Category: MidGardening Witchery
Wishes for a Festive Mabon from my home to yours
Witches Thanksgiving is coming. Also known as Mabon (MAY-bn), or the Autumn Equinox. It is the second harvest. It’s a big one, too, for those living close to the land and growing food. Although I can harvest a little bit every day beginning about the full moon after the vernal equinox, each harvest sabbath (Lughnasah, Mabon, and Samhain) simply means new crops are coming in at each harvest. The first harvest is typically grain and berries. The second harvest is fruit and corn. And the third harvest is everything else, including squash (jack o’lantern pumpkins!), tomatoes, peppers, culling of the herds, etc.
If you’re wanting to have a gathering of your Witch sisters and brothers, this is a wonderful time to do so. So much food is in season. And the weather, at least here in the Pacific Northwest, is still nice enough to gather around a fire circle outside.
Most gathering of witches means potluck of some sort. There’s always the witch that will bring the wine and party favors, another who’s got the sweet treats covered, and another who brings the appetizers. If you’re hosting, the entree will fall to you, along with one or two sides or a salad, as well as making sure your space is welcoming. Maybe some post-meal concoction to sip by the fire whilst you tell stories of your year thus far. You decide how much you take on. Just don’t take on too much, please. Hosts as well as guests should be enjoying themselves. This is a celebration of our gratitude. Our connections are likely at the top of that giving-thanks list. Roast the stuffed turkey, but let everyone else do the rest. However, if you just love creating wonderful food for friends and family, do what you think you can handle without stressing.
Other things to make your Witches Thanksgiving festive are doing things like gourd candles (maybe make enough to allow your guests to take one home), corn dollies, or having the activity of making a scarecrow for the pumpkin patch or front gate, or pressing apples and pears into cider (as might be the case here at Villa Westwyk). Maybe one of your guests would like to do some divination for everyone for the season ahead. Or maybe you watch the new Halloween flick that was just released. Take your inspiration from the landscape around you, the energy of the group, and go forth and have lots of Witchy Fun.
Today I put together a Mabon menu to hopefully inspire, instruct, and initiate you into this upcoming season. Inspired by what’s growing here at Villa Westwyk or available nearby (e.g. sablefish), each category should have you covered no matter which part of the potluck you want to cover. As well, there’s a fire circle ritual to help you welcome in Autumn and prepare yourselves for winter.
First you need to set the mood: and that’s certainly good fun. Decorate your space. Many of my seasonal decorations are actually wards. (More on that here on the blog soon!) Refresh your altar for autumn. If you have a fire circle where you’ll be hosting the ritual, make sure there’s enough seating and table space for everyone. Make sure there’s blankets for everyone to stay comfortable. Again, if you’re hosting, ask your guests where they may like to help. A good guest will ask, as well.
The menu below is by no means the only menu for your Witches Thanksgiving. Again, take your inspiration from what is available to you and your kindred. This is just what will be on the menu at Villa Westwyk this year. Be sure you understand any food preferences and allergies from your guests before using this menu or creating your own.
Please note to access the links of these recipes, you’re going to need a passcode. It’s easy: Mabon2022
Villa Westwyk Mabon Menu:
Gratitude is at the center of Thanksgiving. So the ritual is focused on that. And it’s focused on the fire element, which is necessary to help us survive the upcoming winter season.
Here’s what you’ll need for this activity:
A spot to gather around a fire
Candles or torches that mark the four directions
Small slips of paper and pens or pencils for each guest
A small altar with Autumnal decor
Cleansing herbs (rosemary, sage, mugwort, lavender, etc. – you choose your adventure here)
If you don’t have a fire pit available to you, feel free to gather around a table with a centerpiece of lots of candles. Plan on one candle representing each guest, so 7 guests = 7 candles. And please, for Freyja’s sake, please follow candle safety. You’ll also need a fire-proof container (cauldron).
This is a very casual ritual and more about pulling out the recognition of all the abundance in our lives – there’s more than you think. Doing this little exercise, if you’d prefer that word over ritual, helps you and your guests ground down in gratitude around the fire. I set up the tiki torches around the fire circle to mark the four directions ahead of time. If your tradition calls for casting a circle, feel free to do that. But it’s not necessary for this.
There’s a small altar, mostly hosting all the symbols of Autumn: squash, apples, colored leaves, anything that makes it festive for you. Perhaps offerings for the land spirits or your particular deities. For me it’s offerings to Skaði, the goddess of the Hunt (an autumn activity) and Winter and Tyr, the sky god. Appropriate because of the planetary movement of the equinox. As always, you do you, Witch.
In the center is the fire pit, which I’m sure the Viking will have made larger than necessary. Before going around the circle (sunwise, aka clockwise) some cleansing herbs are added to the fire. The host may do this, or everyone can take a little bit of the herbs and toss them into the fire. Again, candles and a cauldron around a patio table works well, too. Our warm, rainless summers these last 5 years or so here in the PNW means fire rituals often are simply tabletop affairs as fire bans for safety are necessary. All good. This is an opportunity for the host to thank their guests and invite them to consider what they are grateful for. To help your guests get in the mindset of expressing their gratitude, you may ask them to consider three things they are thankful for at Mabon.
Often I’ll ask them to consider their journey since last Autumn to highlight what abundance and blessings they’ve encountered, especially where their personal growth is concerned. What personal quality are you thankful for? What non-human thing are you thankful for? What other person are you thankful for? As the MC, really ask them to explore the why. Why are you grateful for your work ethic, for instance? “Well, Runa, it helped me finish X project before the equinox…” This is a conversation, to a degree. And a time of reflection. As one guest speaks to their gratitude, the others are invited to fire scry or just meditate on the flames.
After the gratitude expressions are complete, this is when your guests will put the one thing they want to leave behind as this new season begins. Starting clockwise again, have the person approach the fire (carefully) and toss their completed release note into the flame, saying “I release what does not serve me.” They do not have to say what the thing is that they are releasing. That is between them, the fire and, if appropriate, their gods. If one of your Witch guests wants to announce what they are releasing, that is fine, too.
End the ritual officially by offering blessings to your guests and again your gratitude for them in your life, for their contributions to the circle, etc. Close your circle here, if you so choose.
