Happy New Year!
Wait a minute—it’s October. New Years isn't until... January, right?
Halloween used to be considered the end of the year, Samhain or "Summer's End". And just like us, folks in the past thought that the end of the year was a good time to have a look ahead.
You can celebrate this part of Samhain and make a yummy Halloween treat with a batch of fortune-telling cakes. A little—but that comes later.
Bake a batch of cupcakes or muffins. Be sure to use paper baking cups. Once they are baked and cooled you can decorate them too—just make sure that they all look similar—that's part of the magic!
Next, on a blank sheet of paper, draw circles that are the same size as the bottom of your baking cups (you can use one to trace the circles).
Draw one of each of the following pictures in each circle and its one meaning underneath or around the image (feel free to add your own):
heart ~ LOVE wheel ~ TRAVEL circle ~ SOMETHING WILL REACH COMPLETION arrow ~ YOU WILL BE GIVEN DIRECTION butterfly ~ CHANGE vine ~ GROWTH lightning ~ AN "AHA!" MOMENT book ~ KNOWLEDGE or STUDY dollar ~ WEALTH or ABUNDANCE ring ~ COMMITMENT door ~ OPPORTUNITY scales ~ JUSTICE key ~ ANSWERS handshake ~ FRIENDSHIP eye ~ AN ENLIGHTENING VISION horseshoe ~ LUCK lips ~ AN IMPORTANT CONVERSATION
Cut out the circles and glue them to the bottom of the baking cups of the cooled cakes, then arrange them on a tray. Take a cake (no put-backs-ies--you get what you get!) to see what the future may hold for you. Trick or Treat!
Greetings Fellow Seekers!
Before I begin my adventure, I want to thank all the Junior Seekers who helped me with my last assignment (especially Skye and Pamela who gave excellent suggestions, and to Jenny who had the correct answer). Their answers were greatly appreciated and saved my grade! Woo!
I'm standing on my new site and I find it hard to breathe. The air is a bit thin and it's taking me some time to adjust to this place. It's bad enough that I have to be out doing research so close to Samhain...
Garry, my GPS and guide, has placed me on top of a mountain peak. There are other mountains around me but this appears to be the highest point. I definitely need a jacket or a parka because it's a bit chilly and there's a light dusting of snow.
Maybe I should light a fire?
Mist and fog surround me. I have to squint to see, and it doesn't help that I misplaced my glasses again. My goggles are only good for traveling while on Garry’s back. I can’t complete this assignment if I can’t see. Let me check my pockets...
I have my Magical Ear De-waxer, my SAMD (Spaghetti and Meatball Detangler--I’ll save that for lunch). Funny but I’m craving bratwurst and sauerkraut ever since we got here.
Wait, here's my Ethereal Telescope! It has two viewing modes: Real and Surreal. Let's try the Real mode first.
Oh, look at the magnificent forest! I see railroad tracks and puffs of smoke coming from a steam locomotive. It’s traveling up and down the mountain. There seems to be a large park. I see two signs near the entrance. It must be a park for cardiologists because I see a word that looks like it should be "heart" but it's spelled H-A-R-Z. And the other sign looks like they're trying to say that the garden is broken B-R-O-C-K-E-N-G-A-R-T-E-N). Now I see a tall metal tower next to a restaurant and what looks like a hotel. The tower looks like it's used for TV, or something like that. Hmmmm... Do you think the restaurant serves sauerbraten? Garry just whispered in my ear and told me to try the surreal mode on my Ethereal Telescope...
Junior Seekers, you are not going to believe what I’m seeing. Everything's changed--there are flowers in the garden below and the air is so warm... AND THE VIEWFINDER IS SHOWING ME A SKY FILLED WITH FEMALE SEEKERS FLYING AROUND ON BROOMSTICKS! They're babbling about something called--hold on, let me see if I can catch it--"val-pur-gis-knockt." Huh? Maybe it's some kind of food--I could use some of that right about now!
On the ground are more women dancing around a huge bonfire near a large moss covered stone. I don’t think they're campfire girls; they look too old for that.
