Pagans and Media

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ecently, a newbie to paganism asked my husband and I for some of our favorite pagan media titles.  For pagans and people of alternative spiritualities, it used to be quite a challenge to find anything of quality that wasn’t steeping solely in stereotype.  This day and age, however, there are quite a few movies and series that are enjoyable to watch-some with historical significance, some with kernels of truth as seen in one’s peripheral vision and of course stereotypes as well and some are just purely entertaining!  There are others that may not be pagan or craft related but serve to inspire or help one think outside of the box regarding faith/spirituality/religion and subsequent moral or philosophical connotations.

Here are a list of just a few of our favorites:

Practical Magic            Ladyhawk                          The 13th Warrior
The Princess Bride     The Deceivers                   Pan’s Labyrinth
Mists of Avalon           Legend of the Witches     The Watcher in the Woods
The Witches of Eastwick-Movie and Series            The Mistress of Spices
GRIMM                         The DaVinci Code               I Married a Witch
Like Water for Chocolate                                            Book, Bell & Candle Avatar
The Cloud Atlas           Wish Upon A Spell             Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Stardust                        The Good Witch Series and Movies
The Witches                The Gift                                  Mulan
Witchcraft: Rebirth of the Old Religion                     Sorceress
Eve’s Bayou                The Spirit of Albion              My Neighbor Totoro
Thor Lord of the Rings                                                  The Pagan Queen
Hocus Pocus               The White Queen                  Harry Potter
The Seeker                 The Littlest Witch                  The Craft
Arranged                    Chocolat                                  Agora
The Celestine Prophecy                                            Anchoress
Spellbinder                  The Magicians                     The Shannara Chronicles                                           Dresden Files
The Wicker Man-Old and New version. (If you watch them back to back you will notice the differences between representations of God/Goddess as well as how female sexuality is portrayed. It struck me as quite curious).

You-tube has many documentaries & lectures as well as radio and TV interviews with pagan notables on the path of the Old Ones.

Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive or complete.  I did not include horror or satanic flicks.

We would love to hear about some of your favorites!

The Season of Samhain

Season of Samhain

Season of Samhain

 

amhain (pronounced Sow-een), also known as Samhuin,  Oíche Shamhna, All Hollows Eve or the more modern Halloween is a sabbat with Celtic roots marking the darker/lighter, end of summer/beginning of winter halves of the year. Beginning at sundown on October 31st the veil is beginning to thin, but becomes it’s most permeable around the 6th and 7th. However, our Samhain season extends long past the sabbat day.   It is also the beginning of a time in which we commune with our ancestors, celebrating our heritage and calling upon their ancient wisdom.

As with all sabbats, we come together to celebrate and acknowledge the transitional nature in both our spiritual and mundane lives as we say good-bye to one season and usher in another.  We see the beginnings of death and decay around us as the Goddess withdraws, whether it be in molding fruits on the vine, rotting jack-o-lanterns, wilting plant life left in the field or the herd animals that have been brought down from greener pastures closer to home and driven through the cleansing fires to be culled for slaughter or breeding.   The blood of butchered animals, as well as the burned bone ash, were offered to the God and Goddess and thusly sprinkled on the fields to usher in another productive year.   This third and final harvest focuses on butchering or hunting and preserving of meats as well gathering the last of foodstuffs in orchard and root crops in the fields.  We gather in the last of the foods stuffs before Samhain season begins and they are feasted on by the dead.   It is understood that foods left to Samhain air are for the consumption of the dead and are not to be consumed by the living.  We have said our farewells to the last vital and protective powers of the sun and stocked our food and wood stores.

It is a season of gathering and homecoming where we have prepared for our hibernation and hunker down to weather the winter storms.  In the Pacific Northwest, our sights are flooding with brilliant and amazing colors of blush, gold, red, orange and scarlet.  It fills our souls with one last burst of life before death as the fog rolls in and things grow dark and silent.  A hush is cast across the land, filling us with anticipation of what is to come.  Our persistence for survival often creates a struggle during the process of dying, that moment right before we give ourselves over to the moment and move beyond.  That very reason is why the Season of Samhain is so important.