Afterwards, it is a great time to pull out a nightcap of some sort. This can be anything like some hot tea and honey, maybe hot cocoa, or here on our covenstead, it will likely be some Cassis (black currant liqueur) or apple cider that we brewed. Then simply hangout by the fire and visit with your kindred. Make plans for a winter gathering now during this conversation, if you like. Play guitar or ukulele. Sing acapella. Laugh. Connect.
Be sure to extinguish all flames before leaving the area. Practice good candle and fire safety. Because Samhain is coming and we want to be able to celebrate the Witches New Year together, too. Stay tuned as I’ll be offering the same kind of post for that Witches Sabbat as well.
How do you celebrate Mabon the Witches Thanksgiving? What of the above might you adopt for your celebration?
Keeping Arachnids at Bay on the Covenstead
It’s September in the Pacific Northwest, or Spider Season as it’s more locally known. Literally spiders show up everywhere. Now, we’re not as bad as some places in Australia, but funnels, webs, and strings of baby spiders in flight are everywhere. Sunrise & Sunset chores here on the covenstead if viewed from the outside looking in, appears as if we’re practicing some unknown form of martial arts as we try to avoid and untangle ourselves from the ever-present webs. Do not leave the house without a hat right now.
As we live closer to the land here, the prevalence of creepy crawlies is a bit higher. So how do we keep our sanctuary, our home, from being infested? Witchcraft to the rescue! Specifically herbalism and the principles of Permaculture.
Like many Witches, I try my best to live in harmony with all the creatures. Spiders found inside the house here at Villa Westwyk, are escorted outside, unless they show up at the base of the toilet at 0333 hrs when The Viking is half asleep, or if they scurry down one of their seemingly invisible threads while I’m in the shower. A Crone has to have some boundaries! But this happens rarely, even in the PNW Spider Season, because I have a secret weapon: bay.
Bay leaves, bay oil, and even a properly placed bay tree helps keep the spiders at bay, along with a few other pesky insects we don’t want in our homes. Also, I welcome them in my pastures, gardens, and green house. Heck, two of them have my house looking like I already decorated for Halloween. But inside, and certain places outdoors, like my clothesline, potting shed, and barn walkways, are off limits. They are welcome anywhere else.
Granted, doing your weekly cobweb dust in the house does do wonders to make spiders feel your private abode is inhospitable. But there will always be spiders about, even in the cleanest and protected homes and cars. Spiders do good work getting rid of other even more annoying bugs like flies, beetles, and even other spiders. But I prefer that my carnivorous plants (venus fly trap, etc.) do that job, which I highly recommend. If you’re in Western Washington, you may source them from Predatory Perennials.
For more than a decade, I’ve been relying on natural insect repellents and plantings. (I’ll do another blog post down the road on why certain plants on the covenstead are where they are.) Bay oil is my go-to primary in this regard. It is an essential oil of Bay, made from those same little leaves you put in your stews and such, Laurus Nobilis, or Sweet Bay as it’s known, can be like an invisible fence to spiders, and often ants, too. I spray it on my outdoor clothes line, which always seems to attract the little arachnids. But under the full moon in August and September, I repeat this ritual to help keep the spiders at bay (haha, pun intended). When we lived on our sailboat, this happened monthly because spiders just LOVE sailboats. They seem to love RVs, as well. So this little recipe and full moon working has come in handy, a lot. I can tell you that it works. I’m sharing it here in case you just might want to add it to your witchy repertoire, regardless if you’re in the PNW or not.
Now before we get to the recipe, allow me to let you know that it’s important that whatever you’re putting on this may react poorly to it. For that reason, be sure to test a small, inconspicuous spot before you apply this spray to any material. I’ve not had any problems, but I also don’t spray it directly on anything, but rather via a micro cloth that absorbs the concoction. But I’m also mostly putting this on natural materials Additionally, I talk to the spirits of the land, or specifically to spiders, in this case, and tell them why I need them to respect this space. And I offer them alternative areas, where I think they will have a bit of sun, a bit of shade, and lots of good hunting (hint hint: anywhere but here).
Yes, my neighbors have caught me talking to the spiders. I normally have my polarized shades on and my big straw hat and pay them no mind. But this talking is important because I have livestock, which can really draw flies if you are not practicing regenerative agriculture. But because I don’t shoo down the Orb Weaver’s giant web between the tree and the fence, but rather walk around it, I think the spiders are really doing their job to help keep the flies down to what anyone without 9 geese, 10 chickens, and 11 ducks would experience in their homes. I am sure to mention that to them, how much I appreciate their work. It is important! Also, I noted that many a yellow jacket were in their webs, too. And that’s a bonus as well, especially since the long, cool summer diminished the number of praying mantis that hatched around the covenstead. In short, you need to establish an energetic exchange with these critters. CoExist, baby. I am very careful of my language here, as with any Craft working. For me, I imagine I’m talking to the children of Loki when addressing the spiders. If you want to be clear, be sure to write down what you’re asking first to check yourself before moving forward. Like with the Good Neighbors I avoid apologies or expressions of debt or gratitude (sorry, thank you, no bueno). But the bottom line is that all the creatures that reside here at Villa Westwyk see the work that The Viking and I are doing. They attach their webs to the trees we’ve planted. They revel in the scent of the flowers and bushes we are planting. They see the care with which we raise our livestock. That positive energy extends throughout our four fences.
Lastly, if you cannot get your hands on bay oil, a part of this ritual includes bay leaves, which are helpful, too. However, you can substitute or combine any of the following oils: lemon verbena, lemon essential oil, lemongrass (you get the picture that spiders hate lemon, eh?), peppermint, citronella, or tea tree. But bay just kicks the most spidery butts here.
There are few poisonous spiders here in Western Washington. If you live in an area that has more dangerous varieties of arachnids, please be cautious with this witchy rite. Understand what you’re up against, before you take the time to spray this brew about your home. Also I make no claim how this works against scorpions, but if you try, it, I’d be interested in your results! Comments make my day.
Alright, here’s how to make the spray:
Spider Season Spray
Spray bottle (a brown glass one is best, but as you can see from my photo, whatever you have available works!)
40 drops of essential oil of bay
4 ounces of distilled water
4 ounces of 190-proof alcohol
1 tablespoon white vinegar
Mix the oil, water, alcohol, and vinegar into the bottle. Close tightly and shake to mix.
