Celebrating Fall ~ Mabon Style

Tomorrow is 2021’s Autumn Equinox but you wouldn’t know it around here. We’re having our usual late-in-summer Summer by ushering in a heat wave. (Not that I’m complaining.)

Mabon’s predecessor, Michaelmas, came about as a recognized holy day during harvest season as a means of subverting the Pagan harvest traditions by entrenching them in church doctrine. In 1011 the Christian church established September 29th as the feast of Saint Michael, to honor the protecting archangel as the leader of God’s heavenly host of angels, and to honor his triumph over Lucifer. Michaelmas evolved from a feast day into a day of conducting serious end-season business. In the 20th century, as Protestantism became dominant, Michaelmas then became England’s Harvest Festival. On this day farmers bring in baskets of their bounty to local parishes, where vicars bless the crop, and the baskets are then delivered to local food shelves and families in need. Harvest Festival remained a Pagan tradition, and Michaelmas often served as a Christian mask for the preservation of ancient practices.

Like the Spring Equinox, Autumn Equinox (Mabon) is that time of year when the day and night are of equal lengths. It marks the beginning of the dark phase of the year: the first day of Fall. This holiday is when we honor the Goddess as she enters cronehood. A day to reflect, remember, and look within. Even in today’s hectic world it’s important to set everything on pause for just a moment. Go somewhere quiet and take a deep breath – outside in nature, if possible. Close your eyes and reflect on all you’ve accomplished this year and the blessings received. Your life IS bountiful so take this opportunity to give thanks, for Mabon is known as the “Witches’ Thanksgiving”.

Ceremonies involving the spirit world are also observed, for the veil between the living and dead is gossamer thin. In Ireland, people would make pilgrimages to burial grounds and pay respect to the deceased – which sounds similar to the Mexican holiday Día de los Muertos celebrated on November 1st. You don’t have to travel to your loved one’s grave to honor them – and you certainly don’t have to be Irish! Set out photos of those who have passed – perhaps light a white candle – and raise a glass of wine (or spiced cider) to each, while remembering how much you loved them and how much love they gave you in return.

In Ireland they believe it’s bad luck to eat blackberries after Mabon, so wines made from any other berry are permissible to consume including heather wine which is made from a flowering plant.

Goddesses: Morrigan, Morgan, Persephone, Hecate, Lilith, and Pomona
Colors: Red, orange, russet, maroon, brown, gold, and black
Incense: Cinnamon, sage, clove, pine, and myrrh
Stones: Yellow agate (joy and prosperity), amber (protection and positive energy), cat’s eye (luck), and sapphire (psychic protection and wisdom)
Decorate your altar (or table) with pumpkins, gourds, pine cones, acorns, corn husks, vines (such as ivy), dried seeds, and horns of plenty.
Traditional foods include breads, nuts, apples, pomegranates (symbolic of Persephone), and fall vegetables such as potatoes, carrots, and onions. Don’t forget the wine!
I made Mabon Apple Cake (recipe below) for the first time last night and it is the bomb!! A snap to make, too.

⛤ Mabon Blessings to you and yours. ⛤

Mabon Apple Cake

2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups finely chopped apples* (about 6 big apples, Jonagold is recommended)

Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease and flour a 13 × 9-inch pan.
In a large bowl mix together the sugar, oil, eggs, and vanilla with a spoon until smooth.
Add the flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon, stirring just until blended.
Mix in the apples. (This batter will be stiff. I had to switch from spoon to my hands to incorporate the apples.)
Spoon into the prepared pan and smooth the surface.
Bake 40 to 60 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean and the edges are beginning to pull away from the pan. (Start testing at 40 minutes but don’t overbake.)
Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack.

This is a moist, delicious cake that keeps well at room temperature.

Recipe courtesy of llewellyn.com

I served it up warm with a drizzle of half-and-half but it’d be great topped with whipped cream OR Talenti Madagascan Vanilla Bean ice cream.

*Next time I’m substituting one of the apples for a mix of raisins and chopped pecans.

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Celebrating Lughnasadh

August 1st marks the beginning of the harvest where we begin to harvest what we have sown. Lughnasadh (or Lammas) is the first of three Wiccan harvest festivals observed – the other two are Mabon and Samhain. (It seems like only yesterday we were celebrating the Summer Solstice…)

Today at the Sunnyvale Farmers Market, we overheard C-Farms saying that it was the “end of tomato” season. They grow the most amazing varieties of tomatoes. Huge tables filled with regular and cherry-sized tomatoes dominate their stand every Summer. Today there was only two tables. Every year I look forward to the corn and melons at Pinnacle and the tomatoes at C-Farms. The end of Summer is upon us and I’M NOT READY!!!! Dammit.

