Enchantment Learning & Living Blog

Welcome to Enchantment Learning & Living, inspirational blog about the simple pleasures, radical self-care, and everyday magic that make life delicious.

Bury the Dead in Marigolds

I am tired of wrapping my lips around the past. It is a dead thing kept alive only by my attention and my tongue.  I cannot tell why I keep worrying it, like the frayed edges of a beloved scarf or a fuzzy memory.  Habit, maybe.  I don't even like the taste of it anymore.  All charcoal and regrets and bitter seeds that make my mouth feel chalky--nothing like the fat marigold head I hold in my hand.

This orange-feathered sun tickles my lifeline and the small little rivers and deviations carved into my palm. The bud smells of clean earth and the naked joy of growing things.  This, I want.  The smell, the taste, the everything covering my body as if it were my second skin.  I want to make my home in this honeyed sweetness when once I never dared to think it possible to hold a living flower without crushing it. 

I know what must be done: I dig a six-foot deep hole in my backyard and go about the business of burying the dead.  Mason jars will make the perfect coffins.  There are too many of them anyway as if I must preserve and hold onto everything I taste in this world. They belong in the earth now, as does the past.

I unscrew each lid of every jar I own until there is a mass of open mouths waiting to be fed.  So I set about stuffing those holes.  I spit the gritty black sludge that has formed between my lips into one jar and the bitter seeds into another.  It feels like the purge will never end, but I keep at it until my mouth is dry but clean and I can taste sunshine in the back of my throat.  

And while I am at it, I comb dead leaves and ugly thoughts from my hair and stuff it into another hungry jar. The dead skin I slough off finds its resting place in yet another jar, though I was afraid not all of it would fit. Nail clippings and self-doubts go next, along with the brittle bones of my ancestors (may they never rise) and the fragments of ghosts they wish I would inherit.  The last three jars are filled with the worn husks of dreams that have outlived their usefulness. 

No more jars, but still so much left to bury.

Prayers for saints—those poems I could never speak for those things I could never be—are cast into the grave along with a bag of sugar and the moth larvae that made their home in the saccharine crystals.  I do not have an altar on which to place sweet skulls and lighted candles—just the earth.  Ofrendas—I don’t have any of those either.  Just things that need to go.  I have no wish to give offerings to spirits that would make me one of them—sad things, unfulfilled things, things that were dead while living.  And here I am breathing.  Here I am changing the story.  I doubt they would ever wish me well, so don’t ask me to beg for their attention.  Don’t ask me to bow down and hold them close—or worse, build an altar in their names.

I’ve never been much for anything that asks me to get down on my knees.

I only trust the marigolds, and so I collect each and every head from my garden and the stash of dried petals from my pantry.  Here is the sunshine that will cleanse my soul.  Here is the heartbeat that will banish the flatline.  But first—I dig.  And dig.  And dig so many other little holes surrounding the grave.  So many other tiny graves for my Mason jars that would not fit in the six-foot-deep abyss where I planted all the things that need forgetting.  My backyard is a cemetery.  It’s full to bursting by the time I’m done with it.  Who knew Mason jars could take up so much space?  Who knew I held on to too much for too long?

Part of me is afraid to fully commit these things to the ground.  I don’t know what I am without my dead skins or my tangled hair or fragments of stories written on scraps of paper which now line the bottom of my dirty tombs. 

Then the marigolds whisper: perhaps you should find outPerhaps you should fill your graves with dirt and life and let those dead things feed the earthGive them to the worms who will be better nourished by the decaying and the dying.  In turn, they will gift you with fertile ground for better things.

The flowers are right, of course.  These things are of no use to me above ground—

—so down they go, into the underworld.

The shovel is my only companion.  Not even a lantern or candle graces my presence.  Some things are best done in the dark.  I make quick work of it, tossing dirt and more regrets on top of the scars I cut into my yard until I can no longer see Mason jar caps or heaps of sugar.  Until there is nothing left but freshly covered graves.