Typical Use: Spray on a micro cloth and wipe on areas you want to deter spiders.
Tip: when you wipe down the inside of drawers, cabinets or closets with this, it helps make those areas smell so good!
CoExist With Spiders Ritual:
Spider Season Spray
A handful of bay leaves crushed
A broom if you need to sweep away actual cobwebs
I choose to do this on the full moon in August and September, as the relationship between myself and the spiders is heightened. But honestly, you could do it any time. Because I do this annually, these lunations in the late summer help me come back to this over and over again. As I mentioned, it’ makes sense to do this now in this space because it’s Spider Season. Witches in the Southern Hemisphere might find this more helpful on the full moons in February and March.
- The day before the ritual, I give “notice” to the Spider and the general spirits of the land. I tell them how certain spaces (as mentioned above) need to be free of intrusion, and a space is waiting for them in the (pick your spot). Also, test your inconspicuous spot.
- On the day, first ground and center yourself. Then clean and declutter any area you want to spray this herbal ward. As you clean – especially if you’re going to be dispatching webs and egg sacs – repeat your reasoning for this working and remember to be careful with your language. Example: “Spiders, spiders Here and there, Do not fret But you can bet There’s better parts You should depart To spin your place Beyond this (sacred) space.” I often will carry a spider to a more desired location. I know this can be tough for some, but find yourself a Green Witch, perhaps that can help you with this part if it’s difficult for you.
- Then moisten your cloth and wipe down the areas (after you’ve tested thoroughly) e.g. your front entry way. Be sure that you are not stingy, but that it is well “oiled” in the area.
- If you are creating a spider-free zone in an entry way, take your crushed bay leaves and sprinkle them in front of the threshold. Feel free to repeat your request and offer of place beyond this sacred space. (Note: you will find whole bay leaves in every cupboard and drawer that I have. Guess what gets replaced each late summer in my kitchen? Yep. Those bay leaves.)
- Repeat at the next full moon.
I hope you have found this helpful. If you decide to actually make a ritual of it as described above, please let me know how it goes for you. As with everything in the craft: your mileage may vary. I am simply sharing my experience and knowledge.
A Lesson in Onions & Worth
In the last week or so I’ve harvested enough onions and garlic to use in our meals for months and months. The red onion harvest alone should keep us in red onions for nine months. I look at these harvests as a big screw-you to the horrendous systems we have created on this planet. Growing my own food has been a constant rebellion for me against Earth-damaging capitalism. It also is a double fisted flip-off to the patriarchy, which continues to try to keep women from an autonomous existence or doing the things that bring us joy. Yes, friends, growing your own food is a big fuck you to the establishment.
However, I’m also finding that some of the ways I have felt pressured to establish the worth of these efforts I’m ready to give the middle finger to as well. Over the years I have been growing food (more than 20), I’ve kept track in one way or another of our harvest totals. I say “our” harvest, but it’s mostly just this lone crone doing the #PermieWitch work around #VillaWestwyk. This spring, I found I was resisting the kinds of metrics found in pages of spreadsheets: how much lettuce did I just harvest? How many eggs has our flock produced for us? And what’s the break down between chickens, ducks, and geese? How much meat have I bartered for homemade sourdough bread? Blah, Blah, Blah!
I know there’s abundance here. Who else do I need to prove it to? My spouse? Not even. I’m fortunate that my Writing Witch, Permie Witch, Green Witch, and the like are all fully supported by my partner. His father grew up on a farm. He knows how hard it is to grow food. Do I need to prove it to my community? This crone does not care if they think the 80 pounds of potatoes I grew last year (this year’s totals TBD) is a waste of my time. But being able to understand just how much I have produced is important. Of course I had to put my little rabble rousing ways on that, too. Let’s take a look at my Star System. No, we’re not talking astrology; however, my Taurus midheaven and North Node are all about Earth Healing.
For about a decade now I’ve referred to meals I’ve made containing ingredients from our gardens and pastures by a star count. Homegrown onions on the plate? One star. Freshly harvested potatoes on the plate? Another star. Greens from our hot house on the plate? You guessed it, another star.
When this season it just gave me ZERO joy to worry about measuring, marking, and doing all that data work, I went back to the end result and the satisfaction that it brings. When I know or can share that there is at least one thing, if not many things on the plate for our meals that was grown or raised right here in this little 2-acre parcel – that, my friends, is just pure and utter delight and satisfaction. Consuming the stars on my plate – again one for each thing that is homegrown/made and ½ a star for those I bartered or procured from farming neighbors – is some of the regular joy and balance in my life. And again, as I’m fat and happy, I’m flipping off the establishment.
If you follow me on instagram, I regularly post photos of my meals and how many stars there are on our plates. Those metrics make me happy and smile. It tangibly shows the percentage of food I’m growing/raising is making an impact as opposed to data on a spreadsheet. For instance, breakfast this morning contained our eggs, zucchini, green beans, and chard. Four stars. Yum.
Oftentimes, I verbally make note how much these items may have cost at our local market while eating this farm-to-table meal with my meal guests (in this COVID-19 World, that’s mostly The Viking). But then my Viking asked me how much the entire Onion harvest would cost us at the local farmer’s market. It took me a minute to do the arithmetic and I did have to do some measuring and whatnot, but the results were surprising. I conservatively estimated that my red onion harvest will shave approximately $130 off our grocery bill over the next six to nine months. Again, that’s conservative. If Whole Foods was selling it, it would probably be closer to $230. Ha! Plus I don’t have to worry about recalls because of listeria or any of that nonsense, which is worth even more money. I grow my veggies organically. They are fertilized with compost and seaweed tea. Pests are dealt with naturally (our slug and snail population has gone down so much, thank you ducks), in part due to our permaculture approach. That’s $130 in our savings and that’s not counting the sweet onions and garlic I harvested, too.
I’ll take it.
That simple question from my Aquarian hubby – who is so good at looking at situations from a different perspective – totally changed my perception about the work I’ve been doing. I started thinking about how so much of this late-stage capitalism is just fucking up our planet. How it devalues such cottage revenue as a vegetable garden or small-holding livestock. In short, there isn’t a societal value placed on the work that I do to feed my family and friends. It’s looked at as a hobby. Whatever dude. Sweat your butt off in the summer trying to ensure a tomato harvest, or move your animals to higher ground during a flood event, or even just have a planter of strawberries on your patio, and talk to me about how it’s not valuable.
