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.

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

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Edit: We made it!

New Year’s Wishes and Witches’ Balls

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We’ll post a more elaborate article on Witches’ Balls later, but for the meantime, I wanted to show these ones I made as gifts.  Witches’ Balls are like little ornamental spells or prayers.  Based on the combination of items inside, it casts out your intentions into the recipients’ environment.

These can be an excellent way to remind yourself of your intentions for the coming year.  Create a ball that speaks to you and your needs – be realistic, and don’t overburden yourself with weighty goals.  Place the ornament somewhere you will see it daily.  Reflect on what the contents mean, and use it as a meditation guide.

I made these with the help of my 11 year old stepdaughter, so this can be a great family project.

Ingredients included cinnamon and tourmaline, which work well together; lavender; fir; rowan berries; cloves; and mustard seeds.  The overall hope is for a healthy, positive home, rich and enduring family relations, and personal clarity.

The people who received them were not all pagans, but found them very beautiful.  My stepdaughter remarked that they should open them up once just to smell the contents, which were just divine!

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