|Photo courtesy of Miikaa Luotio|
Brightest Yule Blessings to you and yours! Our celebration was short and sweet, but we're thrilled that you were able to join us! We'll be back again in Spring, as the wheel turns. Before we leave, though, we have a little more to do!
First, let's announce the winner of the Tree of Life Apothecary Giveaway!
Now, on to our final Yule celebration...
Today's Article: Celebrating Yule The Herbal Ally Way
with Jim Sayers
Let’s celebrate the season of Yule together – the Herbal Ally Way! The season of Yule is the land beyond the gate of Samhain. Where Samhain is the darkening, Yule is the darkness. Blessed be the Holy Darkness!
This year has been heartbreaking for most and the uncertainty of the year to come is troubling for many. As Witches and Magickal Practitioners-doing “The Work,” we are the organizers, activists, healers, water protectors, and so much more in our daily lives. Traditions around Yule developed during trying times as well and our ancestors incorporated many Herbs and spices into their celebrations. These Herbal Allies lend not just their medicinal value for health of the Body but also their Magickal/Spirit properties which help to protect and heal the Mind and Spirit as well. Remember that while dealing with serious issues that surround us- It is alright to have fun! That is doing “The Work,” too!
As the darkest night of the year approaches, out of tradition we begin adorning our homes with boxwood wreaths, mistletoe above our doors and aromatic evergreen trees. This need to bring “the green” indoors around the Winter Solstice is not a new phenomenon. These plant-based rituals have evolved from a variety of different traditions. This brings us to our first Herbal Ally of Yule which is the Noble White Pine. We will only visit with five of our friends for the purpose of brevity but look for additional supporting posts by following myself or The Herbal Ally Way on Facebook.
White Pine (Pinus strobus)
Body: The needles are loaded with vitamin C and were traditionally used as a folk remedy to prevent scurvy. Pine may be comforting throughout the cold of winter and early spring. With its amazing aroma, Pine is wonderful to add to herbal teas, syrups, scrubs or to use as a “Steam.”
Hot Infusion: 1 tsp dried needles to 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and allow to steep for 15 minutes covered. Sweeten to taste.
Mind & Spirit: A pine branch hung over your door is said to invite joyful energy inside. A pine branch hug over the bed wards against illness. Add pine and pinecones to a fire to protect your hearth. (Be careful-Burns hot) I like to add to a simple simmer pot for the same effect.
One of the traditions that may have led to that of the Yule/Solstice or Christmas tree is the Germanic/Scandinavian belief in the World Tree on who's branches hung the stars and the planets themselves. We mimic that tradition with our ornaments handing from the evergreen bowers in our own homes. A common decoration is dried orange slices, because they are a representation of the sun and the returning light or when the days begin to grow longer after the winter solstice. Many of you may also remember the stories of our own grandparents who were overjoyed to received a gift of oranges for the holiday which were a symbol of good luck and fortune.
Orange (Citrus aurantium)
Body: Warms the stomach as well as the heart. Known to clear phlegm and stop a cough. Orange peel is known to have a sedative effect, lowers blood pressure, and is known to stimulate digestion. All great things when overeating during the holidays. Hot Infusion: 1 tsp dried orange peel to 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, remove from heat and allow to steep for 15 minutes covered. Sweeten to taste. Delicious blended with the pine needles as well.
Mind & Spirit: The dried peel and seeds may be added to love sachets. Orange peel makes a great aromatic addition to prosperity incense or simmer pots.
A traditional orange pomander is often crafted with cinnamon amongst other spices as well. Cinnamon is a warm, fiery spice associated with the powers of the sun, which makes it a perfect aroma to use during Yule and at the winter solstice, which, of course, marks the return of the sun.
Cinnamon (Cinnamomum verum)
Body: Is known to increase appetite. Helps to alleviate bloating and flatulence. Any condition requiring warmth and increase of circulation including the common cold and flu as well as cold hands and feet. Dissolve 1 tsp in boiling water and inhale steam for coughs and respiratory irritation. May also use 5 drops of essential oil rather than the powder itself.