However there is value. Part of that value is in the sustainability that we practice and are working hard to increase. And you can’t really put a price tag on that. Healing the Earth is priceless. Saving the planet one row of onions at a time is pretty fucking cool, though.
This realization of value I recognized quickly fell within the Apply Self Regulation and Accept Feedback tenet of Permaculture (#SelfRegulate #AcceptFeedback). The lesson here came from myself first in that simple spreadsheet calculations were not bringing me joy. Is there food on our plate that we produced? Win. The other feedback came from The Viking. He saw the value in another way, not just the #ObtainAYield, another of the 12 tenets of Permaculture we’re applying to our lifestyle here at Villa Westwyk. That segues into the Design From Patterns To Details tenet. Onions grow well here. They are low labor and work as pest control (#IntegrateDontSegregate) around my Brassicas. Surround your broccoli with onions. The pests will be way less. Also, when you cut an onion you grew yourself, the tears are worth it. 😉
A lot of the capitalist world may look at my daily life as less than, but I understand the Magic that is being created by focusing on healing the Earth (and meanwhile myself and my family – #EatYourselfWell) and working with her is more valuable than metrics and a paycheck. But, honestly, I am creating value and abundance, even if the patriarchy and capitalism can’t see it. I see it. Therefore, I’ll continue to rebel in my own way.
How about you? Are you growing food? Even herbs? Where can you increase your own food security? Please let me know in the comments below.
I would like to acknowledge that Villa Westwyk resides on the ancestral homelands of the Coast Salish Peoples, who have lived in the Salish Sea basin, throughout the San Juan Islands and the North Cascades watershed, from time immemorial. I hold the deepest respect and gratitude for our Indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
Intentions Set in January, Where Are We Now?
Here we are the cusp of the Full Buck Moon in Capricorn and Lammas is coming up very fast! That means that it’s time to check in on the goals I set at the beginning of the calendar year.
First I want to share with you how much that setting intentions at a new moon and working on those goals through its corresponding full moon is so Magical. I use the book New Moon Astrology by Jan Spiller as a guideline. If you’ve not stuck your nose in this book, I highly recommend it. In the book she details the areas of life ruled by Capricorn. It includes future needs, responsibilities, goals, success, authority, excessive control, joints of the body, and rules management. I looked at areas in my life ruled by Capricorn and figured out where I wanted to make changes.
We had the Capricorn New Moon on Jan. 2, 2022 (1033 hrs PST). Diligently, I worked with the Cosmic Energy of this lunar transit and set my intentions. These intentions revolved around my health, finances, mental outlook, and time usage. All these things were ruled, in part, by Capricorn energy. Today I can happily say that improvement has been made. Some of the intentions I’m still struggling with to a degree but things have definitely made positive changes. Doing Magic works.
I set nine intentions on that cold January day. Nine is a power number for me in Numerology, too. And that alone made me feel confident that I was working the energies in myself and my environment. Nine represents completions and new beginnings. Perfect. I’ll detail each intention and how I’ve progressed in my goals over the course of the year thus far. I’m also going to check in again when the next New Moon in Capricorn comes around December 23, 2022. A whole year of working these intentions. Documenting it here on my blog helps keep me focused and accountable. So don’t let me forget another check in come the Winter Solstice. 😉
My first intention was wanting total healing to occur in the area of my joints. As the Pandemic Pause continued in my life, physical activity, especially during winter, was too low and my arthritis pain was increasing. To that end I upped my yoga game and took on learning Tai Chi, all things to help keep those joints lube up and supported. Also upped my supplements and diet to lend itself to joint health as well. I could feel the energy coming from that Capricorn placement of the wintery new moon. It opened up ideas and pathways of motivation that felt unattainable.
Next I wanted to easily find myself responding to the aging process in a way that is in my best interest. This is one area where I’m still struggling. New things pop up all the time as you get older and our society does NOT talk about the aging process at all. I feel like it should be like a course that juniors or seniors in high school take or maybe when you hit 50, there’s a class you take to understand it more, but so much about getting older is determined by how you’ve lived those previous 50 years. However, what I did realize with this intention very quickly was that understanding that my age is a privilege that many people do not receive, and for that I’m grateful. That attitude of gratitude is a powerful balm when you are struggling with something. Aging gracefully is not exactly what I’m going for, but understanding it more and like Theresa Reed, The Tarot Lady says, “Being Prepared, Not Scared” was more my focus. So I turned to what I turn to often when I’m trying to understand something better: books. I have been reading so many tomes on aging and they are providing new information that has allowed me to understand I’m on the right track and doing better than I thought. And that allows me to respond to the aging process in my best interest. Win. The reading I’ve done and other research here regarding aging, merged in with my next intention which was to easily find myself approaching the situation of menopause in a mature, sensible way that is in my best interest. These readings also highlighted blessings of being a Crone that I hadn’t yet realized. More gratitude.
Next intention was to easily find myself making decisions that provide a secure financial base for my golden years. This was probably the scariest intention I set. Money stuff can always feel like something out of our control. Such a lie we tell ourselves. Funnily enough, I had already taken a step towards this goal back in my Birthday month (November) by investing in solar energy for Villa Westwyk. Within a few weeks after the Capricorn new moon, we started producing our own energy and my next electric bill was so low, it felt laughable that we hadn’t worked towards this before. Now each month, I’m putting aside what I would have paid for in electricity into a retirement fund. There were several other smaller decisions that were presented to me and with the mindfulness of my Capricorn New Moon intentions, I am making smarter decisions with my finances. Sometimes just asking myself if this expenditure or investment or other money question is going to give me security as I age makes all the difference.
Another resource that was a target of my intentions on that second day of the calendar year was to easily find myself consciously using time to my best advantage. When you sit down and consider how you use your time, it’s amazing the Divine Downloads you get. Basically, I was empowered to say ‘No’ to anything that did not benefit myself, my family, my home, my business, or my community. Being able to say ‘No’ to time stealers allowed me to say yes to things that were going to benefit me. It brought me to a new community that supported my efforts to live as a MidGardening Witch – healing the land, myself, my kindred, and my community. New friendships deepened. New connections inspired me. Time became my own and my days are truly my own now. If I need to take a mental health day (which I believe you should do at least monthly), or double down on work hours, it’s on me. That is so empowering and breeds harmony and balance. It’s something I want to wish for everyone: may your time be your own.
