Food for Friday: Flowers


A random rehash…I originally wrote this in February (of last year to boot), but when do we usually have flowers? Yeah…makes sense to repost now! (actually, it would have made more sense to repost in April, but better late than never!!)

Originally posted on musings of a kitchen witch:

Flowers can be food!  

Its not quite the season for flowers around here, but its coming.  And that means its time to bring out and dust off all the spring green and early summer foraging and herbal stuff (plus, I’m cleaning out my shoe box of recipes and other cooking info)!  For this week’s Food for Friday, I though we could talk about eating flowers.  

When we think of culinary herbs, we don’t often think of flowers.  But…nasturtium, rose, chamomile, redbud, zucchini or squash blossoms, snapdragon, violets, yarrow, calendula, lavender, citrus blossoms, hibiscus, clover, bee balm, borage, chive blossoms, honeysuckle, jasmine, daylily, geranium, lilac, mint flowers, and pansy (to name a few, here’s some more) can all be used in food.  Be careful of allergies when using flowers in food, and be sure to leave poisonous flowers alone!

Preservation Methods: 

  • Drying–Hang freshly harvested (best time is…

View original 553 more words

ruminations on authenticity and validity

Over the years, I’ve seen a number of explosions in the Pagan blogosphere (also Facebook, Tumblr, etc)…explosions that tend to be discussed in much quieter and compassionate ways in real life and on close-knit internet forums.  Debates which have turned ugly over things like worshiping superheroes, whether or not a literary figure can be worshiped (I know/know of a number of folks that have adopted the pantheon from the Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey), the role and context of “invented” or modern deities, and which (possible) historical mythological figures really are gods (or just worth worship) or not.  Debates which, at the heart of them, seek  to establish whose worship is authentic or valid.

I was reminded of debates like this in a conversation that came up on Pagan Forum recently(some of you may know that I am an admin/moderator and co-owner over there, even longer than I’ve been blogging).  The subject itself wasn’t contentious (though I could see it perhaps going that way on other platforms), it was just a discussion asking for information about Cernunnos.  If you are familiar with Cernunnos, you are probably aware of the dearth of information that is available regarding him (if you aren’t, you can glean quite a bit from this post).  Cernunnos aside, I was reminded of a wider and recurring theme in Pagan debates, the problem of validity and authenticity.

About 10 years ago (when The Hubby still considered himself a Druid and I dabbled in that direction) I ran across an essay on the ADF website comparing OBOD and ADF which introduced me to this problem of validity vs. authenticity (in an admittedly ADF and OBOD context) that I’d been aware of, but not really known how to address:

In a study of the remarkable shamanic forgeries of Carlos Castaneda, anthropologist Richard de Mille has pointed out that there are at least two different kinds of truth at work in discussions of spiritual traditions. First is authenticity: does the tradition come from where the author or teacher says it comes from? Are the claims the author or teacher makes historically or anthropologically accurate? This is one obvious form of truth, yet as de Mille points out, it must not be mistaken for the whole. There is also validity: is the tradition effective? Does it accomplish what it says it can accomplish? Are the claims the author or teacher makes spiritually accurate?

A tradition can be authentic but not valid, and it can also be valid but not authentic. Much of the material in OBOD these days is valid but not authentic. There’s no good evidence that the ancient Druids had anything to do with Stonehenge, for example, but OBOD still does summer solstice rituals there. I can testify from personal experience that those rituals can be overwhelmingly powerful.

To OBOD members, the validity is justification enough for the practice, and some OBOD members make the mistake—a very common mistake in alternative spirituality, as it happens—of assuming that validity is evidence of authenticity, that the rituals must be historically accurate because they are spiritually powerful. Meanwhile people critical of OBOD—and this has included some ADF members—fall into the opposite mistake of assuming that inauthenticity is evidence of invalidity, that the rituals must be spiritually ineffective because they are historically inaccurate.

