Cookbooks and the Kitchen

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Preparing food is medicine making: the yummiest, closest, everyday kind. Cooking from the heart is always good, but a little inspiration from outside sources can provide such a super, unexpected and fabulous outcome. Someone else's hint becomes your treasure.

Cooking is a health key. It represents art and self care. The act itself is nourishing in a very fundamental way. We can truly care for ourselves—and form relationship with what we handle, eat, mix and season. What we eat, how we digest (circulate and breathe) has profound impact upon our radiant natures. 

Some favorite books for fabulous inspiration and nourishment:
Chez Panisse Vegetables by Alice Waters (and ANY Alice Waters cookbook)
Wild Flavors by Didi Emmons
Grow Cook Eat by Willi Galloway
Home Made by Yvette Van Boven
Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson
Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson
Bitter by Jennifer McLagan
Super Foods Super Fast by Julie Montagu

 

Fire Cider and the Winter Herbal Medicine Cabinet

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Winter Herbal Medicine Cabinet
• Echinacea oxymel
• Immune boost (herbal blend...Echinacea, Elder(s), Ginger, Garlic, Cayenne, Cinnamon...)
• Immune paste (tahini, almond butter, miso, turmeric, ginger, garlic, honey, cinnamon...)
• Elderberry syrup
• Bitters (always)

Fire Cider
Ingredients: Apple cider vinegar, garlic, ginger, turmeric, lime, cayenne (sometimes horseradish). Here's a link to a good recipe: Mommy's.

Favorites in the House...Now

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Gotta RAVE...

First, here in Vermont...it is the longgggggest winter. I do ok in winter, but this one is dragging...there has been little snow, lots of ice and too many colds and viruses swirling around and about.

How do I feel better?

...oh so many ways:
• ARIEL'S HONEY INFUSIONS
I use honey regularly: immunity, happiness, reminder of the buzzing bees and beautiful flowers. This product rocks. "Ariel's Honey Infusions believes strongly in making all honey infusions with Local sustainably Harvested, Raw Vermont Honey & Organic Herbs.

Ariel's Honey Infusions are all made in small batches by Ariel. Each Unique Infusion is only made with raw, local honey from  Vermont. Raw honey has not been heated, preserving all the naturally occurring vitamins, enzymes and nutritional elements. Our local honey suppliers only practices bee keeping without using any pesticides or chemicals, to insure the utmost, pure and healthiest honey and bees around. Only organic herbs are used for the infusions, and we strive to use as many local herb suppliers as possible.

Our vision is to offer customers locally sourced honey infusions while spreading understanding and awareness about the vital role bees play in keeping the planet healthy."

• URBAN MOONSHINE'S YONI STEAM
A beautiful herbal blend. "Tone, soften, rejuvenate." Nourishing and warming and healthy. As a ritual, it's restorative, refreshing and cleansing. More here.

Why We Do What We Do

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"...the bearer of an important message...it's contents can only be herd when a deep level of quiet has been established."

This is a curious question! In chatting with my partner earlier today, we discussed the unchangeable importance of some crossroads—and the mystery of fate, outcome. In the 1980s, I was hired as an editor for a small company, Phoenix Marketing Group. Small as we were, we were a powerhouse with big clients doing amazing work. Beautiful! I think back on that day: I know I participated in some of strongest and most powerful partnerships of my life—on so many levels. Over time, someone bought into the company and reviewed resumes: he called me in and asked: "What the hell are you doing editing here? You are an artist and graphic designer! Would you take charge of launching and managing our in-house design and production department?" Delighted, I accepted and we created an amazing crew of round-the-clock (if necessary) dedicated souls, working mostly part-time and within a framework of family support. Truth is, I love to write.

Synopsis: That changed the professional direction of my life. Same as 1981 when I met the father of my children. As 2011 when I started raising sheep.

I love sheep! I relate to sheep. 

