Monday Meditation: Defining Personal Power

It's important for people to define what they mean by different terms. One person may not define things in the same way as another. For instance, when using the word "professionalism" in the business world, that could mean very different things to different people. By the same token, the term "Witch" may have a variety of meanings, depending on the individual. It helps to put context around what is meant in order to come to an understanding. Today's meditation will seek to define the term, "personal power" in order to address what it means to the individual.

There are several different definitions personal power available through a simple internet search. For example, The Business Dictionary defines it as: "Influence over others, the source of which resides in the person instead of being vested by the position he or she holds."

Here are a few others: 

Web Definitions:

"Power is a measure of an entity's ability to control the environment around itself, including the behavior of other entities. The term authority is often used for power, perceived as legitimate by the social structure."

"Personal Power is based on individual characteristics that are acquired with varying degrees of difficulty and at different rates of development. Many performance skills are easily taught and can be rapidly acquired. Personality traits, on the other hand, take time to develop and can be difficult to modify."

"Control over the environment used solely as a means of producing personal security. Destructive control over other persons."

"is your power to control you and the environment around you. Most people realize that they are the only ones in control of themselves. While they may let others control them or persuade them to do things from time to time, each of us has control of our person."

My favorite definition of personal power comes from the book, "Witchcraft: Theory and Practice," by Ly De Angeles

"Personal power is a natural growth process that develops as a result of the life you live in the way of the witch. Others will notice you even when you do not desire to be noticed; therefore, personal power is the ability to disappear when you want to and appear when you want to. It is not an egoistical phenomenon! It is an energy (akin to magnetism){16}, a presence about oneself that will require a firm rein for the first few years. It will emanate from your physical body like a field phenomenon. This field is neither a conscious, nor consciously acquired, function, and you are to know and understand this.
Posturing and arrogance are its illusory counterparts. Personal power should not be treated as such (that will be the ego seeking to manipulate a natural force and that is both ugly and offensive). 
Personal power is a direct result of accessing the lifescape of magic and of living within its field. If you allow yourself to become glamoured{17} by it, in either yourself or anyone else, you disrupt the web of the worlds and the places of power will withdraw, oh, even just a little, from the access of those who seek to live within their wonder.
Personal power is an accumulation of awareness, preparation, intent, and your ability to focus, all through the vessel of the self."

That may seem too detailed a definition of personal power. However, it leaves no room for doubt as to what the author intends when she uses that phrase.  When defining a personal code of honor, or exploring what power means to an individual, or for those who have experienced the phenomenon of being noticed when all he/she wanted was to be a wallflower,  or those of us for whom watches don't work, street lights go out, this can provide at least a skeleton from which to build upon. 

It also  assists one in seeing his/her unique yet entangled connection to other living things, and the responsibility each person has to be full of care with it.

Your Turn!

What is your definition of personal power? How does this help you in your daily life, both magically and in the mundane? Post in comments or hit me up on Facebook!


16: See the Art of Invisibility, Part Three
17: See Glamouring, Part Three

The Sunday Stir April 17, 2016

A light read for your Pagan Sunday morning! 

This Week's Meme:

In the News

Weekly Horoscopes

This Week's Totem: Hawk

In nearly every indigenous tradition where animal totems are honored, the hawk is a messenger from the Otherworld. In the tradition of the Northern Celts, hawk represents nobility, leadership, remembering who we are, and remarkable visionary gifts.

Key words and phrases: Spirit messages, connecting with ancestral heritage, preparing for battle or action, being aware of all that is happening around you.