To some Pagans, validity is justification enough.  To others, authenticity is the only justification.  People on both sides forget that validity and authenticity are not two sides of the same coin, but completely and utterly different coins all together.  One could, of course argue that validity and authenticity together would be best…but what may be historically authentic isn’t necessarily universally valid.  And then there is the problem of determining authenticity in the first place…

I’ll admit my bias.  I like authenticity, but I don’t require something to be historically authentic for it to be valid.  I do require it to be honest though–lying about the authenticity of a practice or belief is just plain shitty.   How accurate information is about the historical context of a deity has absolutely and utterly nothing to do with the validity of the worship of that deity or the experiences that the practitioner has.  Or, put more bluntly, whether or not a god is “real” doesn’t impact how “real” the religious experience of that god is (unless you have a hang-up on the matter).

Lets be honest here….complete disclosure.  A good chunk of the “historical information” we have about ancient cultures (particularly those without a written record) is woefully incomplete, filled with conjecture, and riddled with giant gaps. I say that because I know it is true on a smaller scale about the fossil record, and biology gets *way* more funding than anthropology and archaeology–societies of people are tons more complicated and nuanced in terms of behavior and motivation and their internal monologue and motivation than dinosaurs and Precambrian whatnot.

Time only preserves a smattering of that which is preservable. Worship doesn’t keep. The gods don’t make good fossils. Ideas erode when the people that have them die, and when the people that came after them change their ideas.

Archaeology gives us insight into what ancient people may have done.  Mythology (when its been written down) can offer us a culture’s snapshot in time about the relationships between the gods and between men and gods.  Anthropology can teach us what cultures living in similar states and environments do and believe to make parallels between disparate peoples.

But at the end of the day, we don’t  know what ancient Pagans (whether they be Greek or Roman, from whom we have comparably tons of written accounts, to the Picts or the Celts, from whom we have relatively nothing) actually did, what they actually thought, how they actually worshiped, or what they actually believed.  We have ideas about these things–in some cases, great ideas that are well researched and supported by data (one might even call them theories, lol)… in other cases, we have unverified personal gnosis–opinions that have been developed by personal experiences.

And unverified personal gnosis (UPG) is something that often gets a lot of flack in the Pagan community.   Your personal experience of *enter god here* can’t possible be as valid as that of the person whose experience of *enter god here* because theirs matches the historically authentic references.  Poppycock!

Gnosis is not better simply because it is shared (sometimes called shared personal gnosis, or SPG) or because it has been confirmed or conforms with history.  Certainly one might look for and desire confirmation–either historical confirmation or peer corroboration.  Yes, take that UPG with a grain of salt!  Yes, compare it with other practitioners!   Yes, doubt and question your beliefs and experiences!  But don’t let historical authenticity be the defining context for your spiritual experiences (as opposed to informing and shaping them) because it will end up restricting them.

Religion is a language, a set of symbols (regardless of how “real” one feels they may be) that is culturally derived and interpreted.  Cultures are not static–they evolve because the conditions of a society (and how it interplays with other societies and its environment) evolve. Religion is a part of culture that also evolves, and the gods evolve (or at least our interpretation and understanding and interaction with them) evolves because we are evolving culturally and religiously (and at an exponentially speedier speed than we are biologically!).

The gods aren’t static, they aren’t still, they aren’t unchanging.  The gods exist because (whether we are talking about historically authentic ones or newly valid ones) people believe in them, they worship them, they experience them…whether they actually “exist” (in some sort of literal/physical form, on this planet or some other universe or dimension or whatever) or not.  If you want to know the gods, sure, you can start by looking to the people that do worship them (today or yesterday)…or better yet, go forth and worship.  Exprience it for yourself.  If the god cares, if you are “doing it wrong”, they are capable of letting you know (I’ve yet to have this crop up as an issue in worship).

I think that ultimately it doesn’t matter whether or not a particular deity was worshiped by the ancient whomever.  We don’t even know if the gods really exist–we have opinions on whether they exist or not (and for the past few years, its been my opinions that “real is irrelevant”).  Even if we work under the assumption that they do exist (because we’ve “experienced them”–goddess knows the human brain isn’t capable of fooling itself, lol), we certainly don’t know where they come from or how they arose or formed in the first place.  Heck, we can’t even agree if there are one, two, or two million of them.  Never mind trying to agree on things like the best way to interact with them or anything.

The human experience of deity is infinite….or at least as vast and varied of every single person that has ever walked upon this Earth (then again, I’ve been biased on this matter for a while).  Why choose any god to worship? I can’t see any reason that some guy 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 years ago’s experience of the divine is any more accurate or valid for being old.   Appeal to antiquity (or appeal to tradition) is still a logical fallacy.   There must be something else to it, something besides plain old authenticity.

