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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Beltane: Light My Fire

May 1st is always known as the lustiest of the cross-quarter Sabbats: exciting and full of possibilities. I will always remember the very first Beltane ritual circle that I participated in, many moons ago. my whole body was humming. I felt electric and trembling with excitement, realizing how powerful and deep this magical life could be. It was on that night that I decided to follow a Pagan and Eclectic Wiccan path. It resonated with me completely on every level, especially after being on a personal spiritual quest for the year or two prior. This Beltane make a point to rekindle and stoke that fire with you and your romantic partner. Fires always require a little TLC, but the end results are always so worth it.

Set the Stage

First, think about setting the stage. I have some good notions for starting this special day out just right. This would include the baking of some homemade Beltane scones for breakfast and getting your kitchen smelling heavenly. A clean living space is definitely a sexier one, so be sure to take care of that, too. Another task that would surely lift your spirits, is crafting a May Day basket for your significant other, or someone you know who would really appreciate it. A neighbor on their own during quarantine would probably love to receive a surprise gift like this on their front porch.

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Have a Cool Earth Day, No Matter What Your Circumstance

During a stay-at-home order, if it’s not a complete lockdown, reminding yourself there is still an outside beyond your four walls has become imperative. Unfortunately, some areas, including my own in Wisconsin, have had to close our beautiful state parks in order to protect them. They were being flooded with folks desperate for nature and something to do. Although the majority were most likely there with good intentions and to appreciate the parks respectfully, some were definitely not practicing good social distancing guidelines with their fellow park-goers and worse still, were littering and vandalizing. Not cool. This has also been the case with many of our national parks. Sadly, some park workers were starting to test positive for COVID-19. Interestingly, in places now temporarily closed like Yosemite, the animals are having a party. Bears are out and about in high numbers without the usual throng of visitors. At Kruger National Park in South Africa, a whole pride of lions were happily lounging in the sun all along what would normally be frequently traveled road.

I see my friends online, myself and my significant other have become creative as to how, when and where we seek refuge off the beaten path into the woods, prairies, and meadows. The heart of the city can feel not unlike navigating a minefield in pandemic conditions. If you want to go out for a walk on a nice day, a drive to less-populated area is key. Do some research online ahead of time and find out what is and is not available to the public in your area currently. Even if state parks are closed, many smaller county parks remain open. Try to plan to your visit so it wouldn’t be at a peak time that everyone would have the same idea to be there. Wear gloves and masks and maintain the safe six-foot distance on all trails when coming into contact with others. Taking the high road has come to mean, “I will be the one to always veer off the trail if necessary,” to me. You can still be friendly and say, “hi.” Just do it from behind your bandanna, please.

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Aries Spring Equinox: The Ram

Normally, my Spring Equinox post would have a light and airy tone. I'd suggest fun and fanciful ways to welcome spring with friends or solo, and usually some recipes to try. These are certainly challenging times, and Aries the ram, the sun sign under which I was born, usually always rises to a good challenge. Here is mine currently: staying positive in these frightening and uncertain times. A reader that I follow on WaterBaby Tarot recently stated that we should hold on to faith and not give in to fear. She reasoned that when fear wins, we stress out and our immune systems are compromised. This could also lead to more people getting sick. It's a vicious cycle: fear/illness/more fear/more illness. Breaking out of this can be easier said than done. Although I do think it's important to stay informed, periodic breaks from the news and being online are imperative right now. Because once you have the pertinent information of the day, dwelling on things and speculating on where they could possibly go from here are not going to help matters a whole lot.

Fittingly, the Spring Equinox and Ostara is all about balance. As a planet, we need to balance out. We've been leaping forward at warp speed for too long now with industrialization, overpopulation, pollution, and technology that we can't even humanly keep up with anymore. I personally don't feel it's any accident that with the increase of climate change consequences: drought, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, and fires– we're seeing an uptick in disease and outbreaks that we can't control. Mother Nature might just be mightily pissed off at us people, and honestly, can you blame her?

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In Search of Hot Chocolate

When I think about Imbolc, I often think about hot chocolate. Since dairy is highlighted on the Imbolc menu in some form or another, this could be the perfect time to search out the best hot chocolate in the area. While you’re sipping—and possibly dipping—a cookie in your rich chocolaty cocoa, meditate on where you’ve come since the holidays and where you’d like to continue in the months to come.

I’ve written about Imbolc before for Pagan Square, including a meditative cross-country ski you could take during this time of the year.

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I celebrated Groundhog Day today with a home-baked chocolate chip muffin; from a mix not from scratch, and a glass of coconut milk

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Winter Solstice All Around the World

Looking to ramp up your Winter Solstice shindig this year? I personally always like to adapt a theme to center it around. That keeps it fresh and interesting for your return guests and a welcome surprise for new faces. This year the First Day of Winter falls on a Saturday, which makes it a perfect time to hold your Solstice celebration on the actual day. If you go with an “around the world” theme, you can invite each of your guests to bring a dish or beverage to share, unique to their cultural heritage or family. This way you’ll also gain an eclectic smorgasbord of a menu! Since I’m enjoying my new position as associate digital editor at Taste of Home Magazine so much, I had to try out some of their culturally diverse recipes from the December issue.

Every successful soiree should have a signature punch. Here’s a fun one from Chile:

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Dreaming of the Dead

 

There is a belief that we can communicate with loved ones when they have left this earthly plane. They may come to us in the form of a bird, the sudden smell of roses in a room they enjoyed or visit us in a dream. This is the ideal moment, when the veil is the thinnest, to make contact, to enjoy their company, to listen to the messages that they may wish to impart.

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Finding Your Fall Balance

Even if you already have some plans booked for the Fall Equinox, it’s never too late to schedule some pleasant activities just for you. This is in fact, the optimum time to focus on balancing areas of your life. First up, examine where you could de-clutter. I’m not just talking about a general all-over abode sweep and tidy – although I would advise that, as it always less stressful to have a clean home base. I’m talking about mental clutter, paper pile-up, and time wasters. Remember that nature tune, “Earth my body/water my blood/air my breath/and fire my spirit?” Well I’ve concocted a nifty regimen to address each of those elements and how they connect to you. Ready, set, go!

THE HOMESTEAD

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