Bannock Bread

“You don’t need a silver fork to eat good food.” –Paul Prudhomme

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Photo Credit: American Folkloric Witchcraft

Every sabbat, I try my hand at a new recipe. Beltane, however, just wouldn’t be the same without some Bannock Bread! This is a type of flat (quick) bread that can be made on a campfire or stove top. Much like a dense pancake, this bread can be sweet or savory depending on your taste. Ancient Scots who had to make due with what they had, so original bannocks were heavy with barley or oatmeal dough then cooked on a sandstone which was placed directly onto burning embers. Thus, this is a great bread to use as an offering during a Beltane ritual.

The recipe below provides an easy base, but don’t limit yourself. Try adding fruits like blueberries or pumpkin puree. Perhaps a sprinkle of chia, shucked sunflower, or poppy seeds are more your style! If you want a more savory bread, half the sugar and serve with a sausage gravy. Try different flours, experiment with gluten free options. Fry up one big pan or mini bites! Make it your own. Feel free to taste the bread in its raw doughy form: there are no eggs!

Bannock Bread Recipe 

4 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp honey (I always add a bit more to taste)
4 tbsp melted butter
1 1/2 cup (+ 1/2 to adjust consistency)
1 tsp vanilla
Oil for frying (I use 2 tsp of Coconut Oil)*
1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 tsp ground ginger (optional)
1/2 tsp ground cloves (optional)
1/2 tsp ground coriander (optional)

Mix and sift the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add butter, honey, and vanilla. Slowly add water, mixing gradually until combined. The consistency of the mixture should be sticky and thick like a pizza dough, NOT thin like pancake mix.IMG_20150501_142010_kindlephoto-2735967 In a large frying pan, bring the oil to a medium heat and place golf ball-sized portions of dough into the pan. Gently flatten the dough ball into a cake with a spatula.* Fry each side about 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest on a plate with a paper towel (to absorb any excess oil). Serve with toppings like fresh jam or a dollop of greek yogurt. Enjoy!

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*Bannock tends to soak up a lot of oil, so I choose a healthier option. You do not need a lot of oil, just enough to prevent sticking. A non-stick pan may provide another viable option!
**The first time I made these, they were nearly raw on the inside. So keep flattening the bread during the process. Dense is good, raw not so much.

Pax et Bonum,
Meadow

Beltane 2015

Happy Beltane!

Also known as May Day, April 30 and May 1 was an ancient observance that marked the beginning of summer. In Ireland, cattle were driven out to their summer pastures and rituals were performed to encourage familial growth and protection. Mass bonfires were kindled: their flames, embers, and ashes the epitome of protective power. Gaelic peoples and their cattle would walk around these bonfires and sometimes leap over the flames for good luck! Houses were decorated with wild May flowers; pastel hues of yellow, pink, and blue. Celebrations also included May Trees (or in some cases Poles or Bushes), which were decorated with flowers and bright ribbons. Ancients also built labyrinths and walked them in silent meditation.CDuyNRsVAAI-vcB

In 2013, I participated in my first Beltane celebration. I had my research, but was I ready to start leaping over bonfires? Not really. Instead, I visited a local coven with some friends. There was feasting, labyrinth walking, and children playing games. It was an amazing opportunity to get involved in my Wiccan community. Later that day, I was still buzzing with energy. I went home with a good friend of mine where we performed a small fire ritual. Since then, I have never missed a chance to celebrate Beltane! As an apartment renter, however, I tend to encounter a few issues along the way. Here are my top three Beltane complications and some solutions I found helpful.

Problem #1: I live in the American South, where I do not have ready access to the nine sacred woods. It seems more appropriate to wildcraft these items, rather than purchase them.

Answer: This has ALWAYS been my biggest problem. Many books insist you need Birch, Oak, Hazel, Rowan, Hawthorne, Willow, Fir, Apple, and Vine. When I was living in the tropics, I was lucky to find three of those! So, what to do? One option is to buy the wood from an online vendor. There are plenty of reputable sites, but this method can get expensive fast. The second option: Use your local flora. Don’t get too bogged down with the Eurocentric specifications, when you have a natural world right outside your window. Each sacred wood is associated with a symbolic element and you can find native trees that correlate to these meanings as well. Using the plants in my area, I came up with: Cedar, Dogwood, Honeysuckle, Magnolia, Oak, Willow (Bottlebrush), Pine, American Holly, and Maple. In the past I even added Palm to my list! Look for nine different trees that represent: female energy, male energy, knowledge, life, fairy magick, death, birth, love, and joy.

Problem #2: I live in a small place and cannot have a bonfire.CDuyPSwVIAAt0tY

Answer: I absolutely love the warmth that comes from a roaring fire. Apartment-bound witches like myself, however, lack the ability to stoke up a bonfire. Bonfires require space, a lot of kindling, and caution. The solution is candles… lots and lots of them! Light as many as possible on your altar or around your house. Incorporating the element in this way really helps to get the energy flowing. NEVER leave candles unattended though, especially if you have pets or young children. Another option to consider, is to take a small cauldron outside and burn your sacred wood in the open. Smoke detectors are not fond of inside Beltane celebrations!

