Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Happy Birthday...


Positive Traits: Clarity of Thought, courtesy, service to others, practicality, and self-honesty.
Negative Traits: Critical, crankiness, timidity, pessimism, inferiority, and hair-splitting.

  • Ruling Planet: Mercury 
  • Colors: Brown, dark grey, navy blue, green, wheat and colors of a farm. 
  • Dates: August 24 - September 22 
  • Polarity: Negative/Yin 
  • Duality: Feminine 
  • Element: Earth 
  • Quality: Mutable 
  • Body: Nervous System, Stomach, and Intestines 
  • Direction: South-West 
  • Geography: Brazil, Crete, Greece, Iraq, Mesopotamia, Turkey, Virgin Islands
  • Cities: Athens, Boston, Corinth, Heidelberg, Jerusalem, Lyons, Paris Trees~All nut bearing trees Plants: Aniseed, azalea, balm, bittersweet, bryony, caraway, elfwort, fern, haresfoot, lavender, lily-of-the-valley, maidenhair, myrtle 
  • Foods: All kinds of nuts and root vegetables like carrots and potatoes. 

Practical and pragmatic, with plenty of common sense, Virgos are the ‘workers of the zodiac.’ They have a need to always keep busy as they often find it hard to sit and listen; they're worrying about numerous tasks that are yet pending! Nevertheless, they can be surprisingly good listeners and wonderful speakers (if given the opportunity). Excellent at expressing their opinions, they often tend to be a tad too critical, often over analyzing everything. This is only because they are critical of themselves, and criticize everything else to mask their own flaws. Once they’re able to curb the self criticism, Virgos can carve out successful careers, often becoming ‘self-made-millionaires,’ who never lose their humility and self-effacing charm. Dedicated and loyal, they always lend a helping hand when asked politely, and always make sure that every task done by them, is done as close to perfection as possible. 

Virgo is one of the few zodiac signs that is represented by a human figure rather than an animal or mythical beast, and her legacy of being the sole virgin of the skies is bestowed upon her from various cultures. In Babylonia, she was Nidaba (or Shala), the goddess of the grain, depicted with a whip that trailed out over the tail of Leo in the constellation--hence we get the phrase, "beauty tames the savage beast. " Here's what Virgo's Constellation looks like In Greek Mythology, Erigone, was the mortal daughter of the King of Attica, and associated with the sign of Virgo. When her father was killed by a band of drunken shepherds, Erigone lamented his death so deeply that Zeus placed her within the 13-starred constellation of Virgo, along with her faithful dog Maera, now referred to as the Dog-star. Some believe Virgo was Astraea (the ‘starry maiden’), the goddess of purity and innocence, who was long associated with justice, and was known as the last god to leave the Earth. Soul Journey. The idyllic youthful Summer of Leo comes to an end as the crops of the field are ready to be harvested before the Fall sets in. In its second sojourn into the night forces of Earth--the first being Taurus --the teenage soul blossoms into an adult, matured by the practical and pragmatic element of Earth. The Virgo soul lets go of the carefree indulgent Summer and takes upon itself the duties and responsibilities of ‘adulthood’ while defensively striving for perfection.

Unlike the Leo soul that bravely rebelled against orders, the Virgo soul complies with society’s rules and regulations by submitting itself gracefully and courteously, despite being frustrated by them. Here the soul learns the values of hard work and dedicated service, often putting playtime aside. And since this is a Mutable Earth sign, even versatility and flexibility become traits carefully measured by clocks and schedules. This happens to such an extent that the Virgo soul can forget the importance and power of dreams, dismissing them as hallucinations that distract from more ‘important’ matters like school and work. Like the new adults symbolized by them, Virgo souls see much to criticize: the traffic, the pollution, what their friends are wearing, or if you're late for a get together with them. However, it's important to understand that this soul secretly resents the loss of childhood innocence. As it has always faced and witnessed criticism from others and itself, so critical thoughts are all that it knows. They believe their value increases with the amount of responsibility they can take on their steady yet nervous shoulders. So when you see a Virgo criticizing and complaining, whether it's about something important or futile, realize that it's merely their way of masking their own self-criticism. 