Here I stand with no last rites or final words.  Just a handful of dirt and another of marigolds.  I scattered the dry petals first so that they make a thin veil between the living and the dead.  Then I heap fresh buds upon fresh buds, open flowers upon open flowers, until the disturbed earth is no longer a series of scars but open seams that let the light through.  

I let the golden petals coat my backyard until my hands ache with the letting go and the holding on.  There is only one small flower left (the one I started with), barely emerging from the bud, sitting in the dry-bed of my palm.  The lifelines seem deeper now, but perhaps that is just dark soil bringing them to life.  In any case, I lean against the shovel and admire my work.  

Already, new shoots are emerging from the worm-rot.  Healthy green tendrils spread across the raw landscape like one long hearty Goodbye:

Goodbye to ghosts.  Goodbye to the past.  Goodbye to dead and gone things.  The golden flower is a sweet Hello in my hand, sweeping away any lingering regrets in my final Goodbyes.  My mouth is clean.  My scarred earth is healing.  I have no more energy for bitter seeds or sugared skulls.  Only the feathery seeds of a marigold’s heart. 

Much better to savor the fat orange fruit on the inside of a calendula bud.

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Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

On Hot Air Balloons

The sun has barely peeked over the purple mountains as if spraying its golden tendrils across the rocky shoulders of its lover.  The air is redolent with the scent of burning cedar from nearby fireplaces, mulched leaves, and the promise of frost--in a word, the morning smells like autumn.

There in the distant horizon, on the other side of town where the sky meets the volcanic earth, you see it: a hot air balloon, the first of many releasing themselves into the sky, happy to be rid of the weighty ropes that tethered them to the earth.

This one is full and fat with yellow and red stripes like those of a circus tent.  It looks so small from your vantage point near the mountains as if it were an ornament or earring dangling on a hook from a stray cloud.  Yet you know they can be bumbling monsters up close as they coast too near your car on your commute to work or fall apart in your backyard, all heaps of unruly silk and coils of rope.  But that is only because their home is in the sky, and like any winged creature, they do not know quite what to do with themselves when they touch the ground. 

Still, you admire these tributes to whimsy, kept afloat by nothing more than invention and imagination.  You have often wondered what it would be like floating across the earth in a four by four wicker basket (or so you always presume the dimensions to be), guided by the changing winds and a desire to see the world from a new perspective--not much different from your life on land then.   

Even so, it would be something to sail from horizon to horizon--or, as you often dream, to another world (one of wonder and imagination, you hope) waiting just beyond the seam where the sky and earth meet in the distance.

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Honey Caramel Apples

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Every fall I get this craving for caramel apples.  They are the quintessential autumnal treat, a perfect blend of tart, crisp fruit, chewy sweet caramel, and--if you like a little extra flash--crunchy nuts.  While I do have the perfect neighborhood spot to get caramel apples, I've always wanted to make my own. 

I've tried my hand at homemade caramel apples several times over the years but had the kind of issues I now know are common among first time caramel apple makers.  The caramel would either be so soft that it would slide right off the apples or too hard, making it difficult to bite into.  Of course, there were other issues only hippy clean-eating cooks like myself were concerned with, like not using corn syrup or having too many ingredients to count.  So there I was, ready to give up the pursuit of a perfect homemade caramel apple when I saw this delightful recipe from 101 Cookbooks (thank you Pinterest!).  My taste buds are already looking forward to another batch of these honey kissed caramel apples. 

This recipe has everything I was looking for: quality ingredients, foolproof instructions, and perfectly chewy caramel that stays on the apple.  Best of all?  It only takes three ingredients: honey, cream, and salt.  I usually make the salt optional in my recipes but find it works well here to balance the sweetness of the honey.  You can also add a little more to give your dessert a stronger salted caramel flavor.  Always use local honey for best quality and taste.  You can even experiment with types of honey to get different flavors.  The darker the honey, the more intense the honey flavor will be.  I like to use small local apples because they make the perfect single serving and you can't beat the flavor.  Feel free to use bigger ones so long as you stick with tart Granny Smiths.

