Oven Drying Herbs

oregano2

Me being me, I felt like looking up the folkloric uses of oregano while I had it in the oven.

Oregano is a drawing and protection herb-the color that it dries to looks like the green in cash and is used as a money drawing herb. It is also a protection herb, though its use in smudging is less familiar than that of sage (but I prefer the scent of oregano, honestly). You use it to clear negative energies out of a space. It also apparently repels law enforcement-though frankly I wouldn’t bank on it keeping you out of trouble. You need to keep you out of trouble.

I’m trying to keep up on my herbal harvests this year so the plants just don’t get tossed to the side like they did last summer. There’s only so many herbal syrups I can make and use, and dried herbs are much, much easier to handle in canning (they don’t affect the acidity levels of a food).

oregano1

I have already successfully oven dried peppers and decided that if a very high moisture food like a pepper can handle oven drying, it can’t be that hard to oven dry an herb.

Set your herbs onto a cookie sheet, after washing and drying them. I left the oregano on its stems just for ease of handling. Preheat your oven to no more than 200. Warm would be even better. Place the herbs into the oven, checking every so often. Flip the stems over once or twice.

When the leaves are completely crunchy and not pliable whatsover, pull from the oven (this batch was small and took about an hour). Cool, strip off of the stems, and place in a covered jar.

dried oregano

July Birth Symbolism

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Ruby-Symbolizing luck and protection, as well as a material wealth stone. Also standing for courage and devotion.

Waterlily- The waterlily stands for majesty and love.

Larkspur- The larkspur stands for love, but the type of love that is being expressed changes by the color of the larkspur.

Trees-Apple, Fir, Elm, Cypress-I’ve touched on trees briefly here.

Apple trees stand for rebirth and beauty. Polish folklore has the tree used for divination purposes, especially for those seeking love. The apple is often a death tree in the sense of bringing energy back out of the underworld.

Fir varies by the type of fir, but is another rebirth tree, a wisdom tree, protection, and change.

Elm trees are another death tree (I’m not sure why the death trees show up so frequently in birth symbolism) as well as standing for knowledge and wisdom.

Cypress trees (oh look another death tree) represents immortality and resurrection.

Other folkloric themes to note: The dog days of summer start in the end of July.

Chasing the Devil (2014)

There’s campy movies, and then there’s goofy movies.

This is just a goofy movie.

Following a pretty basic demonic possession plot, and presented as a found footage film, I wasn’t expecting a lot. I’ve been trying to watch more movies lately and avoiding shows because then I get sucked into shows and forget to actually review anything (side eyes Supernatural). It’s also a Gravitas movie, and while I don’t really dislike the stuff that Gravitas puts out, I don’t find it really mind-blowing either.

As a found footage piece it’s not terrible. I still don’t favor the subgenre but it’s actually cleaner and less choppy than most which makes for an easier and more enjoyable watching experience. The acting isn’t terrible either, especially not for low budget horror, but you still have to work within the restrictions of your plot.

And that’s where things just get goofy. With a monster that body hops whilst people yell ‘who is he inside of now?!’, coughing up coins, watching people literally smoke on screen…it’s not quite comical enough to be horrorcom, but too funny to really be taken seriously, the only word that really fits is goofy.

It reminds me of a production of A Streetcar Named Desire I saw in high school, where you wanted to laugh because it had crossed the line into comedy with its earnestness but you don’t want to because you know you shouldn’t.

Finding Center-Festivals [and Other Large Group Events] as an Introvert

I am back from camp and finally have a chance to sit down and get back to blogging. It was an amazing, beautiful experience.

Here’s the thing though-I’m a fairly introverted person with a higher than normal level of social anxiety. Festivals are fine, even great, if you’re an extrovert that finds it easy to talk to other people. It took me a long time to find the balance needed to get an enjoyable social experience out of the time.

1. Move at your own pace

It’s your vacation. Do what you want with it.

I had a couple of comments made to me this year about ‘those weird people who just want to read’-and yes, it made me bristle a little. If you need to ground out and recharge-or if you just want to sit around reading or knitting or cloud watching just because you want to-do it. You don’t owe anyone else high energy.

2. Maintain boundaries

If people are overstepping, tell them. If they’re asking too much of you let them know you need time away to calm down and recenter. If you don’t want people on your site or out of certain areas, vocalize that.

3. Maintain your routines

If there are things that you do every day that you can still do while at festival, do them. If you shower every day at 11 and you have the ability to do so while at camp/festival, shower then. Stay on your normal food schedules. Go to bed at your normal time. Having the baseline of ‘normal but not at home’ will help.

4. Ground out

Festivals are very social events and you might overload more often. Finding some place to zone will help with that. I spent some time just sitting in the grass in the sun. It helped greatly.

5. Push boundaries in a non-threatening way

I tend to socialize with a core group which means that a lot of time I sit around waiting until that group involves me or isn’t busy. I frankly am getting tired of that approach, so this year I decided I would try to get involved in at least one conversation a day with someone I didn’t know or didn’t know well. It worked. This was the most social I’ve been the entire time I’ve been going to festivals.

