Your a witch? So do you worship Satan?

It is a question i think every pagan and/or wiccan has heard at least once.

So today a friend of mine came over to my house because he needed some help with his computer. While he was over he noticed my pentacle necklace. 10391368_345174635677240_981763294238315295_n He asked me about it, something to the effect of “i like your necklace, what is that symbol?” So i told him it was a pentacle, and he asked what it meant. I told him i’m a wiccan. (side note: I don’t usually identify as a wiccan but rather as a pagan, however in my experience when talking to people who don’t know a lot about paganism/wicca when i tell them i’m pagan i tend to have to explain it and end up saying wiccan in the end.) Now this friend is a christian, i have known this for a while, and i tend to not tell christians about my religion unless asked because i don’t like to make them uncomfortable. That being said, i still wear my pagan jewelry. He asked a lot of the same questions that most people do when they meet a pagan/wiccan for the first time. Some are offensive, some are not, and some are just plain weird. But they all come from the same place, genuine curiosity when faced with something a person doesn’t understand. With that being said, i thought i would go through some of the most common questions that wicks and pagans get and answer them.

Do you believe in God? Yes, just probably not in the way you would recognize. First thing to realize is that we all view deity in a unique and personal way. Many of us are mono-polytheistic, meaning we believe in one universal god and believe that the other gods (the Triple Goddess, the Green Man, Ares, Inanna, Isis, Thor, etc.) are just aspects of this universal god. Some are true monotheist and worship one all powerful deity. Some are polytheists and believe in multiple unique individual gods, the number of which exist differ from person to person. And still others are nature-theists, they believe in the power and spirits of nature and natural things (i.e. trees, streams, mountains, etc.). And, of course most believe in some combination of these.

Do you cast Spells? Some of us do, some of us don’t. Some of us spend weeks preparing spells, gathering ingredients, calculating the phases of the moon, and translating the words into Latin (or Greek, Egyptian, Futhark, Etc.). Some of us are a lot more spontaneous. But the truth is that our spells really aren’t that different from what other people do (unless you are an atheist, then they are super different). While a christian might pray to God to ask for some one to get better if they are sick, or to help them with a test, or get a job, we cast a spell. In fact, many of us view praying as a form of spell casting.

Do you worship Satan/the Devil? No. Not only do we not worship Satan or The Devil, we don’t acknowledge such an entity exists. Many of us (but not all) don’t believe that anything is inherently pure evil the way the Judeo-Christian devil is. Rather we believe that spirits or entities have the potential for both good and evil, much like people.

So what do you believe happens when you die? This is the ultimate question people tend to get to. I think this is because many people define their religion based on where they ultimately end up. This is funny because most pagans and Wiccans define our religion (and religion in general) in terms of this life. But, since you asked, I believe in reincarnation. I like to think that when i die i will go to the summer lands to await reincarnation and then be reborn into this world again. Others believe in immediate reincarnation, or a permanent afterlife. Some believe that they will see their ancestors and deceased friends and family again, others don’t. And still others believe that they will cease to exist as a unique entity and rejoin the great infinite. It carries from person to person (are you seeing a pattern?).

What is your magical name? Asking this question is kinda like asking some one “how long is your penis?” if you had any right to that information, it would be given with out you needing to ask. Yes, i have a magical name, but the amount of people in this world who know both that name and my real name i can count on one hand. And that is how it should be. A magical name has a specific purpose, and it isn’t to be cool or mysterious or weird, it is to protect the witch. Many pagans/Wiccans are still in the broom closet (they haven’t told people about their religion). We use a magical name when we meet to avoid giving other people the power to out us before we are ready.

So, you don’t have any rules? Lol, how little you know. Just because our rules don’t look like yours doesn’t mean they don’t exist. In fact, we very well may have more rules than you (of course this carries from person to person). I have tons of rules, first i don’t cast spells on anyone with out their permission (remember i consider prayer a form of spell casting). I don’t bother the gods or spirits with trivial things, such as sports games or traffic lights. I don’t try to convert others to my religion because i believe that people need to find their own path (i will however answer any questions you have, just just have to ask first).

