Hekate Devotion: Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice also known as Yule is the day with the shortest amount of daylight and the longest amount of night. Symbolically it marks the death and rebirth of the sun and it falls between Samhain and the Spring Equinox and due to this manifests as the darkest period of the year yet is also a turning point where the days become longer.  It symbolises the darkest time of year and marks the returning of the light due to its time of seasonal transition.  The winter solstice marks the sun as its lowest elevation in the sky and the reason it contains the longest night of the year.  This year in the Southern Hemisphere calendar it falls on Monday the 21st of June at 1.32pm. Gods such as Hekate, Persephone, Demeter, Dionysus, Helios, Poseidon, Zeus, Hera, Hathor, Sekhmet, Osiris, Horus, Neith, Nephthys, Spider Woman, Ameratasu, Saturn, Odin, Bona Dea, Mithras, Holy King, Hod, Frigga, Frau Holle, Cailleach and Baldurcan all be honoured during this time of year.

I have celebrated Yule with groups of people in a magickal setting such as a working lodge, coven and magickal order.  The one thing which I found which linked them all together was the coming together to celebrate the light and the darkness whilst sharing food and gifts.

One of the fondest memories I have during this time of year is celebrating the winter solstice through creating handmade gifts.  I spend considerable time planning on what to make and then following through by crafting gifts which are unique and special.  The first thing I ever recall making was for my first coven where I sculpted and fired a set of runes and hand sewed an accompanying bag to contain them in.  This took a significant amount of energy and effort and was placed in a sack of gifts to be randomly selected by one coven member in the middle of our coven’s winter solstice ritual.  Imagine my surprise when one of my coven members whom I was closest to (and who has become a lifelong friend) chose it at random and had been wanting a set of runes which turned out to feature her favourite colour (they were coloured green and purple).

I personally like to hand make gifts during this time of year usually involving items which feature divination, light, purification, seeds, woods and herbs harvested and collected.  I also love to cook, bake and prepare food which is consumed, shared or given to loved ones including the following: citrus preserves such as salt preserved lemons and Cointreau marmalade,  soup (lentil/beans/barley and root vegetable, Greek chicken soup), stew (barley, beans, lentil, cholent andcoq au vin), bread (Greek sweetbread, olive loaf and garlic and feta loaf), gingerbread (especially witches houses/cottages), shortbread (various Greek ones), lamb or beef roast, dumplings and baked spiced rice stuffed into vegetables.

Since this time tends to fall on my personal anniversary (we got together on the winter solstice) for me it also involves going out for an intimate meal with my partner and exchanging thoughtful gifts.  

I feel that Hekate resonates with this time of the year for various reasons. One being that this is a liminal time where she has dominion between the darkness and the light.  In this time  she encourages and enables us to turn our attention to the presence of the promise of new things to come.  As the time of growth and movement is before us Hekate beckons us to straddle the in-between time and to use this time for the power it contains.

I personally like to honour Hekate during this time and make offerings of apples, pomegranates, garlic, onions, mead, beer, wine, bread, barley, nuts, lilies, pine, mistletoe, juniper, holly, frankincense, myrrh, cedar, bay, chamomile and roots from dandelions.

I also like to make items for Hekate which resonate with the season mostly wands collected from wood during the summer, candle anointing oil blends, herb pouches for dreaming, health and wealth, candles which illuminate, soap which cleanses, incense using dried herbs from the summer, book and journal covers with locally sourced materials or upcycled materials, various art pieces with paints, ink, photography and/or several thread types (in recent years its been all about the land, sea and sky) and beaded jewellery such as ethically sourced crystal necklaces which can also be used as meditation or manifestation beads.

In the garden now is the time to plant:

Vegetables such as artichoke, asparagus, beans, beetroot, broad beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, capsicum, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chillies, corn, cucumber, endive, kale, leek, lettuce, melons, okra, onion, parsnip, peas, pumpkins, radish, rhubarb, shallots, silver beet, snow peas, spinach, tomatoes, turnip and zucchinis

Herbs such as garlic, basil, chives, cress, curry, dill, mint, parsley, sage and thyme.

Flowers such as aquilegia, calendula, cineraria, cyclamen, delphinium, foxglove, nemesia, pansy, primula, polyanthus poppy and viola. 