Lamb: peaceful, prophetic and patient. "The lamb is the bearer of an important message. Its contents can only be heard when a deep level of quiet has been established. Lamb energy is the honest guidance you hear from and old friend, a young child, or sometimes a surprising stranger. Though the lamb's message may channel through another person, the wisdom resonates within you...and it will treat and reverberate until you listen. Approach this gentle creature with the utmost patience and reverence. Truth is a gift. Sit still, listen, receive." —Kim Krans

Today, I only have three, old sheep. I take care of them. I honor them. I am slowly giving up meat again, but I have learned oh so important messages. Cycle of life.

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Infusing Oils

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So many purposes for infused oils: culinary, spiritual, body care and beauty.

The above image of oils infused with herbs for an alter—and the intention behind that particular alter. Last fall, I infused oils with hot peppers from the garden...which we use for cooking. I routinely pack a little vile jojoba oil—and add drops of my favorite essential oils (Vetiver, Rose and Bergamot are personal favorites...right now). I wear what serves me when I need it.

I was reading about Borage: and herb that I grow and truly honor for all of it's qualities (and the bees love it!). It is beautiful and softish with a blue flower. Delicate and bold. Strong and sweet. As an herbal, Borage brings courage. Supportive. Uplifting. Each year, I grow borage, use it in the summer season—the blue flowers as a decoration for soups and salads, open-faced sandwiches or surrounding cheeses. I dry it for winter use. Sometimes, I will leave the dried leaves in a dish or burn them...when I need a "hit of courage" and a reminder to stand tall and move onward—with good spirit.

Infusing Oil with Herbs
• Dried, chopped herbs
• Oil. Olive is best
• A glass jar. Canning jars are my favorite and the go-to
• Cheesecloth
• Amber storage jars.

1. Fill your jar to the top with the chopped herb(s)
2. Slowly pour the olive oil over. Stir and let settle. Fill more as necessary
3. Cover the jar, shake and store in a cool, dark area. Shake daily for one week. 

In 3-6 weeks:
• Using the cheesecloth, strain the oil into a clean bowl vessel. Squeeze so that all of the herbal goodness is captured. Compost or scatter the herbs left in the cheesecloth.
• Transfer the infused oil into your amber bottles and store at room temperature. Shelf life is about a year. 

"You can also turn herbal oils into soothing salves by warming 4-6 ounces of oil in a double boiler or a glass container set inside a pot of water on the stove. Gradually add about a cup of grated beeswax and stir until the mixture melts. Add a little vitamin E, then pour into clean, very dry tins or small jars. Depending on the herbs you used, these can be helpful for itching and rashes and can make an ultra-moisturizing lip balm." —Meagan Francis

 

Scrapping the Blues

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Here in the Northeast, this time of year can be challenging. And for those of us who are itching to get the seeds going and wiggle around in the earth, its an "itchy" and sometimes annoyingly slow time of year. 

I rejoice in the winter season: not because I go outside (I don't like the cold), but I get to justify my habits of hibernation, book-loving-euphoria, garden planning and quiet learning and exchange. The spring is busy...which is great for a bee, but after those months coupled with the summer, I am always ready for fall and winter. That said, sometimes...I get the blues. 

My amazing friend Kelly-Ann Maddox posted a video about climbing out of the depths of depression when it grabs you. She suggested some of the following...and I've added to the list. 

When you feel down, consider some of one of these possible solutions:
Connect with a friend: Join up for a meal or tea OUTSIDE OF YOUR OWN SPACE
Move: Take a walk, stretch, do some yoga, get your Ya-ya's out at a disco club
Write a letter: Send a letter or card to someone...anyone
Listen to music: Or play some yourself if that's your thing. Get low or high...or sit in between. Old or new. Just listen to tunes, tones...
Get creative: cook, draw, paint, choreograph, plan your garden, design a house, decorate
Journal: Zoom in, process, contemplate
Treat Yourself: Eat a nice meal, replace the raggedy outfit with a new one...
DON'T JUDGE: Practice compassion. Know that there is dark...and there is light. xo

Rose Hips: Strength, Beauty and Resilience

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I once did a meditation with a mentor and friend from Phoenixville, PA. We journeyed into the watery worlds: where the essential elementals welcome perspective and discovery. I became the trunk of a great Ash—where all worlds connect, and the interweave is whole. 

