Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Reminder To Be Foolish...

April Fool! A time for jokes to be sure, but the Tarot's Fool offers us a different kind of message about being Foolish...

The Fool is starting along a completely new path in life. He knows that he does not have all the answers and he is not embarrassed to ask for help. What he does have, in abundance, is enthusiasm.

Imagine two people walking along a road. One is an optimist; he sees a rainbow, a lovely new pair of shoes in a shop and smiling faces. Another, a pessimist, sees rain, dark skies and muddy pavements. They are both walking along the same road but their experience of it is very different. Neither of them knows what will be at the end, but the first one hopes it will be something good. 

This attitude affects how others treat you. If you meet people in an open, happy way they will, generally, want to help you. If you are negative they may not. The Fool is an inspiration to us all. If you face the future believing it will go well, then you will create a future where things do go well. Enthusiasm can be far more important than knowledge.

The Fool challenges you to believe, to trust in the future and to leave the past behind. A person who thinks they have the answer to everything really knows nothing! Someone who accepts that they don't know everything, but isn't scared to learn has the real wisdom. That person will take a step into a brighter future!

by Claire Cunnington
The Fool, from the Ator Tarot by Robin Ator, labeled by Natalie Zaman

Friday, March 28, 2014

Interview with the Witch Hare...

There is a poem that was written a long time ago by Walter de la Mare that goes like this:

In the black furrow of a field
I saw an old witch-hare this night;
She cocked a lissome ear,
And she eyed the moon so bright,
And she nibbled of the green;
And I whispered "Whsst! witch-hare!"
Away like a ghostie o'er the field
She fled, and left the moonlight there.

Ever since Puca talked about bunnies, I've always wanted to ask the witch-hare some questions. I thought it would be hard to find her because hares are rarely seen in the wintertime. Luckily, the first Spring thaw washed away most of the huge piles of ugly gray snow that have been hanging around for weeks now, so I was able to make my way to a field near the woods where I knew hares lived. And there she was, waiting for me, a little nervously, by an old stump at the edge of the clearing.

The pretty witch-hare, at the edge of the woods...

"Ah, I'm glad you didn't bring your dog this time!" she greeted me, her nose twitching and her ears laid back. She was trembling with the strangeness of being so close to a human, yet she sensed that I was not going to harm her.

"Do you mind if I ask you some questions?" I inquired politely, taking my notebook and pen from my pocket. "I always wondered--"

"Make it fast!" the Hare snapped. "Springtime is a busy season for me."

"Oh, yes, you are busy coloring eggs and delivering baskets to children," I nodded and scribbled a few lines.

"Oh, no!" She shook her sleek brown head so hard that her ears flapped. "You must be thinking of my cousin, the Easter Bunny--Puca can tell you all about him. I am the witch-hare," she proclaimed proudly. "I am one of the first creatures to announce that Spring is here. Do you know Eostre? The goddess of Spring? Sometimes she is called Ostara. If you find an old statue of her, you'll see there's a white hare beside her. That was my great great great great great great great great grandmother! Cerridwen and Freya both have hares for their attendants. We also run with Artemis and sit beside Aphrodite. I even heard somewhere that the goddess Holda had several hares that carried her torches for her."

I smiled and wrote it down. Then, when I looked back at the hare, her dark eyes were twinkling as if she was playing a joke on me. I blinked and Eostre Herself was standing there where the hare had been! A beautiful young girl with a smile like the sunrise and the pink blush of an April dawn on her cheeks. I blinked again and it was just the witch-hare, winking. "Trickster and shapeshifter," I wrote carefully on my notepad.

"Besides," the hare went on, "there is a big difference between rabbits and hares. Rabbits are smaller. Hares have longer back legs and bigger ears. We can change colors from winter to spring, rabbits cannot! Baby rabbits are called kittens. Newborn hares are leverets. When rabbits are born, they are naked and blind. We hares come into the world fully clothed with our fur, able to see, and we are ready to leave our mothers within just one cycle of the moon."

"Speaking of the moon," I spoke up, scribbling madly, "I sometimes see a hare in the moon, especially right after it rises in the sky. How do you explain that?"

The witch-hare laughed. It sounded like tiny bells ringing. "That's one thing I can't explain except to say that we are children of the moon, like all witches are. People all over the world see a hare in the moon because of that. Some even see the moon-hare holding an egg, because we hares are so fertile. Female hares can birth up to 42 babies in one year, you know!"