When I shift the viewfinder to scan over the bonfire, I see a very awesome sight. A dark image appears to be rising up from the flames. It looks like it's... summoning something... Creatures are coming up from the ground! OMGosh, Seekers--something's coming towards me. It's a kind of... ghost. It moves when I move. I’m turning off the telescope; these visions are too surreal for me!
My real view isn't any better than the surreal one. It’s getting dark and the mountain is cold again. Well, fellow seekers, I’ll have to look over my notes and try to figure out where we are. If you have any idea where we might be, please send your suggestions to me, Willow, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You really helped me out with my last assignment.
Until next time, explore the world--but don’t get lost!
Put the newspapers under the pumpkin to keep the table or counter clean before carving it.
Remove the insides from the pumpkin and place them in the colander.
Rinse the seeds with cold water and pull them from the stringy stuff. Place the seeds in a single layer on the baking tray, then put the baking tray in a warm dry place where it will not be disturbed--like the top of the refrigerator or a window sill.
When the seeds are completely dry, put your hands over them and say:
Magic pumpkin, magic seeds,
Magic charm, fill my needs.
Magic pumpkin, magic seeds,
Magic power, do my deeds.
Now the pumpkin seeds are ready to be used for magic. Whenever you want to use a seed, say the magic charm over it, and then ask for your wish. Then put the seed in a place where it will be safe. Sometimes magic takes a little time to work, so be patient, and good luck!
It's 5 a.m. A warm summer breeze pokes its way through the window screen, softly caressing your face. Lazily, you roll over onto your back, relishing that sleepy state of comfort. Just as you are about to slip back into dreamland, you are jolted, wide awake, sleep no longer an option. It is a new day and the messenger of such is making sure that everyone knows it!
If you haven’t already guessed it, that messenger is jet black and screeching out its throaty, unmistakable trademark of “caw-caw” - the aggravating and annoying, crow! The crow is a member of the “corvidae” family which includes magpies, blue jays and ravens. Ravens have often been mistaken for the crow because of their similarity. The only real difference between them is that the raven is much larger and found more in wilderness areas.
Not everyone views the crow just as a loud, obnoxious, black bird. In Roman mythology crows were as white as snow. One day, the crow brought Apollo (a Greek god) bad news that made him very angry. It is believed that in a fit of fury, he turned the crow from white to inky black. Native Americans believe that animals serve as “totems” or spirit guides. A totem is an object or animal whose energy attaches to someone during their life time. It is believed that if you have a crow as your totem, there are many lessons that they can teach you.
Lessons such as how to be at peace when you are alone, as well as within a group; how to value yourself and give yourself the best out of life; and how to find joy in exploring new things.
With the crow as your totem also comes responsibility. When you encounter people who are in emotional pain or are bitter and do not have the intentions of doing good to others or to themselves, it is your role to guide them into a place where they can forgive the people who have hurt them. However, before you can do this for others, you must first turn your own bitterness, anger, and hurt into love and forgiveness. Native legend also states that the crow is very mystical and is able to bring messages to the living from ancestors in the spirit realm.
DID YOU KNOW...
...the crow is considered to be the smartest of all birds. Some studies indicate that crows can even count!
...during mating season, the male crow makes himself look as handsome as possible. When he finds that special female crow, they build their nest together.
...the great horned owl is crows’ most deadly enemy, and at night their nests are extremely vulnerable.
...the crow is a member of the songbird family (now, that’s hard to believe!) and has 25 different calls.
...crows live in all parts of the world, except for Antarctica, South America and New Zealand.
If you take the time to observe the crow, you will see that they are very watchful and always have a member posted as the lookout. Their nests are made with an outer basket of sticks and then filled with mud and grass. As a finishing touch, they are lined with something soft like spongy, green moss. These large, bulky nests are built high up in the trees so they can observe their living and feeding area in its entirety. Their keen, piercing eyes miss nothing. Sometimes they have been observed to attack and kill one of their own. It is an old belief that they do this to the lookout crow who failed to warn of danger. Crows are notorious for warning other animals and birds of any threat or lurking danger. They are very social and are masters at working together.
