samhain

Samhain

Pronunciation: SOW-in, SAH-vin, or SOW-een
October 31 – November 1
Themes: death, rebirth, divination, honoring ancestors, introspection, benign mischief, revelry
Other Names: Samhuin, Halloween, Third Harvest, Day of the Dead, Feast of the Dead (Félie Na Marbh), Ancestor Night, All Hallows Eve
(the 31st).

This celebration marks the end of the growing season and the beginning of Winter. Herbs, fruits and vegetables are prepared to be stored for use through the cold months. In autumn, the leaves and flowers die.  Many animals migrate or prepare for hibernation.  The world becomes more still.  These natural cycles remind us that everything dies, and yet will be reborn. It is believed the veil grows thin between this world and the world of the afterlife and so many take this time of Samhain much like Dia de los Muertos on November 2, to honor our ancestors who are just beyond the veil.

This is seriously, my favorite time of year. The days shorten and night falls earlier, the shadows grow, and the veil between this world and the realm of the spirits and ancestors is at its thinnest. The air is crisp with the scents of autumn, and the magical possibilities seem to be all around us. Nature is about to take back within herself what has stopped living to nurture the earth to be reborn in spring.

The turning of the Wheel toward Samhain is a turn toward the dark months ahead. The nights are growing longer, and time is catching up with us. Our trees are filled with dried figs, dried grapes, things once living now dying, to remind us of the stages of all of life. In almost every country outside of the United States, death is talked about as an accepted and reverent part of life, people dance and it’s even celebrated with parties and filled with colorful adornments. Here in the US we place our cemeteries to the outskirts of our cities and towns, and now in modern times, place headstones flat and parallel with the Earth so that when we drive by they just look like nice parks instead of where we lay our dead to rest, we hide them in plain sight. In most other countries, cemeteries and mausoleums are front and center in towns and cities with upright headstones that tell you yep, here are our beloved who have passed from this earth and here you too shall lay to rest. In the US we make death a scary, depressed occasion that we tend to shy away from talking about.

The Celts of our distant past didn’t shy from the subject, this portal to the other side, because they understood how to harvest wisdom in the process of facing their own mortality. They understood that when you bury something with intention, it can feed future crops and nourish them from within. And yet, the word itself – Samhain – means nothing more than summer’s end. The end of growth. This day reminds us that death is just a natural stage of life. We can’t have life without death any more than we can have light without dark, truth without lies, or good without evil. They are all two sides of the same coin, forever entangled and forever inseparable.

Decorate with pumpkins, gourds, black orange and yellow candles, photos of your ancestors, autumn leaves and representations of autumn. Crystals to use; smokey quartz, obsidian and onyx.

*”All hallow tide, the triduum of Halloween, recalls deceased spirits, saints (hallows) and martyrs alike, in one collective commemoration. The word Halloween is of Christian origin, and many Christians visit graveyards during this time to pray and place flowers and candles at the graves of their deceased loved ones. The two days following All Hallows Eve—All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day—pay homage to the souls that Christians believe are now with God. In medieval England, Christians went “souling” on Halloween, begging for soul cakes in exchange for prayers in local churches. Halloween’s secular side has emerged during the past century, and today, trick-or-treating, carving pumpkins, visiting haunted houses, watching horror movies and dressing up like favored characters has become custom in Western culture. Recent estimates are that the very diverse American business of “haunted attractions” brings in hundreds of millions of dollars each year, and the commercial elements of Halloween have spread from North America to Europe, South America, Australia, Japan and parts of East Asia.”

Candle Magic

Candle Ceremony for The Ancestors

This is a simple ceremony which can be shared with both friends and family, or worked alone. You can include children in it – it begins in darkness and ends full of light. You will need:

  • a supply of small candles, either black or white (or you can use the little battery operated ones for the littles)
  • a heat proof container or tray of sand or earth to put the candles in if you use candles. Place one in the center of the container from which all the others will be lit.

Switch off all the lights and sit gently in the darkness. Allow yourself to feel the darkness but not in a spooky way. In a brave and comforted way. Ask for the presence of your ancestors to come to you. When you are ready, light the central candle saying:


“We welcome our departed loved ones into this home and honor your presence among us”.

Allow each person in the circle to spontaneously remember someone who has passed and remember something about them and light a candle for each person from the central candle: ‘I remember Uncle Harold he was a kind and thoughtful man….’. Allow this to continue for as long as it takes to complete the re-membering. You will end with a tray full of radiant candles. When all is complete, give thanks, and allow the candles to burn to completion. Turn on the lights whenever you are ready.

Mantra

The Veil separating the world of the living to the dead has parted, and the last harvest has ended. I cast my circle and invite into it my ancestors, and my loved ones who have passed through the Veil. Come to me and together let us celebrate your time here on Earth!

Samhain Shadow Self Meditation

Meditation to Find Your Shadow

Find a quiet, comfortable place to perform the meditation, some place where you will not be disturbed. Be sure to answer the questions after the meditation below.

Close your eyes. Imagine that a soft white glow is forming at your feet. It begins to swirl upward and it forms a protective shell around you. It lifts you up and takes you on a journey to the core of your being.

The misty glow sets you down and dissipates to reveal a marble staircase that spirals downward. The light is very dim along the walls of the staircase and you can’t see all the way to the bottom, but you know this is a place into which you must venture.

You begin down the staircase and you notice it spirals in a counterclockwise direction. The light in the staircase comes from candles flickering in small carved niches along the walls. The staircase walls are made of smooth, cold marble that your occasionally touch as you continue to journey downward.

As you work your way down the stairs, notice on the walls that there are occasionally symbols formed out of metal and embedded into the walls. These are the symbols of your shadow masks. Take note of whichever one is most prominent. This is the symbol for your primary shadow mask.

Reach up and touch the symbol of your primary shadow mask and you’ll find that it comes loose from the wall. As you hold it in your hands, you can feel the cold weight of the metal symbol and you can see it from all sides. Hold on to this symbol as you continue down the stairs.

When you reach the bottom, you find before you a great golden door. You try the door, but it is locked. Look at the keyhole and you will find that it is oddly shaped. Slip the metal symbol you hold into the keyhole and you’ll find that it unlocks the door. Open the door and enter the chamber.

The room is cold and quite dark, except for a single point of illumination that emanates from the far side of the room. The light comes from a mask that hangs on the far wall. Go over to it and look at it. You notice that it is well within reach, so you take it down and examine it thoroughly. On the inside of the mask is its name. Take note of it.

After you’ve examined the mask, place it on your face and ask: “How do I resolve this shadow mask?” Listen carefully to the answer. Once you’ve heard the message, ask one more question: “What does this shadow mask keep me from doing?”

After you’ve queried the mask, take it off and place it back on the wall. Exit the chamber and lock the door with the metal symbol you retained. As you climb the stairs, you can place the symbol anywhere along the wall and it will set itself within the marble. Continue to head to the top of the stairs,this time moving much more quickly than before.

Once you have reached the top, the white glow enfolds you once again, lifts you up, and brings you back into your body.

When you have arrived back fully, take a moment to contemplate your experience and draw to the best of your ability the symbol of the primary shadow mask. Now draw your shadow mask. Then answer these questions…

  1. What is the name of the shadow mask?
  2. What part do you play in keeping this mask alive?
  3. What are the effects of this shadow mask on your life?
  4. What does this shadow mask keep you from accomplishing?
  5. What action must you take in order to resolve you primary shadow mask?
  6. What have you to learn from this shadow mask?

Intention Setting Ceremony

One of the biggest Samhain traditions is known as the Feast of the Dead or Dumb Supper. It’s kind of like Thanksgiving for the spirit world, the Feast of the Dead is a big celebratory meal for all of the people who came before you. Most who celebrate Samhain set an extra place for their ancestors, putting servings of food on the plate as an invitation to their departed to join their feast. Once the meal is over the food is often set out in a natural place as an offering to the deceased.

For some this is a quiet thoughtful occasion with contemplation as each remembers the departed and enjoys a completely silent meal, sometimes referred to as a Dumb Supper. For others this is an exciting experience where you serve the favorite foods of your loved ones who have passed on and share memories and good stories of those you love who are no longer with us. 

Many people around the world including Pacific Islanders, Peruvians, the Ancient Romans, and multiple European cultures all have some version of a Feast of the Dead as part of their cultural celebrations. Many Buddhists and Taoists also have a similar celebration called the Ghost Festival where they prepare elaborate meals and set places for the deceased, making this a much more common practice than you might think.

So create your party for loved ones who have passed and do it in a way that honors your families traditions and rich history. You can make it as elaborate as you’d like with a huge feast, story telling, a tended bonfire, rituals, ceremonies and all the trimming, or maybe just a silent Dumb Supper and even just setting out photo’s and looking over them along with mementos handed down the family line to be shared with the littles (kids) along with sharing tidbits about their family members who are no longer on this plane of existence. I wish I had had something like this in my childhood since my Mom and Dad had me in their 50’s, my grandparents were all either deceased or passed when I was pre-school age. I still know very little of my ancestors and our family who have passed.

Incense & Oil

Samhain Loose Incense

  • 2 teaspoon dried Apple
  • 2 teaspoons of chopped Pine needles
  • 1 teaspoons of Rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 3 Acorns
  • 1/2 teaspoon of crushed Dragon’s Blood
  • A few pearls of Frankincense
  • 2 drops Patchouli Oil

Using a mortar and pestle, crush the Frankincense, then Dragon’s Blood, and then the Cinnamon and Acorns. Crush and add the remaining ingredients into a bowl one at a time, then add the Patchouli Oil and mix everything together. As you mix the dried fruits, herbs, and spices, focus on your intent with Samhain and your Ancestors in mind.This is the time of the year to Honor our Ancestors and to contemplate the cycle of life, death and rebirth.Burn this incense on top of a charcoal disc or use as a dry or simmering potpourri. Some other items you may consider to customize your incense to your liking are Cedar, Cedarwood, Clove, Hyssop, Juniper, Marigold, Mugwort, Patchouli, Pepper, Sage, Salt, Wormwood to name a few. Keep in mind what each item represents for the Samhain Season.

  1. Apple are associated with the dead & Samhain
  2. Bay for psychic powers
  3. Cinnamon for protection
  4. Marigold for protection and honoring ancestors
  5. Mugwort for physic awareness
  6. Patchouli for honoring the earth
  7. Pepper for ghostly protection
  8. Pine for honoring the earth and winter
  9. Rosemary for remembrance
  10. Sage for purification and wisdom
  11. Salt for purification
  12. Wormwood for protection against evil spirits

Intentions/Activities

  • Bonfires, or “Fire Watches” are basically a lit fire to help your ancestors find their way to you as the veil thins. Often full celebrations are held around the fire through the day as the fire is kept burning. Usually the fire starts at sundown and goes till sunrise but in modern times it’s usually sundown till midnight (or whenever your local fire department policies are). You can have designated fire watchers, or tenders from the family through the day and evening. Gather to sing, dance, tell stories and eat good food.
  • Collecting Autumn flowers such as chrysanthemums are popular.  Marigolds are associated with death, cemeteries, and Dia de los Muertos in Mexican tradition.  Some people dry bouquets of, wilted dying flowers.
  • Share stories and memories of your ancestors. Delve into your family tree and see how far back you can trace to the life and times of your ancestral tree.
  • Gather leaves for creative decoupage crafts.
  • Make incense blends of myrrh, mugwort, patchouli, sandalwood and pine.
  • Dumb Dinner or Silent (Mute) Supper. Throwback to the Ancient Celts and their 3 days of feasting? Ancestors were called to share food. Families would set the table with extra seats and plates filled with the same food they were eating. They would sit and eat, and update the spirits on what had happened throughout the year.
  • Make resolutions, write them on a small piece of parchment, and burn in a candle flame.
  • Carve a jack-o-lantern. Place a spirit candle in it.
  • Drink apple cider spiced with cinnamon to honor the dead. Bury an apple or pomegranate in the garden as food for spirits passing by on their way to being reborn.
  • Make a mask of your shadow self.
  • Create an ancestor altar. Add photos of loved ones who have passed away, keepsakes, anything that has special importance to you and your loved ones in spirit.
  • Create and fill an ancestor box. Decorate the outside with things that make you think of or feel your ancestors. This is often things from your families culture, heritage, ethnicity or legacies. Then fill the box with mementos, photos, and things passed down. Place it lovingly on your mantel or other special place of honor to be a place of remembrance through the year.
  • Collect and recreate old family recipes.

Crafts

Samhain Door Wreath

Materials: Items from Nature, fine wire, sheet of corrugated cardboard, collection sack, small nail.

First, take a Nature hike. Have the littles collect items from nature, such as pine cones, seeds, leaves, berry bunches (remind the child how important it is to thank the plant for its gift, and to take only what is needed.), acorns and caps, flowers, etc. When you get home, spread out collection on some newspaper. Cut out a circle about 15″ in diameter, from the cardboard. Cut a smaller circle out of the middle. Have the child choose which objects go where on the cardboard background, and hand the object to you. Wrap the wire around each object so it can be fastened to the cardboard. Poke two small holes in the cardboard ring for each item. Feed the wire through and twist in back. Keep fastening objects onto the ring until it is full and no cardboard shows. Hang the wreath on the front door with the nail. (Explain that “wreaths of bounty” used to symbolize giving thanks for a prosperous year, and an invitation for others less fortunate to share in the good fortune.)

