GrannyMoons Weekly Feast: 12 Dec 2021

Artist Unknown to Me

Who said that life had to be serious?
Imagine, Play, Sing, Turn Cartwheels, Be Unstoppable, Dance Wildly With Life. ~Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Blessed Be my little Witch. To those who came before and those who will come after, know that the Goddess is with you always. Thank you all my dear readers…be blessed. ~GrannyMoon

Dark Moon – Time to Rest
New Moon – Time to Begin New Projects; Birth; Attraction
Waxing Moon – Time to Grow; Increase
Full Moon – Time to be Fulfilled; Abundance
Waning Moon – Time to Banish; Decrease
Last Sliver of Moon – Time to Die; Letting Go
Dark Moon – Time to Rest Again

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Light A Candle Today!
In many different traditions lighting a candle is a sacred action. It expresses more than words can express. It has to do with gratefulness. From time immemorial, people have lit candles in sacred places. You may want to begin or end your day by the sacred ritual of lighting a candle on this gratefulness. Or you may want to light a birthday candle for a friend. One single guideline is all you need: Slow down and do it with full attention.

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Receive Your Own Personal 2022 Forecast
From GrannyMoon!

A guide to help you understand the opportunities and issues you may face in the coming year!

Relationships
Health
Career
And More
For Just A 10.00 Donation on PayPal!

Please send your date of birth and I will get your
reading to you within 24 – 48 hours!
GrannyMoonsMail@yahoo.com

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Current Moon Phase: WAXING MOON
Time: From New Moon To Full (Approx. 14 Days)

Goddess Aspect: Maiden

Associated Goddesses: Artemis, Branwen, Eriu, Nymph, Epona

Magickal Attributes: Invoking Beginnings, New Projects, Ideas, Inspiration, Energy, Vitality, Freedom. Workings On This Day Are For “Constructive” Magick (Love, Wealth, Success, Courage, Friendship, Luck Or Health.)

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What’s Happening This Month

Celtic Month of Elder – November 24th to December 23rd
Goddess Month of Astraea – November 28- December 25

December

Herb of the Year for 2021: Parsley (Petroselinum crispum)
Flower of the Month for December: Poinsettia
December is National Egg Nog Month. Fruit Cake Month, too

Week 1. National Cookie Cutter Week
December 6: Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, ends this evening
December 8: National Chocolate Brownie Day. (It’s true: Chocolate really is an herb!)
December 12: Gingerbread House Day Thanks to the Brother Grimm and Hansel and Gretel!

Week 2. Christmas Bird Count Week
December 17: National Maple Syrup Day
December 18: On this day in 1843, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was published
December 18: Full Moon in Gemini!

Week 3. Christmas and Kwanza Week
December 21: Winter Solstice: Celebrating the Shortest Day of the Year
December 24: National Egg Nog Day—just in time for Christmas Eve
December 25: At last, Christmas! Have a merry (and healthy!) holiday
December 26: Kwanza

Week 4. A New Year Begins
December 31: New Year’s Eve

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Sunday Classes with GrannyMoon at Sticks and Stones, Fairfax, VA

December
Face to Face Class: Noon–2:00 ~ The Magick of Crystals – Dec 19

January 2022

Face to Face Class: 1 PM – 3 PM ~ WitchCrafting – Jan 2

Face to Face Class: 1 PM – 3 PM ~ The Herb Cauldron – Jan 9

Face to Face Class: Noon – 2:00 PM ~ The Magick of Crystals – Jan 16

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High Priestess Training with GrannyMoon
http://GoddessSchool.com

The entire course takes 15 months to complete (four levels). Tuition covers lessons, assignments and instructor feedback. In addition, students may download guided meditation exercises and be eligible for Sabbats, Esbats and retreats with the Sisterhood. The entire fee for each level is $120 (payment plan available), sixteen lessons in each level, except the last.

Ceremonial Cords and frame-able Completion Certificates are awarded as members complete each level.
Level I – Initiate of the Sisters of the Burning Branch – White cord
Level II – Adept of the Sisters of the Burning Branch- Red cord
Level III – Priestess of the Sisters of the Burning Branch- Black cord
Level IV – High Priestess of the Sisters of the Burning Branch – Green cord

You Might Also Be Interested In:
h
ttp://goddessschool.com/Paganstudies/index.html
http://www.goddessschool.com/courses/natural/naturalwitch.html
http://goddessschool.com/Paganstudies/healingarts.html

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Hands-On Herbs with GrannyMoon!

There is so much to learn about herbs! In Herbalism 101, we cover 21 herbs, and you will start your own personal Materia Medica, that we will build throughout the next levels. We will cover the basic aspects of herbs. From culinary to magickal, medicinal to ornamental. As well as the many modalities of herbs!

During this course, in addition to the online lessons and hands-on projects that you do at home, I will be sending you articles, and information, as well as questions about your own personal use and research.

I look forward to walking this green journey with you! I love herbs and I hope that you do too or will learn too!

There are 10 lessons in each level and there is no time limit for completion. You may study at your own pace! There are no texts to purchase.

For more info or to join my class, click here!
http://goddessschool.com/Paganstudies/healingarts.html

The cost for Level 1 is $50.00 or $150.00 for the entire Healing Arts Course (1-3) which includes a free Reiki certification course when all three are ordered!
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Earth Signs and Omens in Nature Course

Learn to read the mysteries of nature! The course covers signs and omens, communication, seasonal rites, trees and shrubs, flowers, plants and weeds, herbs, plant magick, the Guardians of Nature, and much more.
http://goddessschool.com/courses/earthsigns/index.html

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The Goddess School Grimoire

http://www.lulu.com/shop/sotbb-Goddess-school/the-Goddess-school-grimoire/hardcover/product-762380.html
Hardcover: $39.45
Softback: $26.95
eBook (PDF): $6.25

The Goddess School Grimoire is a collection of recipes, artwork, poetry, prose, prayers, rituals, spells, and practical Goddess wisdom put together by the teachers, students, alumni, and friends of The Sisters of the Burning Branch Goddess School. The sisterhood is dedicated to restoring spiritual balance by returning the Divine Feminine to her rightful place and by assisting women in their personal and spiritual development. Since being founded by Head and High Mother Priestess Grandmother Moon in 2000, The Goddess School (GoddessSchool.com) has grown into a large and beautiful global community of women.

