Our weather station here at Villa Westwyk measured a balmy 82 degrees F on October 14. Two days later we got our first frost and we haven’t seen anything above 50 degrees in weeks. The Average temperature for the last month is 38 degrees. The last two winters we did not see freezing temperatures until on or near the Winter Solstice. Sure technically, winter isn’t here until the Winter Solstice, but we’re certainly feeling it already. We weren’t quite ready for winter here. That can be a problem for a Permie Witch.
We had plans to set up a poly tunnel to enclose our laying chickens in their tractor coop, but that hasn’t happened yet and this morning it was 22 degrees. When the rains return the temps will be warmer, but chickens aren’t fans of the rain like the ducks and geese are. So the tunnel gives them a respite from the rain as well and lets them get more exercise, otherwise they are prone to just sit in the coop all day, which means I have to muck it more often. Also in the polytunnel we can do a deep litter method and get all that good composted material come spring for putting on our raspberries, blueberries, black currant bushes, and more. Material management is part of so much of what I do as a Permie Witch, to include “making” it like with the deep-litter method during winter with my poultry.
And since we’ve just gotten the freezing temperatures and there’s been no rainfall, our seasonal streams and ponds that help support our ducks and geese are bone dry. I caught them just sitting in the river bed waiting for the water. It was so pitiful. No running steam means the Permie Witch has to go out extra and make sure the water fowl have extra water. When they can’t bathe because pools and troughs just freeze, they drink even more water. Having extra barn chores is not where I want to be since I’m under contract to write a book right now. Even though I know those outdoor breaks are good for a writer who spends so much time sitting at a desk.
But here’s the thing, the animals are prepared. It’s the Witch who is not. The animals already have systems in place to set themselves up for winter success. The ducks and chickens have slowed their egg laying to conserve daily energy. They’re plumped up cold-weather feathers that arrived shortly after the Autumn equinox are doing the job of keeping them well insulated. The geese are so hardy, they will likely laugh at us (honk-honk) when we do get around to setting up that poly tunnel. Lastly, we’ve culled the number of geese we have so their winter home is more spacious, but are happy to lay beneath the arbor or against the barn.
My chickens don’t need a heat lamp. They don’t need to be closed up air-tight (yikes! That’s like asking for illness!). I’m sure they would love to have the polytunnel just to get out of the rain (or snow), but it’s not necessary. Trees and bushes around the property do that for them as well.
Even when the weather is inclement, my animal partners on this covenstead do what they need to do to survive and even thrive. No Permie Witch required.
I’ll continue to improve systems and infrastructure to make sure my livestock have only one bad day in their life, including through winter. But I don’t need to pressure myself about this project or that project, since small, slow solutions and nature’s ability to survive do a lot of that work for me. So now I can work on getting the Witch ready for winter, which is mostly all about shifting my perspective. I’ve got a book to write. Pond creation and polytunnel construction can wait until the sun is higher in the sky and we’re not having to put on snow suits just to feed and water the animals. Oh, and the word count reaches 60,000 words. 😉
One of my Patrons asked me about putting my garden to bed as a Permie Witch. It looks a bit different than what perhaps a Master Gardener from your local Ag extension might do. I’m still trying to grow things all winter, whether that’s garlic, winter greens, over-wintering root veggies, or just feeding the soil.
Watch the above video and you’ll see lots of weeds and plants left to die off naturally and spread its seed (cilantro, I’m looking at you). But all this vegetation provides a network for the mushrooms, which create a healthy soil system, as well as is a bio and dynamic accumulator which feeds the soil in other ways.
Villa Westwyk, my covenstead, is in the Pacific Northwest. As I walk this path and do so from the perspective of a Crone Witch, I’ve learned that the chaos in nature is actually full of the primal fire of creation. And in permaculture you’re mimicking the chaos of nature. Like the more rigid gardening that one may find landscapers doing, I’m still moving materials. I’m covering soil to prevent erosion, and laying compost over plants I hope to tend throughout winter and into early spring, and I’m pulling weeds (where necessary).
One day this space may look more master garden-esque because all the systems to support it will be in place. But, that permaculture tenet of #SmallSlowSolutions comes into play here. This space was already used as a garden by the prior owners of this property. Although it had gone fallow, we knew that a garden could grow there, and until we could determine where at Villa Westwyk we would prefer to grow food (raised beds and poly tunnels, hello!), we could start here. After three years of growing food in this space, we’ve determined that half the space needs to be a pond for water management and livestock quality of life. If we had built raised beds or other infrastructure just to turn it into a pond, how much labor and resources would have been potentially wasted because we didn’t use the other principles of permaculture to our planning, especially #ObserveAndInteract, #UseAndValueRenewables, and #DesignFromPatternToDetails? The answer is: Too Much! Instead we are now preparing the ground for pond construction – coming soon!