The only sort of fancy tool you need is a candy thermometer, which you can buy super cheap at most grocery stores.  I found that keeping track of the temperature really does matter when making the caramel.  Too low a temp and you have runny caramel (great for ice cream, but not apples); too hot, the caramel become brittle.  You'll want to stick pretty close to the instructions on this one, unlike my other recipes when you have more wiggle room to adapt to your own tastes.  The creative part comes at the end when you can add nuts (I used sunflower seeds, pictured here), chocolate drizzles or other toppings to your apples.

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Ingredients:

5-10 apples, washed and dried

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup honey

1/2 tsp sea salt

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Push a popsicle stick into the top of each apple.  Fill a large bowl 1/2 full with ice water and set aside.

In a saucepan, heat the cream and salt until bubbly--not quite a simmer.  Add honey.  Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and stir constantly for about 15-20 minutes or until the mixture reaches about 255-260F degrees (this is where the thermometer comes in handy; just latch it to the side of your saucepan). To stop the caramel from cooking, carefully set the bottom of the saucepan in the bowl of cold water you prepared earlier.  Make sure not to get any of the water in the caramel. Keeping stirring until caramel thickens.  (You can always put the caramel back on the stove for a few seconds if it gets too thick, but I found it needed to be really chilled and thick for it to stick to the apples.)

Tilt saucepan so all the caramel goes to one side and dunk each apple into the cooling caramel until fully coated.  Place each apple on the parchment lined baking sheets and allow the caramel to cool and set at least 20 minutes.  When it is almost set (wait at least 10 minutes), you can add extra toppings.

Makes 5-10.  Enjoy!

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

On Autumn Sweaters

Last night you found yourself rummaging through your closet looking for that one colorless, shapeless sweater you've had for years and years, the one you can't remember where you got it from, but somehow always turn to when the nights get longer and cooler.  The soft cotton on the inside has been loved off by time and use so all that remains is a thin pelt.  The sleeves are frayed and overstretched, the neck a loose ribbon around your shoulders.  There it is, buried in the back with your coats.  It occurs to you as you pull this soft shell over your head that it is officially sweater season--and that you have one for just about every important occasion.  This is the sweater you wear at the end of the week when all you want to do is curl up on the couch, eat popcorn and watch a movie.  

But there are so many others that you love and look forward to wearing as the earth prepares itself for a season of quiet and rest.  There is the basic oatmeal sweater, perfect for rolling up its sleeves for a morning in the kitchen baking bread or dipping apples in warm caramel and nuts.  It is homey and solid, like the loaf you just pulled from the oven.  And you can't forget the rose-hued one that falls off your shoulders, ideal for an afternoon of drinking cinnamon tea and getting lost (found?) in a book--fairy tales, mysteries, gothic novels...doesn't matter.  But the sweater does, somehow making the afternoon complete, allowing you to let down and even doze off in your overstuffed chair, the rose cloth wrapped around you like a blanket. 

Or there is the heather purple one essential for raking up leaves and putting your garden to rest for the season; it is light enough to keep you cool as you labor, with long sleeves to protect you from the prickly bones of dried plants, skeletal trees, and the early morning bite.  You don't fret over messing it up as you would one of your teaching blouses because it was made for getting dirt and crumbled leaves on its cuffs.

You look at the sweater you are wearing now, the one you paused your writing for long enough to slide your arms into before returning to that next page.  The open window brings in the cool, lush air of the season; your writing cardigan (a sub-genre of the autumn sweater) and cup of chai tea, echoing the heavy scents of autumn, chase away the chill.  You love this sweater perhaps most of all (though you say that about each one as you don it and feel the memories stitched into its fabric rub against your skin).  This sweater is long and faded, the color of sage, with fat pockets for storing seeds or tea leaves or a few words.  There are no buttons to this cardigan, so you must make peace with the fact that it must always be open, as you must be to your stories and experiences, wherever they may take you. This one is made for loosely wrapping around yourself just as you wrap your words around you for comfort and healing as you descend into the realm of stories.