Third of July Musings

I’m drinking tea… (is anyone surprised?) Peppermint and lemon balm

…and listening to music.

Why my daughter wants to learn to play the violin:

Get your munchkins to listen to Vivaldi, by listening to Frozen:

Same guys, different song, gorgeous video (Kung Fu Panda meets Chopin):

I’m pissed off about the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. It does not bode well for the religious freedom of individuals when businesses are allowed to have religion.  Lets play this out to its natural conclusion…

  • I’m a Christian Scientist and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover vaccinations because its against my religion.
  • I’m Mennonite and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover any sort of plastic surgery because its against my religion.
  • I’m a Scientologist and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover mental health services or medication because its against my religion.
  • I’m a vegetarian as per my religious beliefs (there are several religions that qualify here) and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover any nutritional counseling that includes meat, or any transplant or treatment where animal parts are used.
  • I’m a Jehovah’s Witness and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover blood transfusions because its against my religion.  Because I am a particularly strict JW, I also feel that any organ transplant is against my religion.  I refuse to allow my business to cover those as well.
  • I’m a Catholic and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover any birth control.  Also, I refuse to cover any treatment that puts an embryo or fetus at risk.
  • I’m a member of the Followers of Christ and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover any medical proceedure, period.

Except that apparently only the Catholic example isn’t too “loony” for the conservative (Catholic) justices on the court (read Justice Ginsburg’s dissent for a short list of when the court has gone against the sincere beliefs of individuals).  Which leaves me to determine one of two things, the 5 men that came to this conclusion don’t think reproduction is something women have the right to control or they think corporations are more important than people (or some combination of the two).

Businesses are not people.  Businesses do not have religions, people do.  People are people.  People have “natural” rights (that’s a topic for another day), not businesses.  And your rights as an individual stop where mine start.   If your religion tells you to do X and not to do Y…then you do X and don’t do Y.   You don’t force your employees into a position where they are economically compelled to do X and not do Y in your stead.  If you can’t handle the division between you as an individual and your business as a secular and profit-generating legal entity, start a religious non-profit or get the hell out of business.

And fuck, religion should have nothing to do with health care anyway.

And fuck the broader implications beyond healthcare.

[/end rant]

And now, for something completely different… It looks like the worst of Hurricane Arthur will be out to sea when it works its way up to us tomorrow…

Thanks Poseidon!

Some pre-storm fun...

Some pre-storm fun…

Awesome quote (having mentioned Poseidon) I just ran across:

You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?

~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

6 Posts I really think you should read:

And a bonus because I laughed my butt off…

Soap Crayon Munchkin Magic

Soap Crayons

2 tablespoons water (or herbal infusion)
~1 cup soap flakes
30-40 drops of foor coloring

Blend til smooth and paste-like. Fill an ice cube tray or in soap molds and let dry several days.

Choose colors and herbs (if you choose the infusion route) for different purposes…lavender and lavender for peaceful sleep, pink and rose for healing a sad heart, yellow and sunflower for Sun magic. If you want, you can even charge the water before hand using a appropriate crystal as well.

Use the crayons on your tub or shower walls to mark vigils, pictures, phrases, etc for ritual baths or shower meditations to bring healing, blessing, etc.

Why I love honey (Part I):

I admit, this is gonna read like a one-woman infomercial, lol.

Honey is deliciously drinkable!  In the summer, forget energy drinks, add a teaspoon or two of honey and a splash of lemon or lime juice, and a dash of lite salt (check for contraindications before using lite salt, which can be replaced by sea salt in these sorts of recipes, though you’ll be missing out on the potassium then) to your bottle of water.

Big-batch Honey Lemonade:
1/2 c honey
1/2 teaspoon lite salt
1/4 c lemon juice
7 1/2 c water

Mix. Makes 8 8 oz servings at 60 cal per serving, 17 g carbohydrates, 16 g sugar, 72 mg sodium, and 85 mg potassium. (Very Tasty Recipe from the National Honey Board)

Honey is bake-able! If you are interested in baking with honey as a replacement for sugar, there are a couple of tricks to keep in mind: Reduce the liquid by 1/4 c for each cup of honey used, add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees. Use less honey than sugar that the recipe calls for–usually no more than half. Honey is sweeter than sugar, so you don’t need as much….though replacement requires some experimentation.  (If you are diabetic, keep in mind that honey is still a “sugar”…)

Also, honey is cosmetic!  Honey is medicinal! Honey is magical!  But I’ll get to these another time…

Hope you have a Happy 4th of July! 

