Newsletter for March, 1997 ce
It's March, and the weather is reminding us that we live in the Rocky Mountains. One day it's so summery no one wants to stay indoors, the next day it's cold and snowing. We hope the approaching spring season finds you all well.
Coven of the Twin Spirits, a newly formed group of three artists, will be celebrating the March Open Full Moon. The theme will be cleansing. Think of what in your life you would like the spring rains to wash away. There will be one chant: "And so return return return return to the mother." Announcements will start at 7:30 so please be on time.
March 21 August 15 April 18 September 12 May 16 October 10 June 13 November 7 July 18 December 12
Please be aware that we will no longer have access to the nursery. Due to a lack of adult volunteers, we have removed the child care area from our lease.
We have officiants for all of 1997; if you would like to be an officiant in 1998, please call 680-5105 and talk to gypsy.
It's spring! (Well, almost.) The trees are budding, the first bulbs are poking their leaves above ground, the crocus are blooming, and if you look carefully, many edible weeds are beginning to sprout. Historically, spring has been a scarce food time for humanity....the root cellar is getting empty, winter food stores almost gone, and the first green plants of spring often helped keep people from starvation. Many plants, such as dandelion and docks, which are too bitter for most tastes the rest of the year, are wonderful additions, either fresh or cooked, to an early spring diet. Look closely, the chickweed and violets will soon be appearing and are wonderful in salads. If you are lucky enough to find them, fresh spring nettles are wonderful steamed or in soup.
After a winter of inactivity, and usually a very monotonous winter diet, our winter ancestors were well aware of the need for a spring tonic to get the system moving and especially the digestive system ready for the abundance of fresh food that would be available in the late spring through the final harvest. The "classic" pattern for a spring tonic is to take the chosen herbs for six weeks. A tonic is not a quick fix for an acute condition, but rather a substance taken with regular, rhythmical repletion to support the body as it rebuilds itself.
There are several easily available tonics. Dandelion and curly dock (yellow dock) will soon be sprouting. Eat the young leaves fresh or steamed. Now is the time to start taking spring tonic tinctures....dandelion, yellow dock, burdock, osha. (In the high country of the Rockies, the osha root is one of the first plants the bears look for when they come out of hibernation...they roll in it, eat it, inhale the pungent odor and the plant helps clear the lungs and readies the dormant digestive system for food).
There is an abundance of wild food in the Denver areas, and it usually grows right in your own back yard. I already have mallow sprouting, and a few little violet leaves are beginning to appear. I expect the chickweed and dandelions soon! The early, tender leaves of cronewort (mugwort) are also tasty in a salad.
Enjoy the spring, the lengthening days, the increasing warmth, and the return of life, the wonderful gift of the Great Mother!!
Thousand Year Eggs sounds like a lot of work for very little reward. I mean, who wants to make a dish that will not be enjoyed until multiple generations have passed? It sounds like something from Restaurant at the End of the Universe, where one can invest a penny today and then travel forward in time to eat a dinner paid for by the interest accrued on that penny. I suppose one could view Thousand Year Eggs as an investment to be cashed in during a future lifetime, but how many of us want to reincarnate just to eat something we started cooking a few centuries ago?
Actually, Thousand Year Eggs don't take a thousand years to prepare. They do, however, look like they did. The procedure involves black tea, raw duck eggs, pine ashes, salt, charcoal ashes, potting soil, and a waiting period of 100 days. Sounds yummy, right? Even more appetizing is the description of the ideal resultant yolk, with its grayish-green coloring.
Tea eggs, now, are another story. I have seen this recipe (or one very similar to it) under the heading Mock Thousand Year Eggs. I'm not sure I'd want to mock a millennium, but the recipe creates a lovely and delicately flavored appetizer. You can vary the types of tea used, which will alter the flavor and the color of the resultant eggs. But black tea is almost always part of the recipe; I think it works like a mordant. (Actually, the herb water will color the egg regardless of the inclusion of black tea, but the black tea adds a smoky taste.) Some tea egg recipes have nothing but black tea (and possibly soy or teriyaki sauce.) I prefer the added complexity from the herbs and spices.
If you like having colored eggs around for the Equinox (or if your family insists on Easter eggs) these are a good substitute. Mind you, they aren't much good for egg hunts as their beauty is not apparent until the shell is removed, but they look pretty on a flowered plate alongside a glazed ham and sweet potatoes. Who cares about cholesterol? Spring is sprung!
Lightly strike shells with the back of a spoon, creating a network of cracks all over the eggs. DO NOT PEEL THE EGGS! Combine remaining ingredients in a saucepan, add cracked eggs, and simmer for one hour. Remove pan from stove, cover, and store (eggs still in the liquid) in the refrigerator for two or three days. Remove eggs from liquid, peel, and cut into quarters for serving.