Issue #3: What does Beltane mean for the Green Witch?

Answer: It took me quite some time to appreciate the connection between Green Magick and Beltane. For some, fire is associated with destruction, fear, and chaos. No one ever loves hearing about a recent forest fire. Fire, however, is as natural as green growth! It is a type of purification. Mass burning gives plants a chance to regrow and provides the next generations with much needed nutrition. That said, please don’t go out and set your garden aflame! Instead, take the ashes from your Beltane ceremony and sprinkle them CDuyRbMUMAAfHLCaround your plants. They will thank you for it.

There are so many crafts, rituals, and recipes associated with Beltane. But to keep this post concise, I will leave it here. For more reading and some fantastic pictures, check out this year’s Beltane Fire Festival in Scotland. Do you have any good memories or advice of Beltane? Share your stories in the comment section below!

Pax et Bonum,

Meadow

Matronalia 2015

March 1st marked the day of Matronalia. Matronalia was an annual festival of women originally held in ancient Rome. The Goddess Juno Luciana was worshiped to watch over married women and those in the throws of pregnancy. Women would often pray at Juno’s altar for a safe delivery and healthy child, for the gift to bear a child, and couples would pray to be blessed with a happy marriage. Throughout the day women, including slaves, were treated especially well. Husbands would give their wives gifts, and the women of the household would give the female slaves the day off and were allowed to participate in the feast that evening.

Matronalia may have eventually led to the celebration of Mother’s Day in Europe which spread globally, though Matronalia seems to have more of a focus on all women, or the Matriarchs of a household, instead of specifically mothers. In the United States, however, Mother’s Day is held in May and is celebrated in honor of the humanitarian work carried out by women during the Civil War.

In honor of Matronalia some of the members of the Circle dedicated altars to the 2015-03-01_14.19.33important women in their lives and Juno herself. Following are pictures from Luna’s altar. Six candles were placed to represent Juno and Jupiter and four important and influential women in Luna’s life. Yellow roses were placed on the altar because they are Luna’s mother’s favorite flower. The roses will later be turned into rose water for anointing purposes as they were asked to be blessed by Juno and Luna’s mother.

Each candle had the name of the person or deity represented carved into it using the Theban alphabet. Though this took some time, it seemed important for the candle to know who it was representing and to absorb the energy of the user. In the evening the candles were lit, and some meditation took place where the women were thanked.

Have you ever celebrated Matronalia? What was your experience?

Blessed be, Luna

http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/ostarathespringequinox/p/Matronalia.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matronalia

Altar and Ritual for Imbolc

Merry Imbolc!

Imbolc is a time for the waning of winter and the impending arrival of spring. A typical altar around this time will carry symbols of both. However, it is important to note that there is no hard and fast line as to what exactly your symbols have to be, nor is there any rule as to what ritual you choose to perform (though there should be some reference to the upcoming warmth and new growth of spring).

I will share with everyone how I chose to set up my altar for Imbolc and the ritual I chose to perform. Feel free to replicate mine, but it is always better to add something personal to make it your own.

2015-02-03_20.08.46I chose to have four white candles (two small pillars and two tapered). The white of the candle was to symbolize the snow of winter and the flame symbolized the warmth of the sun. I also added my daffodil plant and some of the dried flowers from the plant in a separate silver container. Daffodils are one of the traditional flowers of Imbolc (including snowdrops, crocus, any white or yellow flowers, or first flowers of the year) because it is one of the first flowers to bloom after winter. Also their yellow hue alludes to the sun and its warmth. 2015-02-03_20.07.08

After I set up my altar, but before I lit the candles, I told the candles what their purpose was. I told them that they were to symbolize the sun, whose warmth and light helps life grow. I called upon the God to bless and empower my candles.

After all my candles were lit, I called upon the Goddess to bless and nurture my seeds so that they may begin a life of their own.

I then thanked the Lord and Lady and continued to let the candles burn. Once they had burned down a little, I took toothpicks and dipped them into the hot wax and placed the toothpicks into each pot. I believe this symbolizes the warming of the earth and will help spark new life into these little seeds. 2015-02-03_20.05.31

Many of you may have noticed that I posted this on the 3rd of February, and Imbolc is traditionally reserved for the 2nd of February. I purposely chose not to hold my ritual on the 2nd because there is a full moon on the 3rd. I believe this phase of the moon added some rejuvenating energy to my ritual. I also do not follow the aligning of the Pagan calendar to the Christian one because us Pagans have practiced magick for many many years without it. I think that it is not as important to follow the “day of the Sabbat” as it is to follow what your heart says and what you believe to be true.

I hope this has inspired you to make your own rituals for Imbolc (if you have not already), or to do a ritual now and not worry that you missed the holiday because some calendar says so.

Blessed be, Luna

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