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A Garden to honor my ancestors

Seedling Magick

Merry meet all,

Tonight I’m sipping coffee and I occasionally peek out to my blossoming garden. It cheers my heart to see the plants grow. I also take pride in it for a different reason. 

I am carrying on the work of my ancestors. I am part Celtic and part Viking. My maternal grandmother is from Scotland. My maternal grandfather is from Cape Breton-French Acadian. My father was Norwegian. 

They would have worked hard in a garden to provide the food to feed their families. It was a produce or perish way of life then. They would have raised livestock. I don’t raise livestock but I do have two familiars. A garden was necesary. I also know how to fish, saw wood, gather and store wood, and operate a real wood stove. I know how to identify animal tracks, herbs and berries, and cook homegrown food- and ride horses. I often practice slow cooking, as opposed to eating processed food out of a can. Yes I do know to work a coleman stove. 

Allow me to elaborate here. One time in Pleasant Bay, my sis Niki harvested some root veggies from her garden. She cooked a pot of stew and it was cooked on the wood stove. I love the sound of a stainless steel kettle rattling on the wood stove- and a woodpecker pecking at the outdoor house walls. Then I was given the pot of soup and I held the pot of stew on my lap the way to the main house, where we all enjoyed it. I mean, it was delicious. Well it was made from totally locally grown vegetables and cooked on a wood stove. What was there to not like? 

I also can sew and clean. I know you may be thinking these seem like such domestic chores- especially since last fall, I was in the kitchen literally cooking all day. But I filled glass dishes with the plastic red lids with four different soups and I was able to feed myself all winter long. 

I have a fresh stash of lentils and beans. I know what to do with them. Performing this work is satisfying because I feel like I am carrying on a tradition. I have occasionally gone camping, maybe not as often as I should. Spending so much time in Pleasant Bay has helped me appreciate going for a simple walk. Well today was rainy. I also know how to make candles, make crafts like candles, jewelry, and bind books But my main pride and joy is my garden. I fail to understand why no one started a garden in the backyard here before me. Oh well my job. And I love it! I bought a celtic cookbook to also honor my ancestry. 

I am studying the different gods and goddesses in the Celtic pantheon. That is just fascinating to me. I do have a hard time getting my hands on books and information on the Vikings so I could honor that side of my family. I hope to learn more about them. 

I plan to make good use of the raspberries in my garden in jam and maybe eat them with pancakes. I plan to grow tomatoes, kale, lettuce, carrots, beets and radishes, potatoes, chives, garlic, rhubarb, and onions. For someone who lives on a meagre budget as I do, this is a lot of food. This includes the herbs and flowers I shall also harvest in the fall. The Witch Hazel will be cool. I haven’t planned on what to do with that yet. I can also harvest roots, seeds, and flower petals for various magickal uses. 

I let my Samhain pumpkins compost in my garden all year. The orange pumpkin was closer to the house. The white pumpkin composted over the tulip and garlic bulbs. When I raked the leaves this spring, I didn’t find the white pumpkin. I guess that is how well it composted. But the soil, bulbs and bugs would have benefitted from the nutrients from it. I did find the dried crumbling remnants of the orange pumpkin. I know it helped the soil. 

I planted snowdrops because I read they were sacred to Brigid. This is one of many ways I hope to explore and deepen my connection to my ancestors.

Blessed Be, Lady Spiderwitch )O(

 

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How to make Elderberry Jam

Merry meet all,

Today I am sharing a recipe with you. When I was visiting my sister in Pleasant Bay, we made organic elderberry jam. Is it ever delicious! It may seem like lots of work to gather four cups worth of elderberries, but it is worth it. Note: Elderberries are poisonous until cooked. Do not ingest them until the berries are thoroughly cooked. Do not eat elderberries found in the wild. Now, that said, the wild is the best place to gather them. Ask the Elder Tree Mother for her permission to gather the berries from the tree.

Elderberries are made into jams and wine. Hippocrates called the elderberry tree his medicine chest. Folklore comes with this fruitful tree. People still creep around the tree, rather than risk earning its wrath. It is believed that a spirit dwells within the tree. She comes to reclaim her sacred wood. Folkard, in Plant-Lore, Legends and Lyrics, tells us:

“The pith of the branches when cut in round, flat shapes, is dipped in oil, lighted, and then put to float in a glass of water; its light on Christmas Eve is thought to reveal to the owner all the witches and sorcerers in the neighbourhood.”

Hylde-Moer, the Elder-Tree Mother, shares a history with witches:
“The word ‘Elder’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon word aeld. In Anglo-Saxon days we find the tree called Eldrun, which becomes Hyldor and Hyllantree in the fourteenth century. One of its names in modern German – Hollunder – is clearly derived from the same origin. In Low-Saxon, the name appears as Ellhorn. which meant ‘fire,’ the hollow stems of the young branches having been used for blowing up a fire: the soft pith pushes out easily and the tubes thus formed were used as pipes – hence it was often called Pipe-Tree, or Bore-tree and Bour-tree, the latter name remaining in Scotland and being traceable to the Anglo-Saxon form, Burtre.”

How to make Elderberry Jam

The recipe is in the book The Joy of Cooking. You will not need to buy pectin for this recipe. You will use apples which contain natural pectin. You require sterile clean glass jars and screw top lids. You will need a kit for making jam. The jars are hot and the tools prevent you from burning yourself. You will need a stainless steel pot with a flat bottom. Use a wooden spoon to stir the mixture as a wooden spoon will not contain chemicals from a plastic spoon that could leach into your mixture.

The recipe is as follows:

4 cups elderberries
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup water in pot
2 chopped and cored apples. Cut the apples into fine pieces.
If the berries are tart- remember, they are poisonous until cooked, use s scant cup of sugar to 1 cup of fruit. These are not high pectin fruits. Add lemon juice or one to two apples, chopped and cut into fine pieces. Apples have a natural high pectin content.

Measure the fruit, put into the pan, crushing the lower layers to provide moisture. and cook over low heat from thirty to forty-five minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer and stir frequently from the bottom until sugar is dissolved to keep jam from sticking. Cook until a small amount of jam dropped on a plate will stay in place. Mix well and keep stirring over medium heat. Simmer the fruit in the uncovered pot. Bring the fruit mixture to a boil and continue to stir, until no sticking occurs. Reduce the heat and cook, uncovered, and allow for additional thickening as it cools.

Pour the jam into the jars carefully. Keep a damp cloth to clean the rims of the jars nearby. Also, wait to hear if the jar lids ‘pop’. That will tell you the jars are sealed. Fill the jars to 1/8 inch of the top.

Once cooled, store in the fridge. Enjoy your organic elderberry jam!

Sources Cited: http://elderberrylife.com/history-folklore/hippocrates-called-the-tree-his-medicine-chest/

Blessed Be,
Lady Spiderwitch )O(

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