Monday, January 31, 2011

Recipe Monday: Almost French

Firstly, excuse my smugness because it's Wednesday and I'm writing this for Monday so I feel super ahead of the game for once. When looking for a picture of a French woman, I found the above in an article from an English speaking expat of some kind, blaming Americans for French sluttiness. Bitch, please. The French had that rep waaaay before we did. Just because we've recently acted up, you can't pretend that you're not known for mistresses, affairs, premartial sex, a "Latin" attitude and a laissez-faire approach to the workplace.

Anyway. I've been posting about my French experiment a lot on my Tumblr and while the intertubes seem to get what I'm saying, my real life friends seem mostly confused. So while this recipe in and of itself is not magical, it is part of my transformational journey towards leading the life I want to lead in all ways possible. So feel free to use it as a manifestation of what you would like to transform yourself into, just put your intent into the soup.

It's vaguely french in its ingredient content (maybe more Italian?) but not really because as I've learned, one does not fuck with French cooking. It is my own recipe because I've learned that whenever pureeing is involved, I peace the fuck out so I took like two ingredients from an existing recipe and then just went my own way. It is delicious, I just ate it.

Transformative Soup
1 carton organic low sodium chicken broth
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon butter
1 capful of olive oil
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 small onion, chopped
palmful of fresh parsley, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh thyme, leaves only
a dash of chipotle pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the butter and olive oil in a medium sized pot. Add in onion. Brown for about 5 minutes and then put in the garlic. Brown for another two minutes. Put cannellini beans in and mash with a potato masher. Add the rest of the ingredients. Simmer for 30 minutes.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

New Witchvox Article: Magically Cleansing Your Home

Generally I take blog entries from here and make them into articles but this article is completely new. So go check out my latest Hearth Witch Lesson on Magically Cleansing Your House!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

On Roots and Sincerity: It's where we come from you know/ and sometimes I want to go back

In the past few years, I've been so bogged down with getting divorced, buying a house, my sister's marriage and baby and now starting my own business, that my Dianic Wiccan circle was always the first thing to go on my schedule. Fridays would find me tired and run down, the stresses of the week culminated so that all I would want to do is order a pizza and drink wine and watch television. Besides, at this point I'm barely Wiccan anymore anyway, right?

During these years, without realizing it, I had become coated in a crisp cannoli shell. I started to prefer my own small hearth magics and became results driven and the intellectual side of magic - blogging and thinking with an occasional trip to my grove which is also filled with charming cynics like myself.

I had become cynical.

It seemed like a lifetime ago since I was that twenty year old girl who needed mentors and role models and to be accepted as she was, fuck ups and alternaness and all. I never knew the divine feminine until then and I never knew I could be take a religious leadership role. The Craft had come out, but Willow had not yet become a witch on Buffy yet and Charmed hadn't yet started. We were still taught the importance of to be silent because you could still find yourself in harm's way for being a witch.

Somewhere in my late twenties, when my marriage was falling apart, I started falling away from my Circle. I always went once or twice a year, kept in touch with my sisters and all, but what had once seemed shiny with the Divine Feminine and sister space and the Goddess is alive/ and magic is afoot started to seem . . .airy-fairy. Less serious, less scholarly. Less important. Something I had outgrown.

Yesterday there was to be a circle meeting and ritual, discussing our future. I felt obligated to go. After all, these women had had a hand in raising me, had contributed to who I became, had loved me and cared for me. But I also felt that familiar familial feeling of obligation and resentment. I didn't want to go. I wanted to stay home and drink wine and watch Gossip Girl.

But I went, grudgingly. My sisters hugged me tight, exclaiming over their prodigal daughter and I felt that all too familiar feeling I feel around my family, guilt for not being a better daughter.

We went over our circle's issues (running late has always been a big one to give an example) and I felt like we were all committed to making things more feasible for everyone and that we had refocused our group's intent.

We then did a simple handwashing ritual. And . . .I can't find the words to explain it, how it feels when we're on. When we're all focused and present and sharing sister space. How safe and calm it can feel, being protected in our little snowglobe between worlds. Womblike. Since starting the French Experiment, I've tried to focus more on appreciating simplicity, especially in daily life. There was something sacred as we went through the rites and then came to the hand washing. I've done that particular ritual before but . . .I think maybe I wasn't really able to appreciate it yet as a Maiden. I'm not sure why that is but while I thought it was pretty, it didn't resonate with me. I think as a Maiden I had a hard time sitting still and a hard time appreciating anything that didn't come in a martini glass or with an expensive price tag.

