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.

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

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

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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.

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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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Candlemas with a Kitchen Witch

I decided to whip up a little something in honor of the upcoming Imbolc/Candlemas holiday.

In the past, I generally neglected Imbolc.  Maybe because by February, I was over-holidayed, or maybe because unlike Mabon, Samhain, Yule and Ostara, there aren’t really any corresponding mainstream holidays.

But now, Imbolc is one of my favorites.  I love that while every else considers the winter holidays to be over, we have one more to look forward to, and it’s the coziest of the year.

I chose a poppy seed cupcake for this Sabbat.  The key ingredients represent some of the classic, deep-winter symbols of Candlemas.

For reference, I used this recipe.

Because of Imbolc’s strong association with seed blessing, I wanted something that features seeds.  Poppy seeds in particular symbolize deep meditative states and spiritual insight.

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In this context, powdered ingredients like sugar and flour represent the lightly falling snow of the season.

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Known sometimes as the “Festival of Lights,” Candlemas celebrates the return of the sun and the waxing of the light after the Winter Solstice.  Lemon symbolizes solar energy and light.

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Imbolc celebrates animal husbandry and dairy farming in particular.  For this reason, I am adding a cream cheese frosting in addition to the light lemon glaze in the recipe.

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The inclusion of butter also compliments this theme.

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I kind of imagine the time in the oven as “when the magic happens” in baking.  So for a ritual meal, I like to say a blessing before it goes in.

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And like magic, out they come!

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Happy Imbolc!

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Make a Winter Hair Wreath

Most people associate the beloved hair wreath with Beltane or Litha, but I was inspired by the winter foliage to do one for Imbolc (and then I dragged a poor model out into the cold to pose in it.)

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If you’d like to do the same, here’s how!

You will need:

An embroidery hoop.  I’ve seen other people use wire, an old hanger or other bases, but these seem to work best for me and they are fairly cheap.  Available at any craft store.

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Thread.  Any thread will do, but I like a neutral color or green.

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Some natural foliage.  You can use fake flowers, too, but I think natural looks best for pictures or a one-day event.  I just looked around the landscape until I spotted some color.  The leaves and berries from this holly bush were perfect.

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From there, it’s very simple.  Take a section of the greenery and hold it firmly between your thumb and fingers.

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Then wind the thread around the bunch and the embroidery hoop securely.  Keep going, adding sections of greenery as you continue all the way around.  Don’t worry about getting it perfect or even.  A little wildness makes it look more natural.

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I like to save the colors for last so they stand out on top.

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And there you have it!  Gorgeous.  Everyone at the Sabbat circle will want one!

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holly-hair-wreath

holly-hair-wreath

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10 New Year’s Resolutions for Pagans

New Year’s resolutions like losing vanity weight or making more money take us further away from our inner lives.

Try a spiritually based resolution instead to create a richer, fuller life experience.

Here’s some inspiration.

Start a meditation  practice.  Want to acquire that razor-sharp concentration of an expert spell practitioner?  Meditation is like boot camp for the mind.  Start you new year right by committing to a daily meditation practice.  Even if it’s only 5 minutes in the morning before you get out of bed, the benefits are astonishing.

Eat seasonally.  Considering the emphasis pagan culture places on staying in tune with the Wheel of the Year, eating seasonally rarely gets the attention it deserves in the context of spiritual life.  Strengthen your connection to the seasons by eating locally and seasonally.  Join a co-op for fresh vegetables.  Find a beekeeper to get honey for cereal and coffee.  If you eat meat, know when deer season is and try incorporating local venison or beef into your diet.  These lifestyle adjustments go a long way to helping you stay close to nature, not to mention the health, environmental and social benefits.

Commit to celebrating all the Sabbats for one year.  Pagans tend towards a lax holiday schedule.   With 8 holidays on The Wheel, many of which fall on weekdays and aren’t widely recognized (the only exception being Samhain), it’s easy to skip a few every year.  I’m the same way.  But one year, I committed to celebrating all the Sabbats, and it proved extremely rewarding!  My advice is to plan in advance.  If you have a job that typically requires you to be at work during”normal” or mainstream holidays like Christmas, you can even get your holidays off.  Co-workers are usually very happy to work for you on the winter solstice if you work Christmas, or give you Ostara off if you work on Easter.   But even if you can’t get off, plan something special for every Sabbat.

Find your tribe.  Many people find satisfaction as lifelong solitary practitioners in the purest sense.  Festivals aren’t their things, group rituals are too noisy and their practice is best done in quiet, personal contemplation.  Awesome.  But most of us prefer at least some human interaction in our spiritual life.  If you’ve been going it solo for a while, maybe this is the year to branch out.  Unitarian Universalist congregations usually offer some pagan services, and Meet Up almost certainly has something “pagan flavored” available in your area.  If not, there’s probably a hunger in your community for a pagan group, so start one yourself and become a leader.

Learn tarot.   Many practitioners look longingly at me when I pick up a deck and pull cards like old friends.  “I wish I had that gift” is something I often hear.  I don’t know where this comes from.  No one was born reading the tarot, and I wasn’t, either!  With diligent practice, a year is enough time to master the deck.  See my recent article on “Getting to Know Your Tarot Deck.”

Become a healer.  Whether it’s perfecting your at-home massage technique, learning Reiki or getting better at using essential oils and herbs to promote wellness, learn a new way to heal and experience the rewards of bringing comfort to those around you.

Contribute.  The pagan community thrives on participants from all walks of life.  Agree to volunteer your time at least once a month to making our shared world richer.  Teach a workshop at your local occult shop, volunteer at festivals, or organize your coven to help out at a soup kitchen.  Whatever you have to offer, offer it.  The world needs you.

Go on a weekly nature walk.
  Most people only walk outside in ideal conditions—warm, dry weather that’s only available in most places during certain times of the year.  But nature offers so much more in the “off” season.  Rainy weather means the perfect opportunity to go mushroom hunting.  A snowy day makes for a quiet, contemplative time for a walking meditation.  Commit to a weekly nature walk for one year and see what it teaches you.

Maintain your altar.  For one year, commit to keeping your altar fresh and rotated.  Decide what means to you.  Does it mean decorating for the Sabbats?  Keeping the offering bowl freshly offered?  Lighting a nightly candle or stick of incense as a daily devotion?  Try maintaining your altar “religiously” (pardon the pun) for one year and notice how much more spiritually mindful you become.

Train a familiar.  I saved this one for last because I believe of all these suggestions, it is by far the most serious commitment.  Involving a living creature is not a light endeavor.  While I certainly wish you luck, all the above New Year’s resolutions may be broken with no harm to anyone.  But taking responsibility for an animal does carry with it the potential for harm should you decide it isn’t for you.  Please be certain you are prepared to care for an animal for the entire duration of its life.

If this is something you’ve considered deeply and you feel you are ready, there are many options.  Some are quite obvious and amusing (a witch with a black cat is always hilarious).  But birds, tarantulas, rats, snakes, fish and turtles all make excellent familiars, depending on your time constraints and spiritual inclinations.

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