Fennel

 

Fennel

Magickal Uses:  Grown around the home, fennel confers protection. Wearing a piece of fennel in the left shoe will prevent wood ticks from biting your legs. Fennel is also hung up at windows and doors to ward off evil spirits, and the seeds can be carried for the same reason.

Fennel is used in purification sachets, as well as in healing mixtures.

Guests, Gifts and Potluck

As with non-Wiccan weddings, the number of guests in attendance depends on how many people the couple chooses to invite. Most handfastings are very informal, and they’re usually not catered. Guests may be asked to prepare a signature dish, cook an old-fashioned delicacy, or bring a first-rate bottle of wine or a case of imported beer. These days, it is not so fashionable to buy large, expensive gifts or home appliances, most witches feel that small, homemade items or foods are more personal and allow each and every person invited to contribute in some way.

All of these offerings are placed on trestle tables, and once the wedding ceremony is over, the guests help themselves to the many mouth-watering contributions. Witches don’t tend to be materialistic, so this potluck arrangement is ideal for us and it keeps the cost to a minimum. I’m sure you’ll agree that this make the term ” the more the merrier” is very true indeed.

 As guests arrive, gentle music is played in the background, and each person is offered a glass of wine. Chairs are placed in a large circle around the altar (which is off-center in the circle), and the guests sit, drink and await the celebration.

Once all the guests are seated, the “right-hand man” (usually a member of the groom’s family or a good friend) walks into the circle, ringing a handbell. This cleanses the area inside the circle of any negative energy. The bride’s made of honor then takes dried lavender flowers mixed with small chips of rose quartz and casts them at the feet of the guests for good luck. At the same time, one of the bride’s handmaidens or bridesmaids follows the right-hand man, waving a smudging stick or some sage incense from the altar to further purify the circle.

A Pioneer’s Apothecary

TO RELIEVE A COUGH, squeeze the juice of one large onion and add one tablespoon of honey. Take one teaspoon three or four times daily. Apply the onion to the chest, “mashing it well.”

Mix two teaspoons of cider vinegar in water or wine. Sip one tablespoon four times daily.

Combine two tablespoons of honey with one tablespoon of grated horseradish root to sooth a cough.

Make a tea of one teaspoon grated nutmeg in one cup of hot cider. Drink three times daily.

Herbal Oil for Salads and Sautes

Enjoy this spicy oil for Mexican salad and rice dishes, or add it to a fresh garden salad.

1    cup oil

3    (2-inch) sprigs each of oregano and basil or rosemary and thyme

1    tablespoon each fresh oregano and basil or rosemary and thyme

1    (1/4-inch piece ginger

1    chili

1/2     teaspoon seeds, crushed with mortar and pestle

Gently heat oil 3 – 5 minutes. Pour into a glass jar with six 2-inch sprigs of herbs for each cup of oil. or one of the following fresh herbs, ginger, chili, or seeds. Cool, cover, and refrigerate up to six months.

*Note:  Only add garlic to oils to be used within three days,. Garlic forms a botulism in oil that can cause severe  diarrhea.

Green Outdoor Weekend Activities

Green Outdoor Weekend Activities

posted by Greennii
 

Spring has finally arrived here in Northern California and all this sunshine begs for fun things to do outside, which often also happen to be green. I tend to go outside at even the slightest hint of sunshine (then again, I’ve also been known to walk the dog in the rain just for fun), and do whatever it was I was doing inside, out under the sky. For instance, I’m sitting at an old-fashioned school desk, replete with wooden cross-bars under my seat for holding my books, and peeling green paint; outside; half under the Wysteria-covered arbor and half in the sun (the computer screen is oh-so-much easier to see in the shade); occasionally throwing the ball for my dog, who earlier got a little bath during the watering of the lettuce.