Making a Besom

Materials: 4ft dowel- 1″ in diameter, ball of twine, scissors, straw or other pliable herb stock.

Take the straw or other herb stalk that you have chosen and soak overnight in luke warm salted water. The water swells the stalk slightly for bending without breakage, and the salt dispels former energies. When ready, remove stalks from the water and dry for just a bit. Not too much or the stalk will stiffen up, again. Place the dowel on a table where you have room to work. Start lining the stalks along the dowel , about 3 inches from the bottom, moving backwards. Begin binding the stalks to the dowel with the twine. Tie very securely. You may add as many layers as you like, depending on how full you want the Besom to be. When stalks are secure, gently bend the top stalks down over the binding. When all have been bent over, secure the stalks again with more twine a couple of inches under the first binding. Allow to air dry for a day or two. The dowel can then be stained, painted, or carved into to make personal. Remember to concentrate and charge at the next full moon. (Explain to the children that the Pagans used to “ride” their Besoms through the fields, jumping as high as they could. This was to show the God/dess(s-es) how high they wanted their crops to grow the next year. Also jumping over bonfires at the Sabbat festivals was for good health and prosperity.)

Foods

Recipe for Samhain Soul Cakes

Recipe by Karen from Lavender and Lovage.

Ingredients
  • 175g butter (6ozs)
  • 175g caster sugar (6ozs)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 450g plain flour (1lb)
  • 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 100g currants (4 ozs)
  • a little milk to mix
  1. Pre-heat oven to 375F.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar together and then beat in the egg yolks, one at a time.
  3. Stir in the currants and add enough milk to make a soft dough, similar to scones.
  4. Roll the dough out and cut out little cakes with a biscuit cutter.
  5. Mark each cake with a cross and then place them on a greased and/or lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake the cakes for 10 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown.
  7. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight tin for up to 5 days.

Colcannon

  • 4 cups mashed potatoes
  • 2 1/2 cups chopped cooked cabbage
  • 3/4 cup onion, chopped very fine and sauteed
  • 1 cup mashed turnips
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk or cream
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  1. Place all ingredients, except the cabbage, in a large pan and cook over low heat while mixing them together.
  2. Turn the heat to medium and add the cabbage.
  3. The mixture will take on a pale green cast.
  4. Keep stirring occasionally until well mixed and heated through.

Pumpkin Soup

For a delicious and simple soup, peel the outer skin from the pieces of pumpkin and boil until very tender (about 30 minutes). Mash with a potato masher or run through a food processor. Saute 1 chopped onion for every cup of pumpkin. Add the mashed pumpkin, 11/2 cups milk, 1/2 tsp. each of salt and pepper, and 1/4 tsp. curry powder. Serve hot with a sprinkling of cinnamon or nutmeg.

Make Ahead Vegan Samosa Shepherd’s Pie
  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes or sweet potatoes
  • 2/3 cup full-fat coconut milk
  • fine grain sea salt, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 cups cooked yellow or green split peas
  • 1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
  • To serve: a drizzle of melted coconut oil with chopped serrano chiles, micro greens, scallions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F with a rack in the center.
  2. Place the potatoes/sweet potatoes in a medium saucepan, cover with water, salt as you would pasta water, and bring to a boil for about ten minutes, or until tender. Drain, and return to saucepan over heat for a minute or so to dry out a bit. Add the coconut milk, and the salt, and mash together. Set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the coconut oil with the onion and garlic, and a generous pinch of salt. Sauté for a few minutes, until onions are translucent, and then turn the heat up and add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring every couple of minutes, until the mushrooms release their water, and start to brown. Add the tomatoes and spices. Stir well, then add the cooked split peas and peas. Cook for another minute or two, taste, and adjust with more garam masala or salt if needed.
  4. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a 8-inch baking dish (or equivalent), spreading it across in a somewhat even layer. Dollop the potatoes across the top, and gently push them around until they cover the entire top of the casserole, run the tines of a fork across the top if you like a bit of texture.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, and finish under a broiler to add a bit of extra color and texture to the top. Serve as-is, or sprinkled with any (or all) of the suggested toppings.

Serves 6.

Brie + Cheddar Apple Beer Soup with Cinnamon Pecan Oat Crumble
Cheddar Apple Beer Soup with Brie
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2/3 cup apple cider
  • 2 small Honeycrisp apples or 1 large, chopped
  • 2 teaspoon fresh thyme chopped (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 (12 ounce) beer I used pumpkin beer
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 8 ounces brie rind removed + cubed
Cinnamon Pecan Oat Crumble
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 1/2 cups whole raw pecans
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
To make the Crumble
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Working on a greased cookie sheet or pyrex dish, add the oats, pecans, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add the softened butter and use your fingers to crumble it into the oats mixture until everything is moist and the butter is evenly distributed. Bake for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking, until crisp is golden brown and smells amazing. I like to serve this warm, so I make it while the soup simmers.
To make the Soup
  1. Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil. Once hot, add the onions and a pinch of brown sugar. Season with a little salt and pepper. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. At this point, slowly add in the apple cider, let it cook into the onions, add more and continue to cook. Do this until the onions are caramelized. Add the apples and thyme to the pot and cook over medium heat, stirring, until softened, 8 minutes. Add in any remaining apple cider, the beer, chicken broth and cayenne. Bring to a simmer and cook 5-10 minutes or until the apples are tender. (This is when I bake the crumble)
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the flour into the milk until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Once the apples are soft, puree the soup until chunky smooth or completely smooth (whatever you like). Return the soup to the stove and bring to a low bowl. Whisk in the milk mixture and boil until the soup thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cheddar cheddar cheese and brie until melted and smooth. Simmer the soup 5 minutes or until ready to serve.
  5. Ladle the soup into bowls and top with the cinnamon pecan crumble. Plus maybe some extra cheese too!!

Harvest Soup
  • butter
  • 4 turnips (I used butter or yellow turnips)
  • 1 bramley apple (or 1 cox)
  • 1 large potato
  • 1 liter of chicken or vegetable stock.

to decorate
toast ham or bacon for 1 minute in the microwave between a sheet of grease proof paper
toast stale bread and cut into chunks

  1. Dice all the vegetables and apple.
  2. Over a high fire heat two teaspoons of butter in a medium sized pan.
  3. Add all the vegetables and apple and stir so they don’t burn
  4. When slightly glazed add the stock and simmer for 30 minutes
  5. Mix the soup until all the chunks are gone 
  6. Put back on the fire and bring to the boil for another minute
  7. Season to taste with pepper and salt
  8. Serve with the toasted bread and crispy ham or bacon

Enjoy and remember to set an extra plate for the spirits…

Quinoa Salad With Roasted Squash, Dried Cranberries, and Pecans
  • 1 c. quinoa
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium Delicata squash, seeded and thinly sliced into half moons
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale, thinly sliced and stems removed
  • 1/3 c. pecans, toasted
  • 1/3 c. dried cranberries
  • 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 c. crumbled feta
  1. Preheat oven to 425° and cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. In a medium saucepan, combine quinoa and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit 5 minutes, then fluff with a fork and season with salt and pepper. Spread out on a sheet tray to cool completely.
  3. Meanwhile, arrange squash on a baking sheet and roast until tender and golden, 15 minutes. Let cool slightly.
  4. In a large bowl, toss together quinoa, squash, kale, pecans, and cranberries. In a small bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Drizzle over salad and toss gently to combine. Season with salt and pepper, crumble feta on top, and serve.

Pumpkin Bread with Salted Maple Butter
Bread
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • ⅛ tsp. ground cloves
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 15-oz. can pumpkin purée
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp finely grated ginger (from about one 3″ piece fresh ginger)
  • 1½ cups plus 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
Maple Butter
  • 1½ sticks (¾ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • ¾ tsp. flaky sea salt, plus more for serving

Recipe Preparation

Bread

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Lightly coat a 9×5″ loaf pan with nonstick spray. Line bottom of pan with parchment, leaving a generous overhang on both long sides.
  2. Whisk flour, cinnamon, kosher salt, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and cloves in a medium bowl.
  3. Whisk eggs, pumpkin purée, ginger, and 1½ cups sugar in a large bowl. Stream in oil, whisking constantly until mixture is homogeneous. Gently fold half of dry ingredients into egg mixture until no dry spots remain. Repeat with remaining dry ingredients, stirring to combine but being careful not to overmix.
  4. Transfer batter to prepared pan; smooth top with a spatula. Scatter pumpkin seeds over batter, pressing lightly to adhere. Sprinkle seeds with remaining 1 Tbsp. sugar. Bake bread, rotating pan once halfway through, until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean, 80–90 minutes.
  5. Let cool slightly, then run a knife or small offset spatula around pan to help loosen bread. Using overhang, transfer bread to a wire rack and let cool.
  6. Do Ahead: Bread can be baked 4 days ahead. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and keep at room temperature.

Maple Butter

  1. Using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter in a large bowl, scraping down sides, until light and fluffy, 5–6 minutes. Add maple syrup and ¾ tsp. sea salt and beat, scraping down sides of bowl once more, just until incorporated.
  2. Transfer maple butter to a small bowl; season with more sea salt.
  3. Do Ahead: Maple butter can be made 5 days ahead. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and chill. Let come to room temperature before using.

Links

Samhain & Autumn Crafts
All Hallows’ Eve
UUA Samhain
Easy Samhain – Halloween Crafts
Samhain Folklore – Halloween Superstitions and Legends

mabon/autumn equinox

Mabon/Autumn Equinox

Pronunciation: MAY-bun, MAH-bun, MAY-vhon, or MAH-bawn
September 21-24
Themes: harvest, gratitude, abundance, balance, welcoming the dark
Other Names: Autumnal Equinox, Fall Equinox, September Equinox, Harvest Tide, Harvest Festival, Wine Harvest, Feast of Avalon

Mabon at the Autumn Equinox and just like Ostara on the opposite side of the Wheel of the Year, at Mabon the days and nights are of equal length. And is typically celebrated on Sept 22, but since it changes depending what calendar you go buy, the 21st – 24th is acceptable as well. The Equinox occurs at different local times, so that depending on where you live, so it may fall the day before or after the date listed on any given calendar. The autumnl equinox occurs when the sun crosses the equator on its apparent journey southward, and we experience a day and a night that are of equal duration.

Depending where you live, you are beginning to feel it in the air, the end of summer. Temperatures may still be warm during the day, but in the evening there is a coolness beginning to creep in. Leaves are beginning to fall and you may be starting to see some color on the trees. For me, I can even smell it in the air, that earthy smell of leaves beginning to decay and their sugars and organic compounds leave a scent in the air as the leaves break down, creating the classic musky-sweet smell. Mabon is a celebration of life and death, and giving of life again, the cycle of the seasons.  As with Ostara, the theme of balance is highlighted here, reminding us that everything is temporary, seasons will change, and that neither dark nor light ever overpowers the other for long.

This as always a time to express gratitude to our higher power for the blessings in our lives, but harvest festivals especially so because we are receiving the earths bounty with the harvest. This holiday now a days take a moment to rest from our labor and relax, Labor Day.

Mabon was a Welsh mythological figure whose origins are connected to a divine “mother and son” pair, echoing the dual nature of the relationship between the Goddess and the God, Jesus and Mary. Whichever name you choose, enjoy your celebration and give thanks for the bounty of the Earth. Mabon denotes all of nature is in balance. It is a time to reap what you have sown. And giving thanks for the harvest the earth provides.

The colors of the autumn equinox are the colors that represent the autumn season, reds, golds, cream, hunter green, browns, buttery yellows and rich shades of purple! Typical decorations are, acorns, gourds, pinecones, leaves and the cornucopia filled with autumn fruits, winter squashes, late summer/early autumn flowers and nuts.


Candle Magic

You’ll need…

  • An unscented candle in a harvest color— yellow, orange, brown, or in green to symbolize cash in hand
  • essential oil of cinnamon, orange, or ginger
  • Something to inscribe the candle with—a pencil, stylus, etc.

If you normally cast a circle or invoke a diety, directional elements, higher power, etc… before a working, do so now. Using a stylus or pencil, inscribe your Mabon intent on the candle. For example, if you need money to pay the bills, carve that on there in whatever way you feel called to; ie: symbols, words, etc.. it’s the intention that matters.

Once you’ve completed your inscription, anoint the candle with essential oil. Focus your intent into the candle, drawing the abundance of it to you. Clearly visualize your intent and what it will mean to you. How will it change your life? How will it affect those around you? What does it look like?

Light the candle, and meditate on the flame. Continue focusing on your intent, and imagine it building, first as a small spark, and then growing into a large ball of light. Maintain this image as long as you can, and then release it into the candle flame. Make sure the candle is in a safe place so as not to be a fire hazard (a bowl of sand is perfect for this) and allow the candle to burn out on its own.