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Seasons of the Witch
Yule Oracle
Stars

Follow the stars, for they know best,
not too light, not too dark,
a shimmer of what comes next.

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Stacy Adams
coventrycreations.com.

December 13, 2021 – December 19, 2021

The second full week of December, the cosmic energies slow down – just a little bit. However, be on guard this weekend because Venus turns retrograde (see above). Otherwise, we have two sign changes, a Full Moon in Gemini, and a beautiful Sun sextile Jupiter aspect this weekend.

Mars in Sagittarius urges you to look at the areas of your life where you feel hindered or encumbered and asks you to break free so that you can once again be inspired by life. This is an excellent time to do all you can do to live your best life. Focus on what you can do to create a better tomorrow and leave the past behind.

A few hours later, Mercury moves into Capricorn. Mercury in Capricorn needs to see results. So, Mercury moving into Capricorn is excellent energy to help make the right decisions with Mars in Sagittarius. Mercury in Capricorn urges you to take the lessons from the past and use this knowledge to make better decisions about the future. The only requirement is to proceed slowly and think things out.

During the middle of the week, the Moon moves through earthy Taurus. So, it’s time to take a couple of days and enjoy the pleasures of life. Do something just for you that will help you rest and relax. Also, it’s the time of the month to indulge a little, so enjoy something spectacularly decadent.

This weekend we have a Full Moon in Gemini (see above) and Venus turning retrograde in Capricorn (see above), but a lovely aspect (sextile) between the Sun and Jupiter may steal the show. Sunday is one of the most positive days of the year, and you should take advantage of it. It’s time to put the follies of the past year in the rearview mirror and think positively about the future. Also, it’s an excellent day to plan out your New Years’ goals and intentions.

Recommend Candles: Mars (AstroMagic), Venus (AstroMagic), and Full Moon.
Here’s what you missed on CoventryCreations.com this week…

Check out our new Holiday Catalog!

That insightful, witchy, or spiritually mindful person in your life deserves more than just a crummy gift card. Give them a magical gift from Coventry Creations.

Look beyond the here and now to where and who you want to be!

Astro Magic December 2021
The good news about December is that at least it’s not November, which was the most troubling month of the year. However, December does have its own set of challenges – a solar eclipse in Sagittarius, the final showdown between Saturn and Uranus, and Venus retrograde in Capricorn.

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Winter Is Coming…
By Ivy SylvanVeil ivysylvanveil@gmail.com

Winter is coming…
Snow showers are forecast for today.
Snow’s blessing is to muffle the cacophony of sounds
of this modern world, causing us to focus within.

Winter is coming…
Cold winds pick up whatever leaves remain
Swirl and scatter them about, creating a fertile layer to
Feed next year’s grass and trees.

Winter is coming…,
In the city, men and women without homes and
Only a blanket for warmth, huddle overheating grates
As passersby divert their gaze.
Some will not make it through the night.

Winter is coming…
Ski trips to the mountains and hot drinks by the fire
Divert the attention of those who can afford it.
Old men and women alone in their homes
Long for some company.

Winter is coming…
How will you spend it?
As snow muffles the cry of those in need!

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World Peace Card Meditations
Wednesday, December 15, 2021 – 7:30pm
(based on local time in your time zone)

You are invited to take part in the next World Peace Card Meditation. Please mark your calendar and forward this email to all your friends.

Thanks for Your Help!

Because so many of you forwarded this email to your friends, there have been nearly 412,040 downloads of the World Peace Cards. This is a tremendous increase in the number of people using the cards. So far the total number of World Peace Card sets downloaded, received from our free offer and from our magazine has been over 455,240! I hope you have been using your peace cards as their use brings blessings to the world as well as to you.

The next World Peace Card group meditation have been scheduled for Wednesday, December 15 at 7:30pm. This is local time in your time zone. This method has been chosen because of the special effect it produces. As people meditate in each successive time zone the energy builds like a wave which gets stronger and stronger as it circles the planet. Because of the higher dimensional nature of consciousness, the energy of peace will be transmitted for a full 24 hours and continue long after this.

Reports from those who took part in the previous meditations indicate many had powerful spiritual experiences. As they united with those taking part in the meditation a feeling of peace developed within that stayed with each for a long time. Some saw beautiful golden light surrounding the planet and others felt that a web of fear was dissipating and being replaced with trust in others and for our future. All those who have received the cards are being asked to meditate on world peace at this time. By taking part in this group meditation, you’ll be joining thousands of people who will be using the cards to bring peace to the world.

By joining together, the effect we have will be greatly multiplied. This powerful experience and will help shift the vibration of our wonderful planet into a higher state of consciousness. As you use the cards to meditate on world peace, you will be a beacon through which peace will spread around the planet which will have a positive uplifting effect on all people. Please set aside this time to meditate with the cards. The suggested meditation period is 15 minutes, but of course, you can meditate longer if you’d like to.

The technique I’d like you to use is based on allowing yourself to be a beacon of peace. The World Peace Cards hold the vibration of the World Peace Grids which have been placed at spiritually significant locations and are relay stations for higher consciousness. By simply opening to their energy, you’ll become a channel for their love and peace which will flow through you to all the people on Earth. To do this, hold the cards in your hands or place them in front of you. Then simply meditate on peace. We are entering a new era. Our entire planet including all the people and living things are moving into a place where it will be much easier to solve our problems and to create peace, prosperity and happiness for everyone.

The World Peace Card meditation will quicken this process, making it easier for people to experience this new quality of higher consciousness and will provide great benefit for all people. Since this benefit will be flowing through you out to everyone on the planet, you’ll be blessed by this experience as well. Many have received the cards in the mail or in the Reiki News Magazine while others have downloaded them from our website. If you would like additional copies of the cards, please download them using this link and print as many copies as you can use. Please feel free to give them to your friends. Also, forward this email to anyone you feel would like to take part in the meditation.

World Peace Card Download
Additional World Peace Cards

Note: This is a larger file and it may take several
minutes for it to open, so please be patient.

When printing the cards from this file, print page 2 first, then place this page in your printer and print the image of the peace grids on the back.