As I sit here considering the glistening, black-bottomed pool, I’m also considering the possibilities for the weekend:

1. Plant some organic lettuce. It’s so fun to open up your front door (or back door, or kitchen window) and snip off a few pieces of lettuce for your sandwich, a garnish or your dinner salad. I love lettuce and would have thought it beyond me to grow such a delicate, frilly, easily wilty plant, until my husband forced me to do so by planting a half-dozen little teeny baby lettuce plants and then promptly leaving them in my daily care. Turns out, lettuce is easy! Oh joy! So hop on down to whatever nursery is nearby and pick up a couple of six packs of the lettuce varieties which suit you. Then, rummage around in your backyard, ask your neighbor, scour the garage sales and thrift stores, and find yourself some shallow, wide pots (you could also plant each lettuce in its own pot, which would be very cute, but perhaps space-consuming). Stop by your local ACE and pick up some organic potting soil (or grab some where you get your lettuce). You’re ready to plant! Lettuce wants its little neck sticking out a bit, so don’t plant all the way up to the leaves. Keep the soil moist. Cut leaves from the bottom as soon as the plant starts growing.

2. Visit the Alameda Point Antiques Faire, held the first Sunday of every month, which just so happens to be next Sunday, April 3. Take a list with you of things you were otherwise going to buy brand new and see what you can find. I have not yet been, but I have it from a reliable source (read: friend who loves antiques and has discerning taste) that this is the best show in the Bay Area.

3. Go to any of the local farmer’s markets held all around the Bay Area. Most have food (the kind someone makes for you, not the kind you buy and take home as ingredients) vendors, so you can take your appetite and eat there. Take your refillable coffee mug along and get your morning dose from one of the local coffee shops along the street. Use these guides to find the market closest to you:

4. Unplug your life (and that of your family or a group of friends) and go outside with a picnic made from the organic stuff you bought at the farmer’s market (or at least from a small, local market). If you drive in a group, you’re lowering your carbon footprint, as well as not using all those electronic devices you’d be using if you stayed at home. Check out any of the local beaches, state parks or local parks and enjoy nature. The California State Parks system is vast, and their website has great ideas and guides for getting outdoors:

I’m likely to do at least two of the above, unless I decide to help my husband and our friend finish changing a Land Cruiser from right-hand-drive to left. I’m guessing the beach will win out over that. At least for me and the dog.

-Jocelyn Broyles

Herbal Tips for Your Kitchen

Now that Spring is here, we will be having fresh vegetables and herbs shortly. Knowing how to use the herbs properly will give a new taste sensation to your meals. You can use tried and true recipes or make-up your own. Either way when you cook with herbs, you will have a fantastic meal the whole family will enjoy.

Hints for Using Herbs

  • Serving Rule:  Two teaspoons of minced, fresh herbs will flavor four servings One teaspoon dried herbs or seeds serves four. Delicately flavored herbs, like marjoram can be use more liberally.

  • For soups and stews, add fresh herbs during the last twenty minutes.

  • To develop the flavor of freshly dried herbs, soak them for ten minutes in lemon juice, stock or oil before cooking.

  • Before cooking rub fresh herbs between clean hands to release their unique flavor in the volatile oils. This will accelerate flavoring  as your entrée cooks.

  • Firmly press herbs into the flesh of meats, fish, or poultry before cooking to enhance aroma and taste. No sauce or further preparation will be necessary.

  • Flavor salad dressing by soaking herbs in it for thirty minutes to an hour before serving. Use one teaspoon of herbs to one cup of dressing.

  • Microwave: Whenever possible, saute herbal blends in a small amount of liquid, stock, butter or oil before adding to a microwave dish to assure flavor.

  • Sugar can be flavored by layering twelve to fifteen rose geranium or lemon rose geranium leaves on top of one pound of sugar.  Any flavor of geranium leaves will do. Keep it covered until ready to use. Flavored sugar adds a delicate flavor to biscuits, cookies and muffins,

  • A substitute for lemon peel in baked goods is finely chopped lemon balm, lemon thyme or lemon vervain.