Crows are extremely curious and they have to explore anything that catches their attention. In fact, they are thieves! Shiny things, like coins or jewelry left unattended, could likely end up in their tree top nests. They also have an insatiable appetite and will eat almost anything. It is nothing for them to steal food from other birds or whatever is lying around. Don’t leave that food on the picnic table unattended! Remember – they are watching!
When you look closely at the crow, especially on a bright, sunny day, their feathers give hints of deep blues and purples that glisten like a shiny, well polished shoe. Although the crow is a daytime bird, black is the colour of night. The colour black has long time been associated with magic (i.e. “black magic”) and traditionally it is what the crow symbolized, but their blackness is also a reminder that every pitch-black night miraculously gives birth to a brand new day.
So the next time your sleep is cut short in the early morning hours by that rambunctious, obnoxious, aggravating, big black pest, consider this: maybe he is trying to give you a message that magic is all around you and that life itself is magical!
Greetings and merry meet! How quickly the wheel has turned and brought us to the exciting Sabbat of Samhain. Just step outside and you can feel the chill in the air, see the beautiful colors of the changing leaves, leaving summer behind us as a fond memory. There’s a buzz of excitement in the air’s energy this time of year as we physically and emotionally prepare ourselves for the coming holidays and cold season. The time between Samhain and Yule is my favorite time of year for cooking. Our bounty is still abundant, but the flavors become more rich and the meals become more hearty. Long, slow cooking processes leave your home smelling fabulous!
Being seen as one of the most, or even THE most important holiday in Pagan celebrations, the Samhain meal is very significant. Many consider this Sabbat as the Pagan new year, so it is a time for new beginnings and endings. As you may know, the American Halloween tradition of dressing in costume comes from the idea of dressing up for this date in a costume that will attract the qualities you want to bring for yourself into the new year. The other big influence on our celebration is the Celtic Feast of the Dead. This is the time of the year when the veil between our conscious world and the spirit realm is thin, making communication with our deceased loved ones easier than during the rest of the year. The Halloween tradition of Trick or Treat has evolved from making a feast to honor our ancestors, leaving out for them the most choice cuts of the meal, and leaving treats to appease any mischievous spirits that may come to play.
Our Samhain feast focuses more on the traditional meaning of the ancestor feast to honor our loved ones who are no longer living, but I’ve thrown in a few fun witchy Halloween items too. Most of the dinner recipes I’ve included are traditional in my family and honor my own ancestors by using recipes that have been handed down to me. I’d like you to focus on being creative in planning your own Samhain dinner by asking parents, grandparents or other respected elders for their favorite recipes and adding them to your own feast. There may be items that you wouldn’t normally see on the table for the same meal, and that’s okay, because we’ve got a dish that represents each one of the people we’re hoping to honor with our feast. The desserts, however, are fun and festive for either a Samhain dinner or a Halloween party with friends. Here’s what we’ve got cooking for Samhain:
There was never a family gathering without Nana’s antipasti plate as an appetizer. There are no specific amounts and you can substitute anything that you like with this one. Set out a tray of antipasti so your guests can snack while you’re preparing the rest of the fabulous meal.
Thinly sliced Genoa salami, prosciutto, ham
Fresh mozzarella cheese, either in small balls or cut into thin strips
Thinly sliced provolone cheese
Roasted peppers cut into strips
Fresh shrimp that has been deveined and cooked, shells removed.
Roll each slice of salami and prosciutto up into cigar-shaped rolls. Arrange all the meats, cheeses, vegetables and breadsticks on a platter in a pretty display. Easy!
GRANNY’S SOUTH CAROLINA POP-OVERS
When I was a child, my grandmother took me on a vacation to South Carolina and we sat each morning in the beautiful garden of our Bed and Breakfast, eating fresh-baked pop-overs with home made jelly. Pop-overs are a light, airy bread made in a muffin tin, best served hot with melted butter as an addition to any meal. I can’t have these without fondly remembering her and our trip. If you’re making the full Samhain menu, you can bake these while the roast is resting.
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon of melted butter
1 cup MINUS 2 Tablespoons of flour
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Preheat oven to 375.