"No wonder you survive so well," I marveled in awe. "I can't think of any other animal that has so many predators, yet--"

At the mention of predators, the hare became nervous again. "It helps to be able to run really really fast and go zig zag over the fields!" She added suddenly, "Now I have to go!" 

With a skip and hop, the witch-hare was gone before I could say thank-you. She vanished without a sound. Slowly I put my notebook and pen back into my pocket. As I turned to go, something caught my eye, way across the field. It was a male hare dancing in high, joyous leaps, mad with spring fever.

by Gillian Green

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Magical Lives ~ Judy Harrow

The Pagan community lost a vital member and a precious resource last week. 

"I’ve had more adventures than I ever dreamed possible for a girl from the Bronx,” says Judy Harrow, looking back over a lifetime as a Wiccan.

Judy came to the Craft as an adult. In 1976, through pagan friends, she went to her first Pagan Way meeting in Manhattan. (Pagan Way was a type of introductory gathering at the time. Interested folks usually found their way to it via friends who were already involved.) After being initiated as a Gardnerian priestess in 1977, she became a High Priestess of that tradition in 1980. (There are various traditions of Wicca. The Gardnerian tradition was established by Gerald Gardner in England and was the first major British tradition to make its way to America. Many Gardnerian covens today can trace their roots back to Ray Buckland when he resided in New York. Visit Magical Lives from Midsummer 2007 for more about Ray Buckland.).

The study group she was running at the time developed into Proteus Coven, which still exists today. Judy also founded the New York Area Coven Leaders’ Peer Support Group, had a radio program on WBAI New York, and authored several books, including “Wicca Covens: How To Start and Organize Your Own.” Judy was the first Wiccan clergy recognized and registered in the City of New York in 1985, breaking the ground for others.

Judy Harrow and Katharine Clark
 A professional counselor, Judy’s passion was bringing the secular and spiritual worlds of counseling together. She wished the professional world to get to know Pagans as a people of faith, and the Pagan/Wiccan world to adopt some of the basic concepts of counseling when dealing with covens or groups. As she pointed out, other religions train their clergy in more than ritual. We need the same support information for our coven leaders and elders, of all traditions.With this end mission in mind, Judy chaired the Pastoral Counseling Department of Cherry Hill Seminary, an educational group dedicated to training Pagans in all aspects of public ministry.

Judy also wanted people to see that Pagans and Wiccans are not a breed apart from other folks, but real people with real jobs, contributing to their communities. Many of Judy’s daughter covens (those that have developed from her own in NJ) and their leaders have gone on to fill vital public service roles, as well as assisting the Pagan community. One even played a part in the government’s acceptance of the pentagram as a military grave marker.

I first met Judy in the early 80’s through author Rosemary Edghill. Although we came from very different traditions, at a time when folks were very protective of their roots and lineage, she was an open, accepting and enlightened individual, who took her spiritual path to heart without loosing the essential element of joy. When I told her I could not imagine being a “city witch” (she lived in NYC at the time), she sent me a ritual she had performed in Central Park, where she cast the Circle in soap bubbles. She remained that same person, a mix of academic scholar and instinctive witch, still working for the betterment of her fellow Pagans.

Hail and Farewell, Judy Harrow. We shall miss you.
by Katharine Clark

Friday, March 21, 2014

Virgin Mobile

As we begin the Goddess season, it's time to focus on the Maiden aspect of the Goddess; she who embodies innocence, beginnings and the potential of life. That sounds an awful lot like Spring, doesn't it? One manifestation of the Maiden is the Roman fire goddess, Vesta. A virgin (another word for Maiden), Vesta tends an eternal flame. Since the Spring heralds the coming of warmer days, it is fitting to honor her at the Equinox. The materials we'll be using to make our "Virgin Mobile" honor Vesta, the Maiden in all her forms, and the Equinox. The orange represents the sun, and the smaller, lemon, the moon; remember, the Equinox is that 'twixt and 'tween time of equal night and day. Because we're recycling (using a wire hanger) and using natural materials, we're showing respect for the earth which honors the Goddess. And of course, there's no better color for Spring than green! You Will Need:
  • Two Vesta Cards 
  • Wire Hanger (you can get one of these from a dry cleaner) 
  • 1 Orange 
  • 1 Lemon 
  • Powdered Sugar 
  • Green Yarn 
  • Scissors 
  • Tape or glue 
KIDS--BEFORE YOU BEGIN: Remember, any baking and cutting MUST be done with an adult!

