10 Ways to Use Pumpkins in Witchcraft

Long before Cinderella’s fairy godmother sent her bewitched pumpkin carriage careening towards a royal party under a reckless magic spell, this mythical fruit vined its way into the legend of witchcraft.

Here are a few ideas to bring this classic spell ingredient into your magical practice.

10 Ways to Use Pumpkins in Witchcraft

Dry roast the seeds and toss them in a mojo bag for prosperity.    The fertile abundance of seeds inside a pumpkin perfect for success mojo bags.

Use your jack-o-lantern to chase away negative energy.  Did you know jack-o-lanterns were originally carved to chase away demons?  In the spirit of this tradition, burn a charcoal disk with protection herbs like rosemary to turn away negative energy at the doorstop.

Bury your kid’s spent pumpkin in the garden to “fertilize” a wishing spell.    Never know what to do with your kid’s jack-o-lantern once Halloween is over?  The pumpkin’s magical lore makes it “ripe” for wishing magic.  Have your child write a goal for the springtime on a piece of (natural) paper, and bury it in the garden to bless his/her endeavors.   Kids move so quickly from one phase to the next, seeing their “wish” come up in the spring will remind them of how far they walked since the beginning of the school year!

Boil your cauldron.  If your kitchen-witchy, make a batch of crock pot pumpkin soup
Be sure to include plenty of “heart-warming” magical spices like chili powder or cumin.  Stir it clockwise four times and bless it for strong ties between family and friends.  Then serve it to everyone!

Leave it as an offering to the woodland spirits.  Samhain is a time to honor those who came before you. Once you’re finished with your pumpkin, take it to woods and leave it as an offering to your ancestors.   It also makes great deer food!

Use it in a group Samhain ritual.  Hollow out and carve a large pumpkin with symbols sacred to your tradition.  Light a candle inside, go around the circle and talk about your year together as a group or coven.  Discuss any remaining tensions, write them down and then agree to let them go with the start of the new Wheel of the Year.  Place a candle inside the pumpkin lantern, and one by one, burn the paper.  Watch it go up in smoke and let go. 

Save the stems.  The stem dries out and cures pretty quickly.  Leave it with your magical cabinet to boost wishing spells or prosperity spells during the next Wheel of the Year.

Draw out your inner beauty.  Mix 1/4 cup pumpkin puree with a splash of apple cider vinegar and an egg.  Use it as a mask to bring out the “enchanting” side of your inner beauty.

Place a pumpkin near your creative work space for inspiration and brainstorming.  Pumpkins connote fanciful thinking and fairy tales.  Use this energy in your work space to break out of box thinking and reach deeper.

Make a bird feeder to connect with the spirit of fire and air.  Invite winter-friendly birds near your home by making a bird feeder out a your pumpkin.  When you notice a bird near it, say a blessing and send him off with to carry a wish or prayer skyward!

 

 

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Mabon with a Kitchen Witch: 10 Traditional Foods for the Fall Equinox

Planning to celebrate Mabon with a traditional meal?  Try including some of these traditional, homemade, from scratch foods to bring the spirit of the season to your table.

For many more ideas on how to celebrate Mabon, check out this link.

mabon with a kitchen witch

Apple crumble.  If one symbol dominates the holiday of Mabon in North America, the apple wins!   Nothing ushers the essence of fall into your home like the sweet, warm awesomeness of a well-baked apple crisp Feature it in this traditional recipe for apple crumble.  On that note, take a moment to learn more on the significance of apples in witchcraft.

Sweet potato mash.  No need for a recipe, this one makes itself.  Just pop sweet potatoes in the over for 45-50 minutes at 400 degrees.  If you want to step it up, add maple syrup and butter.  Amazing.  Bonus:  you can make this up to two weeks in advance and freeze them for a no-fuss side dish.

sweet potato mash

Pumpkin seeds.  If your grocery started stocking the first of this season’s pumpkins, pick one up to gut and use those seeds.  But take caution: roasted pumpkin seeds disappear quickly!