In Nature

  • The family Falconidae, which includes the Hawks, the falcons, the vultures, the kites, and the eagles — all diurnal birds of prey — numbers about three hundred and fifty species of which between forty and fifty are found in North America. The remainder are distributed through-out the world.
  • Hawks vary in size depending on the species. Smallest hawk (American Kestrel) weighs only 4 ounces. Largest hawk (Ferruginous Hawk) weighs up to 5 pounds. Females are larger than males.
  • Hawks have excellent eyesight. They can see 8 times better than humans. Their eyesight is primarily used for hunting. Hawks can locate prey from a distance of 100 feet.
  • Unlike many animals, hawks are able to see different colors.
  • During the hunt, hawks can dive 150 miles per hour through the air. They are able to catch a prey both in the air and on the ground.
  • Hawks are opportunistic feeders; they hunt and eat whatever is available. Mostly, they hunt frogs, insects, squirrels, rats, snakes, rabbits and smaller birds.
  • Hawks are monogamous animals (one couple mate for a lifetime). In the case that one partner dies, the survivor will find another mating partner.They perform a spectacular dance in the air as part of their mating ritual.  The male performs series of acrobatics in the air that may last up to 10 minutes.
  • The average lifespan of a hawk is between 13 and 20 years in the wild. Hawks live over 20 years in captivity.

Hawk as a Totem

Those who carry hawk as a totem are messengers and visionaries. They are able to walk between the worlds easily. Hawk people are very optimistic, but also very perceptive. They can see into the souls of others, and may seem to be overly direct in sharing their observations. They also tend to be very protective of those who are close to them. Typically, you always know where you stand with a hawk-person, as they are loyal, honest, and trustworthy. Engineers, teachers, inventors, writers and artists are common occupations for those who claim the hawk as their guide.

Hawk's Message

Hawk asks you to look within and without, see the bigger picture and to take courage to follow your true path.

With Hawk's keen sight, the message is to keep a weather eye out on your life. Fly higher to see the overall picture, because there are details you may be missing. Hawk is a totem of action as well. If you've been procrastinating on a project or dream, call upon Hawk to assist you in taking action.

Now is the time. It may be time to claim your birthright and honor your ancestors. Or, perhaps you know that it's time to stand up for yourself or others- if so, it's time to prepare yourself for the battle ahead. Take a 360 degree look at your life and the plans/dreams/hopes you have. Ask yourself: Am I lacking confidence? Am I allowing worry (the fear of loss) to dominate my life? Am I hesitating or procrastinating somewhere? Have I been acting too rashly without seeing the bigger picture?

Hawk can help you see what needs to be fixed and give you the tools to take proper action. Hawk awakens our vision and inspires us to create our lives according to our purpose or path in life. Pay close attention to the messages coming from the natural and spirit world at this time.

Want to learn more about your own totems? Order a Medicine Wheel Report today!

Eating with the Seasons: Spinach


It is thought that spinach was first cultivated in southwest Asia.  Trade routes through the Middle East took it to North Africa, from where it was introduced to Europe by the Moors by the twelfth century.

A cookbook belonging to King Richard II demonstrates that spinach was grown in England in the fourteenth century.

Spinach (Spinacia oleracea) is a flowering plant belonging to the family Amaranthaceae.


Spinach has a high water content and so reduces to around a quarter of its size when cooked.  Buy lots.

Keep in a plastic bag in the fridge for three to four days.

Give leaves a good wash in a sinkful of lukewarm water to remove any traces of grit (if bought from a farmers' market) or chemicals (if bought from a supermarket), changing the water two or three times.  Drain, or dry in a salad spinner if the leaves are to be eaten raw.  Cut out any thick stems.

Spinach can be steamed in the water clinging to the leaves after washing.  Give them 5 to 10 minutes in a large saucepan on a moderate heat. Sauteeing and microwaving are also good cooking methods.

Raw spinach is excellent in salads and, like watercress, has a natural affinity with bacon.  Spinach also pairs beautifully with smoked haddock and with cheese, especially feta-style.

Nutrition Facts

Spinach is store house for many phyto-nutrients that have health promotional and disease prevention properties.

Very low in calories and fats (100 g of raw leaves provide just 23 calories). Its leaves hold good amount of soluble dietary fiber and no wonder green spinach is one of the finest vegetable sources recommended in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs by dieticians!

Fresh 100 g of spinach contains about 25% of daily intake of iron; one of the richest among green leafy vegetables. Iron is an important trace element required by the human body for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for oxidation-reduction enzyme, cytochrome-oxidase during the cellular metabolism.

