P is for Practical Magic

I was twelve when I first picked Practical Magic out of the H section of the library.   Younger than the paperback Antonia and Kylie, I had no idea what looked like pulp fiction would inspire for years after as the layers unfolded to match my own experiences.  I thought I could bind my heart but my first case of tall, dark, and brooding lead me banging on a door with no answer beneath a full moon.  I was on fire and it took a lot of sisters (drag queens included) to release that hold.  And in gathering my own strength I could embrace what was always meant to be.  Witchcraft isn’t about spells and potions, it’s about conviction.  “People want to ignore what they can’t understand. They’re looking for logic at any cost.”  I try not to consider how narrowly I missed out on meeting my husband or how we defied logic for getting together (twice) and staying together.  I don’t like any of his music, he doesn’t share the way I do, and neither of us wanted to fall in love when we did.  But this is the man who always showed up when I needed him and “he has the ability to catch someone by the way that he looks at her, and make her wish he would go on looking”.  Just as Sally had the star, the pancakes, and the bi-colored eyes to show her Gary truth, I had my own Amas Vertias at work.  I got to choose the birthday for my first kitten when I was in 3rd grade, image my surprise when this day out of 365 turned out to be his birthday too.  On my wedding day my Mother gave me a book from my childhood about a princess (my father’s favorite nickname for me) and her unicorn called Morgan, which is his last name.  You can brush these off as coincidence or you can find meaning in your life building towards a moment.  Because Alice Hoffman taught me a life can be made in a moment and the best stories are about love.

(number 35 on the pagan blog project week 32)

P is for Pomegranates

Pomegranates are the most ironic fruit.  Here you have a some-what universal symbol for fertility and you can’t get the f*cking edible part out of it’s cage of fibery doom!  Perhaps drinking the juice makes you wise because you have figured out how to release it in the first place. Every so often I challenge myself to buy an ingredient I have not used before. To conquer the pomegranate challenge I tried both of these tips. First is the spoon technique. Second is the aquatic method.   How did I do?poms The aquatic method is the way to go if you were bad a sports as a child.  Here’s the problem with the spoon technique, I was unable to produce enough force to expel the seeds because I was too fearful of smacking my hand with the spoon.   The water was much easier to just gently tear away the seeds and let them sink.  Truly a feminine fruit, it wanted to be massaged before it released what you want. I added layered the seeds with plain yogurt, honey, and graham cpom yogurtrackers to make a Pom Parfait for my lunch.   The dark mother would be pleased by this tangy, crunchy, creamy snack you should pack next Mabon or when you feel like you are trapped in work hell.   (number 32 on the pagan blog project week 31)

N is for New Orleans

There are two options to get to your hotel from the Louis Armstrong Airport.  You can have a taxi take you directly there or you can hop on a shuttle.  If you want the city to unfold organically and better than any map, take the shuttle.  Our trip started around 10am after a red eye from SFO.  Everything was shuttered, slightly wet, and barely moving on a mid-May morning.  The stillness washed over me.  I had spent the last few years waking up to suburban city sounds of gardening crews and commutes.  This was a place that could wait.

There is plenty to do in NOLA.  We visited all three Audubon centers for land, sea, and bugs.  Took the trolley to the outdoor sculpture museum  and went on a nonprofit graveyard tour.  I toasted Oscar Wilde with a gin fizz at the Old Absinthe House while my newly stamped husband sampled hurricanes.   We stopped into the Pharmacy, Food, and Voodoo museums and eat our weight in seafood.  After leaving we placed a black and white photo of a green trolley car in our bedroom with a promise to return.

I have been warned that it’s easy to fall in love with a place while on vacation.  To cling to this romantic notion and not think through the practicality.  But I cannot be practical about New Orleans because it was the first and only place where I felt connected to the conjuring.  I was wary that feeling was created for the tourists, very wary.  And then I just let go of that and gave in.  Why must we be so cynical?  It felt good to be engulfed by the acceptance of magic.  Ritual was alive here.  Perhaps it is in part the expectations of the visiting population that keeps it on Bourbon street but that’s what keeps the liquor flowing too.  And for anyone whose local supply shop has been run by asshats, having a choice in craft stores felt like a dream.  I wanted more than anything to stay and learn.

Almost a year ago a dear friend of mine posted a question.  What would you do if you were brave?  I was working on average 60 hours a week at the time at a job that had become a bad boyfriend.  Without a second thought I knew if I were brave I’d go back to NOLA and stay.  So when I finally broke up with that job and became free of that buzzing city a new possibility opened up.  We would retreat to the Midwest where we could both afford to finish our education and then launch our 30s in the South.  When is anything magical a direct route anyway?  I am preparing myself to be open to a spiritual education once I get the one that will pay the bills out of the way.  And shortening the miles between where we are and where we want to be allows us to plan trips and plant some planning seeds.  I want to grow roots in this swamp land and join the struggle to keep it’s magic alive.  This is where I am meant to be.