Click the picture for images of Vesta to print out:


Cut out the cards and glue them back to back so that the image can be seen on both sides. Punch a small hole in the top and set it aside. 

Cut a long length of the yarn and tie it in the center of the bottom bar of the hanger making sure that both strings (after you tie the knot) are about the same length. Working from the center, doing one side first and then the other, wrap the bottom wire with the yarn. You may find (like we did!) that the length you initially cut isn't long enough. If this is the case, tie more yarn on and keep wrapping.

When you get to the end, tie off the yarn or secure it with glue or a piece of tape.

Cut the lemon and the orange into thin slices. The center of each slice should look like a star made of triangular shaped segments.

Carefully cut or poke out a single segment from each slice, being careful not to tear the peel. Don't waste the segments that you remove--pop them in a glass of ice water for a refreshing treat!

Place the slices in a single layer on cookie sheets lined with baking parchment (this prevents sticking), and dust them with powdered sugar (the fruit should be totally covered).

Bake the slices in a 200 degree oven for about 2 1/2 hours, or until the segments are semi-translucent (see through) and the peels are dry. The longer you leave them in, the darker they'll get. (And yes, they can be eaten!)

Thread a length of yarn (at least 12 inches) through the opening made where you removed the segment. Tie it off, being careful not to pull too tightly on the yarn (the slices are hard and brittle and may break). then tie the other end to the bottom wire of the hanger.

Hang the remainder of the slices in the same manner, working your way across the bottom wire and varying the lengths of the yarn.Thread yarn through the hole you made in the Vesta card, and tie it to the top point of the mobile right under the hook.

Your mobile is now ready to hang! If you place it outdoors, it may attract animals, birds and insects. If it's warm, you may see some hummingbirds and butterflies--and bees (these guys love sweets). Be careful around any wildlife that bites or stings. Did you try this craft? Tell us about it by emailing  broomstixblog@gmail.com.

by Natalie Zaman Vesta by Thalia Took

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Let's explore the signs of the zodiac, starting with the first...


Positive Traits ~ Innocence and wonder, faith, enthusiasm, and raw courage
Negative Traits ~ Selfish, egotistic, thoughtless, and impulsive

  • Ruling Planet: Mars 
  • Color: Red 
  • Dates: 21 March - 20 April 
  • Polarity: Positive 
  • Duality: Masculine 
  • Element: Fire 
  • Quality: Cardinal 
  • Body Area: Head 
  • Direction: East 
  • Countries: Denmark , England , France , Germany , Japan , Poland , Syria Cities Birmingham ( UK ), Brunswick , Florence , Krakow, Leicester, Marseilles , Naples , Utrecht , Verona 
  • Trees: Holly, fir, thorn-bearing trees or bushes 
  • Flowers and Herbs: Arnica, bayberry, broom, bryony, furze, honeysuckle, hops, geranium, juniper, leeks, milk, thistle, mustard, nettle, onions, peppermint, rhubarb, tobacco, witch hazel 
  • Foods: Beer, leeks, onions, tomatoes, most strong-tasting foods.

People born under this sign are leaders with a natural, positive and enthusiastic energy that allows their auras to shimmer in a dazzling ruby shine. Lovers of life in the fast lane, they possess a high physical energy level, which they need to express without any bounds. However, it’s important for them to realize that there is a world of a difference between aggression and assertion, the later being a more constructive way of releasing excessive energy. Their high ambitions and ideals often allow them to become pioneers in their respective fields, forever willing to take on every challenge head-on, for Aries knows no fear, and never shies away from achieving their biggest and wildest dreams.

