Monthly Archives: October 2010

Aradia’s Kuri Pumkin Soup

This recipe was invented spontaneously, after reading half a dozen recipes.  The pumpkin we used also has a French name, which translates as “walnut pumpkin”, but I can’t find a reference at the moment.

6 lbs kuri pumpkin, halved & cleaned (appx. 5-6 pumpkins)

2 apples, diced

1 onion, diced

7 cups of chicken stock

1 cup of apple cider

1 tsp each, ground: cumin, nutmeg

1/2 tsp each, ground: cardamom, clove, ginger, cinnamon, pepper

1 cup cream

Crème fresh.

Begin by halving your pumpkins.  Kuri pumpkins are small, but very hard to cut according to our sources.  (Apparently our sources didn’t have a good Chinese cleaver.)

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Baste the halves with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, then bake at 350 for about 60-90 minutes – basically until they’re done.  Check on them every 15-20 minutes after 45.  When ready, pull the pumpkins from the oven and set them aside.

While the pumpkins cool so that you can touch them, dice the onion and apples, and measure out your spices.  When you can handle the pumpkins, scoop out the flesh into a stock pot.  Add the other ingredients and boil them on medium to medium-high (you know your stove better than I) for an hour or so, until the flavors are starting to come together.

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It won’t be quite right yet.  Don’t worry.  Puree the soup in a food processor or with a boat motor, whichever you prefer.  The flavor should be coming together now.  Allow to cook until you’re ready to serve, then add the cream.

Serve with a dollop of crème fresh … or sour cream if you’re poor like us.

We served ours with a loaf for farl bread, from Paul Hollywood’s “100 Great Breads” (p.31).

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the Full Moon, a Feast, and My Decision to Buy a Besom

Aradia and I celebrated the full moon two nights ago, and had our early Samhain feast last night.  Neither of these would be as significant, except that we’ve rather “fallen off the wagon” with both our magical practices and our social lives.  So we decided it was time to have a party.

The story actually starts last weekend, getting the house ready for an old friend of Aradia’s to visit from St. Louis.  Reflecting our mental and emotional states as I creep up on six months of unemployement and we both struggle with classes, our house was something of a disaster.  Our house altar had been almost untouched since our practice group stopped meeting shortly after the Summer Solstice.  It took us most of the week, but the house was clean (if not cleansed) and the altar prepared for Samhain less than half an hour before Firebird & Crew arrived.

Firebird brought three friends with her : two fellow spinners/manipulators, A and C, and A’s ladyfriend N, who invited herself along despite not having any actual interest in the entire affair.  MagicCat didn’t like them at all, which turned out to be a red flag.  Firebird was good fun, but her friends should have just stayed in St.L.  By the time they left, Aradia, myself, and our house were all toxic.  So we cast a circle and cleansed the house like we should have done before they got there.

Suddenly, everything was beautiful again.  The Circle snapped into place as soon as we lit the Air candle, like we’d never left off.  We went room-to-room with a burning wand of white sage and a lavender oil mister.  We even did the porch.

Living with another witch for the last year has really changed my mind on a lot of things.  Aradia and I went to the KC Renaissance Festival a month or so ago, and one of the vendors we passed by specialized in ornate “decorative” brooms.  For the first time, I found myself seriously thinking about owning and using a besom.  Given my absurdly macho, psuedo-ceremonial roots, this is not a tool that most of the things I’ve done or studied put any emphasis on.  I’ve only used a besom once, in fact, when I helped make one for a workshop out at Heartland this last May.  When we went back to the Faire last weekend with Firebird & Crew, we passed the same vendor and I found myself thinking – not “is this a tool I need?” but “which of these would be best for me?”.  Apparently I had made my decision sometime in between … probably while pushing the broom.

Fast forward a week.  The house is actually still clean, though in need of some work.  We’re both still in a fantastic mood, despite the stress.

I originally had plans for Friday night, but they were canceled when the gremlins in Aradia’s car threw a party to remind everyone they were still there.  I don’t remember exactly what she said about her own plans for the evening, but my response …

“It’s the full moon?”

When I say fell off the wagon, I’m not fucking joking.

We went over to Aradia’s family’s house to help them with the annual brush-burn and to incinerate a few things that that should have been disposed of long ago.  We took our drums and tranced out for a while before doing our full moon tarot readings.  It wasn’t formal, structured, or intense, but it was what we needed.  We need to work our way back up to intense, and we’ve got about seven days.  (Samhain’s totally going to kick my ass.)

Saturday came, and with it our pre-Samhain pumpkin party.  We didn’t know what anyone’s plans for the actual weekend would be, or if there would be a ritual at all, so we decided to host a feast and carve jak-o-lanterns.  The invitations went out almost a month ago.

I helped Aradia make pumpkin soup out of the five kuri pumpkins (the green-and-orange ones) you saw on the altar, and Aradia made a loaf of amazing tasty bread.  We drank tasty pumpkin beer.  My parents brought an amazing autumn stew.  Our neighbor, K, brought pumpkin-filled doughnuts.  Our friends Pasiphae and Aiden brought a feast all by themselves: pumpkin-banana bread, pumpkin-cheesecake pie, and Halloween-themed jell-o-snacks.  (They also brought their munchkins – the MagicCat was not amused.) 

