Harvest Moon Esbat Cakes

My new favorite kitchen tool:  the mini muffin tin.  I rarely want or need a full size cake or even a cupcake for Cakes & Ale.  Enter the mini muffin tin.  A perfect size for making ritual cakes, I constantly find new and creative ways to honor the seasons of the moon using this simple device.  This month?

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I usually provide a link to the recipe and focus on the ritual meaning of ingredients in my kitchen witch posts.  But one came about of my own experimentation and tinkering, so I’ll dish (I know, I’m full of cheesy kitchen jokes this time of year).

The Harvest Moon and the fall season in general signify a time to acknowledge our deceased loved ones’ memories (especially those who have passed on during the last year), give thanks for the abundance of the harvest and enjoy the company of those we hold most dear.

The baking process fills your space with the scent and spirit of the autumn season.

Sharing harvest moon cakes with a coven, friends or family solidifies bonds and honors our relationships with our communities.

Make your ritual cakes for the Cakes & Ale portion of your moon ritual to lend power to your spell work.  The focus and concentration of choosing ingredients especially for the occasion raises the vibrations in your home.

This recipe makes 24 mini cakes, but you can half it pretty easily.

1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter (softened)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extrac
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1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder 1/2 cup milk

Any combination of the following (I just eyeballed it):

*A whole bunch of ground ginger
*A whole bunch of ground cinnamon
*A whole bunch of ground allspice
*A little less ground nutmeg

For the frosting:

1/2 cup butter (softened)
8 oz.  cream cheese (softened)
4 cups confectioner’s sugar
splash of vanilla

1.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2.  Sift together flour, baking powder and ground spices.

3.  Blend butter and sugar.

4.  Combine dry ingredients and add eggs and vanilla extract.

5.  Grease your muffin tin(s) well or use cupcake liners.

6.  Spoon mixture into tins and bake for 10 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

7.  While the cakes are baking, combine cream cheese, butter, confectioner’s sugar and vanilla extract to make frosting.

8.  Allow cakes to cool for at least 30 minutes before icing them.

9.  Optional:  garnish with soft-bake ginger snap cookies.

Enjoy at your harvest moon ritual or leave some on the altar as an offering.  They freeze well, so you can bake a big batch and use them throughout the fall during the Esbat.

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All the spices included in these cakes are traditional to the harvest season in the Wiccan religion, as well as many neopagan traditions in general.  Cinnamon in particular has many spiritual properties.

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If you like this recipe, you may also enjoy this post about yule cookies, in which I go into more detail about the meaning of the harvest season ingredients.

Feel free to leave your own harvest moon recipes in the comments or share your experience with this one!

Blessed full moon!

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Pairing Wine with Ritual

The inclusion of wine in ritual holds a long-standing place with practitioners of the magical arts.

We might pass a chalice of red wine to each other to solidify bonds during a coven binding, leave it as an offering on the altar for the full moon, or let it flow plentifully to celebrate Beltane.

Partly because of its significance in ritual, and partly because my great-grandmother was a wine maker during prohibition (I come from a long line of rebels), I became fascinated with the art of wine making and took a part time job at a local winery a few seasons ago.

The process of making wine changed very little in the last 5,000 years.  Mostly, nature takes care of the key phases.  This continuity makes me feel connected to my personal heritage as well as our collective human ancestry.

As anyone with an interest in wine knows, “pairings” of wine with food ideally compliment each other mutually.

But wine also carries with it a spiritual energy.  With so much emphasis on wine in ritual, it surprised me to discover that very little information exists about what types of wines work with particular rituals.

So I selected some of the most common wine varieties to give you some ideas about how to “pair” wine with the seasons, the Sabbats and the moon cycles.  Enjoy!

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Sauvignon Blanc
Sabbat:  Imbolc
Moon Phase:  Waxing (Crescent)
Rituals:  Snow rituals, white magic, healing

Reisling
Sabbat:  Ostara
Moon Phase:  Waxing (Half Moon)
Rituals:  New beginnings, Fertility

Rose

Sabbat:  Beltane
Moon Phase:  Waxing (Gibbous)
Rituals:  Love spells, attraction

Champagne
Sabbat:  Midsummer’s Eve
Moon Phase:  Full Moon
Rituals:  fairy magick, sun magick, wishing spells

Pinot Noir
Sabbat:  Lammas
Moon Phase:  Waning Gibbous
Rituals:

Merlot
Sabbat:  Mabon
Moon Phase: Waning Crescent
Rituals:  Home blessings, family ties, binding

Petite Sirah
Sabbat:  Samhain
Moon Phase:  Dark Moon
Rituals:  Scrying, divination, communication with spirits

Blessed be!