We used a beautiful silver ewer with a silver ladle with warmed rose and rain water. Each of us would wash the hands of the sister sitting to our left, thinking about what we loved about our sister and what she brought to circle. I don't know what M. was thinking when she washed my hands and dried them but it was really hard not to cry, I was just overcome by the love and the beauty of the gesture. My hands felt clean in a way that they haven't in a very long time. Clean hands, clean heart. When I washed D.'s hands, I thought about how gentle and kind she was and how she always knew the right thing to say and her music. It was just really powerful watching the other sisters' wash each others hands so carefully and kindly, a small gesture of love and care.

And I thought about how easy it is in our community to wrap ourselves in our intellect and our cynicism and talk about how the world is burning anyway, man so we should use our magic so we don't get screwed in the process and make sure we get everything we can. It's easier to make a sarcastic joke. I do it all the time.

It's hard for me to sit there with my squishy creamy insides hanging out, to be sincere and open and loving and kind without worrying about how I'll be preceived. Without turning away from it with a biting comment and a puff of a clove or sip of wine, but to just sit there and allow myself to be changed by it. It's. Really. Fucking. Hard. And I think that's why I keep turning away from it and away from my sisters because most days I'd rather be hard.

What I learned last night is that we need both, the hardness and the softness. The hardness pushes us through the difficulty of life and keeps us driving to succeed even when we've failed over and over again, the softness is what gives us a light of some kind, a grace to enjoy what we made ourselves hard for.

I need that for myself, that permission for softness, a magic that looks inside not outside and isn't always about input and output, that space to be gentle and surrounded by love. When I came back, Jow said I seemed different and he's right, I was. I came back changed, centered and softer. And I need that. So I'm going to do that for myself more, start going to circle more often again as a gift to myself.

Ending at 10:30 instead of 12:30 though does help my enthusiam for the prospect.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Retro Recipe Monday: I'm late as usual/ Karen's there fresh as a daisy . . .

Betty and I are sick of Cooking for Company for now, so I will be switching back to The General Food Kitchens Cookbook.

Tomato Aspic Cubes

2 packages (3 oz each) Jell-O Lemon Gelatin Dessert
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups boiling water
2 cans tomato sauce
3 tablespoons vinegar
2 tablesppons grated onon
Dash of pepper

Dissolve gelatin and salt in boiling water. Blend in remaining ingredients. Pour into 13x9x2 inch pan. Chill until firm - 6 hours. Cut into 1-inch cubes. Serve on tossed salad. Makes enough for 30 salads.

Monday, January 24, 2011

On the Sundering of Feri: The stars/ the moon/ all have been blown out . . .

So, I'm on the fringe of Feri. Just in deeply enough to have a friend basically say holy shit there is so much going on right now it's *crazy* and people are acting *super crazy* to each other. I neatly filed it away in my gossip folder but didn't really venture further in until just now when I read T. Thorne Coyle's article The Sundering of Feri. While I don't really feel much more confident on the specifics of what happened and was surprised to learn Thorne isn't teaching Feri anymore ( . . .again, see fringe), this part was really meaningful for me:

It has been said that we are moving from the Piscean to the Aquarian Age. Pisces wants to hold things close and in reclusion, within existing structures, striving for a beautiful purity. Aquarius wants to open up the windows of the Witch's hut—or sometimes bust down the walls - and let in some fresh air, while figuring out how to build something new. While I have great sympathy for the Pisceans, and think that likely there will always be those needed to hold that polarity, my work is firmly on the side of the non-conforming Aquarians, even when we vehemently disagree. The world needs us.

This, this, a thousand times this. If ever there was a full mission statement on my feelings about Paganism and Witchery, it would be this. As an actual Aquarian, I am always doing that, sometimes to the chagrin of those around me. I always want to bust down the walls and see the inside of your hut, I want to show you mine. I want us to build something together and when it doesn't work anymore, go down to the river and throw it in and start again.

It's also my deepest fear. That I'm not . . .whatever enough to be an expert in my own right as a hearth witch. That I lack children and a full time job with no duties of a traditional soccer mom, that I'm not witch in the woods enough as I only have a vague connection to the land and don't take awesome midnight journeys for wood and roadkill. And there are women I admire greatly who fit reasonably in either of those categories and sometimes I start to feel lost because I'm in this weird in between place. I feel sometimes not enough like anyone else I know in this blogosphere until Jow reminds me of my darling PEH, Gordon who keeps me grouned by just being him across the pond, thinking some of the same random stuff I do about magic and other things, putting things together in a way that makes sense and travels and drinks too much wine and I think, there is still a place for me. (Sister will you follow me/Sister will you dance with me/ like a flame you must be wild . . .)