Mantra

Autumn Leaves Don’t Fall,
They Fly They Take Their Time
And Wander On
This Their Only Chance
To Soar!
@transitionsyoga


Mabon Intention Setting Ceremony

A simple Mabon celebration you can do at bedtime is light a candle, close your eyes and breathe deeply for five minutes, giving thanks for all your blessings. 

Fall Equinox (Mabon) Ritual
For good harvests and rewards ahead:

For this Mabon, or second harvest, ritual, we are going to balance the scales and mirror nature’s own division of light and shadow, which strike perfect balance on the two equinoxes each year.

Gather:

  • One white or cream candle to represent your light harvest
  • A gemstone to represent your light (e.g., selenite, scolecite, clear calcite, quartz, or petalite)
  • Palo santo, copal, or white sage for smudging
  • One burgundy or black candle to represent your dark harvest
  • A gemstone to represent your shadow (e.g., black tourmaline, jet, golden sheen obsidian, or aegirine)
  • A perfume or essential oil blend to integrate your light and shadow aspects

As you gather your Mabon tools, divide them into two sides: light tools and shadow tools. For the first part of this ritual, you will want to keep them separate; later in the ritual, you will be guided to mingle them, acknowledging the intimate dance of light and shadow.

Smudge the items you have gathered, and on the left, or yin, side of your altar, place your burgundy or black candle, your perfume or essential oils, and your gems that represent shadow. On the right (masculine), or yang, side, place your white or cream candle, your gems that represent light, and your smudging herbs. Take a deep cleansing breath and acknowledge on an energetic level that all these tools represent parts of you that need to be integrated into one dynamic whole expression. When you are ready, call upon your spirit guides to help you discern which items on the light side of your altar are ready to be moved to the shadow side, and vice versa. Is your light candle ready to glow upon your shadow stones, or vice versa? As you step forward in wisdom to move items on your altar as called by Spirit, enjoy the liberation that comes from blurring boundaries. You are not just light or just shadow.

Those are easy answers. You are all of it, and more. You are the slippage between the categories we believe are fixed. You are the exception to all the rules. And that is why your magic is undeniable and indefinable.

Once you begin to mix the sides, keep going. In the amalgam, your peace and your deeper purpose reside. Move the stones, the candles, the offerings. When a new balance has been struck, step back and take a closer look at the alchemy of light and shadow, the balance between the hemispheres of awareness. What lessons have been unearthed here for yourself? Take a moment here to breathe, connect, center, and receive messages from your guides. Finally, bring your hands to prayer position over your heart and give thanks for what you have learned. This is the hour of balance, and here you are, in the center of All, right where you need to be. Welcome this moment. Cheers to your balance, your integration, and your health.

Amen, A’ho, So it is.

Excerpt from The Book of Blessings and Rituals by Athena Perrakis, PhD © 2019

“Equal dark, equal light
Flow in Circle, deep insight
Blessed Be, Blessed Be
The transformation of energy!
So it flows, out it goes
Three-fold back it shall be
Blessed Be, Blessed Be
The transformation of energy!”
–   Night An’Fey, Transformation of Energy



Meditation

This is a meditation based on the story of the Mabon in the Mabinogion tale of Culhwch and Olwen, but with an Australian twist. The meditation can be done as a part of this Autumn Equinox ritual or just by itself.

Equinox Meditation

  1. Get in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and open your heart. Place your hands directly on your heart and take a deep breath in through your nose. Allow the air to flow naturally through the mouth releasing all that no longer serves you. Continue focusing on your breath until your mind has settled. 
  2. Reflect on how you can bring in more balance and harmony into your life. Observe your thoughts and listen to the answers. Once the answer is received envision yourself throwing these thoughts into a river and watch them float away. 
  3. Bring awareness to your breath coming in and out. With every breath, you begin to feel more balanced. 
  4. Allow your mind to settle and say out loud, ”Balance and harmony is my birthright and I deserve it. I seek balance and harmony as it is found in the universe. I release what is old and no longer needed. I release what is blocking me from living a balanced life.” Repeat until you truly feel you’ve connected with these words. 
  5. Sit in stillness for as long as you can, allowing some time for these words to seep into your mind, body, and spirit. 
  6. Bring your awareness back to your body and your breath. Allowing yourself to be completely grounded and breathe in the balancing energy of the universe and the equinox. 
  7. End your meditation sending gratitude to the universe and radiate this harmonious balancing energy all over the world. 

Source: The Hoodwitch

 


Autumn Incense & Oils
Think scents of pine, sage, cinnamon, frankincense, sweetgrass, and myrrh!

Mabon Ceremony Oil

  • 1 oz. grapeseed oil for base
  • 5 drops cedar oil
  • 6 drops rosemary oil
  • 1/2 tsp dried marigold
  • 1 apple seed

Crimson Leaves Incense

  • 1 part Red Sandalwood
  • 1 part Dragon’s Blood
  • 1 part Storax Bark

Autumn Equinox Intentions/Activities

  • Do a gratitude practice.
  • Celebrate! This is a time of rest and merriment.
  • Autumn crafts.
  • This is the time to look back not just on the past year, but also your life, and to plan for the future.
  • Find balance, literally, do some yoga and honor balance and movement.
  • Tend your autumn garden bounty. No garden> Visit your local farmers market or roadside fruit and vegetable stand.
  • Meditate.
  • Bake with fruits from the harvest (aka early autumn fruits).
  • Take a hike.
  • Complete old projects.
  • Tell stories around a bonfire, drink hot apple cider.
  • Write down all your blessings from the past year in a journal.
  • Decorate your altar, table or fireplace hearth with acorns, pine cones, seasonal fruits and nuts, and/or a few of the first colored leaves that drop from the trees.
  • Light candles in autumn colors like deep red, orange, brown, and golds.
  • If you are one who struggles with seasonal depression during the fall and winter months, use this time to set an intention for inner peace and strength.
  • Plant the seeds for new undertakings or even a change in lifestyle.
  • Go apple picking. Or visit a pumpkin patch if they are open yet.
  • Clean your house and get rid of stagnant or negative energy.
  • Host a potluck Mabon dinner with your favorite people.
  • Create a gratitude garland
  • In a journal or notepad, answer these questions to the best of your ability: ”How am I calling in balance into my life? How can I be more balanced? What needs to be released in order to cultivate balance? What have I been growing in my garden of thoughts? How does this serve me?” 
  • Make apples into bowls! Carve out an apple so that the filling is gone and all that is left is a thick bowl-shaped apple shell. You can put small plants in these, offerings to spirits or deities, or you can place a candle inside. Put it on an altar or windowsill and it’s complete!
  • If you have food to spare, donate some to a local food pantry. Also, if you have pet food or toys to spare, donate to those to a local animal shelter! Mabon is a great holiday to give back and donating what you can is a wonderful way to celebrate the equinox!

Mabon/Autumn Equinox Crafts



Foods Of Mabon

Vegan Mabon Raspberry Nut Spice Cake with Caramel Frosting

Bake in a rectangle glass pan on 350 for 45-48 minutes

  • 4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 C Turbinado sugar
  • 1 C brown sugar
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 4 very heaping tbsp peanut butter powder
  • 4 tbsp walnuts
  • 1 tsp. Himalayan pink salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp Caramel agave sauce
  • 1 banana, mashed
  • 2 1/2 C almond milk
  • 3/4 C vegetable oil
  • 3/4 small pack raspberries, whole or sliced

Cool the cake thoroughly (about an hour) before putting in the refrigerator (or glass may crack) to chill for an additional hour or two, or overnight, before icing with chilled frosting.

Frosting: Mix with an electric mixer :

  • a stick and a half of vegan butter, then gradually mix in
  • Erythritol Monkfruit Powder until desired creamy texture and flavor are reached.
  • Mix in a little caramel agave syrup at a time, until desired flavor is reached.
  • Frost cake, then decorate with apples, strawberries and caramel agave sauce.

Vegetable Pot Pie

Makes two pies, 12 or more servings

  • 8 medium potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, quartered and finely chopped
  • 3 cups diced vegetables of your choice
    (choose 3 or 4 from among cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, leeks, peas, corn kernels, zucchini, yellow summer squash, mushrooms, kale, etc.)
  • 2 tablespoons unbleached white flour
  • 1 cup vegetable stock (homemade or store bought)
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast (optional but highly recommended)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose seasoning blend (such as Spike or Mrs. Dash)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ cup minced fresh parsley
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • Two 9-inch prepared good-quality pie crust, preferably whole grain
  • 1 cup fine whole grain bread crumbs
  • Paprika for topping

Cook or microwave the potatoes in their skins until done. When cool enough to handle, peel them. Dice four of them and mash the other four coarsely. Set aside until needed.

Preheat the oven to 350º F.

Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat until  golden. Add the vegetables of your choice, layering quicker-cooking vegetables like peas, corn, and zucchini over longer cooking ones like cauliflower, broccoli, and leeks (though none of these are terribly long-cooking). Add a bit of water; cover and cook until the vegetables are tender but not overdone, about 5 minutes.

Sprinkle the flour into the skillet, then pour in the stock. Add the optional nutritional yeast. Cook for a minute or two, stirring constantly. until the liquid thickens. Stir in both the diced and mashed potatoes. Heat through gently. Stir in the seasoning blend, thyme, and parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the  mixture into the pie crust and pat in.

Sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over each pie, then top with a sprinkling of paprika. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden. Let the pies stand at room temperature for 10 minutes or so, then cut into wedges and serve.

Three Squash Soup

Ingredients

  • 4-5 cups of squash (I used acorn, butternut & half a green pumpkin – I don’t recommend green pumpkin lol).
  • 1 cup of milk substitute (I used rice milk, you can use almond or soy)
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 med-large parsnip
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Herb for garnish – I used parsley
  • Maple syrup or agave to taste for sweetness

Instructions: Preheat the oven to 375°. Cut the squash in half, remove seeds and compost them. Also, roughly chop up the carrot, parsnip, onion & celery (feel free to prepare the root veggies from our next recipe at this time to save on energy!).
Fill a 9X13 glass cake pan with approximately 1 inch water and place the squash face-down in the water. Take the chopped veggies, toss with the olive oil and place on a flat cookie sheet in a single layer. Put both squash and veggies in the oven to bake. This could take 45 minutes to an hour and 15 minutes depending on your oven, the size of the veggies, yada yada.

Keep an eye on the veggies to make sure they don’t burn – but you want the squash skin to brown. Once the squash is soft, remove from the oven and let cool just enough so that you can handle them and scoop the flesh out of the shells (but not cold!) & put them into a food processor. I prefer to process the squash first until very pureed, and then add veggies and do the same thing. Add the milk, salt, pepper, cayenne at this time. If you did like I did and let the squash & veggies get TOO cold you can reheat this on the stove or in the microwave. Serve warm with herb garnish.

The Best Pumpkin Muffins – Taken from Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz(I highly recommend this book!!).

Ingredients

  • 1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups sugar (raw sugar)
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp ground allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin (Do NOT use pumpkin pie mix!)
  • ½ cup milk alternative (I used rice milk)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 Tbsp molasses

Instructions: Preheat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease a twelve-muffin tin.
Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and spices. In separate bowl, whisk together pumpkin, soy milk, oil, and molasses. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix.

Fill the muffin cups two thirds of the way full. Bake 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick or knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Harvest Ratatouille

  • 8 – 10 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 yellow onions, chopped
  • 3 large or 4 small zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch thick slices
  • 1 large eggplant, sliced into chunks the same size as the zucchini slices
  • 5 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste
  • Tomato paste, to taste (optional)

1. Heat 5 or 6 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat, add the onions, and saute about 1 minute, until fragrant and softened. Add zucchini and eggplant and saute about 2 minutes, until lightly browned. Add more olive oil as needed if the pan looks dry. Add tomatoes, peppers, and garlic, stirring to combine. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer about 20 minutes, until veggies are cooked through.
2. Take off the lid, add other add-ins, if you like, increase heat to high, and cook for 2 or 3 minutes to evaporate excess liquid, stirring constantly. Season to taste with salt and pepper, add a little tomato paste if using, and stir well.
3. Serve hot, or allow to cool and add a little olive oil before serving. Serves 6.

Apple Butter

  • 4 quarts Apple
  • 2 quarts Water
  • 1 1/2 quarts Cider
  • 1 1/2 pounds Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Allspice
  • 1 teaspoon Cloves

Wash and slice the apples into small bits. Cover with the water and boil until soft. Press through a sieve to remove skins and seeds. Bring cider to a boil and then add apple pulp and sugar and cook until it thickens, constantly stirring to prevent scorching. Add spices and cook until it is thick enough for spreading. Pour into sterilized jars and seal.