Chai tea.  While not itself traditional to neopagan traditions, the typical recipe for spice chai tea usually includes many of the traditional fall equinox ingredients used in Mabon spell craft, like cinnamon, ginger and cloves.

cahi tea

Ground turkey balls.  While roasting a whole bird might not be practical for the average solitary practitioner, ground turkey balls freeze well and be made ahead to heat up on Mabon, which is especially helpful if Mabon happens to fall on a weeknight.

Brandied cranberries.  If you like to get fancy, brandied cranberries make for an elegant twist on the more typical cranberry sauce.

Green beans.  If you already canned some, consider Mabon the time to break your first seal.  Or, if you live in a region where green beans still arrive fresh at the market, fry them in garlic, butter and sprinkle some red pepper flakes on them to “heat up” a lively dinner conversation.

green beans

Spice cookies.  Remember these?  Nothing conjures the thrill and excitement of the imminent fall season like a fresh batch of gooey spice cookies.  They make a lovely addition to a group ritual as an alternative to the cake in the “cakes and ale” portion of the ceremony.

Corn on the cob.  If you haven’t yet experienced the magic of wandering through a corn field to gather your own fresh corn on the cob right off the stalk, go!  Before it’s too late!  And if you’ve already got Samhain on your mind, make it spooky by watching Children of the Corn before you do it!

corn on the cob

Spiced pears.  One lesser used but uniquely wonderful dish for Mabon takes the form of the spiced pear.  Make it as a (slightly) healthier alternative to heavier desserts.

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Lammas with a Kitchen Witch: Blackberry Bruschetta

Not a fan of baking the lammas bread from scratch?  There are still lots of creative ways to honor the holiday in your kitchen.

Lammas traditionally celebrates the grain harvest.   Any bread-based meal captures this spirit nicely.

This year, my favorite idea is blackberry bruschetta.

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It’s pretty simple.

Start with a nice, crusty loaf of french bread.

I like to get my french bread from a local bakery or the farmer’s market.

french bread

While you’re at the farmer’s market, pick up some big, juicy blackberries (or, even better, find a “pick your own” farm and gather them yourself!)

Because it ripens on the vine pretty close to Lammas in many growing regions in North America, blackberries associate with the holiday quite naturally.

More generally, use them in kitchen spells for prosperity and abundance—-the many tiny seeds on berries symbolize future growth.

blackberries

I smashed one berry per slice a bread and rubbed it on the surface to go under the cheese, kind of like the same concept as pizza sauce.  I enjoyed getting my hands sticky and making a mess like a little kid lol.

(Be warned:  you will stain everything you touch.  But for this reason, blackberries make a nice natural dye.)

blackberry bruschetta smash

smashed blackberries on bruschetta

You might not imagine blackberries work well in savory dishes, but the acidity blends nicely with Italian cheeses and herbs.  Lucky for me, this time of year, my garden bursts with lush green, fresh herbs, so went out to grab some.

(Even the oppressive humidity in the part of the country comes with an upside—-gorgeous summer herbs!).

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In particular, my basil came up nice this year.

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Basil embodies some interesting symbolism in folklore around the world, but I especially adore Italy’s antiquitous custom of leaving a pot of fresh basil on the windowsill to signify the occupant’s “openness to romance.”

Dried basil often finds its way into traditional Lammas incense blends and makes a nice stand-in for fresh flowers on the altar.  If you buy it at the market, put the left over stalks in the vase to fill the room with its fragrant, sunny aura.

I layered fresh graded cheese and garnished with a half blackberry per slice, popped it in the oven to broil lightly, and then finished it off with the basil leaves.

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Yum.

Hope this gives you some inspiration for your own Lammas kitchen witch creations!

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Litha Altar

IMG_0587Getting ready for my favorite Sabbat of the year.

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Oak leaves for the Oak King.  🙂

green oak leaf on wood

Pretty cool chalice, huh?

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Wishing you and yours a happy Litha!

Blessed be.

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40 Ideas for Your Handfasting

Planning a handfasting?

Don’t want it to look like a cross between a goth convention and a renaissance fair?

Or maybe you’d like to include a few subtle pagan touches to your traditional wedding that your pagan friends will understand, and your other guests will probably miss entirely?

Here are some modern ideas for the chic witch.