Generously grease 9 muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, water. Add butter in a stream, whisking the entire time. Add flour and salt. Whisk until just combined, but still slightly lumpy. Divide the batter into the tins of the muffin pan. Bake in the lower 3rd of the oven for 45 minutes. Cut a slit about 1/2 ” long on top of each popover and bake an additional 10 minutes. Serve immediately with butter and/or jam.
OPAPASAN’S RIB ROAST WITH ROASTED GARLIC AND HORSERADISH CRUST
Opapasan was my father and while he didn't cook EVER, this was his favorite dish so I make it to represent him at our Samhain meal. A rib roast is a very expensive cut of meat but it is so worth it. It’s delicious and everyone will be impressed. It has a few steps in it, and requires some advanced preparation, so plan ahead.
Two full heads of garlic
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/3 cup of prepared white cream-style horseradish
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 6-pound rib roast
**Note: You can have the butcher remove the ribs from the roast then tie them back on with butcher twine. The bones give the meat so much flavor, plus they’re fun to chew on later, but it makes for more difficult carving if they’re still attached.
Preheat oven to 350. Carefully slice the tops off the two heads of garlic, exposing the cloves. Place garlic heads onto a sheet of heavy duty foil. Drizzle the top of each with some of the olive oil and seal them in the foil. Bake for 40 minutes, until garlic is soft. Cool 15 minutes.
Carefully squeeze the garlic heads to get the roasted garlic cloves out into the bowl of a food processor, adding any of the oil that collected in the foil. Add the horseradish, salt and the rest of the garlic. Puree until almost smooth.
Place the roast in a baking pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread a thin layer of the garlic mixture on all sides of the meat. Put the roast, rib side down, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, up to one day.
Position the oven rack towards the bottom third of the oven. Preheat to 350. Uncover the meat. Roast until a thermometer inserted into the top center registers 125* for rare, about 1 3/4 hours. Transfer the meat to a platter and let it rest for 30 minutes before removing the bones and slicing cross-wise. Pan drippings can be defatted and warmed to serve over the meat.
BUBBI’S CANDIED SWEET POTATOES
A simple, sweet side dish that was offered at my other grandmother’s Thanksgiving table.
1 large can of peeled, cooked sweet potatoes
1 cup of brown sugar
3/4 cup water
Dash of salt
1 1/2 tablespoons of butter
Sprinkle of cinnamon
Cut potatoes into 1/2” slices. Combine sugar, water, salt, butter and cinnamon in a large sauté pan. Cook for 5 minutes. Add potatoes and cook over low heat for 45 minutes, gently turning the potatoes occasionally to coat. During last 5 minutes, add the walnuts.
EASY ZUCCHINI PARMESAN No one in my family actually remembers the origin of this recipe, but somehow it has made it to our family table on more than one occasion. This will help use up some of that extra zucchini that the garden produced at the end of the season!
2-3 medium zucchini
1 tablespoon of butter
2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan cheese
Cut the zucchini length-wise into long strips. Heat one inch deep of salted water in a pot until boiling, add zucchini, cover and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Drain the water out, return zucchini to the pot. Add butter and toss. Sprinkle cheese over the zucchini and serve warm.
SAMHAIN PUMPKIN BREAD
Okay, here it is! The recipe I am asked to make more times a year than any other. I must make 4 or 5 batches between Mabon and Yule. This is adapted from Lori Cabot’s recipe, and it comes from her book Celebrate the Earth. I doubt there are many who know more about Sabbat celebrations than Ms. Cabot, so it’s an honor to take some of her wisdom and add it to my own holiday table. Don’t be intimidated by the amount of butter and eggs, as this recipe makes two large loaves of pumpkin bread.
2 cups of pumpkin (canned, cooked… don’t use pumpkin pie filling, just plain pumpkin)
1 cup of melted butter (yes, that’s two sticks)
3/4 cup water
3 2/3 cup flour
2 1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons (I use 3) cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup (I use
1 1/2) of raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350. Blend pumpkin, butter, water and eggs until well-mixed. Add sugar and mix. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and baking soda. Add to pumpkin mixture in small batches, mixing well to combine. With a wooden spoon, stir in raisins and nuts. Pour into two loaf pans that have been greased and floured. Bake at 350 for one hour, or until top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out mostly dry.