Our beautiful Samhain altars reflect the long-lasting foods of winter with luscious red apples, bright orange pumpkins and gourds.  The last of summers flowers of deep red dahlias, brown and yellow sunflowers, calendula, herbs of fragrant angelica, soothing mint, protective sage and catmint along with deep golden maple leaves, fern, scarlet oak and blushing ash adorn the altar.  Orange and brown candles flank our Lord and Lady whilst a large mirrored silver apple lies between to scare away those spirits that do not belong.  Garnet, hematite, jasper and obsidian ground us in the here and now and sparkle in the candle glow.  We acknowledge the decay of season with dried leaves forming an offering plate for fall harvested mushrooms, hawthorn berries and hazelnuts-calling to the wisdom of the ancients.  The goddess has transitioned into her Crone aspect, therefore Hecate has been honored with black candles and an offering bowl full of belladonna berries.  For many of us, our practice revolves around the veneration of our dead and there is, therefore, an entire space set aside for pictures, red votives, small belongings handed down, dried leaves, fresh flowers and offerings of bread and rum-or whiskey in my father’s case.

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Ancestor Altar @ Rosethorn Manor

Samhain sabbat is spent giving thanks for our summers harvest and connecting with family who watch from beyond the hedge-making their favorite dishes.  We spend much of our day turning inwards so that we are in a place to hear what the ancestors have to share.  After ritual, we commence with a dumb supper.  Each person brings to the sabbat table their ancestor’s favorite dish.  I break out my Grandma Hebert’s mustard pickles and dilly beans as well as my father’s pepper relish canned at Mabon.  I make a chocolate pie for my mom, while my husband makes colcannon for our Scotch/Irish heritage.  We set an empty place for the ancestors in which they are served a bit of every dish before we all sit down to a supper of pumpkin soup in mini cauldrons and a feast, quite literally fit for the dead.  We talk to the dead about the highlights of our year and then fall silent to hear what information we can.   When we are finished with our supper, the ancestor plate will be left outside along with a candle so that our ancestors may warm themselves and glean enough energy to see them safely back across the hedge until next year, when the Crone Goddess visits us.

How do you prepare for the dark and how do you venerate your ancestors?

The Season of Albun Eluid & the Fall Equinox

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ea’n Fo’mhair known as the autumn equinox, Albun Eluid, Harvest Home and more recently as Mabon, falls somewhere between September 21st-23rd.  The equinox finds us again with the longitude of the Sun is 0° and 180° and directly above the equator creating a day equal in both light and dark.  Once the sun crests the days from here until spring shall grow shorter.

While the first harvest focused on the gathering of grains and grasses, this second harvest is busy with the gathering of ripening fruits, nuts and vegetables.   Between Lughnasadh and through the season of Mabon grapes, plums, apples and blackberries are dried in our dehydrator or made into pies, sauces, cordials, shrubs, cider and ritual/table wines.  Melons are finally getting ripe, peas have reached the end, green beans are eaten fresh and canned, cucumbers and small zucchini into pickles, tomatoes are dried or canned into a variety of dishes, beets, onions, garlic, early squash, carrots, artichokes-the list goes on.  The race is on to gather walnuts and hazelnuts before the crows, chipmunks and squirrels.  Rose hips that were starting to turn at Lughnasadh are now fully ripe with gorgeous vibrant red colors and ready to be harvested and added fresh to honey or dried for later spell working. Final herbs are harvested and gathered in bunches to hang dry for later cooking, medicine or spellcrafts.

The energy is a bit frenzied as we all watch for the perfect moment our foods reach their peak and then hurry to process making sure there is no waste.

Our Mea’n Fo’mhair altars reflect the hard-won abundance we have sown and harvested.  Gorgeous red, orange and yellow leaves lay the foundation for colorful indian corn, bright red and green apples, nuts, purple wine grapes, textured gourds and luscious orange pumpkins.  Red and orange candles flank our Lord and Lady while grape vines ring the harvest sickle and bouquets of sunflowers, seedpods, bittersweet, beautyberry, zinnia, dahlia, chrysanthemum, pot marigold and nicotiana adorn our sacred space.

Our pantries are filled with hanging  herbs while jars of pickles, dried fruit, honeyed rosehips, dilly green beans, carrots, jeweled fruit jams, Dads famous pepper jelly, Grandma HeBert’s mustard pickles, elderberry cordial, raspberry shrub, blackberry and apple wines, as well as lemon verbena, conserve all vie for space on the crowded shelves.  Our dehydrator is working overtime to preserve the last berries and herbs too delicate to hang.