This next intention is the big struggle, which I know so many of you will understand. I wrote in my journal that New Moon day: I want all fears of incompetency totally lifted from me. I had to reach out even now while I pen this to my network of friends to get encouragement and strategies to beat that inner editor into productivity and not baneful, negative self-talk. (Shout out to Divine Hand Jim for helping me reframe the problem!) That voice of imposter syndrome now has a name, Joyce. This allows me to make friends with that voice and give her a job. I highly recommend this tactic. Now when that voice of fear and loathing, Joyce, tells me, “No one cares about what you’re writing!” I tell her things like: your job is to make sure that when I edit this post, I get the mechanics of punctuation and spelling right; that while I’m writing I’m sitting in a manner that won’t irritate that sciatica. Now that Joyce has a job, I can focus on being all I can be. This to say I’m learning. I’m getting better. Even today. Joyce, too.
I’ve not had anyone tell adult Runa that I’m lazy. But I’m recognizing that there is an inner dialogue for me that if I’m not actively doing something I’m loafing. This is so inaccurate when I examine it mindfully. Therefore, my intention next was to easily find myself welcoming the hard work that leads to success. I’m still struggling with little things around the work – like there’s new computer stuff I need to learn, or it’s too hot to weed, or daydreaming about a better desk, or AWS updated something and crashed my website again. I’m not really afraid of work. I feel good when I work hard. But, I can get myself distracted. But like Joyce above, I need to embrace and be grateful for the challenges that my work brings. When I look at what success looks like, things are building slowly, but they are building. I will take that. For instance, I was all focused on my family gathering over the 4th of July weekend (the first to include the whole family since the pandemic!), and was just inundated with Magical Supply Orders, Dream Interpretations, and Rune Casting orders! What a great reminder that the foundation is there and since I built it, “they” are coming. Additionally, the harvests are coming in, the planning back in January, the planting in March, is now filling our bellies and our larder. It inspires me to continue that work and make plans to make it easier and more plentiful as my efforts build on those foundations. As well, the secret project I began to design and plan following the summer lunar eclipse in 2020 is birthing a life of its own almost and I can see its path to be released to the rest of the world. Gotta get my sunglasses on because the future is bright.
In January, I was suffering from a massive dose of Seasonal Affective Disorder. I felt like there was nothing I could control in my life, so into the New Moon in Capricorn intentions it went. I wrote, “I want to easily find myself successfully taking charge in every area of my life.” Such a powerful spell, this one little intention. And of all my intentions, this one has been the most dynamic change in the last six months. Every choice I made, again, was about what was best for me, my kindred, my home, my business, my community. Relationships now have more energy from me; my writing has more energy; my self-care has more energy; and my craft has more energy. All of these energies add even more value and abundance in my life. Standing in your power is easily done by taking charge of your life. I’m here to witness that you can do the same in yours.
A friend visited and brought to light how often I apologize or justify myself to others. It was illuminating. I needed the intention of the habit of justifying myself to others totally lifted from me. This sent me on an internal journey about why I have this negative habit of apologizing for things I do not own, that I carry this need to justify my actions. Why? I’m not exactly sure necessarily, but as I worked towards that goal I recognized I didn’t need to know why, but to just stop doing it. I began to stop myself when I was about to say “Sorry.” I asked myself instead “Do I own that?” “Am I responsible for that?” When I was unable to do something for someone, I began to recognize that I didn’t have to give a reason. I didn’t need to carry the responsibility of the whys. No is a complete sentence, I wrote on a sticky note and put it in a cupboard I open daily. Reading that each day multiple times began to change my thought process. Saying no began to change relationships that weren’t serving me. It began to strengthen other relationships – those who wanted to see me succeed and be the best version of myself. Instead of apologizing, I started to express appreciation for my friend’s patience, or my husband’s understanding, or my own discipline to do yoga. There’s that attitude of gratitude. It’s a power source, I tell ya.
My last intention that cold, dark, wintery mix of a day on January 2 was to easily find myself seeing life in a way that brings joy. This was a doozy. The climate of our country is so heavy right now. It is a joy killer for sure. But, I can’t control the whole country (see prior intentions). Simple things like sitting before the fire with a good book and my puppies in my laps were noted in a “joy finding” notebook. Feeling happy that our efforts to heal our property helped the flood on our property not be as bad as it could have been. Joy making for sure. Oh, and look that embracing of hard work is happening there, too. Watching the wildlife and livestock here at Villa Westwyk is endlessly joy making. Finding new friends and compatriots in the Magical community lends itself to that, too. Doing a daily coffee or tea ritual is joy making. It’s all there, you just need to say, “Oh, hey, Joy, I see you. Thank you for being here.”
This Capricorn cycle with all its cardinal earth energy has grounded me so much and I’m motivated to keep working on these intentions through the rest of the year. Capricorn season splits my fifth and sixth house, the houses of growth and blooming.
Are you seeing a theme yet? I am. I’m excited to see where I am at with these goals come December. Do you know what intentions you set or desires you had last January? If you do, how are you stacking up against your expectations? Where can you say you’re still struggling, but are, yes, still working on it? Tell me below in the comments. Let’s chat about this miraculous Capricorn energy.
In honor of National Pet Rescue Day – DIY Magic Pet Food
May 20 is National Pet Rescue Day. My current ‘Puppers,’ as The Viking and I call them, are rescues. I’ve always preferred to adopt rescues than purchase my pet because I find they are just so loyal and loving. The added benefit that an animal in need is being cared for is a bonus. I’m not about to get into puppy mills and all that nonsense, or the fact that there are likely just as many feral cats in your neighborhood as there are people. Rescues are a kinder way for the animals and our planet. This Witch is all about kinder to animals and the planet.
Enter Kitchen Witchery and Permaculture to solve a problem. In Permaculture, you Design from Patterns to Details and the pattern was non sustainable food for my familiars. The details of what would make it sustainable begin to emerge.
