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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Season of Samhain Reflections

So I saw a meme recently with a close-up of the infamous Wicked Witch of the West from the original “Wizard of Oz” classic film. It read, “You call it September, I call it October Eve.” Of course I shared it immediately—what Halloween fiend wouldn’t? I have found that I spend the better part of September in anticipation and excitement of what’s to come right on the next page of the calendar corner. I mentally prepare, I scout out fun local events happening and mark the ones that I’d like to attend as “interested.” In many cases, I pencil in all the things I want to do, books I want to read, movies I want to watch (and in many cases rewatch as an annual ritual) all over my Llewellyn Witches’ Datebook. I’m truly a kid at heart when it comes to this time of year—as I’m sure many of you are—and I hope to be until my dying day. In fact, when I was earning my journalism degree and one of our early semester assignments was to write our own obituary, I imagined that I would be found watching scary movies on the 31st.

October Eve Ritual

Next September 2023, why not start your own, “October Eve” ritual? Haul out all of your favorite decorations (I always like to add a few new ones each year, too) and take your time putting them up and hanging them just so. Play some spooky music as your soundtrack as you do so. Sip some nice fall wine and enjoy the experience as a sensual/sensuous one. You may want to do this the night before October 1st, two nights before October 1st, or heck, as early as you want in September, whatever floats your ghost ship! You might want to mix it up and put different decorations in different rooms or create different arrangements each year. I tend to be a traditionalist like my dear grandmother was and put the same pieces in the same spots annually. I even have themed rooms for the types of decorations: Kitchen witches, black cat back bedroom, vampire bat bathroom, you get the idea. If you’re lucky enough to have a home with a nice front yard and love to go all out with your transformation theme, by all means, go for it. Nothing makes the majority of your Halloween fan neighbors more delighted than driving or walking by a wickedly clever front yard and house display all season long.

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There's a New Moon in Virgo

It's Time to Get Serious

There’s a New Moon in Virgo this Saturday and much weirdness afoot for Aries planetary influences. As I mentioned in my recent “Women Who Howl at the Moon” minipod, this latter development that actually occurred on August 20th, has old fiery Mars getting comfy in Gemini for the next seven months! To give you a little better perspective on this, Mars typically only stays in one place for two months tops, which could lead to some interesting developments between now and late March of 2023.

For one thing, Gemini as we know, loves to gab, and socialize. However Gemini is also known for multi-tasking and having many irons in the fire at once. Throw Mars in the mix and you could wind up with a lot of scattered energies and distractions, if you’re not mindful. What we can do is tap into that practical, cautious, and detail-oriented energy of steadfast Virgo to help us ride this phase out. Stay the course, do an “internal inventory,” to weed out the unnecessary stuff, as suggested on nylon.com. Yes Virgo can be irksome with its nagging and nitpicking, but it also can assist in keeping us focused and patient with the tasks at hand.

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A New Moon in Leo

 

So we’ve got some New Moon Leo energy going on in a last fiery burst of summer, that all signs are encouraged to enjoy (especially socially) to the fullest. I have to say from personal experience, this has indeed been an extremely busy and social summer (especially compared to the early warm seasons of the pandemic, respectively 2020 and 2021). For better or worse, people are weary of taking so many precautions and are picking and choosing their risk factors and events they want to attend anyway, indoors, or out. Is this a bad thing? I’m not sure. I still take precautions where they’re mandatory and/or encouraged, but I’m not nearly as vigilant or OCD as I used to be. I supposed it’s because one cannot stay in a heightened state of anxiety, and fear of huge, impending doom for a prolonged period of time. Because that’s not healthy either, right? The more folks I talk to, it’s a whole grab bag of potential impending doom scenarios: from Russia and the threat of Nuclear War (or other countries who’d like to take over the U.S.), the COVID pandemic that never ends and now has so many vaccine-resistant variants you can’t keep track of them all, the ever-present threat of domestic terrorism, Cheeto cultists, election conspiracy extremists, crazy lawmakers that want to take us back to medieval times, an onslaught of random and targeted gun violence, not to mention climate change, unnatural disasters that are accelerating at a daily rate with alarming speed, and oh yeah, Monkey Pox. In short, plague, disease, pestilence, fires, floods, the crumbling of an American empire and democracy and human civilization as we know it. Kinda feels like end times, doesn’t it?

