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 was featured in Crone Magazine and the Marquette Journal online. She resides with a black cat named Bootsie, who always wants to keep her company at her computer.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
GET RURAL WITH IT

This may be ambitious for your next Sabbat party, however I must decree it – get out to the country, already! Get rural with it for Lammas. Know someone who lives on a farm, or of one that is open for visits? That is where we should all be this Lughnasadh. Anywhere that offers dining on fresh produce and home-cooking is ideal. Remember, bread and corn are key, in whatever form you enjoy them.

Round-up a group of pals and make a pilgrimage. Bring a big red and white plaid vintage tablecloth to spread out on a picnic bench or the grass. Enjoy barley wine, hard cider, mead, or a local craft ale together. Stroll the grounds and eat outside. For the meat-eaters, it could not get more ritualistic than a sacrificial pig roast. If someone has access to a small tractor (and knows how to drive it), take turns giving each other rides perched atop some hay bales. It is near impossible not to get into the spirit of this day when partaking in these activities. Pick a picturesque spot to watch the sunset together. Listen for the resounding alien hum of the cicadas, and don't forget to take a pause and be thankful for what you have.

If you are not fortunate enough to be friendly with someone who has their own barn and facilities, here are some midwestern farm-themed options for getting away from it all. Take a gander at their websites and/or call first to plan your day trip:

Apple Holler
(Halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee)
A homestyle country restaurant, live entertainment, hay rides and family-friendly fare abound at this Sturtevant staple. A word to the wise: If you don't mind crowds, by all means, go. If not...
http://www.appleholler.com/

Bridge-Between Retreat Center
(Denmark, WI)
Up toward Green Bay in the little town of Denmark, lies this peaceful retreat. They tend a small organic farm with meals available. Llamas, cats, hens, and geese roam the grounds. This is definitely for those looking for little quiet.
http://www.bridge-between.com/

Brown Deer Farm
(IL/WI border)
West of Beloit is where you can escape here. A retreat facility, organic farming, and a nature-rich surrounding await.
http://www.browndeerfarm.com/

Country Corner
(Alpha, IL)
President Obama paid a visit here, and this place is hopping all-year round. Look ahead to Halloween-themed fun with their Zombie Quest event. Rentals are available for groups.
http://www.country-corner.com/index.htm

Red Barn Farm of Northfield
(MN)
How much more romantic can you get? Make your own brick oven pizza from their farm fresh, pesticide-free produce. Hand-made vegan-friendly dough and and a fun environment are offered.
http://www.redbarnfarmofnorthfield.com/

 

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Summer Solstice-Yoga-Kirtan Party


Summer Solstice is traditionally one of the most festive of the Pagan/Wiccan Sabbats of the year. What better way to celebrate than with some Sun Salutations and joyous chants? Depending on whether you have your most energy at sunrise or sunset, plan your party according to your own natural rhythm. Invite your fitness-buff friends. Have everyone bring a yoga mat, lounge-worthy apparel and a healthy snack to share. Lead them through a series of easy postures, including Prayer Pose and Raised Arm Pose. There are some good ideas and tips courtesy of
http://www.artofliving.org/yoga/health-and-wellness/sun-salutation-for-beginners

If you are able to do these outside in your backyard, all the better. If nothing else, open all the windows and let the sunshine in. Be sure to keep you and your guests hydrated with some Sun Tea. If having a morning party, prepare the tea the day before. If holding at sunset, you can start your tea the day of! And the recipe is:

(Adapted from Chef Garlic, food.com)
Serves 16
4 family-size tea bags (I know some people prefer one brand over the other, so you can decide which you prefer)
1 1⁄4 cups sugar or sugar substitute to taste
water, to fill container
lemon wedge, for garnish
1 gallon container or jug, with a screw on lid.
     About 9 a.m., fill your pitcher with the water, and tea bags.
(The reason for the screw on top, is so that ants don't get to the tea.) Let the tea sit in the sun for most of the day, a prime full sun location is best. In the summer, the heat from outside can be enough to dissolve the sugar later.
     When done heating, combine the sugar, tea, and more water to make one gallon.
     Serve with thick 1 1/2" wedges of lemon. It usually takes 4-6 hours of being in the sun in order to steep. You can eyeball the tea and bring it in, after the tea looks dark enough.
     Since the tea is best served cold, put it in the fridge right away. It does not last as long as boiled tea for some reason, and I usually leave the tea bags in the jug until the tea is gone. Then, I take the tea bags and sprinkle them in my flower garden, or over my roses.

A rousingly energetic series of Kirtan chants can be shared on the wah! Loops N Grooves recording. A sampling of this inspiring music can be found at http://www.wahmusic.com/music_loopsngrooves.php

Typically Kirtan is a call/response effort, but with this recording you could sing along, dance, or do whatever moves you. When everyone has reached a sufficient state of bliss, sit down and feast! Blessed be and namaste.

