The meandering thoughts of a modern-day hearth witch.

Saturday, 31 December 2011

A Blessing for the New Year...

...with thanks to the lovely Faerwillow at for sharing.

Happy New Year one and all. I hope to see you in 2012. X

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Hearth and Home // Falling again...

...into a world of magic as woven by masters of word craft and storytelling.

In the past few days I have immersed myself in my most favourite of pastimes - reading. Not for work, for study or school - but for my own joy. I have finally made the time to read these recommendations, both of which I absolutely loved.

This is largely because I was incredibly lucky to be treated to an iPad for Christmas and therefore have instant access to a wealth of literature almost anywhere. But perhaps also because as the year draws to a close I am reflecting on where I am and where I want to be - and realising that I have neglected this love of mine. Wherever I find myself next year, I would like it to always be a small step away from falling back into that world of magical word craft.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas - Seasons Greetings

To those of you who have already celebrated it - belated Yule blessings.
To those of you who are celebrating Christmas tonight and tomorrow, may it be filled with joy.
And to anyone else out there reading this - I hope the last week in December is cheerful, and I look forward to seeing you in the New Year. 

Love and light,

Hearthwitch. xx

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Three Word Thursday

One day left...

Monday, 12 December 2011

Hearth and Home // Yuletide Movies

After autumn's seasonal movie marathon, I am now working my way through my traditional Yuletide movie list.

These are my favourites...

That last one we always watch on Christmas Eve...I love family holiday traditions. 

What are your favourite Christmas, winter or Yuletide movies?

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Hearth and Home // Crafting a Robin Branch

As promised last week, this post will hopefully show you how to craft a beautiful Yuletide branch of robins as a seasonal decoration. It is so simple, it barely needs any explanation!

You will need: 

* Feather robin ornaments (as many as you wish). Ours came from a garden centre, but you should be able to find them at craft shops or on ebay too.

* A log or branch which is big enough to sit your robins on.

* A drill with a small drill bit.

As the robin ornaments are intended to adorn a Christmas tree, they come with wire already attached. If you have robins which don't, simply use a large embroidery needle to make a hole in the robin and push some craft wire into the underside, looped in half and twisted to secure in place - or twist the wire around their little feet.

Once your robins are ready, you will need to drill small holes in your log - one for each robin. Twist the wire attached to the robin until it is thick enough to push into the hole and stay in place.

All done!

You could spray the log with fake snow, or glitter - or for a natural look adorn with some pieces of real holly, glued in place. 

Yuletide blessings and happy crafting!

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Three Word Thursday

Tis the season...

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Hearth and Home // Holidays are coming...

B and I have had a wonderful weekend at home, which is a rare pleasure these days.

We decided, as we are now into December (how did that happen?!) that we would put up a little tree...

It is our first Christmas tree as last year I opted for foliage from the hedgerow instead.
We decorated it together, made ourselves some winter spiced tea, ate mince pies and listened to Christmas tunes. Now I really feel in the festive spirit.

Don't you just love those cute little robins sitting in a row on a branch? There are some flying their way over to  me in the next few days and once they arrive I will share some crafty tips on how to make your own little robin branch decoration just in time for Yule.

Festive blessings everyone!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Witchy Wanderings // Avebury

Way back when I started writing this blog, almost two years ago, I wrote about visiting Avebury stone circle, here in Wiltshire. 

Avebury is a really special place to me - it has become a bit of a tradition for B and I to visit there, usually on a Sabbat. For me, it is definitely a place I go to when I want to 'reconnect' with myself and my spiritual world.
Do you have any particular sites that you feel drawn to?

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Wheel of the Year // Going to sleep

Everywhere you look, at this time of year, you see that the earth has little left to give.

Summer's vibrancy and even the warmth of the autumn colours is fading - there is hardly any energy left.

All is pared back, to its barest form: the trees betray no sign of life, the birds quieten down and the hedgerow's creatures retire into hibernation. 

This is no bad thing. It is not death, but sleep. The earth will rest and restore itself over the forthcoming cold months. When the light returns in spring, everything will wake up with renewed vigour. This is how it is supposed to be.

I too long to hibernate - to cosy up indoors and rest - yet each morning I have to force myself awake in darkness and work through, in spite of my body's natural instincts. 