Mulled Mabon Wine (alcoholic)

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle of Honey Wine (Mead)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 cloves
  • 3 strips of orange zest (or lemon)
  • 3 oz of Brandy (optional)

Directions

On the stove or in a Crock Pot on low, combine ingredients. Warm to just below boiling (if you boil it, you’ll lose the alcohol) Serve warm in mugs, have alongside pumpkin pie or your favorite fresh-baked gingerbread cookies! For a holiday look, garnish with a cinnamon stick and curl of your choice of orange or lemon zest!

Mabon Mulled Wine (alcoholic)

This makes enough wine for a small gathering or small servings, for more just double the recipe

Ingredients:

  • 750 mL of your favorite red wine
  • 4 cups of apple cider
  • 3 anise stars
  • 1 orange, juiced and zested
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 shot of Drambuie or Grand Marnier

Directions:

Comine all ingredients in a saucepan.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Serve warm or let cool.

Alternate Directions:

Combine all ingredients in crock pot.  Heat on high for ten minutes.  Heat on low for half hour.  Serve warm or cold.



Mabon/Autumn Equinox Links

The Origins Of Mabon

6 Mabon Music Playlists

Mabon Kids Crafts

What Is The September Equinox

lammas

Photo By: Ad Victoriam

Lammas

Pronounced: English – LAH-mahhs
Lughnasadh
Pronunciation – LOO-nah-sa
August 1-2
Themes: first fruits of harvest, gratitude, benevolent sacrifice, utilizing skills and talents
Other Names: Lughnasadh, Lughnasa, August Eve, Feast of Bread, Frey Fest, First Harvest

The feast of Lughnasadh commemorates the funeral games of Lugh, Celtic god of light, and son of the Sun.  In the mythological story of the Wheel of the Year, the Sun God transfers his power into the grain (harvest), and is sacrificed when the grain is harvested.  This grain is then used to bake the first bread from the year’s crop, which in earlier times would then be taken to a church and laid on the altar to be blessed. The name “Lammas” actually comes from this tradition, taken from an old Anglo-Saxon phrase meaning “loaf mass.”

Irish legend has it that the festival originated with Lugh himself, when he held a funeral feast and sporting competition to honor his foster mother, Tailtiu. She had died from exhaustion after clearing the plains of Ireland so the people could grow crops.

It is the cross-quarter day between the Summer Solstice and the Autumn Equinox, and it marks the beginning of the harvest season. The first hints of Autumn are appearing even through the heat of summer. Grains are ready to be harvested, fruit is starting to fall from the fruit trees and daylight is now becoming shorter. In some places you may start to feel cooler evenings and begin to see a leaf or two tumble to the ground as the trees prepare for their autumn colors to appear!

Lammas rituals usually revolve around; harvesting, gratitude, and recognizing the manifestations of our intentions that have unfolded so far during the course of the year. Many a loaf of bread are made traditionally as way to mark the holiday, as it represents bringing the seeds of intention into full fruition. Corn dollies are a traditional craft made from straw. Decorate with the colors of Summer and Autumn; yellows, oranges, reds, greens and browns. Use harvest imagery like weaved baskets and, Summer corn, late blooming flowers of Summer (daisies, goldenrod, helenium, chrysanthemum, aster, black eyed susan, gaillardia, sunflowers, and zenia), stalks of wheat and of course loaves of bread. Spellwork related to securing abundance and a happy home is particularly powerful at this time.

Candle Magic

Materials Needed

  • 3 Orange candles
  • Frankincense incense
  • 3 Pieces of orange construction paper
  • Make 1 bouquets of wheat stems. Tie with string or thin cord.

Take 3 orange candles & pass them through the smoke of frankincense. As you light each candle say; “May this candle bring warmth to my home, light to my heart & prosperity to my spirit”.

On the 3 pieces of orange paper, on one each, write down 3 blessings. Pass each paper through the smoke of Frankincense to bless it. As you pass each through the smoke, say; “Thank you for these blessings.

Fold each piece of paper individually. With a bundle of wheat stems as an offering, tuck each blessing inside the bouquet of wheat. Then pass the entire wheat bouquet bundle once more over the Frankincense smoke and say; “Harvest time comes yet again to bring us food in abundance before the cold of Winter. To keep us happy and healthy, for this I (we) give thanks. May prosperity and peace always find a way to our hearts.”

Let the candles burn down & blessings prosper. Amen, aho, and so it is. (Additionally you can burn the wheat bundle in a bonfire.)

Lammas Ritual For Courage

Materials Needed

  • 6 inch square of orange cloth
  • Red thread or ribbon
  • Pinch of dried thyme
  • pinch of dried basil
  • a few black peppercorns
  • a few drops of orange essential oil

Lay out the cloth and sprinkle the herbs and oil onto it, saying; “The strength of the bull, the daring of the boar. Grant me courage , now and ever more. Grant me bravery in my life each day to follow my own path and have my own say”.

Tie the sachet with the red thread or ribbon and keep it near you, in your bag, in your pocket, or car. *Place it beneath your pillow when you sleep (be careful oil doesn’t seep to your sheets). Every full moon replace the herbs and oil.

When the sachet has served its purpose, untie the knot and bury it.

*Note: keep away from pets

Salt Dough Ornaments

ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour*
  • 1 cup salt
  • 1 cup water

instructions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the flour and salt.
  2. Gradually add water while stirring and mixing to form a dough with a Play-Doh like consistency.
  3. Form the dough into a ball and knead for approximately 5 minutes, adding a bit more flour if the dough is too sticky or a bit more water if it’s too dry.
  4. Place them on a baking sheet in a 150-degree oven. Gently turn them frequently so that they dry out evenly. Baking time will vary depending on the size and thickness of your crafts, so just keep a close eye on them.

Lammas Meditation

The meditation can be done in a group setting, if you wish. You can record the instructions if you like, or memorize them or listen to my audio. This meditation is to help you find out how you can be more productive and creative, so be sure to affirm this to yourself before you start. Find a quiet, undisturbed place.

Sit in a comfortable and supported position.

Relax and begin… 

You’re walking down a country lane, towards the setting sun.  You feel its lingering warmth and see the remaining glow.

It is warm, the insects are buzzing and the air is thick with the scents of summer; the trees, the flowers and grass. Take the time to see what’s around you, hear the sounds of the birds, feel the grass between your toes, smell the flowers in full bloom and sense everything around you.  What animals cross your path? What else comes into your view?

As you move forward relish the solid contact your feet are making now with each step, as you move onto the dry earth of the path… 

You are approaching a field of golden corn. The sun is a huge golden ball, setting over the field. Ahead of you, to one side, there rises a hill, a green hump rising above and just beyond the gold of the corn. Standing near the edge of the mound is a glorious tall, lush oak tree, its branches spread in welcome… When you’re ready, enter the field.

The corn swishes and sways as you walk through it. Approach the tree. The corn doesn’t grow right up to the tree, so there is soft grass at the base of the trunk, you feel it beneath your feet and toes. Now sit with your back to the tree, facing the setting sun with the hill to one side and the whispering, golden corn stretching ahead of you …. 

Ask now for your creative gift. Wait patiently and notice everything you see, feel, hear and sense, however small. When you feel you have received a sign, or feel you need to move on, proceed in your own way with the journey, moving onward over the hill for perhaps more information. Whenever you feel ready turn back along the path through the corn as you walk back into conscious awareness.

Make a note of all you experienced. You can do this visualization as often as you want – your message may clarify over time. 

Lammas Intentions/Activities

  • Gather wheat, gem stones in harvest colors and create a segmented wheel on a round plate or on a table. As you place each item, give thanks for what lies ahead. Include one offering to represent what you need to leave behind.
  • Bake bread.
  • Lammas is a festival of light celebrating the last long days of the year. So, light some candles! Light one in yellow and one white. Let the candles burn until sun down.
  • Gather dandelion blooms and make dandelion wine or jelly.
  • Make preserved or jam from summer fruits.
  • Have a bonfire.
  • Bless and thank your garden. And spend some time caring for it and begin plans to protect it as the cold months are around the corner!
  • Brew beer or ginger beer.
  • Take full advantage of the bounty at the farmers markets.
  • Go apple or berry picking.
  • Pick wildflowers.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • Spend time reflecting on this year so far.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • Make a list of what you intend to harvest this year.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • Make Corn dollies from grasses or grain stalks.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • Create a gratitude list.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • Cleanse your space to welcome the new.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
  • Nourish yourself, in whatever form you choose. Good food, good company, a massage, a bath, crafting; whatever nourishes you as a whole.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Lammas Blessing

At first harvest we gather to give thanks for the abundance we are about to enjoy. These crops, these gifts from Gaia our Mother come to us after seasons of sacred Intention. Our efforts now rewarded, honor earth. As the great wheel turns to brings summers end, I prepare my spirit for harvest and feast.
~ Sage Goddess

Corn Husk Dollies

Materials Needed

  • Square-cut dried corn husks ($7.43 for 6 oz., amazon.com)
  • Yarn or raffia
  • Paper towel
  • Buttons
  • Glue

Putting It Together

  1. Start by soaking the husks in water for 10 minutes, and then blot excess water with a paper towel.
  2. Lay four or six husks (always an even number) in a stack.
  3. Using thin twine, tie husks together, about 1 inch from the top.
  4. Separate husks into equal portions (2 and 2, or 3 and 3), and fold halves down, covering twine.
  5. Using thin twine, tie husks about 1 inch down, creating the head.
  6. Roll a single husk and tie at the ends to make arms.
  7. Position arms below the knot at neck, between equal portions of husks.
  8. Tie waist. For a female doll, trim husks to an even length. For a male doll, separate legs into equal portions. Tie at knees and ankles. Trim evenly.
  9. *For non-binary, let your imagination flow!
  10. To make the hair, glue the yarn or raffia to the heads. Fashion clothes from pieces of felt: Cut rectangles, and snip slits or X’s in the center; then slide over the doll’s head, and secure around the waist with a strip of felt or yarn. (Glue on buttons, and use scissors to make fringe as desired.) Create hats and bonnets by cutting felt to fit, and then gluing in place.

Craft By: Martha Stewart *Added by me.

Foods Of Lammas

A Lammas feast should definitely involve bread, as well as late-summer fruits and vegetables, corn, and other grain dishes. apple and pear trees

Lammas Bread
  • 1 c whole wheat flour or rye flour…or do all regular flour
  • 3 c bread flour plus more as needed
  • 1/4 c toasted sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or caraway seeds
  • 2-1/2 tsp active dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 c scalded milk (optional on the scald…it brings out the milk’s natural sugars, but the recipe works fine with warmed milk)
  • 1/2 c water
  • 3 Tbsp honey

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the honey to the hot milk and stir to combine. Cool milk mix until it reaches 115ºF. Stir milk mix into flour mix. Knead for 15 minutes, adding more flour if necessary to make a smooth, elastic dough. Oil the dough’s surface, then cover with plastic or a damp towel. Let it rise in a warm spot until double. Punch down, then shape into 2 rectangle loaves or one large wreath. Let rise again until doubled. Bake at 375ºF until golden; it should make a hollow sound when tapped. About 30 – 40 minutes, depending on shape you choose. If you’ve got a bread machine, add wet ingredients first, dry second, yeast last. Let it do the work on the European setting, and pull at 1 hour, 55 min, immediately after the last knead. Shape by hand, do the final rise, and bake. 200 degrees internal temperature is ‘done’ for bread. Let cool before slicing.

Yield: 1 large braid or 2 regular-sized loaves

To do a braid, divide dough into three sections and roll them into long ropes. Match at the top and braid downward, tucking ends under when placing it on parchment lined baking sheet. 

Roasted Garlic Corn

Ingredients

  • Unshucked corn cobs
  • A pot of water
  • Butter
  • Minced garlic
  • Salt, pepper, and paprika

Directions

Soak the corn cobs in the pot of water—leave the husk on—and let them sit for an hour or two. This will make the corn cobs nice and moist.

Put the wet corn cobs, still in their husks, on a grill. If you’re lucky enough to be using a campfire, drop them into the white coals on the edge of the fire ring. Turn the corn cobs once in a while, and let them cook for about half an hour. You’ll know they’re done when the husk is dry and slightly burnt.

Remove the corn cobs from the grill and let them sit for a few minutes to cool a little. Don’t let them get cold. Peel the husk all the way back and use it for a handle, or use wooden skewer sticks. Brush the cob with butter, and sprinkle with garlic, salt, pepper and paprika.

Barley Mushroom Soup
  • 1 cup barley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 large carrot chopped
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 20 ounces button mushrooms stems trimmed and caps thinly sliced
  • 3 14.5-ounce cans low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Sourdough or some other bread toasted (optional)
  1. Bring the barley and 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onions, salt, and pepper and cook for 7 minutes. Add the carrot and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6 minutes more. Add the mushrooms, increase heat to medium-high, and cook until they release their juices, about 3 minutes. Add the broth, bay leaves, and thyme and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the cooked barley and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove and discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Ladle the soup into individual bowls and serve with the toasted bread, if desired.
  2. To freeze: Let the soup cool, then ladle it into resealable freezer bags. Store for up to 3 months.
  3. To reheat: Thaw overnight in the refrigerator or thaw partially in the microwave. Warm in a covered saucepan over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Serve with the toasted bread, if desired.
Lammas Brew

Blend together the following herbs:

  • 5 parts Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis)
  • 1/2 part Fennel Seeds (Foeniculum vulgare)
  • 1/2 part Cinnamon Chips (Cinnamomum spp.)
  • 1/4 – 1/8 part Freshly ground Black Pepper (Piper nigrum)

Add 1 teaspoon to 1 cup of hot water. Then add 2 – 3 Blackberries to each cup of tea and allow to steep for 5 – 7 minutes. You can adjust the level of spiciness by adding or reducing the amount of Black Pepper (Piper nigrum) or omitting it all together. Want it more sweet? Add more Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare). No fresh berries available? (That’s a shame.) The tea is still good without them (but really find some berries if you can).  