 

(number 36 on the pagan blog project week 28)

N is for Nature Magic

I feel in love with nature at an early age.  I grew up in a tiny town in Maryland on three acres to explore.  The fireflies lit up warm summer nights and in the winter ice would dress the naked trees.  Flowers made fluffy parachutes to spread their seeds and the ground ate all our vegetable scraps.  It was all magic.

nature magic

As I grew Mother Earth no longer whispered her secrets, she encouraged me to study her.  I visited the bones of long past monsters, learned how the beaks of birds could tell me what they eat, and saw through the eyes of bees.  I believed in the Natural History Museum and as I grew aware of my world I found the ethics of scientist.  Jurassic Park became my idea of Christian hell.  I wanted to protect these forces at work that I/we have just begun to understand.

“You see, I have never felt the need to invent a world beyond this world, for this world has always seemed large and beautiful enough for me. I have wondered why it is not large and beautiful enough for others– why they must dream up new and marvelous spheres, or long to live elsewhere, beyond this dominion… but that is not my business. We are all different, I suppose. All I ever wanted was to know this world. I can say now, as I reach my end, that I know quite a bit more of it than I knew when I arrived. Moreover, my little bit of knowledge has been added to all the other accumulated knowledge of history– added to the great library, as it were. That is no small feat, sir. Anyone who can say such a thing has lived a fortunate life.”
― Elizabeth GilbertThe Signature of All Things

(number 15 on the pagan blog project week 27)

 

M is for Mixed Faith Families

I honestly do not know anyone that was raised Pagan or Wiccan.   My witch friends come from Catholic or Atheist roots.  My own Mother is a born again Buddhist while my Grandmother practices Christmas and Easter through food.  Mr. Hedged Paths comes from a Mormon family and will not willingly enter a church unless there  is something artistically significant inside that interests him.  So we keep multiple calendars for all the days that are important to those we love.  We send solstice blessings under the guise of  Christmas cards.  Our families send well wishes on our anniversary, celebrating our love each Beltane.  And for our child?  When that time comes I feel a religious education is important.  To understand the variety of beliefs available and respect all forms of worship.  I can only hope they will be as awe inspired by nature as me and follow the goddess.  Being kind is more important that any doctrine.

(number 37 on the pagan blog project week 26)

M is for Male Familiars in Disney Films

disney men and pets 2As a girl I wanted Jasmine’s tiger, Pocahontas’s raccoon, and Ariel’s sassy gay crab friend.  It wasn’t until I started thinking about how each Disney princess has a familiar that I realized, so do the men.

Most princes have a horse or perhaps a magic carpet or reindeer.  This friend also provides transportation to the princess and often serves to remove her from her “world” and fight off the evil witch.  Think of Prince Phillip and his steed gazing upon Briar Rose in one scene and battling Maleficent in another.  Frozen and Tangled also use hoof power to achieve the princess’s goals much like my first boyfriend’s van got me out of my house on a Friday night.  Disney downplays this patriarchal display of power by making the horse a charming extension of the prince’s silliness.  The pony often wins her heart first. 

Next we have man’s best friend.  It’s Pongo whose need to mount Perdita that leads to his owner’s marriage and Eric’s sheepdog Max finds a now DTF human Ariel on the beach.  They are like the OKCupid of the Disney animal kingdom.  In both of these examples the woman also moves in with the man, whereas horses mean adventure dogs mean a man looking for long-term commitment.

Monkeys are reserved for men who live as outsiders.  Aladdin and Tarzan each require their ladies to accept them fully as they are which is in conflict with their station in life.  Jasmine should really ruling the kingdom that her mentally deficient Father has left in the hands of a man who can stand Gilbert Godfrey’s voice.  Instead it’s all I can show you the world, fuck responsibility.  Jane trades her corsets and tea sets for a family of apes.  Do you really need to teach him English or just let your bodies talk?  The men who have monkeys long for human connection.

So what does this teach a young girl?  Find a man who can take you where you need to go, calls to your sexuality, and doesn’t lie about where they came from.

(number 32 on the pagan blog project week 25)

L is for Lucien

Lucien : hedged paths

Sometimes cats find you.  We got Lucien for my husband, a 22 toed foster kitten from the first batch of the ’09 season at work.  The youngest of our 4, everyone loved him immediately.  Over the last few years this little cuddle ninja became my constant companion.  I am a different thing to each of my animals.  Our border collie Poe sees me as the fearless leader.  Crowley, A Black Cat who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards into our lives, views me as the twice daily food dispenser as I see him as the twice daily food alarm system.  Elphie is my familiar, my oldest, and we share a mutual understanding that I’ve never felt with another animal.  But Lucien is my little squishy monster who suddenly appears next to me where ever I land.  We laugh that he must be my husband’s familiar because of how devoted he is to me.  A lot of us who do rescue joke that we just want one normal one, Lucien is my good boy.  He’s never had a litter box problem, always sits for diner, comes when called, and only bites when provoked.  He shows me the magic of the human-animal bond with his charms everyday as he reaches out with his giant paws to show me he loves me.

