Magic of the Harvest Moon

 Mabon

Merry meet all,

September heralds the change in the air. I feel the chill already. Pumpkins now sit in the baskets in the produce aisle. Crisp leaves trail to the ground. My garden is busy preparing itself for fall. Some seed heads are losing their flower petals, leaving the rich brown velvety seed heads behind. I love to feel the texture of them. There is no mistake about it. Fall is the most sensual season of the year.

Next week, the Wheel of the Year spins again. Mabon starts on September 22nd. Mabon precedes Samhain. The Harvest Moon shines on the 19th. I will be posting tips here on how you can make the most of this magickal harvest time. If you had a garden, September- October is the time to harvest what you have sown all summer. Your herbs and vegetables will be ripe to bursting. Throw a potluck and share what you have harvested. Sharing food is a custom that goes back to our ancestors. 

Try to include as much organic food as you can for your Mabon feast. Despite what you think, it is cheaper to eat organic. It is better on your body. Go to an organic Farmers Market for ciders, meat, and vegetables. I myself plan to get some rustic bread, goat cheese (mm), and fresh cider. That takes some beating. Our ancestors ate organic food. Think about it. Now there are chemicals in the food. When you eat the food, you eat the chemicals. You take that energy into you. Is that what you want? I doubt it. 

Peru has banned GMO food and Monsanto. Way to go, Peru. I hope they are an example to other countries to follow in their suit. 

For those of you who live inHalifax, another September highlight is Word on the Street. Word on the Street is an annual Book Fair and Festival. I never miss it and I always have a good time. I look forward to this year’s festival. 

May the Goddess bless you this Mabon

Blessed Be,
Lady Spiderwitch

Store seeds for spring

Merry meet all,

How to Store Seeds
Store seeds for the next spring season! Collect the seeds from the herbs you grew and there will be no need to purchase new seeds next spring. This saves you money in buying seeds and if you grew organic herbs, you will know they contain no pesticides. If you store seeds properly, then they should be fresh and viable by the time spring returns. Saving seeds is economical and enjoyable.

It is important to keep seeds clean for storage. How you collect them, when you collect the seeds, and how you clean them determines how the seeds will last till next spring. You have to wait till the seed heads have signaled they are ready to be collected. You don’t want to discover the seeds are molded come next March. That will ruin your efforts.

Supplies
Invest in paper envelopes, a sharp pair of shears for cutting herbs, twine or embroidery floss, and Mason jars. Dry jars and paper envelopes are invaluable in saving seeds properly. They cost pennies. Seeds can be stored in jars, paper bags, and envelopes and at certain temperatures. It takes patience and effort to store seeds but well worth the effort.

Collecting Seeds
Seeds vary in how they can be collected, cleaned, and saved for storage. It depends on the herb and the type of seed you wish to save. Some seeds require threshing, winnowing, and some seeds shatter when still attached to the plant. All of this has to be taken into account before collecting seeds.

Some wet seeds need to be fermented first. Dry seeds can be winnowed from the chaff. Try to wait as long as you can before removing seed husks from the plants. The longer you wait, the better quality of the seeds in the husks. These seeds reach maturity while attached to the plant.

Preparing Your Seeds
To clean wet seeds, scoop the pulp and seeds into a slanted bowl filled with water. Healthy seeds sink to the bottom of the bowl. Non-viable seeds float to the surface. Repeat the process a few times to rinse the seeds clean and to collect as many healthy seeds as possible. Rinsing the seeds keeps the seeds from sticking to whatever surface you place them on.

To dry wet seeds, line a strainer with a paper towel to absorb the remaining moisture from the seeds. Next, spread the seeds on glass or a ceramic surface. Place the glass or ceramic plate somewhere dark, dry and warm for several days before putting the seeds in a jar. Make sure the seeds are thoroughly and that the jars are completely dry. Storing seeds or herbs before they are properly dried or putting them in damp jars invites mold, thereby ruining your efforts and time. Remember to date and label the jar. Store out of direct sunlight.