Lammas Corn Custard
  • 2 c fresh kernel corn
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 1 tsp each sugar and salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 c milk
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter

Mix corn with dry ingredients. Add eggs, milk, and butter. Place in a buttered baking dish, individual dishes, or casserole set in a shallow pan of hot water. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 to 60 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Fun Lammas Links

Lammas Facts & Worksheets For Kids
Lammas Day
Lammas: First Fruits of the Earth
Festival of Lughnasadh

litha/summer solstice

Litha/Summer Solstice

Pronunciation: LEE-tha
June 20-22
Themes: abundance, growth, masculine energy, love, magic. celebrate your success, your family, and your good fortune.
Other Names: Midsummer, Midsummer’s Eve,
St. John’s Day, St. John’s Eve

Litha, or Summer Solstice is the last chance in the year to activate intentions before we move into Autumn and the season of reaping and rest. All four elements are joined together to celebrate the duality inherent in nature, the light and the dark. Daylight is at it’s longest on this day, a day to soak up the sun and nap in the warm abundant energy of the sun, as now our days will grow shorter and become cooler. A time to celebrate the light and the remaining days of summer and tap into our inner power to make dreams and plans come true. Fire plays a very prominent role in this celebration. The element of Fire is the most easily seen and immediately felt element of transformation. It can burn, consume, destroy, cook, and of course, be a source of light and warmth.

In ancient time, the Summer Solstice was a fire festival of great importance when the burning of bonfires, or then known as balefires ritually honored the sun and the Gods. Torchlight processions with flaming tar barrels or by wheels bound with straw, which were set alight and rolled down steep hillsides walked towards the place of the balefire and the celebrants. The Norse loved lengthy processions and would gather together the whole family along with their animals and lighted torches and parade through the countryside to the celebration site to drive out evil and bring fertility and prosperity to men, the last crops of the season and their herds.

This is a celebration of the sun and the warmth that still covers the land. Colors of reds, golds and yellows symbolize this. Colors of greens , browns, and blues represent the colors of the earth during summer. Decorations can include images or artwork representing the sun, colorful pinwheels, sunflowers or other orange and yellow flowers, green leaves off the tree, and oak trees and acorns are associated with solar power, strength and energy, and they also represent the very masculine energy of the Solstice.

In yogic traditions, on the day of the solstice, we practice 108 Sun Salutations. Ultimately, today is a day where to honor the sun.
It’s all about light.
It’s about awakening to the light and power within each and every one of us. It’s about the triumph of light over darkness. Which we need now more than ever.

A Solar Summer Solstice Project

The summer solstice, marks the zenith of the sun, the longest day of the year, when the sun’s power is at its peak. The moment of peak power is very, very brief. Our ancestors built huge bonfires on this day to celebrate their connection to the vital power of the immense burning star that keeps our planet bright, warm, and alive. Hundreds of years ago on the summer solstice, our ancestors sat in sun-drenched fields or on stones as warm as a living body, fashioning small round suns from straw or vines, decorating them with sun colored flowers, honoring the mysterious, fiery light that warmed and brightened their days and made the plants grow that fed them.

The summer solstice is a perfect time to help children make a tangible connection with the earth, to connect with the sun, to invite solar power into their lives. If you and they make a round, golden image while sitting in the strongest sunlight of the year, allowing it to shine on and infuse your creations, you bring that strong, life-promoting energy indoors with you when you are done.

Here are just a few ideas for possible materials to get going. Chances are that the kids will come up with their crafty ideas that will work just as well. The it just should be round and that its colors evoke the sun’s warmth and energy. Try your best to make your images outdoors in the sunshine.

  • Grapevine wreaths make excellent bases, which may then be decorated with fresh or dried flowers and yarn or ribbons.
  • You can home-dye your yarn and ribbon using onion skins to achieve a rich terracotta or golden yellow, depending on how long you boil them in the pot with the skins. Modeling clay comes in many types, some self-hardening or bakeable. Get out the toothpicks, chopsticks, and other carving implements, and make suns with jolly faces.
  • Children of all ages enjoy finding four slender sticks from the yard, crossing them to make an asterisk shape with eight spokes reminiscent of the eight celebrations (festivals) of the year and winding brightly colored yarns and ribbons around and around to make a round variation of the sun. If four sticks are too bulky for small fingers to manage, use only three the solar shape is more hexagonal but still appealing.
  • Poke in a flower or two for an especially pleasing result—marigolds and daisies are the classic sunny favorites.

When the images are finished, you and the children may want to hold them up to the sky for a few moments so that the sun shines on them, before finding the perfect place in your house or outdoors to hang them.

Adapted from: Celebrating The Great Mother, A Handbook of Earth-Honoring Activities for Parents and Children, by Cait Johnson and Maura D. Shaw

Making A Sundial

You can also honor the sun by creating a permanent or temporary sundial.  Sundials are some of the oldest forms telling time as the sun moves across the sky, and they are a wonderful way to connect with the movement of the sun across time. 

To work with the sun, you need a timer or clock that can go off on the hour. You will want to place whatever you are using for your sundial and place it in the full sun. You can do this with something as simple as, a pencil and a paper plate.  Or, you can get more elaborate and plan on carving, drawing or painting a round made of paper, wood, etc.. as your canvas.  Put your dial into an area that gets full sun. On each hour, mark it. Do it in pencil, and then later, you can come back to it and mark it more permanently with whatever craft supply you decide on (paint, marker, etc…).  You have begun your sundial. But, the sun’s position in the sky changes, so to really do this perfectly, you would do this again at the winter solstice.  Draw a line between the marks for summer and winter, and those are your times for the dial.  While it takes you a full season to complete the sundial, it’s a fun and meaningful solstice craft.  If you want to get really fancy, do this at the equinox (either one) and then you can also have a mid point for the equinox.  It’s kind of beautiful to have done this by observing and marking the path of the sun at three integral and sacred points of the year, while honoring the energies of each of those points. This sundial becomes a very special piece on your journey through the solstices!

Candle Magic

Light some candles 🔥 Since the Solstice revolves around the sun, a candle should be lit for the entire day, especially if it is cloudy or raining. Good candles to burn on this day are; sage, mint,lavender and basil scented/oil infused ones. Candle colors of greens, oranges or purples set the theme nicely.

Personally, my favorite way to honor the solstice is a fire burning ritual.

1. On a piece of paper, write down what you’re ready to release. What can you make a conscious effort to shift in your life? How can you dissolve old beliefs or habits to help use your light to drown out the darkness that surrounds us all? How can your inner power be a catalyst for the liberation of all beings?

2. Let it burn. Use a candle or if you have a fire pit or bonfire burning, even better. Put your paper and your intention in the fire. Watch the smoke rise and let it be a symbol of release.

This has always been a simple but powerful ritual. However you celebrate today, there’s no right or wrong way. Show gratitude & appreciation for the life that surrounds us thanks to the sun, and then think about how you’re going to use your own light and power to make this world a better place.

The Summer Solstice Cave Meditation Ritual

You will need…

  • Candle
  • Yoga props, cushions or pillows, something for seated comfort
  • Tastes of the season (fruits, veggies, etc…), enough for you to eat in one setting
  • Florals of the season (fresh flowers)
  • Mirror
  • Journal or notepad and something to write with

This should be done in the morning on Solstice day. Find a protected room or even a closet, where you are completely undisturbed. Create an atmosphere in which you feel comfortably seated and secure. Place a candle (safely) and surround yourself with scents and maybe even a seasonal food that you like. Take a mirror and look at yourself for at least 15 minutes. Ask yourself the question “Who am I”? You can calmly address it to yourself repeatedly. Make sure you stay in eye contact with yourself through the mirror. Write down all of your answers. Then tell yourself that you trust yourself while not losing eye contact. What happens if you can trust yourself? Write down all feelings and emotions that arise. Conclude your ritual by eating the food that you have made available. Be aware of how the sun nurtured it just as you are nurturing yourself, as it was in the womb. And as you feed yourself, thank the sun and yourself for it. Finally, after eating and journaling, emerge reborn from your cave and go ioutside and soak up the Solstice sun!! You can also incorporate this ritual into your routine after the summer solstice in order to build more connection to your inner nourishing power.

Summer Solstice What Should The Future Bring?

What you’ll need….

  • Candle or bonfire (lit)
  • 8 rounded stones or rocks
  • Any other symbols of power or energy to you (see below)
  • Journal or notebook and something to write with

This ritual is performed with fire or with a candle, depending on what’s available. Place a circle of 8 rounded stones or rocks around the fire or the candle, they will represent the 8 sun festivals, the 4 cardinal points and the 4 elements. You can also place other items like flowers or power animal (oracle/totem) cards in or on the circle, whatever feels right for you. Have your paper and pen ready. Before you start the actual ritual, find a space of silence for a moment. Come into the here and now – and let yourself be guided by the power of the summer solstice and love. Then it’s time to reflect. What has happened in the past six months, what do you want to let go of and what are you thankful for? You can write these questions down on the paper provided and then burn them in the fire (or candle). Fire has a very transforming power. Give up everything and let it go – so that new things can emerge from the ashes.

Bath Ritual

It’s time to clear our energetic field, get some relaxation and re-energize! Things to have on hand:

  • Epsom salt (Dr Teals makes a salt that has different essential oils in it, it’s only about 4.99 a bag, you get a lot, you don’t need fancy salt.
  • Essential oils: For this ritual we will use Eucalyptus, lavender, rosemary and orange. All of these are for fatigue.
  • In addition you can also eat an orange and breathe in the peelings. A scented candle works too. While in the tub!
  • Incense help put you create a sacred space.
  • Music, soft instrument that you like. (I like pan flutes, and medieval music!
  • Candles
  • Something to sip on, maybe some sun tea or herbal infused tea.
  • Extras: Any flower petals or herbs and a sachet bag or fabric bag if you don’t wanna clean up a mess. Use any crystals associated with the Summer Solstice like; .
  • Optional: tint your bath water with safe food coloring or a bath bomb, (stain free). If you don’t have these, just imagine the color.

The colors to work with are blues like the sky or oranges and yellows like the sun, your choice! When you close your eyes see the color in your mind, imagine your tub water is that color.

Place a picture in your mind or you can look at a physical picture of one of your happiest days. Breathe in deep and hold it and as you let the breath out imagine all your worries, stress and cares fall off of you into the salt water. Don’t worry your body inst soaking in it, the salt is soaking it up.

As you drain the tub anything negative will go down the drain. EXTRA: A bowl of ice water with some lavender in it, maybe a lemon or orange slice ( keep your eyes closed) put some soft rags in it beside your tub, ring the rag out and place it over you eyes or your whole face.

By: Sage Goddess

Meditation

Sunrise Meditation

One option is to set sacred space adorned with with candles, incense, etc.,  Or you could be present at sunrise at the Solstice hour to do the meditation. Read slowly and reflect. Or you could memorize and meditate from memory and visualization. Or follow my lead…

Take a moment and be aware of where you are. Look around and make note of the space you are in and what surrounds you. How much of what you see is here with you because of sunlight? If you’re in a wood built building, physically connect with the trees that became the the building, even the furniture you sit upon daily. All made possible because of the sunlight that shines down on the trees. If you’re surrounded by a wooded area, look up and see the trees reaching towards the sky, the sunlight! Most of what we need to survive is connected to the sun. The food we grow, the chemical in our body called, serotonin boosted by the sun gives us energy and helps keep us calm, positive, and focused. Reflect on all the sun does for you in your daily life, consider what it would be like if the sunlight were permanently turned off. How much do we take for granted that the sunlight makes possible? Perhaps make your own list of what important things you have been gifted by the sun..

The Meditation

Turn your imagination towards the sun. You can close your eyes or not, you may prefer to see the shadows cast as the Solstice sun rises. Remember a time and place when you enjoyed the warmth of the sun on your skin. When you noticed your skin grow warmer and felt the warm air on your skin. Maybe it was at the beach or swimming pool, maybe it was the surprising warmth in winter as the rays of sunshine enveloped your car. Or when you were out sledding and the sun kissed your cheeks. Remember a special time with you and the sun, even if it was just sitting on your porch on a fall day when the sun broke through the chills on a windy day.