For a list of common Kirtan chant lyrics that you could print out copies of:
http://www.kirtancommunity.com/html/kirtan_chant_lyrics.html
For more info about Kirtan:
http://newworldkirtan.com/what-is-kirtan/
Photo by ponsuwan at http://www.freedigitalphotos.net



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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
SEXY MAY DAY PARTAY

The elements of sexy: a clean house, a clean you, light tasty finger food, and good drink. These four basics will engage your senses. Added extras would include some groovy tunes and fresh flowers, of course. You really cannot have too many good smells, sounds, and visuals today.

When cleaning, throw in about five drops of Bergamot essential oil in the mop water and/or for polish on wood. Bergamot is known for it's uplifting qualities, and also blends nicely with lavender. It is always a wise idea to take care of this the night before, so that you can wake to a clear and pleasant space – setting the tone for the day. Decorate your altar in vibrant reds, whites and florals as the last order of business before getting a good sleep. Don't forget to put some clean sheets on the bed (wink wink).

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Birthday Party for Mother Earth

Our planet needs all the love it can get. Treat her well and she will return the favor. I propose not just doing this, but throwing her a party as well. Round up a group of your closest pals not afraid to use the term "climate change," and volunteer to clean up a park or river in your neighborhood. Bring along the following to store in cars until you are finished with your day project: a loaf of fresh-baked bread, a large bottle of distilled water (plus extra for all of you), a pretty collected stone, a sage stick with matches or a lighter, a birthday cake (also preferably homemade with organic ingredients), a cutting utensil, recycled napkins, and 15 birthday candles. Have everyone attending bring one of the items listed so this is a united group effort.

Most parks should have a grill facility that you could use to set the smudge stick, if not, bring a small plate or dish to let it rest on and ensure that it goes out safely. When you and your amigos have staked out a picnic bench and brought out all of your packed supplies, light the sage stick and smudge each member of your gathering, clearing them of any residual negative energy. Cast a sacred circle around the group in the tradition that you use. Pass around the bread and have everyone break off a small piece. Leave pieces on different areas of the ground within your circle as an offering to earth's fellow creatures. Then pass around the designated water bottle and have each person sprinkle a little on the ground to nourish the grass and soil. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Melinda Judy/Lyndie Diamond
    Melinda Judy/Lyndie Diamond says #
    Great post. I agree we should appreciate mother earth. Nothing could live without her. I'm new to paganism and just wrote this blo
  • Colleen DuVall
    Colleen DuVall says #
    Hi Melinda, Glad you liked it! The person you'd want to contact is Anne Newkirk Niven. Her email is editor2@bbimedia.com. Thank

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
SPRING BREAK EQUINOX PARTY

I just finished my spring break last week. That doesn't mean I am not still in a spring break frame of mind. You don't have to travel to sunnier locales to get there. Nor do you have to be going back to school, like myself. You can pitch a SPRING BREAK EQUINOX PARTY! Why not revisit your crazy college days and let loose? We will be experiencing the triple whammy of a solar eclipse, (new) Supermoon, and the equinox tomorrow. So we may as well go all out.

First, invite everyone you know. Heck, even invite some people you'd like to know. Let them be aware that no one gets in without donning some beach wear. Bermuda shorts, bathing suits, floppy hats, flip-flops, sunglasses, the works. Next, stock up on your surf music. If you want to keep the tunes flowing all night, mix in some ska, which always has a cheery upbeat party vibe. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
My Funny Valentine

I realize that many folks feel jaded about Valentine's Day. They see only the commercialized over-production number of it, and forget all about Lupercalia and the mating season for wolves. Perhaps simply because of those latter two facts, I do appreciate the day. It wasn't literally invented by Hallmark in the 20th Century, like Sweetest Day, for Goddess' sake. It can in fact be old-fashioned and sweet – if you enjoy it on your own terms. Please don't let anyone pressure you into dragging your honey to "Fifty Shades of Vanilla," or to blow hundreds at a 10-course meal at the trendiest restaurant, simply because it's the thing to do. In fact, why not do something totally unconventional:

Why not host an old-fashioned Valentine's Day party? You could send out the cute invites to people you'd like to join you – like the ones you exchanged in elementary school. Build some anticipation and surprise about the event. Don't create a page on Facebook. Do it old-school. Don't let anyone know who else will be there ahead of time.

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Walk the Winter Solstice

Here’s a cool yule idea for you: get outside! Winter Solstice hikes are all the rage, and there are many to choose from; sponsored by area state parks, conservatories, and small businesses. Have your troop meet you at your destination site for the scheduled walk. Revel in the crisp winter air, and observe the magical changes Mother Nature has woven around you. I cannot stress this enough – layers, layers, layers. You can never have too many, and you can always wrap something around your waist, shoulders, or neck if you need to make a temperature adjustment. Don’t worry about hat hair. This really isn’t a time of year for the overly fashion-conscious. By partaking in this healthy ritual, you are embracing the colder season, not fighting it. Chances are good that you will also work up a deserved thirst and appetite.

If your band of merry travelers wish to continue celebrating with an after-party, invite them over to your place for hot cocoa, cider, and mulled wine. Keep it easy and informal. Have a cookie exchange, where people can bring over some of their excess baked treats to share. (There are always an excess of goodies in folks’ homes this time of year!) Be sure to supply plenty of candles on hand, so that everyone has one to light. 

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