Hail Mr. Franklin, Presidents Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Madison!


Letter “M” Musings

After work tea: Moroccan Mint by Stash  (hah!  even my TEA starts with M)

Note: Please forgive randomly odd typos…about 2/3 of this was written on my smartphone with the evil autocorrect. I may not have caught all of the odd things it did to words.

Pagan Blog Project: M is not for “Muggle”*

this has been a blog post for the Pagan Blog Project

this has been a blog post for the Pagan Blog Project

There are many things in the various Pagan communities, IRL and online that I find annoying…but none is quite so annoying as the use of the word “muggle” to describe people that don’t practice magic and/or aren’t Pagan.**   If you are one of these people, you might want to skip this little rant, because I’m going to jump all over you and those of your ilk for a few paragraphs.

First off, if you actually use this word to describe yourself, you look like a smug, pretentious, and sanctimonious twit.  If you find that offensive (because you didn’t take my advice to skip past here), good.  Using a derogatory term for someone not in your in-group is offensive.  And yes, the term is derogatory–otherwise, you’d just say “non-Pagan”, or better yet, call them what they self-define as–Christian, Muslim, atheist, etc.  If you find yourself needing to turn to what is nothing short of a religious slur, it says more about you than the people you are talking about.  Its not cute, and its not trendy.  It is just as offensive and just as derogatory as calling someone a spic, a jap, or a mic.  If you use this word not having thought about it,

Secondly, if you use this word you are delusional and/or idiotic. I loved the Harry Potter books, they were creative and engaging; the world that J. K. Rowling created is simply wonderful. But we don’t live in it. I don’t care how witchy you are IRL, you are no more a witch or wizard in the Harry Potter universe than the Dursleys are. Defining your non-Pagan or non-magical peers as “muggles”, as if you are something better, is hypocritical.  In the real world, we are all just people.  Religion is a choice, witchcraft and/or magic (which ever term you prefer) is a discipline (and art and a science, if you will)…it is not something you are *born* to, it is something anyone can learn (just like ice skating), and there is nothing wrong with choosing not to.

Third, (to be quite frank and tactless) it makes you look like a nut. I’m not afraid of doing nutty things, of being eccentric or even slightly dotty.  In most cases, I’m proud of it, because the eccentric and nutty things I do are at least important, creative, and inspired.  There is nothing important, creative, or inspired about calling your mom, your cousin, your neighbor, your teacher, your doctor, your bff a religious slur.  When you do something that is both insulting and dotty you draw more and more negative attention to an already marginalized group that gets enough negative attention as it is. Some of us have to live, work, and raise our children undoing the damage users of this word (and worse, this attitude) have created.

Just say no to calling people “muggles”. Its not cute, it’s not clever, and its definitely not cool.


*HA, as I was writing this, I saw that someone beat me to it!!  I am not alone!!!

**Or other, similar terms such as cowan, mundanes, etc

More ‘M’ Musings…

Herb of the Week: Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)

Marshmallow is an herb with a long medicinal history dating back to the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans.  It is best known for its demulcent properties, for soothing irritated and inflamed throats and upper respiratory tracts, and for use as a poultice on the skin for insect bites, boils, and abrasions.  In combination with peppermint, it makes a great tea for heartburn relief.  The tea is also kind to a sore throat, and as a mouth wash. (For more info on dosages, contraindications–its a carb-y plant and diabetics should be cautious using it, and medicine interactions, click here)

Marshmallow is a mucilaginous herb, and is best prepared in a cold infusion (which protects its mucilaginous properties) by allowing the root to infuse in room temperature water (~1:4 ratio for coarsely chunked-up root)  for at least 4 hours (overnight is better).  And, of course, the treat we know as “marshmallows” started out as a confection designed as a medicine.  While marshmallows today don’t actually contain marshmallow, there are some recipes out there for marshmallow marshmallows (like this one, which I’ve not tried…somehow, I see a project coming on!).