Do you have any magical powers? Why yes i do, i can create more people, it just requires a special ingredient and 9 months. I can also turn oxygen into carbon dioxide with out any special machinery. Basically, i have no powers that other people can’t have. We have talents though, that is different. For example my son is an empath, he is able to sense other people’s emotions, but with enough time and effort you could learn to do that too. I am really good with animals, i can understand them and sense what they need, but again, you could probably learn that too.

Did i forget any? if you think of others, want to know more, or if your answers are different, let me know.

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Your a witch? So do you worship Satan?

Disney Pixar Ratatouille

So this was a fun project my husband and i came up with. We decided that we would make Ratatouille and watch Ratatouille with the kids.

Brief summary: For any one who hasn’t seen the movie, Ratatouille is about a rat named Remy who learned to cook from watching a tv cooking show. He then gets separated from his family and ends up in Paris at the restaurant started by the man from the TV show. He helps the garbage boy, Linguini, cook.

In the movie Remy makes ratatouille for a restaurant critic, which then causes him to have a flash back to the ratatouille his mom made him as a boy.

We chose to make 2 recipes, one that looked like the one Remy made and one that looked like the one the critic remembered.

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All of my ingredients, yes we did use that much vegetables.

Recipe 1 (Remy’s ratatouille)

Ingredients PIPERADE

2 Red Bellpepper (Capsicum) – seeds and ribs removed 2 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon minced Garlic
1⁄2 cup finely diced Yellow Onion

340g (12 ounce) Tomatoes – peeled, seeded, and finely diced, juices reserved IMG_1281IMG_1282IMG_1283

1 sprig Fresh Thyme
1 sprig Flat-leaf Parsley
1⁄2 a Bay Leaf

Salt to taste

VEGETABLES

1 Green Zucchini (100g or 4ounces) – thinly sliced
1 Yellow Zucchini (100g or 4ounces) – thinly sliced
1 Japanese Eggplant (100g or 4ounces) – thinly sliced                                                                4 Tomatoes – thinly sliced
1⁄2 teaspoon Minced Garlic
2 teaspoon Olive Oil
1⁄8 teaspoon Fresh Thyme Leaves
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper

VINAIGRETTE

1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
Thyme
Salt and freshly ground Black Pepper.

Instructions

1. For piperade, heat oven to 232C or 450F. Place pepper halves (cut side down) on a foil-lined tray. Roast until skin loosens, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.

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2. Combine oil, garlic, and onion in medium skillet over low heat until very soft but not browned, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes, their juices, thyme, parsley, and bay leaf. Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them.

IMG_1292IMG_1293IMG_1294 Season to taste with salt, and discard herbs.

3. Heat oven to 135C (275F). Spread piperade in bottom of an 20cm (8-inch) baking dish or casserole dish.

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4. From the side of dish, arrange a strip of alternating slices of vegetables over piperade, overlapping so that 1⁄4 inch of each slice is exposed. Around the center strip, overlap vegetables in a close spiral that lets slices mound slightly toward center. Repeat until dish is filled; all vegetables may not be needed.

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5. Mix garlic, oil, and thyme leaves in bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle over vegetables. Cover pan with foil and crimp edges to seal well. Bake until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife, about 2 hours. Uncover and bake for 30 minutes more. (Lightly cover with foil if it starts to brown.) If there is excess liquid in pan, place over medium heat on stove until reduced. (At this point it may be cooled, covered and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Serve cold or reheat in 350-degree oven.

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6. For vinaigrette, take a tablespoon of piperade from the baking dish, combine with oil, vinegar, herbs, and salt and pepper to taste in a bowl.

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Recipe 2 (Critics memory)

Ingredients:

2 eggplants

3 zucchini/courgettes

1 red pepper

1 yellow pepper

4 tomatoes

2 onions

3 cloves of garlic

Some herbes de provence

2 bay leafs

Olive oil

1 teaspoon of sugar

Instructions:

1. Your oven must be preheated at 180°C (350°F)

2. In 2 tablespoon of olive oil and on a low fire, let brown onions for 5 minutes. When it’s done, pour them in a dish who can go into oven.

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3. Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil, cut peppers in small cubes and let them brown 5 minutes, on a medium fire. Pour them into the oven dish, too.