These Witch’s Familiars, our canine yin and yang, are getting up there in age and now have special dietary requirements. Currently they both have medicated kibble. On top of the kibble we put a wet food, because they’ve made it clear the kibble alone is not very satisfying. Kind of how we have to put cinnamon and fruit on our oatmeal to actually eat it. Also much of the nonmedicated kibble is mostly water and does not have the protein that most canines need.
After finding that most of the softer foods out there are so full of things that my puppers do not need, are horribly expensive, and produce so much waste in its packaging, I needed something more economical, sustainable, and that the furkids would enjoy. About this time last year I started experimenting with making my own canned dog food. The idea to even explore that came to me because I often will make a big batch of stew or soup and I either need to preserve the leftovers, or was finding at least one pint would be used to augment Ms. Snicklefritz and Granny Shadow’s dinner. Much like how I approach the food that The Viking and I consume, I really wanted to know what my dogs were eating. I recognized that the best way to do that was to make it myself. The additional opportunity to make the food a ritual and infuse it with Magic, well, I couldn’t resist that.
The intentions I put into each batch are all about protection, health, and, of course, love. I’m sharing this, as mentioned in the title, in honor of National Pet Rescue Day and in hopes that it might inspire you to look a little closer into your own food as well as that of your own familiar. As a Permie Witch, doing this follows the permaculture principle of Producing No Waste. Every part of our resources gets used. It is to a lesser degree aligning with two other of the permaculture principles: Obtain A Yield, and Creatively Use & Respond to Change. A weaker argument could be made for the tenet of Use & Value Renewables. As we begin the growing, hatching, and birthing season here at Villa Westwyk, we eat with the seasons here as much as possible. It’s a slow change, which also is within the permaculture lifestyle: Choose Small, Slow Solutions. Needless to say, we’re all in here at the covenstead with this “chore,” which is really a ritual and spell. This is about the moment when my youngest, Dragon Son, would say, “you feel me?”
I basically take a left over chicken carcass, stew bone, or even the remnants of a whole fish, bring it to a boil, then simmer several hours. You just need enough water to cover the carcass…don’t go crazy unless you plan to make soup or such soon, or can the broth (that’s what I do). I make broth in a pasta maker, that way the carcass and the meat still on it is easily drained, cooled, and picked through. Sometimes I will refrigerate the broth overnight before continuing with the pet food batch, so I can skim the fat off and use an appropriate proportion with it to cook the veggies in. But you could use oil, butter, bacon drippings, whatever you have on hand.
This is where my protein to make the pet food comes in, so you could buy store bought, but the bone broth provides so many nutrients and is a superbly economical way to acquire pet food. If you want to go full-on Midgardening Witchery, you’ll can the extra broth for the human pets in your life. 😉 My 9 half-pint batches start normally with about 1 1/2 cups to 2 cups of protein. y last batch the protein portion was about 2 cups; I let the protein amount drive the rest of the recipe. If you homeschool, this is a great exercise in fractions and parts of the whole. 😉
I cook up the bite-size veggies with a little bit of fat, add the meat plucked from the bones, make a roux, add the broth, let it cook down a bit and can it up. Alternatively, you may freeze it at this point, or if you can use your batch up within a week’s time, you can keep it in the refrigerator.
If you know how to make biscuits and gravy, or any kind of a roux, this recipe will likely be easy for you. The below recipe makes about 9 half-pint mason jars. If you want to make pint or quart, do the appropriate math. 😉
Broth pot (stew pot with a colander in it, like a pasta cooker)
Cauldron (Dutch oven pot)
Pressure Canner with Jars/Rings/Lids or Freezer containers
1 part Protein (leftover chicken carcass, ham bone, lamb leg bone, etc.)
1/4 part Fat (bacon drippings, schmaltz)
1 part Veggies (cats and dogs need their veggies, too)
1 part Something to help meld it together (sweet potato, beans, potato, brown rice, etc.)
~ 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup Flour
~ 2 cups Broth (double if making quart batches)
- Make your broth. Put soup bones, poultry carcass, etc. in a pot covered with water. You’re only going to need about 2 cups tops to make a batch of pet food (I do 7-9 half pints at a time). But make as much as you like. If what you’re making broth with was unseasoned (not often on my covenstead) feel free to add a pinch or two of salt. Salt is good for your animals, too. But just like us, too much is not good either to taste or for their bodies.
- Once broth is made, remove the bones and separate any meat/skin/giblets out to include in the pet food. As you do this, put the intention of keeping the sick away from your beloved familiars. You are separating the good stuff versus the discard. Set the meat aside and discard the bones. If you’re going to can your pet food, this is where you’ll need to sanitize your jars, lids, and rings and inspect your pressure canner.
- Into your cauldron, add a bit of fat (butter, schmaltz, bacon drippings, oil) and heat on medium heat. Sauté the chopped up vegetables until tender. I put the veggies in saying, “Here’s to my familiar’s health.” Simple, but effective. Each time I stir the veggies I say it again, “Here’s to my familiar’s health.”
- Once the veggies are tender, add back in the meat you plucked from the bone(s), and sauté with the veggies until warmed (about one to two minutes). If you have things like potatoes or beans in your batch, give them a squish with your cooking spoon to help thicken things up in the next step. Mashing the ingredients in is optional, but my somewhat toothless wonders love it this way (just like aging people, pets sometimes lose teeth as they age). I do a simple stir three times clockwise (aka sunwise), putting a whole lotta love for these furkids into the cauldron’s contents.
- Depending on how full your pot is, you’re going to need between 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup of flour. You are making a roux with the veggies and meat. Sprinkle the flour on the protein and veggies envisioning the flour as extra protection and mix it all in and let it cook for about two minutes.
- Add in your broth, and simmer until reduced somewhat. You know what wet pet food consistency looks like. You’re looking to get the same. Depending on the size of your batch, this can take five to 20 minutes. My 9 half-pint-jar-batch takes about seven minutes. If you’re filling a canner or freezing quart size containers, then it will go closer to 20 minutes.
- At this point you can package up your food and freeze, but if you’re going to pressure can, I always use half-pint (aka jelly) jars and can get up to 9 jars in my canner. Follow the manufacturers instructions for your personal pressure canner. Can the pet food at 11 pounds pressure for 15 minutes for half pint; 25 minutes for pint; 35 minutes for quart (for you folx with more pets or large pets, quart size might work best).
