Friday, June 8, 2012

L is for ... Lavender Lemonade & Litha

The L's have conveniently coincided with Litha, which makes this letter a little bit easier, at least in my opinion :)

Litha is one of my favorite Sabbats.  The Earth has fully woken, with green-leafed trees and flowers everywhere; home gardens are beginning to produce fruits and vegetables for the kitchen table; school's (mostly) out and there are children playing outdoors at this time of year.  Luckily, it's not too terribly hot yet here in TX.

With Litha, aka Midsummer, falling in the middle of the week this year, my Coven sisters and I plan to gather a week from tomorrow to celebrate.  It will be a family event, and finally my munchkins won't be the only kids running around, though they'll still be the youngest.  Our newest sister has children of her own, the youngest I think is 9, if I remember correctly.  We'll be having a potluck, since those seem to work well for us, probably some activities, and once the families are settled, we'll have our own ritual time set aside to honor and worship the Lady and Lord, as well as recognizing the Fae, whose magic is strong just now.

There are countless locations on the internet to find out the lore and history, associations and crafts for Litha, so I won't go into that now, though I may revisit it for next week.  This week I really just wanted to share a favorite Litha recipe: Lavender Lemondade.

My concoction was cobbled together using elements from several different recipes I've found.  This is what works for me, but feel free to modify to suit your own taste.  Enjoy!

Lavender Lemonade
makes approximately 1.5-2 gallons

12 cups water
4 cups cold water
3 cups of sugar
approx 12 sprigs lavender, buds/flowers optional
juice of 6-8 large lemons
ice cubes

Mix 12 cups water and sugar in a pan and bring to boil.  Once all the sugar is dissolved, remove from heat, add lavender and let steep for at least 15 minutes.  The longer it steeps, the stronger the lavender flavor.

Pour cold water and lemon juice into a large jug or pitcher.  Strain lavender syrup and add to water and lemon juice.  Mix well.  Taste and add additional water/sugar/lemon juice as needed.  Add ice to fill pitcher.

Garnish with lemon slices and additional lavender sprigs/buds/flowers

Sunday, June 3, 2012

K is for ... Knowing What You Know

K left me struggling a bit, and I started thinking about what I "know".  I have alot of knowledge.  I've read thousands of books, on many topics; I've gone to college; I try to keep up with the important current events.  Even though I consider myself fairly intelligent, sometimes I feel like I just "don't know".

Whether it's a particular political issue I'm not familiar with, a question my son asks me that I can't answer (such as how many types of fish are there?) or when someone asks me a question about being Pagan.

In the first, if it is a matter that is important to me, I do my research so I can form an opinion, and I talk with other people who may have more information that I do.  In the second, it is usually fairly easy to flip on the computer, open up the internet and google an answer to whatever bizarre question my kid wants to know.

Then we come to the last one: when someone asks me about my religion.  I know what I believe, I know why and how I came to those beliefs.  I am still learning, still questioning, and still growing in those beliefs, and, at times, my specific beliefs may change regarding a specific area.  But, here we come to a challenge that's a little trickier than just knowing.  It is important to know how to answer questions from others.  Giving an answer that boils down to "just because" doesn't benefit anyone.  It doesn't help the asker, because they are usually genuinely interested or concerned about your spirituality (or lack thereof, as they may see it).  It doesn't help you, because your answer is not backed up with any substance, and therefore lacks credence.

Generally, I try to explain the what, why and how of any given topic.  More than simply stating "this is what I think", I try to explain how I came to that conclusion, and what historical or archeological research there has been to support the theory.  Sometimes, it is just a feeling, and I admit to that.  Perhaps there was a particular book or author or incident that influenced me, and I'll share that.

A couple years ago, I sat down and came up with a list of common questions I heard over and over again, whether from my kids, friends or other people who happened to hear I am Pagan, and wrote out extensive, detailed answers.  I think that notebook is actually still in a box since the move, but I am thinking I need to revisit it and see what may have changed, or need to be added to.

So, I guess what I'm getting at is just having a solid understanding of what you believe, and knowing why you believe it, so you have a ready answer whenever someone questions you.