Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rest in Peace Grandma Tranfaglia


Rest in Peace Antoinette G. Tranfaglia
September 21, 1916
November 26, 2011
This is her favorite saint. Saint Francis of Assisi. 
This picture was on the prayer card they handed out at the wake.

My fiance Kellie wrote this for her grandmother's funeral and it was read out loud by the priest at the service. It was beautiful, and I think it sums up perfectly how most people felt about her.
 
My grandmother was truly an amazing woman. I know that sounds like such a simple statement, but if you were to ask anyone that knew and loved her, ‘amazing’ would be the word they would use to describe her.  


She was born the daughter of Italian immigrants and grew up in a time that I could not even imagine living in. As a young girl, she and her 12 brothers and sisters worked hard to help their parents put food on the table every night. My grandmother would always tell one particular story about the time her father made her kill her own pet chicken because they had nothing else for dinner that night. When I was younger, I thought it was funny, but as I grew older, I realized just how hard it must have been and how truly amazing she was for sacrificing so much for her family. She was always so devoted to her family. She loved her family and always put everyone before herself.


My grandmother also loved to cook, and as some people know, coming to her house was sometimes very dangerous. If you ever came over when she was cooking or if she had food made or even if she didn’t, she would find something, anything, and serve it to you, and she would not be satisfied until you ate ever last piece. She would even give you her own food if she thought you were still hungry! To her, food was just another way to make people happy…even if it cost them a few extra pounds.


I’d like to end this on an even more personal note. All my life, out of all the stories she had ever told me, my grandmother repeated one particular story the most. 25 years ago, my grandmother was lying in a hospital room, very sick with cancer. She was praying to God, over and over again, asking him to let her live, at least long enough to see me, her unborn granddaughter, graduate from High School. Well, I was born on December 1st, 1986, and soon after that, my grandmother started to get better. She lived 25 years after that, and throughout those 25 years, she made me feel as though I was her reason for living. At the same time, I have felt so privileged, knowing I was blessed by her life and I thank God for such an amazing birthday present each year. Her absence on my birthday will be the hardest thing in the world, but knowing that she passed away peacefully in her sleep, knowing that she wasn’t in pain, knowing that she wasn’t afraid, and knowing that she is in Heaven, looking down on us all from my grandfather’s arms…that is all I could wish for.


Thank you, grandma, for all that you did. You were truly amazing and you will truly be missed.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Although the Pagan Thanksgiving has already passed, many of you are celebrating the National Thanksgiving Day as well.

Happy Thanksgiving!

This day is for giving thanks for all of the things that have blessed your life. Thanks to your friends and family, Thanks to the plentiful harvest and all the wonderful food you are about to eat, Thanks to having a roof over your head... But as you realize how fortunate you truly are, Please think about all those who are less fortunate then you. If you can do one thing to help them out, then this is the season to do it.

I want you all to take some time out from the Food, Family, and Celebration this Thanksgiving, and Give Thanks for all the blessings in your life. Then resume your day with a smile on your face, knowing that the Goddess and the God heard your prayer.

I would like to now take some time to post a few of the things I am Thankful for this year:
  • My Fiance Kellie
  • My and my Fiance's Wonderful and Supportive Family
  • Kellie and My 'Son/Kitten' Sage
  • My Awesome and Amazing Friends
  • The roof over my head
  • The Wedding Plans for next year
  • The Goddess and the God
  • The fact that I have not gotten sick yet this season (And I'm hoping it continues)
  • The Beautiful Autumn that we had (And all the walking and crunchy leaves)
  • The Beautiful Witch's Circle I got to join in on Halloween in Salem MA
  • My mom making me very YUMMY Gluten Free Foods this Thanksgiving
  • There are so many things I can not possibly list them all... (That is a blessing in itself)
Thank you!

Seshat Goddess Star Giveaway

There is a new give away that I stumbled across. It's a gorgeous ornament from Beauty Watcher. I found this give away on Confession of a Pagan Soccer Mom's Blog.

This is the beautiful ornament that you could win by following the link above and doing the requirements.
Here's the description on the blog:  
        This decorative star, like others at Mairyann's Etsy shop, measures 3.5 inches and hangs from a black ribbon. The edges are finished in copper, front and back  and is finished in beautiful rhinestone, bead and glitter touches.
        The goddess featured on this particular star is Seshat, the female aspect of the god, Thoth.  A scribe to the Pharoah, Seshat is known as the "Mistress to the house of books", and looks over not only the library of the Gods, but also earthly libraries.  In her hands she holds a palm branch to bless the Pharaoh's reign with many years.