To store dry seeds, wash the seed heads to remove insects and dirt. Then if you saved the flower, seed husk and stem, bundle it together with twine or string and hang to air dry. Wait till the leaves and husks are crisp and dry before removing the seeds. Or cut the seed heads from the plants, wash, and leave the seed heads on a screen or towel to air dry. Once dry, winnow the seeds to remove the chaff. Dry the seeds again. It is crucial that you leave the seeds to dry as long as you can to ensure the seeds don’t mold. You have to be patient to properly dry seeds.

Common Herbs
I have included some commonly used herbs below with tips on how to dry them to store the seeds.
Ocimum Basil
You can harvest the seed heads when they turn brown. To harvest the seeds, resist the urge to pinch your basil plants. Let the seed heads dry out. Separate the clusters from the seeds in a bowl. The viable seeds will sink to the bottom of the bowl. You can blow off the chaff or shake the bowl to remove the chaff. Basil seeds are small, round and black. Store the seeds in a dark airtight jar and label and date the jar.

Chamaemelum Chamomile
Chamomile is a perennial herb belongs to the Aster family. The flower head is an achene, that is, one dry indehiscent, fruit bearing one seed connected to the flower ovary. Wait until the flower heads have dried and turned brown before collecting seeds. Dry the seeds on screens or paper towel then thresh the seeds. Store the seeds in a labeled and dated jar or paper envelope.

Lavender angustifolia Lavender
To save the seeds from a lavender plant, wait till the stems turn brown. Cut the stems with a clean pair of sharp shears. Bundle the lavender stems together and place in a brown paper bag. The stems should face upward. Leave the bare stems in a tied bag in a dark, dry place to dry out. When the stems are dry, run your fingers down the stems to separate the seeds and discard the stems. Empty the contents of the paper bag onto a flat surface. Separate the seeds from the flowers. Store the seeds in a dry, airtight jar.

Lemon Balm Melissa
Bees and people alike love lemon balm for their warm lemony aroma. Lemon balm is a perennial and a member of the mint family, like lavender. The flowers are white but do hold tiny black seeds. Each flower has four single-seed clusters. Put a plastic bag over the flower heads to save the seeds outside. When the plant has matured, go outside early on a dry morning and remove the stems and plastic bags. Once inside, spread the stems on a screen or paper towel. Rub the seedpods to get the seeds. You can store them to dry in a plastic bag. The stems should face upward. The seeds will then land in the bottom of the bag. Store the seeds in a dry airtight jar out of direct sunlight.

Mentha x piperita Peppermint
Mint is a perennial valued for its flavor. A variety of mint exists such as peppermint, apple mint, spearmint, and chocolate mint. The flowers grow in spikes. Wait until the spikes turn brown. Store the seedpods in a cardboard box or envelope for two weeks to dry. Open the box or envelope and shake the seedpods to remove the seeds. Pour the seeds into a labeled and dated envelope. Store the seeds in the paper envelope at a temperature of forty or fifty degrees Fahrenheit.

Storing and saving seeds allows you the convenience of knowing where your herbs came from, saves you money, and enables you to share your bounty with your friends and family. If you grew organic herbs, you will have the satisfaction of knowing they contain no GMOs or chemicals. Seeds may be of similar shape or color, so sort seeds in their own jars or envelopes and label them clearly. Otherwise, you may end up growing lemon balm when you wanted chamomile. If you save and store your seeds properly, you will be blessed with an array of seeds to choose from to germinate in the spring season.

Blessed Be,
Lady Spiderwitch )O(

Dog days of summer

Merry meet all,

Are you having a magickal summer? I’ve worked hard on my garden, and harvested shallots, peas, and chives. Oh they taste so good. Bees visit the bee balm, astilbe, and dead nettle. I am enjoying the fruitful verdant bounty of my garden. I just came in from watering it. Ah the joy of gardening.

I hope you are all enjoying Lammas. I believe that Mabon is a little more magickal. The leaves turn those gorgeous colors, and pumpkins show up everywhere. Mabon is a good time for a harvest. Everything is still young and on the peak of harvest. My radishes are almost ready. The tomato vines are bigger and I have planted more pea seeds to extend the pea season. I can’t wait to bite into a garden grown radish. I wish the slugs would keep off!

Enjoy summer while you can. Summer is fleeting. Before you know it, September rolls around and you’ll be facing classes and midterms. Or maybe you work and dread the alarm clock for work. Three weeks before the beginning of September can fly past quick.