(illustration from Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen, 1887)

The plant itself is native to Europe (some sources say N. Africa) and naturalized in North America (thanks to those pesky colonists and all their plants they brought over).  Its original habitat includes salt marshes and estuaries, but it will grow almost anywhere moist, with full sun.  Marshmallow flowers from July through September and can grow to some 3-5 feet tall.  The flowers and young leaves are edible in salads, and the leaves and woody root are useful medicinally.

Magically, marshmallow is associated with water, the moon, Venus (the planet and the goddess), Aphrodite, and Althea.  It makes a good herb for celebrating Beltane.  It is best used to induce compassion and tolerance.  Marshmallow is good for healing, relieving stress, and bringing forth love.


Backyard Bioregionalism: Mammals

In school you may have learned all sorts of mammalian traits, but really there are only three that are truly unique to mammals. Two of these you might guess quite easily–hair and teeth. The third though, might take a bit more time to suss out. The most common answer is probably “live birth”. But not all mammals give birth to live animals, and there are a number of other animals that lay eggs internally and give birth to live young (some species of sharks, for example). Since its tricky, I’ll give you a hint…

Mammals have 3 ear bones. Seriously, along with hair and teeth, three ear bones are the  unique traits present in all mammals.

And that live birth thing? Mammals are actually divided into three groups based on how they give birth.

The first group are the monotremes. They actually lay eggs. Monotremes secrete milk from a milk patch, much like sweat is secreted through our skin. There are a handful of species of monotremes, the duck-billed platypus, and four species of echidna. The platypus and one species of echidna are native to Australia, while the other echidna species are located in New Guinea.  In my backyard, we ain’t got no monotremes!

The second group of mammals are the marsupials. Marsupials give birth to very underdeveloped young which generally live in a pouch after birth. Most marsupials are native to Australia, New Guinea, and some nearby islands, though a number of species are common to South America.   But if you live in North America, there’s only one species that is present pretty much everywhere–the Virginia opossum.  This critter is native to the Pacific coastal region of the US (and into Vancouver), and from the Eastern seaboard into the midwest, south of the Great Lakes region.

The third group of mammals are the placental animals. That would be us. Us and elephants and dolphins and mice and moose, to name a few. Placental mammals, obviously have a placenta.  The number of species around the world are too many to list here, but in my “backyard”, I’ve come across raccoons,  river otter, skunks, bats, deer, dolphins (obviously not actually in my “yard”, but they are in a local area that we frequent), and foxes (and that’s leaving out the fairly common stuff like rats, mice, squirrels, rabbits, etc).  Locally, we also have porpoises, seals, black bears, and red wolves (you have to go a bit further afield for those last two).


Monthly Forage: Mulberries!

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm, mulberries.  Sweet-tart, melt in your mouth, purple-staining, mulberries.  Mulberries for pies, for cobbler, for smoothies, for jam.  And the best part is, its we are probably about halfway through mulberry season, with 6 mulberry trees along the creek behind the apartment…and even more across the street, bordering the park.  It astounds me that no one else knows what they have here!  Right now I have two gallon-sized ziplock bags in my freezer, filled to the brim with mulberries.  I’d have more, but there wouldn’t be any room for groceries (note to self: look for chest freezer on craigslist).


Adorations to the Sun

Originally posted on Pagan Devotionals:

Waking Fire, I adore you
Aurora, rosy fingered in saffron robes, I adore you
Khepri, I adore you
Extinguisher of darkness, I adore you
Thesan of the Dawn, bringer of new life, I adore you
Evaporator of fresh morning dew, I adore you
Infant King I adore you
Producer of helium, I adore you
Shapash, I adore you
Who brings a new day, I adore you

Warming Fire, I adore you
Supplier of Light, I adore you
Protector from cosmic rays, I adore you
Definer of shadows, I adore you
Growing Sun, Boy King, I adore you
Arinna, I adore you
Cosmic Nuclear Furnace, I adore you
Eye of the Heavens, I adore you
Amaterasu, I adore you
Who holds the planets with immense gravity, I adore you

Burning Fire, I adore you
Ra, I adore you
That which the planets orbit, I adore you
Photon source, I adore you

View original 230 more words


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,335 other followers

%d bloggers like this: