February is here, and January is over for another year.
Thank you, Angel Gabriel, for guiding us through the past month.
Now we greet you, Angel Barchiel, guardian of February. We thank you for watching over us this month. Please help us to face the challenges which lie ahead, to keep faith through the dark times, and to have patience as we wait for our hard work to show results.
Thank you, Angel Barchiel.
Yet another gift from my parents, I was given this book for Christmas this year. Written by John Lindow and published by Reaktion Books Ltd, this is one of only a very few books dealing with the subject of trolls.
I found this book more interesting and enjoyable than I expected. It begins with the famous poet Bragi the Old meeting a troll woman some time in the late 9th century, and traces trolls right through to the modern idea of ‘internet trolls’. I wondered if I might lose interest after we left the Viking era, but actually the book is very engaging.
I was surprised how broad the term ‘troll’ is – as well as homeless people and internet trolls in modern times, the word was also historically used for beings I’d normally think of as Jötnar, ghosts, draugar and just general sorta ‘spirits’ (in fact, I tend to use the word ‘spirit’ for a whole range of general beings I’m not sure how to otherwise categorize – maybe people used the word troll in a somewhat similar way?). This makes it a book of interest to anyone following a Northern-type path, especially if your focus is the Jötunn Deities.
Wonderfully, there is an extensive section at the back, ‘Sources and Further Reading’, that explains…well, the sources and further reading. Sadly for me, a fair few potentially really interesting things were in languages I can’t read, but I have found some English language books to add to my ever-growing book list (for which I can only apologize to my long-suffering husband lol).
If anyone else has read this book, or has any questions, I’d be very happy to hear from you 🙂
Remember the koloocheh recipe I posted the other day? Well, the soya and coconut yogurt I brought to make them with worked out great in the recipe…but not so great to eat as yogurt. I don’t wanna waste it though, so I’ve been looking for ways to use the stuff up. It was an excellent excuse to make more koloocheh, obviously…But you don’t need very much yogurt to make a batch of koloocheh, and I went ahead and brought two great big tubs of yogurt because it was cheap. We’d be as round as a koloocheh if I used all the yogurt up that way! My solution? Yogurt bread.
- 230ml water
- 230ml plant yogurt
- 2 tablespoons oil (I used olive)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 675g wholewheat bread flour
- 2 tablespoons plant syrup (I used coconut)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
Nice and simple; just put everything into your breadmaker in the order your model needs things – I layer them into my bread pan in the order shown above. Then set it to make a large/900g loaf and you’re done!
We found that there was a mild yogurt flavour to the bread, but the sourness that we didn’t like had been baked out. Result! I think the yogurt also gives this bread a soft crust – I set it to bake on a hard crust because Husband likes crunchy bread, but it came out like I’d set it to soft. Either that or I accidentally set it to bake a soft crust…always possible, with me. Anyway, it’s a relatively close bread (not heavy or doughey, just close), so you can cut it quite thin without it crumbling and falling apart. This makes it great for sandwiches.
Here’s my adaptation of the more traditional recipe by Maria Dernikos over at (https://figandquince.com/2014/03/16/persian-koloocheh-perfect-for-norooz-made-by-a-gracious-lady/). I’ve used wholewheat flours, made the dough in my trusty breadmaker, added a bit more of the walnut and cinnamon filling (Husband demanding more cinnamon, as per usual) – and made it vegan, of course.
- 75ml water
- 75ml plant milk (I used soya)
- 75ml plant yogurt (I used soya and coconut, because it was nearly half price)
- 80g coconut oil/vegan spread (I used Vitalite)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 250g wholewheat bread flour
- 250g wholewheat flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 70g plant syrup (I used coconut syrup – it comes in a glass jar instead of plastic! Yaaay!)
- 1 teaspoon yeast
- 50g walnuts
- 50g icing sugar
- Cinnamon to taste
Begin by layering all the dough ingredients into your machine in the order your breadmaker needs them, then set it to make dough.
As your dough kneads, make the filling by either grinding the walnuts with a mortar and pestle or blitzing them in a blender. I like the mortar and pestle because it’s quiet! You don’t wanna be making walnut butter here or anything – more live a gravel-and-sand texture. Sorry, I know that doesn’t sound very appetizing…Anyway, mix your crushed walnuts into the icing sugar and cinnamon and your filling is ready.
Once the dough is ready, roll it into balls about the size of a clementine. Then make a hole in each ball with your thumb until it’s almost like a little bowl, fill the little bowl with your walnut and cinnamon filling, and close it up again so it is once more a cute little ball. As it’s a rich dough,they should close up quite easily. Flatten it out a little and, if you like, print a pattern on the top. Using the nozzle from an icing piper like Maria Dernikos looks really nice; I used an apple corer to make what looked like a shining Sun print on top of each one.
Bake your koloocheh at Gas Mark 6/200C/400F for 20 minutes, until baked and golden.
Hide some before they all get stolen!