Moving from the garden to our cold frame/hot house/season extender, which again was in a wild state as I will continue to grow food in this space all winter long. As of this writing, I’m still harvesting tomatoes and peppers inside that space. Again, this structure was here when we moved in and was full of pig weed and thistle. We renovated it and reinforced the structure where we could, but it’s not far from its usefulness and we do have plans to turn this into a chicken coop/yard space. A larger poly tunnel will be placed elsewhere on the property, potential near our new raspberry beds. But we’re not there yet. A good poly tunnel is a huge investment. In the interim, we will continue using this space until its absolutely not safe. But right now, can’t you see how the marigolds are thrilled? We also learned more things about growing cucumbers in a poly tunnel and that squash really don’t like it. #SelfRegulation #AcceptFeedback #ObtainAYield
So that’s what’s happening for the Permie Witch this month. I’m prepping to grow where I can, moving materials, and covering vegetation to make pond making easier as we get closer to breaking ground on that project. If you have any questions about the above, please feel free to ask me in the comments below. Have a great November!
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.
Looking at the calendar, the summer solstice is right around the corner. Given that Mercury is moving back direct from its retrograde (I started this post when it was still fully retrograde), I wanted to take some time and reassess how I’m doing on my goals for 2022’s calendar year.
Back in January I posted that I wanted to:
Curate a healthy existence to keep learning while leaning into abundance that comes with knowledge by consistently practicing mindful Magic and Earth healing while writing it all down.
Currently, we’re eating more and more healthily. I am literally harvesting in the morning, a lot of what we will eat in the day. And if it’s not coming from the greenhouse or perennial garden, it’s coming from my larder of food put by the last growing season or from my fellow Grow Food neighbors.
Daily Kitchen Witchery is not only enhancing our life nutritiously, but also spiritually. Living and moving with the seasons feels so natural and right-on that there is a sense of calm I haven’t had in many years. Our healthy existence includes exercise every day by way of yoga, walking, or Tai Chi, the latter of which we are so new in learning, but oh wow is it amazing. I still have to have some dark chocolate, ice cream, or baked goods on occasion, and well those are one of the joys of life. Plus I wanted to lean into abundance. A special ice cream sundae to celebrate goslings being born on the Covenstead is allowed. It’s what makes life worth living sometimes.
Mindful Magic has continued as Runa Troy’s Magical Services & Goods continues to build, slowly but surely. My work doing dream interpretations, Rune Castings, and the like is so fulfilling and its growth has been such a blessing. My intuition is being sharpened by deepening my knowledge of astrology, and intensifying my connection with Runes, my ancestors, and the Spirits beyond the Veil.
Earth Healing is a huge focus now that Spring is in full force (finally!) here in the Pacific Northwest. We have seven goslings, six chicks, and nearly a dozen duck eggs a day coming in. We have planted hops this year, which is new to us, to aid in The Viking’s brew haus activities. I have finally moved all the raspberries from the very bad, no good spot they were in (not by me) and put them in their own garden, which allows for expansion and UPick opportunities down the road. The space where the raspberries once occupied will be a garden of things just for the Beastlings – everything from amaranth grain to kale to sunflowers to zucchini.
Plans are underway to host gatherings here for friends and family because we have the outdoor space to do so safely. We’re excited to share Villa Westwyk’s gorgeous energy with those we love and to celebrate our Patriarch’s 85th birthday, a girls’ weekend or three, and so much more (Can you say Witch Camp ‘22?).
Writing it all down not only includes this blog, but my secret project which is gaining some much needed traction in the right direction. Additionally, I’m in a writing group of other Mystics via The Tarot Lady’s Hierophant Writing Group. With their encouragement I have progressed so much further on this work in the last three months than I would have otherwise. This Writing Circle is powerful Magic and I’m happy to have opened the door to this curation. I’m learning so much as well as producing and that aligns with my goal for this year as well.
Although Mercury Retrograde gets a bad rap and now Saturn is going Retrograde, it’s an opportunity to work with the energies and make even more Magic. Oh and Venus is in Taurus, so love yourself. Love your kindred. And let’s move through the rest of this year taking steps forward curating our truest selves and best life.