Meditations can be long or short...or fall anywhere in-between. For me, meditation has become a grounding healer and a source of guidance. Sometimes I am awakened toward new insights simply because of one herb, one element, one creature, figure or ancestor. 

This particular journey was one of many truly profound ones: in the first, Magic Oma appeared...and so this site. On the second, I was gifted an herb (skullcap, I believe, that became a wild rose) and a gold ring. Recently, I was given rose hips by a women at the edge of the woods accompanied by a wolf. 

Rose Hips: 
The flowers and leaves are long gone (until they return in summer), but the berries, or hips, hold tight through high winds and winter storms. This, alone, fascinates me: hold tight. Hold on. 

A couple of months ago, I learned of a Hopi myth encouraging one to "let go.—Those who hold onto the edge of the river, get beaten (ragged and torn). If they let go and flow with the waters, they flourish." So I consider the medicine: in medieval gardens, roses were grown as food and medicine—rather than for the essence, beauty and irresistible dye. They were used to cure illnesses including ear and tooth aches; complications of the stomach, intestines and lungs. Mostly, they are a symbol of love, inspiration, purity and devotion.

Roses have figured in history for thousands of years: they were prolific in Greek and Roman mythology. And, of course, the mid-12th century rosary...a "string of rose hips beads." Dried or fresh, roses were used in prayer and ritual. 

I will take this as my key to embrace the strength, beauty and resilience of the rose (in it's many forms" in my daily meditations, celebrations and considerations. Read here for recipes

 

Wheel of the Year: Imbolc

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IMBOLC: History, info and ceremony

In the Northern Hemisphere, Imbolc breaks a long and cold season with a candle ceremony. It is a time to celebrate and welcome the earliest beginnings of spring...that are, indeed, stirring. The word Imbolc means "in the belly," and reminds us that below the snow, life is brewing...and the wheel turns with the promise of warmer times, abundance and prosperity. Seeds are beginning to sprout.

This is a time to rejoice in the heart, surrounded by the light of many candles. It is also a great time to purify, cleanse—brush away the old and make way for the new. This coupled with the Blue Moon Eclipse is an excellent opportunity.

"This holiday celebrates the first stirrings of spring underneath the often frozen ground. It is a time to sweep away the old and welcome in the new. During the slower-paced winter days, we have plotted and planned our goals for the coming year. Now it is time to start implementing those plans." —Deborah Blake, Circle, Coven and Grove.

Craft yourself a ceremony. For me, I surround myself with lots of candlelight. I burn incense and herbs. I honor, pray and set energetic intentions...pull cards, collect crystals, make music (drums, strings, bells, bowls). There is no formula. It's spontaneous and authentically of it's moment. I do love the idea of "sweeping"—so will include that this year.

Happy Imbolc xoxox

The Cleansing Bath

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Coming to the end of the Yule season, January and the upcoming Super Moon, the first of February might be a perfect time for a cleansing bath. February 2nd begins an new season: Imbolc or Candlemas. The cleanse is a beautiful way to clear and open channels—and come to the first day of the season with love, heart and clarity. Here's a suggestion for a lovely blend:

• 1/2-cup Clear Quartz Gem Elixir
• 1 Cup Himalayan or Sea Salt
• 2 Tablespoons Gold Colloidal (or 1 Teaspoon each of Gold, Silver and Copper)
• Dried Red Clover Flowers (3-9)
• Milk Thistle Seeds (a handful)

The colloidals are pictured above—and would be wonderful to include—but are pricey, and not totally necessary. The Clear Quartz, Salts, Red Clover and Seeds will provide a beautiful cleanse and clearing. 

Enjoy!!!! 
(Photo©Kristin Petrovich)

 

Elemental Energy • And a Recipe

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New favorite Book: Elemental Energy: Crystal and Gemstone Rituals for a Beautiful Life by Kristin Petrovich (creator of sjal skincare). This is a perfectly beautiful book—graciously written to offer and inspire life "abundanced" by working and living with crystals.

