March Angel Prayer.

March is here, and February is over for another year.

Thank You, Angel Barchiel, for guiding us through the past month.

Now we greet You, Angel Machidiel, guardian of March. We thank You for watching over us this month. Please help us to balance action with receptivity to intuition and new ideas, to take the chance to start new things, and to take on the task with strength and courage.

Thank You, Angel Machidiel.

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Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas.

I’m making Husband’s Valentine gifts this year (though I can’t write about that right now, for obvious reasons – I want it to be a surprise!). But I remembered, ages ago, how I wrote up some Father’s Day gift ideas, so I thought maybe I’d do the same for Valentine’s Day.

Chocolate is the obvious one – yeah, maybe it is a bit clichéd, but we’d all be secretly disappointed not to get any.  Hotel Chocolat have really good ethical credentials, and also do vegan chocolates – including dark chocolate hearts, chilli chocolate hearts, big dark chocolate hearts and heart-shaped lollies – or, if you really wanna splash out, pinot coupage and a vegan hamper. You can see all the vegan stuff at (http://www.hotelchocolat.com/uk/search?q=vegan&sz=56) – I’m thinking that the tea infusions look really interesting. We can’t drink alcohol, so maybe I’ll see if I can sneakily pick up one of these to drink instead of wine.

Jewelry is another classic. Luna Tree is a lovely company, and a member of BAFTS – The British Association for Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers. The jewelry is hand-made by Karen Hill Tribe silversmiths in isolated mountain areas of Northern Thailand (the Hill Tribe people are fascinating, and I hope financial independence through things like Luna Tree can help them to preserve their cultural identity. Learn more at  http://lunatreejewellery.co.uk/the-hill-tribes/). Another cool thing about this company is that the silver they use is 99% pure – that’s purer than sterling! It’s purity makes it softer than sterling too, so patterns can actually be stamped into it – one of my supervisors at work has actually seen earrings being made in this way. It also tarnishes more slowly, and looks…softer? It’s got a kinda creamy glow (not quite sure how to describe it lol). They also produce a range of styles, so hopefully there’ll be something your other half would appreciate – Husband, for example, is a manly man and not keen on extravagant jewelry, but for his birthday this year I got him an elephant spirit ring and it was a total win 😉 These are actually one of my favorite products from Luna Tree, as they’re inspired by the traditions of the Karen people; (http://lunatreejewellery.co.uk/product/2411/). If you’re reading this, Husband; don’t you think matching rings would look cute…? Anyway, check it all out at (http://lunatreejewellery.co.uk/). Alternatively, if you live near Leicester, there is Luna Tree jewelry upstairs at Just Fairtrade (and no, I’m not getting paid for this lol).

But perhaps your other half is a little more…alternative? In that case, try Tribalik (https://tribalik.co.uk/). I don’t have anything from this company myself…but Gods, I want to lol. I’m not a manly man, I love bling. This is the only company I’ve found that makes Fair Trade body jewelry (if you know of more, feel free to share in the comments!). If I ever win the lottery (unlikely, since I don’t play), I will clear this shop of all it has. It’s just…aaaarghiwantitallsobad. Plus, they have a Valentine’s sale on right now.

Scent is another classic. I like the solid perfumes from Lush – Husband brought me Vanillary years ago, and I’m still using it (I’m a modern man, ‘kay?). I was also given Dirty by a friend, and that’s really nice too. They come in a little tin – no plastic or unnecessary packaging – and you have better control over how much scent you want to use. Check out the range at (https://uk.lush.com/products/solid-perfumes). Lust might be an idea? Or What Would Love Do? if you don’t wanna be so…er, you know. At £9:00, I feel like they’re pretty affordable for a luxury gift – though admittedly they’re quite small.

Actually, Lush have a whole Valentine’s range, including pre-packed gift boxes (https://uk.lush.com/products/valentines-day). My tip; a massage bar makes a good gift, especially if it comes with the promise to use it. You can also get knot gift wrap, to reduce waste – Good Valentine seems appropriate (https://uk.lush.com/products/knot-wraps).