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Llewellyn’s Spell A Day

Crafting Faery Beds
DECEMBER 12, 2021 BY ESTHA MCNEVIN

Using recycled materials to craft small beds for the faeries is a fun way to celebrate the Pagan Yuletide and talk about sustainability, recycling, and how to manifest our hopes and dreams for the future in a world where climate change is part of the daily dialogue. Collect milk or juice boxes, soup cans, egg cartons, and other recycled cups or lids that are small enough for a faery to take a nap in. Sculpt and decorate each bed to your liking.

Stuff muslin sachet bags with lavender and dreamtime herbs like chamomile. Craft some cozy blankets by cutting up old shirts and socks. Hang these on a faery altar or keep them around the home to help promote good dreams. Decorate with images of your dreams and aspirations in life, and ask the faeries to dream a little dream of you!
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Empower Yourself
DECEMBER 11, 2021 BY SAPPHIRE MOONBEAM

Words have power. You can utilize the power of positive, encouraging words every day. Write words on small pieces of paper and place them in spots around your house where you will notice them. Put the notes on your bathroom mirror, near your desk, and near the doorway. Create notes for yourself that say things like this:

Believe.
Keep going.
I am strong.
I am creative.
I am beautiful.
I am successful.

Create the messages as if you were cheering on your best friend, but extend this love and encouragement to yourself. Using these affirmations daily will help you with strength and empowerment. These magical reminders can assist you in times when you may be struggling and working on overcoming obstacles.

You can do this, you will overcome, you are strong, you will thrive. Believe it.
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The Stones of Grounding
DECEMBER 10, 2021 BY STORM FAERYWOLF

Go for a walk in some natural place with the intention of experiencing the earth element, which is associated with structure, stability, and manifestation. It can even be a city park.

On your walk, be aware of any stones, collecting five and bringing them home. Once there, set four of them on the floor in a square, which you will sit inside. Place the other near your root chakra.

Ground and center. Imagine that the life force within the stones is like a green light that dimly shines. As you breathe, imagine these lights slowly reaching out to you in streams of energy that converge in your root and the fifth stone. Say:

Strength of stone
Within my bones.

Put some sea salt on your tongue. Meditate on how you are an extension of the planet. Hold the stones whenever you feel unfocused or in need of grounding.
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Modern Medicine Versus Ancient Alternatives
DECEMBER 09, 2021 BY EMYME

There are times when magical intentions, positive energy, crystals, oils, acupressure, and acupuncture work wonders. Then there are times when only science and medicine will do. Four years ago, I, like countless others before me, faced one of those situations. After several years of pain and trying numerous cures, all of which proved temporary, I had hip replacement surgery. The event was scary but necessary, and it changed my life. My beliefs comforted me during the operation and recovery, and actually brought me closer to my chosen spirit guides. Since that time, I have utilized crystals to keep discomfort at bay and promote continued healing. For anyone struggling with a medical decision, perhaps this verse will help:

Let the healing powers of ancient
cures aid my recovery from
modern medical processes.
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To Keep Away Winter Illness
DECEMBER 08, 2021 BY THORN MOONEY

As the autumn holidays come to an end and winter sets in, many of us find ourselves constantly on the verge of sickness. Aside from all of those mundane things we should all be doing to stay healthy (washing hands, getting a flu shot, staying home when we’re sick), try this spell to help keep the winter bugs at bay.

Draw a picture of yourself healthy and happy. Don’t worry—it doesn’t have to be recognizable to anyone else! Just as long as you know it’s you. Place it on your altar. With a green or yellow highlighter, draw a circle around yourself in the picture, creating a barrier that shields you from seasonal illness. Say:

I am comfortable, energized, and
free from disease. So mote it be.

Then be sure to drink plenty of fluids and wash your hands routinely!
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Mistletoe Spell for Protection and Sweet Dreams
DECEMBER 07, 2021 BY MICHAEL FURIE

Tis the season for mistletoe, so this should be relatively easy to obtain. It is a most magical herb that, when hung on the headboard of a bed, has the ability to protect the sleeper not only from danger but from nightmares as well.

To empower the mistletoe with your intention, hold it in both hands and envision it surrounded by pure white light. When you feel the power is at its strongest, say:

Golden bough of magic might,
Grant me this wish to bear.
Protect from harm every night.
Let each sleeper be free of fear.

Hang the mistletoe on the headboard (behind it is fine) of the bed. One of these charms can be made for each bed in your home.
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Power Nap Spell
DECEMBER 06, 2021 BY EMBER GRANT

For those days when you need to take a quick power nap, use this spell to enhance your slumber and wake up revived and ready to face the rest of your day or night.

Wrap a peppermint leaf (fresh or dried), a piece of sodalite, and a drop or two of lavender essential oil in a bundle and place it in your pillowcase. Chant these words as you visualize the perfect power nap:

For this moment I seize
to catch a few z’s,
Make the most of this time
to relax and unwind.
My rest will be blessed,
so I wake up refreshed.

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Heartwings Love Notes 1012 Tis the Season

Heartwings says, “The Joys of the season fill all hearts with light.

I’d know it was the season without a word from anyone by the enormous quantity of catalogs that have been arriving in the mail. Or if not by the catalogs, by the appeals for donation that have proliferated, both in the mail and in my email. Perhaps it might be called “the season of giving.” Gifts, given and received seem to be the theme these days of the season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.

I have done research on the origins of the season for my writing, and I believe it was the Roman tradition, or perhaps a Celtic one where people used to tie gifts to the branches of a tree as part of the seasonal celebration. The bringing of a tree into the home evolved from the desire to have greenery from evergreens in the home, thus invoking good luck and the blessings of nature spirits. So many of our traditions stem from pagan times, yet it is the spirit of the celebration that makes it important and meaningful, not the source or the cause.

Different cultures have evolved their own ways to honor the season of light and giving. Families, too, embrace different ceremonies and traditions that bring them together to join hands and hearts. I was asked which tradition was my favorite. I thought a moment and the image of Christmas stockings came to mind. Yes, how special it was for me when I was able to participate in the giving of stocking presents. Small and useful items were the rule in my family, and often little jokey inscriptions were written on the wrappings. What fun it was to shop in the “dime” store for cold cream, pencils, and other little gifts for my parents’ stockings.

We didn’t have fancy Christmas stockings; we used what we had. I remember my father owned some tall, grey argyle golf stockings we made use of, and old nylons that had runs served that purpose too. Santa never gave the gifts beneath the tree. Those were opened on Christmas eve after some tasty food and the singing of carols. My mother had brought candleholders from Germany, that clipped to the branches of the tree. A bucket with water and a mop were kept nearby in case of fire but never had to be used. How lovely the lit white candles looked as we sang, my mother, playing her violin to guide us.