To understand more about the sign of Aries, we must take a look at the myth of the Golden Ram of Ancient Greek legends. Phrixus and his sister Helle, the children of the Boeotian King Athamas, were quietly walking in the woods one day when they met their mother, Nephele, leading a majestic golden ram by the horns. She revealed that the ram was really the child of the beautiful maiden Theophane, who was the daughter of Bisaltes and Poseidon, the god of the sea. Nephele ordered Phrixus and Helle to ride the ram to the kingdom of Colchis, by the Black Sea , and sacrifice it to Ares, the god of war. The children did so, and the ram’s golden fleece was hung in Ares’ temple at Colchis, where it was guarded by a dragon that never slept. Many years later, Jason, the rightful king of Iolcus in Thessaly, could only claim his throne if he recovered the famed golden fleece. He led the Argonauts, a group of heroes, to Colchis, where, after performing a number of seemingly impossible tasks, took the Fleece. Jason also won the heart of Medea, the daughter of the king of Colchis. From Jason’s story we find many of the qualities that are associated with Aries such as courage, adventurousness, energy, and the need and ability to triumph over adversity.

The soul's birth in Aries is symbolic of dawn, sunrise, spring, and in some ways, resurrection. Like a new-born infant, those born under the sign of Aries always seem to have an air of innocence about them. No matter how strong, bold, or defiant they act, deep within they are innocent babies who truly feel they can do no wrong. Observe how an infant delights itself by looking at it's fingers and toes and all that is around it, just like an Aries absolutely loves everything about themselves in an unabashed manner. Whenever an infant requires any need to be fulfilled, all it needs to do is let out a loud scream, summoning all the elders around them to tend to them ASAP. Those with Aries siblings and friends might recognize this trait in more ways than one. In general, Aries people are known for doubting and fearing nothing. Like infants, they truly are fearless because they never face denial. They are born with the important spiritual lesson many of us seem to forget: "ask and you shall receive." You'll often see an Aries person questing away for "unattainable" goals, only to surprise everyone by achieving them. Aries is often the pioneer who is the first in their circle to do a whole lot of things. They dare to live life to the fullest, without fearing the consequences. No matter how old they are, they always seem to retain a heart tugging innocence and purity about them. This is an endearing quality--and also a reason why all their wishes seem to be magically granted. The Motto of Aries is What you see is what you get. They truly are who they say they are, and have such a strong sense of self-love that they feel there is no need to pretend to be someone they are not. After all, isn't the first step towards being 'cool' and 'popular' is being yourself? Remember, we are human beings, not human doings.

Like infants, Aries people also have an undying belief in the goodness of others. Even though they anger quickly, they are always (well, most of the time) the first to try to make up. When someone seeks their forgiveness, they readily do so, rapidly forgetting about why they fought in the first place. And like infants blindly trust the "grown ups" around them, so does Aries tend to trust in an open and earnest manner. It is truly heartbreaking to see an Aries who has had their trust betrayed; it's almost like seeing an infant being deserted by those it believed would take care of it. And like an infant that is shocked beyond comprehension when its abandoned, all the Aries can really do is scream even louder for attention. An Aries will keep on moving ahead, because they refuse to accept defeat of any sort. Their ego and their innocence don't understand the meaning of defeat. No matter what pain or what amount of heartache they endure, this Ram of Mars manages to fight its way through, winning no matter what the cost. You might notice it's always the Aries student or colleague who shows up despite having a harsh cold and fever, and persists on with their work without any complaints (and probably forgetting to take their medication!). They expect the "adults" around them to remember such mundane details that they can't be bothered with. Are they selfish? Well, you can't really blame infants for being that way. However, when it comes to their loved ones, Aries can be the most generous, often getting gifts and goodies, without expecting anything other than love and loyalty in return.

The Karmic Lesson for Aries is to learn to balance themselves and channel their "aggression" into positive "assertion." They need to handle their fiery tempers that really fly off the handle at a moments notice, and learn how to initiate and be spontaneous without trampling on too many people in the process. Their goal is to become aware of the Self without ignoring the needs of others. The destiny of this sign in many a ways is "TRUTH."

by Zorian Cross
Art from the collections at karenswhimsy.com

Friday, March 14, 2014

The Kitchen Witch's Springtime Recipes

Greetings and merry meet! The Spring Equinox, or the Sabbat called Ostara, is here and, with it, some excitement and new energy. This is a time of rebirth and fertility as our earth awakens and begins to grow the seeds we planted before the frost. No longer do we just wish the harshness of the winter to be behind us, but we see more and more signs of Spring each day. Look out your window… what do you see happening? Here in New York, it’s not as dark in the mornings, and the sun is now setting noticeably later in the evenings as well. Birds are back. Daffodils are beginning to push through the earth.

