The Muses Soft Mojito Mead

By Erin Coats
on June 20, 2017

The Muses Soft Mojito Mead

With Litha comes the abundance of honey. And what better use for honey than mead? Traditional mead is a fermented drink made with spring water, honey, lemon and sometimes warm spices like nutmeg. Soft mead is non-alcoholic. This recipe is delicious on it's own and equally tasty with a shot or two of rum!  The amount of honey can be adjusted to your liking. If made as directed it is very sweet, but the addition of spirits tones that down a bit.

 

The Muses Soft Mojito Mead
 
4 c. spring water
1 c. honey
¼ c. fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 lime, cut in wedges
½ t. mace or 1 t. nutmeg

 

  • Bring water and honey to a low boil. Skim off any scum that comes to the top and discard it. Continue this until liquid is clear.
  • Add mint and mace.
  • Squeeze lime wedges into the pot and add the rinds as well.
  • Simmer to extract the flavors for about 10 minutes.
  • Cool and strain into a sealable jar.
  • Refrigerate.

Once it is chilled, pour over ice in a tall glass…or pour over rum and ice in a tall glass! Sláinte !

Citrus Berry Cheesecake

By Erin Coats
on June 09, 2017

Citrus Berry Cheesecake

Take advantage of what Gaia offers this Midsummer when you are looking for a special treat. This luscious cheesecake is bursting with tangy lemon and topped with sweet, ripe raspberries. The delicate almond crust is just right for this refreshing dessert!

 

Citrus Berry Cheesecake

 

Crust

¾ c. almond flour/meal

1T sugar

1T flour

2T melted butter

Pinch of salt

 

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl until crumbly. Press into the bottom and slightly up the sides of an 8” spring-form pan or pie plate. Set aside.

 

Filling

2 8 oz packages 1/3 less fat cream cheese, softened

½ C. sugar

1 ½ T. flour

2 eggs

Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Pinch of salt

Beat cream cheese with sugar and flour until smooth and free of lumps. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping bowl as needed. Add salt and lemon juice and zest. Beat to combine. Pour over crust in pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until center is just set. Baking times will vary according to your oven. Cool in pan completely. If using a springform pan, loosen sides and bottom and transfer to a serving platter. While cake is baking, prepare Compote.

 

Raspberry Compote

2 1/2 cup fresh or frozen raspberries, divided

¼ c sugar or honey

1 t. corn starch

2 t. water

 

Combine 2 c. raspberries with remaining ingredients in a small saucepan. Over med-high heat, bring to a low boil, stirring often. Cook until mixture begins to thicken and becomes translucent. Remove from heat and gently stir in remaining 1/2c whole berries. Transfer to covered jar or serving pitcher. Chill. Pour over cooled, individual cheesecake slices.

Litha / Midsummer / Summer Solstice (June 20)

By Erin Coats
on June 04, 2016

Litha / Midsummer / Summer Solstice (June 20)

     The summer solstice is celebrated by many cultures under many different names.  It marks the longest day of the year; a time in which the sun has reached its peak in power.  Though it is called midsummer, those in the Northern Hemisphere recognize it as the first day of summer.  This is because the European growing season has reached its midpoint close to the middle of June.

     So why do we call it Litha?  The word comes from an English historian in the early 700’s named Bede.  Litha was not a holiday, but a period of time roughly coinciding with our months of June and July.  Bede gives a definition for the word Litha, “gentle or navigable, because in both those months the calm breezes are gentle and they were wont to sail upon the smooth sea.” (Mankey).  It has been suggested that the Wiccan Wheel of the Year, though based on ancient practices from mostly European counties, was formed jointly by Gerald Gardner and Ross Nichols and building from the work of Robert Graves and Margaret Murray (Duir).

     The Celts called midsummer Alban Heruin “Light of the Shore”.   The Christian church marked midsummer as a feast day in honor of St. John the Baptist, dubbing it “St. John’s Day”.  Enyovden is celebrated in Bulgaria as one of the most magickal times of the year.  Bulgarian folktales say that on the day of Enyoden the sun reaches the end of its journey toward summer and must turn around for the winter.  It pauses briefly before setting out on the return journey and shakes and dances in the air.  To see the sun during this time was very special, for it is said that you will be blessed.  It’s also said the sun bathes in streams and lakes at this time, creating healing waters.  The plant life receives a blessing too, making their medicinal properties much more potent (Baeva).

     Some traditions tell the story of the Oak King and the Holly King who do battle twice a year to dictate who will rule the land.  At Yule, when the sun is reborn and soon to grow stronger, the Oak King overcomes his nemesis and rules the lands.  It is at Litha when the Holly King rises up to reclaim his throne and rule the darker months of the year.

     At Litha the Sun God has reached his peak strength.  He pauses for a moment in full glory to celebrate his power.  This is a day when we reflect on our own strengths and appreciate those things that we’ve worked so hard for that are now coming to fruition.

 

 

 

     The trees are lush and green, our gardens busy as they produce for the table, and our flower beds are bursting with color.  That which we planted physically, mentally, and spiritually in the spring is flourishing; a sure sign that our hard work is paying off.  We spend a good deal of time outdoors celebrating the warmth and sunshine with picnics, barbecues, nature hikes, and trips to the beach.  Though there is still work to be done before the harvest, we take time out to honor the season and all its splendor.

     Because our herbs and wild flowers are in bloom, this is an excellent time of year to restock your supply of medicinal and magickal plants.  Many witches believe that plants should not be collected unless you have been given permission by the plant deva and some believe you should leave an offering at the collection site.  It’s a good practice not to take the entire plant, but to leave some for wildlife while allowing the plant to continue to grow.  It is suggested that your herbs and plants be cut with a boline; a white handled, sickle bladed knife.  Herbs should be hung in a warm dry spot where they will be undisturbed.  Take care when identifying and harvesting wild plants.  You should never burn or ingest a plant you are not properly educated about and some wild plants are hard to identify.  Always consult your physician before using herbs or plants for medical reasons.

     Like Beltane, Midsummer has also been celebrated with bonfires and fireworks, symbolic of the strength of the sun and longest day of the year.  Typical of most other celebrations, there is music and dancing, feasting and drinking. 

     However you choose to celebrate the turning of the wheel, the Muses wish for you joy and good blessings!

 

*****

 

Baeva, Vihra.  “Enyovden (Midsummer’s Day) – the most magical time of the year”.  Bnr.bg. 24, June, 2015.  Web.  19, May 2016.  <http://bnr.bg/en/post/100572410>

Duir, Alexa.  “The Eightfold Wheel of the Year”.  Manygods.org.uk.  2003.  Web.  19, May 2016.  <http://www.manygods.org.uk/articles/festivals/wheel.shtml>

Mankey, Jason.  “Names of the Summer Solstice”.  Patheos.com – Raise the Horns.  19, June 2014.  Web. 19, May 2016.  <http://www.patheos.com/blogs/panmankey/2014/06/names-of-the-summer-solstice/>