Yes, it is sweater season now.  You look forward to being once again in the folds of these unassuming sweaters, these garments that reflect the quietest, most intimate snapshots of your life.  The moments you live without ceremony or the awareness of anything other than dipping your caramel apple into a shallow tray of sunflower seeds.

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Calabacitas Tart

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Nothing says harvest time here in New Mexico like when you find yourself looking for creative ways to use up that extra zucchini and squash from your garden--and get your chile fix. No dish epitomizes this better than calabacitas.  I have fond memories of coming home as a child on a school night to roasted chicken and a casserole dish filled with this corn, chile, and zucchini veggie side.  And now that school is officially back in session, I love the idea of one dish meals that are healthy and easy to put together on a busy weekday evening (hello first week of teaching!). 

This recipe was adapted from Martha Stewart's spinach tart.  I've added blue cornmeal to the crust because yum! and then swapped out the spinach for the traditional Southwestern filling of alabacitas.  For the tart pictured, I omitted the squash, simply because I didn't have any on hand, but feel free to add it as an extra layer to your own--I know I will once I get my hands on some!

This tart is great as an easy dinner by itself, with a side of greens, or, if I am feeling nostalgic, with roasted chicken.   It's also delicious the next day for breakfast with an over easy egg on top.  I used nutritional yeast in place of cheese for this recipe, but you could easily swap it out with aged gouda or sharp cheddar.  Keep in mind that if you are using cheese in place of the nutritional yeast, you don't have to drizzle olive oil over each additional layer.

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Ingredients:

For crust:

1/2 cup blue cornmeal

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup white flour

1/3 cup olive oil

1/3 cup water

For filling:

1 cup chopped green chile

1 cup yellow corn

1 small zucchini or half of a medium one

1 medium sweet onion

1 minced garlic clove

1/2 cup nutritional yeast (or cheese of choice)

1/4 cup red chile powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin

2 eggs beaten

salt to taste

Preheat oven 350 degrees.  Whisk together flours and a pinch of salt to taste.  Then add oil and water and mix until a ball forms.  Press dough evenly into a tart pan (I use one with a removable bottom for easy serving), then use a fork to prick holes into the bottom.  Cook in oven for 30-35 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

While the tart crust cools, dice up onions and sauté with minced garlic clove, olive oil and cumin in saucepan until softened.  Slice zucchini into thin disks; you should end up with about one cup (you can save any zucchini not used here for pizza toppings or a veggie stir-fry). Now you can begin to layer your ingredients: start with in the onions and garlic first, then the chile and finally the corn, making sure to add some of your red chile powder, salt, and nutritional yeast (or cheese) between layers.  Then pour the beaten eggs over your layers.  For your final layer, arrange your zucchini disks over the tart, starting in the middle and working you way out to the edge.  Drizzle the whole thing with olive oil and dust the top with your last bit of red chile and nutritional yeast (or cheese).

Place tart in oven and cook 35-40 minutes until egg is set.  Let cool for at least ten minutes before serving.  Serves 6-8.  Enjoy!

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Cranberry Sauce

When I was growing up, cranberry sauce was one my favorite things to help make for Thanksgiving.  I loved adding extra ginger and citrus--both the zest and the juice--and letting the tangy scent of cranberries and sugar perfume the kitchen as we cooked for the big feast.

Even now, I often whip up a batch of this cranberry sauce to have on hand during the winter months; it is great on pancakes or as a thick jam on toast and pairs well with cheeses like sharp cheddar or manchego. 