Do any of you struggle with low energy levels at this time of year? 
It is a season I would dearly love, could I put work on hold and focus on hearth and home. 
Five more weeks before a longed-for Yuletide rest...

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Three Word Thursday

Rocks my evenings.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Hearth and Home // Links to the past

Several months ago I found an old 'Lubitel' camera that was my dad's. He had it when he was in his late teens and early 20s - back in the 1970s. 

It looks beautiful - the twin-lens reflex instantly highlights its vintage appeal and we loved experimenting with different shots, using it as a prop this summer.

I love this picture of B, reflecting through the 'viewfinder'!

More exciting than that, however, are the results we got from testing a film...

As it is a medium format camera, we put some of our 120mm black and white film in and hoped for the best. The images we got back are quite eerie. They look exactly like they're from another time - softly focussed and grainy. Aside from the fact that, in some of the shots I'm carrying a digital camera over my shoulder, you wouldn't be able to tell these weren't taken back in the 1970s. 

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Allotment Tales // Parsnips

Although most of the allotment seems to be winding down now and large areas have been dug over and sprinkled with the reddish browns and oranges of the falling leaves, there is still growth and we are still harvesting.

One of the vegetables we grew from seed is just beginning to produce crops - the parsnip.

Parsnips take up quite a bit of space for a large chunk of the year, so gardeners with smaller plots may avoid them. We were lucky this year to have an abundance of space and parsnips are one of my favourite vegetables so I was really keen to have a go.

Apparently parsnips grow best in quite heavy soil - those grown in thin, stony ground will grow small,  misshapen roots. However, you shouldn't manure your soil as this can cause the parsnips to fork. 

Some varieties of parsnip seed can be sown in late winter, but ours went in in late spring. We then thinned them out once they had grown their first set of full leaves and were about 5cm tall. They need a good 20cm between plants to allow those roots to grow. 

Parsnips are ready to be harvested from autumn, when the leaves start to die back. However, many claim that their flavour is improved with some exposure to frost. You can leave parsnips over winter - come spring they will grow a new set of leaves - although they tend to be rather tough and woody by that point and would be little use for anything other than soups and parsnip wine. I'm going to be picking the majority of mine for Christmas but I will be making a batch of my favourite Parsnip and Rosemary soup in the meantime with the few we have just pulled. More on that next time.

Three Word Thursday

The great escape.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Kitchen Magick // Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin pie
Image courtesy of

Last night we made this spiced pumpkin pie and it was really delicious. 

You will need:

* Shortcrust pastry to fill a 9inch pie tin - we used ready made, but if you have more time you could make your own
* 450 grams pumpkin flesh, chopped into small cubes
* 2 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk
* 75g soft brown sugar
* 275 ml double cream
* 1/2 tsp ground mixed spice
* 1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinammon

~ Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Place the pastry in your tin and blind bake (using baking beans or hard chickpeas) for about 15 minutes.
~ While the case is baking, steam the pumpkin flesh until soft (this may take up to 20 minutes). I did this using a colander over a pan of boiling water. 
~ Push the pumpkin down into a coarse sieve to drain any excess water. 
~ Lightly whisk the eggs and egg yolk into a bowl. 
~ In a small pan, heat the cream, sugar and spices until simmering gently.
~ Pour the cream mix into the eggs, continuing to whisk gently.
~ Add the pumpkin to the mixture and whisk to ensure it is thoroughly mixed. 
~ Pour the filling mixture into the pastry case and bake for around 35 minutes. The pie filling should be firm but wobbly when you take it out, like a set custard.

It is delicious warm, but would also work well chilled, with some cream or creme fraiche. 

Monday, 31 October 2011

Blessed Samhain - Happy Hallowe'en!

Someone asked me yesterday what - as a witchy person - I do for Halloween.
Well firstly, I call it Samhain (summer's end) and a lot of what I do is pretty much the same as what other people do...

I carve Jack O'Lanterns (but I try to make them friendly) because the folklore behind them, which you can read all about here tells us that they were traditionally carved to provide light and warmth for lost souls. 
All Hallow's Eve is a Sabbat when the veil between this world and the Otherworld is at is thinnest - like at the opposite side of the wheel when we celebrate Beltane - and because of this, it is historically regarded as the one night of the year when the spirits of the dead return to earth. These Jack O'Lanterns are to guide them home. 