Some things you can do to honour and mark the winter solstice in your personal practice (or with a group of likeminded individuals) can be:

  1. Hold a ritual signifying the balance of darkness and light and/or liminality.
  2. Work spells and magick which involve igniting a flame, balance or brining the light into a situation, .
  3. Create and light a bonfire or light a special candle carved with symbols which signify the time of year.
  4. Inscribe and light a Yule log in a firepit or fireplace.
  5. Take a walk at dusk holding a lantern.
  6. Bake a seasonal pie, cook a roast and make mulled wine or any other food or drink which to you symbolises the winter solstice .
  7. In the evening go out star gazing and seek out your local constellations.
  8. Honour the Gods which signify this time of year by creating a shrine or altar in their name or tending to an existing one and make offerings to them.
  9. Create an ice wreath in the freezer filled with flowers and herbs of the season (use a bunt cake tin) and once set place a candle in the middle of the wreath and light it to signify the winter moving out and the spring coming in.
  10. Use this time to cleanse your magickal tools and spaces such as shrines and altars.
  11. Rituals and spells involving transitions and movement.
  12. Reflect on your inner world and take some time to just be with yourself and listen to your inner self such as meditation, yoga, going for a walk in nature or just sitting in a space which is sacred to you and just being present.
  13. Use this time to recharge yourself through honouring yourself and do what you need to, to enable that reset.
  14. Host a feast with family or friends which can include music and dancing.
  15. Light black and white candles to signify the diminishing darkness and the increasing light.
  16. Decorate a tree (such as a xmas tree) with decorations which signify the winter solstice.
  17. Exchange gifts with loved ones.
  18. Donate to charities involving the displaced such as the homeless and refugees.
  19. Do something kind for someone who is alone, in pain or suffering.
  20. Volunteer for a charity which assists the natural world or the less fortunate.
  21. Divination such as rune, tarot, dice, candle wax, crystal, magick mirror or ink scrying.  

So work your magick this midwinter, honour the light and the darkness within you and all around you and contemplate and manifest balance in your life.


(c) T. Georgitsis 2021

Dumb Supper

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Although Samhain is celebrated in the Southern Hemisphere on the 1st of May, in the Northern Hemisphere its celebrated on the 31st of October, and some here chose to connect to those energies.  Therefore, I thought I would post something I wrote a few years back on Samhain and the practice of the Dumb Supper .

Samhain is also known as the last harvest.  It’s the time of year when the land’s fertility withdraws in preparation for the dormancy of winter.  Since Samhain is when the veil between the living world and that of the spirit world is the thinnest, I use this occasion to make offerings in the form of a Dumb Supper to my ancestors in thanks for the connections to my blood history.  Samhain is also a time of endings and beginnings for the witch, as its the start of the witch’s new year.   Along with ancestor veneration, acknowledging and honoring the Gods of this time – the turning of the seasonal wheel is also of importance.

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A Dumb Supper is a meal, which can include drink created in honor of the dead.  This supper cannot only be for your ancestors but also for friends who have passed or those whom you have a connection to and are no longer in the realm of the living.  Dumb Suppers are a time of silent remembrance so when offering a meal to them, it is traditional to commune with them silently or you can write a note to them and leave it with the meal.  Dumb Suppers can be offered in sacred space, like part of a Samhain ritual or they can be offered at a place at the set table of your Samhain meal you prepare (usually at the head of the table and served first).  Dumb Suppers can be covered in a shroud to symbolize its for the blessed dead, have a candle lit before it so its easy for them to find it on the astral, as well as saying a silent prayer in honor of them.

I like to create a Dumb Supper with things my blessed dead liked to eat in life. I personally include my supper as part of my Samhain ritual, which I use to communicate with them and thank them for their blessings of giving me life. Since candles were used to help spirits find their way home, I place a candle with images of my ancestors, a personal item of theirs and a plate consisting of their food in the North West of my cast circle.  I place a note I have written to them underneath the offering plate ensuring this plate is never used by the living (lest death take those who partake of it).  During my Samhain ritual I also burn the note of correspondence I wrote for them in a cauldron or fire pit so its released to the ether of spirit.

