Category Archives: Cooking

Animism at the Dinner Table

By | Animism, Bioregionalism, Cooking | 18 Comments

Some of you may not be aware of this, but food is my first passion above herbalism and above magic. I am a mom, then a cook, then a plant lover, and then a witch. The artist is in there too, but often gets to create through food rather than illustration most of the time. My parents taught me to cook from a very young age, from the garden, from scratch, from whole foods. I cooked while I was going to school and then went to culinary school out of high school rather than university. I worked at hotels and restaurants all over the great cities of Canada: Ottawa, Toronto, Montreal, and Victoria. I saw the truffle seller come in the back door and peddle her fragrant wares out of a basket by candlelight in a restaurant in Montréal. I remember picking herbs fresh from the gardens of a lakeside hotel to cook dinner for a wedding in rural Ontario.  I’ve cleaned endless fir needles out of pounds upon pounds of wild harvested chanterelle muhrooms for a cafe in Victoria. I’ve felt the steam of the line kitchen, the heat of the deep fryers, and the feel of flipping a…

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Forest Chai

By | Bioregional Herbalism, Cooking, Recipes | 5 Comments

Chai tea is a delicious way to start working with local plants. Tailor your own chai recipe with aromatic herbs native to the forests of your region and then learn how to identify, seek out, and properly harvest the botanicals needed for the recipe. The process will lead to you becoming comfortable with identifying, harvesting, and preparing a good handful of edible plants which grow all around you. Then maybe out of curiosity you’ll research the medicinal properties of each botanical, then maybe other edible uses, and then maybe you’ll stumble onto some traditional indigenous uses for folk magic and ceremony… Then you will have more plant knowledge than you can shake a stick at (ok, at least much more than you started with). The result won’t be a true chai, but it will be your chai and will become your tasty gateway drug to the wonderful world of bioregional herbalism. Boreal Forest Chai 2 tsps Fresh or Dried Chaga Mushroom, ground 1-2 tsps Dried Large-Leaved Avens root, roasted and ground 1 tsp Dried Balsam Fir Needles 2 tsp Cinnamon Bark, crushed Non-native suggestion: The avens root and the chaga are chocolatey, but raw, freshly ground cacao nibs push this…

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Calendula and the Lily of the Valley

By | Cooking, Folk Medicine, Herbalism | 11 Comments

I’d forgotten about calendula. I used to grow it years ago. I buried grandmother crow under its roots and it flourished into a massive bush of fuzzy green leaves covered in the brightest orange flowers. I put it in my salves and magical oils. The flowers reminded me of gold coins so I used it to draw money in spells of folk magic. But then I lost my garden and I forgot about this plant many herbalists consider an essential medicine. And then, there it was again, growing by the door of my new house. It’s hardiness impresses me. We’ve had many frosts and snow three times now, but it still blooms. I decided to do something with it before the old winter hag finally kills it off with her icy touch. I plucked the flowers along with those of toadflax and evening primrose and combined it with sweet violet leaves in jojoba oil. Like many people, I get itchy dry skin in the winter and the plants who are supposed to help all happened to be growing in my yard. After a couple weeks the flowers and violet leaves are strained out and a little vitamin e oil and a few…

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Snow and Warmth, Darkness and Light

By | Cooking, Festivals & Sabbats, Folk Magic | 4 Comments

ou can feel her coming. She’s not subtle. The chill bite in the air hurts your lungs, makes your eyes water, and nips at your bare skin, turning it bright red. Frost and ice cover every green thing and every trace of water. Then a soft grey blanket covers the sky like a gentle reprieve followed by a strange silence and softly falling flakes of pure white snow. Then you know An Cailleach Bheara has arrived. She shakes her grey wool shawl and it snows. She strikes her staff on the ground and everything nearby freezes, frost splaying outward like cracks in ice. Neither benevolent or malevolent, she is a force of nature. “Why is my face so dark, so dark?   So dark, oho! so dark, ohee! Out in all weathers I wander alone   In the mire, in the cold, ah me!” ~ From the tale “Beira, Queen of Winter“ I like to appease the old one-eyed, blue-faced crone when she comes to visit as I figure it’s better to be friends with such a force than to face her icy wrath. She likes whiskey, but her arrival this year surprised me and I had none. A hot cup of…

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Forest Spirit Fest

By | Animism, Cooking, Ethnobotany, Events, Festivals & Sabbats, Herbalism | 44 Comments

he Shaman, the Poisoner, and I arrived at Raven’s Nest when the sun was at its height in the blue sky. As we set up our tents and the axe throwing targets, we quickly discovered how the camp site got its name; ravens circled with loud croaks and the flapping of their great black wings. The Poisoner croaked back, having a conversation with a particularly large grandfather raven. It was a pleasant discovery for all in attendance at the festival as Tynehead Park is in the middle of a booming, ever-expanding city.  Unlike crows, ravens do not like cities or people, preferring wild places. The park is likely one of the last hideouts for all the wild creatures that once spilled out over the land where rows of suburban houses and box stores now rule. We also learned many of the park’s serpent names are not coincidence either – there are plenty of snakes to be found! Tynehead is most well known for its Serpentine River full of salmon. The salmon have attracted black bears, coyotes, ravens, eagles, and all manner of smaller creatures creating a wonderful biodiversity which the city folk don’t seem to appreciate as they keep trying…

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