Sunday, November 20, 2011

Vacation Time

I have the coming week off for Thanksgiving, and I am going to go visit a friend of mine in Hawaii. Yes, Hawaii! I'll hopefully have some pictures to share, and I might try to squeeze in a blog post if I have some time. I've no idea what all is going to happen, but hopefully the journey will go smoothly. I can't wait to see my friend T!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Kitchen Divination: Ovamancy

Oomantia, or ovamancy, is a form of divination using eggs. Eggs have a lot of symbolism behind them, some of which has been explored in earlier posts. Eggs were once used to predict things from the gender (and number!) of unborn babies, as well as the ever-popular practice of seeing one’s future husband.

In order to predict if a woman was having twins or not, an egg was rubbed on her belly for a few moments , and then it was broken in a bowl. If the egg held one yolk, one baby would be born. Two yolks meant twins.

One way of seeing your future spouse, and a rather unpleasant-sounding one at that, was to boil an egg, remove the yolk, and fill the hole with salt. The egg was then eaten before bedtime. According to the belief, the man bringing you water in your dream would be your husband.

The method that I am going to discuss is a simple scrying practice. Some reports say it was this very practice that Tituba practiced with Betty Parris and her cousin, Abigail Williams, in Salem. Scrying, as most of you know, is gazing into a substance or surface and reading the shapes that form. We’ve all seen the stereotypical gypsy woman with her crystal ball, and this is kind of a primitive crystal ball. According to reports I have read, one of the girls scrying with Tituba became upset when she saw the shape of a coffin appear.

To perform ovamancy, you need two or three things. First and foremost, you need an egg. Second, you need a tall glass of water. Now you may do one of two things. You can just break the egg into the glass and interpret the shapes of the egg whites, or you can use the third item, a pin or needle, and poke a hole into the smaller end of the egg. Allow the egg white to slither out into the glass without the yolk and interpret the symbols.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Kitchen Divination: Reading Turkish Coffee

Coffee tasseography, or kahve fali in Turkish, is the art of reading coffee grounds. Turkish coffee works the best for this because it is very finely ground, and the ground sit at the bottom of the cup. It is a simple method of divination and very open to interpretation. Each reader will interpret the story differently. It is commonly believed that one should not read one’s own cup.

To begin, you must first prepare the coffee. Turkish coffee is prepared in a cezve, which is a small pot with a long handle. Measure the water for the coffee in the small cup from which it will be consumed. Pour this into the cezve. Add a teaspoon of coffee per cup and stir. Cubes of sugar may be added at this point.

Heat the pot as slowly as you can. When the water starts to boil the first time, pour some (not all) of the liquid into the cups. This ensures everyone gets some of the foam. Return the cezve to the stove and bring to a slow boil a second time. Pour the coffee into the cups.

In order to assure a good reading, it is believed that the coffee should only be drunk from one side of the cup. When the coffee is finished, the cup should be covered with the saucer. Make a wish, if you desire. Swirl the cup and saucer at chest level, turning widdershins a few times. Then, turn the cup and saucer upside down. If you wish, a coin may be placed on the bottom of the cup. This is to help get rid of bad omens that could be read. This is what my former Turkish student instructed me to do when he read my cup. I placed a Turkish coin (natch) on top.
After a few minutes, the cup will be cool and the grounds will have settled. The reader then turns the cup over and reads the shapes.

For divination purposes, the cup is read in two horizontal halves. The shapes in the lower half talk about the past, and the shapes in the top half talk about the future. Likewise, shapes on the right talk of positive things, and shapes on the left can sometimes be interpreted as more negative events, enemies, illness, etc.
The shapes in the cup, according to some beliefs, can predict only up to forty days in the future. I think this depends largely on the reader, as my experience was slightly different. A good reader will usually weave the shapes together into a story. If the cup and saucer are stuck together, it is a sign that the cup should not be read.

After the cup has been read, the reader may then interpret any shapes presented in the saucer. The saucer is usually interpreted as the home of the person for whom the reading is taking place. Large blank areas are seen as a sense of relief, whereas confused and jumbled shapes read in the grounds are seen as something more negative, such as an illness or a funeral.

You can find Turkish coffee and cezves from many different sites, including www.bestturkishfood.com , which is a personal favorite. If you have experience reading tea leaves, you will probably find some similar shapes left by the coffee grounds, and you can interpret these as you would tea leaves. Happy drinking and happy reading.