Blessed Be,
Lady Spiderwitch )O(

Mabon Harvest

Merry Meet All,

As I write, I am sipping apple cider and gazing out my window to view the early stirrings of fall. The leaves on the trees are turning. The air is cooler. I have returned from my walk on the trail. As I walked on the trail, I saw bees and butterflies collecting the last of the pollen from the many wildflowers that grace the sides of the trail. The squirrels and chickadees were chirping. The temperature was hot with a tiny nip in the air. No doubt about it, Fall has arrived.

I purchased a wreath on discount from Michael’s Arts & Crafts. I decorated the wicker wreath with dried leaves, dried flowers and artificial leaves and berries. I found a lovely leaf on a tree and took it with me. It was displaying the traditional autumn colors of fierce reds, oranges and golds and when I got home, I tucked it into the wreath. Wreath decorating is not difficult to do and is a wonderful way to welcome the energies of fall into your home.

When decorating your own wreath, choose a wicker wreath that is in good condition and sturdy. Hang it on the wall where you can easily see it. Make sure to tuck in the ends and stems of your leaves or flowers and let the leaves, flowers and berries show the wreath off. You do not have to cover every inch of the wreath. Let some of the natural beauty of the wicker show. The fiery colors of the leaves, and flowers will enhance the wicker. The vines can give the wreath an airy look. With these steps, your own wreath will be beautiful and inspire you to celebrate autumn. Autumn is a magical time of year. Let the magic into your home.

The dried flowers were from the nature trail walk that I take every day. I collected red clover and goldenrod, dried them and then tucked them into the wreath. You can use pine cones, acorns, nuts, flowers, leaves and even grapevines if you are so inclined. Use your imagination.

Buy a wicker horn of plenty and stock it with seeds, Chinese Lanterns, almonds, acorns, pine cones, nuts, berries and dried leaves. Leave it near your altar to invoke a feeling of fall.

There is no end to the bounty of nature. I will have a lovely harvest of herbs this fall. Fennel, dill, calendula, lemon balm, sweet wormwood, tarragon, pineapple, spearmint, and chocolate mint, yarrow and mugwort. Lemon balm is growing everywhere in my garden. I picked up a garden sage plant from the Farmers Market on Saturday. I plan to winter it indoors then next spring, plant it outside. I am leaving my Echinacea flower because last year I had three flowers and I picked them. This year I have one flower so I am letting it go to seed and be food for the birds and bees. My Euonymus shrub will turn brown and pink this winter and be shelter for the birds. It is an evergreen and this is its first winter, so I am excited to get to witness its change in color this winter. This is the first year that my hosta has flowered.

I will be happy to get to store lemon balm, fennel, calendula and dill seeds. That will help when I want to plant more of them in the future. Clean your jars and get some brown paper bags. Ensure your jars are completely dry before you store your herbs and seeds in them. Use your mortar and pestle to grind the roots, bark, berries, resins and leaves. Label everything and store out of direct sunlight. Enjoy your harvest.

Blessed Be,
Lady Spiderwitch

Mabon Magic

Merry Meet All,

Mabon is coming up. The sun is shining brightly this morning. I bought the first pumpkin of the season. I am feeling the early magical energy of the autumn season. It is my favorite time of year. Mabon is a time of thanks for the harvest. It is between September 20-22 in the Northern Hemisphere. It lands on September 23 in the Northern Hemisphere.

The focus of the celebration of Mabon is on the light and dark. An equinox is when we have an equal balance of night and day. There is food to eat but the crops are dying. Mabon is the second part of the harvest festivals. Decorate your altar with the following suggestions: browns, golds, reds and yellows. Find some colorful leaves outside and decorate your altar with them then press them in wax and add them to your Book of Shadows. Use candles in rich autumn colors and spicy scents.

The symbols of Mabon are bolines, scythes and baskets as well as corn, sheafs of wheat, squash and root vegetables. Other symbols of Mabon are wine, grapes, apples, cider, pomegranates, corn, pumpkins and squashes, corn dolls, seeds, and statues of deities symbolizing the changing season. Pumpkin soup and squash soup are extremely delicious and nutritious if they are organic in soups, breads and roasted seeds. Try a new recipe involving root vegetables. I have found three or four new recipes that I enjoy.