While all the other signs frolic and bask in the Summer of life, Virgo frets and worries about how to warn everyone of the approaching Winter. Life is a very serious matter for this soul. They spend their time planning ahead for a happier and comfortable tomorrow and can forget the virtues of living in the moment and enjoying it. Virgos yearn for something better, and feel that this can only happen for them if they push themselves beyond their limitations. Virgo souls must embrace their flaws wholeheartedly and learn the power of gratitude. Achieving their desires will only occur once they ask and receive graciously, and be willing to spend without pinching pennies and budgeting every area of their life. It does pay to be cautious, but abundance and prosperity like everything else are forms of energy, and need to ‘circulate’ in order to reach their full power. These are life-long lessons for Virgo. Virgo, like Cancer, is often driven by fear, but unlike the moody crab that hides in its shell and wonders who will take care of them, Virgo is fearful of dependence, and determined to live a life where they'll be self-sufficient in every way. This is one of the main reasons why Virgo is symbolized by a Virgin--not for the purity, but for the fact that they are happy leading a life in which all their basic needs and wants are met by themselves (Think of the Hermit from the Tarot, who lives high in his mountain in solitude and is happy and complete from within.). Don’t be fooled by this: Virgos need love. When they let their guard down, Virgo souls make the most devoted and dedicated partners, even if they do criticize and complain. 

The motto of Virgo is “I ANALYZE,” and it is through their carefully fine-tuned analysis that can we discover the best in ourselves. However, for this soul to truly experience love at its deepest and purest form, the Virgo soul needs to love itself, and only then can they give and receive true love from the world around them. The Karmic goal of this sign is to give dispassionate, altruistic service as an expression of Divine energy at work. Their quick minds and their ability to see patterns and understand (and obsess) over the finer details, allows Virgo souls to plan things in the most functional and efficient way. Creativity within this sign can be channeled towards practical undertakings, allowing them to create brilliant masterpieces either on canvas, film, stage, or even in the kitchen and backyard. However, it's important that along with seeing the trees, the Virgo soul doesn’t miss the ‘forest,’ and appreciates the grander scheme of the Universe’s workings. They can only have true control of their lives once they learn to trust and believe in process of life and thank the Universe for everything they receive. The inner nature or destiny of this sign is DISCRIMINATION.

by Zorian Cross, art from the collections at karenswhimsy

Friday, August 14, 2015

Friday, August 7, 2015

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

...from the Pen of the Puca

There were three kings into the east 
Three kings both great and high 
And they had sworn a solemn oath 
John Barleycorn must die… 

What’s this?


A royal plot for revenge?

An episode of CSI?

Relax everyone! It’s just the old Puca reciting the first verse of a poem by the Scottish writer Robert Burns “John Barleycorn Must Die.” But why, you ask? What did poor Johnny do that would merit the attention of kings? Just who is this Barleycorn fellow anyway?

John Barleycorn is a folk name for the spirit of the land, especially at Lammas when the crops--such as wheat and barley--are green and abundant in the fields. This is the time that celebrates the strength of the sun and the Celtic god Lugh (we call this festival “lughnasad” in his name), but it also honors the spirit of the growing crops. This is the season of the Barley God--John Barleycorn--and the wonderful uses to which this grain can be put. But, more than that, John Barleycorn is a symbol of renewal and the continuance of the wheel of the year.

If you were to read Burn’s poem, it goes on to tell the story of how John Barleycorn was ploughed under in the field, as though he were dead. However, in the rain and sunshine of the spring, he got up again to the surprise of all! He grew strong throughout the summer months, but started to show his age in the fall. This is when his attackers cut him at the knees, tied him to a cart and took him away.

They put him on his back and beat him, hung him upside down, and then beat him again. They burn his bones, and the miller crushed him between two grinding stones. Finally, they made his very heart into a drink and shared it around. The drink gave courage, joy, and forgetfulness. The poem ends praising John and hoping he never leaves Scotland! But if they just killed and mangled him, how could this be? The answer is simple: the soul of the Barley God lives in the barley itself.

It was planted, allowed to poke its head above the dirt in the spring, and grew spear straight and strong in the summer. At Lammas, a bit of the green barley was baked into special loaves to be tasted by all as a sign of faith that the crops would grow full and golden by harvest. As so, come the autumn, when the grains were ready to be gathered, the barley was cut, crated, brought to the threshing floor and beaten to separate the seed from the stalk. Some was crushed to make flour, some was brewed to make ale, and some was stored for planting come the next spring. This is a cycle which continues to this day, a reflection of all life as it is born, matures, dies and is reborn! This is a cycle even kings can not rise above, and so John Barleycorn is a symbol of us all, both high born and common folk.

It is customary at Lammas to bake the special loaf in the form of a man--a symbol of John Barleycorn himself. To taste of this bread is to symbolically join with the god of the fields. (This is not so different from the way some Christian Churches view their communion services!) Revel in the Sun at Lughnasad, and play on the fertile earth, even if it’s only a local park with a few trees and flowers. All life is sacred and should be honored! Try baking your own John Barleycorn with your family, and enjoy the taste of the harvest to come. Happy Lammas!

by Katharine Clark, Puca by Lauren Curtis

Friday, July 31, 2015

Lammas Is Upon Us!