Now you have a gift, you need a card. Husband loves bright colors, cartoons and cheesy jokes, so Cards From Africa are perfect for him. Click here to see what I mean; (http://www.cardsfromafrica.co.uk/product-category/cards/love/). All these cards are made by young people in Rwanda who have lost both their parents, and in many cases are now raising their younger siblings. They’re made with recycled paper and – I love this – each card is signed on the back by the artist who made it. There are some personal stories at (http://www.cardsfromafrica.co.uk/our-story/our-cardmakers/) that will make you see the difference CfA has made to people’s lives.

I hope this was helpful and gave you some ideas. Feel free to share your own ideas in the comments 🙂

valentine's

The Potato Goddess.

This post is a bit of an experiment – writing entirely from my own UPG about a Deity I’ve encountered (yes, I know I’ve written a little about Loki and Sigyn before, but I was reasonably sure a few of my readers would be interested in those guys lol). I’m not sure if anyone will be interested in this or not, but I’ve decided to do it anyway. If you like it, or on the contrary if you found it irrelevant and boring, let me know so I can decide if I should write similar posts in the future or not.

So as the title suggests, I recently journeyed out to meet with the Potato Goddess. Might sound slightly strange, but I figure that, as the world’s fourth largest food crop, She was Someone I ought to get to know a little – to thank Her if nothing else!

I prepared by doing a little research – it seemed respectful. Don’t laugh at me…potatoes turn out to be strangely interesting? I didn’t even realize that they produce fruits that look like little green tomatoes (not fruit that you can eat, though – the leaves, stems and fruits of potatoes are poisonous, because they’re a member of the nightshade family – you know, like deadly nightshade?) They were first domesticated somewhere between seven thousand and ten thousand years ago in Southern Peru and North-Western Bolivia, and now there are five *thousand* varieties – plus two hundred wild species that we don’t cultivate. I thought there were just big ones, little ones and red ones! Which reminds me – you can buy potatoes that are a deep blue-purple. I sooooo want to find some of these. Lima has an International Potato Centre…and there are potato *museums*. I’m not making this up – Wikipedia has a list of museums dedicated to the potato. Check it out if you don’t believe me;  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_potato_museums.

Anyway, although I knew a little more about potatoes, I really had no idea W/who I would meet. I asked simply to meet ‘a or the potato Spirit’ – I didn’t look up W/who that might be, because I didn’t want to have any biases going in.

I found myself in a dry, grassy landscape dotted liberally with potato plants. Walking along, I met with…well, a potato Lady. Like…a very big potato, with a humanoid shape. Her face was like a plump, late-middle aged lady, but Her brown skin was clearly potato skin, not human. She had no hands and feet, because Her body was…well, a potato. She wore a pinny and a floral dress and seemed vaguely mumsy and nurturing. Once I had thanked Her for meeting with me, she took me to a big wooden tub and we sat and peeled potatoes. It seemed to be a message about hard work. Then we danced – and despite Her clumsy-looking form, She’s a good dancer, surprisingly nimble. So She believes in working hard, but also in having a good time (feel like She’s a bit of a partier. And a domino player…?).

As She danced, Her form changed – like a young human woman, mid-twenties maybe, with a sturdy body and bare feet covered in mud. She wore a dress of potato petals, and there were also petals in Her long hair. It was at this point that She identified Herself as a Goddess. She opened Her arms and heaps of potatoes came tumbling out – a symbol of Her generous nature. She also told me that I need to get my hands dirty and connect with the earth. I feel like, if you had trouble grounding, She’d be a good person to ask for help.

Doing some research after this, I came across Axomamma, the Incan Goddess of potatoes. I figured there’d be some kind of potato Deity/Spirit from that general part of the world, since it has been and still is such an important crop. I can’t really find out anything else about Her, but maybe She’s the Lady I met. If anyone knows where I can find information on Axomamma (or any other potato Goddess, come to that), I’d be really interested to hear from you.