The turning tides also find us with open hearts of thanksgiving for the abundance we are harvesting and processing.  We call on the god and goddess of Mabon that we may share with them our abundance through libations poured and vegetables harvested, while also calling forth the blessings of plenty during winter scarceness.   The frenzied days turn to twilight skies and lengthening shadows signal an important shift as we ride the double helix of what we have manifested and what is to come.  We will feed our bodies with fruitful and nutritious sustenance while our souls are nourished with the vibrant colors of yellow, orange, purple and red turning foliage.

Mabon offering

Mabon offerings @ Rosethorn Manor

The waning sun bows its head and we traverse the liminal thread of the double spiral of fate-seeking that still deep place we have long yearned for and travel towards in the coming season of Samhain.   With the volumes of work to get the harvest in during the time of the shortening days, it can be a challenge to maintain our internal/external balance.   Mabon is as beautiful, rich and decadent as the colors we are surrounded by and we find ourselves being filled with wonder and gratitude for the gifts of the lady and lord that will sustain us in the dark days ahead.

How do you nourish yourself or maintain your balance in the Mabon Season?

Lughnasadh

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ughnasadh also known as Lammas, Lúnasa, Lùnastal, Luanistyn take place on  August 1st or thereabout and find us celebrating the first of three harvest rites.   While the timing is not necessarily technically middle of summer-in the PNW it is the middle of our hot and sunny season of the year and it is now that food stuffs are becoming ready for harvest and processing.

At this time in the PNW roses are still blooming and fragrant, yet the abundant hips are starting to turn a bright red signaling that there are changes coming.  Wheat and oats have ripened and are ready to be cut.  Grass hay and alfalfa have been baled and put up in our barns and fill the air with their fresh mown scent.  Vines have climbed high reaching towards the sun’s rays with hop flowers being readied for tea or beer and grapes sweetening in their ever-tightening skins to be eaten fresh or made into wine and jellies.   The puddles have long since dried and the water levels are getting lower in ponds and rivers which find little tree frogs, salamanders, bees, jackets and wasps crowding around watering holes and fish barrels.

As pagans, we have specific rites on special days as a way of bringing everyone together to raise energy that we may realign our frequency and sense of purpose to the season’s activities both internally and externally.  However, the sabbat days we celebrate together are not the beginning and ending for us, but kick off an entire season of nurturing, maintenance, gratitude and harvest.

In the season of Lugh or Lammas, we honor deity and adorn our altars with sunflowers, red hollyhocks, elfwort, heather, roses, poppies, indian corn, blueberries, blackberries, squash blossoms, nasturtiums, topaz, carnelian, yellow gold and red candles.  Ripened cereals of oats and wheat along with the first foodstuffs of corn, green beans, artichokes, crab apples, eggplant, early squash, a few grapes, mulberries, plums, pears and apples are added and generate gratitude in our hearts for the cyclic relationship we enjoy with our Earth Mother.    Grasses and grains are fashioned into a Grain Goddess with plenty of seeds to save for next year’s sowing. Flours of wheat and corn are made into fresh loaves of bread and an anatomically correct John Barleycorn is added to our altar.

At this time we call to the Goddess of Abundance of the God of the Green.  We give offerings of gratitude, enlivening our hearts and rejoicing in the abundance all around us.  We acknowledge the strong life-giving sun while recognizing the change in shortened days require a shift of duties and focus.  A noble and brave man is chosen to sacrifice himself for a time as John Barleycorn so that our cycles of give and take may continue.  We use this time to clear out our physical and spiritual storehouses of that which no longer feeds or nourish us, so that we may make room for the strongest and most nutritious energy sources to sustain us during the fallow time of the year.  At this time we have walked between the worlds and have gathered the required energies to move forward with the harvesting tasks at hand.  We drink and pay homage to the old gods and call upon their continued favor for our crops that we have the energy to continue our journey.

Each area around the world has smells that speak of the seasons and for us in the summer season, it is bilberry/blueberries, blackberries and apples.  It would not be summer in the PNW without the sweet pungent smells of those fruits baking in the sun. Blackberries, blueberries and apples are so nutritious and are eaten fresh, made into pies, syrup and wine.   Can’t get enough of the blackberries!  The lavendar has dried and been stripped of their stalks to be added to spell-workings and Full Moon Shortbread.  The beauty and abundance is all around and fills my heart with gratitude.  Though I will admit that all of the hard hot days of work see me longing for the cool crisp autumn nights and I relish the casual relaxed evenings with my family, the bbq’s, cool down swim time and midnight desserts.  We ponder the work/life balance, knowing the necessary hard work in the next weeks leading up to Mabon and continuing into Samhain will end with a cozy firelit evening to rest and contemplate further the journey of our souls.