Reference: Yesim Gokce (Bilkent University)/Turkish Cultural Foundation

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Divination in the Kitchen - Coming Soon

Stay tuned for a post (or maybe a few) on divination in the kitchen. As most of you already know, there are lots of superstitions and lots of lore associated with the kitchen and with food. I a going to explore how you can use everyday food items for divination purposes. I hope you'll join me!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Feliz Dia de los Muertos!

Happy Day of the Dead! In Mexico, it is believed that the souls of the children come back on the evening of November 1, and the adults come back on November 2. Separate ofrendas, or altars full of offerings, are usually set up. The children's ofrendas might include candy and toys, while the altars for the adults include the food and drink that they loved best in life. People want to offer the very best, so moles with long lists of ingredients might be common.

Graves and ofrendas are decorated with bright flowers such as marigolds. Colorful paper art known as papel picado also adorns the ofrendas. Family members clean the gravesites of their loved ones and stay there to eat, pray, light candles, and tell stories of their beloved dead.

Sugar skulls are left on the altars for 2-3 days, and then broken up and shared among the family members. Along with sugar skulls, people prepare pan de muerto - bread of the dead - shaped like skulls and bones.

Pan de Muerto is a rich, delicious bread with anise seeds and orange zest, topped with pink sugar. It is an easy traditional food to make to celebrate Samhain (which I just learned is on November 7), or The Day of the Dead.

Pan de Muerto

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons anise seed, lightly crushed
1/4 cup white sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
2 tablespoons pink (or white) sugar

Heat the milk and the butter together in a medium saucepan, until the butter melts. Remove from the heat and add them warm water. The mixture should be around 110 degrees F (43 degrees C).

In a large bowl combine 1 cup of the flour, yeast, salt, anise seed and 1/4 cup of the sugar. Beat in the warm milk mixture then add the eggs and orange zest and beat until well combined. Stir in 1/2 cup of flour and continue adding more flour until the dough is soft.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. (5-7 minutes)

Place the dough into a lightly greased bowl cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. This will take about 1 to 2 hours. Punch the dough down and shape it into a large round loaf, reserving some dough to shape a round skull shape, or bones. Place dough onto a baking sheet, loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until just about doubled in size.

Bake in a preheated 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) oven for about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven let cool slightly then brush with glaze.

To make glaze: In a small saucepan combine the 1/4 cup sugar, orange juice and orange zest. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for 2 minutes. Brush over top of bread while still warm. Sprinkle glazed bread with sugar.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

0. The Fool

The Fool

The Fool is the first card we shall explore in this Major Arcana series. The Fool, or Jester, is the eternal traveler. This card typically signifies the new beginnings, possibly with a risk involved. The Fool reversed symbolizes recklessness, foolishness, and lack of motivation. Upright, we see a man ready for a journey, a dog at his heels. Sometimes it looks as though he’s about to walk off the edge of a cliff! His advice to us could be “Look before you leap”.
I associate this card with springtime, a time of rebirth and new beginnings.

The Fool’s Spring Salad

This salad features edible flowers and a lemony vinaigrette dressing. The citrus purifies us before a new journey, and the flowers add a touch of beauty, whimsy, and exotic flavor.

2 cups spring mixed greens per person
Edible spring flowers – violets, calendula, nasturtium*

• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 tablespoon minced shallot
• 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
• 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel
• 1 teaspoon honey
Combine ingredients in a small jar and whisk/shake to combine.

*Note: Please make sure your flowers have NOT been treated with any chemicals. Do not pick flowers that grow close to the road, either, and wash everything well before consuming.

The Major Arcana Series: An Introduction

I don't know how often I will post in this series yet. I will try to do at least two a month, but I might get inspired and do two in a day.

This series was suggested by my friend Warren. My goal is to take the symbolism in the Major Arcana and tie it to seasonal, inherently magical foods. Each entry will include a picture (ripped from google) from the Rider-Waite deck. I don't own this deck, but a lot of people do, and they're fairly easy for many people to read. I will talk about the traditional meanings of the card, the symbols, and also my interpretation of the card. My interpretation might be what the card says to me, what season it reminds me of, or anything. I will also include a recipe for a dish that compliments this card.

I will use a lot of my own recipes. If I use recipes from somewhere around the Internet, I will leave the address to the website.

I hope you enjoy. Please feel free to comment at any time. Thank you for reading so far. I really enjoy hearing from you.