by Amy Marienblaume | Instagram
Blessed Lughnasadh, witches! And a beautiful Imbolc to the witches in the Southern Hemisphere! Just like Litha, we have been blessed with absolutely beautiful weather here in South-Western Ontario. To top it off, my mother-in-law has given my husband and I a child-free long weekend (Happy Civic Holiday to my fellow Ontarians!).
And You Pronounce That How?
After re-embracing my witch identity and starting to learn about the different Sabbats I, like many other new witches I am certain, was a bit stuck on the pronunciation of several of the holidays. Lughnasadh probably being the most confusing for me. Phonetically, it’s pronounced Loo-ne-se, but the Sabbat is also known by the much easier to pronounce Lammas.
Lammas is the celebration of the first harvest and among many other traditions, it is often marked with fresh-baked bread. I’ll be making one of my favourite recipes – soda bread. My husband is Irish on his father’s side, and over the last decade, he has introduced me to a number of new recipes and celebrations that we’ve incorporated into our family traditions. To add a little witch flair to the bread, I’ll be harvesting some fresh rosemary from my garden and topping the bread with it before it goes into the oven.
Witchy Irish Soda Bread
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon table salt
½ cup margarine
1 cup buttermilk
¼ cup salted butter
¼ cup buttermilk
Rosemary to taste, plus any other herbs you want to add
Sea salt to taste
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a large baking sheet.
Mix together your flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and margarine in a clockwise motion, inviting the blessings of Lammas into your life. Add in the full cup of buttermilk and the egg, and stir until all ingredients are combined. Turn the dough out to a lightly floured surface and knead briefly. Your dough will feel smooth.
Shape the dough into a rounded circle. In a small bowl combine the melted butter with the ¼ cup buttermilk. Brush your loaf and sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt. Use a sharp paring knife and cut an ‘x’ or sigil of your choosing into the top of the loaf.
Bake for approximately 45-50 minutes. Check on your loaf at 30 minutes. You’ll want to brush your bread with the butter and buttermilk mixture several times while it bakes. The bread is done when a toothpick comes out clean from the middle of the loaf. Enjoy!
A Quiet Sabbat
(TRIGGER WARNING: This portion of the blog contains mention of pregnancy after loss)
Beyond making and sharing soda bread with my husband, and following the Lammas Meditation on the Insight App, I think that’s going to be it for my sabbat celebrations. While Litha looked different than I originally anticipated due to COVID-19, Lammas looks different for an entirely separate reason. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have noticed that I’ve been fairly quiet. I’ve gone from posting nearly every day, to barely managing 2-3 posts a week. The reason for that (as I announced on Tuesday as part of Leo wellness month) is because I’m expecting our second child. It is a very exciting time, but it’s also filled with apprehension, tremendous anxiety, and memories of past losses.
As I wrote in Chapter Four, 2019 was plagued with 3 early miscarriages. This pregnancy has been going so much smoother, and last week’s ultrasound showed me one perfect little baby with a very strong heartbeat. This little witchling growing inside me has zapped my energy and is making me much, much sicker than I was while I carried our Little Leo – part of the reason I’m convinced this one is a girl. Despite all these reassurances, my anxiety is running at an all-time high. Every step forward brings relief for several days, followed by more worry until the next hurdle is overcome. Right now, I’m waiting to finish out the last few weeks of the first trimester. So, because of this, my witching activities are down to a bare minimum as I attempt to preserve what little energy I do have, and keep my anxiety levels in check.
Battling Imposter Syndrome: Calling on Mother Mary
Very early in my pregnancy I booked a reading with Krysta Venora of Pink Opal Magic. I came across Krysta by chance shortly after the murder of George Floyd. Something about Krysta compelled me to book a reading with them. Once I found out I was pregnant, I knew the time was right. Meeting Krysta through Zoom, the first card they pulled for me was anxiety. In fact, they didn’t actually pull it – it quite literally jumped out of the deck. Shocking, right? (Hint: not shocking). Krysta saw my rosebush (where I had buried the remnants of the fertility spell) and told me it was about to flourish. Indeed, it had nearly 10 buds preparing to open. They encouraged me to harvest some of the blooms, steep them, and then take a ritual bath to complete my fertility spell.
Later in the reading, Krysta asked if I had grown up Catholic. They went on to explain that Mother Mary has been working closely with the women in my family for generations. I was interested to learn this, but not entirely surprised. Over the years I have come to find various pieces of jewellery and other things once owned by my great-grandmother, my grandmother, and my mother, emblazoned with the likeness of Mother Mary. I always found it a bit odd, seeing as literally no one in this part of my family was Catholic. As I look back over my life, I can see many instances where Mary has tried to get my attention. In my rebellion from mainstream religion, naturally I ignored them all.
Since my reading with Krysta, I too, have begun working with Mother Mary. At first it felt odd and incredibly foreign, but we’ve begun to get to know each other and I’ve started to build up some trust in her, just as my ancestors before me. This new relationship has left me battling a bit of imposter syndrome as a witch, trying to reconcile my relationship with a very traditional Catholic deity with my very witchy, very much not Catholic self. Like the character of Frances Mayes from the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, right now I think of Mary less like Mother Mary, and more like an auntie who has my back. She watches over me quietly, and I feel her presence when my worrying starts to get out of control.
I’ve been trying to find an eloquent way to end this blog post, but I keep coming up empty-handed. My energy is failing and I’m ready for my afternoon nap. And so, I am going to sign off here and hope that next week I’ll be able to wrap it up a bit more elegantly.
Blessed Be, witches. And Blessed Lammas, however you are choosing to celebrate.
About the Author: Amy is a newly re-awakened witch living in South-Western Ontario. As a Scorpio sun, Pisces moon, and Scorpio rising, she can be found reading and recharging in the bath when she’s not chasing after her almost-five-year-old Leo son she is raising with her Sagittarius husband. Professionally, as a Human Resources Business Partner, Amy brings her magic into the office by guiding the rest of the team to build self-awareness, compassion, and empathy with the goal of creating a more harmonious and enchanted workplace. You can find her on Instagram at @thewakenedwitch, where she shares her journey into owning the identity of Witch.