- Label your food with the ingredients & date and watch your pets gobble it up. Honestly, this is food that humans could eat, too. So, if you don’t label it, no one will be harmed. LOL. Regardless, you know whether man or beast, they are going to dig it. If I’m feeling particularly Witchy, I might put an appropriate sigil on the jar.
- When there’s only one jar left, be sure to make another batch. I also set aside one jar to always have in the pantry to bring abundance for my familiars: food, water, shelter, and love. If you do this “cupboard Magic” be sure to rotate the abundance anchor (your extra jar) so that the food doesn’t go bad. That’s some negative energy there. These will last in your cupboard easily for up to six months.
I hope that this helps you amp up your self sufficiency and self reliance, as well as brings a little Magic for your familiars/pets. Also, please join me in the Adopt Don’t Shop philosophy. And please give to your favorite animal advocate nonprofit. The Viking and I support the ASPCA regularly and have been known to gift animal rescue donations in honor of our loved ones.
Please let me know if you have any questions in the comments. May this recipe bless you and your pets. Now go snuggle your familiar. 😉
Villa Westwyk welcomes goslings!
It’s hard to get a photo of our little goose family all together, because clearly they are SUPER comfortable. Can you spot all seven goslings?
Currently we’re getting ready for an unseasonably cold front coming in. Honestly, Spring really has been a warm winter here in the PNW. But our snow pack is getting above average and that is good for the whole of Western Washington, where our covenstead is. So I’m glad the goslings are filling out and getting all the grass they can handle to stay warm. They also get supplemental feed and vitamin water to help mitigate for problems that can befall them in the early days of their life. Mama Eva and Papa Willie are doing great. Willie even made sure I knew he was still a protective dad when I went to freshen water and gosling feed this morning. It was all posturing, but have you seen the teeth on geese? Literally, Cobra Chickens. hehe.
On Friday the 13th, our lovely Pilgrim Goose successfully hatched seven goslings. She needed a little help with two of them, and we were there to help provide ICU care, which meant we needed to bring them inside and warm them up, hydrate them, and get them to the point of reintegration. Nature is amazing, and the two ICU patients were reunited with their siblings and parents in a day’s time. Eva was busy dealing with 5 other hatchlings and sitting still on the other eggs, so we were happy to do our part as bipedal assistants. Spoiler alert! 4 eggs were nonviable, and 4 goslings perished before completely hatching, which is par for the course. Only the strong survive in nature. Both of those things happen traditionally when you let Mother Nature lead the way. It’s a reason they have such large clutches of eggs. Eva sat on 15 eggs for 30 days! What a trooper! I buried the perished ones in our “forest” and the nonviable eggs went into the compost. Both will return to the land. I find that sentiment Magical. Being a part of this land is so much a part of my Magical practice of Midgardening Witchery.
This hatching is a huge accomplishment for our efforts at sustainability and self reliance. This month, we’ve only been the keepers of this land* for two years. (Wow, what a crazy two years!) Every creature, flora and fauna, here on little two-acre permaculture holding, is central to what we’re trying to accomplish here. The geese manage the pasture by being living lawn mowers (no gas or other power needed). We are slowly building safety infrastructure so their protected pasture is larger and larger. What they have is more than enough, but I’m all for giving them as best a life as I can.
When they keep the pasture trim, it’s easier to see invasive species, which was a problem when we first acquired this land* and in turn, lets native grasses and plants flourish. They are great guardians of the property, too. We know when predators or visitors are about. And are they cute as hatchlings. To see them flap their little wings and make their little peep is pure joy making. This Crone Life is more and more about finding joy, so they are certainly a part of it.
Here I will provide a content warning: If ethically raised meat is upsetting for you, please prepare yourself to continue, or maybe go back to the cute photos above.
Yes, some of these goslings will give back to this land* in a different way. They will feed our family. And honestly, eating meat is a personal choice, and one that my family has worked hard to do sustainably and ethically. I know how these animals are raised and they will be dispatched in the most honorable and pain-free way possible. But that dispatching is also for the health of the animals. Too many ganders is upsetting to the geese within the gaggle (I know some Witches out there that are nodding along…). Too many ganders would have the ducks upset, too, because there’s a good chance the ganders would try to mate with the ducks — and although it’s not harmful to them, the size difference could cause injury. And we already have 2 drakes for 9 ducks. Just barely the right ratio there. We also use every part of the harvest, creating not just meals, but bone broth, dog food (a post on that coming Thursday), and even Magical Goods (a post on that coming soon).
Living a permaculture lifestyle is all about diversity, harmony, and balance. This includes the animals on the property (including the humans!). One of the 12 principles of permaculture is: Use and Value Diversity. That’s why we have not just geese, but ducks and chickens, too. Eventually, I hope to provide not just to my neighbors who right now receive harvests from my land in barter, but perhaps the larger community. But permaculture is about using small, slow solutions. After two years we have 10 chickens, 11 ducks, and now 9, but soon to be 3 geese. Slow, incremental growth is healthy.
Thank you for coming along on this journey with me. I hope you learned something here. If you did, please let me know in the comments. I honestly believe that applying the permaculture principles to every part of our lives helps mitigate for and prevent problems and allows for healthy living all the way around. And in the meantime, I get to spam the blog, Instagram, and Twitter with Gosling images and videos.
*I would like to acknowledge that Villa Westwyk resides on the ancestral homelands of the Coast Salish Peoples, who have lived in the Salish Sea basin, throughout the San Juan Islands and the North Cascades watershed, from time immemorial. I hold the deepest respect and gratitude for our Indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways. I vow to live in harmony with and be a steward of this land and its waterways as they have.
This is a new feature I’ve been trying to incorporate into this blog/site for some time now. And I’m happy that with the astrological new year I will be able to premiere my Kitchen Witchery of the Week content. For these posts I’ll be incorporating seasonal foods, Wheel of the Year energies, and the Magic and/or spell that goes with it. Long ago when I first began the path of the Craft and still today, Kitchen Witchery allowed me to practice Magic in a very focused way, quietly, and without judgmental eyes. I expect there are many neophyte practitioners that could easily incorporate these workings of Magic into their lives as well. Also, if you’re a crone or well along your path as a Magician, you may find this is an easy addition to your own personal Magical practice. And for those who start their practice, or continue to contain their practice in the proverbial broom closet, this is a great way to walk your path without persecution. I mean, who doesn’t love a good meal? My aim is that you have something yummy, and dripping with Magic to eat and serve your loved ones. So it is.
