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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A Healthy Dose of Self-Care

One of the things that we can always feel grateful for is good health. Without it, we often can't perform the simplest of daily tasks on our to-do list. Because it's such a basic and instinctual need, it's all too easy to take our well-being for granted. With patients exercising a healthy suspicion of certain drugs being over-prescribed by the medical community, it's no surprise that holistic and alternative medicines are being sought out more than ever before. Many therapies and treatments originated in the Far East, such as Qigong, reiki, cupping, and acupuncture.

Needles You Needn't to be Afraid of

Acupuncture can be traced back as far as 6000 BCE, and was first practiced in China substituting long, pointy bones for the needles. The concept behind inserting the needles into the human body to combat anything from stress to pain is intriguing. It all centers around each individual's life force, or "qi," running though the body. When certain areas are in disharmony, your qi cannot easily flow the way it is supposed to. You become blocked and this can lead to chronic discomfort and illness. A set of up to 20 sterilized needles are gently pushed into the skin for up to 30-60 minutes at a time. Acupuncture enthusiasts affirm that it really works for them, and they start to notice the benefits very soon after their first few treatments. Just remember if trying this experience for the first time yourself, it helps to keep your eyes closed and stay in a meditative state—otherwise you can't let the healing work for you and through you!

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I'd Like to Live in Halloweentown

So I'm pulling out all the stops this blog and referencing every entry I've written here to date about the truly most wonderful time of year: Samhain/Halloween! I had a close group of fellow pumpkin holiday enthusiasts over last weekend and the powerful positive female energy that flowed throughout the night was incredible. We played great music, crafted tiny spell jars, decorated skull sugar cookies, and even laughed ourselves silly over a witch hat ring toss game. Whether you choose to have a small, masked gathering with your favorite zombies or perhaps honor your ancestors ala Día de los Muertos , there are a multitude of ways to celebrate this weekend. Hosting a traditional Dumb Supper for lost loved ones is a favored activity of local Milwaukee legend Stonie Rivera. Truth be told, I know in my heart I will never be able to top my October 31st spent in Dracula country on the Tours of Terror folks' Transylvania trip. That's a cherished memory that will stay with me forever, and ever, and ever...

Dreams and Tarot Tossing

Be sure to pay special attention to dreams of departed loved ones right now. Chances are good that they may be trying to communicate an important message to you via your dreams. Record the messages and feelings you're left with in your journal for further consideration and meditation. This is the ideal time of year for channeling your witchy side with some divination and imagination. I always find shuffling the tarot cards and seeing what insights they have to share enlightening. They often bring a sharp clarity to complex situations and questions on your mind. I'm still enjoying using "The Witches' Wisdom Tarot," a deck created by my first "Women Who Howl at the Moon" podcast guest, Phyllis Currott. These cards are so rich and multi-layered in their meanings, guidance, and magickal intentions.

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Falling Into Fall

Change can be tough, to be sure. As I get a little older and wiser I see how much better it is to learn to roll with those changes that come your way. Accepting and embracing these shifts, no matter how unfamiliar or strange, is definitely the way to go. Intuitively, it also ties in with living fully in the moment and letting go of that which no longer serves us. It's the natural flow of nature and of life. So don't be that last stubborn last leaf on the tree this fall—live and let go.

Changes in the Weather

As many folks' favorite time of year comes into full swing, take the time to get out on some invigorating fall hikes to re-energize your soul. Walk in familiar spots to notice what is shifting and see how that makes you feel. Does it make you consider areas in your own life that could use a shakeup? Meditate on this one for a while and see what presents itself to you, whether in immediate visualizations or later that night in your dreams.

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Leo Meets the Sturgeon Moon

This is an interesting transitional time, as August comes to a close. We are swiftly entering the thick of the harvest season and undoubtedly gathering juicy abundance from our respective gardens. We are also taking stock of the year thus far and carefully plotting out what we have left to work with. We're not deep in meditation mode yet, but still easily distracted by lingering summer delights... OK, I'm clearly talking about myself here, but you catch my drift. We should certainly make the most of any good weather we have available to us, as many of us may be forced to go into hibernation mode once more in the not-so-distant future. All in all, it's a great time to step outside barefoot and feel the earth between your toes.