40 elegant ideas for your pagan handfasting

Consider a candlelight-only ceremony.   Nothing creates an ethereal, “elevated” atmosphere like candlelight.  Consider cutting electric lights and using lanterns and candles alone to light your ritual.

Choose your color schemes with magic in mind.  It need not be as obvious as “red for love.”  Perhaps you choose deep purple because you feel a psychic bond with your partner, or emerald green because your connection feels “earthy” and honest, or a deep yellow because you share an air sign.

Fill cauldrons with fresh wildflowers and floating candles to use as centerpieces or table decor.  It doesn’t have to be a super-witchy, Halloween-inspired affair.  Dutch ovens in french country blue are lovely for a rustic theme, for example.

wildflowers and floating candles

Carry a bouquet of herbs.   Botanical herbs make gorgeous bouquets and they smell amazing,  Choose local, in-season herbs with meaning for marriage, like rosemary for love, life-everlasting for longevity, or dill for marital passion.

If your ceremony is seated, leave scrolls with a prayer or chant on the chairs for your guests to repeat at some point during the ritual.  The united voices of all your loved ones blessing your relationship adds a powerful emotional and spiritual element to the ceremony.  (Better for full-on handfasting where all the guests are comfortable with full rituals).

Speaking of seating, try a spiral seating arrangement.  Aside from very unique advantage of letting everyone have a front row seat to the aisle march, the spiral subtly symbolizes the feminine divine as well as the lifelong inward journey of relationship commitment. 

Mark your circle with something beautiful.  Wherever you plan to stand for the ceremony, make a fuss about marking the border of where your clergy will cast the circle.   Be creative.  Here are some examples:

-For a spring or summer handfasting, ring the circle with fresh wildflowers.

handfasting circle

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circle of flowers

-For a fall handfasting, use autumn leaves, acorns and harvest fruits.

-For a winter handfasting, play with evergreens, pine cones, and molded ice create a wonderland feel.

-For a seaside handfasting, arrange seashells, hurricane lanterns, or nautical rope.

-For vineyard weddings, use grapes or grapevine.

Choose a dress with a connection to your ancestry.   Was your mother born in Mykonos?   Pay homage to her homeland with a drape-y Grecian gown.   Irish roots?  Try a delicate dress of intricate lace.

Give your handmaidens something inspired by your tradition as gifts (especially if many of them are also in your coven).  Here are some ideas:

-Gift certificates for a tarot reading.  Most tarot readers will be happy to creative gift certificates for bridesmaids or handmaidens even if they don’t normally offer them.

-A sachet of herbs blended for friendship and sisterhood.

-Rose quartz earrings or necklaces (symbolizes love in friendship).

-A bottle of herbs steeped in high-quality olive oil.  Choose herbs for friendship, loyalty or bonding.

-Personalized spell kits (baby blessing for the pregnant handmaiden, home blessing for the new home owner, passion spell for the newlywed in your circle, ect)

Give out mini smudge sticks to your guests as wedding favors or to use during your send-off. 
Floral ones like these are especially lovely for handfastings.

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floral smudge

handfasting smudge

Feature the Elements.   Be creative.  If you think about the setting and mood, a few obvious options will likely leap to mind.  Consider the following examples:

-Hang wind chimes from tents (Element of Air)

-Use elegantly potted herbs as centerpieces at garden handfasting (Element of Earth),

-Have a fire pit at the reception of a backyard handfasting (Element of Fire)

-Use floating candles in your centerpieces (Element of Water and Air)

-Release butterflies during the ceremony (Element of Air)

-Feature exotic seashells in the bouquets of a beach wedding (Element of Water).

-Give your guests bubbles to blow for your send-off (Element of Air).

-Give your guests sparklers for your send-off (Element of Fire).

Begin your reception with a traditional cakes and ale.  Instead of serving cake at the end, start your reception with dessert.  Serve mini cakes with ale during the toasts.

Tie cloth napkins with love herbs or spices.  Rosemary or thyme are both nice, subtle  love symbols for spring and summer months, or cinnamon sticks for winter and fall.

handfasting place setting

Serve seasonal, local food.  Farm-to-table catering provides earthy, delicious food that is connected to land around you.  I can’t think of anything more pagan than that.