At Samhain, another thing I do is honour those who are no longer with us. I do this simply, by having a photograph or memory of them on my altar and lighting a candle. When I drink my mulled cider, I raise a toast to them, in hopes that they are wandering free and happy. 

Finally, as the Sabbat marks the end of the year and the end of the harvest, I try to cook up a feast of food which represents the season. This year we made pumpkin pie and I'll share the recipe with you later this week. We give thanks for all we have harvested during the year that has just passed and talk about our hopes, dreams and wishes for the new year to come. Sometimes we write these down and sometimes we cast them off into the wide world to allow the gods and spirits to help them come to fruition. We have done this in a whole range of ways over the past few years - writing them on a paper lantern and setting it free on the wind, tying them to a feather and casting them downstream, or burying them in the earth as seeds to grow. 

Every hedge, hearth, kitchen, garden or any other kind of witch is different - as a solitary I have made the choice not to follow a ritualised path with ceremonies set out by others. I go with my heart and do what comes naturally each year - I find that it is what is inside that counts. 

Whatever your choices, rituals, traditions, hopes, goals and dreams are at this turn of the wheel, I wish you love, light and laughter as you go about them.

Brightest blessings. 

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Countdown to Hallowe'en // Pumpkin and Peanut Curry

Last year I shared with you one of my favourite recipes, for Thai Pumpkin and Prawn curry. This year I have a similarly coconutty-pumpkiny spicy treat, but it is totally veggie and surprisingly yummy. 

Pumpkin and peanut curry

Image courtesy of

You will need: 

* 2 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
* 1 tsp tomato puree
* Zest and juice of one lime
* 1 tbsp Thai fish sauce (thanks to Miss Claire who suggested using Soy sauce instead, if you are a non-fish-eating veggie)
* 1 tsp sugar
* Small handful fresh coriander
* 2 red chillis, halved and de-seeded
* 4 garlic cloves
* 1 cm piece fresh ginger
* 2 tbsp vegetable oil
* 2 red onions, chopped into fine pieces
* 800 g pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into cubes
* 400 ml coconut milk

1. Stir the peanut butter into a jug containing 200ml hot water until it dissolves. Stir in the puree, lime zest and juice, fish sauce and sugar. Set this to one side. 

2. Remove the leaves from the coriander and chop the stalks as finely as possible. Also chop the chilli, garlic and ginger. 

3. Heat the oil in a good sized pan and fry the onions until soft. Add the pumpkin and stir-fry for a few minutes. Stir in the chilli, garlic, ginger and coriander stalks and heat for 1 minute before adding the coconut milk and peanut butter mix. Stir well.

4. Cook at a brisk simmer for about 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened and the pumpkin is tender. Season to taste by adding more fish sauce (if it needs extra salty flavour) or sugar (if it needs sweetening). 

5. Garnish with coriander and serve with sticky rice or on its own, more like a hearty bowl of soup. 

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Countdown to Hallowe'en // Pumpkins

Pumpkins have historically been associated with Hallowe'en and for centuries, pumpkin carving has been a ritual aspect of the holiday in many countries.  

There are many varieties of pumpkin - from tiny to giant - some orange, some striped, some green and many edible. The pumpkin is a member of the cucurbitaceae family, which includes cucumbers, melons and other gourds and squashes. This year we have grown two types of pumpkin, as well as butternut squash. 

The tradition of carving pumpkins is believed to originate from the Irish legend of Jack O'Lantern. Jack was an Irish villain so wicked that neither God nor the devil wanted him. Rejected by both, after his death, Jack wandered the world endlessly, looking for a place to rest, accompanied only by the warmth and light of a single candle in a rotten turnip. The 'Jack O'Lantern' became the symbol of a damned and restless soul.

Irish children used to carve their Jack O'Lanterns from turnips or potatoes but when hundreds of thousands of Irish immigrants made their way to North America in the mid-1800s, they found the prolific pumpkins which grew there to be a suitable replacement for their traditional vegetable lanterns. Since then, the popularity of pumpkin carving to celebrate Hallowe'en has spread to many other parts of the world. 