I'm always going to want to bust down the walls, even models have limits, as Jason reminds us. So whenever a tradition breaks, I can't help but be excited in a weird way. Because . . .then the walls are busted down, we can rethink *everything* and *anything* and what really works and what doesn't work and when we can put aside our egos enough and show each other our soft squishy bits, our broken bits, the bits that made mistakes, that's when shit gets real in the best possible sense. We're not united in one shaky illusion, we're a dozen nations, strong in our sense of self and our vision. At the end of the day, more than anything, that's what we are as hearth witches, dozens of tiny nations threaded together by our hearths however big or small, permentant and temporary and we get to be woven together here on the world wide web, whispering our secrets and magic and joys and sorrows to each other here in the ether. And I'm honored to be part of that, our bouquet of nations that florish here. When I am restless and fretful, I forget about that, the beauty in being bound together by words. I'm honored by all of you who visit here and there will always be a place for you in my nation. Always.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

[Posted by Request of Jason Miller]

Hey kids! A lot of you read my fellow blogger, Jason Miller. His blog crashed due to a Blogger glitch and he has requested that I post the following for him:

Dear Readers of Strategic Sorcery,
As most of you know, Strategic Sorcery mysteriously disappeared on the evening of Wednesday, January 19th. The blog was not locked or cancelled by blogger intentionally, nor does it appear to be a deliberate hack. It is a glitch that is effecting about 50 other blogs.
Strategic Sorcery will now be hosted at my own website. The new address is
Please take a moment and update your links and follow me at the new site.
A big thanks go out to the owner of this blog for helping me get the message out. Thank you readers who have written in concerned about the situation. I am awed and gladdened by your support.
Thank you,
Jason Miller (Inominandum)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Retro Recipe Monday: A Day Late, a Dollar Short!

For those of you who are not Mad Men geeks, our Retro Recipe Monday heroine is Betty Draper Francis, played by January Jones.

So while I was not on a Sacred Sexuality panel with D/s mistresses and yoga aficionados and did not develop a nervous habit of cussin' on a panel in the middle of the afternoon like Some People, I was allegedly responsible for being a Track Head at Arisia for Steampunk. Something about running the first Neo-Victorian/Steampunk con, I s'pose. Fear not though, my hearth witchery skills were still put to the test as I led a panel discussion on manners, worked "front of the house" in the green room, led a workshop on Tussy Mussies and hostessed a Cream Tea.

So, I'm tired. We just got back last night and I slept like the dead for like fifteen hours, thrilled that my cat would not be insistent about having a loud discussion about Star Trek in front of my door during sleeping hours (whatever teenage girl that was, I will hunt you down and find you next year so watch your back, sister).

Which is why we get moar Cooking for Company, hooray! Again, my offer stands, anyone who makes anything posted on a Recipe Monday will get a guest Recipe Monday spot with a plug for your blog.

Buttered Shrimp and Pineapple
Unusual food combination makes this pretty main dish a conversation piece

4 tblsp. butter or margarine
1 large green pepper, seeded and cut crosswise into 1/4" thick rings
1 1/2 lbs. large uncooked shrimp (fresh shrimp or frozen, thawed), shelled and deveined
1 (1 lb. 4oz.) can pineapple slices, drained or 8 slices fresh pineapple
3/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. chili powder
Lime or lemon wedges

* Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add green pepper, shrimp and pineapple; season with salt and pepper and generously with chili powder.
* Saute, turning gently, just until shrimp turn pink and green pepper is tender-crisp - about 10 minutes. Serve immediately with lime or lemon wedges and steamed rice. Makes 4 servings.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Recipe Monday: Pasta with Parsley and Dill

This week has been crazy and it's only Tuesday. I'm late on Recipe Monday because we got our cat Bella fixed who decided to declare war on our cat Max for her surgical croning. We finally separated the two with Bella temporarily residing at chez James but it's been a harrowing week with not a lot of sleep since last Monday as they've been pissing and shitting all over and yowling and trying to kill each other in earnest complete with turf wars at all hours of the day and night. Also, we leave for Arisia on Friday and I'm heading a track there so there's been last minute org things there and did I mention I've been sick? Yeah.

Okay, enough crying. Jow and I have been pretending to eat more like French people partly out of curiosity and partly because we want to eat healthier. I've been baking all our breads myself (with help from the bread machine) and making soup from scratch. Next on my list will be to stop using box mixes for things like quick bread, but I'm not quite there yet. The French don't do a lot of elaborate cooking on the day to day, they just use a lot of whole foods. Both Jow and I being Italian, we loves the pasta so along the way, I figured this recipe out.

Parsley is good for protection and love and dill is good for money and hex breaking so you can cover all your magical bases with the two herbs used and can enchant as you see fit (over dinner at a dinner with GoG we agreed that there are the big four magical bases - love, money, protection and hexing). This recipe is quick and economical as well!

