New Moon November 29th 2016 in Sagittarius

Stellarscapes by Oriol Angrill Jorda

November’s New Moon in Sagittarius occurs at 7:18 AM EST on Tuesday the 29th, and you have plenty of time to observe the New Moon in that sign, unlike October’s New Noon, which required a little planning. The Moon enters Sagittarius at 3:46 PM on Monday the 28th, and stays there until 11:08 PM on Wednesday the 30th, when it goes void of course. In simple terms, you have the nights of the 28th, 29th, and the early evening of the 30th to perform your New Moon ritual. Huzzah! Our busy schedules thank you.

Sagittarius is my rising sign and I definitely have some strong Sag traits (teacher, anyone?) so this is great energy to harness. I’m especially excited about this lunar cycle because December 1st is the last day of classes for the semester, which marks my first complete semester teaching college. It also marks the beginning of a month long chunk of time I plan on devoting to writing. I have big plans!

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Thanksgiving Traditions and Turkey Recipe

We can not break bread with you. You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans, and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides, and you will play golf, and eat hot h’ors d’ourves. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They said do not trust the pilgrims, especially Sarah Miller. And for all of these reasons I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground.

We cannot break bread with you. You have taken the land which is rightfully ours. Years from now my people will be forced to live in mobile homes on reservations. Your people will wear cardigans, and drink highballs. We will sell our bracelets by the road sides, and you will play golf, and eat hot h’ors d’ourves. My people will have pain and degradation. Your people will have stick shifts. The gods of my tribe have spoken. They said do not trust the pilgrims, especially Sarah Miller. And for all of these reasons I have decided to scalp you and burn your village to the ground.

My annual tradition is this, what you see above, posting Wednesday Addam’s Thanksgiving monologue online. Then I pop into the kitchen to prep the family dinner, while watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Taking on the tradition alone is something I love. What I don’t love is people’s help, I suppose it’s the Virgo moon I’m dragging around blessed with that makes me unwilling to share Thanksgiving responsibilities. I let people bring booze. Someone always shows up with a store-bought dessert that sends me into a rage spiral (on the inside). I always try to make something from scratch that backfires (candied yams from fresh = crunchy yams) and/or I inevitably forgot to buy something (2015, the year without rolls). My family leaves early, my partner’s family stays the night, and so it goes.

I’ve been hard at work all month on the first issue of my personal witchcraft grimoire zine – phew! I can’t wait to put it together. In it I have collected all of my current Thanksgiving recipes. [If you’re vegetarian or vegan, stop reading now!] Here’s my tried and true turkey prep that I call …

Cram This in Your Turkey and Bake It

Disclaimer: I don’t eat turkey since going veg a few years back, but far be it for me to deny my dad or my partner’s 91 year old mother the home cooking they get precisely once a year. The way I prep a turkey is my mother’s technique and has never failed to be a hit. As far as turkey size and cooking temperature and time, consult an expert, since things vary so much. I cook mine at 350 degrees for hours until it’s 165 F in the breast meat, so that’s what my directions rely on. A frozen turkey can take days to defrost, so make that Step 0 before starting.

Ingredients:

Turkey, whole
1 stick butter, room temperature
8+ cups stock, chicken or vegetable

Directions:

Thank the turkey for its sacrifice. Cut and remove the plastic thing holding the legs together, then take all the junk out of the turkey, namely the giblet bag and the creepy sausage organ that I still don’t know what it is. I cut off the skin that’s stuffed inside the neck hole so I can run water through it and give it a quick rinse, which is the part where my 30-year vegetarian partner runs out of the kitchen in a panic. If there are ice crystals inside of the body cavity you can rinse it with lukewarm water. I have had to do that literally every year and it has never been an issue. Pat dry with paper towels.

Put the turkey into your baking pan (I use a disposable foil one) to prep. Lift the skin and gently separate it from the body starting at one end. You might have to start at the butt-end and work your way toward the neck. As you go, place pats of butter in between the skin and flesh of the turkey. It’s pretty tough, but try not to tear it. Make sure the whole turkey is covered in butter, which will use up the whole stick. Place raw celery, onions, and carrots into the body cavity. Don’t cram it packed full, but don’t be stingy, either. These will be discarded after cooking.

Surround the turkey with your stock so that it’s in a nice little puddle. The bottom of the pan should be coated, plus half an inch or so. Make a foil tent over the turkey and pop it in the oven. Baste with liquid every 30 minutes until you achieve the desired core temperature (use a meat thermometer); 45 minutes before the end remove the foil to brown the skin.

Set on the counter to cool. By the time all of your side dishes come out of the oven (or Tofurkey in our case) the turkey will be the right temperature to carve.

Book Review: Samhain by Diana Rajchel (Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials)

Llewellyn's Sabbat Essentials: SamhainLlewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials series contains eight small books, one for each Sabbat in the pagan wheel of the year. The author varies by the Sabbat with no author having more than two books in the series. Samhain was penned by Diana Rajchel, who also wrote Mabon. At the risk of being a downer: those are the two weakest books in the Sabbat Essentials series.