Christmas paper was saved from year to year. The use of tape was strictly forbidden, ribbon was tied around the packages and that too was saved, carefully wound up, and fastened. Too, there was crinkled metallic tinsel that reflected the light and bowed the branches in a graceful way. It was carefully removed as it had been strung, strand by strand. It too was always saved for another year’s decoration. These are the kinds of things that a child remembers, not the gifts, nor who gave them. Individual and family traditions are what are important, both for the memories they create and the ties they provide to our pasts and to one another.

May your season of light fill you with happiness and bring you peace.

Do you have a story to share or a recipe or something to contribute? I’d love to hear from you. You can always reach me at tashahal@aol.com and do visit my website at http://www.heartwingsandfriends.com.

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Tips to Cope with Pet Loss During The Holidays

Facing the holidays after losing a beloved pet is extremely hard. While other people may be happy and celebrating you may find it impossible to do so. That’s okay. You are entitled to feel grief over the loss of your baby. Do not let people’s opinions get you down when they say something like, “It’s the holidays. It’s time to celebrate.” They have not lost a piece of their soul and don’t understand.

Many years ago my beloved dog Lady was terminal with cancer. The month of December was her last month on this planet, and it was devastating for me. No one understood or tried to understand what I was feeling. For the last four months, I had to stay with her 24 hours a day. She could not be left alone she was so sick. It was the worst Christmas of my life. So I do understand what you are going through.

Dealing with the holidays is hard enough, and after losing a beloved pet it’s even more difficult. I am offering some tips that will help you get through the holidays with respect to your beloved baby.

1) Honor Your Beloved Pet.

Light a candle in their memory. If you have a little altar, keep their picture there along with a candle, flowers, and incense. Take a few moments and talk to them because they still hear you. Their spirit is right there. Acknowledge your feelings, don’t ignore them. It’s okay to feel emotional this time of year.

2) Be Prepared to Feel Sadness During the Holidays.

Losing a pet is a big deal. They are our family. This is a huge impact on your life. When you’re used to sharing the holidays with a furry family – it’s a jolt that they are no longer a part of the holidays and special events in your life. It is okay if you don’t feel like participating in the festive activities. It’s really quite normal.

3) Remember the Wonderful Memories You Have of Holidays Gone By With Your Pet.

As difficult as it may be, make it a point to remember positive happy moments you once shared. I remember my last Christmas with my beloved dog Lady. Even though she was dying I made sure she had a good time. I always remember that and it helps.

4) Donate to Animal Shelters.

Think about donating blankets and other items that are desperately needed in the shelters. You can also donate your time at animal shelters. It’s helpful for those poor little animals to have someone talk to them and love them. Perhaps you can help save a life! Not looking to adopt too soon? I understand. So consider fostering a pet. Many animals need help getting socialized and used to human contact and affection. Fostering is a great way to help pets and yourself find joy and healing without the full commitment of adoption.

Another way of helping out is to donate your time at the local soup kitchen to feed the hungry and homeless.

5) Remember Time Is the Great Healer.

This is not to say your grief will end because really and truly it’s ongoing. However, the intensity of the grief you feel today will be lessened a year from now. Grief comes in waves but the pain does lessen with the passage of time. Please read my article on Grief for further help. There will come a time when you can fully enjoy the holidays once again.

6) Listen to Healing Music.

Play upbeat music. Try not to listen to songs that will make you depressed or cry. For me personally, I don’t like to listen to Christmas music as it brings up too many sad memories, not only of my pets but my family that I lost.

I put on “That Old-time Rock And Roll.” It’s the music that soothes my soul. That’s the music that makes me feel good. Put on whatever music makes YOU feel good and even dance around. Dancing is healing as well.

7) Don’t Forget to Take Care of You!

When you are in deep grief it is easy to forget to take care of yourself. Be sure to not only acknowledge your feelings and emotions; find a good support system. Surround yourself with people who can relate to your experience and give you uplifting support. I have a support group for pet loss on Facebook that you can join. It’s very healing for pet parents. Click here to check it out.

Remember to take care of your physical self and incorporate an exercise routine multiple days during the week.

Eat healthy foods and avoid fast food and processed junk food. Sweets are abundant at this time of the year but limit them as much as possible because they do cause more depression. Admittedly this is a hard task especially at holiday times, but chooses to make yourself a priority. The quality of food you consume does impact your health and also impacts your mood and brain function.

Looking for even more helpful tips to help in your grief? Check out my articles on Pet Loss. Also if you Feel Real Healing is Needed Let Me Communicate With Your Deceased Pet. Check It Out Here.

Love and Light,
Cherokee Billie

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Co-creating with the Universe

We all have the ability to live our dreams, we must simply ask and respond with the action that is asked of us.

Most people don’t always fully realize that we all have within us the ability to co-create our lives with the universe. So many of us are taught to accept what we are given and not even to dream of anything more. But our hopes and dreams are the universe whispering to us, planting an idea of what’s possible while directing us toward the best use of our gifts. The universe truly wants to give us our hearts’ desires, but we need to be clear about what they are and ask for them.

To ask for something does not mean to beg or plead from a place of lack or unworthiness. It’s like placing an order — we don’t need to beg the salesperson for what we want or prove to them that we deserve to have it. It is their job to give us what we ask for; we only have to tell them what we want. Once we have a clear vision of what we desire, we simply step into the silent realm where all possibilities exist and let our desires be known. Whatever methods we use to become still, it is important that we find the quiet space between our thoughts.

From that still and quiet place, we can announce our intentions to the pure energy of creation. By imagining all the details from every angle, including scent, color, and how it would feel to have it, we design our dreams to our specifications. Similar to dropping a pebble into a pond, the ripples created by our thoughts travel quickly from this place of stillness, echoing out into the world to align and orchestrate all the necessary details to bring our desires into manifestation. Before leaving this wonderful space to come back to the world, release any attachment to the outcome and express gratitude. By doing this daily, we focus our thoughts and our energy while regularly mingling with the essence that makes it possible to build the life of our dreams.

