Category Archives: SIMPLE WITCHERY

Witching Up a Recipe

Nothing says summer picnic to me like sweet and tangy pickled beets. You can buy your fried or broasted chicken at any number of fast food places. Purchase a pint of potato salad at the deli counter, and pick up a watermelon from the produce stand. But pickled beets—really good pickled beets, are a work of kitchen magic.

My mother was an excellent cook, the kind who used a pinch of this and a dash of that, a few cups here, a handful there—stir and taste until it’s just right. When she cooked from scratch the results were five star.

She was also a busy woman and her forte was “doctoring” things up. That meant sometimes starting with store bought sauce, packaged macaroni and cheese, or other convenience packaged, canned, or frozen mainstay. Then she added her own magic touch. I do the same, but I prefer to call it witching things up.

Back to the beets. My mother made, hands down, the best pickled beets I’ve ever tasted. Judging from the request she received for the recipe, they are the best pickled beets just about anybody has ever tasted. And it takes less than 10 minutes to make them.

Refigerator Pickled Beets

  • 2 Cans Sliced Beets (with liquid)
  • I Medium to Large Onion
  • 1.25 Cups White Sugar
  • 1 Cup Vinegar
  • 4 Whole Cloves
  • 1 Quart Jar (with cover)

Pour juice from both cans of beets into saucepan, about 1.5 cups. Add generous 1 cup, (up to 1.5 cups) vinegar. I use half apple cider and half white vinegar; I like my pickled beets a bit tangier than they are sweet. Add sugar sliced onion and cloves. Bring to boil. Fill jar to 1/4 with canned sliced beets, then pour brine with onions to cover. Repeat this process until jar is filled, alternating beets and liquid with onions. Cover jar, let cool then put in refrigerator. Wait at least 24 hours before serving. If you can, wait a little longer to give the flavors a chance to develop and blend—it’s worth it. These will keep several weeks in refrigerator—but once you open the jar you’ll eat them all before that.

I alternate adding beets and liquid into the jar simply to distribute the onions throughout. You can add more vinegar or sugar to your personal taste, and yes, taste the brine while cooking until you get it just right . . . I wouldn’t know any other way to cook.

You can make this recipe with fresh beets, and I’m not going to argue that it will enhance the already delicious ambrosia. Simply clean, peel and precook the beets, and use the beet water. But honestly, if you buy a good quality of canned beets this recipe is hard to beet (lol) for it’s flavor and ease of preparation.

It’s up to you whether you share the bounty—or share the secret ingredient . . . “You’ll never believe I made it with canned beets!”

When I’m asked what the secret is, I just say, “It’s magic.”


Simple Witchery Part 3 — The Four Pillars of Witchcraft

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To Know,
To Will,
To Dare,
To Keep Silent

 

What does that mean for a practicing witch? These are the four governing principals of the practice of all witchcraft. Each is simple at first glance, and means just what you would think, to have knowledge, to be willing to apply that knowledge, to dare to test your limits, and to keep it all under your pointy little hat.

However, they issue a deeper command even in simple witchery.

To Know: As I touched on in Simple Witchery parts 1 and 2, the highest order of business for a witch is know self above all else. Does this mean I have to embark on a quest, submit to extensive therapy, unpack all my bags and rattle the skeletons out of my closet before I can be a practicing witch?

No. But it does mean that a large part of your on going practice is devoted to knowing what makes you tick, why you do what you do, why you want what you want—the unvarnished truth. This is mostly because witch crafting works with intent, and if you don’t know your motivations, your intent can backfire. In fact, it will backfire . . . every witch has at least one story of learning that lesson.

I spent years as a personal development coach. I helped clients discover their motivational style, to more easily understand their desires and choices. When taken down to the lowest common denominator we are all motivated by fear and reward, with each at the opposite ends of the spectrum. In a very simplistic example, if a bartender took the job because the tips are good and s/he needed to pay the rent, that leans toward a motivation of fear—afraid of being homeless. If s/he took the job because of s/he likes meeting people, loves to talk and listen, and finds the atmosphere energizing, in other words s/he loves the job, that is much closer to reward motivation.