Make a sauce of 2 TB each vinegar, soy sauce and rice wine with 1 TB minced ginger root for dipping. Or you can make a more sophisticated (read: complicated) sauce as follows:
Combine first eight ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. Continue to boil for three minutes. Add cornstarch mixture and resume boiling for an additional minute.
For several weeks now we have been noticing the lengthening of the day, the sudden appearance of birdsong, and the advent of robins. Even during the snowstorms, the robin that visits our backyard would be sitting on the fence, fluffing out his feathers against the cold, and flaunting that beautiful red breast that heralds the promise of Spring.
Spring has always been MoonWolf's favorite time of the year and only partly because she was born in that season. Spring meant the end of a long, cold, gray winter and the coming of warm weather, green leaves and colorful flowers. It also meant Easter, which brought a new dress and a basket from the Easter Bunny. Her parents always made it special, even including sightings of the Easter Bunny running away after leaving the baskets.
When it became our turn to be parents we wanted to give our children the traditions that make the remembrances of childhood so special. Since we were still operating with the Christian traditions at the time (not knowing anything else to do) we used the traditions that we had grown up with. When we became Wiccan, one of the things that we had to deal with was the loss of those traditions and the hole that created in the children's lives. We had to create new traditions and make them fun.
Easter was one tradition that was at once the hardest and the easiest to replace. At first, MoonWolf thought that to be Wiccan all Christian influences had to be dropped and that included the Easter Bunny and Easter baskets (not to mention that she was also working to cut the level of sugar consumption in our house!). Fortunately, being the bookaholics that we are, Scott Cunningham, Ashleen O'Gaea, Ceisiwr Serith, and other Pagan writers stepped in to show that that wasn't necessarily so.
The word Easter is based on the Old English word Eoster or Eostre (YO-stree), Eostara (yo-STAR-uh), or Eastara, which is based on the Old High German word Ostara or Ostera. That German word may have originally meant "dawn", but was definitely the name of the German Pagan Goddess of Fertility and Rebirth. Her symbols are the pastel spring flowers and vines, eggs (symbols of newborn life), and rabbits and hares (due to their flamboyant mating at this time, which gave rise to the saying "mad as a March hare"). Pastel flowers, rabbits, and eggs, as well as other symbols of new life, are very prominent in the stores right now. As Ceisiwr Serith says in The Pagan Family: Handing the Old Ways Down,
The secular customs that surround Easter are not exactly Christian, but they may not be specifically Pagan either....In fact, most secular Easter customs can be adopted whole-heartedly by Neo-Pagans. Some have been invented by Christians, but as natural reactions to the seasons rather than as developments of the Christian message. So colored eggs, baskets, jelly beans, candy rabbits, and flowers-use them all. Chocolate bunnies may not be of Pagan origin, but who cares? They are festive and many people certainly view chocolate with religious fervor.
Armed with this reassurance, we set out to discover what else we could use to bring our family together in joy and celebration of the Goddess' renewal of life.
Since this is Spring it is a good time to start planting in preparation for the growing season. Given our climate, it would be best to plant in peat pots until danger of frost has passed and then plant outside on May Day. If there isn't outside ground available there are always pots in the window sills. Plant some vegetables as well as herbs and flowers. In these days of supermarkets it helps our kids to get a feel for where our food comes from. Always leave part of the garden or yard (or get creative if where you live offers neither) for the spirits of the wild and give them offerings each year before planting. Having a "Faery Corner" to leave offerings for the Faery Folk is also an excellent idea.
Fly a kite. Spring is represented by the East and the element of Air. Make it a bright yellow one, with ribbons hanging from it, or one in the shape of a solar hawk or eagle. Perhaps you would prefer to paint a rabbit on a green background or paint a solar cross with short ribbons fluttering from it.
And of course there is the Egg Hunt. Dye real eggs in myriad colors or in traditional patterns like the Ukrainian pysanky (see Wheel of the Year: Living the Magical Life by Pauline and Dan Campanelli). Use plastic ones filled with runes (Celtic fortune eggs?) or decorative wooden eggs or ones cut from construction paper. Hide the eggs near sprouting flowers or other areas that can provide some special gift of the season such as a sighting of wildlife, etc. Mom and Dad, you go hunting too.
During this time of new fire when light and dark are in perfect balance take time to also celebrate family. Enjoy the visit of the Ostara Bunny. Fun isn't the sole province of the young. The Goddess and God are playful in all their aspects.
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