L is for Living Garden

Fresh herbs have been a struggle for me.  Even with the plastic baggie/paper towel method they would go bad too fast.  I’ve bought too many clamshells of trader joe’s basil only to have them go fuzzy within a day.  So I learned to eat them fast or turn them into pesto and chimichurri.  But it’s summer time and I want leaves of basil in my antipasti and mint for my cocktails.

chimichurri: cilantro, olive oil, garlic, parsley

chimichurri: cilantro, olive oil, garlic, parsley, red pepper

Back in California there were many failed gardening attempts.  Things just don’t want to grow in the desert and indoor plants do not do well with my fur babies.   Seriously, I caught my cat Elphie eating my cactus garden, so nothing is safe.  Now that I am in Indiana with a big backyard it was time to evoke my green thumb.

Let me first tell you about Redneck Target Rural King.  It’s my Midwest version of PETCO, Orchard Supply, and Target combined.  I can buy 6 weeks of high quality pet food, k-cups, and engine oil for $100 while my husband, who grew up at the beach, is exposed to such culture shifts as camo couches, antler chandeliers, and day-glow overalls.  They are a seasonal store, so in the winter I stocked up on long underwear and wool socks.  This last Mother’s Day was their garden sale and I took advantage.  In addition to my herbs, I got foxgloves, lavender, perennials, tomatoes, kale, and citronella.  We found a half wine barrel at Menards for $35 (reg. $120) and I got to planting.

herb garden : hedged paths

lemon balm, mint, thai basil, thyme, with a kale border

The mint is growing slower than I anticipated but the basil, thyme, and lemon balm are thriving.  Being able to step out on the porch right off my kitchen and snip what I need brings such joy.  Having living herbs reduces my waste and makes me feel more connected to my cooking.  I tend to these little guys and they give me delicious bits.  It really made me want to get chickens, but sadly I am not zoned for farm animals here.  So I’ll have to make due with my plant friends.

(post number 35 on the pagan blog project week 23)

Vanilla Blackberry Cashew Cake

It was time again to be brave and tackle a dessert I found on Pinterest, a raw blackberry lemon lavender vegan “cheesecake” from Fragrant Vanilla Cake.  I choose this mainly because I had hazelnuts and dates left over from my last dessert experiment.

So this thing is suppose to look really pretty.

Guess which one is mine!

Guess which one is mine!

I have come to the point where I am okay with the fact I lack two skills that would make me a great food blogger.  One is photography and the other is making pretty desserts.  My sister witch makes pretty desserts, but she follows recipes.   I don’t really like recipes or directions.  I am more of a what do I have that would work sort of cook.  I favor technique and flavor and cannot be trusted to build IKEA furniture.

I just accept that if it tastes good is the same texture and shape I was going for it’s a job well done.   In the spirit of imperfection, let’s do this!

Vanilla Blackberry Cashew Cake
gather things like this

for the filling
3 cups of soaked cashews
1/2 cup of shredded coconut
juice half a lemon, add some zest if you are fancy
unscrew the honey bear and add two big squeezes
pinch of salt
1/2 of liquid state coconut oil
1 teaspoon each of coconut and vanilla extract
a couple vanilla beans if you happened to find them in the back of the pantry almost dried
some sugar
berries (frozen is fine)

for the crust
equal parts hazelnuts and shredded coconut, about a 1/3 cup each
a couple graham crackers
enough pitted dates to make it stick together (like 5ish)

to start
Make the crust by placing the crust things in your food processor, you may want to chop up the dates like the source material said because the whole dates caused my Cuisinart to smoke like we were summoning the Dark Lord.
Once your crust is mixed, squish it into the bottom of your pan. I have a spring baking pan from IKEA that I had never used before so that made me feel accomplished.

now your filling
IMG_1451Wipe out your food processor and add in all the filling things except for the coconut oil, berries, and sugar. Zoom until your cashews are broken down a bit and everything is mixed up. Then while on slowly add the oil to emulsify. I let this mix for like 8 minutes while I continued to squish my crust but the filling still looked lumpy. I found looking lumpy is fine as long as there aren’t any palatable chunks. Add half the filling to the top of the crust. To make the berry layer, warm up your berries in a bit of water and the sugar until they are ice cream topping soft. Then add your berry mix to your remaining filling and zoom in processor and add to the top.IMG_1455

set in freezer overnight
transfer to fridge in the morning
should be set by the time you want dessert after work