One of the reasons that I don’t particularly like this volume is that it’s so heavily Wiccan, and I prefer these books to have a general pagan path. This is because the books are presented as “essential” guides to the Sabbat, so I feel that they have a bit of an obligation to be more general. The other complaint, which is far more important, is that the rituals included in the “Rituals of Celebration” are quite weak. Generally, a good book in Llewellyn’s Sabbat Essentials series has a ritual for a solitary, a couple, and a coven; this is a great formula. This volume’s solitary ritual is “A Solo Ritual to See Beyond the Veil,” complete with a full page list of supplies, which is just excessive. The ritual feels excessive, too, with all the anointing and chanting that pushes me away from Wicca. Then, if that’s not enough, she invokes Christian angels to assist. Seriously? Finally, it’s not really a ritual for Samhain, but more of a pseudo-Christian ritual. I was so insulted when I read it that I was beyond words (temporarily, obviously). The two person ritual is the Wiccan “great rite,” which I guess is so great because you have heterosexual sex in the circle, and which I also find very troubling. Are you alone and doing a handfasting? Great, go for it, and for some Sabbats this is very appropriate (though I do think it should be private). Wiccans seem to advocate (public) sex as an integral part of pagan worship, which I could not find more off-putting. Finally, the group ritual is an underworld maze, which isn’t a full Samhain ritual by any means, and is again endowed with all the hokey theatricality you’d expect.

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Full Moon November 14th 2016 in Taurus

Taurus Constellation

Monday, November 14th 2016 is the full moon in Taurus, which the moon entered on Saturday evening. The moon technically leaves Taurus at 8:52 AM EST on the 14th, so you may choose to do your full moon charging on the evening of the 13th (Sunday) for that bullish energy. That’s that I’m doing! On Monday night the moon then enters Gemini at 8:23 PM having spent the day in a state called “void of course,” so if you charge on Monday night, you’re not getting Taurus, you’re getting Gemini.

Until you get below the surface of astrology, you won’t hear the term “void of course,” marked “v/c” on astrologically-minded calendars. When the moon is “void of course,” that means it has exited the last major aspect of the previous sign, but is not yet in the first solid aspect of the next sign. Sometimes the process takes minutes, other times it takes hours; in the case of the moon moving from Taurus to Gemini it’s a 12 hour gap.

To put it simply, this energy is a bit wonky, so I highly recommend observing the full moon on the evening of November 13th. If you wait until the evening of the 14th, the moon isn’t even in Taurus anymore, it’s in Gemini, so keep that in mind. If you want to work with the full moon in Taurus at it’s peak, you will be working with it on the 14th at 8:52 AM EST. That’s also the exact moment it goes void, so get everything done before that time, if you’re the early-morning-moon-ritual type.

So, now that I’ve (possibly) confused you terribly, let me make it simple(r): even though the full moon is on November 14th (Monday), I recommend you observe it on the evening of November 13th (Sunday).

Even more interesting is that November’s full moon is one of three supermoons in 2016, where the moon appears to be both brighter and larger. While the final supermoon of the year is in December, November’s is set to be the largest (15% more than normal) and brightest (by 30% more than normal), with another moon of this size and luminosity absent from the skies until 2034. Continue reading

Crystal Closeup: Topaz

Growing up as a November baby I must confess that I thought that I had lamest birthstone imaginable: topaz. It was just so yellow and I always longed for my sister’s birthstone (amethyst) to be mine instead. I felt like it was some cosmic mix-up where she got a cool birthstone and I got an uncool one. Happily, as an adult I made peace with my birthstone, and discovered that topaz and amethyst can be used in conjunction to create powerful, healing energy.

Topaz comes in a variety of colors including blue, brown, colorless, green, orange, and pink. The classic, yellow variety is the most common and is one of November’s birthstones. A lot of the topaz on the market has been treated in some way: much of blue topaz is heat-treated colorless topaz, and all ‘mystic topaz’ has been treated. Some of the most well-known natural topaz comes from Brazil, specifically the Ouro Preto deposit. The label ‘topaz’ was used for hundreds of years to indicate a yellow crystal, but in the 1800s the meaning of ‘topaz’ was refined, and many other colors of the gem were discovered.

Below is a breakdown of some of the important information about topaz, which you can copy into your grimoire, and some suggested magickal activities.

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Crystal Closeup: Citrine

Citrine is a rare crystal that ranges in color from pale yellow to a yellow-olive. Its name comes from ‘citron,’ the French word for ‘yellow.’ Citrine is a type of quartz and also often occurs with smokey quartz; smoky citrine and citrine with smoky phantoms are naturally occurring. Natural citrine gets its color from hydrous iron oxide and is one of the few naturally occurring yellow crystals. After amethyst, citrine is one of the most popular crystals in the world.

Ametrine is a different, relatively new discovery, found in the Anahi Mine in Bolivia. Ametrine is essentially part citrine and part amethyst, hence the portmanteau. Ametrine is formed due to a partial-heat exposure to the amethyst that creates the yellow color, and, because of this, ametrine does not have the iron inclusion of natural citrine. I went to a gem show and found someone selling Bolivian Ametrine from that very mine and he confirmed that the crystal is formed naturally through heat that occurs under ground. For ametrine I advise using the metaphysical properties of amethyst with a yellow boost.

You can’t talk about citrine without discussing heat treated amethyst. It’s such a pet peeve of mine that my friend regularly holds it up in crystal shops and waits for me to roll my eyes. It bothers me because the properties of amethyst and citrine are not similar, let alone interchangeable. That means when you accidentally use heat treated amethyst in the place of citrine, you think you’re working with citrine, and you’re not. Additionally, the healing properties of amethyst are compromised by the treatment process. The process is so simple that you can do it in your home oven, though I do not recommend it at all. Here you can see my photo, taken last December, showing a natural citrine point (top/right) in comparison to a heat treated amethyst cluster being sold as citrine (bottom/left). Fake citrine is one of my crystal pet peeves, maybe my top crystal peeve.

Real citrine is much more expensive than fake citrine, so keep that in mind when you’re shopping. Also, real citrine never appears in that dark, amber color, or on a matrix similar to amethyst. Fake citrine tumble stones are incredibly common; they are a combination of white and this honey amber color always. Hibiscus Moon has a great post about this issue and goes into the science of how it works, so if you’re interested in learning more, check out her article here.

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