How do you celebrate the summer harvest and what smells signal summer for you?

Bright Lughnasadh Blessings to you and yours!

Tarot Tuesday

                                       the TOWER

“After a great blow, or crisis, after the first shock and then after the nerves have stopped screaming and twitching, you settle down to the new condition of things and feel that all possibility of change has been used up. You adjust yourself, and are sure that the new equilibrium is for eternity. . . But if anything is certain it is that no story is ever over.”
― Robert Penn WarrenAll the King’s Men

Tower Tarot Card

celticT he Tower-change is a coming-blessed or be damned.  The Tower is a difficult card representing turmoil in our lives, there are no two ways about it.  We are trucking along thinking everything is going okay and ‘bam’ the Tower shows up, usually at the most inopportune times.  The Tower is generally known to mean danger or crisis is on its way as well as unforeseen change.  The Tower arrives to challenge the narrow structure that defines our lives or our security based on false beliefs about ourselves and our world.  It is a situation or occurrence sent to wake us up because up to this point nothing else has worked.

The major arcana cards are always an indication that our spirit is trying to speak with us…..the Tower is telling us that Spirits knocking has gone unheeded and will be ignored no more.

The Tower has always brought to mind the old stories of alchemists in the tower working furiously at magic, attempting to challenge currently held beliefs regarding the scientific order of things in the Universe as well as dabbling with otherworld energies for the wrong reasons.  The overstepping due to ignorance or ignoring the warning signs cause the Tower to explode sending everyone overboard.  Inner and outer realities collide with real-world consequences……what inner red flags have you been ignoring regarding what is right for your soul?

 

 

 

The Witch’s Garden…..and Sacred Space

“If such a consciousness truly is set loose in the world, nothing will be the same. It will free us to be in a sacred body, on a sacred planet, in sacred communion with all of it. It will infect the universe with holiness. We will discover the Divine deep within the earth and the cells of our bodies, and we will love her there with all our hearts and all our souls and all our minds.”   Sue Monk Kid

lugh afternoon

Raised beds and stone circle @ Rosethorn Manor

I The Witches Garden

step into my witches garden full of intoxicating scents and sights that fill my soul.  T’ween dusky dark and evening dew……these two magical times of day see the garden wrapping around its witch in a hug and beckoning me to commune and engage in the magic that surrounds.  I am embraced and enchanted by the scents of spring roses, heady lilacs and early blooming wisteria.  The freshness in the season of Beltane is a spring tonic for the soul that chases away the cobwebs of winter.

Earth magic is one of the oldest, easiest and most general forms of magic

Beltane Bouquet

Lovers Beltane Bouquet @ Rosethorn Manor

practiced, for we are but star seeds enrobed in earth.  The earth is our bodies and the blood of the ancestors sing in our veins, informing our DNA, our frequency and the very core of our magic.

For a Witch, the land is sacred and we have many rites and rituals that honor her and express our gratitude.  For me and mine, our land is also representative of our relationship with deity.   We have lived and worked this land at Rosethornridge for over 20 years.  Our land sits smack dab in the middle of older forests and new replants and is acreage that was originally logged and left.  She was very sad and a bit crestfallen when we purchased her and took up residency.

Through the years we have worked very hard to bring back balance and harmony to our little neck of the woods.  Intense practices of planning, organic farming, permaculture and forest scaping our space have created a haven for people, animals and nature spirits alike.  We have built beds for flowers, shrubs and trees that nourish the soul, heal and feed the body, while aiding in our spiritual practice.  Natural places have been incorporated to keep the wild mystery of the old ways alive.  There are places to work and spaces play, perches to rest with a glass of sweet tea and contemplate the greater mysteries.

Every working on our place is created with intention as it is representative of my family’s relationship with deity, the trinity of the God, the Goddess and us.  The blood, sweat, tears, love, joy and thoughts throughout the changing seasonal sabbats are our conversations with deity.

