GSW Classes

A place to post images, updates, and links for Grey School classes.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

An Equinoctical Retreat

After a very hectic life for the last several months, I decided that I need to do a short personal retreat—a mini-escape from the world for a day, and a time in which to honor myself, and to acknowledge a group of new paths that I’ve set my feet upon. These include my completion of a Journeyman’s certificate in the Grey School, my assumption of the Deanship of the Department of Wortcunning at the GSW, and my acknowledgment of myself as a “Journeyman Herbalist,” following completion of my GSW Wortcunning Practicum. I also have finally set a completion time—Dec. 08—for my second Masters degree: this one is in English literature. Hoo-ah!

The vernal equinox seemed a perfect time for these undertakings, as the equinox symbolizes new beginnings, initiations, and the like.

Much of the nature of my retreat is, of course, personal and confidential. But two of the focal elements of the retreat were eggs and herbs: eggs in celebration of the equinox, and herbs for the Practicum and my Journeyman certificated. I realized, as I got into this, that I was also missing cooking. I love to cook, but often don't have time to, thanks to my schedule. I'm also taking Prof. Rainmaker's "Magickal Eggs" class. Put all of these together, and I figured I'd spend the days with eggs and herbs for the symbolic "springiness" of them, for the fun of cooking, and to polish off the tasks in the egg class. (Anyway, it sounded good on paper!)

In the images below, I'll share some of the eggy and herby things I did.

Last night I hard-cooked half a dozen plain white eggs. These were the eggs I'd use in my work with natural dyes. My way of hard-boiling is to cover the cold eggs with an inch of cold water, bring rapidly to a boil, cover, take off the heat, and allow to sit for 16 minutes. You then rinse the eggs with cool water to stop the cooking process. Perfect eggs every time.

While these cooked, I prepared my red and yellow dyes. For red, I used a can of beets. I wanted pink or red eggs in order to symbolize the passion and vitality with which I'll approach my new accomplishments and positions.

I opened the beets and poured them--and their juices--into my food processor.

I pureed them until they were, well, pureed.

Now for some magick, from Prof. Rainmaker's class.

I took two of the fresh, still warm, hard-cooked eggs. I used a fine needle to prick a design in the shell in the shape of Uruz onto each one. I used Uruz to connect with the meanings of strength and determination implied by the runic letter. The theory is that the dye will seep through the pinpricks that I left; when the egg is peeled, the Uruz will mysteriously have appeared right on the flesh of the egg itself. Cool, yes?

Once that was done, I put the two eggs into a small plastic bowl and poured the beet mixture over them.

I put a lid on the container and put them into the fridge to sit overnight.

Next, yellow dye--a symbol of the Sun, and its light. In another small bowl, I mixed warm water and a hefty tablespoonful of a rich curry powder. I added some turmeric to boot, and stirred in a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar.

To this mixture I added the remaining1 warm, hard-cooked eggs in another small bowl. I put a lid on the bowl and stuck it in the fridge for the night.

Then I prepared my green dye. I used a handful of fresh parsely (from the grocery store) and placed it in a mini-food processor, along with 1/2 cup of water. I blended this until it wasn't quite pureed, but nearly so.

I took four raw eggs and used a green crayon to draw the rune Uruz onto each one. In the picture below, you can see the faint runes on each egg. I wanted green eggs for the reference to spring, and new growth.

I put the inscribed eggs into a plastic bowl (with snap-on lid) and poured the pureed parsley over the top. I then added a tablespoon of vinegar (this helps the dye fix in the eggshell) and enough water so the mixture would barely cover the eggs. I put the lid on and put it in the fridge.

So, all those sat overnight. Then, this morning....

My yellow eggs looked great! Here they are, with a white eggs for comparison. They smelled wonderful, too, with the curry powder. (Note: the flavor did not permeate the actual eggs.)

I peeled the eggs, cut them in half, and spilled out the yolks.

I mixed the yolks with may, prepared mustard, pickle, pepper, and dabs of dry mustard and curry powder.

Two fo the eggs mysteriously vanished. Magick? Or did something else happen? (You decide....)

I went out mid-morning to walk the bounds of my yard and look for herbs. I found lots of miner's lettuce and dandelions: in the picture below, the miner's lettuce has the heart-shaped leaves and is growing in the pot, while the dandelions are at the pot's base.

I found early bunches of chives, which grow in several places around the yard....

I only took small snips of all but the dandelions and rosemary, because most of the herbs are just beginning their new growth. Starting at the top and moving clockwise are chives, rosemary, thyme, parsley, miner's lettuce, and a small bit of varicolored sage, with a nice pile of dandelion greens in the center:

The dandelions have a fresh, sharp taste. They literally taste green. I can imagine how wonderful they must have tasted to aboriginal people, who had spent a long winter without anything fresh.

Next, back to my pink eggs. I rinsed off the beet juice and puree. The result was a soft pinkish tan, shown here next to an all-white egg.

When I peeled them, I got a surprise. Apparently the shells had been cracked, and the dye had seeped in and colored the entire egg! One of my pinprick attempts had worked-- the other was a smudgy mess. See below for the pink Uruz, pricked neatly into the egg. Very cool.

I cut up and boiled potatoes; I drizzled the hot potatoes with vinegar and allowed them to cool, then mixed them with the chopped pink eggs, mayo, prepared mustard, diced onion, and chopped fresh chives. The resulting salad looked weird (pink eggs?), but it was delicious.

I used plain white eggs to make a quiche. This began, of course, with a pie shell. Pie is honor in my family. Crust is always made from scratch-- although I do use the food processor to speed things up.

I prebaked the shell for a few minutes, then heaped it with shredded cheese, crispy bacon, and a mixture of chopped spinach, chopped dandelion leaves, thyme, parsley, and chives.

Over this went a mixture of cream, eggs, and a bit of salt and cayenne pepper.

And here is the yummy finished product:


I used two of my green eggs for a custard pie-- a small pie, about 6" across. The green parsley dye worked out really well!

I mixed the eggs with more milk and cream, sugar, and a good grating of fresh nutmeg.

I rolled out a second crust....

I poured the custard into the prepared shell, and popped it into the oven.

And here's the cute little result-- next to my hand so you can see how small it is!

Of course, I sampled everything through the day-- along with sipping herbal teas throughout. I imagined the essence of spring moving through and strengthening me, filling me with purpose and resolve, and joy. (I'm also joyful over the fact that I have enough food in the refrigerator to last us for a couple of days!)

It was a great day-- a day of rest, and reading, and cooking. And relaxing. I needed it. I read from my herb books, studied runes, and just hung out with myself. It was lovely!

As a final step, I changed my altar to its spring configuration. The candlelit version is at the top of this post. Here's the daylight version, complete with eggs, seeds, goddess figures, and my GG's little iron cauldron:

Here's to spring, everyone! May all of your egg-speriments be egg-zactly as you want them to be!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Total Lunar Eclipse! August 28, 2007

I got up in the wee hours to watch a total lunar eclipse. Had some fun snapping photos with my regular digital camera and tripod-- not bad results!

We open with the eclipse well underway-- around 2:20 am, as I recall.

The last remnants of light fade....

We're left with a dark, blood-red Moon. It was spectacular through the binocs!

The light began to return, as the Sun emerged from behind the Earth....

Just image what primitive people must have thought when this happened.....

Not sure why the "wing" artifact (below) appeared. ??

By the time the Moon was again visible, the glare was almost too bright to record an image.

She's back! What a great way to spend a middle of the night....