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. 😉
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.
So often throughout my life as a practitioner of the Craft, I will be asked, “What kind of Witch are you?” For decades I’ve answered that with varying terms: Hedge, Green, Intuitive or Gray when I was feeling particularly salty. However, it was always with a “ish” on the end or a qualifying “sort of.” Many times, I used the umbrella term of Eclectic. A little bit of this, a little bit of that.
None of those terms felt true to me. So much of my practice has evolved and aligns with some of all those terms, but not really any of them.
Now before I get too much deeper into this post, I want to address the likely response regarding labels. I know many of you dislike labels. That is the Pagan way. We don’t like it. But we do call ourselves Pagan. We call ourselves Witch. We call ourselves Heathen. Listen, honey, those are labels. Labels are bad when others give them to us. If we embrace them, that’s different (see LGBTQIA community’s taking back of the word Queer). That’s called description. It can very well be super empowering. Besides, such words have power, too. Hence why we don’t like others to label us.
Now if you can’t give yourself clear descriptions right now, it’s perfectly fine. And a pretty normal thing for many following a Witch’s path. Perhaps my journey will help you shine a light on yours. I offer it with the hope that you find something positive out of it.
Understanding and examining myself and my practice had been a focus since about May 2020. Eventually I found myself meditating regularly to clarify my path, my purpose, my understanding of the things I do to make my life Magical. I meditated on how to describe my practice and spirituality over the course of 2021. It came to me about mid year. I almost rebranded my business with this term, but recognized quickly what it really was. It’s my practice, my life, really, all in one phrase: Midgardening Witchery.
Yes, that’s a riff on Midgard, the Norse Mythos realm that is Earth. This particular leaning of paganism is where I find myself called as far as working with deities, magical tools (Runes). Combine this with Gardening as a nod to my Permie Witch* efforts as an Earth Healer, and of course all that I find myself doing as a Crone Hedge Witch. All this cooks in the cauldron and becomes the spiritual stew that is Midgardening Witchery, my personal craft practice. It’s founded in being the Hedge Witch I am, but combines all the passions in my life as well. My introversion has allowed me to pursue living a life that is more suited for me to be my true self and living my best life. Working with the Earth, divine, magic, food, dream interpretation, rune casting, and of course writing, have all brought me here.
Permie Witch is a term I’ve been using to mean a magical viewpoint on the Permaculture Principles and applying them as a path towards my desire to directly care for and live with the earth and its creatures.
Recently I’ve used my freshly minted label to hashtag or footnote a post or photo or social media content. I quickly received messages about what it was about. That in turn prompted this post. Ah, the circle of life. Ask a question. Get an answer. Then explain the answer further.
Here’s a little Venn Diagram to perhaps illustrate how I came up with this term.
All these primary things fed into creating my personal Witchcraft practice.
I share this with you, not only to answer the questions I’ve been asked about my personal practice, and certainly not because I’m starting a new sect or cult (although there has been much tongue-in-cheek planning and laughter about this between The Viking and me). Rather, I do so in order that you can perhaps make your own Venn diagram of things that feed your personal practice and create your own descriptive word. Or perhaps you’re the rare BWitch that is my doppleganger somewhere and this speaks to you directly. If that’s the case, we should probably collaborate.
Lastly, I think it’s a good practice as a follower of magical pathways to really look at what your belief system is. Doing that brought this little diddy to light. Critical thinking about our own devotion can only help us clarify, sharpen, and expand us as we move forward. For me this path has allowed way more harmony and peace. It certainly holds space for me to be my truest self and live my best life (even if the latter is covered in 5 feet of snow right now), which is critical to the self-actualization I seek.
I keep throwing these things out into the universe, called by some unseen pressure, to show & tell about my life in the Craft. It has provided me so much understanding and healing by encouraging my agency and my boundaries (you cannot heal without reinforcing self-protection and physical, emotional, and mental boundaries). I want that goodness for everyone, so here I am, occupying this little cottage in the forest of the internet, talking story into the void. If you’ve come upon this path, please take a moment and make this Crone’s day by leaving a comment about how you came to the Craft, this space, or just your favorite crystal. Let’s chat!
Three Easy Rituals To Incorporate for the Beginning of 2022
Blessed Calendar New Year, All You Magical Beings! The Winter Solstice is just past and we’re three-quarters through the 12 days of Yule.