I don't know about you, but I would LOVE to win this ornament (I really want to give it to someone special for Christmas!)
Check it out!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Three-Fold Law

       
        The Law of Three or The Threefold Law is a very good law for witches to follow. Basically it is a law of cause and effect and it says that if you work magic it will come back to you times three. So if you use magic with good intentions (EX: Healing) the positive energy will come back to you three times stronger. But if you use magic with bad intentions (EX: Revenge) the negative energy will come back to you three times stronger.
         The Goddess charges us to exercise great care in all that we, as Witches, do and say and even think. The Threefold Law takes the notion that "what we reap, we will sow", a few steps further..in fact, THREE steps further. For what we do "for good or for ill, shall be returned to us threefold." In light of this fact, Witches are loath to cause any harm, lest it be returned to them in spades!!


        This is not to say that witches do not wish revenge against something that has happened, it just means that they know that their actions against it will not help the situation at all. Just like Karma, they know that what is meant to happen, will happen. And The Goddess and God will take care of it, so we do not need to get involved and make the situation worse then it needs to be. 
        Wiccan beliefs assure that what is merited by a persons actions will come to pass. You need only to ask the God and Goddess for "justice to be done". This is in line with natural laws and the promises of the Ancient Ones. Once you have asked in the correct manner you can rest assured that the situation will be taken care of. The issue can then be released and you can go about your normal business.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Wiccan Rede

The Wiccan Rede


Bide within the Law you must, in perfect Love and perfect Trust.
Live you must and let to live, fairly take and fairly give.


For tread the Circle thrice about to keep unwelcome spirits out.
To bind the spell well every time, let the spell be said in rhyme.


Light of eye and soft of touch, speak you little, listen much.
Honor the Old Ones in deed and name, let love and light be our guides again.


Deosil go by the waxing moon, chanting out the joyful tune.
Widdershins go when the moon doth wane, and the werewolf howls by the dread wolfsbane.


When the Lady's moon is new, kiss the hand to Her times two.
When the moon rides at Her peak then your heart's desire seek.


Heed the North winds mighty gale, lock the door and trim the sail.
When the Wind blows from the East, expect the new and set the feast.


When the wind comes from the South, love will kiss you on the mouth.
When the wind whispers from the West, all hearts will find peace and rest.


Nine woods in the Cauldron go, burn them fast and burn them slow.
Birch in the fire goes to represent what the Lady knows.


Oak in the forest towers with might, in the fire it brings the God's insight.   
Rowan is a tree of power causing life and magick to flower.


Willows at the waterside stand ready to help us to the Summerland.
Hawthorn is burned to purify and to draw faerie to your eye.


Hazel-the tree of wisdom and learning adds its strength to the bright fire burning.
White are the flowers of Apple tree that brings us fruits of fertility.


Grapes grow upon the vine giving us both joy and wine.
Fir does mark the evergreen to represent immortality seen.


Elder is the Lady's tree burn it not or cursed you'll be.
Four times the Major Sabbats mark in the light and in the dark.


As the old year starts to wane the new begins, it's now Samhain.
When the time for Imbolc shows watch for flowers through the snows.


When the wheel begins to turn soon the Beltane fires will burn.
As the wheel turns to Lamas night power is brought to magick rite.


Four times the Minor Sabbats fall use the Sun to mark them all.
When the wheel has turned to Yule light the log the Horned One rules.


In the spring, when night equals day time for Ostara to come our way.
When the Sun has reached it's height time for Oak and Holly to fight.


Harvesting comes to one and all when the Autumn Equinox does fall.
Heed the flower, bush, and tree by the Lady blessed you'll be.


Where the rippling waters go cast a stone, the truth you'll know.
When you have and hold a need, harken not to others greed.


With a fool no season spend or be counted as his friend.
Merry Meet and Merry Part bright the cheeks and warm the heart.


Mind the Three-fold Laws you should three times bad and three times good.
When misfortune is enow wear the star upon your brow.


Be true in love this you must do unless your love is false to you.


These Eight words the Rede fulfill:
"An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will"