Let your handmaidens/bridesmaids wear flower crowns instead of carrying bouquets.

Make lavender-filled sachets for your send-off (or let me make them for you!).  You will never forget running through a cloud of lavender.  This classic love herb smells amazing!

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Faerie Cakes with Candied Violets

Spending Beltane in the kitchen this year?  Make it magical with these charming little faerie cakes.

beltane candied violet faerie cakes

Whimsical yet elegant, candied violets make a striking addition to love spells, wishing magic and faerie rituals.

Use candied violets in faerie cakes for a spring ritual, a “dressed up” cakes and ale or to serve at any spring gathering — especially Beltane!

beltane faerie cake

The best part is, they’re practically free!  If you’re in the Eastern US and you haven’t put down pesticide this year on your lawn, there’s a good chance your yard or a nearby one has wild violets in abundance.

violets

Go spend some time outdoors, bring a basket and gather those little beauties up for a Beltane with a splash of purple.

wild violet

Gather a clean, washed, dry paintbrush with a fine tip, an egg white, and some sugar.

eggs, paintbrush, sugar

Start by gently washing the violet blooms.  A spray bottle and a strainer work well for this, but be careful!  Even for flowers, wild violets are delicate!

washing violets

Allow them to dry on a paper towel.

wild violets

Dip the paintbrush in egg whites, and paint each blossom.

candied violets

Then sprinkle sugar on the violets.  Most recipes call for powdered sugar, but I use granulated because it reminds me of late frost.

sugar on violets

Finally, bake some cupcakes!

Any vanilla cupcake recipe will do, but make it from scratch.  The more you put into your ritual food, the more “fragrant” the magic of it.  Be connected to the process.

Bonus points for making the vanilla extract yourself.  Vanilla inspires passion in kitchen spells.   Here, we use it to wink and nod at Beltane’s celebration of “spring romance.”

Pipe on some cream cheese frosting and arrange violets in tiny “bouquets.”

beltane faerie cakes

beltane faerie cake

Serve and enjoy!

beltane cupcakes

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Ostara with a Kitchen Witch: Cabbage Dyed Ostara Eggs

Every year, I try to do something inspired and kitchen witchy for this most decidedly food-friendly holiday.

Perhaps you’ve noticed the concept of naturally dyed Easter eggs floating around Pinterest the last few years.

I thought this made for a perfect Ostara activity.

I tried tumeric, spinach and cabbage.

Spinach was a dud.  I boiled and boiled, but the dye wasn’t strong enough.

Tumeric worked okay, but it stained everything!  I can see why they use this in India to dye cloth!

But the humble cabbage, at 79 cents, proved to be both the cheapest and most effective option.

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The idea is pretty basic.  Start with a base for extraction.  In this case, we have our head of red cabbage.

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Shred it and place it in a pot with a 1 to 1 ratio of water.  I did 4 cups shredded cabbage with 4 cups of water.

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Meanwhile, make your hard boiled eggs.  Some recipes call for boiling the eggs with the dye, but I like my eggs cooked a certain way, so I did them separately.   (Place eggs in pot with cold water, bring to boil, turn off heat, let them sit for 10 minutes in a covered pot, then rinse with cold water—perfect every time!)

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Once your dye is done, allow it to cool and add 1 tablespoon white vinegar per cup of liquid dye.

Then submerge the eggs in the dye for 24-28 hours in the refrigerator.

But before you do that, there are some creative options that I didn’t try.  The internet rumor is that if you write or draw on the eggs with crayon, it won’t dye there.  You can imagine all the possibilities for spell work there!

I wanted to keep my eggs as natural as possible, so I skipped this, but I might try using beeswax in the future for a similar effect.

I really loved the way the dye turned out.  It felt so earthy and wholesome.  I see myself using this for a lot of things, maybe even cloth.

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And there you have it!  Charming, naturally dyed eggs for your Ostara ritual.  Use them on the altar as an offering, or for your Ostara meal as a beautiful table decoration.

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With eggs on sale at my market for 28 cents a dozen, my total cost for this project was a mere $1.08.

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