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It's a Cosmic Thing: The Summer Solstice

I arrived a little late to the party—the party of the B-52's summer classic, "Cosmic Thing." In June of 1990, I had just graduated Madison Area Technical college with a commercial art degree. I was saving up dough to head out West and explore my possibilities in California. In the backroom of the small custom frame shop while measuring and precision-cutting mounting board, I rifled through the store owner's CD stash to inspire me while I worked. The bright, inviting colors of "Cosmic Thing" immediately caught my eye, and I already knew I dug the B-52's. From then on, I was hooked. It is the quintessential hot season record, where every single song on the album is a must-listen to.

My partner and I recently acquired a mint condition vinyl of it, and I have to say, these songs stand the test of time. From the title track encouraging you to "shake your honey buns," to the zen utopian ballad of "Topaz," you do indeed feel compelled to shake it and sing along. The dystopian panic of, "Channel Z," still feels incredibly pertinent today, compellingly shouted/sung by frontman Fred Schneider. The harmonies of Kate Pierson and Cindy Wilson have never sounded more lovely, and drummer Keith Strickland really stepped up to help write most of this amazing tuneage.

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A Beltane for the Senses

 

Beltane is always an exciting time of year and I cherish it every time it rolls around. The possibilities of new endeavors, fun and frolic, and better things ahead always seem to crystalize between Earth Day and May 1st for me. There are many ways that you can choose to celebrate, whether it’s dancing around a local May Pole, just dancing with abandon with some good friends, having a sensual picnic with your loved one, or treating yourself with love to a flower-filled bubble bath and a good home-cooked meal. To me, this major Sabbat is about flooding all yours senses with all the good things you can handle. In short, do what truly makes you happy. Life is way too short to fritter away precious time doing things we think we’re supposed to do or ought to do. For once, set the obligations aside for just this one day and treat yourself. Think of it as a bonus birthday to yourself.

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Earth Day Insights

Now more than ever, the earth is crying out for our help. Natural disasters have become an unnatural common occurrence on every corner of the globe. To turn a blind eye on what we see going on around us every day, even if it doesn’t effect us directly, is akin to being the monkey who sees no evil until it is too late. Our neglect and willful ignorance on this matter is most definitely to our own peril. The common question is often, “Well, what can I do? What small difference can I make?” A lot my friends, a lot. Every little bit helps. According to recent expert reports, at this point we have roughly three years to act, otherwise we’re pretty much screwed. Of course, we already should have been taking steps back in the 70s when the first Earth Day was introduced by Environmentalist Senator Gaylord Nelson, from my home state of Wisconsin, no less, but we still have a small window to make an impact.

GET INVOLVED

Many communities have river cleanups and activities not just today, but throughout the year. Look up what’s going on close to home and start there.

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Chirping With a Cardinal

Spring is about to bloom this Sunday and all the little critters outside are feeling quite frisky about it. Squirrels are chasing each other scurrying up trees, the first robin hopped into view the other day on my nature hike, and a bright, red cardinal flew across my path to alight on a tree branch directly diagonal from me. Staring at his brilliance a moment as we regarded each other, I decided to try and communicate with him. I attempted a few series of whistles that I remembered being close to a cardinal bird call. After a few tries, he trilled back loud and clear. I answered him, mimicking back the chirp as loudly and accurately as I could muster. We went back and forth like this for a full five minutes, much to my delight. I probably would have stayed on longer, but the park gate was set to close at 3 p.m. and I didn't want to get shut out to the quicker path back to my residence. He continued to trill happily after me, after I bade him goodbye. I gave a few extra return calls over my shoulder in appreciation. When I looked back, I noticed that he had hopped up to a higher branch to see me and stay parallel from me as I left. I know that they say that birds can be souls of departed loved ones come to visit, and I couldn't help but feel that special connection with our exchange. My grandmother's favorite bird was the cardinal, and my birthday is next week. She used to love St. Patrick's Day and celebrating her Irish heritage, so I definitely think something divine was at work, here. Even if it was a male bird, I don't think the spirits worry much about gender. It filled my heart with joy as I walked back home.

Ren Faires and the Spring Equinox

My Spring Equinox guest for "Women Who Howl at the Moon" this month is Melissa Starks. She sometimes goes by the moniker "Mistress Penny" and has even hosted a sauerkraut eating contest at one of the faires! She has had quite an interesting journey as a "road renny," stockbroker, substitute teacher, and chainmail jewelry maker. (Peruse her handmade designs at https://enchanted-chains-jewelry.square.site/) You can hear all about her adventures on my SoundCloud page. Think about the new things you'd like to coax into springing forth on your own journey. What can you make bloom?

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