We're back with a heavenly present from our dear friend Carolina Gonzalez! Click the picture below for a free coloring page!


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Beltane with the Kitchen Witch!

Greetings and merry meet! I can’t believe how quickly time has gone by and we return, once again, to Beltane, a major Sabbat and fun holiday. 

At Beltane we celebrate the marriage of the God and Goddess so our celebration is all about love. Romance definitely fills the air, playful faeries are out and about, the Earth’s fertility is evident everywhere we look. Our holiday table is festive with the beautiful blooms of spring, and our Sabbat meal is full of the flavor, color and variety that is beginning to show in our local markets. The mood of the celebration should be fun and lively as we laugh, dance the maypole and feast in honor of our Lord and Lady. This is the theme that is reflected in our Beltane menu… it’s a party! A wedding reception, only more fun. 

Foods known for their romantic nature are perfect for the Beltane feast. This meal should delight all of your senses; foods should not only taste good, but look beautiful and be wonderfully aromatic as well. Herbs such as rosemary, coriander and mint fit right in to our meal as they all enhance romance and love. Oatmeal is another important ingredient in attracting love and good fortune. Other delights such as strawberries and chocolate are fabulous here too. Similar to Ostara, dishes that use eggs and/or custards fit in with the fertility theme as well. Be creative and enjoy! Here’s what we've got cooking for Beltane: 

1/4 cup of water 
1/4 cup of white sugar 
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint leaves 
2 cups of crushed ice 
1/2 cup of prepared lemonade 
Fresh mint springs, for garnish
In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar and 1 tablespoon of chopped mint. Stir, and bring to a boil. Cook until the sugar has dissolved, then remove from the heat and set aside to cool. After about an hour, strain out the mint leaves. Fill two cups (even better if you can freeze the cups in advance!) with crushed ice. Pour 1/2 of the lemonade into each glass and top with a splash of the sugar syrup. Garnish each with a mint sprig. 

3 cups of fresh baby spinach 
1/2 cup of washed, sliced strawberries (hulls removed first) 
1/4 cup of sliced honey-roasted almonds 
1 tablespoon of cider vinegar 
1 tablespoon of honey 
1 1/2 teaspoons of sugar 

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries and almonds. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the vinegar, honey and sugar. Shake well. Drizzle over salad and toss to coat. Serve immediately. 

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves 
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese 
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped 
4 teaspoons of butter 
4 ounces of thinly sliced prosciutto 
10 ounces of sliced whole milk mozzarella cheese 
1/3 cup of white wine (or use chicken stock if you wish) 
1/4 cup of olive oil 
1 pinch of freshly ground black pepper 

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Between two sheets of plastic wrap or wax paper, pound the chicken breasts flat so they are of an even thickness. Lay the chicken on a work surface. Sprinkle generously with Parmesan cheese on both sides. Place a pinch of the minced garlic and 1 teaspoon of butter in the center of each breast. Cover each breast with a layer of prosciutto and mozzarella, keeping some of the prosciutto for later, to top the chicken. Roll up each piece of chicken tightly, with the filling in the middle. Secure each piece with toothpicks. In a 9 x 13 baking dish, combine water, wine (or stock) and oil. Arrange chicken rolls in the dish. Place a small piece of prosciutto over each one and sprinkle with pepper. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear. 

3 pounds of red skin potatoes, quartered if large, halved if small 
3 cups of hot water 
1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice 
1/3 cup olive oil 
1 1/2 teaspoons of dried oregano 
2 teaspoons of salt 
1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper 
2 cloves of garlic, minced 
1/4 cup of chopped fresh parsley 

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place the potatoes, water, lemon juice, and olive oil into a 9x13 baking dish or roasting pan. Season with oregano, salt, pepper and garlic. Toss to coat the potatoes evenly. Roast, uncovered, in the oven until the potatoes are tender and golden brown, about 45 minutes to an hour. Stir the potatoes every 20 minutes as they bake, adding more water as necessary to prevent sticking. Allow the water to evaporate during the final 15 minutes of cooking but be careful not to let the potatoes burn. Stir in the chopped fresh parsley and serve. 

1 tablespoon of butter 
3 tablespoons of olive oil 
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced thinly 
1 pound of fresh green beans, ends snipped (or can use frozen) 
Salt and pepper to taste 
1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese 

Either steam the green beans in the microwave or boil them until crisp-tender, then run them under cold water to stop the cooking and preserve the beautiful green color. Skip this step if using frozen beans! In a large skillet set over medium heat, melt the butter and olive oil together. Add garlic and cook until just fragrant but don’t let it get brown, stirring frequently. Stir in green beans, season with salt and pepper. Cook until beans are heated through, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. 