Butterfly & Delphinium

Butterfly & Delphinum @ Rosethorn Manor

The consistent and intentional cultivation of our space also intensifies our magical workings since herbs, flowers, roots, seeds, buds, leaves and other offerings of nature have been recipients of our attentions over many weeks, months or even years.  Each plant has been welcomed to Rosethornridge,  sown into the earth and nurtured through the love and attention it receives.  When we dig roots for dark moon magic or gather roses and lavender for a lovers enchantment we have now, in turn, become recipients of the energies of the Earth.  By creating sacred space and offering our gratitude through mindful intention, we have formed a bond and aligned ourselves with the plant energies long before they are ever harvested.

As with all worthwhile endeavors it has been a process to be sure.  After many years of mindful intention, a frequency is now present that allows the spirit energy of God & Goddess to be made manifest on the earthly plane, independent of its residents.  We endeavor to continue our symbiotic relationship with the land as an expression of our spiritual lives and practice.  How does your garden grow, we would love to hear from you.

Blessed Be & Happy Cultivating!

Beltane Blessings

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he wheel turns once again and we find ourselves at Beltane.  Beltane, also known as May Day falls on May 1st.  Though really what we are saying is May Day kicks off the Season of Beltane, with the thinning of the veil most prominent around May 5th.  There is a quickening of spring energy that pushes animals and people to pair up, bees have awoken and are starting to pollinate the spring flowers and trees.  We look for the sign of burgeoning spring in the apple blossoms to know when to plant our carrots, beans, peas and cabbages. There is so much creative energy spurring a frenzy of activity and we are holding hopes of creative and fertile abundance to manifest in our lives.  This is still also a liminal period where a profusion of starting buds and blooms can be killed off by late frosts and still need to be safeguarded.  The Sacred Marriage is the focus of Beltane where we celebrate the fiery and passionate union of the God and Goddess that energize the earth and put the fertile fire of creativity into our bellies.

April’s showers continue into May, though gentler and a bit warmer.  This winter has seen a lot of snow in the mountains and the colder temperatures have kept snow longer in the foothills surrounding our home. However the grass grows lush, rich and green for the horses, sheep, deer and elk.  The surge of new life can  be seen in the prevailing apple blossoms and spring bulbs while the rabbits chase each other around our stone circle in their frenzied mating dance.

Beltane is a rite that takes as much preparation as Samhain and has a special importance as it is the brightening of life when the veil is the thinnest.  We honor deity by adorning our altars with pink and green candles, early rose buds, honeysuckle, apple blossoms, hawthorn, lilacs and ivy.  Stones of malachite and rose quartz along with a drinking horn bring the beauty and frequency we are aligning ourselves with for the season.  Ivy wreaths have been wrapped with pink, purple and green ribbons.  The bonfires have been laid ready for lighting and the ribbons have been attached to the oiled maypole awaiting the dance.  Offerings of milk, honey, cinnamon and woodruff have been left out in a beautiful bowl on our sun dial.

Sacred woods of apple, willow, birch, hawthorn, oak, ash, elder, holly & hazel have been gathered and bundled for the ritual need fire.  Each and every wood has a purpose and frequency that when combined have a power all its own to bestow great blessings upon its maker.  This wood is of course all chosen with specific intent and gathered in a sacred way with many offerings.  As pagans we work diligently to listen and read the signs around us, not taking what has not been offered and always giving something back.

In the PNW, May is an extremely beautiful but contrary month for us in regards to weather. For that reason we always start our rituals indoors and set our sacred ring. We move outdoors to leave an offering to the Outsiders as well as a libation to our Maypole, the symbolic phallus of the Lord of the Rite. We circle the pole and dance the ring, reveling in the bawdy joy and sensuality of the season. With ribbons unfurled and wrapped around the pole in song and dance the ritual hieros gamos plays out and the piercing of the veil commences with the drifting down of the virginal ivy crown. The doorway has been ritually and energetically opened so that the welcome presence of the Lord and Lady is made manifest in our earthly realm. The energy by now is running very high and there is a tangible quality of connection and vibrancy among covenors, especially among mated pairs.  Some of the energies are kept under wraps until festivities later in the evening, since we have children who are in attendance. After we have danced the Maypole and planted our fairy charmed tree (all between the raindrops on many occasions) we light our three ritual needfires and head back in to expand upon our rite of celebrating the magical union of polarities both externally and internally. We call forth fertility, passion, joy, a new birth, good-fortune and creativity as we jump through the purifying and blessed powers of the balefire (remember to be careful what you wish for). Sometimes we might have a lovely handfasting ceremony to add to the festivities.  Once our rite is closed and the feast is had, children are put to bed or head home. Couples depart and participate in the Great Rite among the gardens or orchard or possibly on a spicy ride home. There is nothing like riding high on the energy that has been raised in circle and grounding it in the promise of future manifestations for our family, kin, Mother Earth and our fellow beings.