The example above just touches the tip of the iceberg, but you can see how it works. As a witch, do I want to cast a banishing spell because someone is truly causing me harm, or because I’m a little jealous of them, or annoyed by their needs or . . . (take your pick).  In such cases, it might be far better for me to work on myself, and if I cast any spell, to make it one for tolerance. At the very least, if I go ahead and work a banishing, knowing why I’m doing it will allow me to make it more effective.

A final note here; magic is not always the right or best solution and you have to know that too. Exhaust all mundane (non-magical) solutions first. Instead of casting a binding spell on a coworker who is bothering you—confront them in a calm and logical way. If that doesn’t work, take it up with human services.

So the first thing to know is yourself, the real you, the true you—warts and all as they say. Then, there is knowing the craft, the history of it, the thought leaders past and present, and the mechanics of it. There is only one way to achieve this and that’s research, research, research. If you’re a joiner, there are some great schools to be found online, and mentoring groups in social media. If you’re just starting out, I recommend finding somebody who is advanced and reputable, for some one on one mentoring.

There are many knowledgable writers at patheos.com. Circle Sanctuary is also another great source. Llewellyn is the largest publisher and book seller of pagan and witchcraft authors (among other genres).

As you can see, this To Know thing, is an on-going pursuit throughout the lifetime of a practicing witch. The wisest witch knows she doesn’t know it all and never will.

To Will: This is your intent. The magic of witchcraft is to actually will something to happen with focused intent through manipulating the laws of nature, human nature and physics. Let’s look at that word, manipulate, because it can have a negative connotation. 1.

handle or control (a tool, mechanism, etc.), typically in a skillful manner.

“he manipulated the dials of the set”

So witchcraft can be described as skillfully managing, controlling or creating (manifesting) a desired outcome through knowledge of natural and physical laws.

The caveat with this one is to remember what Cyndi Brannen of Keeping Her Keys says (I’m paraphrasing a bit as she names a deity, rather than using the word magic)  “[Magic]  can not do for you, what it can not do through you.”  In other words, you can’t work magic to help you find the perfect job, and then not do everything in your (will) power to look for that job. You can’t cast a spell for needed money, and not be willing to work for that money.

Then, what do you need the magic for? Isn’t it all just willpower? Yes and no—mostly no, and you’ll understand this as you get better at making magic happen. It just works.

To Dare: For me, to dare means to take the risk, because being a witch is risky. We might not have witch hunts, persecution and death by drowning, hanging or burning at the stake . . . in most countries, but it’s still not all that safe to be a witch. Society doesn’t look fondly on witches, we live in the margins, we have truck with the undesirables—often we are their champions, sometimes we are them.

To dare also means to believe and to try. “Do I dare believe I can attain this, or create that with witchery?” And, “Do I dare believe I am deserving enough to have this power?” In this vein, to dare is to lay claim to your sovereignty, your divine-given right to strive for that which you desire. Your right to autonomy, your right to justice, your right to equality. Whether you are practicing in the broom closet (keeping your witchery secret) or you are a loud and proud witch – to dare means to take control of your own power and use it.

To Keep Silent: Again, pretty self explanatory on the surface. Historically, keeping silent meant to keep your practice secret, only share it with coven mates if you had them, It was self preservation. But there were, and are, family and legacy considerations for keeping silent too—just like secret recipes, a family might keep their particular ways only in the family, passing it down through the generations. This was often the root of the book of shadows and the grimoires.

In my opinion, it also means to be circumspect about your practice, being careful not to share with those who would misuse or cheapen it, who are interested because it’s a fad. Also, not to proselytize. The general rule of thumb is that somebody who seems interested in learning more, must ask of their own accord.