Himalayan Rose Body Scrub

The softening (warm and loving) rose qualities combine with the healing properties of Himalayan pink salt and rose quartz. For all skin types. Soothes the skin while uplifting or reviving spirit.

1 cup Himalayan pink salt
1/3 cup rose quartz oil elixir
1/2 teaspoon gold colloidal
3 tablespoons crushed dried rose buds
5-10 drops flower essential oil (rose, chamomile)

Mix together and apply as you would an exfoliator. Rejoice and enjoy! FOR EXTERNAL USE ONLY.

Additional photos from the book:

Winter Solstice Celebration: 2017

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Welcome Winter Solstice! 
This Thursday marks an especially important moment on the Wheel of the Year. It's the day that we are furthest away from the sun—and the shortest day of the year. Hence, the longest night and largest dark. This year, the actual solstice will be at 12:28 pm EST Thursday, December 21 (p.s., we are in the Northern Hemisphere). Always, this time alleviates (sometimes unconscious) fear and provides a conscious sense of optimism, joy and hope. The darker days give way to the abundance of light.

Celebrate the return of the sun. Release the dark (with thanks!) and welcome the new, longer days of light—and the promise of seed, sprout and bloom.

We invite you to celebrate! Here are some ways in which we do:

• Create a Solstice Alter
Dedicate a small space in your home to honor this sacred turning—and return. You might include candles, some greenery, a saved seedpod. If you own cards, pull the Queen of Pentacles or Empress—and bring them. The Ace of Wands might also work well. If you connect with a goddess of abundance, ask for her presence. Burn some incense, consider and bless.

• Quiet time and Candles
Light many candles in a semi-circle. Get a pillow or bolster—and get comfy while contemplating the warmth and glow. Meditate and say a small prayer—in gratitude

• Participate in Guided Meditation
There are many available on the internet. Here's a link with a few. 

• Discover the Beauty of a Yule Log
You'll find info here and here. The link I'm most fond of is broken right now, so I can't share—but it speaks to family stories around the log. Love this unfolding! 

• New Moon followed by the Solstice
The new moon was Monday. Some of us have set intentions—which we'll honor, embrace, empower and support until the full moon (on January 1, 2018 at 9:25pm)...when we release. At the Solstice, however, we may choose to release what's past and intend upon the coming of the light. We may form ideas, goals and hopes for this time upon the Wheel. 

Enjoy the magic time. The most creative comes from the quiet dark. The light warms and manifests. 

 

 

Sacred Nature of Corn

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Beautiful Corn!! An ancient symbol of sharing, bread and sustenance. A spirit seed of eternal life: gift, blessing and fertility. It is used in ritual involving growth and transformation. The Hopi  revered the corn as Great Mother Earth: "Do not the people build the flesh of the corn into their own flesh? And is not, therefore, corn their mother, like the living Earth herself?" There is great spiritual power around the corn: the bounty; the journey; life, death, and re-birth. The cyclical nature of things.

Corn "hair," or silk, is revered by herbalists: a soothing, cooling and moistening demulcent diuretic. Useful property to assist/sooth the tense, burning, and irritable nature of urinary tract infections. Corn silk tea has been used historically to treat chronic inflammation.

"Sky-father spoke to the Earth-mother and said, 'Yet not alone shalt thon he helpful unto our children, for behold!' and he spread his hand abroad with the palm downward, and into all the wrinkles and crevices thereof he set the semblance of shining yellow corn grains. In the dark of the early world-dawn they gleamed like sparks of fire, and moved as his hand was moved over the bowl, shining up from and also moving in the depths of the water therein. 'See!' said he, pointing to the seven grains clasped by his thumb and four fingers, 'by such shall our children be guided; far behold, when the Sun-father is not nigh and thy terraces are as the dark itself, then shall our children be guided by lights . . . like to these lights of all the six regions turning around the midmost one . . . as in and around the midmost place, where these our children shall abide, lie all the other regions of space! Yea! and even as those grains gleam up from the water, so shall seed-grains like to them, yet numberless, spring up from thy bosom when touched by my waters, to nourish our children."

