Friday, January 6, 2017

Welcome to the Broomstix Archive!

From 2006 to 2010, www.broomstix.com was an online magazine for families following alternative spiritual paths. Click on any of the above pages to visit your favorite Broomstix characters or find spells, rituals and articles to share with your family and/or homeschooling group. New material is posted at the Broomstix Blog on Pagan Square ♥

Bright Blessings!

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"Broomstix is visibly produced by talented professionals. Unlike too many Pagan publications, this one has a copyeditor — or five — and rather than limiting its scope to a few traditions, it offers thought-provoking, in-depth, and well researched articles covering the whole amazing range of pagan beliefs. The hand- drawn art is original, not clip art, and much of it is excellent.

This e-zine's whole appearance is as polished to perfection as any high-quality magazine's — and yet its tone is natural and down-to-Earth, its columnists friendly and conversational. Particularly rare and valuable: Incitement of curiosity. Most articles invite the reader to ponder; the reward is that many Biblical and anti-Pagan myths are instantly exploded in an entertaining, effortlessly rational way. This is painless education — as it should be, but rarely ever is.

This reader, among what are certain to be many others and many more to come, appreciates such generous sharing. Much love, knowledge and hard, skilled work pervade each issue — they're visible on every page. Long may Broomstix live and prosper!" --Angela Richardson (review from Best Ezines)

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I read each issue as soon as I know it's out, because I like to keep up with what my kids are reading. I think I learn as much as my daughter does, sometimes. I love that there are so many activities,but even more so that they're the types of things that nearly ANY child, of ANY age, will be thrilled to do.

I just want to say, thank you to the people behind Broomstix. You've made learning so much fun that even my older daughter (at 17) enjoys it." --Sherry Johnson (review from Best Ezines)

"An amazing resource for learning - good for young and old! We really can't say enough great things about Broomstix, a webzine for magical children. Those children whose curiosity about the magical world have been piqued by the Harry Potter series and other books will find the real magic here and presented with such grace, style, love, beauty and in a fun and easy way. It's so cool and gives us great hopes for the future." --Amy Zerner and Monte Farber authors of the Enchanted Tarot, The Enchanted Spell Board and more.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Celebrate Dia de los Muertos!

Dia de los Muertos—the Day of the Dead--is a holiday dear to the heart and soul of every Mexican that loves his ancestors. The Santa Muerte is the goddess connected to Dia de los Muertos. She pre-dates Christianity in that part of the world, and the Mexican people knew her as MICTECACIHUATL, Lady of the Land of the Dead. She was believed to be a protector of souls residing in the dark underworld, and she is depicted as a woman in a skull mask and traditional dress decorated with flags which were put upon corpses prepared for cremation.

Originally, this holiday fell at the end of of July and the beginning of August, and was dedicated to children and the dead. But when Spanish priests came to Mexico, the date was moved so that it coincided with All Hallows Eve, a Christian holiday. Nevertheless, Dia de los Muertos retains its ancient roots honoring the Lady of the Land of the Dead. You can celebrate Dia de los Muertos by making an Ancestral Altar. It will help you establish a real connection not only with your ancestors but, with the whole spiritual world. Once you make an altar to your ancestors, it will become like an antenna for other spirits who will take notice that you venerate and wish to work with them.

Making an ancestral altar is a simple. The first thing you will have to do is find some pictures of your deceased relatives with whom you have positive connections; aunts, uncles, grand parents or great grand parents. Although the best place for you to have an ancestral altar is your living room since the idea is for you to include your ancestors in your daily life, a closet in a separate room from your bedroom is also a good place to create your ancestor shrine.

Wash down the table top to purify it (white vinegar is good), then place a white table cloth on the altar top. Put a religious symbol at the back of the ancestral altar. This will be guided by the faith that your muertos (deceased relatives) practiced. Arrange the pictures on the altar with a clear glass of water for each relative and a vase to put an offering of fresh flowers. You will also need a white ceramic or glass plate and bowl to make food offerings. The plate and bowl do not always have to be on the altar (but keep them in a separate place from your regular eating plates and bowls). What will always be on the altar are the pictures, the clear glasses of water and the vase. You can also have a picture of La Santa Muerte on your altar, and a crystal skull to store the positive energies that grow from your prayer sessions and communication with the dead. The skull will give you strength in times of stress and great need.

Change the water weekly as well as any flowers that you have placed on the altar. Traditional flowers for the muertos are marigold (flor de muerto) chrysanthemum, jasmine flowers (for the spirit of death) and calla lily flowers. Try to designate one day of the week to devote to maintaining your altar--this way you always pray to your ancestors at least once every week. 