6. Find a way to stay involved

The experience will feel less alienating if you find a way to get involved that doesn’t overload you. Take a class a day. Go to the group events that don’t require a lot of interaction. Find a way to stay social without being overly social.

 

The length of time you need to use these tips may vary. You may not need any of them. You may need all of them. You may only need them a couple of days a week, or only a few hours. You deserve your own comfort, whatever that looks like.

Closing the Gates

Another week, another early folklore post.

I have been doing heavy duty cleaning since 6 this morning and will probably be up again that early tomorrow, to pack for festival and do more cleaning. Of course the insurance inspection would fall on the same week as my vacation-therefore-I’m-going-out-of-town-week.

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If you are a fan of or at least seen more than few episodes of Supernatural then you have already been exposed to the idea of warding.

Energy flows like water. It moves from place to place, managing to find any opening it can get into a person, building, or other vessel.

A ward functions like a gate-it allows only certain energies in or out. It is a block that prevents something from either leaving or entering; think the infamous circle of salt that Dean and Sam always fall back on.

Folklorically speaking, wards can take on different roles and different intensities. You can ward against a person’s energies, a group, a deity, ghosts, weather, bad luck…whatever energy you find yourself needing to block. Many people start using wards as a basic security level-even if there’s no known concern (such as hexing, crossing, cursing, or other forms of energetic attacks), having a block against other people’s emotions is a good idea to many.

The actual structure of a ward varies, depending on who is casting the ward and what is needed to be done. In some cases something like a mirror can be used-mirror magic works in part by reflecting back whatever is sent. It’s actually a fairly neutral warding style, since the only energy moving is the energy that’s already being thrown at a person. In other cases something like an element is used-each element (water, fire, etc) carries a different energy and that energy is used to protect the caster.

A second form of warding invokes a heavier use of the Shadow and isn’t as common (or sometimes ‘accepted’ though I don’t like that word, if you don’t like something, nothing is forcing you to do it)-a type of if/then statement. It involves a type of mantra work and starts bordering on outright spell work-it is sometimes linked to a deity or other energy directly. “If you hurt me, then get lost in the darkness. If you follow me, get lost in the darkness”, “May you be loved as you love”, even something as subtle as “I’m not here, you don’t see me”. This is where ideas such as glamouring start coming into play.

The third (though not necessarily final) form of warding is physical, where you use an actual item to ward with-the salt circle, a necklace a stone, a ‘built’ charm. Something to bind the intent to and use as a touch point. A traditional fae ward would be broken glass and nails hung in the doorways (well maybe traditional depending on which fae tradition you’re working with). The ward will vary from person to person and need to need, with the potential side effect that it will need to be charged before use, and then cleansed after use is stopped.

The trickiest part of warding is not tying your own energy to the ward (unless doing so deliberately). You are trying to avoid the exchange of energy, so you don’t want to tie yourself to whatever you are doing, or limit the exchange to as little energy flow as possible. The other issue with tying wards to Self is that once your energies start to go low, so does the ward. Earth wards will carry energy for much, much longer than you will.

 

Summer of Ghosts

summer of ghosts

This is going to stand in for my normal mid July housekeeping post. We’re less than a week off of my festival run, where my ability to update will depend on the strength of my signal and if it occurs to me to do so. So next week may be silent, or almost silent, or at least infrequent.

I’m not doing Ghost Month or Retro Month this year. Instead I’m going to be working with ghosts and hauntings all summer, at least until the end of next month. I’m hoping to get a heavy dose of vintage/retro stuff in there. It’s not going to be all horror, all the time-don’t worry about that. But that will be the concentration for awhile. It’s actually easier for me to do longer themes than it is to try to get material together for a single month.

This theme will also overlap with Operation Autumn (more information to come), so it’ll be fun to springboard off of one into the other!

Zesty Zucchini Relish

zesty zucchini relish

A lot of the canning recipes that I post on this blog are actually a sort of digital diary for me. I have a notebook that I use-and then lose and then refind and lose again. It’s just easier to post them on here.

I’ve been on a relish kick lately. Summer dinners around here are often hot dogs, burgers, or pasta salads where I just stir tuna and relish into the bowl. It gets a lot hotter and a lot nastier in Buffalo than a lot of people give the city credit for, and I don’t like to spend a lot of time cooking when it’s like that.

…We’ll ignore the hours of canning that I do in weather like that.

The summer squash and zucchinis are starting to show up, and show up cheaply. They’re $.99 a tray and less than a dollar a piece at the farmer’s markets. They’ll just get cheaper from here on out.

I used the Zesty Zucchini Relish recipe from Ball (the small batch version from the book that comes with the discovery kit). I made very few changes, so I won’t post the recipe.

I used dried horseradish because I already had it, I skipped the salt soak and added a little to the brine instead, used a zucchini, a yellow squash, a cucumber, and an onion, halved the sugar and used apple cider vinegar. I used dried chilis instead of fresh.

I let it cook down too much (note to self: it takes a lot less time to get a canner up to speed when you start with hot water. Start with hot water.) and the brine cooked down too much. I topped off the jars with plain apple cider vinegar.