My Initiation Into Kitchen Witchery

I’ve been interested in domestic witchcraft for years and have been magickally fortifying my living spaces since I was a neophyte in the Craft.  The one place I never flexed my magickal muscles, however, was the kitchen.  I was always too intimidated.  Then I attended a workshop at this year’s Pagan Pride taught by Dawn Hunt, founder of Cucina Aurora. Her fun and upbeat introduction to kitchen witchery was just what I needed to light my culinary candle and to brush away the cobwebs of fear.

Following Dawn’s example I purchased a cute black apron that has “witch” bedazzled in red across the chest.  This apron has become my ritual robe for performing kitchen witchery.  I also bought a small pumpkin spice-scented, magickal housewarming candle that I light before performing any kitchen magick.  Now I have a little ritual I perform before baking or cooking.  I begin by making sure my kitchen is clean.  That’s a given in my OCD world.  I wash my hands and happily slide into my apron.  Then I light the candle and say a quick prayer to Hestia.  I ask Her to inspire me with Her sacred light and to help me prepare food that is both nourishing and delightful.  When performing longer kitchen rituals I will cast a whole circle and invite the spirit of the elements, as well.

Ritualizing my work in the kitchen has done many things for me.  It has given me structure, which has boosted my confidence.  Now when I prepare food it always feels meaningful and fun.  Working in the kitchen has changed from a domestic chore into a time for personal expression.  I love spending time in the kitchen now and it seems like everything that I produce is touched with a bit of magick and joy, even if I do make a few mistakes. :{  As my confidence in the kitchen grows I hope to become bolder with recipes, learning to branch out and experiment a little.  This is a whole new, delicious path that I’ve embarked on and I can’t wait to see where it leads me.

The Magic of Fall Festivals

Faery at the Festival

I love Autumn.  There is no season like it.  The air is crisp, the colors intoxicating, and the seasonal selection of food unbeatable.  I don’t know a single human being who is not enamored with fall.  There are many ways to enjoy this season of bounty and beauty, but one of my favorites is to take advantage of the numerous fall festivals that appear all across the country, in small towns and cities alike.

Fall festivals have transformative powers.  Even in the city, Autumn reminds us of the pleasures of country living and of simpler times.  Like the Yule season, Autumn demands colorful celebration, which changes stoic and crowded city streets into brightly bedecked havens of harvest hospitality.  Most fall festivals contain some hint of the harvest theme and often will include stalls dedicated to local farmers and artisans. I love prowling the stalls for seasonal flavors I have not tried or old favorites presented in a new way.   This year I tried garlic ice cream for the first time.

For many Pagans Summer is the festival season, but I prefer the festivals of fall.  I begin taking advantage of the fall festival scene in September with the many celebrations of Pagan Pride Month.  This year I attended the Pagan Pride celebration hosted by the Eastern Massachusetts Pagan Pride Project in North Andover, MA.   It was the best PPD I’ve ever attended.  The location at Harold Parker State Forest was cozy, pretty, and comfortably close to nature.  The vendors were good, the workshops amazing (I attended a great herb walk with Susun Weed), and the music was kickin’.  Even now I look forward to celebrating PPD with the Pagani of Eastern Mass. next year.

Come October the fall festival season really heats up.  With the harvest flowing in like the tide and Halloween just around the corner, there is no end to the celebrations.  However, there is one celebration that I take advantage of each year, the Renaissance Festival.  Renaissance festivals are magical and exciting places with obvious Pagan undertones (for more about this check out the Autumn issue of Witches & Pagans). Renaissance festivals, like Halloween, are an excuse to let our inner witchlings out to play.  My inner witchling likes to attend ren fests in breezy black dresses and a red velvet cloak.  I get a kick out of eating smoked turkey legs and watching the daring and sometime ridiculous performances.  But I can’t lie; I mostly attend ren fests for the shopping.  Vendor stalls at renaissance festivals are a smorgasbord of Pagan delights.  Any decent ren fest will have at least one good herb and oil dealer, several incense shops, numerous clothing shops with fantastic options for ritual garb, and many shops selling statues, trinkets, and jewelry of a witchy or Pagan nature.   My coven sister, AutumnMoon, and I go shopping for ritual effects every year.

No fall festival season is complete without celebration Halloween and the mother of all Halloween parties takes place in Salem, MA.  Each year my coven, Cat’s Claw, visits Salem, MA for the fun, history, and yes the shopping unique to the Witch City.  Although there are endless tourist trap distractions to amuse, I prefer to take in the more historical attractions.  My favorite is the House of Seven Gables – yes the actual house depicted in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s famous book.  There’s something amazing about walking through a structure with such literary and historic importance.  Salem has also devoted itself to preserving the history of its infamous Witch Trials and there are several historical houses and sites to visit in connection to that sad chapter in American history.  There’s so much to be said about Samhain in Salem that I think I’m going to save it for a later post. Needless to say, I can’t wait to continue my tour of fall festivals.  Below are links to some of my favorite festivals in New England. Enjoy & Happy Harvest!

Pumpkin Festival

Connecticut Renaissance Faire

Keene Pumpkin Festival

King Richard’s Faire

North Quabbin Garlic and Arts Festival

Pagan Pride Project

Salem Haunted Happenings

Coming Out of the Broom Closet . . . Again

empty classroomComing out of the broom closet the first time was easy.  I was a sophomore in college, young, brazen, and drunk off my newfound independence.  I didn’t worry about harassment or discrimination.  As a young, black, woman I ate that kind of stuff for breakfast and was genuinely unafraid.  Of course, I had little to lose back then – no professional affiliations, no job that couldn’t easily be replaced, and my familial relationships were tenuous at best.  Things have changed over the years and I have experienced the fear and pain of being harassed on the job.  I have been told I am going to hell by my supervisor.  I have been asked if my religion is “official” by human resources.  And I’ve seen the apprehension and confusion in co-workers’ eyes as my pentagram fell out of my shirt.  So I have learned to play it cautious and feel out my environment before I decide when and how to come out.
Tomorrow I begin my first day as an elementary school teacher and I haven’t decided what to do about coming out of the broom closet. If it were only staff and students I had to worry about I wouldn’t hesitate to wear my pentagram tomorrow, but I’ll have to deal with parents too and parents can be tricky. I know from working at the school for the past two years, that many of our students and their parents share a very strong and traditional Christian leaning.  I’m not sure how parents will react if they see a pentagram dangling from the neck of their child’s teacher.  Will they freak out?  Make accusations?  Ask embarrassing questions?  Assume I worship the devil?  Any and all are definite possibilities.
Up until now I have chosen to keep my religious practices separate from my job while working at this school.  However, things feel different now.  I am taking on a full-time position and will be engaging with more students and more staff.  To keep this part of myself completely hidden would feel like a lie.  I don’t plan to shout about Witchcraft from the rafters, but I want to feel comfortable wearing my pentagram.  I wear it everywhere else. Why should I be barred from wearing it to work?
It’s all so complicated.  Sometimes I wish for the blind privileges afforded practitioners of the Christian faith.  To go where I want, wear what I want, and say what I want about my faith without contemplating thoughts of discrimination.  Knowing that I will have time off of work for my most important religious holidays because they are nationally recognized.  To comfortably assume that everyone in the room accepts my faith and is probably a member of the same.  To enjoy such privileges would be bliss, but that’s not the world we live in.  At some point I’m going to have to make a decision – to proudly open the closet door and risk persecution or to continue to peak through the crack, hiding who I am.