Yuletide Drinks

Happy Solstice and Joyous Yule! We have a full moon this year, so we’re staying up all night as a vigil for the coming sun!

We’re going to touch on three seasonal drinks here. First is a special infused brandy that we are going to save until next year, and hopefully will become an annual tradition. Second is a brief look at mulling spices. Last, we finish our Winter Solstice vigil with a hot spiced Chai and plan to watch the sun rise!

For our Solstice Brandy, you will need a gallon jar with lid, and many spices! Be creative, if you like certain flavors and not others. I only put in a couple cloves, for example. Some people add dried seasonal berries, like elderberries!

  • 1.75 liter brandy (cheap is fine)
  • 4 oranges, quartered (any variety you like)
  • 8 inches of cinnamon sticks
  • 24 peppercorns
  • 2 star anise
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 3 cardamon pods (lightly crushed)
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 2 juniper berries
  • 1 cup raw sugar
  • 1 inch ginger, sliced in half

Put the sugar in the jar first, just for ease of layering, then add everything else, and the brandy last. Seal it up, give it a good shake now and then throughout the year. Ideally put it somewhere out of direct light.

20181222_005941.jpg

We made two batches. We had three types of oranges, including those pretty pink Cara Cara ones.

20181222_010817.jpg

I’m very excited to try these next year! They live on the Hestia altar at my friend’s house.

Now for a quickie on mulling spices!

We did not use these tonight, but since my friend keeps her own blend on hand for mulling cider or wine, I asked to share her recipe.

Mulling Spices:

  • 3 or 4 Cinnamon sticks
  • 4 Tbsp whole cloves
  • 4 Tbsp whole allspice
  • 4 Tbsp whole cardamom
  • 4 Tbsp whole star anise
  • 4 Tbsp dried orange peel (optional)

Use a few tablespoons or a small handful with 1-2 bottle(s) red wine (or equivalent volume apple cider) in a low slow cooker, or a pot on low-med heat. Add 1 medium orange, sliced, to the simmering wine/cider. We also prefer adding 1/4 cup brown or raw sugar.

Now then, some hot spiced Chai!

I love Chai. I love it iced or hot, sweet or spicy. This one has a nice balance. We made it vegan using coconut milk, but you can use half and half or whole milk easily for a rich treat!

Chai Spice Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp whole cardamom pods (lightly crushed)
  • 3 Tbsp whole allspice
  • 3 Tbsp black peppercorns
  • 3 red chili pods
  • 4 star anise
  • 4 cinnamon sticks (roughly 12″)
  • 0.5 inch fresh ginger root, peeled

Simmer in a pot either loose or in large tea/muslin bags, in 4-5 quarts (we’re guessing, to be honest) water with:

  • 3 tbsp loose black tea (or, in our case, 5 black tea bags)

20181222_021925.jpg

Simmer for about a half hour. Strain. Add ~3/4 cup honey, or to taste, whisk till it dissolves. Then complete the drink with a can of full fat coconut milk (or half and half) and 1 tsp vanilla extract.

20181222_022412.jpg

By the way, if you love Chai flavors, you can mix these spices in sugar and leave them to infuse! Then you can strain them or blend in a food processor (way easier) and use in any recipe you’d use white sugar in.

20181222_012155.jpg

We’re currently enjoying some cold leftovers with our hot Chai, watching a baking show. We’ve got a few more hours to go before Sunrise, so we may try a guided meditation (there are several on YouTube for the Winter Solstice).

Much love, and merry meet!

20181222_022740.jpg

Edit: We made it!

A Homemade Cleansing Ritual

Ever had an evening when you just really needed some witch time, but there was nothing special going on that day?

In related news, my friend J and I designed an ad hoc Cleansing Ritual using stuff we had in the kitchen!  Hurrah for kitchen witchery!  We are all about practical forms of practice.  You do not need expensive tools, special ingredients, or occult rituals.  You can create your own magic by will and practicality.  You apply your magic to everything you do, no matter how mundane or small.

IMG_20180204_214324.jpg

The fruit is just for aesthetics to balance the swamp water.  And yes, the sage was on discount.  I’m sure the Gods understand frugality.

It was a great, intimate experience and felt very bonding; not just the ritual itself with water being poured over our naked bodies under the sky, but planning it as well.  We sat in the living room and chatted about how we were feeling the need for some ceremony, but it was late Sunday night so everything is closed, the moon was neither full nor new, and no online searches revealed an uncommon pagan bit of importance to the day.  It was just a random evening with a good friend at their place.

IMG_20180204_215319.jpg

If I’m honest, sage and mint combined smell a bit like cannabis.  Maybe sage and lemon next time?

We had two very large jars, in which we brewed a strong sage and mint tea with a quartz crystal in the water while seeping.  We also added salt, which plays another role later.  We filtered it through a coffee filter (admittedly first we thought a thin hand cloth would be fine, but it took too long).

As the tea cooled, we planned the rest of the ritual.  Being outdoors felt right.  We would do our own short version of a quarter call inside first, with the full jars on the altar (that we built on the coffee table with what was on hand).  Then we would get our fingers wet with a bowl of fresh water (hand painted by my friend), then rub salt over our hands and rinse them in the water.  Then outdoors, nude, for the finale, before coming back in and closing the circle.

IMG_20180204_225040.jpg

Just wait for our article on athames

The quarter call was amusing and genuine.  I haven’t been to that many rituals yet, whereas my friend had a great deal of experience.  So our improvised lines for each quarter reflected that, but it was joyful and open-hearted.  We talked a little about each direction and it’s meanings, including how that pertained to our journey in this rite.  Air, inspiration and intellect.  Fire, the passion and will to make it happen.  Earth, the stubborn strength to see it through.  Water, the emotion and meaning behind it all.

We also shared our private thoughts on why a cleansing felt healthy for us individually at this time.  I had a wish to release a lot of impatience on my part, and ask the Lord and Lady to help keep my head on my shoulders when it came to adding projects to my list.  I imagine they had a chuckle.

Stepping out into the cold of a Pacific Northwest February evening, in the semi privacy of the dark backyard, I felt very alive with purpose, if also a bit giggly.  We hadn’t needed anything dramatic or elaborate; just us and a little help from the spice cabinet and we were making our own magic.

We decided we would pour the herbal water over each other one at a time, rather than on ourselves at once.  We felt like priestesses blessing one another.  The water was warm and smelled green and felt wonderful streaming down our bodies in the chill air.  It was a precious moment to share together.

Have you ever created a little ritual of your own for no special purpose other than your own calling to it?  Isn’t it beautiful how we can create magic with very little?

IMG_20180204_225213.jpg