Because we have begun Aries season and as of today there is a tempermental energy with Mars squaring Uranus, and some of us are still dealing with cruddy winter weather, I’ve put together some Hearth Magic to ease potential or occurring conflicts and bring the hope and the warm cheer of the Equinox and Aries season into our homes and onto our tables.
To work towards this our Kitchen Witchery “spell” is one that features asparagus. The energy of Asparagus is ruled by Mars and Jupiter and the element of fire (think of little green torches). Its masculine energy is also sacred to Zeus. We won’t be using its properties to help fuel male stamina today, instead we’re working with its passion and healing properties. In our workings today we will call out its ability to decrease those anxious heart rates that winter sometimes brings and send a general calm to any part of the body “inflamed.”
Asparagus is a natural and gentle diuretic and is full of strength-building nutrients. It’s a great Spring Tonic to cleanse away the winter doldrums and troubles. It is dense with nutrients, including high levels of folic acid, potassium, fiber, vitamins A, C, B6, and thiamine.
This recipe includes dairy and meat. If your diet precludes you from those, feel free to experiment and find alternatives. You could replace the meat with some thinly sliced cooked mushrooms (which also have massive healing properties). You could replace the goat cheese with some of the Boursin plant-based “cheese.” I am particular about my cheese, yet find that the Boursin “cheese” is very good.
This recipe is for a small gathering, as it only serves 8 single servings or 4 double servings. I tend to make this for a couples brunch or just for those in the household. Even at our max capacity here on the Covenstead of Villa Westwyk, we could serve all five of the kids and my partner and I. This can be eaten with a fork or hand held in a rustic fashion. You decide.
A couple of notes…
- Funny enough, I have found that each bunch of asparagus in the markets seems to have 24 stalks. I don’t know the history behind this, but it works for this recipe, so thank you, farmers.
- You are a super Witch if you make your own, so don’t feel like you have to make this ingredient! Store bought is fine!
- In regards to the Artichoke Antipasto, Trader Joe’s has a yummy and affordable variety; if you can’t find this you could substitute sun-dried tomato spread.
- For the prosciutto, I prefer to get mine from the butcher or deli counter as the packaged stuff is super thin and hard to work with.
Wrapped Up In Hope Asparagus
Extra Large Cutting Board
Large baking sheet
Small mixing bowl
Non Stick Spray
Candle on your kitchen altar
1 bunch of asparagus (24 stalks), trimmed to length of pastry
Artichoke Antipasto Spread
8 slices of prosciutto
Goat Cheese – about 4 oz.
Egg (for wash)
Herbs de Provence (for sprinkling)
Sea Salt (for sprinkling)
1. Take your time and make sure your space has been cleansed and is ready to perform the Magic. Making sure your space is ready for your working allows you to focus your energy and intention without being distracted. A quick way to do this is to light a small candle (I always have one ready on my kitchen altar). Then I go to the four corners of my kitchen and clap in each corner, which sets a circle quickly and easily (just be sure to keep your intention in mind. Then I stare at the candle for just a moment while taking three cleansing breaths (a little fire magic here) and say my intention out loud. For this working, you can say something like, “Me and Mine find our troubles fading away with every bite and we bring in the fire of the Aries season to motivate us to peace and love.”
2. Defrost your puff pastry. That means you put the package on your counter for about 40 minutes before you’re going to work. Don’t do it longer as the pastry may become hard to work with. The colder it remains, the easier it will do what you want. I also bring out all the other ingredients and bring to room temperature. It makes it easier to work with everything.
3. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F and line your baking sheet with parchment paper.
4. Lay the defrosted puff pastry out on a very large cutting board and cut each sheet (there will be two in the package) into four squares, so you will have 8 squares in total. As you cut the squares imagine cutting through any conflict with ease and grace.
5. Add about 1 tablespoon of the artichoke spread onto the center of each square and spread it evenly throughout the pastry piece. As you spread this onto the pastry, look at it as a healing balm placed on winter wounds. Spiritually, the artichoke reminds us to have fun on our spiritual path as we peel back the layers within our crown chakra, just as a whole artichoke is peeled to get to the gorgeously satisfying center.
6. Lay a piece of the prosciutto on top of the antipasto spread on each square. As you do this, say, “I lay my worries aside to focus on the love within these walls.”
7. Add at least 3 asparagus tips to each square with the tips into one of the corners of the squares. I think of the stages of life – maiden, mother, crone, as I’m doing this and how the magic of 3 is always so powerful.
8. Crumble goat cheese onto the top of the asparagus evenly throughout the 8 squares. As spring approaches, things like goat cheese are very plentiful. I sprinkle the cheese and envision new abundances coming to us in this season.
9. Lightly whisk the egg in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
10. Carefully fold one side of the pastry square in the middle as if you were beginning to swaddle it with the puff pastry. Dab a little of the egg wash on the side that will meet the other side and pull the other side of the pastry square over that and brush all of the up-facing pastry with egg wash. Be gentle with the pastry, but try to enclose the fillings as tightly as you can. As you do this your intention to wrap your diners in positive energy is an easy focus.
11. Next take your wrapped-in-hope asparagus and place them on your prepared baking sheet, giving them as much room as possible between each. Sprinkle some Herbs de Provence and Sea Salt over the puff pastries. See new abundance and good health sprinkled over you and yours.
12, Bake for 22-25 minutes or until each is golden brown and the asparagus is cooked. While the savory pastries bake, I will sometimes pull some Oracle cards to put at each place setting for my guests/family.
13. Remove from the oven. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. As you and your guests enjoy these packages of hope and the possibilities of Spring, you can feel the warmth of your love and Magic nourishing and blessing all those around your table and hearth.
14. At the end of the feast, be sure to extinguish your candle. So it is.
If you try this recipe, please let me know in the comments below how it worked for you, both taste and Magic-wise. Post a photo on your social media and tag me.
Next week I’ll be back here with some more Kitchen Witchery! Hope you’ll join me. Happy Spring!