Fresh leaves are rich source of several vital anti-oxidant vitamins like vitamin A, vitamin C, and flavonoid poly phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zea-xanthin and beta-carotene. Together, these compounds help act as protective scavengers against oxygen-derived free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS) that play a healing role in aging and various disease processes.

Zea-xanthin, an important dietary carotenoid, is selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes where it thought to provide antioxidant and protective light-filtering functions. It thus, helps protect from "age-related macular related macular disease" (ARMD), especially in the elderly.

In addition, vitamin A is required for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is essential for normal eye-sight. Consumption of natural vegetables and fruits rich in vitamin A and flavonoids also known to help the body protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.

Spinach leaves are an excellent source of vitamin K. 100 g of fresh greens provides 402% of daily vitamin-K requirements. Vitamin K plays a vital role in strengthening the bone mass by promoting osteotrophic (bone building) activity in the bone. Additionally, it also has established role in patients with Alzheimer's disease by limiting neuronal damage in the brain.

This green leafy vegetable also contains good amounts of many B-complex vitamins such as vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), thiamin (vitamin B-1), riboflavin, folates and niacin. Folates help prevent neural tube defects in the offspring.

100 g of farm fresh spinach has 47% of daily recommended levels of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, which helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful oxygen-free radicals.

Its leaves also contain a good amount of minerals like potassium, manganese, magnesium, copper and zinc. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese and copper are used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Copper is required in the production of red blood cells. Zinc is a co-factor for many enzymes that regulate growth and development, sperm generation, digestion and nucleic acid synthesis.

It is also good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Regular consumption of spinach in the diet helps prevent osteoporosis (weakness of bones), iron-deficiency anemia. Moreover, its soft leaves are believed to protect human body from cardiovascular diseases and cancers of colon and prostate.


Parmesan Spinach Cakes

12 ounces fresh spinach
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, or low-fat cottage cheese
1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
2 large eggs, beaten
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.
Pulse spinach in three batches in a food processor until finely chopped. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add ricotta (or cottage cheese), Parmesan, eggs, garlic, salt and pepper; stir to combine.
Coat 8 cups of the muffin pan with coconut oil or grass-fed butter. Divide the spinach mixture among the 8 cups (they will be very full).

Bake the spinach cakes until set, about 20 minutes. Let stand in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife and turn out onto a clean cutting board or large plate. Serve warm, sprinkled with more Parmesan, if desired.

Magical Applications of Spinach

Mostly used in kitchen witchery, spinach is a child of both Earth and Jupiter, therefore it can assist in attracting prosperity/money, spiritual strength, physical well-being, and protection.

Meditation Time

Here is your weekly meditation video. Relax and enjoy this super stress-reliever.

Book Review: Blame Your Planet

I received an email a few weeks' back from someone at Red Wheel/Weiser books who asked if I'd like to review some books for them. This opinionated bibliophile is never going to turn down an opportunity to read something new and be able to give her perspective on it! I would like to note that while they are sending me the books to read, they did not ask me to review these in a positive manner or try to influence my opinion (like that could happen!) So far, it's been a joy to work with Red Wheel/Weiser. I have a couple more books that just arrived. This is turning out to be a lot of fun! Ok, now, on to the book.

Blame Your Planet by Stella Hyde

Here's the intro on RW/W:

"Stella Hyde presents a hilarious exposé of the not-so-nice parts of astrological destiny with shocking conclusions supported by complete astrological research for all 12 signs. In Blame Your Planet, she exposes the hidden underside of the stars, and how they affect the dark side of everyone...

... Blame Your Planet covers personalities, rising sign, ruling planet, Moon, qualities, and elements. It also details lifestyle choices (jobs, vacations, fashion, interior design, partners) all from a gripping, yet rarely discussed perspective. Blame Your Planet explores:
Your favorite deadly sin
Your annoying little ways
Your lunar nuisance that cramps your style
Your grimiest thoughts and succulent sex fantasies—in vivid detail
Your Opposite Sign that connects you to those born under it
Your Mr./Ms. Wrong
Your favorite holiday to ruin for everybody
Your dream darkside job—spy, assassin, dictator, drug baron, jewel thief, evil genius
Your darkside sign’s hall of infamy—the famous who share it with you
Fully illustrated, Blame Your Planet reveals the secret evil twin hidden in all of us. Welcome to the dark side."