Another small project we like to do during the season of Beltane is to place the red eggs that have been planted on Ostara with nasturtium sees calling forth blessings for our beloved kin and tribe as well as those whom there is no love lost and those who are searching seed.
balefirejump We do this on the first family ritual of the month along with a mini Maypole that has been kissed by all the ladies is planted in the pot.  It is later watered with holy water and the blessed alchemy of the Great Rite. We then set the pot out of doors to enjoy the light of the sun & moon and await the growth of each of the blessings we have called upon.

How do you celebrate the Season of Bel?

Blessed be in this season of Beltane!

mini maypole

Mini Maypole wand & Ostara Eggs @ Rosethorn Manor

House Wine-Part II

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t Rosethorn Manor-we work hard and we play hard.  While I admit, I do on occasion love the punch of brisk and sweet southern tea on a roasting day, I normally cannot consume things so sweet.

In our house my husband, son and I all three have different tastes when it comes to tea….kind of like the three bears, which is why the second house wine in line is Herbal Sun Tea (this is actually a tisane, however for the sake of common generality we will use them interchangeably).  There are certain flavors this pagan girl craves in the summer heat and it is mint and lemon and nothing better fills that craving as fresh herbs from the garden.  This spring we have been especially lucky to have my four favorite tea herbs of sweet mint, lavendar, lemon balm and sage already showing growth and ready to use.

All four of these herbs, along with chamomile, make a healing sun brew that can be consumed all summer.  I have the particular challenge of dealing with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome) and the combination of these herbs go a long way in helping deal with the symptoms while also aligning my body with the healing energies of earth and sun.  This particular tea is good for all women whether you have female ailments or just want a healthy healing concoction for your lovely bodies.

House Wine Part II

Tisane herbs from the gardens of Rosethorn Manor

Lemon balm has a refreshingly bright lemon flavor and is a feminine herb known for its association with the Melissa-Priestess of Bees.  It works to balance the hormones and boost circulation as well as acting as an anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal; it reduces cancer cell size, lifts depression and aids in menstrual discomfort.  Its sedative properties reduce anxiety and stress and gives the tea a soft smooth quality.

Sage has a sharp pungent flavor (so I go easy on this in the tea and adjust the flavor accordingly).  It is related to the rosemary plant and has anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant properties.  It is beneficial for bones, brain, skin and the immune system.

Lavender is an amazing all round feminine super herb that I use in every area of my life cooking, cleaning, healing and spell working.  Definitely one of my herbal totems and allies.  As a tea it reduces stress and anxiety, aid in sleep and relaxation while still keeping the mind present, it reduces the pain of cramps and calms the overall system working as an antibiotic, antiseptic, disinfectant, antiviral and anti-inflammatory.  A wonderful ally with endless uses.

Mint, in general, is a cooling herb that tastes amazing and is known to help reduce testosterone.  Spearmint, in particular, is known to decrease androgen levels and reduce the levels of free testosterone in the blood, which is especially important if you have PCOS.  Mint is a digestive and anti-oxidant and serves to lift depression as well as combat some cancers and clear the mind.

Chamomile has antipeptic, antispasmodic, antipyretic, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-allergenic and serves to soothe the body inside and out as well as aid in sleep.

I also like to add stinging nettle when in season and fennel seed which is wonderful for the female systems.  I used to use hops from our vine outside the front door, however, I have learned that hops contain high levels of phytoestrogens which are not good for me.  For most women it can be a lovely addition to their tea blend, however, if you have PCOS, make sure to check your hormone panel to see if you are high or low in your estrogen.