Mind & Spirit: Cinnamon when burned as an incense or when added to a simmer pot raises spiritual vibrations and attracts prosperity and aids in healing. Stimulates psychic ability and may be drank as a tea or may be made into an anointing oil for this purpose.
When we think of this season we often think of the comfort foods of home. Unfortunately, we all may have the tendency to overindulge in these delights. That is where one of my favorite overlooked spices comes into play. Coriander.
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum)
Body: Coriander is beneficial for alleviating flatulence, colic and diarrhea as well as constipation by aiding in the secretion of digestive enzymes. Excellent added to baked goods especially cookies to aid in digestion. Just a pinch here and there will improve your ability to overindulge without feeling awful afterward.
Mind & Spirit: Coriander has forever been used in Love spells-incorporating into a warmed wine is a traditional Love potion to be given to one's objet de désir. It can also be crushed into a powder and burned to attract love and desire.
I could not imagine a winter without the Elder Mother herself. Elderberries are a traditional addition to cakes, preserves, cookies, wassail as well as many other foods in Europe during Yule as well as the winter season in general. She is one of my stand out herbal allies and I will often spend time amongst her branches in meditation as well.
Elder (Sambucus nigra)
Body: The berries and flowers of elderberry are packed with antioxidants and vitamins that may boost your immune system. They can help tame inflammation, lessen stress, and help protect your heart, too. We use elderberry to help prevent and ease cold and flu symptoms in our home.
Mind & Spirit: To make a wish come true-Using a freshly cut Elder Stick-ask permission of the Elder plant first- draw a circle in the dirt around oneself. Standing in the center state your wish or prayer out loud. Being a plant attributed to the Queen of the Faeries herself, Elder is known to aid one in their journeys to the realm of the fae.
If this has inspired you to reconnect with the traditional Herbal Ally Way of our ancestors you are welcome to make use of this Herbal Ally Way Meditation. By choosing just one herb a month you can build your healing knowledge as well as spirit connection to the world of Herbal Allies. Included is a sample working calender of fun workings around the herb itself. Recipes for a traditional medicinal infusion, tincture and oil are included as well. Blank pages to begin a herbal journal are at this link as well.
Blessed Yule as well a Communion with your Herbal Allies!
We have two recipes today!
Submitted by Jim Sayers
Wassail is a hot, mulled punch that is often associated with Yuletide caroling but can be made and enjoyed any time of the year, especially on a cold winter day.
A Traditional Wassail with Herbal Allies
Please visit The House of Life Botanicals to learn more about Herbal Allies!
What you’ll need:
• 6 Cups Apple Cider – support a local apple orchard if you can!
• 1 Cup Orange juice
• ½ Cup Fresh Cranberries
• 1/8 cup Dried Elderberries
• 1/8 cup Dried Rosehips if available
• 1 Fresh Orange sliced thinly
• Fresh ginger root ½ inch of root
• Ground turmeric-Pinch
• Pink and black pepper corn=Just a pinch
• Star anise for garnish
• Coriander/Ground- Pinch or two
• Cinnamon stick – whole stick
• Nutmeg-1/4 tsp
• 2 Whole Cloves
• Any type of brown liquor – dark rum, bourbon, brandy
1. Slice your orange and put it in the bottom of a pot
2. Add in apple cider. This is going to be the base so multiply recipe accordingly.
3. Add in orange juice
4. Zest in some fresh ginger
5. Add a pinch of turmeric
6. Add pinch of peppercorns
7. Add in elderberries, cranberries and rosehips
8. Add in 2 pieces of clove
9. Add in your Coriander
10. Add in cinnamon stick
11. Add in nutmeg
12. Put on burner and let it steep at a low simmer for about 15 minutes
13. Pour about an ounce of brandy into a mug once the rest of the cider has reached a simmer
14. Fill the rest of the mug with the mix from the pot
15. Garnish with a star anise, cinnamon or anything else you want!
Serve and enjoy!