Friday, 21 October 2011

Gratitude Diary - Day Three

Today I am thankful for...

*...feeling inspired about teaching this next term.

*...seeing my Ma and Bro and being able to spend some quality time with them.

*...a very, very, very comfy king size bed to sleep in tonight!

What are you thankful for today?

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Gratitude Diary - Day Two

Today I am grateful for...

* ...a few precious moments spent at the allotment, to collect some produce to take to my Mum's tomorrow - and seeing that we still have exciting things growing.

* ...sometimes, being in the right place at the right time.

* ...a camera to capture these precious moments and an eye to see them.

*...being thanked for my hard work this term. 

*...that I'm now on holiday from work for just over a week - and I can spend some time with my loved ones.

What are you thankful for? 

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Gratitude Diary

My personal task for this week is to keep a 'gratitude diary' - each day I am writing down things that I am grateful for. The idea is that the more you take note of the positives, the more your mind looks for good things and will see more positives. 

Today I have lots of things I am thankful for - here are just a few:

* Hearing this on my way in to work this morning - it brought back happy memories of being at home as a youngster, watching 'Top of the Pops 2' with my dad. An old favourite refreshed in my mind.

* A lovely evening of catching up and laughter with a good friend.
* A night sky so clear that I can see a million stars. 
 * The goodwill of work colleagues who have made me feel very welcome in my new job.
 * A partner who is incredibly supportive of me and my aspirations. 

What are you grateful for today? 

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Three Word Thursday

One week left.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Countdown to Hallowe'en // Mulled Cider

One of my absolute favourite autumnal traditions, is making mulled cider - and later on as it gets even colder, mulled wine. 

Served warm, with a stick of cinnamon, mulled cider is a seasonal treat which makes the most of the abundant apple harvests here in the UK at this time of year. 

The recipe is really simple - for every 500 ml of cider (I use dry, rather than sweet), add about 100 ml of apple juice to sweeten it up, a teaspoon of ground mixed spice, a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, four or five cloves and a stick of cinnamon. 

Heat the whole mixture through but don't allow to boil.

Enjoy steaming in a big mug and cuddle up under a blanket.


Sunday, 2 October 2011

Countdown to Hallowe'en // Autumnal walks

It's hard to believe we are in October. I mean, considering it is 23 degrees and sunny outside here in the UK, really hard to believe. 

I don't think we had weather this good in the whole of August.
Incredulity at our balmy 'Indian Summer' aside, it is October, which means we are less than a month away from my favourite sabbat: Samhain - or 'Hallowe'en'. 

This month I hope to post more about autumnal traditions, recipes and rituals as we count down to Hallowe'en. Please drop by for a cup of steaming mulled cider and maybe even a slice of pumpkin pie - I look forward to hearing your thoughts and musings, as we tread through this magickal season together.

To begin with, then, an autumnal walk around my local fields. 

Although there is a sadness to see everything dying back and losing its lush green colour, there is also joy as the harvest season draws to a close - a sense of achievement and the knowledge that we will have plenty to keep us going through the winter. 

Within myself I also feel a sense of hurry to make the most of our beautiful surroundings, while it is still warm and light enough to do so. Today it was so warm, in fact, that we even indulged in a little paddle in the river. 


Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Hearth and Home // Magickal Movies

As the nights draw in and we creep towards Hallowe'en and the darkening winter months, one of my favourite pastimes is snuggling up under a warm blanket, with a steaming mug of mulled cider or hot chocolate and magickal stories unfolding before my eyes. 

 B and I kicked off this year's traditional 'hibernation' with one of my favourites last weekend - Edward Scissorhands - Tim Burton's gothic take on the familiar 'Beauty and the Beast' yarn.

Over the next few weeks, the following will provide comfort and warmth from the cold outside...

(Always a favourite at any time of year!)

(I have a valid excuse this year - my sixth form class are studying Harry Potter!)

It has become a long-standing tradition that this childhood favourite is watched at Hallowe'en in my house...

And then before you know it we'll be on to the Christmas ones - and that will be a whole other post!

I can't wait! Do you have any seasonal movie traditions? 
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