I don't like a lot of sugar in my cranberry sauce, so I usually start with 1/4 cup of sugar and taste test my way to the perfect balance between tart and sweet which can vary from batch to batch depending on how sweet the citrus is.  I use three kinds of ginger (candied, fresh, and powdered)--a trick I learned from my mom--to lend depth to the heat of this root.  I use the zest of the lemon and orange so it is important to use only organic fruits.  If you want a thicker sauce, let it simmer on the stove longer.

Ingredients:

12 oz (one bag) of organic cranberries

1 cup water

1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar

1 organic lemon, juiced and zested

1 organic orange or grapefruit

1 tbsp candied ginger, minced

1-inch fresh ginger, grated

Pinch of cinnamon

Pinch of clove

Place cranberries and water in a saucepan and let simmer on medium heat until the berries begin to soften about 10-15 minutes.  Then add sugar, three gingers, cinnamon, and clove.  Stir until sugar has dissolved and reduce heat to medium-low heat. Add zest of citrus and juice of lemon.  Cut the pith from the zested orange or grapefruit and slice the citrus segments.  Squeeze any remaining citrus juice into the sauce along with the segments.  Stir and let sauce simmer on low for 5-15 minutes.  Cool completely before storing in fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for several months (I store the sauce using ice cube trays so I can defrost the exact amount I was for a particular dish).  Makes about 2 cups.  Enjoy!

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Pumpkin Spice Blend

Ahhhhh, pumpkin spice!  That heady mixture of cinnamon and other spices is the perfect embodiment of autumn goodness.  Happily for non-pumpkin lovers, it contains none of that squash. I love using it not just for Thanksgiving pies, put in my coffee for a festive kick (a trick I learned from my mom!) or on pancakes to make them just a little yummier.

This spice blend is surprisingly easy to make and less expensive if you mix it on your own.  A small 2-ounce jar will run you anywhere from two to four dollars whereas if you buy the spices in bulk, you can get the same spice mix for half the cost and you are guaranteed fresher ingredients.  I like to make mine in small batches, but the beauty of this recipe is that it is easy to double or triple depending on your pumpkin spice needs.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground nutmeg

1 tsp ground ginger

3/4 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp ground clove

Mix ingredients together and store in a small spice jar.  Makes about 1/4 cup.  Enjoy!

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

Autumn Harvest Tea Blend

Who doesn't love a hot cup of tea on a chilly fall day?  There's nothing like wearing your favorite fall sweater, snuggling under a nice knit blanket, and sinking into a good book over a fat mug of tea.  Or let's not forget the pleasures of a refreshing brew to start your work day, as you breathe in the crisp air, enjoy the gorgeous fall foliage, and take that first sip of goodness.

My particular favorite hug-in-a-cup this time of year is my Autumn Harvest Blend, full of the rich spices you associate with the season and the gentle sweetness of apple bits and chamomile.  I love this fruit and herb combo because of chamomile's apple-like fragrance pairs nicely with the earthiness of dried apples. The rose hips add another dash of fruitiness and host of nutrients. 

Ingredients: 

1 cup chamomile

1/2 cup dried apple bits

1/2 cup cinnamon chips

1/4 cup dried ginger

1/8 cup dried rose hip bits

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Store in a mason jar in a cool dry place. To use, add one heaping tablespoon of blend to 8 ounces hot water and steep for 3-5 minutes. Enjoy! 

Health properties of ingredients:

Apple: contains vitamins A,C, some B and potassium; good source of fiber.

Chamomile: anti-inflammatory; sedative; skin softening; all around body soother.

Cinnamon: antiseptic, aids digestion, calms nervous system, anti-inflammatory.

Ginger: soothes stomach pain; anti-inflammatory; aids digestion.

Rose hips: anti-aging; contains vitamins A, D, B, C, E, and K, iron, calcium, zinc, and other vital nutrients; promotes healing and boosts energy; antibacterial.