Now, visualize yourself back in that feeling, at that time, of enjoying the sunshine in its glory. Imagine that the sun is alive. Stars have life cycles. They are born, they have long lives, and they die. Is it possible, then, that they just may have a consciousness, too? Perhaps not a consciousness like we know consciousness to be, but unique unto itself. The ancient people believed that the sun was alive. So today in this moment, set aside all the logic you learned in school and believe that the sun is intelligent and all-seeing. Imagine that the Earth, too, has a consciousness, and that she is a child born of the Sun. You, in turn, are a child of the Earth. Without the Earth, there could be no humans. The Sun then would be our benevolent grandparent.

Take a moment to be in these benevolent rays of the warmth of the sun. Feel nurtured. Connect with the power of the Sun while in the protective cocoon of the Earth. Imagine the Sun giving you a tiny, tiny pinch of its power and placing it in your belly (sacral chakra). Wiggle your toes on the ground beneath your feet knowing that you are rooted in the Earth in innumerable ways. Smile. Feel the Sun and the Earth smiling with you.

This new little pinch of power is the Sun’s solstice gift to you. You can use it as you like. You can let it grow and share it with others. You can let it expand around you nurturing your aura. Think of all the ways you could use this pinch of Sun to make your life better. Feed it and let it grow, then give some of it back to the Earth and the Sun. It will have your fingerprint on it. We all have parts of us that can benefit the world and the cosmos. The Sun can help us activate them.

It is time to leave this contemplation but you can take it with you as you go do the things you have to do that don’t feel very magical. Remember the Sun and give your heart to it.

Sunset Meditation

Try celebrating the summer solstice with a seated meditation at sunset. The benefits involved when you meditate, such as calming the nervous system and improving a general sense of well-being, help to prepare the body and mind for a good night’s sleep. Conclude the extended solstice day with a few minutes (or an hour if you have time!) of silence and contemplation for deep relaxation….

Summer Solstice Meditation at Sunset

Summer Solstice Intentions/Activities

  • Bring the power of flowers🌼 into your home. Putting fresh flowers in your living room or using a fragrant garland would also elevate your spirits and inflow a calming positive energy for all family members.
  • Create a Summer Solstice altar, meditation space, prayer space, or simply decorate your fireplace hearth or around your home. Use whatever connects you to the summer sun, your own passion and light. Orange and red candles, gemstones such as; carnelian, fire opal or sunstone. Extra special is to use gemstones designed like flames. Gather summer flowers such as; calendula, sunflowers and roses. They are all associated with the Summer Solstice!
  • Charge your gemstones by summer sunlight. Sunlight just like Moonlight, brings it’s own energy to gemstones. Just bring them in before sunset (a couple hours in the sun is all they need) because after sunset they will begin being charged by the Moon.
  • Watch the sunrise and then watch the sunset.
  • Milk is associated with Summer Solstice and those who are followers of the Fae path will leave milk out for the Fae.
  • Make a Litha decoration from dried oranges.
  • Make or buy sun catchers and hang them!
  • Have an outdoor picnic to celebrate the sun and to welcome the Solstice.
  • Make some sun tea.
  • Make solar water by leaving a glass bowl or pitcher of spring water under the sun at midday for a few hours. Wonderful for plants after its cooled!!
  • Go on a hike.
  • Cloud divination.
  • Make flower and herb infused oils (see more below in links)
  • Make solar fruit water by leaving water with fruits in a closed glass jar for an hour or two in the sunshine.
  • Bird watch.
  • Build a faerie house.
  • Light a bonfire in the morning and keep it attended to and burning all day till sunset.


Foods Of The Summer Solstice

Herbal Lemon Cookies
(Author Unknown)
  • 1 cup Butter or margarine
  • 2 cups Sugar, divided
  • 2 large Eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups Flour
  • 2 teaspoons Baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/3 cup Lemon Grass, Lemon Balm or Lemon Basil  chopped


Cream the butter and 1-3/4 cups sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and herbs. Add to the creamed mixture and mix. Drop dough by teaspoonfuls, 3 inches apart, on a greased cookie sheet. Flatten slightly with a fork or cup bottom. Sprinkle lightly with the remaining sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes or until barely browned. Cool slightly, then remove to a rack.

Vegan Lasagna with Roasted Vegetables
  • 1/2 pounds eggplant (about 1 large or 2 small eggplants), sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
  • 3/4 pound zucchini or yellow squash (about 2 zucchini), sliced lengthwise into 1/4-inch strips
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 10 ounces lasagna noodles (about 10 to 12 noodles)
  • 2 packages extra-firm tofu (about 28 ounces), drained of liquid
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano (or 2 teaspoons dried oregano)
  • 1/2 cups marinara sauce, homemade or store-bought
  • 12 to 15 torn basil leaves (optional)
  1. Preheat your oven to 400° F. Arrange the eggplant slices on a baking sheet and sprinkle them with coarse salt. Allow them to sit for 20 to 30 minutes.
  2. Pat the eggplant slices dry to remove any moisture that has collected. Arrange the zucchini slices on another baking sheet. Brush all of the vegetables with olive oil and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and just browning. Remove them from the oven and reduce oven heat to 350° F.
  3. While the vegetables are roasting, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the lasagna noodles until they’re just al dente. Drain them and set aside. Next, use your hands to crumble the tofu finely in a large mixing bowl. Add in the nutritional yeast, garlic, lemon juice, oregano, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and black pepper to taste. Continue crumbling the mixture with your hands until it resembles ricotta. Check for seasoning and add lemon, dried herbs (if desired), and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Lightly oil a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Spread 1/2 cup marinara sauce over the bottom of the dish. Arrange 4 lasagna noodles over the sauce, and top the noodles with half of the roasted vegetables. Spread half of the tofu mixture over the vegetables.
  5. Arrange 4 noodles and 1 cup of marinara sauce over the tofu. Cover the marinara sauce with the remaining roasted vegetables and tofu. Cover this layer with the 4 remaining lasagna noodles and a final cup of marinara sauce.
  6. Bake the lasagna for 40 minutes, or until noodles are crisping at the edges and everything is bubbling gently. Allow the lasagna to rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Arrange the basil leaves, if you like, over the top of the lasagna. Cut and serve.
Raw Vegan Summer Recipe Fresh Broccoli Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb broccoli florets
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced

Dressing

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Pinch lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon coconut vinegar
  • Pinch black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons hazelnuts, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon basil, chiffonaded

Begin by adding your broccoli florets and cherry tomatoes to a mixing bowl. Now it’s time to make a dressing. In a separate bowl, add olive oil, lemon juice, and zest. Throw in some Dijon mustard, vinegar, black pepper, and salt. Give it a whisk until it’s an almost milky consistency. Pour the dressing over your broccoli and tomatoes, toss with your hands, then let sit for about an hour in the fridge. Add some hazelnuts and fresh basil, and there you have it. A fresh, raw, gluten-free salad for your mouth and your tummy!

Summer Solstice Strawberry-Mint Sun Tea

Ingredients:⠀

  • 6-8 C Water⠀
  • 4 tsp Ceylon OP⠀
  • 2-4 Mint Springs⠀
  • 30 Strawberries, frozen⠀
  • Ice cubes⠀
  • Simple Syrup or Honey to taste⠀
  • Fresh Strawberries and Mint leaves for garnish

The Magick Kitchen⠀
Get the Recipe here:  http://www.themagickkitchen.com/summer-solstice-strawberry-mint-sun-tea/

Rose Petal Almond Ice Pops

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • Petals from 3 organic roses
  • 1 cup rose water
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup chopped almonds
  • 4 ice pop wooden sticks
  • 4 9oz disposable paper cups
  • 4 4-inch aluminum foil sheets

Instructions

  1. Rinse rose petals in a bowl full of water. Drain and chop in small pieces.
  2. In a medium saucepan, over low to medium heat, place rose water, 1/2 cup water and sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add rose petals.
  3. Heat for approximately 3 minutes, do not boil. Add milks and chopped almonds. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from heat.
  4. Pour half cup of rose/milk mixture in each disposable cup and cover with aluminum foil sheet.
  5. Carefully insert a wooden ice pop stick in the middle of each aluminum foil cover.
  6. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until completely frozen.
  7. To unmold the ice pops, run them under lukewarm water for 10 seconds then slide them from the molds.

SUMMER SOLSTICE SPARKLING CHAMOMILE SANGRIA


Summer Solstice Links

Summer Solstice in yogic tradition
Healing Herbs: Learn to Make Infused Oils and Balms
What is the summer solstice? Here’s what you need to know.
Summer Solstice at Stonehenge – English Heritage
Summer Solstice at Stonehenge Live

beltane

Beltane

Pronounced: English – BEL-tane
Other pronunciations – bee-YAWL-tinnuh,
BOWL-tan-a or BELL-tinnuh
April 30 or May 1
Themes: passion, mischief, love, beauty, romance, fertility,abundance
Other Names: May Day, Walpurgisnacht, Floralia, Calan Mai, Beltaine, Beltain

Celebrated on May 1st, Beltane marks the transition point from Spring to Summer on the Wheel of the Year. It officially begins at moonrise on May Day Eve, and marks the beginning of the third quarter or second half of the ancient Celtic year. It is celebrated as an early pastoral festival accompanying the first turning of the herds out to wild pasture. This is a time marking the return of vitality and fertility to both the Earth and the Sun. Blossoms on the trees are becoming fuller and bursting with green, and the young of the wild are beginning to grow up. Daylight longer and stronger as we move towards Summer. Love and commitment are themes this time of year, with many weddings being planned!! Abundance and creativity are blooming as well with spring crafts and making beautiful spaces in our yards to enjoy nature right outside our door.

Mythology holds that the “God and Goddess” come together in physical union at this time, having reached full maturity in their growth over the Spring. It also symbolizes the coming together of masculine and feminine energies at work in all creation. This is when the Goddess begins to step into her Mother aspect, and the God has almost reached the height of his power. Springtime, Rebirth, Maturity, The Return of the Sun (Son), Betrothals, Weddings, etc…. all blending of traditions from long ago from around the world are themes of Beltane.

The ancient Romans celebrated Floralia, and for many centuries the eve of May 1st has been known as Walpurgisnacht in several Eastern European cultures. In England, the holiday became known as May Day. One distinct custom in England and elsewhere that has never died out entirely is dancing around the Maypole—a tall, wooden pole said to represent male virility. Typically, people gather flowers and green branches to decorate the Maypole, or else use brightly colored ribbons. Many schools have Maypole dances still to this day.

Fire is also a big focus at Beltane so much so that many places host a Beltane or May Day fire festival. Because of the earth heating up with the approach of summer and the fact that this a traditionally a very passionate time of year. The word “beltane” actually comes from an ancient Celtic word meaning “bright fire,” so it’s highly appropriate to include fire of some kind in your festivities. If you don’t have the means to build a fire either indoors or outdoors, you can still decorate your with images of fire with reds and orange colored decorations. Other colors to use are greens and colors of nature symbolizing the vibrant fertility of springtime!

May Day

May Day has long been marked with feasts and rituals. Maypoles were the focal point of old English village rituals. Many people woke at dawn to gather flowers and green branches from the fields and gardens, using them to decorate the village Maypoles, floral crowns and other decorations for the yard, gardens and inside their homes.

The May Queen (and often King) is chosen from among the young people, they are crowned and then the merrymaking of a picnic, dancing the Maypole and just enjoying the season and the “blessing of May” begin. Some tradition also had kids delivering baskets of flowers by hanging small baskets on neighboring front door handles. All this is symbolic of bestowing and sharing a focus on new creativity, abundant growth, the bonds of the coming seasons marriages, joys of pregnancies and new birth and springtime that is stirring in the earth and in the world..

St. Walpurga

The early Christian church combined old world traditions and modern Christianity with their own Beltane observances, a service was held in the church, followed by a procession to the fields or hills, where the priest kindled the fire. This as a way of combining tradition with the new faith of Christianity.

Beltane Candle Magic

What you need:

  • a journal and pen
  • candle(s) – optional
  • flowers – optional
  • any kind of floral scent (ie rose, geranium, ylang, jasmine, neroli) – optional

Make your the space you’re in feel sacred andbeautiful in any way that feels right for you. Flowers, diffusing oils, incense, candles, photographs, art, some delicious food, wear clothes that make you feel beautiful.

Cleanse and purify the your space with sage, palo santo or even a mist spray of the equivalent if you don’t like smoke, and then sit and relax. If you have any floral scented essential oils, put some on your heart or heart chakra. Optionally ad you prepare for ceremony, use the oil to anoint specific places on your physical body; wrists, Third Eye, and ankles. You can think of it as “What you do, what you know, and where you go.” Let your breath become slower, let your body settle, let your mind get quiet. Let all the rhythms of your body slow down, and drop a little deeper into the ground.

Bring your awareness to your heart center (chakra) as you breathe; breathe into your heart space, inviting more love in, more beauty, more compassion; breathe out from the heart as you feel that energy expand around you. Continue on like this for a few more rounds of breathe. When we come into our heart space and truly start to connect with its energy we are able to release the ego. In this place fear and judgement cannot exist. Anger cannot exist. Hate cannot exist. We tap into our divine center where love lives strongest. We remember who we are and we release what no longer serves.