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Sacred Trees in the Americas: American Holly (Ilex Opaca) – Magic, Meanings, Ecology, and Divination
by Dana, The Druid’s Garden

American Holly is one of the most wonderful trees for getting us through dark times. And as the season of darkness is upon us once more, it is a good time to consider the magic, meanings, and mystery of this incredible holly tree!

American Holly has many names including white holly, prickly holly, Christmas Holly, Yule Holly and Evergreen Holly. It is quite similar to European Holly (Illex Aquifolium) with similar leaves, berries, and an overall growth habit. The American Holly has larger, brighter leaves and berries, but the trees are otherwise quite similar. While I often argue against importing meanings and uses of European trees into American contexts (with Ash being a great case in point), in this case, I think that the myths and old-world understandings of Holly apply!

This post is part of my Sacred Trees of Eastern North America series–here you can learn about the many wonderful trees upon our landscape. In this series, I explore the magic, mythology, herbal, cultural, and divination uses, with the goal of eventually producing a larger work that explores many of our unique trees located on the US East Coast. For my methods using ecology, the doctrine of signatures, and human uses, you can see this post. Other trees in this series include Tulip Poplar, Dogwood, Spruce, Spicebush, Rhododendron, Witch Hazel, Staghorn Sumac, Chestnut, Cherry, Juniper, Birch, Elder, Walnut, Eastern White Cedar, Hemlock, Sugar Maple, Hawthorn, Hickory, Beech, Ash, White Pine, Black Locust, and Oak. For information on how to work with trees spiritually, you can see my Druid Tree Working series including finding the face of the tree, seeking the grandmother trees, tree relationships, communicating on the outer planes, communicating on the inner planes, establishing deep connections with trees, working with urban trees, tree energy, seasonal workings, and helping tree spirits pass.

Ecology
The native range for American Holly spans from Rhode Island and New England coastal regions down into Florida and across the midwest to Louisana and Texas. It can be found throughout the south-eastern and Eastern United States, and beyond its native range, is widely planted as an ornamental, thus, is frequently found in urban and suburban areas. Almost anywhere I’ve traveled in a city or new area is a chance to connect with American Holly in some form: tree, shrub, or small bush! In fact, it is so popular as an ornamental that you can find up to 1000 different cultivars. It is shaped into shrubs, trees, and even holly hedges.

In the wild, American Holly is primary an understory tree, thriving in shaded woods, along streams and creeks, and can handle both dry and wet conditions, but not flooding or wetland conditions. It does prefer slightly acidic soil and sandy soil and will grow in full sun to full shade. If the soil is too alkali where it grows, the leaves will turn a brownish-yellow.

The American Holly is an evergreen tree that can grow to 40-60 feet tall. It has evergreen leaves that grow in an alternate pattern with a leathery feel. The holly leaves are fairly unmistakable and easy to spot because of their depiction in modern culture: they are 1-3″ long with spiny tooths coming out of them in a regular fashion.

It provides food for birds (cedar waxwings, songbirds, cardinals, goldfinches, bobwhites) and small mammals (turkey, quail, white-tailed deer, squirrels). It is a nursery plant for Henry’s Elfin butterfly. It also provides excellent cover and shelter for birds–we have an American Holly growing next to our house and every year, the cardinals make a nest within the densely packed branches.

The holly tree blooms with white (sometimes greenish-white) flowers in April-June that have four petals and a balanced fourfold shape. You can tell the male from the female flowers because the female flowers appear in clusters of 1-3 while the males appear in clusters of 3-12. Male and female flowers often occur on separate trees. These make way for green berries, who finally turn to the classic bright red as we move into the late fall (Samhain) and winter months (Winter Solstice). Only the female tree produces holly berries.

Human Uses
The Holly wood is a beautiful, strong, fine-grained white wood that can be sanded, stained, and worked. It is often used for furniture, woodwork, carving, engraving, cabinetry, and other fine woodworking. It is not in high commercial demand because hollies never get that large, but among folk artisans and woodcarvers, it is often sought out and used.

Holly (both European and American) is tied to the winter months, the dark half of the year, and the Yule season. These traditions of “decking the halls with boughs of holly” were imported from the old world and then applied to the American Holly. I’ve used Holly extensively as a natural decoration for Yule and it is just lovely on the mantle–it stays green and the berries stay red long after the plants dry out. We usually have to trim our Holly to keep it away from the sidewalk–and these trimmings are all we need to provide delightful Yule decorations for our home. With this said, the demand for holly decorations has caused a decline in wild-growing holly in some parts of the US; given this, it is wise to cultivate a holly or two in your yard if you want to have these decorations or source them sustainably. As with anything else, commercial demand causes a decline of the species, and we very much want to attend to this issue when buying any plant matter at the store.

Edible and Herbal Uses
All of the Ilex species (which includes all Hollies) are somewhat toxic if ingested. The berries of the holly are poisonous and will cause diarrhea, sweating, vomiting, and dehydration–so while you can use them on your mantle, you don’t want them in your stomach! However, if you wanted to induce vomiting (emetic action) these berries are one thing you could use to do so as they are a traditional medicine in this regard.

The roasted leaves of the American Holly can be made into a caffeine-free herbal tea. This tea has a rich history, including drinking as a tea substitute extensively during the American Civil War when resources were scarce. The tea has some medicinal properties and was used to treat colds, although I couldn’t find too much more information on the specific medicinal uses, as it is not listed in any herbal that I own. In fact, many holly species also have leaves that can be made into tea, but you want to make sure you identify the species properly. A good guide for this is Eat the Weeds, which offers a thorough discussion of how to make tea (with caffeine) with some holly species. They discuss how some communities have made a tea of the young leaves of the Gallberry holly (Ilex glabra) which can be a good source of vitamins and minerals. Make sure you have the identification right on this holly though, because others (like the Yaupon Holly, lex vomitoria ) have leaves that make you vomit.

Western Occult and American Folk Magic Uses
Holly is, as mentioned above, inseparable the Winter Soltsice/ Yule and it has been tied for milleniua with bringing brightness into the dark half of the year. Holly was, of course, one of the seven chieftain trees of the ancient druids, and thus, a very magical tree throughout the world.

In the American Hoodoo tradition, as described by Cat Yronwode in Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic, Holly leaves are burned with other blessing herbs to protect the home and bring good luck into the home. Placing holly above the door to the home also protects the home and draws helpful spirits.