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Origins of Halloween


 I was watching a Halloween Special on the Cooking Channel, and I saw a show I remember watching years ago. anyway, I loved the way they explained the history of Halloween, so I wrote it down and put it here for you... with a few recipes as well. I tried to find a video of the show (Called The Secret life of Halloween) but I could not find it online. I hope you enjoy.
         In ancient times Celtic tribes celebrated their new year on what we know as November 1st. They called the festival Samhain (Sow-en). The Celts believe that around Samhain the souls of those that have died during the year moved from this world to the next world. When Christianity replaced Paganism, Samhain was  replaced by All Hallows Day. October 31st was called All Hallows Evening. Overtime it became Halloween, but the Pagan belief that spirits walk the earth lived on. The sense that restless spirits might be stirring on All Hallows eve gave rise to a medieval ritual with its own special food. Villagers went door to door offering to pray for the souls of the dead in exchange for a sweetened cake. If refused, they were likely to pull a prank. Eventually the sweets became known as soul Cakes. The tradition itself eventually gave rise to Trick-or-treating.
 Soul Cakes Medieval Recipe
2 Cups Flour and ½ Cup Sugar mixed together. Form a well and pour in Barm (a yeast mixture made when brewing beer). In a separate bowl stir together 2 Tbsp butter, Ground Cloves, Ground Mace, Ground Nutmeg and Ground Saffron. Add Cider Vinegar and stir together. Spoon the butter mix into the flour and add dried apricots, currants and raisins. Mix the dough with your hands until combined. Flatten with a rolling pin and cut into circles with a cookie cutter. Bake @375Degrees for 15-20 minutes.
        The measurements are approximate because medieval recipes were not measured the same way, they were made usually with ‘handfuls’ and ‘pinches’.
 Trick-Or-Treating
        The belief that ancestral spirits might stop by for a meal was not unique to the Celtic tribes of Europe. On the other side of the planet Aztecs, Mayans, and other New World civilizations were throwing their own parties for deceased relatives. These traditions live on today as a Holiday known as Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead). This Holiday originated in Mexico more than 400 years ago and takes place around Halloween. When the Spanish came to the new world in the 1500’s, then encountered a month long Aztec festival in which the living welcomed the returning spirits of their dead ancestors. As part of the ritual, the Aztecs put out offerings of corn, squash, and other harvest foods to encourage the spirits to visit. Eventually it was turned into a 9 day Catholic festival that ended on November 2nd (All Saints Day). But the heart of the ancient ritual remained unchanged. 
 Sugar Skulls for Dia de los Muertos
        Families still eagerly welcome ancestral spirits, and still create a generous display to encourage their return. As in the day of the Aztecs, offerings of food are a central element on the alter. Some are the specific foods that the deceased favored during life, while others have age old symbolic meanings. Skulls made of sugar remind us that while death is to be expected, it is also linked to the sweetness of life. And thus it is not to be feared. Chocolate drinks are a legacy of the pre-Hispanic era, when the cacao beans in which chocolate is made were used as currency. A few beans were buried with the dead for souls to use as bribes in the afterworld. Dia de los Muertos is also a feast day for the living.
 Fall Harvest
         For most of its history, Halloween was a year-end harvest festival. When the Celts got the party started with their ritual of Samhain the favored entrĂ©e was roast goose. The Celts also enjoyed a bountiful supply of freshly gathered barley, wheat, turnips and apples. The menu changed with the arrival of Roman Catholicism. All hallows eve became a fast day, meaning a day without meat. The Irish favorite Colcannon made of potatoes, onions, and chopped Kale or Cabbage is a Halloween recipe from this era.
 Colecannon
  • 1 pound cabbage
  • 1 pound potatoes
  • 2 leeks
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pinch ground mace
  • 1/2 cup butter
  1. In a large saucepan, boil cabbage until tender; remove and chop or blend well. Set aside and keep warm. Boil potatoes until tender. Remove from heat and drain.
  2. Chop leeks, green parts as well as white, and simmer them in just enough milk to cover, until they are soft.
  3. Season and mash potatoes well. Stir in cooked leeks and milk. Blend in the kale or cabbage and heat until the whole is a pale green fluff. Make a well in the center and pour in the melted butter. Mix well.
 Pumpkins
       No other fruit or vegetable congers up Halloween like Pumpkins. But it wasn’t always that way. During the centuries before Christianity when the Celtic tribes celebrated the festival of Samhain, they placed glowing embers inside carved, hollowed out turnips. These were carried by villagers hoping to lead evil spirits away from their homes. When turnips were scares, the Celts used rutabagas or large beets instead. When the British and Irish immigrants came to America, they found an abundance of pumpkins. They used these larger fruits in place of turnips, starting the Halloween tradition so familiar today.
Turnip Jack-o-lantern
        The Apple is another Halloween favorite with ancient roots in Samhain. Apples were among the few fruits that ripen during Samhain, and they came to symbolize the abundance of harvest time. But the importance of apples may be an inside story. An apple sliced across the core reveals a Pentagram which in Celtic times was linked to goddesses who controlled love and romance. Even in Christian times, apples were the focus of Halloween games that predicted the future in matters of the heart. The Halloween sport of bobbing for apples for example began as a way of ensuring success in courtship. If you snagged an apple you were deemed likely to snag a mate as well.
 Apple Pentagram

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

In Memory of Rave Johnson

I am sad to report that today at 2:15pm I went downstairs to find one of our Parakeets passed away. His name is Rave Johnson and he was a beautiful Blue and Black Budgie. 
Rave is the one on the bottom. Sky (The yellow and blue budgie) was his companion.

