Strega Nona Entertaining: Conjuring Creative Fun

From recipes to rituals, I will kindly divine the perfect celebration for you!

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Colleen DuVall

Colleen DuVall

Colleen DuVall has written articles, plays, short films, and a novel. Most recently, her work has been featured in her new blog, Off The Beaten Path for the Shepherd Express online (http://shepherdexpress.com/blogs-1-1-1-61.html), and the Wisconsin Life radio show for WPR. She recently adopted a little grey and white cat named Tessa, after beloved 22-year-old Bootise passed on.

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The Beauty of Black Cats

Tap Into Your Own Feline Energy Through Black Cat Art

Have you ever marveled at how cats are able to stare at you, unblinking, for extended periods of time? At times they seem to stare at nothing at all yet stay extremely focused in doing so! Other times, they just appear totally Zen in the moment. They are not asleep– but their eyes are closed, a slight smile playing on their furry lips, totally at peace. They sleep, eat, and certainly play when they need to. They are natural born hunters, in touch with their wild sides. The most wild of all domesticated animals, and the most worshipped and revered pets since the times of ancient Egyptians, cats seem to have it all going for them. They know how to communicate to get what they want (sometimes in the form of naughty early morning meowing for their food). They also know how to show affection. Who doesn’t love a friendly head butt combined with loud purring? Let’s face it– cats are cool. Who wouldn’t want to be one?

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Building Your Witchy Community, Even in a Solitary Time

This is the first time in fifteen years that I will not be able to host my beloved annual Winter Solstice Shindig and I must be frank: I’m bummed. However, that does not mean I won’t still enjoy a great meal with my constant companion, light a bunch of candles, meditate, and raise a glass of vino while reveling in my umpteenth viewing of the musical version of “Scrooge,” starring Albert Finney (available for free viewing on YouTube, BTW). Hands down, this version of Dickens’ classic tale of the old miser and his redemption features the best depiction of The Ghost of Christmas Present EVER. He is the living embodiment of the Holly King in my eyes, and man would I want to party with that guy– especially as depicted in the cheery ditty in the film, “I Like Life.” For more notions on a liberal Yuletide spirit, check these out.

Just because we may be feeling more cut off from our loved ones this year or may only be able to have virtual or limited contact with them, doesn’t mean those relationships are lessened, or any less important. As I learned during my conversation with our third “Women Who Howl at the Moon” guest, Anne Newkirk Niven, these bonds are more vital than ever now.

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Searching for Normalcy in November

This is a very stressful time for many of us. The news inundates us every day to remind us just how stressed we are right now in 2020. We've certainly had enough to contend with this year, but so many things seem to be riding on the outcome of our presidential election on November 3rd. That this level of stress could stretch on for days after tomorrow almost feels unbearable.

I was fortunate to share an insightful chat with Mary Ellen Pride recently, who will be my next featured guest on November's "Women Who Howl at the Moon" podcast. Mary Ellen was voted as "Milwaukee's Best Psychic" in the Shepherd Express for 6 years in a row. She has over 40 years of professional experience and was a leader in the California-based group, Covenant of the Goddess, with which prolific author and activist, Starhawk, is affiliated.

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A Little Divination and Imagination

Successful divination requires focus, perseverance, and a little faith. Sometimes our paths come to a fork in the road, and much like that forked divining rod, we must follow our strongest intuition. Interestingly, life paths can indeed come full circle. I've come to believe that if we tune into what the divine is trying to whisper in our ears, we will take the paths we are intended to at the right moment in time. Perhaps we aren't ready for a certain direction at a given interval. That doesn't mean that roads aren't meant to be revisited. When I was a young girl, my favorite toy was a tape recorder. I delighted in creating radio plays and acting out favorite movies and TV shows with my closest friends. Conducting interviews was also a beloved pastime.

Flash forward several years later to graduating with a master's in digital communication strategies at Marquette University. Although I have a background in journalism and filmmaking, podcasting was something I naturally gravitated to with my studies and projects. It felt like coming home, and conducting interviews in this medium and editing them was the perfect way to express myself creatively. Since I recently decided to embark on a full-time freelancing career, it seemed like the perfect time to launch a brand new podcast: "Women Who Howl at the Moon."

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At this moment, many of us are being called upon to face our darkest fears. Pandemic nightmares and a lingering threat of impending doom surrounding our very democracy have become the new norm. The furious wildfires of climate change rip through our forests and leave lingering dark smudges carried on clouds which reach far across the nation. People are being attacked for wearing masks to protect others and/or exercise their right to peacefully protest. Instead of being able to come together and find common ground for a common good, we are being driven farther apart by the people elected to publicly serve and protect us.

The Fall Equinox has always been about finding a true balance. Never has this been a more pertinent allegory than right now. We need to work harder together to tame the pandemic. We need to take care of our planet and nurse our Mother Earth back to better health. We can no longer ignore that this is shared space– and if we want to coexist in any harmony, we cannot go through life with blinders on. These are not debates, matters of opinion, or imagined hoaxes. These are undeniable facts that we all need to face, whether some of want to or not. It has little or nothing to do with politics or sensationalized media. It has everything to do with the fate of our country, our world, and our civilization (emphasis on civility). The time for selfishness, greed, and giving in to our darkest impulses is over. The balance needs to be restored with compassion, generosity, and reaching toward a shared higher purpose. This also means taking a deep breath, no matter how weary we are of fighting the good fight. We must roll up our sleeves and meditate on making this balance a reality, in all the millions of seemingly small ways that we still can. We can channel our magical power and energy to bring about this good, but we cannot give up hope. Here is a place to start, this Mabon:

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Let's Talk About Corn, Lugh, and Lammas

I always think of Lammas as a time of outdoor dining, reflection on the year thus far, and most of all—corn! Enjoying a small picnic with your immediate household in the backyard or on a back porch is a perfect way to celebrate Lugh and this start to the harvest season this year. Grains and bread should definitely be on the menu, and there are some fun options to choose from. You could even create an intimate bread baking party with your family, creating a combination of sweet and savory choices.

Grilling local corn in the husks gives it such an amazing added flavor, and the mouth-watering scent it gives off is aromatherapy in itself. Make it the main dish and create a healthy vegetarian meal with side salads tossed with produce from a neighborhood Farmer’s Market. These happen to be some of the better ones in Wisconsin, if you’re in the area.

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Blessings of a Full Moon

This will probably be one of the first 4ths of July in recent history where there will be scant, if any, fireworks celebrations and parades. If they do go on, people are encouraged to participate from their cars, or watch from the safety of their homes. Health officials are definitely discouraging folks from flocking to the beaches and attending large gatherings or picnics, as they would normally do. With so much unrest and anger flying around, in Washington and one’s own neighborhood, one may become overwhelmingly frustrated. The pandemic numbers are soaring in our country every day, without an end in sight. How can we come together and feel celebratory, if even in a tiny group? How can we remind ourselves to feel grateful for what we do have?

This was put into stark, literal perspective for me when my ceiling came crashing down this week. No, I’m not kidding. I suppose it’s apropos that if my world was really going to start to crumble, it would choose to do so in 2020. I mean, why not, right? It started with a crack that quickly grew overhead in our kitchen. Now mind you, the building is older, so this wasn’t really anything new. But the severity of the split was quickly growing. So much so, that in a matter of days, it had started to separate and hang slightly from the ceiling. We pointed it out to our landlord, who agreed to start pricing out some plasterers.

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