Now, grab your journal and you’re going to answer these 3 questions:

  1. How can I create more beauty in my life?
  2. How can I nurture and love myself better?
  3. How can I extend this beauty and love out into the world around me?

Don’t judge, don’t over think. Just answer.

Perhaps this exercise allowed you to shed some light on what your intention may be for this Beltane. Remember, the soil is fertile and the Earth is waiting to receive… what do you want to sow? What came up in your journaling? Be honest, dig deep! Write down your intention.

Now light your candle!

With your intention in mind, start to visualize your intention growing stronger and stronger. Visualize it coming to fruition. How does it make you feel when your intention has come to pass? Let those powerful, positive emotions flow over you and become part of you. You can place your written intention under your candle until it is burnt down.

If you are not using a candle, leave your written intention in your sacred space for the day or all night, or even under your pillow as you sleep. Tomorrow, bury your intention in nature, or in your garden.

To close, send a message of gratitude for all your blessings to your higher power or out into the universe. Give thanks to the Earth who supports and nurtures us. Give thanks to God/Source/Creator etc… for this life you have, even when and if things low or sad. Let your candle burn down. Eat some yummy food. Smell some flowers. And leave an offering to our planet.

  • Planting some seeds a bush, or even a tree that may stand long after you are gone.
  • Leave an offering somewhere in nature (nuts, seeds, apple pieces, orange peels, etc… or fill a bird or squirrel feeder for the birds and wildlife.
  • Get involved in a community garden and pull some weeds or plant some seeds!
  • meditate for 10-15 minutes as you visualize the Earth surrounded by white light. Yep, that simple.
  • Pick up garbage in your community, near the beach, in a park…

Beltane Meditation

Guided Visualization for Spring

Here is a meditation for spring that you use to feel inspired.

  1. Find a cozy spot to relax. Minimize your distractions by turning off your mobile devices and just begin to breathe, slowly and deeply.
  2. As you settle into your space, notice how your breath connects you to your physical body and any sensations you may be feeling, images in your mind, and thoughts you may have floating by.
  3. Take a few moments to think about the energy of creation and how it aligns with the newness of the spring season. What does this time of year represent to you?
  4. Begin to notice how the energy of spring is stirring within you. What needs freshening up in your life? Is there a new project you’re feeling inspired to start? Now that the sun is out, and the birds are chirping, what has you feeling passionate, excited, and motivated in your life? What are you going to create?
  5. Feel your own energy and become conscious of the sensations in your body as you breathe deeply. What are the words, phrases, or feelings that come up for you?
  6. As you think about the energy of spring and how you’re experiencing it internally, ask your Higher Self or Higher Power that this idea, this project, or this plan you’re beginning be for your highest good, and for the good of all who will be affected by it.
  7. Now, imagine yourself going out into this new season and beginning the thing(s) that bring you the most joy—bringing your thoughts and ideas into your external environment and making them come to life. See yourself cultivating and harnessing the energy of spring, both internally and externally.
  8. When you feel comfortable, slowly open your eyes, take out your journal, and make some notes about what you saw, heard, felt, or experienced during this guided visualization.

Meditation By: Tris Thorp


Beltane Intentions/Activities

  • In honor of the sacred nine, ignite a bonfire or fire in a fireplace. In lieu of igniting a big fire in case that’s not an option you can light 9 candles that symbolize the sacred 9 or make a list of 9 things that bring you immediate delight so you can embody joy. Turn to your list for inspiration!
  • Create – Beltane is a festival of the fertility of the Earth, for the fruits and flowers we enjoy at this time of year, and for the miraculous ability of humans and animals to create new life within. You can also harness this wonderful energy by creating something new as a family: planting a garden; writing a story; build something…whatever it is, breathe new life into it at this magical time.
  • Get Outside – this time of year is energizing and restorative, and one way to enjoy it is to stay close to the Earth. Whether lying on your back gazing at the stars or standing in your garden barefoot and earthing. Go camping and build a bonfire, tell stories, watch the sunrise, and give thanks for the gifts of life.
  • After the long winter this is a beautiful time to just let loose. Put on some music and dance, raise some energy and have fun!! Be fearless, spontaneous and silly.
  • Have a party (even if via Zoom, or Teams) gather to laugh and cultivate smiles and joy!
  • Growth! Grow something. Grow anything! Water a house plants with extra tlc. Give your pet some extra love and care. Create art. Ask yourself; where do I need to allow growth in my life or in myself? What drives me that I need more of in life??
  • Set aside a day just to play and have fun with childlike abandon. Nurture your inner child.
  • Breathwork and meditation; Find a guided meditation or download a meditation app such as Insight Timer or Calm.
  • Honor the fire within you – the one that keeps you going, despite anything and everything. You are the keeper of the flame. Light something special and honor your courage to persevere.
  • Revive your motivation. What gives you purpose?
  • For the Celts morning dew is considered sacred. You can honor and celebrate the morning dew by going for a walk at dawn in nature or a garden. Notice the dew on the plants and grass, perhaps wash your hands or face with it. This is the perfect time to embrace the morning dew as it’s not too early for morning walks at dawn.
  • Decorate a May Bush. This can be a living tree or just a branch or clump of a tree brought indoors. Decorate it streamers, ribbons, scraps of cloth, and flowers.

Beltane Maypole

Medieval Celts danced around a pole to have a fruitful planting season, according to the New York Times. Around the 19th century, however, the maypole became a celebration of virtue and maidenhood. In the dance, the wooden pole is decorated with brightly colored ribbons through a folk dance in which dancers weave in and out of each other. The result is a beautiful pattern on the pole, or a hot mess depending on how well the dance was done lol. I have been personal been a part of both the beautiful and the messy!

Crown Of Daisies

Materials:

  • Daisies (or any other flower)
  • Clippers
  • Measuring tape
  1. Measure head for how and where you want your crown to lay.
  2. Cut down the flowers to 5-7 inches long. Take off extra greenery.
  3. Cross one flower over the other.
  4. Take the top flower and wrap it under the bottom and then up to the top again. Bring it down to lay with the first stem. The tighter you do this, the more secure the crown.
  5.  Lay the next flower down close to the second and repeat the process.
  6. When you reach the right length for the shape of the head, weave in the ends of the stems into the first flowers.
  7. That’s it! To create a fuller crown, weave in more flowers. For variation, try varying the flowers for different patterns.


Foods Of Beltane

Strawberry Mead

In it’s simplest form, mead is a fermented alcohol drink made with honey and water. Learn how to make it at home with this mead recipe from Colleen at Grow Forage Cook Ferment.

Small batch mead recipe. The best way to start is on a small scale, and a gallon batch of mead is the perfect size for beginners. This mead recipe features fresh strawberries, but you can easily substitute your favorite fresh fruit. Say, blackberries. You can also use foraged items like linden flowers or blended wildflowers.

Equipment needed:

  • A one-gallon glass jug with a narrow neck for brewing.
  • An airlock with a rubber stopper. You can alternatively use a balloon with a pinhole that is attached to the top of the jug. The gasses will be able to escape through the pinhole without letting any oxygen in. (You can also get the glass jug with airlock together for a better price).
  • A stainless steel pot.
  • A big spoon.
  • A funnel, bigger is better.
  • A thermometer. Just a regular meat thermometer will do.
  • Sanitizer, It is very important that you sanitize everything that will be used prior to brewing.
  • As soon as you add any fruit to mead, it is then called a “melomel,” so that is technically what this recipe is. Feel free to use any fruit you might have on hand, or leave the fruit out completely and just do a straight mead if you’d like. The process is the same either way.When you’ve completed the fermentation process you can bottle it.

Recipe: Will make a gallon of meadPrep Time 10 minutes – Cook Time 10 minutes – Total Time 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 pounds honey (3 pounds is about 1 quart, and will yield a sweeter mead)
  • Champagne yeast (or other wine making yeast)
  • 1 cup more or less organic strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 10 organic raisins
  • Filtered water

Instructions:

  1. First and foremost, sanitize everything that will come in contact with the mead.
  2. Put approximately 1/2 gallon of filtered water into a large stainless steel pot and heat until warm, but not boiling.
  3. Turn off the heat, add the honey, and stir to dissolve. You can put some hot water back into the empty honey container and shake a bit to get all of the honey out.
  4. Use a funnel to pour the honey water mixture into the glass jug (it will not fill it completely).
  5. Add the strawberries and raisins.
  6. Fill the jug with cold filtered water, leaving about 3 inches of space at the top.
  7. Cap the jug with its lid and invert once or twice to mix everything together.
  8. Check the temperature of the liquid; if it is 90°F or less it’s ok to add the yeast. If it’s higher, wait a bit until it cools.
  9. Add the yeast. One yeast package will ferment up to five gallons of liquid, so you don’t need to use it all. I usually use about half of one package when making a gallon.
  10. Cap the jug again, and shake it vigorously for a minute or two. This helps to combine and aerate the yeast.
  11. Attach the airlock to the rubber stopper, fill it with water to the line, and put it into the top of your jug.
  12. The mead should start bubbling within a few hours and the top will get really foamy. Sometimes it foams too much and comes up out of the airlock, but that’s ok. Just rinse the airlock and put it back on the jar. It will subside by the next morning. You will see millions of tiny bubbles coming up through the liquid – that’s the yeast just doing it’s thing.

Now You Have to Wait:

Put the jug in a cool and dark corner and wait. It will take about 6-8 weeks to fully ferment, depending on the outside temperature. It will ferment faster when it’s warmer, slower when it’s cooler. Check it every few days to make sure it is still bubbling. Once it completely stops bubbling, it is ready to be bottled. The mead is ready to drink right away, but will benefit from some amount of aging, as it can be a bit harsh at first.

Beltane Tea

Recipe:
8oz boiling water
8 tsp. green tea
6 tsp. rose petals
4 tsp. Jasmine flower
4 tsp. Chamomile

Steep for 20 min and consume with the intention of honoring your spiritual self. Optional: add honey to taste.

BELTANE BANNOCKs

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 1/2 cup hot water

Directions:

  1. Combine oatmeal, salt and baking soda in a bowl.
  2. Melt the butter, and drizzle it over the oats.
  3. Add the water, and stir the mix until it forms a stiff dough. Turn the dough out on a sheet of wax paper and knead thoroughly.
  4. Separate the dough into two equal portions, and roll each one into a ball. Use a rolling pin to make a flat pancake that is about ¼” thick.
  5. Cook your oatcakes on a griddle over medium heat until they are golden brown.
  6. Cut each round into quarters to serve.

Oats: Money, prosperity, abundance. Salt: protection. Butter: Spirituality, Communication, Reconciliation, Enhancing Energies.

May Day Maple Hearth Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 envelope active dry yeast
  • 1/3 cup real maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105ºF-115ºF)
  • 3 cups flour
  • 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup vegetable shortening

Directions

  1. Dissolve the yeast in the water.
  2. Mix 1 1/2 cups of the flour with the brown sugar, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Cut in shortening.
  4. Add the syrup to the yeast mix and let the syrup dissolve too.
  5. Now add yeast mix to the flour mix; stir.
  6. Add flour until dough is easy to handle.
  7. Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 1 minute.
  8. Cover and let rise for 15 minutes.
  9. Form into round, place on cookie sheet.
  10. Let rise in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
  11. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  12. Bake for 30 minutes.
  13. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped.
  14. Loaf can be brushed with syrup or butter during last 5 minutes of baking.

Note: This bread is quite dry without something to moisten it, so definitely serve it with some vegan butter. Also, your bread will have trouble rising if the syrup is too cold! Warm up the syrup if it has been in the refrigerator, it should be room temperature or warmer.


Fun Links

Fire Starter Sessions Digital and Audio

BELTANE RITUALS FOR EVERY ELEMENT

CRAFT WITH ME! : BELTANE SPECIAL – MAYPOLE MAKING

A Victoria Sandwich Makes for a Merry May

Beltane Cake

May Day Baskets

Bee Reckless Vegan Beltane Recipes

yule/winter solstice


YULE

Pronounced: Yool
December 20-23
rebirth, quiet introspection, new year, hope, setting intentions, celebration of light
Winter Solstice, Midwinter, Saturnalia, Yuletide

Yule comes from the old Norse jól and Old English géohol which was a season of hunting after the harvest was done. This fell in what we now call December. The first recorded use of the noun Yuletide, according to Wikipedia, was in 1475. The Yuletide season lasted from the end of November to the beginning weeks of January but the feast of Yule lasted three days over the Winter Solstice and marked the beginning of the new year. It was and is a time to slow down and reserve energy over the winter season.

This is the Winter Solstice, the shortest day and longest night we will experience in the Northern Hemisphere. Though it’s typically celebrated on December 21st, the exact moment of the Solstice varies from year to year due to a slight misalignment between the Gregorian calendar and the actual rate of the Earth’s rotation around the Sun. It also occurs at differing local times, so that depending on where you live, it may fall the day before or the day after the date listed on any given calendar. That Yule is a fire festival, however unlike the more public community filled outdoor festival of the summer solstice, Yule lends itself to a more private family and close friends type of celebration. Yet like its midsummer counterpart, is strongly associated with fertility and the continuation of life.