Now, more importantly, look within yourself. What do you see happening there? Is there a new excitement building? Are you seeing signs of change and growth? There is such promise ahead! To celebrate the beautiful Sabbat of Ostara, we honor these new seasonal changes and celebrate two major themes: the rebirth of the Earth, and the sense of balance that the Equinox represents. Where in our lives do we need to find more balance? Between work and play? Between serious and fun? Between productive and relaxed? This is the time of year to find that balance. 

Our Ostara reflects these themes as well. While the Winter fare tended to be more hearty and heavy, and summer fare is lighter, Spring has a balance. Still with a chill outside, more savory dishes continue to bring us comfort, but with the added sunlight, increased activity and shedding some extra clothing layers, we look for healthier, lighter meals. This Sabbat’s recipes are not a regular holiday menu like usual. Rather, it’s a collection of recipes that would be appropriate for Ostara, but I don’t suggest you make them all for one meal for health reasons. All the recipes star our feature ingredient: the egg! 

6 hard-boiled eggs (See note below for directions if needed)
1/4 cup mayonnaise (can use light if desired)
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper Paprika

Remove the shells from the eggs and slice them in half, length-wise. Gently pop out the yolk halves from each egg into a small bowl and mash them with a fork. Mix in the mayo, mustard, salt and pepper until nicely combined. With a spoon, fill the hole of each egg with the yolk mixture. Sprinkle the tops of the eggs with a touch of paprika for garnish. If you’re feeling extra fancy, you can put the yolk mixture into a piping bag with a decorative tip and pipe the yolks into the eggs to make them look pretty. Cover and keep refrigerated up to one day. 

*To hard-boil an egg: Place your eggs into a pot just wide enough to contain the eggs. Pour cold water into the pot, enough to cover the eggs by about an inch. Add a generous amount of salt to the water (it actually makes the egg easier to peel later). Bring the pot to a rapid boil. As soon as it is boiling, turn the heat off, put a cover onto the pot and let it sit (still on the burner but off) for about 17 minutes. Stop the cooking process by running the eggs under cold tap water or by placing them in ice water. Let them sit in the cold water until the eggs are cooled before peeling, handling or eating.

1 partially baked deep dish pie shell (buy the ones already prepared, poke it all over with a fork and bake it according to package directions)
1 cup of grated cheddar cheese
1/2 package of chopped frozen spinach (thawed)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
5 slices of bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled.
2 teaspoon lemon juice
3 eggs
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup of heavy cream or half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon salt Dash pepper
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat oven to 375. In a medium sautee pan, heat the olive oil. Sautee the onions over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes. Add spinach to the pan and mix well, heating through. Drain and cool. Put spinach mixture in the bottom of the quiche pan, sprinkle cheese and bacon over it. In a small mixing bowl, combine lemon juice, eggs, flour, cream, salt, pepper, nutmeg and melted butter. Pour egg mixture over the spinach in the pie pan. Place pan on top of a baking sheet lined with foil (don’t skip this step, the quiche will leak and this will save you from TONS of clean-up!) and put into the oven for 30 minutes until golden on top and no longer runny. Remove from the oven and allow to sit for about 10 minutes to become firm before cutting and serving. 

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 ½ lbs)
All-purpose flour, enough for dredging, about a cup
Salt and pepper
4 large eggs
3 tablespoons of water
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 lemon sliced into thin rounds
1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
1 cup chicken broth Juice from
1/2 lemon
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Put the chicken breasts side by side on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them. Pound the chicken breasts with a flat meat mallet, until they are about 1/4-inch thick. Put some flour in a shallow platter and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper; mix with a fork to distribute evenly. In a wide bowl, beat the eggs with 3 tablespoons of water to make an egg wash. Heat the oil over medium-high flame in a large skillet. Dredge both sides of the chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, and then dip them in the egg wash to coat completely, letting the excess drip off. When the oil is nice and hot, add the cutlets and fry for 2 minutes on each side until golden, turning once. Remove the chicken cutlets to a large platter in a single layer to keep warm. Toss the lemon slices into the pan and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add the wine, broth, and lemon juice, simmer for 5 minutes to reduce the sauce slightly. Roll the butter in some flour and add it to the skillet, this will thicken the sauce. Stir to incorporate and dissolve the flour. Reduce the heat to medium-low and return the chicken to the pan; place the lemon slices on top of the cutlets. Simmer gently for 2 minutes to heat the chicken through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving. 