Still, there was plenty of Summer’s Bounty and we took advantage of it.

The melons and squash will get eaten straight away, while the Heirloom tomatoes will become “The Mothership“. The organic (Did I mention everything here is organically grown? Well, now I have.) corn will be roasted and frozen for use during the “off-season”. Same goes for the tomatillos, although I may reserve some for salsa.

It is this time of year, late Summer, when the Earth is overflowing with abundance, warm sunshine, and Magick. Express your gratitude for those who labor to grow the food you eat; and if you have a backyard bounty of your own, share your food with others. This year, lughnasadh falls on a Sunday which is ruled by the Sun. Make a point to go outside and lift your face to its healing rays and smile. It’s a day for healing and miracles.

The planet does nothing but support us and we are constantly committing crimes against nature.
– Daphne Zuniga

As you thank Mother Earth say a healing prayer, as well, for her health affects all life here. You may want to invoke Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest who presided over the fertility of the earth.

Let us take nothing for granted.

Blessed Berry Lemonade

½ cup honey
1 cup lemon juice
3 lemon chamomile tea bags (I don’t care for chamomile so I will be substituting green tea)
2 cups blueberries
6 cups water

In a small saucepan, dissolve the honey in lemon juice over low heat. Place tea bags in a blender and pour lemon juice over them. Allow to steep for 9 minutes. Remove tea bags and puree with blueberries and water. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Serve over ice.

Serves 8

Recipe courtesy of llewellyn.com

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Well if it isn’t that time of year already…

it’s the frickin’ Summer Solstice. The day when we in the Northern Hemisphere experience the longest period of daylight. YAY! (The downside is that the days start getting shorter from here.)

It’s also Father’s Day. A shout-out to all the Dads around the world – hoo-man or otherwise!

I’m celebrating this “official start of Summer” with a glass of Elderflower Peach Sangria – my own concoction and very refreshing on a hot day. (Recipe below.) À votre santé!

I just ventured downstairs to get a refill. Seeing Ramses’ behavior at the back door tipped me off to the fact that Hayley is running around the Concrete Jungle having a good old time (and driving the cat crazy…) – she’s celebrating the Summer Stolstice, too!

Hayley, won’t you come out.
– “Hayley” (ONOFF)

Anywho, I pulled a 2-card spread this morning. The first card, the 5 of Skulls (Pentacles), represents today’s Summer Solstice:

While the second card, The Hanged Man, spoke to a more personal question:

Notice how the first card is highly suggestive of this scene from Francis Ford Coppola’s production of Bram Stoker’s Dracula(1992):

The message gleaned from both cards is this: Surrender. Go with flow and know that you’ve done all you can. Fate lies with the Universe.

Indeed. Let’s raise a glass of cheer today and revel in the beauty of the season. Let your heart fill with the warmth of the Sun and KNOW that the Universe will spread your warmth to all creatures throughout the World.

Elderflower Peach Sangria

1 bottle white wine
1 ripe peach, cut into small pieces (I leave the skin on)
1/2 cup Elderflower liqueur
1/4 simple syrup (or Agave)
1 cup fizzy water

Muddle the peach slices in the bottom of a glass pitcher. Pour wine, Elderflower liqueur, simple syrup/Agave, and fizzy water on top. Stir and chill. Note: The color of the sangria will turn a beautiful pink color the longer it sits, and when all the sangria has been consumed I don’t waste those pieces of peach! They are full of sangria goodness so I spoon ’em up and eat ’em!

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One Year Later…

May 30, 2020 marks the day I returned home. It’s very warm today (87°) so I’ve got my mini fan on here in my room. I’m enjoying a Gin & Tonic à la Chez Rock Vixen (Recipe below) and watching Dean and Nala (Nala’s World: One Man, His Rescue Cat, and a Bike Ride around the Globe) cycle around the Danube.