In the spirit of the season, I wanted to share with you some easy Magic you can incorporate as you freshen up your Muggle calendars from 2021 to 2022. These are traditions that have been a part of my life for years and decades and they bring lots of good energy and abundance for me, I’m sure they could do the same for you. It is my privilege to share this magic with you and if you find some use for it or begin to incorporate it in your own traditions, please take a moment and comment below to let me know. Do note that although this says new years, there’s still time, especially with today’s (recent) Capricorn New Moon, to apply any or all of these to your energy and magical practice for January 2022.
The Good Things Jar/Attitude of Gratitude: I don’t know exactly how long ago we began working this intentional magic of recognizing our embarrassment of abundance and allowing it to energize us to be our truest selves and (thereby) live our best lives. We set the jar up early in our now 16-year marriage (I reckon 2007, but not sure) and put it in a prominent place in our home, one where everyone could access it. Each time we recognized something we were grateful for, you know, the good things in your life, we’d note it on a small piece of paper, fold it, and store it in the jar. Each person was responsible for tending the jar with their gratitude throughout the year. This little ritual of gratitude that happens spontaneously (see photo of examples), typically happened when any of us were alone. I rarely would see The Viking or say, Dragon Son, anyone, honestly, put something in the jar. I often feel like tending Magic is a very personal thing. This ritual that we do seems to follow. But it is “gathered” together to make it stronger. Setting up the jar can be a group activity, or like in my household, the Head Witch In Charge (me!) decorated or created the jar to store the nuggets of thankfulness. It can be as simple or ornate as you like. You don’t need a special jar, ours is just a left-over pickle jar. However, others who I have taught this practice to have made theirs very fancy-like. You do you, Witch. When the kids were younger it was a great New Year’s Day activity that could be done indoors and feed their creativity. During the New Year celebrations – some years we did this New Year’s Eve, some years, New Year’s Day, this year it was NYD – we gather around the fire, typically with cakes and ale (this year it was sparkling wine and Yule cookies), and read out loud each note of gratitude stored in the jar.
We take each note as they are read and place them in a paper sack. Reading the notes often spurs on conversation about the event (e.g. We got the vaccine! Appeared three times in the jar this year). The result of this energy is strengthening bonds within the household/family. After the reading of these strips of written blessings, they are burned in the fire. We hold and pause for an organic amount of silent time imagining the smoke as the energy of our annual recognition & focus on gratitude is set off into the universe to spread that positivity.
We may pray silently, individually for how we want things to improve and grow for the coming year, or just hold space to welcome any and all abundance. We hold one another and thank one another for all we do for one another throughout the year, describing often, in detail, what we appreciate about one another. Then it’s time for eating and drinking and talking about our hopes for happy memories (this year’s conversation was all about creating more gatherings for family and friends here at Villa Westwyk). In short this is about acknowledging the good of the previous year and carrying those good feelings from one calendar year to the next. Each year I have done this gratitude work has helped me get deeper and deeper into the life I’d prefer with the people I love. I am hard pressed to see us stop this well-loved ritual and magical work.
Hoppin’ John and Johnny Cake: Food is definitely a focus of my life. I love creating meals for family and friends. Kitchen Witchery is where I could practice a magical life hidden from the well-meaning view of Muggle and Christian friends and family. I’m way more open about my lifestyle and beliefs now, although there are only a select few who know all about the Magical AND Muggle me. This is a decision in my practice that was long passed down, you know, the whole I am the daughter of the Witch you didn’t burn. Will ever shall the two meet? I have no idea. But for now, Kitchen Witchery is so pronounced in my everyday life, literally, I have meal times each day to create magic through Kitchen Witchcraft.