WITCHES’ BROOMSTICKS These are adorable, fun treats that are easy to make. A packaged peanut butter cookie mix makes this very simple.
Package of peanut butter cookie mix
16 pretzel rods
2 squares of semi-sweet baking chocolate
1 tube of red or orange decorator icing
Make the cookie mix according to package directions. Form dough into 16 balls, each 1 1/4 inch big. Place pretzel rods onto an ungreased baking sheet. Press ball of dough onto end of each pretzel. Press fork firmly into each dough ball to leave marks that look like broom bristles. Bake for 12 minutes. Let brooms cool completely, for about 2 minutes on the baking sheet, then completely on a wire rack. When cool, place brooms on wax paper. Carefully melt the chocolate in the microwave, using a microwave-safe dish, stopping to check and mix the chocolate often. Spoon chocolate over the part where the pretzel and cookie join. Let it stand until firm. Decorate the broom ties with colored icing.
DELICIOUS EDIBLE GRAVEYARD DESSERT This is a popular dessert for larger groups and to bring with you if you’re going to a Samhain or Halloween party.
Pour milk into a large bowl. Add dry pudding mixes. Beat with a wire whisk for two minutes, or until well-blended. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Gently stir in three cups of the whipped topping and half of the cookie crumbs. Spread evenly into a 13x9 baking dish. Sprinkle the top with the remaining cookie crumbs. Refrigerate at least one hour.
Meanwhile… here are some ideas to fill your graveyard:
Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies make good tombstones! Use decorator icing to write RIP on them, or any other dates & names you like.
Take Nutter Butter cookies, dip them in melted white chocolate to make ghosts. Use mini chocolate chips to stick on as eyes, and decorator icing to make red mouths.
Gummy worms can stick out of your dirt wherever you like
Candy corns and pumpkins can be used to decorate the top as well.
The rest of the whipped topping can be plopped on top to make ghosts too
Peeps now makes marshmallow ghosts too
Hello, everyone--Bo Rua here! There's lots of preparations going on. Wood is being gathered for the festival bonfire. Windows, doorways and mirrors are being blessed and sealed, so no spirit can use them as an unintended portals into our world, and the jet scrying glass is waiting in its bag of mugwort, to be used by the Elder during our Samhain ritual.
Do you know about scrying? It's another word for crystal gazing, although not everyone uses a crystal ball. Some Elders prefer a round glass, and sometimes spheres, made from shiny, black jet. It's a perfect stone for this kind of work, not only because it can be polished into a dark, reflective surface, but because of its properties, too!
As you may know, Samhain is the night when the worlds of the living and the dead are close. We welcome the spirits of our loved ones to join us and our rites. When a person scrys this evening, there is more of a chance that they could be bothered by other forces that are allowed to roam the earth until noon the next day. Jet turns aside negative energies, and protects a person who travels, physically or spiritually. So, it's good for those who “travel” using psychic vision, but also good to carry in your pocket when you go door-to-door for “trick or treat.” Because it protects spiritual travel, it's also a good meditation stone to help you discover your past lives.
Jet and amber are the sacred stones found in the necklaces worn by some traditions of Wiccan High Priestesses and Elders. Together, they represent life and death, male and female energy, and set up a very healing vibration. Part of that is due to jet's ability to cleanse your aura of any negativity or sickness. In fact, if you put small pieces of jet in a bowl, and then place other stones, crystals or jewelry in the bowl with them, the jet pieces will remove any unwanted influence from those other items. It's a great way to get your ritual jewelry ready for the big night and, if your parents or Elders have allowed you working tools like a wand or blade, keeping a piece of jet with them, when not in use, will keep them safe from unwelcome energy.
Jet keeps you calm and removes unwanted fears but, more importantly for Samhain night, it will also keep you safe from any misuse of magic and energy. After all, one can't be too careful--anything can happen on Halloween.
Enjoy your parties and your celebrations. Remember those you love and those who have passed on. Leave some food out for the Puca (Samhain is his special evening, you know) and stay safe until morning.