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4. Do the same for eggplants and courgettes. Add some olive oil (more for eggplants, because they “drink” it) and let brown for 5 minutes, on a medium fire. Then, in the oven dish.

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5. Cut tomatoes in small cubes too and pour them into the dish, without cooking them.

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6. Add herbs de Provence, salt, pepper, one teaspoon of white sugar, exploded garlic and bay leafs. Stir all this, put a lid on it. In the oven for 1 hour.

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End result: IMG_1325

So personal notes, I liked Recipe 1 better because the vinaigrette added a nice tang, but my husband really dislikes balsamic vinegar so after one taste he wouldn’t finish it. we both agreed that Recipe 2 was really bland. All in all, great idea in theory, in practice, we don’t like ratatouille. But hey, the movie was good.

Disney Pixar Ratatouille

Leaf Platter

So one of my favorite hobbies is pottery. Now before you start envisioning me at a wheel, let me correct that for you. I can’t throw on the wheel. I’ve taken classes and tried to learn, but i just don’t seem to have the touch. One of the first projects i learned to do with clay was a Leaf Platter. It is easy, fun, and makes a great gift.

Fair warning, this is real kiln fired white clay. Also to make it food safe you will need to glaze it. This means that this project requires you to have access to a kiln. I do own my own kiln, however before i acquired it i was a frequent visitor to my local arts and craft shop.

414BF30F-CFD7-41DC-8271-E451E356B102-1352-00000107D6F1DFC3_zps85206810 So what are you going to need? Well for starts clay, i used a standard low fire white clay.Also leaves (which ever type you like, but you want fresh green ones so they don’t crumble on you), some clay working tools (most importantly a needle tool), plus a rolling pin, a slab roller (if you don’t have one, you can make do with a rolling pin), plastic sheeting, a moulding frame (or you can use a clear plastic platter, i found one at the dollar store), a sponge, and a green scrubbing sponge.

3E5EE408-9C83-4D21-8419-58CEEDCDA1AE-1352-00000107E040E0BC_zps09e52ccbStep 1, using your slab roller, roll you clay out to about 3/8 inch thickness. This is thick enough to handle light carving with out cracking while still being thin enough to dry evenly and be easily fired.

38F3BCC0-5091-44B9-861F-F9114226E455-1352-00000107EF65C175_zps9c5ffe46Step 2, place your leaves on your platter. For this platter i chose to place the leaves in regular repeating pattern, but for others i have done a random pattern. Most importantly, make sure you like it. 2 important things to remember. 1)  you are going to want to make sure you put your leaves vain side down, this way the venation of your leaf will be preserved in your platter. 2) try to get your leaves to go all the way to the edge, right now you don’t know exactly where you will be cutting the clay.

74E366D4-0367-4EBC-9AC0-BE26513BD19D-1352-00000107FB670AB2_zpsd6bf4b7bStep 3, place your plastic wrap over your clay and leaves and gently roll with the rolling pin. No for this platter, i crinkled up my wrap so i would have texture in my final platter, but if you don’t want that pull yours flat.

40D6B301-BD85-456F-9AF7-5A661AA2F592-1352-0000010801E9CB10_zpsd1cc6e4bStep 4, using your needle tool, gently out line each leaf. While rolling the leaves imprinted them into the clay, out lining them will help them stand out and hold in glaze in case you do what i usually do, and glaze the leaves a different color from the background. After you out line your leaves pull them up (i recommend outlining a leaf then pulling it up so you know exactly which leaves have been out lined and which haven’t). You can toss them now or compost them, but they really can’t be used for a second platter.

C08C880B-0D40-427F-95EF-F01ABED6C274-1352-0000010814D42E3F_zps0772f8ed2DEBFA63-18C7-4AE1-8268-D63300932382-1352-0000010809F0D0A8_zps4d6336b3Step 5, gently lift your clay and drape it over the moulding frame. I always put my frame on a piece of ply wood so i can move it around. Also i lift the ply wood and drop it about 4-6 inches to help the clay settle into the frame with out getting finger prints all over the design.