So, I went into this with the idea that a) it's going to be funny, in a dark way and b) I might have to put aside my Aquarian ego for this one. Bracing myself, I began reading this book. Each of the signs has its own colored pages, and it's well-organized. The Aquarian color is clear blue.

 Above, you'll see the description of the sign, which is how it opens for each of them. She begins with pretty generic, factual information. When you get to the dark side, however, that's a unique description. Frankly, I've been called worse ;)

The next page has some annoying habits (no, you'll have to get the book if you want to know) listed, and then a full sardonic description of the sign's personality. There's even a 'bitch rating' included.

True to the book's name, I can blame all of this on my ruling planet, with a complete explanation, so I'll be prepared the next time someone calls me a 'space cadet.' Moving along, she discusses the dark side of my dark side under "Bad Moon Rising", aka my moon sign. From here, she insults my rising sign as well. We swiftly move into the area of love, and why we Aquarians are better off alone.
She organized the book very well, because at this point, she's agitated me enough that I'm ready to insult her origins, but she then has to educate me on my temper (DAMNIT!). And, then, as if she wasn't astute enough to figure that part out (did I mention she's a Cancer?),

she jumps right into my opposing sign entitled, "Who's Got Your Number?" (um, clearly, Leo isn't the only one. How did she know I adore Darth Vader???)

At this point, if I was offended, I'm now deeply pondering how anyone could possibly figure out my Star Wars addiction as I turn the page to:

That's right. She's talkin' bout SEX baby, she's talkin 'bout... wait, "What kind of love rat are you?" WTF?
"You are unlikely to have a long term partner to dump because you despise clingy dependants just as much as you loathe jealous control freaks"
Well, okay that's true, too. Let's move on, shall we?

Oh fun. Relationships. Let's just say, I ADORE the incompatibility ratings.

We transitioned into "Work" and again, she nailed it, and by nailed it, I mean it was completely off base. I am always early, dress professionally, and brag like hell on those self-assessment forms, thank you very much. I did garner some interesting tips insights into what kind of criminal I might be, though.

At home- HATE the color palette. She clearly has not known many Aquarians. If she saw the boho-Pagan look(slikeDisneythrewup) to my bedroom, she'd think again.

Playtime (the dark side of fun)- nowhere else is her hatred for my sign more prevalent than here. It's okay. I'm too eccentric to care that she thinks I like being eccentric.

Finally, we ended this torturous affair with the typical famous people section, which she entitles "Bad company- your hall of infamy".

Once I was able to justify see that she just completely misunderstood my sign, I could then explore the other signs in the book.  She was SPOT(F'ing) ON with all the rest of you.

At the back of the book, there are some really cool extras that help even the most novice among us to discover what the hell she is talking about (aka, yes, she really IS insulting you).

All in all, this was a really fun read. This author clearly enjoyed writing this book, and it shows. This is an enthusiastically tongue-in-cheek look at the astrological signs through the lens of a comical cynic. Those of you who enjoy dark humor and astrology, absolutely must have a read.

You can pick it up here at Red Wheel/Weiser.

The Sunday Stir

A light read for your Pagan Sunday morning!

Remember to tune in tomorrow for the Monday Meditation, and all week long on the Facebook page for articles, memes, and your Daily Magic Guides and Tarot Readings!

In the News

Weekly Horoscope April 11-17

This Week's Totem: Eagle

Key words and phrases: Swiftness, Strength, Courage, Second Sight, Connection to Great Spirit, Knowledge of Magic, Higher Truth, Dignity with Grace, Healing and the Ability to See the Bigger Picture.

In ancient Greece, Eagle was associated with Zeus, who shape-shifted into one to see the greater picture of things. In the indigenous Nations of North America, Eagle is generally seen as the connector to the Great Spirit, and is sometimes considered to be the Thunderbird. In ancient Gaelic tribes, Eagle was called "Suil-na-Greine" or "Eye of the Sun."