Zuni Cosmology

Willow—Interconnection

"Willow bark was the herbal inspiration for aspirin...It is useful for cases of pain and inflammation..."—The Herbal Healing Oracle Deck

The Willow is a border plant and "a gateway between water, a symbol of the emotions and subconscious, and earth, a symbol for the body. Willow reminds us of the connection between our feelings and our health...Louise Hay outlines how specific conditions of the body reflect our inner being—our thoughts, feelings and beliefs." Willow begs you to take note of physical reflections of inner issues. 

This week, remember that Willow, in its nature is pliable "and can be used for basket weaving." This is perfect this week as the Willow spirit will help us in our Ace-of-Pentacle-goal-setting manifestation. Recall that "the energy fields of all living things are woven together in a vast web, connecting u in unseen ways. Ultimately, we are all sparks of the same Divine essence, and thus we are all one."

"The more we realize our interconnectedness to all of life, the more we understand our responsibility to keep our words, actions, and even our thoughts positive. Willow asks you to remember that thoughts are powerful things. Focusing on worries, fears or negativity can pull these things into your life." For the SUPER IMPORTANT Willow Message Read More.

Magical Tools and Spaces

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Lara-rose Duong shared this yesterday. Aurora Spirits can be found on Pinterest and Facebook—and this website. I love her artistic sense and her voice and mission: "Aurora Spirits is a unique and beautifully handcrafted brand that seeks to both nurture our spiritual foundation and push comfortably self-made boundaries through Jewelry, Dreamcatchers & Smudge Feather Wands. Each piece is Uniquely sculptured for the body, soul, spirit and mind - artfully balanced between edgy & earthy, both tough & feminine, yet sleek and elegant.

"Aurora Spirits unfolded on my spiritual and creative journey to Burning Man. A Magical place where dusty footprints of deep inspiration were left in my heart. Dancing to the sound of Music while grazed by the most stunning sunrises, a place where the Sun meets the Moon - a true Celebration of our lives, our Planet and the People we belong to. This place, the Playa that is larger than ourselves, with a vibrating Presence that was not mine alone, called me to rise and inspired me to meet and create the very best within myself and offer it to others." Ewa da Cruz

A Dream is a wish your Heart makes..

Check her blog for some inspiration and mood-lifting. 


Simple Immune Boost

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Stowell Farm Immune Boost! 
(Stowell Farm and Bean of the Fields brew up the a Super Blend)

Late September and November in the Northern Hemisphere present light and temperature shifts that can be challenging: It’s easy to get sick and blue. It’s a good time to “armor up” by taking an immune tonic and consuming bone broths. (Just the ACT of preparing and making keeps us stronger and more vibrant and whole.) Many things that keep us strong and well are age-old and simple; but many of us, today, get lost in the BIG and BUSY…and lose our deeper knowing. Immune Boost is a simple blend—derived from the ancient wisdom of the herbs and plants. 

It’s a blend of Elderberry, Elderflower, Echinacea (root, flower and leaf), Ginger, Cinnamon, Cayenne, and Honey. More peppery than sweet, it is "a gentle but heavy hitter" (and more so if you add more cayenne). It kicks the #$%# out of your ickness—and puts you back on the “right" track ASAP. Truly an effective and amazing blend.

Background:
As graphic designer for Urban Moonshine for seven years, I was slowly (and luckily) gifted with knowledge through our collaborative, creative alchemy. The mission was to bring “plants to the people.” Jovial and I (and so so many others) worked together to package and market with intent to educate and inspire health and wellbeing—with plant medicine. In 2012, I attended my first herb school. It was profound: within moments of the join, I KNEW. The plants spoke: They are our medicine, our gift, our guides and connection. They are healing agents and links to great and true knowing. Today, I work with the plants and share their knowledge and medicine with friends and family. 

Custom created by order only.

