Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Ode to a Christmas Pork Pie

The following poem was inspired by the pork pie we got from our local butchers. We had to order it and pick it up yesterday and it is a beauty, about the size of a brick and full of meat - we couldn't wait to try it and had both been wondering if we could open it and try it, or whether we had to wait for Christmas. Until I said that we always end up having far to much to eat from Christmas onwards, so we might as well open it and had some for supper.
     So the poem is full of 'poetic license' but made us both laugh:

Ode to a Christmas Pork Pie

'Twas the night before, the night before, the night before Christmas
                                                 and down where we cook
A pork pie was lurking, I'd had a good look.
It had good crispy pastry and was stuffed full of pork,
And I reckoned I'd tackle it with knife and with fork.
So down to the fridge with my belly a-rumble,
'Till I opened the door ... and my hopes took a tumble.
For there on the plate there were just a few crumbs,
And a smearing of grease and the mark of a thumb,
And a note from my husband with a kiss at the end
Thanking me for the pork pie as money well spent,
'I've saved you for Christmas, you'll stay nice and slim.'
But the pork pie was eaten ... and the eater, 'twas him!

                                                   Chris Sempers xmas 2015

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Going to Rack

Today has been wine racking day! This means taking the fermented wine off the sediment which gradually falls out of it over time, and putting it back in the demijohns to clear a bit more. Racking is also the time you get to try the young wines to see if they might be going to turn out ok.
     Graham currently has four demijohn's of wine on the go: Ginger (which has some heat in it); Carrot Whiskey (not distilled, it gets its name simply from the flavour); Bramble (you can really taste the blackberries, but is currently a touch on the sharp side. It will need to mature, and may even need serving with lemonade - for me anyway) and finally Autumn Wine. Autumn wine contains everything from the hedgerows round about: apples, elderberries, brambles, rosehips, and frankly tastes the best of the lot to me. A rich deep red wine stuffed full of fruit.
     Graham used to make wine a lot some years ago, but we got too busy and it became one of those things we stopped doing, and so he got rid of all of his equipment. However this year he decided he fancied having another go so we have been on the look out particularly for demijohns.

     When we originally used to make wine you could find these in Boots the Chemist and most hardware shops for a pound a time. Graham was rather shocked to find that these days they are around £7 a pop, so he has been scouring bootsales this year and eventually found five. Which is why we have four lots of wine on the go, you need to have an empty demijohn to rack the clearing wine into.

     We used to make wine from all sorts of stuff, it is an interesting experiment, and we used to make special wines for our ritual celebrations. Potatoe wine is the base of Irish Potcheen, if you distill the finished product, but the wine itself is quite acceptable. One of our best ritual wines was Rowan, Oak and Barley which is very much a Green Man type of wine, robust and flavoursome.
     Don't try Onion Wine. No, really, don't do it! That is the foulest drink I have ever tasted (apart from Wormwood, which is a flavour you cannot cover) but Onion Wine stays with the memory - and I can even taste it now (shudder).
     Some fruit wines are quite awkward to make if you don't have a press to extract the juice with. And one year we had a LOT of apples, one way or another, so just had to have a go at apple wine. We made the apple into a puree, thinking this would make it easier to extract the juice, put the pulp into a jelly bag and left it suspended over a container through the night.
     The next morning an egg cup full of juice had dripped into the container and the jelly bag was still full of wet apple pulp.
     Then I had AN IDEA!
     In those days we had a free standing spinner to dry our washing, and I thought we could put the pulp in something and give it a spin in the spinner! that should extract the juice from the pulp in the same way as it extracted the wet from the washing!
    The pulp was quite heavy and we didn't want to overload the spinner, so we put some in a clean pillowcase and put it in the spinner and turned it on. It worked brilliantly, the juice poured out and we gave ourselves a pat on the back. This was going to be easy!
     When that lot had finished, feeling more confident we dumped the rest of the apple pulp in the pillow case, bunged it in the spinner and turned it on again.
     Now, the thing about these old fashioned spinners is that the load inside has to be balanced right, evenly all around or they do have a tendency to judder and shake. So the first lot of apple pulp must have been balanced evenly.
     The second lot was not.
     These spinners go from nought to 100miles an hour in about 4 seconds (or so it seems) and if they go to full speed with an unbalanced load the results can be quite dramatic.
    The next part can only have taken a few seconds, but it all seemed to happen in slow motion. The spinner started to make its juddery noise and both of us thought, it should even itself out, but if it doesn't we'll just switch it off and rebalance it. But before we had time to move, the spinner shot up to full speed and from standing still and juddering, the whole machine suddenly began to spin, but luckily as it span it also wrapped itself in its electrical lead, which swiftly ran out and it whipped its own plug out of the wall, but as it did so the lid of the spinner flew open and apple puree span through the air coating EVERYTHING in the kitchen from floor to ceiling in a layer of apple puree.
     I happened to be standing against the open kitchen door, and when I moved forward (coated from head to toe) and looked behind me, just like something out of a Tom and Jerry cartoon, there was a perfect apple puree silhouette of me outlined on the door.
     I started to laugh and then saw Graham's face - he did not think this was funny, which creased me up even more.
    We were finding apple puree for months afterward.