B9DF8652-FEE7-4588-BC54-A5DB40F05500-1352-0000010822D2C652_zpscde207edStep 6, using your needle tool, carefully carve off the excess clay using the frame as a guide. Save the excess clay, you will find a use for it, i have never seen clay go to waste.

AE3A3941-C9EC-472E-84FC-EAEC6682A939-1352-0000010830BCF770_zps09e79db6Step 7, run a damp sponge along the edges to smooth them out. Let your platter dry for a week or so, the rule of clay is if it is cool to the touch, it isn’t dry.

(I forgot to take pictures of these steps)

Step 8, when the platter is dry “sand” it by gently rubbing it with a green dish scrubber. The harder you scrub the smoother the platter will be but the more detail you will lose. Because i wanted a more natural look i only lightly sanded it down to remove rough edges.

Step 9, FIRE YOUR CLAY!!! Make sure that you follow your clay manufactures directions. Different clay fires at different temperatures. Also NEVER use a kiln indoors, or when it’s raining. Make sure you follow your kiln manufactures instructions to the letter. Seriously, people have died doing this, BE CAREFUL!!!

Step 10, Glazing. Choose your glaze and apply it per manufactures instructions. I like to use brush on glaze because i get so much control, it is however the most time consuming way to glaze. Point to remember, glaze always changes color when fired, how much it changes varies from glaze to glaze, so chose your glaze based on the finished sample, not the liquid in the jar. Also, as with your first firing, follow manufactures instructions exactly. Glaze almost always fires at a higher temperature than bisque (that is plain, un glazed clay).

20150428_200046 20150428_200100This is obviously not the platter from the earlier pictures. I forgot to take pictures of it and then i gave it to a friend for a house warming gift. I wanted to show you these pictures so you could see a different pattern and leaf, and also so you can see how cool the vain patterns look when glazed with a translucent glaze.

Let me know what you think and let me know any ideas you have.

Leaf Platter

Looking For Alaska by John Green, SPOILER ALERT!

I have been a fan of Mr Green’s for some time. I am an avid follower of him and his brother on YouTube through there channel vlogbrothers (you guys should totally check it out), and I am a bit embarrassed to admit I had been watching their bi weekly video blogs for months before I learned that John Green was a best selling YA author.

For my first John Green book I chose his first John Green book, “Looking for Alaska” and I found it to be an amazing literary experience.

SPOILER ALLERT!!! This review, like most all reviews, contains massive amounts of spoilers. Trust me when I tell you, you don’t want this book spoiled!

“Looking for Alaska” is not a book about a road trip to the Arctic. I say this because when I first picked up the book I assumed it would be. I purchased the book on my Kindle and so I did not have access to the back cover that gives away just enough to hook you. I’m glad I didn’t because I got the rare experience of reading a book with know idea what it was about.

The book is divided into 2 parts, “before” and “after”, and I found my self wondering what “the event” (afters I referred to it) would be for a good half of the book. I enjoyed that, the constant question of what would happen to these characters that would be such a defining moment in their lives.

A brief summary: Miles is a high school junior who leaves home to go to boarding school in Alabama. When he gets there his new roommate, Colonel,  nicknames him Pudge and introduces him to Alaska (yes, title Alaska) whom Pudge finds himself enamored of.

In this book we see the human condition in all its raw glory. It is tragic, and yet honest in a way so very few books are.

I am not, nor have I ever been a high school boy. But I have been a teenager, self assured in the knowledge that I knew more than my peers or elders, and I think that this may be the most accurate portrayal of adolescents I’ve ever read. I want to talk about a few specific scenes that stand out to me for the representation of what I remember that time in my life being.

The first is the scene takes place  on “the last day”, Pudge and Laura (a girl Alaska set him up with) are watching TV when out of no where she asked if he wants a blow job. Now like any man I have ever met his answer was yes, but she had never given one nor had he ever received one. She proceeds to remove his pants, pull out his penis and put it in her mouth. Now the part that stands out to me is that this is all she did, she put it in her mouth and kinda froze. She froze because like most girls with no sexual experience, she had no idea what she should do, and like most boys with no sexual experience he didn’t know either. So they did the only thing they can think to do, they go ask Alaska what they are doing wrong. And Alaska “laughed and laughed. Sitting on her bed, she laughed until she cried.” For the record, I also laughed quite a bit. But I find the important part of this scene is how the author presents first time sexual experiences. It is not all flowers and romance, they don’t have a dalliance that is full filling and engaging. They are awkward, and have no idea what to do. And that, in my experience, is what a first time sexual experience is. Was this scene a central plot point vital to the flow of the story, no. But it was honest, and that is refreshing.