Recipe #2: Crafting a Traditional Yule Log
with Rowan Sliger
One of the most recognized – and often intimidating – desserts of the season is the Yule Log. A modern, edible version of the real logs traditionally decorated and burned through the days of Yule, this dessert is delicious, pretty and really fun to make. Most commonly made with chocolate frosting to resemble the bark of the “log”, this cake can be made any way you like. Here’s my favorite version that’s simpler than you’d think. Have fun with the whole process!
For The Cake
- 4 Tbsp salted butter, melted
- 6 large eggs, separated”
- ¼ tsp cream of tartar
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¾ c sugar
- ¾ c all-purpose flour
- ¼ c unsweetened cocoa powder
- ½ tsp baking powder extract
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ¼ c strong brewed coffee (use your favorite coffee!), room temperature
- ¼ c powdered sugar
For the Filling
- 4 oz cream cheese, softened
- ½ c powdered sugar
- 1 c heavy cream
- 1 tsp vanilla
For The Frosting
- 12 oz semisweet chocolate chips
- ¾ c heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp light corn syrup
- decorative sugar, cranberries, etc
1. For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350˚. Butter a 12-by-17- inch rimmed baking sheet. Line with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on all sides. Butter the parchment.
2. Beat the egg whites, cream of tartar and salt in a large bowl with a mixer on medium-high speed until frothy. Add 1/4 cup granulated sugar and beat on high speed until stiff, glossy peaks form, about 2 minutes.
3. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder in a medium bowl. In a separate large bowl, combine the egg yolks, the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and the vanilla. Beat on high speed until thick and creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Beat in the melted butter and coffee until combined.
4. Add the flour mixture to the yolk mixture and beat on low speed until well combined. Fold a spoonful of the beaten egg whites into the batter until no streaks remain. Gently fold in the remaining egg whites until combined.
5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, gently nudging the batter so it fills the corners. Give the pan a little shimmy to even it out. Bake until the top just starts to spring back when gently pressed, 10 to 12 minutes (the top might still feel a little tacky). Do not overbake or the cake will crack.
6. Place a clean dish towel on a large wire rack. Dust with 2 tablespoons powdered sugar. While the cake is still hot, loosen the edges from the pan, then turn out the cake onto the towel; carefully remove the parchment. Dust the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons powdered sugar.
7. Starting at one of the long sides, use the towel to tightly roll up the cake with the towel inside. Position the cake seam-side down and let cool about 1 hour.
8. For the filling: Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with a mixer on low speed until just smooth. Add the powdered sugar and beat until smooth, about 1 minute. Gradually beat in the heavy cream 1/4 cup at a time, making sure the mixture is smooth before adding more cream. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until stiff peaks form, 2 to 4 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat for a few more seconds, just to combine.
9. Carefully unroll the cooled cake and spread evenly with the filling, leaving a 1/4- to 1/2-inch border on all sides. Re-roll the cake, using the towel to help you. Cover the cake roll with parchment paper and then tightly wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for at least 2 hours.
10. Meanwhile, for the frosting: Put the chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring the heavy cream and corn syrup to a simmer in a saucepan, then pour over the chocolate. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Let thicken at room temperature until spreadable, about 2 hours.
11. Unwrap the cake on a cutting board. Cut off one-fourth of the cake on a sharp diagonal for the branch. Position the branch against the remaining cake roll on a platter. Cover the cake with the frosting using an offset spatula, then drag a fork through the frosting to create a bark-like texture. Garnish as you’d like.
Today's Music: The Sacred Flame - Peter Gundry
Today's Craft: Creating Your Own Herbal Ally Candle
Grand Prize Giveaway!
From Author River Eno
From The Starspun Witch
|stock photo: indicative of what you might receive|