Crafts can be done at Mabon that reflect the Sabbat. Make incense from a bounty of herbs from your potted herbs or from your garden. Make a herbal wreath and add dried leaves, flowers, seeds and vines. Make a special scented beeswax candle to light at a special Mabon meal. It will lend more magic to your dinner. Invite your friends over to celebrate Mabon with you and hold a ritual. Or attend a local public ritual and bring your own dish to the potluck. Try the recipe below to welcome in Mabon:

Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Olives and Herbs

Scrub the veggies for a gnarled look.
11/2 pounds medium carrots
11/2 pounds parsnips
8 shallots, halved if large
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Olive Herb Relish, for serving (recipe follows)

1 Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, toss carrots, parsnips, and shallots with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Optional to cook onions separately as they may burn quickly. Divide mixture between two rimmed baking sheets, spread in a single layer.
2 Roast, turning sheets from front to back twice and rotating from top to bottom once, until vegetables are brown and tender, about 35 minutes. Transfer vegetables to a bowl, toss with olive relish, and serve.

Olive-Herb Relish
20 green or black pitted olives
1 cup coarsely chopped parsley
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Mix olives, parsley, vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Add mint just before serving. Enjoy.

This recipe can be found in Martha Stewart’s magazine.

Mabon can be a fun, festive celebration. May you enjoy all that Mabon has to offer.

Blessed Be,
Lady Spiderwitch

September Events

Merry Meet All, September has arrived and with it, the chill in the air. Fall is here and the leaves are slowly turning color. I have deadheaded my Lady’s Mantle and its’ flowers are a gorgeous shade of light gold. Some of my plants are fading and some are late bloomers, like my Hosta and Echinacea, which is regularly visited by bees. Students of all ages are off to school and parents are exhaling a collective sigh of relief after a long hot summer. September is promising to be an active and interesting month. There is a lot to look forward to such as the difference in pace from the dog days of summer. The Word on the Street festival takes place at the Halifax Waterfront and is an event not to be missed. I plan to be there. It is a great chance to mingle and jostle coffees with other fellow writers. The Writers Federation also hosts an annual gala the night before the Word on the Street festival and the gala takes place at Pier 21 at 7pm. My old neighborhood hosts the annual street party and I look forward to a day of free food, and a chance to catch up on the news with old friends. Halifax Seed will carry bulbs to plant this fall and I hope to get to check that out too. From a magickal perspective, if the above events aren’t exciting enough, September 12 is the Full Moon. This is the Harvest Moon. Look at what you have nurtured all year and take note of what you reaped. It is a good time to also harvest herbs, flowers, roots or seeds from your garden and get to work on your tinctures or other witchy decoctions. Oh my! Remember to leave some for the faeries, birds and insects! September 23rd is Mabon, the second harvest festival or Sabbat, the Fall Equinox. I love Mabon for its magickal energy. The leaves on trees start to turn color at this time of year. On September 30, the Celtic Tree Month of Ivy begins. Blessed Be, Lady Spiderwitch )0(



Blessed Lughasadh

The beginning of August signals the first harvest of the season. Lammas is sacred to the Celtic Sun God Lugh, the man of many skills or jack of all trades. It is a time to enjoy the first fruits of the labors begun at Imbolc.

The first harvest is a special time for celebrations, for traditional games and efforts, and friendly competition. Spend time with friends and family while reaping what you sowed under the warmth of the lingering Summer Sun.

Harvesting is a time of gathering and reflecting on one’s own skills and the culmination of efforts. Lammas is also a time of cutting back on, or sacrificing. What do you need to sacrifice in order to gain?

Prepare your favorite cornbread recipe. Shape the loaf like a man, in the image of the sun god Lugh. Bake it, slice off the head ( a symbol of sacrifice), share it and eat it to signify the duality of a bountiful harvest and the need for sacrifice.

Make corn dolls and get an empty horn of plenty and fill it up with dried seeds, dried orange rinds, or corn and wheat to symbolize the early harvest season bounty. Simmer cider and mead and enjoy with fresh baked bread. Bake apple pie or applesauce. Decorate your altar and kitchen space and say a meaningful prayer to the Goddess and God for them sharing their first fruits with you

Blessed Be,
Lady Spiderwitch