On New Year’s Day, without fail, you will find me blessing those in my household with foods that bring abundance. Eating this on New Years is a ritual to bring a prosperous and healthy new year. Yule Ham is stretched to make the Hoppin’ John broth and meat the stew. Greens from the garden – we had kale this year – reminds us that the Earth still gives us fresh foods that are so nutritional. Stores from the larder are also used (canned carrots, if there are none in the garden), and of course the dried peas. Although this is traditional for many folx in the Southern United States, born out of the African diaspora, you will find pockets of families in the Midwest (especially Detroit & Chicago) and throughout the Rockies that cook a version of this meal for New Year’s. I continued this tradition when we moved to the Pacific Northwest. Here’s the key ingredients: Black-eyed peas: these legumes symbolize the coins we have in our piggy banks. If you host a Hoppin’ John meal on New Year’s Day, the host leaves a lucky coin under their guests soup bowls. These coins have been blessed and should be carried by the receiver throughout the year to increase their abundance. Leafy Greens (collards, mustard, turnip, kale, chard, etc.): These are the color of money (at least here in the United States). As I mentioned above, for a good portion of North America, you can still be growing these veggies in your kitchen gardens or in mini hoop houses and such. These greens are not only good for you, but keep you healthy so you have more earning potential. Visualize money coming to you. Ham Hocks: As winter approached, smoked meats were a pantry staple for many. Throughout the winter months, bacon, beans and rice are often served throughout the southeastern United States. Hoppin’ John is a celebratory version of this. Note: you can make this vegetarian, or even vegan, but unfortunately, I don’t have a tried-and-true recipe for such. Perhaps I’ll explore that this year. Tell me if you want me to figure one out. Rice: If you have rice, you have a meal, is a school of thought for many cultures. So to eat rice on New Year’s was done to insure your cupboards were full throughout the year. Onions & Garlic: Again, we’ve hit the time of year when long-storing foods would be more plentiful than fresh. Onions & Garlic in Kitchen Witchery are long thought to help repel negativity. Nutritionally they are great antioxidants, decrease inflammation and boost immunity. All good things during winter.
Johnny Cake (aka Cornbread): It’s the color and shape of gold coins. Again, eating abundance to attract abundance. Besides tasting delicious and pairing nicely with Hoppin’ John, Johnny Cake is a great way to get phosphorus for bone health. Other ingredients within the cake/bread are also natural antioxidants as well as boosting sodium in the body, which in winter can be an issue. Eating this to start off the new year is all about not only setting abundance intentions for the new year, but also about stretching the abundance to share with others. If you have enough , and I’ve always known the pot of Hoppin’ John to feed us for a few meals, and you eat it the next day (Jan. 2), it’s called Skipping Jenny and is said to reinforce the magic of eating it on New Year’s Day. Whether you feed a whole tribe or just your love and you, focusing intent into something going inside of you is powerful Magic. Adding the extra fun of the lucky coin (one year I charged the coins under the Solstice Full Moon in the mint bed) for Hoppin John Diners to carry for luck through the year just amps up the ritual. To your health and abundance, include this practice in your New Years! Break that corn bread together in love!
Fire scrying: Every new year, just sitting by the fire with a warm beverage and just meditating, if not getting into full-on trance mode and divining through fire scrying is a traditional part of my magical work and targeted reset for the calendar year. As a Witch, I often do “new year’s” work on Samhain. So the calendar year offers a great check-in time on how I’m progressing on my goals and to redress any tangents that are not serving me. Don’t have a way to sit by a fire? A candle dedicated just for your New Year’s magic works, too. This year we upped our connection to the fire, and did a short yoga practice next to the fire place. If you live where it’s warm and have fire-ring access, this could be such a beautiful ritual. Connecting with your breath before you gaze into the flames is such a great grounding action before letting your higher self take over. Some years, when my psychic energy was lower on the calendar new year, I just did a visualization exercise instead of scrying. I would stare into the fire and see myself accomplishing what I want to do for the coming year. This is a great way to hone your intentions for the new year – being lost and not knowing what direction to go in, often blocks our path. You are not alone, and I offer these alternatives for those times. It happens to every Witch at one point in time in their lives. Sharing my rituals and experience is again why I’m doing this blog.
Bonus- Journal Practice: Each new year I give myself a new journal and again, dedicate time to write down all I’m experiencing in my life and organize my thoughts, feelings, ideas, goals, etc. This year, my journaling practice is going to include more focus on my magical practice, specifically Runes, their meanings and using that medium even more definitely in my life. Your mileage may vary. You may want to focus on something else within your journaling. For years, I’ve added to our family’s collective Good Things practice by starting each day in my journal noting three things I’m grateful for. I’ve also kept track of things like sleep data, other personal health issues (e.g. I didn’t get help for my migraines until I kept detailed records of them and had ‘data’ to show my medical teams and holistic healers), to simply new music I like. It’s amazing how much comes into clear understanding just by writing things down. Synchronicity breeds off of energy put in black and white. Trust.
I hope these little New Year’s rituals are things you can easily use to be the Magic of the World, to be your truest self and live your best life.
*Permie Witch is a term I’ve been using to mean a magical viewpoint on the Permaculture Principles and applying them as a path towards my desire to directly care for and live with the earth and its creatures. Look for future blog posts detailing this deeper.