Saturday, 5 December 2015

How to Create a Magical Perfume

     In the corner of the living room stands a large oak office desk. This is my workbench where I make all sorts of goodies for Raven. From jewellery, rainbow generators (sun catcher danglies) and pendulums to incenses and magical oils.
     At one side of the desk are three thick folders, bulging with recipes for these magical perfumes. What most people do not realise is that the recipe is just the starting point. No two bottles of oil I make will ever be exactly the same.
     Even when I am following a tried and tested recipe, there will be differences. A bottle of essential oil may drip more quickly than expected, or my hand might shake and an extra drop or two of oil is added. As I use natural ingredients these can vary in strength and even be subtly different in flavour depending on the plants and even the weather conditions they were gathered in.
     So how do I go about making a magical oil?
    The starting point of every oil is to consider its purpose: what will this oil be used for? What is its essential nature? And then to think how that can be related to the astrological planets and the doctrine of signatures.
     I may also refer to my recipes for oils of a similar nature. So if I am looking at making an oil for gambling I would look at my recipes for Haitian Gambler, Lady Luck and Lucky Master (amongst others). That gives me ideas both of which oils might be found as a component in this type of blend and also the subtle differences between the blends.  I have been studying the magical uses of plants since I was a teenager, so a lot of the time I can just use my own knowledge to create an oil or incense. I prefer the finished blend to smell nice, but to be honest that usually takes care of itself - and, of course, something to conjure demons with is going to smell very different to one for a love spell.
     There are some plants which you will always (just about) find in certain types of blend, so for 'Love' an obvious ingredient is going to be rose. But there are different rose perfumes: tea rose smells different to damask rose, which also smells different to dog rose. And you could also use rosewood or rose geranium instead. All of these are members of the magical 'rose' family, but all have very different characters.
     In the same way a lemon fragrance could come from the lemon fruit, from lemongrass, bee balm, may chang or citronella.
     There are some perfumes which feature regularly in a variety of different types of blend, for example: rose, patchouli, cinnamon and frankincense. And others which are rarely used and only in a few recipes. where they are essential, such as: hyssop. oak moss or chamomile.
     The proportions of each essential oil used can change the nature (and useage) of a magical oil dramatically.
     Let us look at a simple recipe for an oil of magical seduction. We shall keep the ingredients simple: rose, pine and patchouli. and the simplest recipe would use equal parts of all three oils, so I would use 13 drops of each oil.
     However. with these three oils we can also change the blend proportions to create oils which emphasise either the female or male energies, and thus emphasise how active/passive the operator and their subject will be in a loving relationship. Or draw down more Goddess or God energies to infuse the operator.
     So for a strong Goddess emphasis I would change the proportions - and you can do this in a subtle or dramatic way. I always like a bit of drama, so let's go for: rose oil 30 drops, pine oil 6 and patchouli 3.
     For a strong God emphasis - and this one is a direct invitation to Old Hornie - we go for: patchouli 20 drops, pine 10 drops, rose 9 drops
    The same oils, but three very different recipes, with three very different emphasis in magic.
     You may have noticed that I am also making use of the powers of numbers here in the numbers of drops of oil used in each recipe:
3 is the number of the triple goddess
9 is also her number as it is 3 x 3
6 is the number of Venus (666 is the triple Venus number, female sexuality at its proud best.)
1 and 10 (1 + 0) are number of the Sun
13 is the special number of the Witches and represents the 13 Moons in a solar year.
30 = 6 x 5 the number of Venus multiplied by the power of the Pentacle.

     So when anyone orders an oil from Raven, what they are getting is an individual oil, hand made by me just for them, using my years of magical experience. Not something mass produced and plucked off the shelf.
     Now if I can just get folk to understand that this actually takes time to do, we might be getting somewhere.