3/4 cup of heavy whipping cream, keeping 1/4 cup of it aside to add in later if the fondue becomes too thick 
4 bittersweet chocolate bars, each 3 1/2 ounce, chopped 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Yummy things to dip: marshmallows, sliced bananas, strawberries, cubed pound cake, pretzels, orange sections, use your imagination! Graham crackers are my favorite! 

 Heat 1/2 cup of the cream in a heavy non-reactive sauce pot over moderate heat until cream comes to a low boil. Remove pan from the heat and add chocolate. Let the chocolate stand in the hot cream for 3-5 minutes to soften, then whisk chocolate together with the cream. Stir in vanilla. Transfer the mixture to a fondue pot if you have one, or into a heat-safe mixing bowl set over a small lit candle. Make a beautiful arrangement of the items to dip on a platter alongside the fondue, and serve with fondue forks, bamboo skewers or forks for dipping. **If the fondue becomes too thick while it sits, stir in the reserved cream, one tablespoon at a time, until it reaches the proper consistency.

by Aviva
Art by Sue Miller

Friday, April 24, 2015

Worts and All ~ Spring Tonic!

Greetings, Broomstix readers! It's your wortcunning friend Airmid back with you again on this happy, happy day. Why so happy? Because the green is finally returning to the meadows and woods, fields and hills, and even to your own backyard. Spring is here!

Imbolc was a time for cleansing and cleaning. Some of you may have burned the last of your Yuletide greens as a trusting affirmation that more green is on the way. In my coven, one tradition we always follow on Spring Equinox is to go looking for Lady Spring. It's like a game of hide and seek. The youngest girl, dressed all in green, goes off to find a good hiding place. Then the rest of us must find her. We sing to her and call to her as we search, and when we find her, we know Spring is officially here and the celebration begins.

You can go looking for Lady Spring too. She can be found in anything that's new and green. And She gives us gifts when we find Her. If you know how to recognize these green gifts, you can use them for Spring tonic potions.

What is a Spring tonic? It is a plant remedy that helps your body get rid of some of the heavy stuff that built up while you were spending the Winter indoors, in front of your television, or sitting at the computer. You'll need a lot of energy to enjoy the good-weather activities coming up, and spring tonics will help you to bounce back from the Winter blahs.

If you go out looking for Lady Spring's good green gifts, one of the first ones you may find is chickweed. This helpful little plant pops up on the first warm days. It grows very low to the ground, often so thick that it forms a kind of mat. The leaves are small and shaped like diamonds, and you'll know the flowers because they look like tiny white stars. Chickweed is loaded with nutrients, the perfect Spring tonic ingredient. Pick some and make a juicy, crisp salad. It tastes like mild, sweet lettuce. Enjoy it now, because chickweed grows best in Springtime and Autumn. It doesn't like very hot or very cold weather.

Chickweed. Photo by NatureServe via Flickr Creative Commons
Another early green you may find on your hunt for Lady Spring's gifts is nettle. This plant likes to live in rich, moist soil. It looks like an overgrown mint, but if you look closely you'll see small prickly hairs on the stems and leaves. And if you find one nettle, you're in luck because there will probably be a whole patch of them growing. Nettles love company, so its rare to find just one plant. Wear gloves or wrap something around your hand when you pick these, and take only the tender new leaves from the top of the stalk. Don't worry about having to eat the pricklies. They soften when Nettle is cooked. Nettle builds healthy bones, teeth, hair and skin, and will increase and balance energy levels.

Nettle. Photo by benketaro via Flickr Creative Commons
The third gift of Lady Spring is--of course--the sunny dandelion! Dandelions may be hard to recognize before the familiar yellow flowers appear, but if you look for them hard enough, you'll recognize the spear-shaped jagged leaves. Look for the toothy leaves that are hairless. Pick the leaves while they are still young and tender and use them as salad greens, cook them like spinach or make a tea. Dandelion is very high in Vitamins A and C, potassium and calcium, which energizes you and gives your liver and digestive system a good tune-up.

Dandelion and friend ♥ photo by steve p2008 via Flickr Creative Commons
For thousands of years, wise people all over the world have been looking for Lady Spring's green gifts and using them as Spring tonics. When you find some, please don't forget to thank Her!

Till next time, bright blessings and good health to you, worts and all--from Airmid.

PS--Kids, remember to check with a parent or guardian before eating anything!

By Gillian Green, Airmid by Morgaine du Mer Green