Finally, I see keeping silent as part of my personal spell work, in not broadcasting the spells I cast. Cast your spell, release the energy to do its work in the universe, and let it go, put it out of your mind. Keep your journal, or book of shadows, to write the spell and later note its success or failure. That is the way your practice grows and you become better at crafting spells and manifesting results.

I want to add one final note to this series on simple witchery—simple does not mean lazy. There is no room for lazy in effective witchcraft. Study, make time for devotion/meditation, practice the craft (work spells, keep notes, and track your practice). Prepare your spells carefully, researching correspondences, moon phases, and other influencing factors. In this way, a simple practice every day is better than an elaborate ritual once a month on full moon, or whenever you have time.

My vision for Simple Witchery is to help you create an effective practice that fits your lifestyle, your schedule, your resources and, yes, your finances . . . because the only thing you need to be a witch, is within you—your belief and your intent. The rest is window dressing.

Start where you are, go slow, and grow.

Blessed Be and Journey Well

Read Parts One & Two

For more Simple Witchery visit the MAD Goddess  Patreon site, where you’ll find lots of free content, and the opportunity to become a patron starting at $3/mo.


Witchy Wares: A Merry Little Gift List

I’ve been so busy in my northwoods realm I nearly forgot to share my list of witchin’ gifts for the holidays.

Topping my gift picks this year is anything from Sarah Ann Lawless’s newly launched herbal shop, Bane Folk. I have long been a follower of this folk herbal witch, watching her develop and refine her line of exquisite poisons into modern versions of historic flying potions and other products. Her mandrake ointment has been a wonder for easing the pain from my spinal stenosis.* Now that she offers 5ml tubes for sampling each of her six herbal salves, I can’t wait to try them all.Screen Shot 2018-12-15 at 12.22.30 PM

The newest addition to her product line is her Poison Garden Perfume Collection. The website states, “Each poison garden roll-on perfume oil is crafted with the botanical extracts & essential oils of psychoactive and poisonous plants from the Artemisia and Solanaceae plant families.”

The size and price (a mere $4 +S&H) make this a perfect stocking stuffer.

*This is not an endorsement, recommendation, or suggestion for medical treatment.

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Listen, a witch can never have too many candles. For magics. I found these colorful beauties at Menorah(.com). Hand dipped using organic beeswax, they feature 100% cotton, clean burning wicks. Don’t be fooled by the picture, these diminutive tapers are only about 5 inches tall, but in my opinion that only lends to their magical uses. At $17.99 for a package of 45, it might be the best deal on this year’s list.

If you’re like me, scrolling through #witchesofinstagram, #pagasofinstagram and #castingspells on your Instagram feed turns you just a little bit green with envy. Some witches really know how to visually style a spell. While I’m waiting for the book of pretty spell casting to comeScreen Shot 2018-12-15 at 1.41.14 PM out (hint-hint Spell Bar), I find a lot of inspiration in the not-exactly-meant-for-witches magazine, Willow and Sage One year of four issues costs a dear price of $50 by subscription, a $2.50 savings per issue. It’s filled with how-to, ingredient lists and sources, and pages of visual eye candy for the home herbalist. A cleaver witch can see past the practical application and transform inspiration into beautifully laid spells.

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Of course, there’s much more to casting a good spell than meets the eye. This quirky little book, Composing Magic, by Elizabeth Barrette, covers the basics skills of  good writing and applies them to magical works. The easy to read format lets you jump around to areas of interest, such as spells, rituals, or a book of shadows, but the books flows from beginning to end with an easy to read style.

Screen Shot 2018-12-15 at 2.05.07 PMI can’t leave without sharing my fountain pen pick of the year. I’m obsessed with these scratchy, inky, pens that harken to the past. This rose gold and aquamarine Ted Baker model is hard to come by, but a Google search will still lock in a few available for purchase. If you love it as much as I do, don’t dally!

Don’t forget the ink! Though this is categorized as a red, the shimmer in Diamine Red Luster gives it the appearance of a rich copper sheen.

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That rounds out my witchin’ gift picks for Yuletide 2018. Wishing you a bright and blessed Solstice Season.

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