The Sunday Stir

A light read for your Pagan Sunday morning!

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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!

Want more recipes?

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.

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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!


  1. I have really been missing the Sunday Stew, but this helps a lot. A nice, small dose of similar content. I really appreciate all the work you put into this. Thank you.

  2. Hi Stephanie!
    Thank you so much for your feedback. I just couldn't keep up with The Stew. A lot of work went into that and it began sucking up too much of my time. I'm hoping to keep it light here, but offer up similar fare for those who miss it. Hugs!


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