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

On Descending into the Underworld

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As the days grow shorter and the nights longer, as the autumnal sun sets, bathing the earth in a honeyed glow, you begin to make your descent into the Underworld.

Not hell.  Not Milton's proverbial nine layers, nor religion's antidote to heaven (it might be the final resting place of vice, but what a relief not to be perfect!).  Nor is it Florence's Last Judgement safely nestled in the bosom of its canonical dome and foretelling the dangers of sin.  Not hell nor any of these.

The Underworld.  That quiet place which is not a place, both a cave below the earth and deep inside yourself.  The still place.  The silent place that you retreat into when the world gets too loud and you have been too long on its surface.  Like Persephone, you make your yearly transition from the spring above to the winter below, feeding upon rich pomegranate seeds and turning away from external revelries to your inward gaze.  You are bound to this cycle just as Persephone is to hers; you cannot change it any more than she can.  The earth pulls you into its embrace, thick roots easing your passage into your deeper sense of being, sweeping away the debris of surface living. 

It is there, there in the quiet and the shadows that you may meditate, contemplate the you that is you after casting off your worldly shell.  You will navigate the dark--the shadows of the yet-to-be-revealed, the wisdom courted with your solitude. That secret you waiting to be heard.  Like Persephone with those pomegranate seeds, you gobble up this underground knowledge one tiny morsel at a time, feeding the flame nestled within your ribcage.  Feeding the you that goes beyond day in and day out, and exists in dreams, in caves, in the Underworld. Always waiting.  Always ready to welcome you back to your roots and the rich earth from which you came.

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

On the Autumnal Equinox

It is a celebration of the year's bounty, the richness, and abundance that came from months of living in the sun.  But now it is time to descend into the underworld.  A dark place, yes, but not made of darkness; it is the home of the inward-turning gaze, the refuge of introverts, a sanctuary of gentle solitude where you can reflect on the abundance in your outer life and nourish your inner one.

It is a union with both halves of ourselves: the balance of external and internal mirroring the equal length of night and day, bringing wholeness.  The sun and the moon are aligned in you.  For one moment, one shift of the earth on its axis, one shift of you on yours, you receive this gift.  A gift that allows you to taste what year-long union with self would be like, one whole year of honoring your dreaming and waking lives in equal parts, one whole year of your world above mirroring your world below. 

The dying rays of the sun plant the seed of balance within your fertile soil.  Though it will seem you are dormant in the coming months as you retreat to the underworld, you are really nourishing yourself, tending that seed, cultivating your soil.  Come spring your seed will unfurl into the plant it's meant to be.

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

5 Ways to Celebrate the Autumnal Equinox

It has been a few weeks since we felt the first kiss of autumn settling over the land, bringing with it all the glories of the season: apples, crisp mornings, cozy sweaters, pumpkins, hot mugs of tea, hearty stews and, in New Mexico at least, the chile harvest.  But autumn will officially be here tomorrow on the equinox--an event worthy of celebration.  Like the harvest moon or other important dates on nature's calendar, the autumn equinox represents a time for us to be more aware of our connection to nature and the natural cycles of life.   Every equinox and solstice, I like to pause and take the time to relish the bounty in my life and the importance of my connection to nature.  This ritual helps to both ground me and give me wings, as I feel at once rooted to this earth and yet capable of continued growth.

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Given the importance of the autumn equinox--historically and symbolically a time of harvest and turning inward as the coming months pull us indoors--it is important to celebrate this new season so we can transition gracefully into the colder, more contemplative months.  I offer you five simple ways to celebrate this autumn equinox; you can do one or all of them or invent your own!

1. Sage burning. Traditional sage burning, best known from its Native American roots, is about cleansing a space using a smoking smudge stick (or densely packed bundle of sage).  Sage has long been considered an important healing herb and, magically speaking, offers protection and wisdom to the user.  Sage is also considered an important autumn herb because it thrives in this weather, symbolizing abundance for the next harvest cycle. 