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Best Protection: Yummy Fab Herbal Oxymels

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My first herbalist mentor used to call Oxymels the "better flu shot." Oxymels are herb-infused ancient medicine (greek origin). The base is honey and vinegar...and after a bit of light cooking, the blend is stored in small ball jars and taken, literally, as a "flu shooter" as needed throughout the winter. Best and healthiest protection! 

I'm a super Oxymel fan and make 4-6 small jars before the snow falls. (For earlier fall colds, I use my immune boost blends of tinctured Elderberry, Elderflower (root and leaf), Echinacea, Garlic, Ginger, Cinnamon and Cayenne.) The Oxymel is a milder sweetheart. I use local and organic cider vinegar—and local honey and herbs. The downside? These don't have the shelf life that the alcohol-based boosts do. 

Ingredients: Local Honey and Cider (1:1 ratio), Medicinal Herbs (Ginger, Garlic, Cinnamon, Turmeric, Cardamon, Fennel, Cayenne, Black Pepper), Orange Peel
How to: Mildly heat vinegar—just to a point which allows the honey to blend (never boil). Add the favored herbs. Cook, covered, lightly for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Cool. Place even amounts of liquid and matter into small ball jars. Seal, label and store in a dark cool area.

Garlic Planting...and A Medicinal Soup

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Plant Garlic
Early October is usually the best time to plant garlic. I look forward to this time: I honor the resilience...and welcome her journey through the winter toward spring's appearance (later scapes and a new harvest). If you choose to plant, snuggle cloves (tips up) in healthy soil. They'll be one of the first to offer spring green in the garden—and later, lovely garlic heads (nature's mandala).
• Hero of the garden and harvest
• Immune and health booster
• Super medicinal.

Soup: I'm making this up, but it'll be great. 
I make soup all of the time: there is usually a pot of something simmering or luke warm. My favorite is probably miso, but all are usually somehow nourishing and nutritious. So, this one came to me today: You'll need...Olive oil, 2 sweet onions, one potato, bone broth, a small pumpkin and a clove of garlic (salt and pepper as you like). Heat the oil and add the onions and potato (chopped/sliced). Sauté until soft-ish. Add the bone broth and slices or chucks of pumpkin. Simmer about 10 minutes and add the garlic. Continue to heat until everything is soft—but not lost (never boil). Allow to cool and puree. Garnish herbs—and add spices of any kind (cumin?). Enjoy. (p.s., Add turmeric, more garlic, miso and tahini or almond butter to boost the immune and health benefits.)
 

Samhain—Hello October and Bless the Seedpods

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It's kind of wild to pull the Hermit card for the first week of October, 2017. So completely fitting and right. This time of year warrants a slowing...and honoring. Respect. As I harvest the last of summer's bounty, I witness the fullness of this time: the leaves folding to work their way into the soils and replenish; the sun's lowering more quickly to slow the processes and calm the wilds of spring and high summer; the pods scattering to harness their essence and power of renewal—and remind us to witness and respect the amazing potency of life (just life as it comes and goes...and comes again. WOW!, right?). And...life does come and go.

There is so much to say. How do we begin? First, welcome the slowing (tuck in early, get your winter booklist going, prepare your root cellar). Second, make harvest bounty (collect apples and make sauces, cakes, gifts and such). Third, seek mushrooms and honor the kale and rhubarb—all of whom whether the colder shift. Cut back the herbs and begin to bring indoors those you can (thyme, sage, bayleaf, lavender, passion flower). 

This is a time to "welcome the dead"—or the idea of the "sleeping time." Let the bear hibernate. Honor the cycle. With death comes rebirth. We softly weave our way. I invite you to some timely inspiration:
• Amazing seedpod imagery: Here on Pinterest.
Mysteries of the Dark Moon, a book by Demetra George
Exploring the mystery, wisdom, and power of the dark phase of the moon's cycle—a lunar-based model for moving through the dark times in our lives with understanding, consciousness, and faith in renewal. Barnes and Noble.
• A bit of Samhain ritual: https://lonerwolf.com/halloween-samhain-rituals/