Reflecting on this past year, I am torn between being thankful for the first stimulus check (It enabled me to rent that POD; otherwise I might never have made it back home…) and despising the evil that’s permeating this planet like a smallpox-laden blanket.

v. to look down on with disrespect or aversion; to regard as negligible, worthless,
or distasteful

Fortunately, both Tim and I are of like mind and are pretty much saying “Fuck Them and Fuck That” to their pathetic push to coerce us into getting jabbed. In addition to the transparency of their tactics, these jabs (like the flu vaccines) contain GENETICALLY MODIFIED DNA. That’s what the “R” in mRNA stands for: Recombinant DNA Technology. “Recombinant DNA technology is the joining together of DNA molecules from two different species.” Anyone who knows me very well knows I am averse to genetic engineering. If I don’t want to ingest GMO why on Earth would I allow someone to inject me with that shit? Then there’s the subject of blood clots, organ failures, DEATH… (Do ya feel lucky, punk?)

Yeah, Fuck Them and Fuck That!

Anyhoo…a big thank you to Uncle Sam for the $1200!

I had meant to post more photos of my Ensuite Bedroom but lagged. (I promise to do that REAL SOON.) In lieu of that, how ’bout some videos of the wildlife around here (of which both Ramses and I are enjoying immensely)?

There is a pair of robins who have been visiting the Concrete Jungle regularly scrounging for seeds jettisoned from the bird feeder. I’ve named the male “Rock” and the female “Robin”. (Get it? Rock & Robin.) Anyhoo…I caught Rock stealing some coco fiber from my planter. My assumption was that he was going to woo Robin with his choice of nesting material.

Apparently she approved of his choice because right after I took the video, they engaged in “avian coitus” on the fence.

A family of geese have have staked out the complex as their home base.

Yesterday they meandered by the front door, stopping at the apartment kitty-corner to the right of us for morsels of bread being handed-out by our neighbor. One gosling even took a piece from his hand! Needless to say, I grabbed our supply of corn (ORGANIC, of course) and headed-out the front door. They were happy to see me.

– and Ramses was fascinated by them. (What ARE those thimgs?)

Gin & Tonic à la Chez Rock Vixen

Bombay Sapphire Gin
Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic Water
Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters

Place two ice cubes in glass. Add jigger of Bombay Gin and enough tonic water to cover ice. Finish with 2-3 sploshes of Lavender Bitters. Prendre plaisir!

See ya later, alligator!

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April 5th is National Dandelion Day

Ah, the lowly dandelion. It’s not “just a weed” anymore. In fact, it’s really not a weed at all! For most a weed is characterized as any plant that a gardener feels is an unwelcome and annoying plant in the garden. For example, ornamental grasses (such as Pampas grass) spread their seeds far and wide and having them pop-up in your yard without notice might get them labeled a weed – and promptly removed. However, biologists have an alternate definition for weed:  Any species, not just plants, that can quickly adapt to any environment. So basically, determining that something’s a “weed” is more an individual opinion rather than a hard-and-fast rule.

The word dandelion comes from the French “dent de lion” meaning lion’s tooth, which refers refers to the plant’s jagged-edged leaves.

It belongs to the family Asteraceae, alternatively Compositae, which consists of over 32,000 known species of flowering plants in over 1,900 genera within the order Asterales. It’s more commonly referred to as the aster, daisy, composite, or sunflower family.

Most species of Asteraceae are annual, biennial, or perennial herbaceous plants, but there are also shrubs, vines, and trees. The family has a widespread distribution, from subpolar to tropical regions in a wide variety of habitats…and are found on every continent but Antarctica.

Asteraceae is an economically important family, providing products such as cooking oils, leaf vegetables like lettuce, sunflower seeds, artichokes, sweetening agents, coffee substitutes and herbal teas. Several genera are of horticultural importance, including pot marigold (Calendula officinalis), Echinacea (coneflowers), various daisies, fleabane, chrysanthemums, dahlias, zinnias, and heleniums.


Cooking with Dandelions

Similar to arugula in that they are slightly bitter and peppery, raw dandelion greens are packed with iron and are high in Vitamins A, B, C, and D. Leaves can be added to salads, as can the flowers themselves. You can substitute dandelion greens in recipes that call for kale, chard, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, or beet greens. Dandelions are used in making wine and tea, and Native Americans used them for medicinal purposes. As with most greens, the plant leaves are best when they are young and tender. Ideally, gather dandelion leaves before the plant blooms as they will become increasingly bitter and tough.

Caution:  When harvesting dandelions, make sure they have not been treated with pesticides, herbicides, or non-organic fertilizers. Organically-grown dandelion leaves can sometimes be found at Farmers’ Markets and some natural food stores like Whole Foods.

Dandelion Syrup/Honey
Fried Dandelion Blossoms

Sauteed Dandelion Greens with Eggs

Pink Dandelion Wine

Grandma’s Dandelion Soup

More dandelion recipes here.

Bon appétit!

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