Feminine Balancing Herbal Sun Tisane recipe
1 large handful of Chamomile or 6 Chamomile tea bags (while I grow chamomile I really love the flavor of Celestial Seasonings Honey Chamomile)
3-4 sprigs Lavendar 

1 large handful of Lemon Balm

 

House Wine II Tisane

House Wine II Herbal Tisane

1 large handful of Mint -though flavor-wise I go easy on the Spearmint as its pretty strong
1-2 large springs of culinary Sage

Place all the herbal darlings into a 1 gallon glass jug or sun tea pitcher (not plastic) and place out in the sun for the day.

I do sweeten with honey at times, however, I do this last because it will start to ferment on the occasion you forget it.  When it’s really hot out I will leave the tea out overnight to bathe in the full moon when she is out and just generally cool down before placing in the fridge.  Though you will want to have two pitchers because as soon as one is made it will be drank and another needs to be brewing.

Blessed (Bee) and Enjoy the Season of Sun Tea Brewing!

House Wine-Part I

Preferred House Wines of the Witches of Rosethorn Manor

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othing quite quenches the taste buds on a hot day than iced tea.  People all over the world have some form of tea obsession.  At Rosethorn Manor, the house wine-nectar of the Goddess is tea.  We drink it year round for slaking our thirst, warming up, cooling off, comfort and healing.  Opinions in our house are split between the herbal sun tea and southern sweet tea (ask any southerner or my son and the world just isn’t right without some sweet tea).

We grew up drinking iced tea in the summer with crushed mint from my Grandma’s garden and I just couldn’t get enough of it.  However, it had very little if any sugar in it.  Sugar just wasn’t something my sis and I had much of growing up and I never really developed a taste for it.

Fast forward into the future 20 years….I’m in college the second time around…….and along comes a Virginia Boy.  Well, this Virginia Boy and I become fast friends and he waxes on about his Mamma’s southern sweet tea…he can’t find it anywhere up here in the north, people have tried and nobody, but nobody can make tea like a southerner he tells me.  Well, having spent time in Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee, I can attest to the fact that this Virginia Boy is correct, our tea is not made so sweet~as that is known as hummingbird water up here in the Pacific Northwest.  BUT…this boy has thrown down the gauntlet and I am not known for walking away from a challenge (and I’m just plain tired of hearing him whine about tea).  Off I go, bound and determined to conjure this homesick boy some Southern Sweet Tea.  Now mind you…..this witch can cook and this witch can conjure, so this witch is pretty darned good at figuring recipes out.

Down the road a couple batches and I am just not getting the recipe correct and it’s making me a little pissy (this was in the day before everything was all over the internet).  It was never sweet enough and something was just a little off.  I asked this Virginia Boy what was in the recipe and how much of what?  He said he didn’t know as he’d never made it, but he knew it when he tasted it.  Finally, I broke down and asked if his Mamma could possibly be sweet-talked into parting with her Sweet Tea recipe?  The Virginia Boy gets on the horn with his Mamma, who very graciously parts with her recipe.  What was the missing ingredient you ask?    Baking soda and waaaaay, way more sugar than I was using.  The finished product was actually something I couldn’t quite stomach too much of, but it was taste-tested by the Virginia Boy, who said it tasted just like his Mamma’s.   I did tease him and reminded him I was a northerner.  The Virginia Boy just smiled and told me I must have a southerner’s heart to make southern sweet tea.  I will admit the baking soda threw me for a loop, however it does really smooth out the flavors of the tea.

The recipe for this Southern Sweet Tea is as follows:

6-7 tea bags-(Liptan is okay, but Luzianne in the red box is better and trust me, it does make a difference in flavor, I don’t know why)

1 1/2 -2 cups of sugar

Place these in a bowl or 4 cup measure and pour boiling water to the top.  Stir the sugar until dissolved. When somewhat cooled add a pinch of baking soda and stir.
Garnish with fresh mint or lemon

Now….in reality, I just cannot make the tea with this much sugar.  My husband doesn’t like things so sweet either, however, I have a teenage son who believes the more sugar the better.  For years I got away with making it with a lot less sugar,  though my son just returned from visiting family in South Carolina and has experienced the difference.  Since I can no longer pull the reduced-sugar wool over his eyes, I make it with a combination of sugar and stevia or just stevia.  I know southerners are probably rolling their eyes skyward, but as I said-in this house that’s hummingbird water.  We still love us some Southern Sweet Tea though.

Southern Sweet Tea and Herbal Tisane

House Wines @ Rosethorn Manor

To see the second preferred house wine by the Witches of Rosethorn Manor please continue to House Wine Part II