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Whatever you decide to create for your Dumb Supper, ensure you use what’s in season, and connect to the energies of Samhain.  Foodstuff in season can consisting of apples, pumpkins, corn, mushrooms, turnips, pomegranates, garlic, onions, potatoes, wine/mead, meat, nuts, within your meal offering for the ancestors.  Herbs which can be infused in your food and drink which resonate with the energies of Samhain are rosemary, mugwort, rue, tarragon, sage, wormwood, bay, nettle, mandrake, nutmeg, fennel (please note some of these herbs can be toxic with overuse or be incompatible with pregnant women so please refer to a material medica for further detailed information on the herbs you use).

If you would like some recipes check out my food blog:

https://madammagick.wordpress.com/recipes/

(c) T. Georgitsis 2014

Blending and Baking for Beltaine

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Beltane is a fertility festival where the union of the God and Goddess is honored.   Its a time of plentiful abundance and as such we can celebrate it as a feasting holiday.  A way to honor the earth’s blooming richness during Beltane is to hold a ritual with symbols of male and female fertility to signify the fruitfulness of the land and in turn us. It is also customary to hold a meal after the ceremony in celebration, which is called Agape in the Wiccan tradition I am initiated in.  Agape is a ritualistic meal after the customary rite has ended and circle is closed and the attendees are gathered around a hearth table or fireplace to eat and drink in merriment and the word itself means love in Greek.

One of the things which stands out for me during Wiccan ritual is the cakes and wine sharing within the coven which is similar to the catholic church sacrament but predates it.  Its where after our magickal working within the cast circle, cakes and wine is passed around by the coven members, which the Priestess and Priest initiate before the altar.  The cake and wine is shared among those gathered to ground and give thanks in honor of the God and Goddess for the blessings they have bestowed upon us.  When the goblet of wine is passed around the words “May you never thirst” are spoken before being handed to the next participant and when the cakes plate (sometimes the earth pentacle is used) is passed around the words “May you never hunger” are spoken before they are handed to the next person.  I find this form of blessing quite beneficial as not only does it bless us with the prosperity and bounty of the God and Goddess but it connects the coven in an act of love through the sharing of food in the name of deity.

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During Beltane my preferred preference for cake and wine is oat cakes and may wine. The magickal properties of wine are fertility, abundance and dreams and connect to the element of water and the moon.  The magickal properties of oats are fertility, wealth and prosperity and connect to the element of earth and the planet Venus.

May Wine Recipe

Wine is used in many a Wiccan celebration and as such perfect to use at Beltane. May wine also known as Maibowle (May bowl) can connect us to the nature of Beltane since its at the heart of spring and we have the ingredients at hand to be able to make this refreshing alcoholic punch. May wine/Maibowle gets its name due to Beltane falling on May 1st in the northern hemisphere where Beltane also known as May Day has its origins.  It is this time of year where this type of wine is enjoyed in celebration of the fertility festival, most notably in Germany.

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Oats are used in several Beltane-centric Celtic cakes and breads, my favourite being Bannocks which are native to Scotland.  Bannocks can have charms placed upon them and therefore the person consuming them also consumes the symbolic meaning that the charm represents.

Bannocks Recipe

(c) T. Georgitsis 2012

Organic Chinese Tea Appreciation: Glenferrie Tea House

Last year I found out the Glenferrie Tea House started to offer organic chinese tea appreciation sessions so I booked myself in as I have an obsession with tea.

The appreciation session lasted for about 2 hours and was set in the master tea makers home complete with traditional tea table and chairs.

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The different types of teas we tried were white tea (top near the small tea cups) and in order from left to right (bottom near prosperity pigs) were oolong also known as red tea, green tea and black tea.

My favourite was the Green tea which was the Green Puerh and the Oolong tea known as Red Puerh was perfect for my constitution (love it when my natural medicine knowledge can be used).  I found the Black Tea known as Hei Cha was the longest fermented we had at 10 years old which had an interesting flavour, since I’d never had black tea before.  All teas were from the same region in China – Yunnan Province and other than the loose non fermented White and Green were packed as disks.

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I learned so much about Traditional Chinese Tea I never knew before.  The things which stood out for me was the first brew of any tea is the tea wash to remove any impurities from the processing of the herbs and should not be drunk.  Also white tea and green teas only make about 5 good brews whilst red and black can make up to 10-15 and the notes change drastically with each brew.  Lastly White and Green tea shouldn’t be kept past 1 year after its been exposed to the air as its worthless unlike black or red tea which can last longer due to the fermentation (similar to wine).