Eagle represents the power of and connection to the Great Spirit (God, Goddess, whatever you wish to call that which you see as 'divine') or Mystery. It's the ability to stay both in this world and strongly attached to the realm of Spirit.

Eagle's message is to soar above the mundane and view things from a larger perspective. If you've been too caught up in the day-to-day irritations of life, or are taking things personally, it's time to disconnect from those emotions and reconnect with the element of Air (mental plane). See how all of the pieces you've been viewing myopically are placed together in the puzzle that is your life (Wyrd, Imramma, Destiny). Connect to that which is greater than yourself and cut the ties to that which binds and prevents you from flying free.

All eagles are renowned for their excellent eyesight. Those who carry Eagle medicine tend to be both clairaudient and clairvoyant.

Water is an important source of sustenance for eagles. Those with this totem will feel a strong need to live near water, mainly a fresh water source.

Eagles are considered messengers from heaven and the spirit of the sun. They are also symbols of rediscovering the inner child. Three is a sacred number for those with this medicine. Three represents new birth and creativity. A study in alchemy is also recommended for those who have eagle as a totem.

Eating with the Seasons: Oranges

History- Oranges are thought to have their origin in a sour fruit growing wild in the region of South West China and North East India as early as 2,500 BC. For thousands of years these bitter oranges were used mainly for their scent, rather than their eating qualities.

The Romans brought the fruit to Europe and later oranges were spread to Spain by the Moorish conquests in the eight and ninth centuries. The sweet orange familiar to us today probably developed somewhat later.

The fruit arrived in Central America with Columbus in 1493 and soon afterwards the Portuguese introduced them to Brazil. Sweet oranges imported from Portugal were enjoyed by wealthy Britons in the late sixteenth century.

Oranges are now an important crop in warm climates around the world, most notably Brazil, USA, Spain, North and South Africa, Israel and Australia.

Note: The color 'orange' was named after the fruit. The word's origin is in Sanskrit, "naranga" which means, "fragrant". 


Choose oranges that are firm and feel heavy (weightier oranges are juicier). Very large fruit can sometimes be less sweet and concentrated in flavour. Skin color is not indicative of quality - untreated ripe oranges are often pale orange or greenish but those sold in supermarkets may be treated with ethylene (to break down the green chlorophyll) and then colored with orange dye.

The vast majority of commercial oranges (Sevilles apart) are treated with a wax polish that may have deleterious health effects. If using the rind, try to find unwaxed (and ideally organic) oranges.

Oranges in the shops today may have been picked anything from a few days to a few weeks earlier. Most will keep for a couple of weeks at room temperature.

If juicing, roll on a flat surface first to set loose the juice. If using the zest, scrub the skin thoroughly.

Nutrition Facts: On average, an orange has about 47 calories. It is 87% water, has 0.9 grams of protein, 11.8g carbs, 9.4g sugar, 2.4g fiber, and 0.1g fat.

Health Benefits: 
As a good source of antioxidants and fiber, oranges may cut the risk of heart disease.
Being a rich source of citric acid and citrates, oranges may help prevent kidney stone formation.
Eating whole oranges is generally healthier than drinking orange juice. Fruit juices tend to be high in sugar, and not as filling as whole fruit.

Note: Some people are allergic to oranges, and their acidity may increase symptoms of heartburn.


Orange Earl Grey Tea

Get a little pick-me-up with this orange-infused Earl Grey iced tea. Tea is rich in a class of antioxidants called flavonoids that may help reduce your risk of Alzheimer's and diabetes, plus help you have healthier teeth and gums and stronger bones. You can help preserve the flavonoids in iced tea by adding something acidic—like the orange juice in this recipe.

1/4 cup loose Earl Grey tea, or 12 Earl Grey tea bags
Peel of 1 orange, plus orange wedges for garnish
4 cups boiling water
3/4 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed recommended)
1/2 cup raw honey (1/4c sugar as a substitute)
4 cups cold water

Steep loose tea (or tea bags) and orange peel in boiling water for 3 to 5 minutes.
Strain the tea (or remove tea bags and orange peel) and pour into a large pitcher and add honey while still warm. Stir in orange juice. Add cold water. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours. Serve over ice with orange wedges.