We all had so much fun that we never got to the pumpkin carving part.

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Metapost

So, I’ve been playing with different programs to update the blog.  I usually write my draft in OpenOffice, then copy and paste it over to the webeditor, but that’s … aesthetically displeasing to me.  MS Word is pretty good for it, but I haven’t ever gotten around to buying a copy of MSOffice, and my trial ran out again.  (Grrr, poverty.)

Today I discovered Windows Live Writer, which I like a lot lo far.  It gives me a really, really good idea of what my posts will look like when I’m done (insasmuch as that even matters), and pasting images from my computer or the web is much easier.  I’m not sure yet, but I think I can even set it up to update my livejournal, too, which would be neat.  I really hate the LJ webeditor.

Today I also discovered the Stats tracker on this blog.  First: I’m an idiot and I’ve been tracking my own pageviews, so the count is practically meaningless (I only use this thing twelve times a day to keep up on my blogroll).  But!  Not wholly meaningless!  People from as far away as Russia and South Africa have visited!   That’s awesome!  Hello out there!  (::waves vigorously::)  Folks from China, the UK, and Latvia have come by!  (And of, course, many Americans … almost all of whom might actually be me.)  It’s very, very exciting to me to have had visitors from not the US.  I can’t really explain why (that whole crazy thing).

Also, most of my viewers come from Facebook (which doesn’t surprise me) and that my altar is the most interesting thing I’ve written about so far.  So there will definitely be more of that.

/spaz

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Samhain Altar


This weekend, Aradia and I put up our Samhain altar. It will probably see some revisions over the course of the season, but I think it’s a really good start.

At the top you’ll see my Sun King mask wearing the Crown of the Waning Year. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that we didn’t change out the crowns until just now – our practice fell off somewhat over the summer, due to various and sundry dramas, and we’re only now getting back up on the wagon. We must not be doing too badly, though, because when we did our house-cleansing the Circle popped into place as soon as we lit the first candle.

The centerpiece is the Death Mask I made last Samhain. I’m actually a little startled how much power it has acquired over the year its spent in my altar. “It’s watching me,” Aradia said when we set it up. Then: “You do that a lot.” (Do what? I ask innocently.) “Creating entities.” I guess I do. It’s kind of the nature of masks, but they’re not the first. That would be Tsu*.

Dionysos and the Water-bearer serve as our God and Goddess images for the moment. A candle for the sun and moon sit beside them, and the horns I made for Aradia’s Princess of Pentacles photoshoot in between. A Ganesha incense burner, a brass gong, Aradia’s ritual knife, and our house chalice also share the upper tier, all in front of a Zodiac poster older than I am to represent the wheel of the year. There’s also a five-pointed gourd we picked up at the farmer’s market that day … it called to me.

The lower level has our four elemental candles and various associated symbols: a rock and a fallen leaf; incense burner and a smudge stick; my cauldron, a candleholder and an ash tray; a seashell box. The pumpkins are for our pre-Samhain feast, and the candelabra in the middle also holds our Brigid candles from Imbolc. There are, of course, a few assorted tools and crystals for one thing or another, and the altar-box below.

 

*Another story, for another day. It’s long and not actually as interesting as it sounds.

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Astrological Influence?

I have just found out that Venus is currently retrograde. There’s also some kind of Martian action going on that I don’t understand.

Maybe that’s why I’ve been feeling so butch lately.

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Source Review – the Tarot: History, Symbolism and Divination.

Books on how to read Tarot cards are dime-a-dozen. (Figuratively, at least; Hermes help me, I wish they were cheaper.) Good books on the Tarot are fewer and further between, and most of them are associated with a particular deck – there are entire libraries, for example, dedicated to the Crowley&Harrison’s Thoth deck, alone. For a generalist book, though, you can hardly do better than this one.

Robert M. Place stand out from other Tarot writers, first and foremost, in that he can distinguish between myth and history. The Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination actually has a chapter devoted to each. Unlike many authors, who subscribe to the mythical history wholesale, Place recognizes that the symbolism of the Major Arcana cannot be traced further back than Renaissance Italy, and goes to great length to prove his point, citing a number of studies and histories patently ignored by many in the New Age community, romantically attached as they are to the idea of ancient (even prehistoric) origins. He then goes on to describe and debunk the mythic history, showing where Levi and others invented the Tarot they needed, ultimately culminating in the well-known Waite-Smith deck.

From there, Place traces the individual symbols in many of the cards, providing a clear insight into their historical meanings and contexts. He describes the divinatory and symbolic meanings of the Waite-Smith illustrations (more commonly known as the Rider-Waite deck, a name which credits the corporate publishers over the female artist). He cites Waite and Smith’s memoirs, notes, and letters, giving us further insight into the origin of the modern Tarot deck.

Finally, he has a chapter on layouts, which – to my delight – overlooks the overused Celtic Cross and includes an expanded version of the Twelve Houses spread. It even starts with some general discussion of the theory behind various layouts.

SOURCE
Place, Robert M. the Tarot: History, Symbolism, and Divination. New York: Penguin, 2005. Print.

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