5 teaspoons olive oil
4 shallots, diced
1 large onion, cut into thin strips
1 pound bacon, cut into strips
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 (16 ounce) package fettuccini pasta 3 egg yolks (see note below on how to separate an egg)
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Saute shallots until softened. Stir in onion and bacon, and cook until bacon is evenly browned. Stir in garlic when bacon is about half done. Remove from heat. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente. Drain pasta, then return it to the pot. In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks, cream, and shredded Parmesan. Pour the bacon mixture over the pasta, then stir in the cream mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Serve while hot! 

*To separate an egg: Lightly crack an egg on the edge of a bowl. Turning the egg upright, carefully open the shell into two halves, keeping the egg in the lower half. Over the bowl, pour the egg from one half of the broken shell into the other, letting the egg white fall into the bowl, but keeping the yolk intact in the shell halves as you pour. Repeat until all the white has fallen into the bowl, leaving only the yolk in the shell. 

2 cups of heavy cream
2 cups of whole milk
1 cup of sugar
1/2 of a vanilla bean, split in half and scraped (see note below)
6 egg yolks

In a medium size heavy sauce pan, heat cream, milk, vanilla bean (and the scraped pulp), sugar over medium heat. Bring it to a gentle simmer but DO NOT BOIL. In a separate, small mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks until smooth. Pour one cup of the hot liquid into the eggs and whisk constantly until smooth. Add the entire yolk mixture and whisk until fully incorporated. Bring it back to a simmer and continue to cook mixing constantly, until the mixture becomes thick and coats the back of a wooden spoon, about 4-6 minutes. Slowly pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve fitted over a glass or ceramic bowl to strain out any solids and the vanilla bean. Press the mixture with the back of a spoon to get all that great liquid out. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap across the top, touching the top of the liquid so a skin doesn’t form. Refrigerate for 2-4 hours. Pour into your ice cream maker and follow the manufacturer’s directions for processing, freezing and storing. 

Keep in mind that being a Kitchen Witch isn’t just about being a fabulous cook (although when you create some of these meals everyone will think you are!), it’s about learning how to use your energy and intent with all you do, even in the most mundane tasks around the house. Be mindful about your ingredients; make sure your thoughts as you cook focus on those you are cooking for and what you want this meal to bring them. Stir your pot deosil, or clockwise, to infuse your meal with the energy you wish for it to have. You can consecrate your cooking tools and even set up a small kitchen altar with some flowers and herbs. Most Sabbat meals use a combination of ingredients symbolic of the holiday as well as the freshest seasonally-appropriate ingredients. Those of you who are younger readers, please make sure that you have the necessary adult supervision with knife and stove/grill use while you are in the kitchen! 

by Aviva, Art by Morgaine du Mer

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Honor Your Mother ~ Spring Cleaning!

Warming days and budding flowers make me think of… Spring cleaning! Don’t you want to clear out your space? Let fresh air in and bad vibes out? Help someone? We’ve all got too much stuff that we don’t really need or use. Check your closets, drawers, basements, attics and toy boxes. Rummage through. And be honest; do you really need to keep all those books you read when you were little? Wouldn’t it be nice to give them to a day care center or a women’s shelter where other kids could enjoy them? Get everyone in on the purging: 

  • Clean, old bed linens and towels are always needed at animal shelters. 
  • Books can be given to daycare and women’s shelters. 
  • Gently worn coats and clothes are always welcomed by various charities. 
  • Scrap metals can be turned in for cash. 

Call shelters and centers beforehand to make sure when, and if, they will take donations. They may also ask for other items they need, or suggest other charities in need of your stuff. Check out the charities; some claim your clothes are going to needy countries, but the clothes are sold, rather than given. True charities will be listed on the INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE website.

Sodexo and the Tulsa Public School System's donation drive to help folks in Joplin, MO.

Another great source is a FREECYCLE NETWORK. On this site, people can list items they no longer want (even things such as non-working computers that can be taken for scrap or parts). Local places of worship may have a list of ‘wants’, such as working washing machines, computers, or household items for people in need. Talk to your friends and family; maybe you've outgrown clothes and toys that friends and family can use. 

Make Spring cleaning an annual ritual, timing it with a change of season or a memorable date--and enjoy the feeling of open space!

by Charlotte Bennardo
Photo by Sodexo USA via Flickr Creative Commons