of this; I actually found out around the time my grandfather died.  In my heart, there was something very beloved and treasured about this part of my genetics.

The more reading I did on my tribal history, the more of a sense of home and peace I was getting in my heart.  Of course, I didn't do much about it religiously.  I was still hurting and wrestling with that good ol' Catholic guilt.  The God and Goddess were waiting patiently for me to find them.  I know now that they led me to pick up the books on my family history and that eventually I'd come to seek them as well.

A Snow Baby

 

A little blurry, but my Siamese baby wanted to go play in the snow.

Retro Cooking Month - (Easy!) Beef Pot Roast

It seems that I never put any healthy recipies up for Retro Cooking Month.  I guess this recipe will be the closest to "healthy" as I get for family recipes.  I do a lot of cooking out of South Beach© for my diet, but because of that little ©, I'd rather not risk posting their recipes here.

This is my mother's recipe for Beef Pot Roast.

You Will Need:

3lbs Beef Cubed
1/4 Cup Butter
3 Carrots Chopped 
4 Stalks Celery Chopped
1 Medium Onion Chopped
1 Clove Garlic Chopped
1 10 1/2oz can Beef Broth
1/2 Cup Red Wine
1/2 tsp. Paprika
1/8 tsp. Black Pepper (or more for personal taste)
5-5 Red Potatoes cut into 4's

This is a very easy recipe to cook. 

1. Brown beef on all sides in heated butter skillet.  Make sure the skillet has a tight fitting cover. 
2. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook until the onion is golden.  Stir occasionally.
3. Blend thoroughly.  Add beef broth* and remaining ingredients.  Cover and simmer 2 -3 hours or till beef is tender.  Serve plain or over egg noodles.
           *If you would like a thicker broth, you can add some flour and stir to combine.

17 February, 2010

Retro Cooking Month - Pantry Essentials

I will break this down similar to Mrs. B's post: Pantry, Freezer, Fridge



The Pantry
  • Multi-Grain Pastas
  • Brown Rice and Wild Rices (try to have both instant and regular rice)
  • Egg Noodles
  • Multi-Grain Bread
  • Bread Crumbs (I try to make my own, but I keep a box of pre-made multi-grain bread crumbs around)
  • Canned Tuna - I <3 Tuna.  I lived on it in college and I could live on it again!
  • Low Sodium and Low-Fat Soups and Broths
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Olive Oil
  • Canned Crushed Tomatoes and Tomato Paste
  • Good Cooking Wine
  • Wesson Oil
  • Bisquick
  • Dried Herbs - Basil, Parsley, Oregano, Rosemary are the staples in many of my recipies
  • Mrs. Dash
  • Garlic Powder
  • Honey
  • Variety of Mustards - Can be used as dressings/marinades/etc.
  • Smart Balance Peanut Butter - Of all the low-fat. organic peanut butters, this is the one that tastes "normal" for me
  • Nutella
  • Fresh Garlic and Onions

The Fridge
  • Eggs
  • Skim Milk
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano (Fresh Block)
  • Deli Meats - Turkey, Ham and American Cheese are always in the Deli Meat drawer
  • Plain Low-Fat Yogurt (I'm not a fan of Greek Yogurt)
  • Romaine Lettuce Heads
  • Hummas
  • Carrots
  • Red Bell Peppers
  • Bags of Spinach

The Freezer
  • Frozen Homemade Pasta Sauce -  I always make more than I need when I make sauce, so I freeze the extra
  • Chicken Cutlets, Steaks, Salmon, Pork Cutlets (I have a vacuum sealer - Best Purchase ever!)
  • Frozen Berries
  • Frozen Veggies (Stir Fry Veggies, Broccoli, Mixed Veggies, Artichoke Hearts)


I know there are some that are missing, but since my husband and I moved in with my parents, I can't seem to remember what I kept in my kitchen!  Oh, well!

Retro Cooking Month Contest

I'm so excited about Mrs. B's most recent give-a-way post: a copy of Liz Clement's book Inside Glass Jar Goodies.  I used to make glass jar chocolate chip cookies with Girl Scouts and I had no idea that you could do this for things outside of cookies/brownies.  I'm excited to try the Sun Dried Tomato Herb Dip Mix and to maybe give a few of these as gifts during the holidays.

A tiptoe back to the beginnings

I suppose it's traditional to start in the past and then work my way up to the present.

Prior to my introduction to the craft, I was brought up in an Italian/Spanish Catholic household.  My family, especially my mother’s, raised me to be independent and freethinking.  As a woman, I was to never depend on a man and get as much education as a I could.  You can rely on no one but yourself.  However,  the Church raised me to feel guilty.  About everything.  Including bathing suits.  This was quite traumatizing to me considering I was a competitive swimmer, but our church’s Deacon was quite insistent that Jesus did not want women “to bear their flesh.” I couldn’t understand it.  Weren’t Adam and Eve naked in the Garden of Eden?  Didn’t God love our bodies and want us to love and appreciate them?  Of course, I asked these questions, but I was snubbed with answers like, “Adam and Eve were different!” “Showing too much skin is sinful!”  and of course “If you don’t make confession, you’re going to hell!”  Such wonderful things to tell a 10 year old.  My home instruction and church instruction never seemed to quite fit and I was always confused.

That same year I had my first experience with death: I lost my maternal grandfather.  This man was my entire world and now he was lost.  I fully understood that death was a part of life, but again the church and our priest offered little comfort to me.  What really did me in was when they began prayers for his soul to be released from purgatory.  I asked the priest why my grandfather wasn’t in heaven.  His answer: he didn’t make his peace with God before he died, so he’s stuck between heaven and hell.  This was not what my mother and grandmother told me or what I knew of my grandfather.  He was a good Catholic man.  He always did for others.  In my eyes, he was a saint.   The cracks grew deeper.

I continued through the motions of the sacraments and made my Confirmation at thirteen.  My Catholic molding finally broke at our 3 day “retreat”.  It was basically a three-day rehearsal/brainwashing.  Girls and boys were separated and although I do not know exactly what took place during the boys meetings, I know it couldn’t be far off from mine.  We discussed “mature” Catholic dogmas: abortion, sex, marriage, AIDS, birth control, homosexuality.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  Everything I had come to believe on my own about these topics, based on my personal experience and from the teachings of my mother and grandmother, was apparently a lie.  The church told me that I was a sinner.  The church told me that my gay friends were also sinners.  The church told me too many things that just didn’t click anymore.  Confirmation was only a day away and I would go through with it, but after begrudgingly receiving that sacrament, I hung up my rosary and tossed aside my Bible forever.
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