More recipes:

Magical Applications for Oranges

Bitter Orange (Neroli fruit)

"The high-energy scent of oranges is said to communicate the joy of angels to human beings. Orange peel is great for embodying the Sun in a mixture, whether potpourri, tea, sachet, charm, etc. Like the Sun, orange peel lifts those who are down, helps the confused find direction, and gives new life to spiritual yearnings." ~Alchemy Works

Neroli Oil: an essential oil produced from the blossom of the bitter orange tree . Its scent is sweet, honeyed, and somewhat metallic with green and spicy facets. Orange blossom is also extracted from the same blossom and both extracts are extensively used in perfumery. Orange blossom can be described as smelling sweeter, warmer and more floral than neroli. The difference between how neroli and orange blossom smell and why they are referred to with different names, is a result of the process of extraction that is used to obtain the oil from the blooms. Neroli is extracted by steam distillation and orange blossom is extracted via a process of enfleurage.

Neroli correspondences: Joy, happiness, self-purification, and transformation. Also used in some sex-magic rites.

Meditation Time

Here is your weekly meditation video. This week, it's Loreena Mckennitt's "The Mystic's Dream".
Relax and get situated. Enjoy!

Monday Meditation: Pagan Honor, Virtues, Ethics

Honor. Definition: Regard with great esteem; respect. A good name or reputation.

This witch believes that each person should have a personal "Code of Honor", if not a tribal one.
For many who follow the Heathen path (Asatru, Heathenry, etc...), there are The Nine Noble Virtues.

They are as follows:

Self Reliance

The Druids (particularly, the ADF) have a code of 9 Virtues as well:

Wisdom: Good judgment, the ability to perceive people and situations correctly, deliberate about and decide on the correct response

Piety: Correct observance of ritual and social traditions; the maintenance of the agreements, (both personal and societal), we humans have with the Gods and Spirits. Keeping the Old Ways, through ceremony and duty

Vision: The ability to broaden one’s perspective to have a greater understanding of our place/role in the cosmos, relating to the past, present and future

Courage: The ability to act appropriately in the face of danger

Integrity: Honor; being trustworthy to oneself and to others, involving oath-keeping, honesty, fairness, respect, self-confidence

Perseverance: Drive; the motivation to pursue goals even when that pursuit becomes difficult

Hospitality: Acting as both a gracious host and an appreciative guest, involving benevolence,
friendliness, humor, and the honoring of “a gift for a gift”

Moderation: Cultivating one’s appetites so that one is neither a slave to them nor driven to ill health, (mental or physical), through excess or deficiency

Fertility: Bounty of mind, body and spirit, involving creativity, production of objects, food, works of art, etc., an appreciation of the physical, sensual, nurturing

As a student of martial arts, I've always loved warrior codes. Regardless of your thoughts on Castenada, I love a lot of what he wrote about the warrior in a spiritual sense. I find many truths in the Warrior Code, and have my own code of honor by which I live.

One of the most beloved quotes I have is in my BoS. I know I got it from Ly De Angeles at one point in time. I can't find a link to it any longer, so I'm going to share with author attribute (it was not written by Ly):

"I am a swordswoman. A warrior in a time when sagging flesh and weak, fickle minds are the norm.
Do the slaves even recognize the smell of freedom drifting up on the wind, speaking in gentle murmurings of their ancestors and a way of life where the spirits of the land filled every glad and spring, ever desert place, every mountain ridge?
Is there any greater injustice, or tortured soul, than one who is enslaved, yet sees and knows not of the chains that bind him? One who rejoices at the gilded cage that may be called by any name, yet by any name is still a prison.
What does one such as this know of the cherished scent of freedom, when the stench of their own degradation over-powers all else?
Give me a sword wetted in my own blood rather than succumb to the treacherous silken words, and ignorant unconsciousness, of one who knows nothing of the bars that bind more surely than any mortal cell could do."
~Jessica Richmond

The quote is certainly not a standard code, but it certainly expresses a way of life and how she wants to live. It could be called a mission statement indeed.