2.Celebrate your abundant harvest.   Typically, when we think of the harvest, we picture farmers market stalls overflowing with squashes and pumpkins and apples, or gathering the last of our garden goodies before the first frost.  This is an important part of celebrating abundance, true, but not the only one.  It is equally important to reflect on your emotional, spiritual, personal harvest--what do you have in abundance in your life?  What are you grateful for? By honoring these things, events, and people, you welcome future abundance and wellness into your life. 

3. Feast!  What better way to celebrate fall than with a lovely feast featuring the produce of the season?  In older traditions, people would pour cider or wine on the roots of trees and plants to thank them for the food they bore.  Think of feasting as another way of honoring the way nature nourishes us.

4. Spend time in nature.  Go for a walk or hike; you might even be able to enjoy the turning leaves.  Linger outside in your garden.  Sit under a tree and just let your mind wander.  Soon the cold will make it harder to venture outdoors, so take time now to relish nature.

5. Turn your home into a sanctuary.  Since autumn ushers in winter, it signals a turning inward, both literally and metaphorically; it makes sense then to tend your home, preparing it for when you spend more time inside.  Decorate it with autumn by collecting gourds and other signs of fall.  Pull out your knitted blankets, roll out the autumnal table cloth.  Give it a good cleaning.  Create a cozy space that feels like a sanctuary you can retreat into for the coming months.

How do you celebrate the coming autumn?

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

On the First Kiss of Autumn

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Yesterday the wind whipped through your land, chasing out the heat of summer and bringing with it the first kiss of fall.  The day had started out warm, hot almost, but slowly cooled as the wind pulled clouds down from the mountains and over the city.  You had been out in the bluster long enough yesterday to feel the chill in your bones that only a bubble bath and cup of tea could cure.

This morning, the wind is gone and in its place is the heady aroma of autumn. You linger on your porch, enjoying the cool air and the gentle cloud cover.  You inhale that almost undefinable smell synonymous with this time of year: crisp air tinged with the bright green of leaves and the dusky overripe scent of your garden about ready to curl in and retire for the year.  

The weather promises a day of delicious slowness.  Autumn is slowly snaking its fingers through the earth and your heart, pulling you inward, deeper into the quiet of the season.

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!

On the First Day of School

Although you have long outgrown the back-to-school supplies of Elmer's glue and as-yet-unopened boxes of Crayola crayons in favor of a new grade book and freshly sharpened pencils all in a row--the better to draft your lesson plans with--there is still a part of you that will always feel a little thrill up and down your spine at the thought of the first day of school.  The perfectly planned outfit.  The thoughtfully prepared lunch.  The well-organized teacher's bag standing by the door, ready to be whisked away to your office.  The goals to learn and teach and embrace this new school year with a vigor you certainly didn't feel by the end of last spring semester but that you are aware of now down to your very toes.

You wake before your alarm that first day.  The birds aren't even quite up yet.  You take advantage of that extra time to work on your self-care routine that you promise yourself you won't give up when the semester gets further underway and the papers begin to pile up.  You relish your early morning yoga and the quiet excitement as the sun slowly rises.  Then there is your coffee, your perfect cup of liquid energy--as if you needed it--enjoyed briefly on the patio before you turn to the task of readying yourself for school.

You don a dress with a smattering of polka dots, that celebratory print which always makes you feel special.  You lace up your oxfords and slowly, one finger at a time, slide on your rings of amber and onyx, thinking about how you will greet your new classes and see old friends.  You apply your makeup and, with that last swipe of mascara, feel ready to greet the new school year.

Enchantment Learning & Living is an inspirational blog celebrating life’s simple pleasures, everyday mysticism, and delectable recipes that are guaranteed to stir the kitchen witch in you. If you enjoyed what you just read and believe that true magic is in the everyday, subscribe to my newsletter below for regular doses of enchantment. Want even more inspiration? Follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Here’s to a magical life!