In Tree Wisdom: The Definitive Guidebook to the Myth, Folklore, and Healing Power of Trees by Jacqueline Memory Paterson, she describes some of the mythology surrounding holly, including its connection to immortality. In the old world, people were encouraged to bring the holly into their homes to ward against elves, fairies, and other spirits that could otherwise cause harm. Holly’s bright berries and leaves also helped people with winter depression and help us get through the darkest time of the year. The holly was always required to be removed from the house by Imbolc eve or it could bring misfortune. In Ancient Rome, the Romans gave gifts of Holly during the five-day festival of Saturnalia, which took place at the winter solstice. These eventually gave way to the Christian imagery, which still uses Holly, in December. Even though Christianity has shifted many of the ancient pagan beliefs, the remnants of these can still be found even in modern-day celebrations here in the US.

The Holly King and Oak King legends are also powerful and enduring; both evolved from earlier indigenous and pagan depictions of the green man or the spirit of the forest/plants as well as the virility that is necessary for life to continue. Paterson notes that the oldest depictions of the Holly King were of a wildman holly god, and Christian suppression later turned him into more of a “king” like figure without sexual virility. Regardless of the shift of this imagery over time, the Holly and Oak kings rule over the year and are two sides of the god of nature and his cycles. The Oak King comes into power at Midwinter (when we move from the lowest point to the highest), while the Holly King comes into power at Midsummer (the waning part of the year). The Holly, therefore, represents the growth, light, and harvests of the rest of the season to come. Many rituals in the modern druid tradition acknowledge the power of the ancient Oak and Holly kings as part of our ceremony.

Holly is one of the sacred trees in the Ogham, the Celtic Tree Alphabet. The Holly, Tinne, is tied to the letter T and the Ogham letter that has three upright lines. According to Steve Blamires in Celtic Tree Mysteries, the evergreen nature of the Holly tree can be tied to a “link” as in a link in a chain, which is one name for Tinne. This shows Holly’s link not only with the oak (from the ancient lore) but also between our world and the otherworld.

In the Encyclopedia of Natural Magic, John Michael Greer describes holly as being firey and warm in the second degree. Astrologically, it represents Saturn in Leo. It is a very protective tree and is thought to ward against lightning and also against hostile magic and hostile spirits and otherworldly beings.

Divination and Magical Uses
Based on the ecology, folk uses, and history of holly, the following are three divination and magical uses for this incredible tree:

Darkness. Holly has long been associated with the winter solstice in the darkest time of the year, and seeing Holly come up in a divination reading may signal that a time of darkness is upon you.

Light in the Darkness. Tied to Holly’s theme of darkness, however, Holly reminds us that there is always hope. The triumph of the Holly king over the Oak king in the ancient myths ensure us that even when the light is all but extinguished from the world, the evergreen leaves and bright red berries will be a sign of coming out of this dark time and hope in the future. Stay strong, for spring will return.

Protection in Dark Times. We are continuing to live in darker and more uncertain times, with more and more of us losing basic faith in our institutions, culture, and civilization. It is certain that human civilization is on a dark path. Thankfully, trees like holly can offer us basic protection from the hostile energies of this age. And that’s exactly what she does!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the incredible Holly tree. If you have additional information to add or stories about the holly, I would very much love to hear them! Blessings to you, my dear readers!

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Peppermint: Not Just For Candy Canes
3 Ways Peppermint Is Not Just For Candy Canes

Looking for a natural way to ease some common discomforts? Consider peppermint. The plant’s dried, crushed leaves or extracted oil offer more than a pleasing aroma and flavor, they have medicinal applications as well. Peppermint can be used:

As a chest rub to ease breathing with the common cold

For relief of indigestion and nausea

As a treatment for gastrointestinal ailments such as irritable bowel syndrome and diverticular disease
Topical treatment for sore or tight muscles including tension headaches

Be aware that while largely beneficial for the digestive tract, peppermint tea can worsen the heartburn experienced with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) and may also promote the flow of bile from the gall bladder and complicate gallstones – consult your doctor if you have these conditions and stop using peppermint products if these seem to worsen.

Also, don’t give peppermint tea to babies or young children: the menthol it contains can cause a choking sensation in youngsters of this age. When choosing peppermint, look for oil containing at least 44% free menthol or teas with 100% pure peppermint leaves. You can buy pure peppermint leaf tea in most supermarkets. Brew it in a covered container to avoid loss of volatile components, and drink as much of it as you like, hot or iced.

If using peppermint to help with digestive spasms or irritable bowel syndrome, look for encapsulated products to allow the herb to get past the stomach on the way to where it is needed most.

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Is There a Santa Claus?
~Find A Grave

In his famous response to Virginia O’Hanlon’s question about Santa Claus, Francis Pharcellus Church said, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give your life its highest beauty and joy.” We find that love and generosity in the lives of people all around us. Here are just a few Santa Clauses from Find a Grave that reminds us about making life enjoyable and bringing joy to the world.

The tradition of Santa is based, at least in part, on a real man, St. Nicholas of Myra. Born in Turkey to wealthy parents who died young, Nicolas gave his inheritance to the poor and needy. One of the best-known legends of Nicholas is that of a man who had three daughters and not enough money to provide dowries for them. It is said that Nicholas walked by the house and threw a bag of gold through the window (or alternatively, down the chimney) on three consecutive nights. Other similar stories exist, and Nicholas became symbolic of secret gift-giving.

For 68 of his 90 years, Jim Yellig donned the red suit and transformed into Jolly old Saint Nick. It all started when he was in the Navy in 1914. His ship was docked in Brooklyn and his shipmates had an idea to throw a party for underprivileged children in the area. They knew he was from the area of Santa Claus, Indiana, and thus nominated him to play Santa Claus. He loved playing the part, especially seeing how happy it made children.

After WWI, Yellig left the service and got married. A few years later he returned to his hometown of Mariah Hill. A friend of his, James F. Martin, was the postmaster in Santa Claus. He had been answering children’s letters for years and he needed help! In 1935, Yellig organized a group called the Santa Claus American Legion Post to help answer letters. He also dressed the part and quickly became a fixture in the town of Santa Claus. In 1946, the Santa Claus theme park opened and Yellig was the star of the show.