Reindeer woman

Lokisdottirblog

Reindeer woman,
Your soul is sweet
And entwined with that of the land’s.
You drive your herd along ancient trods
To the place where the frozen river waits.
You are queen of this world
For who but you could make this frozen journey
Time after time?
Your senses sharp,
You face your stark world
Accepting its harshness
As teacher and guide.
This is the way. This is the way, I hear you whisper.
Memory is held within ice and the fabric of time within flowing water.
Do not turn from hard places.
For I have seen the beauty of a winter sky;
That subtle blue,
Which caresses the smooth shapes of the lumbering mountains.
Here the rocks speak.
Here the fish are frozen to the gill in shallow water.
For nature is not always kind.
My every breath is laboured
Yet I am part of this, part of this.
I…

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Leek and Potato Soup.

Husband and I ate this for Imbolc last night. I chose it partly because leeks and potatoes are both in season right now…and partly because it was really cheap and didn’t take up too much energy to make lol.

We brought a ‘wonky veg’ box this week that, among other things, contained all the veg I needed for this soup. I’m really liking the wonky veg box – not only is it really affordable and preventing food waste, but the one we buy is just veg in a cardboard box – no plastic waste! Win win win 🙂 Unfortunately we do buy it from a supermarket that I know doesn’t exactly have glowing moral credentials, but it’s about doing the best that your situation will allow, and for us this is it.

Serves 3-4 people

  • 3 leeks (something in the area of 375g, if you’re using frozen leek chunks)
  • 2 large potatoes (something in the area of 500g, if you don’t have big potatoes)
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 tin of coconut milk
  • Black or white pepper, to taste
  • Optional; vegetable stock or a stock cube

Chop your vegetables – chopping them smaller will make them cook more quickly.

Put them in a large saucepan.

Add your coconut milk, and then fill the tin with water or vegetable stock and add that too. I don’t use stock, because I don’t like what I see as the needless sugar and salt in stock cubes and I don’t have room in my freezer to keep batches of home-made stock. We don’t find that our food is lacking in flavor, and if I wanted to make something more flavorful I’d just add herbs and spices. If you wanted to use a stock cube, I’d recommend starting with 1/2 and then seeing how that tastes. You can easily add more, but if you’ve added too much your only option is to add more vegetables and coconut milk to give yourself a larger batch of soup.

Bring it all to a boil, then cover and simmer until the leeks, potatoes and onion are cooked through.

It’s a really good idea to cover the soup because the lid will hold in the heat, meaning you can cook it at a lower temperature and save a little cash. If you don’t have a proper saucepan lid you could always try using a plate, but be careful when you lift it off. There’ll be a lot of hot steam that can burn you. Use an oven glove or a towel folded over several times.

The easiest way to tell if the vegetables are ready is to stick a fork into one of the potato chunks. If it goes through easily or even breaks apart, then you’re done. This took me about 20 minutes, but it’ll depend on how finely you diced things.

Add your pepper, then blend the soup. I use a stick blender and do it all in the saucepan, but if you prefer to do it in a jug blender (or you only have a jug blender) then you need to let the soup go cold first. If you don’t have a blender then the soup should be fine as a broth, especially if you’ve diced the vegetables fairly fine.

Done! For Imbolc, it’s nice to serve this with a seeded bread. To be honest, it’s nice with seeded bread at pretty much any time. I think it’s good with some nutritional yeast flakes stirred in; Husband likes it with reggae reggae sauce.

If you want to, you can put portions of this into tubs or food bags once it’s cooled and freeze them for later.

If you’ve read my recipes before, you may have noticed that I’ve changed how I wrote this one a bit. I’ve been doing some research into volunteering opportunities to help me gain experience and, hopefully, one day get a real job, and one thing I was looking into made me realize that some people just never got taught even really basic cooking skills. I wondered if learning to cook by yourself, as an adult, might not be pretty intimidating – especially if you’re working with a really limited budget and are scared of getting it wrong and ending up with no dinner. So I’ve broken this right down to make it as accessible and useful to as many people as possible. What do you think? Ideas for ways to improve are welcome!