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Cakes and Ale

The cakes and ale tradition is most often an afterthought, tacked on to the end of the ritual for the sake of bringing everyone “back down to earth.”

But instead of some stale cookies and quick chalice full of whatever beer is in the fridge, why not make this full moon special by turning cakes and ale into a post-ritual after party?

Sometimes called the Pink Moon, or the Planter’s Moon, the apex of the April lunar cycle is an esbat of celebration to welcome the new season.  This one is super special because it also happens to be the night of a lunar eclipse!

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And I say, “What better way to celebrate than with beer and sugar?”

The bakeries are usually closed at night, so we just picked a restaurant.  I try to chose local restaurants, and pick a different one every time.

One of the nice things about going out for just cakes and beer as opposed to a full meal is that you can try some of the fancier restaurants in your neighborhood without breaking your budget, so feel free to pick something a step up from what you’d normally choose.  If you’re going with your family, a coven or a group, lots of places have desserts to share.

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I like the idea of finishing off at a brewery.  I think it enhances the sense of camaraderie and it’s a nice way to “seal” the experience.

Or, you may even make decide to make it a ritual unto itself.

I was inspired to start doing this by a recent trip to Germany, where we had the good fortune of tasting some of the best beers in the world.  It was very nice to be able to pick up such amazing brews at the even the simplest corner grocery stores.

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Our favorite Stateside location for this is a German restaurant in Georgetown called Old Europe.  This charming little restaurant has its own magical quality, and atmosphere contributes to the spirit of the cakes & ale experience.  I love the enormous, artful ship model hanging over the bar!

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Have fun with this idea, and check back next month for more ways to mix up your Esbat!

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Super Moon RItual

So, last night was the super moon and I wanted to do something super cool for ritual.

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I did this once in India on the Ganges. I had to kind of guess how to make these leaf bowls. I wish I’d gotten a better shot of them in the daylight. Basically, I took rosebud leaves and glued them to an upside down cereal bowel so that when they dried, they would take that shape. Then I filled them with summer flowers and placed a candle in each one. These will float on water.

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You can adapt this ritual in all kinds of lovely ways, but we make wishes and sent out onto the water.  I can only imagine what people thought when they saw them down river 10 or 12 miles.  If you look closely, you can see the moonlight on the water in this shot.

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And then it was off to Rosemary & Thyme Bistro in Fairfax for a little cakes (bread) and ale (red wine).

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Moon Goddess Esbat Cookies

Moon Goddess Esbat Cookies

This is a great cakes and ale recipe to represent the divine feminine for moon rituals, and it’s super simple.

Combine:

*1 part cream cheese
*1 part softened butter
*1 part sugar
*2 parts flour

Adjust ratios as necessary.

Cool in refrigerator for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350.

Roll into balls.

Press an indentation into each ball with your thumb.

Partially fill a Ziplock bag with raspberry preserves, cut a small hole in the corner, and fill the indentation in with jam by squeezing it in.

Bake until slightly brown at edges.

Enjoy! These would be great for Lammas or Beltane as well.

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Beltane Cakes and Ale

Beltane Cakes and Ale

My favorite thing to contribute to group rituals is Cakes and Ale because there are so many creative ways to do this.

I made these little pies for our Beltane ritual tomorrow. Beltane is associated with the colors red and white, so I thought this would be a nice way to bring that symbolism to the altar.  These are from scratch because most pre-made pie crusts have trans fat in them and it’s not that hard to make yourself.

Crust (adjust proportions to your liking):

-2 cups flour (I used unbleached)
-1 cup butter
-2 tablespoons sugar
-pinch of salt
-7 tablespoons water

Filling
-strawberries
-sugar
-vanilla extract
-splash lemon juice
-cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine dough ingredients and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Shape into pie crusts in a cupcake tin.

Combine filling ingredients and cook on low heat on stove for a few minutes.

Fill pies.

Bake 25-30 minutes.

Enjoy!

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