He wrote a booklet titled, “It’s Fun to be a Real Santa Claus,” which tells the history of Santa Claus as well as providing training and tips to becoming Santa. The years went on and thousands of children knew him as their Santa. He often surprised children as he spoke five languages. Jim was Santa for so long, generations of families enjoyed the tradition of sitting on his lap and telling him what they wished for. At age 90 he said, “Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this now [but] I feel like I’ve got a little soul here who will grow up someday and possibly remember a few things.”

Mr. Santa Clause spent many a December answering thousands of letters that he received. His father, who had a good sense of humor, gave him the name, Santa Clause. He was a plumber and pastor and had seven children of his own. But, during the Christmas season, there were times when he cut short time with his own family to attend to all the mail that he received. He felt it was important to write the children back, but didn’t have the funds for all the stamps he needed to reply to 6,000 letters per year.

Generous friends donated to the stamp fund, and he was able to answer those letters for many years. He spent much of his life clean-shaven, but this article refers to growing out his beard and then “whitening his whiskers” to be the real town Santa from Marshall, Missouri.

We’re left to wonder about the life of Jimmy Lee Pace. His funeral notice only gives us the clue that he used the name “Santa Claus.” He must have been a person who played the part as we’re left with a second clue, the Santa boot on his headstone.

We wish you and yours a happy holiday season and hope that “love and generosity and devotion … abound and give your life its highest beauty and joy.”

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The Victorian Book of the Dead

Tickled to Death Over Her Christmas Gift: 1897
by chriswoodyard

He was a genial-looking, bald-headed man of 59, but when he heard us talking about Christmas gifts he sobered up a little and said:

“I am also going to take advantage of the occasion to make a gift. Ah! poor Mary!”

“What’s the matter with Mary?” asked one of the drummers.

“Mary was my wife, sir. She has been dead these five years.”

“Oh! that’s it? Please excuse me. I thought perhaps you were speaking of a sick or crippled child.”

“You are excused. Yes, Mary was my first wife, and she was a treasure. She will not know that I am making her a Christmas present, but I shall do it as a matter of duty and love. It is in the baggage car ahead.”

“Isn’t that rather queer to make a Christmas gift to a dead person?” asked the drummer after a silence lasting a minute or two.

“I think it is,” was the reply, “but it must serve to show that I treasure her memory. It cost $25, and stands four feet high. I do not think I could have got a more suitable gift. If she could speak I know that she would express her great satisfaction.”

“Might I ask the nature of the gift?” was the cautious query.

“Oh! certainly. It is a fine Italian marble headstone to mark Mary’s grave. I hope to have it set up on Christmas eve.”

“You–you have waited five years to get that headstone?”

“Yes, sir. I have been busy getting married twice again and burying a second wife, and have Just get around to it. Next Christmas I shall present the other one with a similar Santa Claus gift. I think the idea is original and unique, don’t you?”

“No, sir!” stiffly replied the drummer, as he rose up.

“What’s the matter?”

“I am, going out for a smoke, and I had as soon tell you that I think you are a blamed mean man! I suppose you’ll buy your third wife a coffin for a Christmas gift won’t you?”

“No, of course not. No, sir, I wouldn’t do such a thing as that. I’ve already selected her gift”

“And may I ask what it is?” sneered the drummer as he moved away.

“You may, sir–you may. I have bought a lot in the cemetery and had the deed made out in her name, and she’ll be tickled half to death over it!”

Los Angeles [CA] Times 19 December 1897: p. 41

Chris Woodyard is the author of The Victorian Book of the Dead, The Ghost Wore Black, The Headless Horror, The Face in the Window, and the 7-volume Haunted Ohio series. She is also the chronicler of the adventures of that amiable murderess Mrs. Daffodil in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales

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Surround Yourself With Love

One of the easiest and nicest gifts you can give to yourself is surrounding yourself with loving and kind people whenever possible.

In our everyday life, we are surrounded by a variety of people. Some of the people we deal with on a daily basis are a joy to be with, and their loving presence nurtures and encourages us. Others may have the opposite effect, draining us of our energy, making us feel tired and exhausted. Our well-being can be easily influenced by those around us, and if we can keep this in mind, we will have greater insights into the quality of our social interactions and their energetic effect on us.

Once we think more deeply about the people we interact with, it becomes easier for us to work toward filling our lives with people who help us cultivate healthy and positive relationships. Even though it might not always seem like we have much control over who we are with, we do. The power to step back from toxicity lies within us. All we have to do is take a few moments to reflect on how another person makes you feel. Assessing the people we spend the most time with allows us to see if they add something constructive to, or subtract from, our lives. Should a friend sap our strength, for example, we can simply set the intention to tell them how we feel or simply spend less time with them. We will find that the moment we are honest with ourselves about our own feelings, the more candid we can be with others about how they make us feel. While this may involve some drastic changes to our social life it can bring about a personal transformation that will truly empower us, since the decision to live our truth will infuse our lives with greater happiness.

When we surround ourselves with positive people, we clear away the negativity that exists around us and creates more room to welcome nurturing energy. Doing this not only enriches our lives but also envelopes us in a supportive and healing space that fosters greater growth, understanding, and love of ourselves as well as those we care about.

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According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Popularity of Turtle Soup Could Lead to the Decline of the Alligator Snapping Turtle
By Tara Massouleh McCay

The agency recently proposed protecting the unique reptile under the Endangered Species Act.

The alligator snapping turtle could soon become a threatened species, and the Southern tradition of serving turtle soup could be to blame.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed adding the alligator snapping turtle to the list of threatened species, citing a predicted 95% decline in their population over the next 50 years and possible extinction in as few as 30 years.

According to a release from the Fish and Wildlife Service, the commercial harvest of alligator snapping turtles reached its peak in the late 1960s and early 1970s. At the time, the meat was used for commercial turtle soup products and sold in bulk for public consumption. In addition, many restaurants purchased meat from Southern trappers for use in turtle soup.

In the 1970s, the demand for turtle meat was so high that three to four tons of alligator snapping turtles were harvested from the Flint River in Georgia per day.

Though the practice has been fully illegal since 2012 when Alabama became the last state to outlaw commercial harvesting, the long-term effects of the popular food trend are still wreaking havoc on the species today.

The Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting endangered species, is working to counteract some of those effects.

“Alligator turtles are some of the fiercest, wildest creatures in the Southeast, but overexploitation and habitat destruction have put their lives on the line,” Elise Bennet, an attorney for the center, said in a release. “These freshwater giants will get a real shot at survival and recovery with the help of the Endangered Species Act and its lifesaving protections.”