If you end up with leftover cinnamon and walnut filling, it’s good sprinkled over cereal. I ended up with 16 of these little ones; I also experimented with a batch of 10 larger koloocheh, and they only took 5 minutes longer to bake.
For my birthday this year, my parents gave me a copy of The Road to Hel by Hilda Roderick Ellis MA PhD. It was first published in 1943 by Cambridge University Press – but I can’t really give you a price guide, since this was a gift and it feels rude to look up the price. I suspect it is expensive.
Whatever it costs, it’s worth it! I really enjoyed reading this. The basic idea of the book is to look at the evidence in the archaeology and, particularly, the literature to see what conclusions and ideas can be reached about Old Norse beliefs on death, the afterlife and the soul. There were many ideas I haven’t read elsewhere – one of the reasons I think it’s really good to read academic books as well as books by other polytheists and pagans.
To give you an idea of what’s in the book, the chapters are Funeral Customs: The Evidence of Archaeology, Funeral Customs: The Evidence of Literature, The Conception of the Future Life, The Cult of the Dead, The Conception of the Soul, Necromancy and The Journey to the Land of the Dead.
Many things that most of us take for granted about the Norse afterlife – Valhöll, Lady Hel, Valkyries – are all up for debate in this book, and Ellis’ conclusions are often pretty different to the conclusions the polytheist/pagan communities have come to. Some things were interesting to read, but I don’t agree with at all. Other things I’m really curious about, and I’d like to investigate further. I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone following a Norse-style faith, or who has a devotional relationship with Óðinn or Hel (Ellis does come to the conclusion that Hel is a literary creation, but the discussions of the afterlife are surely relevant to anyone with a connection to Her).
If anyone else has read this book, or has any questions, I’d be very happy to hear from you 🙂
The Secret Language of Astrology: The illustrated key to unlocking the secrets of the stars is a book written by Roy Gillet and published by Watkins Publishing London. A new copy is something in the region of £9:80, or $13:30.
This is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a while, but to be honest I’m one of those people with a seemingly endless avalanche of books sitting around my flat, waiting to be read. I don’t really know anything at all about astrology, so I needed a book for beginners that would cover the basics. This book turned out to be a good place to start.
I really liked that the early chapters provided a little history to put the whole thing in context. After that the bulk of the book is taken up in explaining all the planets and signs, and at the end there’s a section explaining how to put it all together and understand a birth chart. Even better, there’s a link to a website where you can type in some information about when and where you were born and it will generate and interpret your birth chart! Unfortunately the town I was born in isn’t listed so my chart isn’t as accurate as it might be, but I was able to print off an accurate chart for Husband. It was quite fun.
I have to mention how beautiful this book is. The artwork is amazing! And all the facts are broken down to make it simple – perfect if you don’t have a clue, like me. It’s also easy to look things up later on.
If anyone else has read this book, let me know how you found it 🙂
Husband is home! 😀
Which means that tomorrow we will celebrate Epiphany, and also Nollaig na mBan.
Epiphany is a strange celebration, commemorating not one but three events in the life of Jesus – the visit of the Magi when He was a young child in Egypt, the miracle at the wedding at Cana when He turned water into wine (really good wine, as well!), and His baptism by John. It’s also the traditional day to take down all the Christmas decorations.
Nollaig na mBan means Women’s Little Christmas, and is an Irish tradition where the women get to have fun for the day whilst the men do the chores. It comes from the times when women did all the housework, which meant that Christmas Day could be more work than pleasure for women! We celebrate it as a good many of Husband’s Ancestors hail from Ireland (as do a few of mine, I’ve recently been told. Need to check this out…).
We’ll be taking down the decorations and cleaning the altar and shrines. I have some Bible verses I’ll read out (Matthew 2:1-12 and 3:1-17, Mark 1:1-13, Luke 3:21-22, and John 1:19-22 and 2:2-11) and we may try chalking the door (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalking_the_door). As, according to tradition, one of the Magi came from Persia, I’ll make a sort of Iranian-style hotpot called tas kabob ‘eh beh based on this recipe (https://figandquince.com/2013/11/11/tas-kabob-2/) but with mushrooms instead of steak, a flatbread called lavash to go with it, and a sweet walnut bun sort of thing called koloocheh based on a recipe from the same blog (https://figandquince.com/2014/03/16/persian-koloocheh-perfect-for-norooz-made-by-a-gracious-lady/) but with soya milk, soya yogurt and no eggs. We’ll drink grape juice to represent the wine from the wedding at Cana.
We won’t forget the women in our family, either. We have our Nollaig na mBan prayer to say, and I’m planning to bake something to give to Sister and Mom – though I can’t see either of them tomorrow, so those gifts will have to be a little late. We’ll put offerings out for our female Ancestors, and I’d like to see if I can make contact with one of them in a journey (last time I went to talk to my Ancestors they all turned out to be wolves, so I’m being open minded about what form said female Ancestor may take lol).
Is anyone else doing anything for either of these traditions?