As ever, if you try this recipe or have any questions about it, I’d be really happy to hear from you 🙂

Charm Cakes.

For the past couple of years I’ve made orange and walnut scones to celebrate Imbolc. The idea is vaguely inspired by the fact that Anglo Saxon people used to offer cakes to their Deities at this time of year, and also Æcerbot, where offerings of cakes were placed into freshly ploughed furrows. I’m not exactly a historian, and I couldn’t really figure out what these cakes might have been like. I did read that ‘cakes’ sometimes actually referred to bread rolls. In the end I decided to makes scones, since they’re…sorta cakes, but not lol. They seem to be well received, anyway. I also like the symmetry of baking scones for Imbolc and for the Autumn Equinox, and I adapt the same basic recipe for both these and my Autumn scones (https://ravensblog2017.wordpress.com/2017/09/21/autumn-mini-scones/).

  • 500g wholewheat flour
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g coconut oil/vegan spread (I used Vitalite)
  • 60g sugar (I used cheap white)
  • Zest and juice of 1 orange
  • Additional orange juice
  • 150g broken walnuts
  • 100g seeds (I use an omega 3 mix)

Mix the baking powder and soda into the flour, and then rub this flour mix into the oil/spread until it looks like breadcrumbs. I find that using my hands is easiest.

Add extra juice to the juice you got from the orange you zested so that you have 300ml of juice in total. Add this, and all the other ingredients, into your flour mix and stir into a thick dough.

Roll your dough out to about 2cm thick, then cut out your scones. I makes these small so they’re easier to share.

Bake at Gas Mark 6/200C/400F for 15 minutes.

I use orange and walnuts because they’re in season at this time of the year, and seeds because they remind me of potential – they’ve not sprouted, but the potential for an entire plant is right there. That seems to me to be what this time of year is about – it’s still cold and Wintery, but we’re on the verge of warmer weather and the Earth waking up around us.

We mostly eat these just as they are, but they’re also good with chocolate spread. Sometimes I make up a little icing with orange juice and drizzle it over the top of the scones once they’ve cooled.

The Holy Tides – Charming of the Plough / Disting

Wyrd Designs

For many pagans, this is the time of year where they honor and celebrate Imbolc one of the eight sabbats that comprise the Wheel of the Year. For those of us in the Northern Tradition however, we have our only celebrations known as holy tides (from the Old Norse hátíðir) that we may currently be celebrating instead: Charming of the Plough or Disting.

fb_img_1451891713765.jpg Gefjon Fountain in Copenhagen, Denmark

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February Angel Prayer.

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.

Zero Waste Challenge: Week 11 ‘Say No’

Aaargh…This is one of those things that I know I need to do, but don’t. I mean, it’s free, it raises awareness, it could at least reduce my waste and possibly have further ramifications, but…everything in my upbringing taught me not to ‘inconvenience people’. I’m sure many people feel similarly to me. I guess I need to find a way to challenge things that suits my personality (because, despite the fact that in the world outside of WordPress my name is actually Loki, I suck at confrontation lol). Maybe e-mails…?

The Climatarian

I’ve never been good at saying ‘no’.

I’m not sure why either, likely due to a number of different factors. Whatever the reason, I’ve realised that this has to change. Recently I found myself invited to a venue where disposable non-compostable cutlery where the only eating utensils, most people wasted food, and plastic throw away goods were rife. No one cared.

I didn’t say much, but I realised afterwards that I should have turned down the disposables and throw away goods, and inquired about investing in reusable cutlery. I also realised afterwards, that I should have gathered up the uneaten food and handed them out to the homeless outside (we have a large homeless population in Brighton). But I was too afraid of being inconvenient.

This issue isn’t unique to that venue, places such as shops, cafes, parties and conferences tend to be filled with disposables and other unessential items. For…

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Trolls; An Unnatural History.

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 🙂