Pasta Avec Parsley and Dill

1 box pasta (we like rotini or elbows)
4 tablespoons butter
Palm full of grated Parmesan cheese
1 hand full of fresh chopped parsley
1 hand full of fresh chopped dill
salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to the directions. Drain. Add the rest of the ingredients. Et Voila! Dinner est served!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Thanks to Jason Miller/Self Improvement May Lead to Sleeplessness

Firstly, I want to thank Jason for writing Sorcerer's Secrets, because it is thanks to him I'm sleeping again. Now that sounds like some kind of backhanded bitchy compliment, but it's not. It's v. v. sincere. His book lays out theory and tech in an orderly manner that makes me feel like I can accomplish what he suggests to do, that even a half ass dilettante like myself is capable of not just complicated workings, but using his ideas and funneling them into Deb-Speak and making them my own and making a frightening towering cake of a working covered in pink glittering sparkles and layers upon layers of magical fondant. So I can read a chapter, feel good about my place in the world and my capability and just. go. to. sleep. Herbal compendiums are good for this too.

Of course, up until like three days ago, I wasn't doing this. I was reading life improvement books before bed. They are really, really good and really well written and really useful and will help me build my hello kitty themed empire. But it just makes me all crazy-like and unable to sleep when reading them before bed. I finished Rules of the Game and Entre-Vous. I tried 4HWW but that just made me angry versus feeling inadequate. I’m reading Linchpin currently and will be reading Crush It after. But it makes it so I have trouble sleeping because I worry I will never live my life properly and/or better.

It’s moments like those when you are staring at the ceiling thinking about how hard you’re failing in life because you haven’t done anything particularly awesome as yet and haven’t written a book outline yet even though you were supposed to asap during your unemployment, haven't written a damn thing really yet though you've hardcore re-org'ed your house and yes I'm projecting all over you and you'll just have to deal here, and often have doubts and difficulties even saying hello to strangers let alone cold reading them and then charming them and still have doubts about your wardrobe and your body because this time of year every commercial on television wants to remind you what a naughty terrible unforgivable slag you’ve been so you need to start their diet/exercise program/liposuction immediately and your house isn’t full of charming objects from antique shops and is more cluttered than artfully disheveled and maybe you’re not sure you even have what it takes to be an artist or linchpin or special ponyprincessfirefighterfarmer and maybe you’re just going to be a cog forever.

A cog who never will open a conversation and then hook and seed it, a cog who hasn’t listened to NPR in over a month but who has never missed an episode of Toddlers and Tiaras, a cog who sometimes just likes to be told what to do at work and collect a paycheck and go about her business, a cog who will need to go to the gym eventually even though its tedious and not enjoyable because there’s no Metro to dash to in heels and she’s not v. good in them anyway, a cog who blathers about her life to all comers on the internet and gossips incessantly, a cog who has yet to put together her spinning wheel or start churning out artisan crafts, a cog whose desk is still in the CRV in pieces so she hasn’t written a damn thing yet since starting her month sabbatical, a cog who may still be terminally shy around strangers at Arisia this year, despite running a whole track for it.

All of these doubts plague me before bed, making it so even my elephant tranq level of evening pills I take to smooth out doubts and fibromyalgia that used to, when I had a day job, made it so I drifted effortlessly to sleep every night but now they barely make a dent so that I’m starting to dread going to bed again like I used to pre-medication because I know what will happen, me and all my doubts staring at the ceiling, thinking about all the things I haven’t done.

And when it hits its peak, when you feel completely awful and powerless and useless, take a breath and remember all the people in your life who love you. Right now. As is. Craziness and all. Even if you’re a cog who never starts a conversation with a stranger or gets the hang of buying two good sweaters instead of ten that you’ll toss in a year and you never become an artiste and just collect a pay check and you never lose any weight and keep watching crappy tv, you are still loved and worthy of love. Right now, as is, and never *ever* let anyone tell you otherwise.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Recipe Monday: Jow's Sekrit Beef Stew Recipe

Jow's Beef Stew
1/2 bag frozen peas
2 cans of Italian Stewed Tomatoes (with juice)
2 large carrots, diced
2 large stalks of celery, diced
1 large onion, diced
1 carton sliced mushrooms
1 heaping handful of barley
1 carton beef stock
1 pound stew meat
4 counts red wine
4 counts garlic powder
4 counts salt
1/2 tablespoon pepper
1 teaspoon red pepper
1 bay leaf
flour for dredging
1 capful olive oil

You will need a large stock pot to make this as it's about 12 servings. Heat oil in the stock pot Dredge the stew meat in the flour and brown the meat with the onion, mushrooms, carrots, and celery. Then add the rest of the ingredients except for the barley. Let simmer at medium heat for 1 hour. Then add barley and cook for another 45 minutes to an hour, stirring occasionally to keep barley from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Serve with bread. Delish the day of, even better the following day!