The second scene is “Twenty days after”. In this scene the Colonel yells at Pudge. “‘You don’t even care about her!’ He shouted, ‘All that matters is you and your precious fucking fantasy that you and Alaska had this goddamn secret love affair and she was going to leave Jake [her boyfriend] and you’d live happily ever after. But she kissed a lot of guys Pudge.'” This one stands out to me for personal reasons, because I have been there. Maybe we all have. When I was in high school I was head over heels for a friend of mine, and yes he knew it. But he had a girl friend. But i, much like Pudge, felt that my feeling were a) reciprocated, and b) that they trumped all of the labels like boyfriend and girlfriend. In essence, I felt that what we had was permanent and his relationship was temporary, and therefor I could wait. Teenagers often feel they know more than anyone else. But they are usually wrong. For the record, I never ended up dating my friend, we moved away before I could, though maybe that is a good thing. Today we are both happily married, to different people.

Now I want to talk about Mr Greens choice to put Alaska’s death in the middle of the book. I think it was wildly inspired as often death is the end of a story or the impetus of the plot. In this case I feel both would have been a mistake. Had Alaska’s death been the end if the book, we would never have had the chance to see Pudge and the Colonel grow from the experience. We wouldn’t have seen them heal or learn what happened to her in the end. Had it been at the beginning of the book, we wouldn’t have cared but her, and we would have urged them to simply “get over it”.

All in all I felt the book was well written, thought provoking, gripping honest, and at times heart wrenching. I think we can all agree that those are the qualities we look for in books. But for me, the best part was that I found my self confronted with my adolescence and was reminded of things I had thought I forgot.

If you have any suggestions for books I should review/read, leave them in the comments below.

Looking For Alaska by John Green, SPOILER ALERT!

Kushiel’s Dart Read Along – The Schedule

So this is an interesting opportunity whether you have read Kushiel’s Dart yet or not. My copy has been well loved, and when i had a chance to meet the Author, I had her sign my many times read copy.

While I think this would be a super fun way to read through an amazing book for the first time, I think this will give veteran Dart readers a whole new insight to a fabulous book.

Also I have volunteered to host one of the weeks, so stay tuned.

(Yippy!!!)

Kushiel’s Dart Read Along – The Schedule.

via Kushiel’s Dart Read Along – The Schedule.

Kushiel’s Dart Read Along – The Schedule

Why Igret?

I know that is what you are wondering, why is it called “Igret’s Corner?” Well, that is amusingly a highly personal story. So instead of telling you why Igret, I will answer the question “Who is Igret?”

Irget is an alternative spelling/pronunciation for the Hebrew-Arabic name Agrat. Agrat Bat Mahlat is a figure with a fascinating story.

In Zoharistic Kabbalah, she is a queen of the demons and one of four angels of sacred prostitution, who mates with archangel Samael. Her fellow succubi are Lilith, Naamah, and Eisheth. In the Rabbinic literature of Yalḳuṭ Ḥadash, on the eves of Wednesday and of the Sabbath, she is “the dancing roof-demon” who haunts the air with her chariot and her train of eighteen myriads of messengers of destruction. She dances while Lilith howls. She is also “the mistress of the sorceresses” who communicated magic secrets to Amemar, a Jewish sage.

According to the Kabbalah and the school of Rashba, Agrat bat Mahlat mated with King David and bore a cambion son Asmodeus, king of demons. Asmodeus is said to have led an army of demons and heretics in battle against David’s son Daniel, his half brother.

But I have always thought that she, like many others, was a woman of strength and power who was vilified by those in power. Her sins, such as prostitution and succubi, speak to me as a woman who knew her body and took control of it.

Why Igret?