Approach the altar, knock three times, and tell them who you are. Offer them the fresh water and say a prayer on their behalf, ask to bless them and help them grow in spirit. Talk to them for a while, tell them how you miss them, and have not forgotten them. Ask your ancestors for their blessing in your daily life ask them to help you have good health, love, and prosperity. Then light a white candle for them dressed with blessing oil if you have it and leave it there to burn for them, offering your muertos the light, heat, and energy of the candle. Prayers to the muertos should come from heart. If they were Catholic or Christian you can say a Christian prayer for them. To close the ceremony, clap three times.

As you develop a stronger connection with your muertos, you can start to give them food offerings, such as bread, fruits and candies. Never salt the food that you offer the dead as it makes it nearly impossible for the ancestors to draw energy from the food offerings. Try to offer foods that you knew they favored in life—this will make them happy. You may find that as you develop this positive relationship with your ancestors, they will help you in your life. Look for signs that they are with you!

Dia de los Muertos is more than just one day—it lasts from October 31st to November 2nd, and you can keep your ancestor altar up all year round. On November 2nd, the last day of the festival, give each of your muertos a calaveras de azucar--a sugar skull with his or her name on it. Take it to the cemetery if you can. It is customary to take a bite from each skull so a part of your muertos lives on through you!

by Nick Sigala
Art by Ungala

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mabon Magic

The wheel of the year turns, and for a moment the world is balanced. The sun has reached the equator and light dances with darkness equally across Mother Earth. Mabon is how we celebrate this wonderful dance. You may hear the words “Fall is in the air.” Sitting in the sunshine, a cool breeze may brush by you reminding you that cooler days are just ahead. Colorful leaves dance in the trees and fall like rain on the street and in yards. Animals hurry and scurry to fill theirs dens and birds fly south high in the sky. Harvests of corn and apples are brought to the barns, and farmers spend days making cider and apple butter. Family fireplaces are stocked with wood.

This is a time of great celebration. Many of us dread the coming cold. Mabon reminds us to be thankful because it is the high point of the main harvest season. A good harvest means lots of great food to eat right through Winter.

Mabon around the World. People celebrate the Autumnal Equinox in different ways. The Chinese bake special birthday cakes because they believe the moon’s birthday falls around Mabon. These cakes are baked with flour from harvested rice. They also believe flowers fall from the sky on this night, and anyone who sees them will be blessed with great abundance.



Long before the Pilgrims came to America, Native Americans honored the harvest with thanksgiving festivals. The Iroquois people held a Corn Dance each Fall. This was how they gave thanks for the ripened grain. Songs, dances and drumming were all part of the celebration. Naturally, food played an important part as well, including corn.

The ancient Greeks believed Persephone, goddess of Spring returned to the Underworld in the Autumn. Her mother Demeter missed her so much that she would not eat, or sleep, or tend to the earth. Her great sorrow is said to cause Winter. Some pagans tell how the Sun God travels down through the Underworld, only to be reborn at Yule.

Celtic tales tell of Mabon, stolen from his mother by Modred and rescued three years later by King Arthur. He is the power in the darkness, the Lord of the Otherworld and guardian of the harvest and fertility. Mabon represents innocence as a baby, strength as a young man and the sacrificed God when elderly. 

However you celebrate the coming of Fall, whether you run through leaves, help bring in the harvest, or just enjoy the changing colors, remember the Lord and Lady and give thanks for all the blessings you receive. 

Gods of the Universe, I know what you are telling me, 
Today the Earth prepares for a great change. 
Light and Dark are for a moment balanced 
As we slip into the night of the year. 
Thank you for the wonderful dreams we will share.

 

by Adrienne Wesner, Harvest of Hope by Sue Miller

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?

Murder?

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

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: 

ALCOHOL-FREE MINT JULEPS 
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. 

ALMOND STRAWBERRY SALAD 
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. 

FABULOUS CHICKEN ROLLATINI 
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. 

LEMONY HERBED POTATOES 
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. 

GARLIC GREEN BEANS 
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. 

DECADENT CHOCOLATE FONDUE 
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

Friday, April 17, 2015

Rhythms of Spring

Nature's awakening from her sleep
Spring faeries up the roots they creep.
Bulbs soon burst forth from the earth
Laughing, dancing, filled with mirth.

Blessings on Spring, the bright warm day.
The flower fairies have come to play.
Water well the seeds you sow,
Give them love and watch them grow!

If you wish to see faerie light,
Take a draught this brew tonight,
Sweet alfalfa, sage and elder flowers,
And sit you under starry showers.

by Patricia Obsidian
Art by W. Lyon Martin