Here are some other Pagan Honor Codes:

Brendan Myers, a professor of Philosophy in Canada, has written The Other Side of Virtue:Where Our Virtues Come From, What They Really Mean, and Where They Might Be Taking Us . This book explores the cultural roots of modern virtues, using ancient heroic epics and sagas like Beowulf, the Illiad and Odyssey, the Eddas, the Tain Bo Cuailnge, and literature inspired by them including the works of the Renaissance and Romanticism, Shakespeare, Tolkien, and J.K. Rowling. It's a most excellent read for those who are interested in honor codes, virtues, and ethics.

These are just a few examples of Honor Codes and similar mindsets. For those who follow a Pagan path, do you have a personal or tribal honor code that you follow? If so, please share your experience in the comments. For those who've not considered this exercise, why not take some time to meditate upon your own code of honor/ethics/virtues? Write them down and explore the deeper meaning of each.

Questions? Comments? I'd love to hear from you!

The Sunday Stir

A light read for your Pagan Sunday morning!

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Meme of the Week:

Found at Witches of the Craft

Eating with the Seasons: Artichoke

Witches like to eat; no doubt about it. In this series, we look to eating with nature and what's in season.

This week, we'll delve into the artful artichoke. This baby developed from the cardoon and is thought to have originated in the Mediterranean region. As a member of the thistle family, there are references to it being grown in Italy and Sicily from around 300 B.C. In the ninth century, it was being cultivated by the Moors in southern Spain. It is thought to have been introduced to England in the sixteenth century, although it has never made much of an impact on British cuisine. Cynar, an artichoke-based spirit, is a popular aperitif in Italy.

The artichoke isn't a food to choose when you need a fast food fix (unless you're looking for a quick snack of marinated artichoke hearts!). It's a slow food over which you'll want to linger. Patience shown in preparation and eating is ultimately rewarded by the subtly flavored leaves and the mouthwatering artichoke heart. You can serve artichoke as a dish in its own right, with a bowl of vinaigrette or lemon butter for dipping, or adding something special to a salad, pasta sauce or pizza topping.

Cooking tip: Iron, copper or aluminium cookware will cause artichokes to oxidize and discolor. If you're really a stickler for color, use stainless steel, glass, or ceramic pans to cook them.

Traditional Artichoke Recipe:

Place trimmed artichokes stem end down in a large pot of boiling water to which the juice of half a lemon has been added. It may be useful to place a colander, sieve, or other device over the pan to keep the artichokes submerged. Cooking time will be somewhere between 20 and 45 minutes depending on size. Artichokes are cooked when you can easily pull out an inner leaf and the stem is tender. Stand the artichoke stem side up in a sieve to drain and cool. If eating with a dipping sauce, artichoke is best served just warm.

Artichokes can also be grilled or barbecued. Cut in half lengthwise, remove the fuzzy, silky choke from the center (remember it's in the thistle family!), rub with olive oil and grill on a moderate-to-low heat until the base is tender - around 30 minutes.

How to eat it: Pull off a leaf, dip (in hollandaise, lemon butter, mayonnaise, or vinaigrette), scrape the tender portion from the base of each leaf with your teeth and discard the tougher portion. Repeat until all leaves have been dispatched (smaller, thinner leaves may be ignored). When you reach the artichoke heart (cut away the choke if this wasn't done before cooking) eat it with a knife and fork.

Here's a quick video on how to do it right and impress your dates/friends:

Nutrition facts:

1 cup of artichoke hearts has more antioxidants than a cup of cranberries!

Artichokes are great for digestion. 

  • 1 cooked artichoke (120 grams) gives you nearly half of your daily recommended fiber content!
  • German doctors have recommended artichoke leaves for years, due to a  compound found in artichokes called cynarin, which has been shown to increase the production of bile, helping to speed up the movement of food and waste through the intestines and reduce feelings of bloating.
  • One of the major sources of fiber found in artichokes is inulin, which is a prebiotic.  Prebiotics can increase the proportion of probiotics or ‘good bacteria’ in the gut.
Artichokes are known to lower cholesterol, help with cognitive brain function (vitamin K), help lower blood pressure, optimize metabolism (high in manganese), and protect against free-radicals!