The great thing is I have confirmation that my palette is still delicate as I could definitely taste the notes in the various teas (flowers in the green, chocolate in the black etc) and asked about them which impressed the tea master even though that was not my intention – just wanted to make sure I was tasting it right.

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All images (C) T. Georgitsis 2016

 

 

 

Hekate Recipes: Health Tonic

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Hekate Hellenic Health Tonic: Ironwort and Chamomile

Ironwort (aka Mountain Tea): High in iron (which is where it derives is common name from), Ironwort is a superherb which has been used in Greek folk herbal medicine for generations.  Its an antioxidant, immune booster, lowers blood pressure and body temperature, assists with fatigue and anemia as well as helping with circulation and chronic fatigue.

 

Chamomile: Relaxant which can be used as a sedative, used against fevers/colds as its antibacterial, used for digestive upsets as an antispasmodic and anti-allergenic, is anti-inflammatory and anti fungal. Great for allergies,speeds up healing, assists with skin problems, eye infections and mouth ulcers.

 

Recipe: Anastasia’s Spiral Pita

As a devotion for the Feast of Hekate today (13th of August) which honours her storm aspect,  I personally like to leave offerings at crossroads to appease her.  This is one of my mother’s recipes which I feel is very apt as an offering for Hekate:

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Anastasia’s Spiral Pita

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 ½ tablespoons of medium or short grain rice
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 6-8 spring onions chopped
  • 400g frozen spinach, thawed, drained, chopped and squeezed dry
  • 150g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 125g cottage or ricotta cheese (I like to use a hard Greek cheese grated like Kasseri or Kefalotyri or alternatively I just use more feta)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 1 generous pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 packet filo pastry

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius.
  2. Place olive oil in a fry pan and heat. Add rice and onion and slowly cook until transparent and tender.
  3. In a bowl place spring onions, spinach, feta, cottage cheese (other cheese preferred), egg, dill and nutmeg. Mix through with clean fingertips ensuring mixture is thoroughly blended.
  4. Place unrolled filo pastry sheet on a floured flat surface and cut into strips approximately 12cm wide.
  5. Evenly spread 1 to 2 tablespoons of the mixture in the middle of the filo pastry strip.
  6. Fold the vertical ends of the filo strip over so they touch ensuring the mixture stays within and pinch the filo together forming a tube around the mixture. Pinch the ends as well so the mixture doesn’t seep out.
  7. Take one end of the filled strip and roll it towards itself until it forms a spiral. You have now created a spiral pita.
  8. Repeat with remaining filo until you have used all of the filling.
  9. Arrange spirals on a large baking tray at least 5cm apart and brush with a little olive oil.
  10. Bake 15 -20 minutes or until crisp and golden brown.

Note: I have family members who instead of adding 125g of other style cheese they add 125g of mushed pumpkin or zucchini.

Recipe and Image (C) T. Georgitsis

Spirit & Spell (Issue 11): Regular Food and Faith – Coven, Cup & Blade

In the eleventh issue of Spirit & Spell my regular Food & Faith column is about the cakes and ale aspect of wiccan ritual as well as me sharing my honey mead recipe:

http://spiritandspell.org/our-latest-issue/

 

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The Alternative Spirit (Issue 2): Regular Hekate Column – Hekate’s Noumenia

In the second issue of The Alternative Spirit my regular Hellenic/Hekate column is about Noumenia with Hekate:

http://www.alpinenirvanastore.com/#!product/prd1/2178451185/the-alternative-spirit-magazine-winter-2014

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The Alternative Spirit (Issue 1): Regular Hekate Column – Hekate’s Deipnon

In this new magazine I will be continuing my regular Hekate article – in the first issues its all about Hekate’s Deipnon…

https://www.facebook.com/TheAustralianPaganMagazine?fref=ts

Spirit & Spell (Issue 10): Regular recipe column – Lugh’s Harvest

In this new issue (10) of Spirit & Spell my regular recipe column, Food & Faith, discusses Lugh’s Harvest with me sharing a few of my recipes of summery punch drinks:

http://spiritandspell.org/buy/backissue/issue-10-feb-2014/