Don't Let the Seasons Limit You

Although it's good to acknowledge and spend time with each of our changing seasons, that shouldn't stop you from stepping outside to connect with Mother Earth, no matter how snow-laden and chilly the ground may be. You might even find it invigorating—as our August guest on "Women Who Howl at the Moon," Jacque Daul delights in telling us! Jacque, a vibrant, 80-years-young Wiccan and still practicing massage therapist, has many fascinating stories to share. Be sure to tune in to our latest podcast episode to hear everything our new favorite Leo has to tell us! That's one of the things I really love best about conducting these interviews—I'm able to connect with and get to know so many amazing women in the community. If you haven't liked our Facebook page or perused our Patreon, please do so today.

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The Holly Moon

One of the loveliest things about a full moon is that you can reap the benefits of it for three days leading up to it, and three days after. Especially this summer, when so many of us are booked solid socially, it can be a relief to know that you can still practice magick and soak up the moonbeams on more than one night of the week. One of the simplest rituals that I enjoy practicing is to open up a shade and a window where I can see the moon and feel it shining down on me. I close my eyes and bask in the moonglow. If you have some nice bike paths in your neighborhood, fill up the tires, put on your helmet, and turn on the lights for a leisurely full moon bike ride.

THE HOLLY MOON

This is the time of the season where even if we blissfully ignore it, our bodies sense the shift and harvest about to happen August 1st. (For some fun ideas to celebrate Lammas/Lughnasadh, consider a small bread baking party.) We will start going inward in our minds, even while we are still able to enjoy the often- beautiful weather outdoors. For many traditions, the Holly King is reigning for now, and the dark half of the year is his time. This isn't a reason to be sad, just perhaps more introspective. Take more time out to meditate. Think about what you'd like to manifest yet before this year comes to a close and jot it down in your journal. Or noodle out a spell in your Book of Shadows to help bring your goals to life. This can be a period of planning and preparation. You can also enjoy a Corn Moon celebration later in the month—if you can squeeze it in!

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Savoring the Summer Solstice

Summer is nearly officially here and all around us, the flowers, trees, birds, fireflies, and elements are bursting with life. If you stop and close your eyes, you can practically feel it pulsating. This is the time to savor all these sensual pleasures in abundance and revel in all that nature's bounty has to offer! Since the Solstice falls on Father's Day this year, you may choose to combine your festivities. However you celebrate the Solstice, being outside as much as possible seems to be the order of the day.

A Magickal Market

Speaking of being outside, were you aware that Houston boasts a magical, witchy outdoor marketplace? They do! The Thorn & Moon Magickal Market, headed by Jessica Anderson, runs the first Saturday of every month downtown at the White Oak Music Hall and Raven Tower from 6 - 11 p.m. Jessica is this month's "Women Who Howl at the Moon" podcast guest, so be sure to tune in and hear her describe all the sights and sounds in glorious detail. Everything from themed vendors to Goth Yoga is available for you to try. They often wrap up with some apropos entertainment, such as the Bewitched Burlesque troupe performing a show. Amanda Marie Parker from Bewitched Burlesque was our April podcast guest.

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Feeling the Rhythm of May

I Fell in Love With the Djembe

There's nothing quite like the sound or the feel of slapping a djembe for the first time. The smooth, organic touch of the taught drumhead can produce the cleanest, crispiest tones. There's variety too: the higher pitched sounds will snap through the air, while striking the middle with an open palm, fingers curled upward, will reward you with a resonant, booming bass. Shaped like a chalice and used in many a drum circle, djembes can be as small and portable as a mason jar and large enough to require straps and a carrying case if you want to stand and play it to your heart's content. The djembe also has a deeply spiritual and communal history.

I'd always loved the sound of drums, from enjoying a band to anticipating a parade. It was when an old friend of mine in Chicago formed an all-female drumming troupe and they began to host public drum circles that I developed a serious interest in learning to play.

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