Rave will be missed dearly. He was a very good bird and a joy to have as part of our family. My fiance Kellie will remember him fondly eating seeds out of her hand and I will remember him swinging on one of his favorite perches.
Rave lived a long life, years longer then he was expected to live. I am glad we were able to give him such a happy and fulfilling long life.
Kellie, Sky, and I will keep him in our hearts.
Rest in Piece Rave Johnson. We love you.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Samhain


Samhain (SOW-en, SAH-vin, SAM-hayne) takes place October 31st-November 1st

Yesterday was Samhain!!!
(Sorry I am only getting this post out today, I have been out celebrating with friends, and I have been very busy the past few days. Yesterday I was in Salem, and I joined a Witches Circle and I danced and celebrated with them. What a glorious day.)
        Also known as the Witches New Year, Feast of the Dead, Halloween, Summer’s End, Feast of Apples, All Hallows, Third Harvest, Day of the Dead; Samhain is the night when the veil between worlds is thinnest.

Samhain is the end of summer and the last of the three Harvest Festivals/Sabbats on the Wheel of the Year. An offering of food is often made to the spirits, during this time of plenty and abundance. Crops were often cleared, except for what was left as an offering to the Nature Spirits, and livestock slaughtered and stored for the coming winter. 

        As the barrier between worlds fade, it is the perfect time to remember and praise your ancestors and departed loved ones, either through communication, ritual, or a simple prayer. It is a time to honor all those who have gone before us, a time for startling revelations and reflection within our own lives.

Songs: ‘Season of the Witch’, ‘All souls Night’, ‘Circle Song’, ‘Oak, Ash, and Thorn’, Any Halloween songs will work as well. Really, there are tons of songs, but I am having a hard time thinking of any.

Activities: Carving Pumpkins, Bobbing for Apples, Have a Bonfire, Blessing the land for the new year, Divination, Past Life Recall, Apple Picking, Drying Herbs, Spirit Contact, Corn Labyrinth, Costume Party, Dream Interpretation, Performing Protection Spells and Feasting.
This is the time to leave offerings of food and drink to your ancestors, as well as visiting the final resting places of your ancestors or making an alter for them.
Foods: Apples, Pomegranates, Pumpkin, Turnips, Gourds, Walnuts, Pork, Beef, Mulled Wine, Poultry, Beets, Autumn/Winter Squash, Cider, Corn, Gingerbread, Kale, Leeks, Potatoes, Pecans, Pears, Rabbit, Mussels, Hazelnuts, Herbal Tea, Scallops, Chestnuts, Soups/Stews, Halibut, Candied Fruits.
Crafts: Make a Scrying Mirror, Make a Witch Bottle, Make an Ancestor Shrine, Make a Straw Man, Make an Apple Garland, Make a Grave Rubbing (but only if your community allows it because in some places it’s illegal), Make an Ancestor Tree, Carve Pumpkins.
Colors: Black, Orange, Silver, White, Gold, Dark Browns.

Symbols: Apples, Gourds, Black Cats, Besoms/Brooms, Pinecones, Waning Moon, Jack-O-Lanterns, Cauldrons, Masks, Balefire, Bats.
Stones: Carnelian, Jet, Obsidian, Onyx, Other Black Stones.
Herbs: Sage, Mugwart, Broom, Allspice, Catnip, Mandrake, Oak Leaves, Deadly Nightshade.
Incense: Nutmeg, Heliotrope, Mint, Frankincense, Basil, Yarrow, Clove.
Gods: Arawn, Dis, Kronos, Xocatl, Woden, Pluto, Hades, Nefertum.
Goddesses:  Hecate, Carlin, Edda, Pamona, Crobh Dearg, Lilith, Psyche, The Morrigan.


        Any Halloween activity you want to participate in would also be appropriate for Samhain. Costume parties, Jack-o-lanterns, and trick-o-treating all have their roots in Pagan traditions for Samhain. But above all else, Have a safe and happy holiday, and please make sure your pets are safe as well. This is a dangerous time for animals because of decorations, tricksters, crowds of people, Trick-o-treaters, fires, and loud noises. Make sure you keep the furry or feathered members of your family in a safe and quiet part of the house while the festivities are happening, or during trick-o-treating because the loud noises and the door opening multiple times can be an invitation for disaster.