This is one amazing plant!

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Magical Uses for Artichoke Thistle

Artichoke Thistle is a plant of Jupiter and Mars. As such, it is an ideal choice for clearing the toxins of anger and resentment. It can wash those old blockages away and helps the user to rise above and find his or her own power again, unbound by lingering negative feelings about the past, which prevent the individual from moving forward.

Here is some fantastic information from Alchemy Works. You can also purchase seeds from them on the page.

Note: If you are allergic to thistle or anything in the daisy family, this is not the plant for you. Caution when touching- it is known to cause dermatitis in those with sensitive skin. It is recommended that you use gardening gloves when working with this plant.

Weekly Horoscope

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Key Words: Grace, Beauty, Self-empowerment, Transformation

The Swan is one of the most powerful and ancient of totems. It is found in nearly every indigenous culture’s totemic line-up. You may have read Hans Christian Andersen's tale, "The Ugly Duckling", but did you know that it's a prevalent tale in many cultures?

In Native American mythology, there is a story of how Swan (as an ugly duckling) meets with Dragonfly (the keeper of dreamtime mystery) and asks for entrance into the Dreamtime. She tells Dragonfly that she is willing to submit to whatever plan The Mystery has for her. He takes pity on the poor ugly creature, and allows her to enter the Dreaming Lands. Several days later, he encounters Swan again, but she is now one of the strongest, most beautiful creatures he has ever seen. He asks her what happened, and she tells him that because she was willing to submit to the flow of the currents of the Dreamtime River, and was willing to see the beauty in all things that shaped her, her form was changed.

The Swan was sacred not only to the Druids, who saw it as representing the soul, and thought it able to travel between the mortal realm and the Otherworld, but also to the Bards. In ancient Ireland, the bards were very highly esteemed in society, and as a mark of their privileged position, they would wear a special ceremonial cloak. It was called a tuigen, and was made of songbird feathers, but the neck, or cowl, would be composed of the skin and feathers of a swan.

In Irish mythology, swans are usually depicted as shape-shifters, capable of transforming into human and bird form at will. They could be distinguished from normal  swans by the gold or silver chain which hung about their necks.

Swans in Nature

Swans feed in the water and on land. They are almost entirely herbivorous, although they may eat small amounts of aquatic animals.

Swans beaks have serrated edges that enable them to tear at the aquatic plants and algae they love to eat, but they will occasionally also consume molluscs, small fish, frogs and worms.

Swans are capable of drinking saltwater. An unusual gland located beneath the skin near their eyes extracts salt from their bloodstream, concentrates it into a liquid, and removes it from the body by expelling it from the nares, the holes in the bill.

Swans normally mate for life. The male swan is the only bird in nature known to have a penis. The male is extremely attentive to and protective over his family.

Some swans have a wingspan of nearly 10 feet. Their wings are extremely strong (they could beat a man to death, easily).  Swans can fly as fast as 60 mph.

The Mute Swan is actually the most vocal of all species. They have 8 different sounds in their repertoire.

They are not known to be aggressive toward humans, and actually can remember the face of those who have been kind to them in the past.

Swan Totem

Swan’s message is that it's time you began realizing your own true beauty and recognizing your power from within. A Swan totem heralds a time of altered states of awareness and the development of intuitive abilities.

Swan people have the ability to see the future, and have a great aptitude for ‘going with the flow’.   They can adapt to changes in their lives with grace and dignity. They are extremely intuitive and have strong psychic abilities. They know who is calling when the phone rings. They are strong (a swan can beat a man to death with his/her wings) and beautiful. Some are silent, some sing beautiful songs. They tend to attract people easily, although most prefer smaller groups.

Swan encourages you to discover your strength and beauty from within. All of the events and situations that have transpired in your life have shaped you into who you are today. This is cause for celebration and not despair. Embrace your unique beauty, skills and gifts and allow the current of Dreamtime to work its magic to transform you.

Want to learn more about your personal totems? Try a Medicine Wheel Report!

Now, take a moment and just relax. You deserve it!