From this point forward, the days will gradually grow longer again, until we reach the height of the Sun’s power at Summer Solstice. Although we will still see comparatively little of the the Sun’s light for several more weeks, this celebration reminds us to have patience, the waning portion of the year is over, and warmth, growth, and light are returning!

The early Christian church dedicated December 25th to celebrate the birth of Jesus as well. nobody really knows exactly when Jesus was born. Some scholars think that he was born between 6 B.C. and 4 B.C., based partly on the biblical story of Herod the Great. The name “Yule” actually comes from the pre-Christian festivities of Germanic tribes.

A celebration of the renewal of life, return of light (Jesus). A time to bring family close and celebrate. As a Yule tradition, decorate the hearth, an altar, place of prayer; with evergreen branches, such as cedar, pine, hemlock and spruce, as well as bright sprigs of holly, pinecones, and other festive winter flora. And light the room with candles (to conserve energy of course). Yule and Christmas share the same colors of reds, greens, white, silver and gold. Images of the Sun (or Son of God-Jesus) are a way to honor the return of the light. Those lucky enough to have a fireplace can burn a Yule log to brighten and bring warmth! Interestingly, the Yule log, a decorated tree, wreaths, and even caroling—are actually rooted in pre-Christian culture and traditions. So in a sense, Yule and Christmas are very similar in celebration. In Christian culture we celebrate Jesus and the New Testament, in Norse, Germanic and other cultures we celebrate the coming return of spring and fruitful crops. In Pagan culture, scholars the god Odin, and the pagan Anglo-Saxon Mōdraniht. Later departing from its pagan roots, Yule underwent reformulation, resulting in the term Christmastide (Yule/Christmas).

The Yule Log

Out of the mighty Yule log came
The crooning of the lithe wood-flame,
A single bar of music fraught
With cheerful yet half pensive thought,
A thought elusive: out of reach,
Yet trembling on the verge of speech.

A poem by: William Hamilton Hayne

The Yule Log played an important role in the celebrations of the winter solstice and later Christmas, a large oak log was ceremoniously brought into the house and kindled at dusk, using a brand from the previous years Yule Log. It was deemed essential that the log, once lit, should burn until it was deliberately extinguished. The length of time, varied from region to region, from 12 hours to several days and it was considered ill-omened if the fire burnt itself out. It was never allowed to burn away completely, as some would be needed for the following year. The ashes from the Yule log were often used to make protective, healing or fertilizing charms, or scattered over the fields.

In modern times, the Christmas Tree has been used as a stand in for the Yule Log in some families traditions. Burning the tree in a fire pit on Christmas day. This custom is more as a right of passage to the season and to eliminate the tree in a way other than tossing it in the trash.

People in many countries also serve cakes shaped like the logs and call them Yule cakes. 

Yule Potpourri Recipe

You will need:

  • A cinnamon stick
  • Star anise
  • An orange
  • Nutmeg
  • Cloves

  1. Cut the orange into thin slices.
  2. Bake the orange slices in a single layer in the oven until dry (120 celcius/250 fahrenheit).
  3. Let the orange slices cool down completely before use.
  4. Mix the ingredients in a lockable jar (I just use a mason jar). You can of course customize the ingredients to your preferred scent.
  5. Shake the mixture well and leave to marinate overnight or until your ready to use.
  6. Put the mixture in a cloth or linen pouch.

Mistletoe

Warning: eating any part of the plant can cause drowsiness, blurred vision, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, weakness and seizures. The symptoms are caused by a poisonous ingredient called phoratoxin, which is found in all parts of the plant, including the berries, and is especially concentrated in the leaves. Eating the plant raw or drinking it in tea can cause poisoning.

Mistletoe, or in old English, misteltãn. Mistletoe is also known as birdlime, all-heal, golden bough, drudenfuss, iscador and devil’s fuge. Mistletoe is an evergreen parasite that attaches itself to trees, plants and shrubs, stealing their nutrients and water. This can weaken or disfigure the host plant, and eventually even kill it. It is often associated with thunder, and regarded as a protection against fire and lighting. Druids and Romans both held mistletoe in high regard. These groups believed that the plant had healing powers and could ward off evil. Mistletoe was seen as a connection between earth and the heavens because it grew without roots. Mistletoe is poisonous to humans and animals.

Wassail

Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a wand’ring, So fair to be seen.

Love and joy come to you, And to your wassail too
And God bless you and send you a Happy New Year, And God send you a Happy New Year.
We are not daily beggars Who beg from door to door,
But we are neighbors’ children, Whom you have seen before. God bless the Master of this house,
Likewise the Mistress too And all the little children, That round the table go.
And all your kin and kinfolk That dwell both far and near
We wish a Merry Christmas And Happy New Year.

Wassailing is a very ancient custom that is rarely done today. The word ‘wassail’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon phrase ‘waes hael’, which means ‘good health’. Originally, the wassail was a drink made of mulled ale, curdled cream, roasted apples, eggs, cloves, ginger, nutmeg and sugar. From this it developed into a another way of saying; Salute, Cheers, Happy Yule and Merry Christmas to each other!

Modern Recipe for Yule Wassail
3 red apples
3 oz brown sugar
2 pints brown ale, apple cider, or hard cider
1/2 pint dry sherry or dry white wine
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ginger strips or lemon peel

Core and heat apples with brown sugar and some of the ale or cider in an oven for 30 minutes. Put in large pan and add rest of spices and lemon peel, simmer on stove top of 5 minutes. Add most of the alcohol at the last minute so it heats up but does not evaporate. Burgundy and brandy can be substituted to the ale and sherry. White sugar and halved oranges may also be added to taste. Makes enough for eight. Wassail!

Yule Wreath

A wreath is a circle with no beginning and no end– much like life. They symbolize the cycle of everlasting life. In fact, the Celtic wheel of the year is often symbolized as a wreath made from evergreens. and has been depicted as such for thousands of years.

Wreaths are also a beautiful way of bringing natures life inside. The best way way to find materials for your wreath is to go on a walk in your backyard or a local park or forest and forage for evergreen branches, *holly, *mistletoe, pine cones, and any other seasonal foliage. If you can’t get outside, you can find greenery at a florist. Or better yet, a Christmas tree lot. of Then arrange your foliage in a circular shape, either gluing it to some sort of circular structure, like Styrofoam, and tying it with twine. Or just make a circle with the greenery tied with twine to lay on your table as a center piece around a Yule cake or candle. As you are doing so, reflect on the circle of nature and life.

Yule Tree

The “Yule tree,”, or Christmas tree, is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen species, such as pine, fir, cedar, juniper, or spruce. The tradition has origins with ancient civilizations in the middle east, Asia, and Europe. The modern custom flourished in Germany and spread to other European nations and North America in the 19th century. The Yule tree’s brightly colored decorations and lights (originally candles) symbolized stars in the heavens, spirits of those who died, religious events and figures, and provided edible treats for children. Many families begin their holiday seasons by cutting their own Christmas tree at tree lots or from their own yards, or buying pre-cut at lots. You need appropriate permits purchased from a local Forest Service office to cut and remove a tree from designated areas on National Forest land. They are often decorated with dried fruits to remain on the tree when tossed outside providing shelter and food for wildlife.

Yule Candle Magic

Candles, fire, The hearth all warmth, light are perfect for Yuletide intention setting. You will need:

  • a white, gold, or light green candle.
  • sage or palo santo.
  • charcoal disc.
  • and dried herbs; thyme for courage, hawthorn berries for joy, mint for purification, rosemary for strength.

Twelve hours prior to the Winter Solstice, begin to raise the energy by preparing your sacred space with the sage or palo santo, background instrumental music, decorations, etc… Be still and center yourself, calling upon any guides or higher powers you wish to be with you. Then light the charcoal, place it in a fireproof dish, and add the herbs. Light your candle, and meditate on the flame. Let your mind wander where it will. How do you feel? What do you notice? While gazing at the flame, bring to mind everything that you are nurturing inside of yourself right now. All of the dreams, plans, relationships. truths, art, and love your are birthing into this season. Once you feel complete, blow out the candle, thank the light, and journal.

Family Yule Intentions

Supplies:

• A large central candle
• Smaller votive candles – 1 for each person participating in the ritual
• Matches/lighter

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Gather in a central space in your home.  This should be a place where you can safely light your candles: around your family prayer or meditation space, family altar is ideal (if you have one) or even just at your dining table. Light the larger, central candle.

Begin by talking about why the Winter Solstice is meaningful:
All through summer & fall the days have been growing shorter & shorter. Every day has grown shorter, and the sun is up less & less. Today is the shortest day of the year. We’ve gone as far toward the darkness as we can possibly go. This is the longest night all year. In some places (like the north pole!) it is dark almost the entire day.

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Now, the whole family, together, goes through the house together & turn off every light. Tell the children we’re going to pretend the darkness inside the house, is just like the darkness outside. Leave this one center candle burning & go through the house together and turn out all the lights.

TIP: Carry a flashlight with you to return safely to your gathering place.

Gather back around your candles. Remind everyone: For half the year, day by day, the Earth has slowly grown darker & the nights longer. Now, on the Winter Solstice we’re in almost total darkness. Blow out the last remaining candle.

TIP: Make sure you know where the match/lighter is so you can easily reach them in the dark. Keep small kids on your lap so they don’t get scared when it gets completely dark.

Pause for a moment to reflect on the stillness of the dark. Before you relight your candle, pause for a moment & absorb the quiet & the stillness. Sit for a moment & feel the darkness, its powerful simplicity. Talk about how, at first, the darkness is scary, because we’re not used to it. But darkness is important. We’re all born in the dark, in our mama’s belly. We grew in the dark until we were ready to be born. Just like the Earth–things are growing deep inside the Earth right now, preparing to be born. We need the dark to sleep & to dream. It’s in the dark that we dream up all the new dreams for the year to come.

Before you light your central candle remind everyone: even though everything seems so dark, it was never totally complete. There was always a spark waiting to return. Relight the central candle. Explain on Yule, we’re celebrating this spark. And, the return of the sun! Now that the sun has returned it will continue to grow & grow, and get bigger & bigger. The light is coming back now & one day soon we’ll celebrate spring & then summer.

Tell everyone right now the light is only a tiny spark–the light of the Sun & the light inside us–so we have to help it grow by lighting candles & twinkling lights. Explain: Winter is the time of darkness & that can be scary. And just like the Earth, we all have moments when things seem dark & it feels scary. But the Earth teaches us, no matter how dark it gets, there’s always a spark of light. The light will always return. A new day will always begin. Remind everyone that in the darkness, new dreams are born.

Go around the table & take turns lighting your votive candles from the central candle. As you do, have each person say what they wish for themselves in the new year. What do they wish for their family/community?

Send the kids on a mission through the house turning on all the lights. Turn on every light to drive away all the darkness and shadows.

Blow out the candles, one of the adults goes first, say: May the light of the Yule candles burn in our hearts all throughout the coming year. Blessing of the Season on you all. As each person extinguishes their candle, say: Blessings of the season on you all.

Yule Foods

Traditional Yule foods include festive meats/vegan meats, winter vegetables, and colorful preserved fruits. Yule apples are usually red varieties, and are often preserved in some way. Whole spiced crab apples or sliced and spiced apple rings come in jars, to be served as a side dish or desert. Dried figs and dates apricots, pears, and apples are often served on a platter either as an appetizer or alongside deserts. Nuts are a popular winter snack.  Nuts like; hazelnuts, acorns, and walnuts. turnips, onions, and potatoes store well through the winter so are a popular dish served throughout the season. Winter squashes are a delicious side dish and can be eaten baked in their shells, or mashed. Sweet treats like candy canes, ribbon candy, cookies, and other confections are always included.  Many traditional “Christmas cookies” originated from much older traditions. The Yule log cake is centerpiece has been around a long long time. This is usually a rolled chocolate or vanilla cake filled with jelly or cream. Decorations can be as elaborate as sculpted bark made of frosting or fondant; marzipan sculpted into birds, animals, holly or mistletoe sprigs; or as simple as powdered sugar and chocolate shavings. Fruitcake is another classic, but no one likes it and no one wants to eat it.  It’s basically dried fruits baked in cake batter and often, alcohol. Different cultures carry with them different traditions. You can get lost in google searches with recipes steeped in culture and Yule tradition!

Christmas Vegan Sausage Roast
Chana Masala Spiced Roasted Nuts
Spiced Crab Apples
How To Roast Butternut Squash
Everyone’s Favorite Fruitcake Recipe
Vegan Christmas Fruit Cake
Vegan Egg Nog
Vegan Buche de Noel (Yule Log)

Yule Links

Kid-Friendly, Earth-Friendly Yule Crafts
Dried Orange Ornaments
Ten ways to Celebrate Yule
Birds and animals can enjoy yule tree
DECEMBER, CHRISTMAS AND WINTER HOLIDAY HERBS