Alligator snapping turtles originated in Kansas and Indiana but are now primarily found in the Southern states of Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas. It’s illegal to hunt them recreationally in all but two states—Louisiana where fishers are allowed one per day and Mississippi where they’re restricted to one per year. If the turtles are added to the threatened species list, it will no longer be legal to catch them in any state.

The largest freshwater turtle in North America, alligator snapping turtles are known for their spikey shells and ability to catch prey using a tongue appendage that creates a wormlike lure. Though they can live up to 80 years and weigh up to 250 pounds, the species’ future is severely limited by the relatively small number of eggs that females lay each year. Compared to sea turtles which lay an average of 110 eggs per nest, alligator snapping turtles lay only around 27.

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Ghost Hunting Theories
Legendary Christmas Monsters

Halloween ended, many grieved. Christmas begins and they might come to life again when they realize there were a lot of legends of monsters to keep children in place.

Talk about a holiday buzzkill, European children had to be pretty frightened of Christmas – it could be really good or incredibly evil. In many ways, it reflects religious beliefs of a Divine reward or a hellish punishment.

Belsnickel
This German legend involves a raggedy-looking man with a stick in one hand, candy in another. He either rewards or punishes children.

Jolasveinar
“13 Dwarfs of Christmas”

These “Yule Lads” are an Icelandic tale that involves 13 dwarves who bring Christmas, kind of like a bunch of little Santas. They also punish the bad kids. The children put shoes in their windowsills the last 13 days of Christmas, awaiting gifts or rotting potatoes. These fellows are supposedly the sons of mountain Trolls.

Gryla
Another Icelandic mythical creature. Originally, she was the mother of the Yule Lads. She is considered a natural radar for knowing what kids are bad. She reportedly leaves her cave to eat the bad children.

Krampus
This Austrian and Bavarian figure is a damn scary one. Krampus is said to be tall, hairy, dark, with a long floppy tongue, horns, chains and bells. Once again, this figure is there to punish the bad kids. Over time, he has changed to a kind of devil figure for Christians who reinterpreted this pagan figure. Now, he is seen as someone who will beat, eat, or sell bad children into slavery. I guess coal in the stocking wasn’t enough for Santa, he needed a companion that was the Lucifer to his Christ.

Fouettard
Known as the whipping father, Fouettard would attend with St. Nick to whip the bad children. He is seen as a man with a long beard, long hair, wearing dark garb.

Knecht Ruprecht
Dressed in a brown robe, this nasty companion to St. Nick was said to beat children with a sack filled with chimney ash (cough). If that wasn’t enough, he left the parents a stick to beat the child in the morning.

Perchta
This Germanic lady figure does the most vile things, wandering the countryside at Christmastime and slitting the bellies open on bad children, spilling their guts out and replacing it with straw!

These stories get me wondering if the Neanderthal part of Europeans made them preoccupied with clubbing children. Hmmm

Well, for those who were sad Halloween was over, Christmas brings a whole slew of new scary stories.
If you’re looking for movies based on these characters, start with Krampus!

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Gilberto Rides Again Chapter 31
by Stephen Halpert

As he drove to the Houndstooth campus in Brookline, Massachusetts Gilberto’s thoughts revolved around the three mysteries he was currently dealing with: Buzz’s sudden, untimely death, his ghostly appearance, and last night’s disappearance of Sara Midgley from her Beacon Street condo.
“Thick carpeting,” Rain had said. “Someone could easily have been hiding here when Ramon carried her into her bedroom.”
Gilberto shook his head and sighed. Obviously, Sara knew much more than she’d be willing to admit to, but how she specifically figured into the shaky Atlas landscape remained another mystery.
Now that Sara Midgley was missing, and a police investigation had ensued, the walls of Atlas might soon be crumbling.
Then there was that vagrant with the sinister twisted knife who had eluded him, leaping past the crowd of subway riders emerging onto Arlington Street. Was this the mysterious Mr. Midgley, Sara’s deceased husband, presumed drowned years ago in the South China Sea? And was he the same assailant responsible for the stabbing and killing of the three Chinese thugs?
He scratched his head and sighed again. What had begun as a normal stockholder’s dinner in Greenbush, North Carolina when Buzz was about to certify the merger between Clay Calhoun and Atlas, had spiraled into a transparent veil of deceit. Sara had told Gilberto earlier that Buzz intended to sell Clay Cahoon to an undetermined Chinese firm, but did that matter?
Somehow all this didn’t add up. His intuition told Gilberto that Atlas would ultimately self-destruct. He was glad he had called his broker and instructed him to liquidate his Atlas holdings.
All throughout this ordeal Maria had been encouraging Gilberto to meet with Houndstooth headmaster Ed Long, to discuss the possibility of his becoming their soccer coach.
“But Maria, I’m a senior vice president,” he kept insisting. “This is my career. I’ve worked so long…”
As always, she’d kiss him, give him her most beguiling, sympathetic smile and run her hand through his graying hair.
“Vice President of a sinking ship,” she said softly. “Gilberto, I’ve been following this. Every time I throw the cards what comes up for Atlas is the tower-big changes that could lead to its failure. You, yourself said that Buzz had fostered Atlas’ rapid expansion. At some point it was bound to implode and self-destruct. I guess what goes around comes around. Call it corporate karma.”
That made him laugh. “Corporate karma. There’s a bestselling book title if I’ve ever heard one.”
“I’m serious.” She lowered her voice, whispered. “I want you whole, happy and healthy not wracked by the fallout from others’ greed and deceit. I wish you and Ramon could jump ship, and maybe coaching soccer is part of something new and exciting.”
He looked at her. “In all seriousness, have you been talking to Rosa?”
“Yes,” she nodded. “She’s upset. Ramon’s gained weight and has become moody. I didn’t tell her but I think Sara Midgley has her hooks in him and is playing head games at his expense.”
He hugged her. Tears filled his eyes. “I just wish we could go back to Niagara Falls.”
“And see everything we missed during our honeymoon?”
“You mean the museums and historic places?”
“Yes,” she smiled. “Exactly. “And I know if we ever go back, you won’t let me out of bed anymore than you did the last time.”
“That’s what honeymoons are for.”
She giggled. “If you say so. But we don’t have to drive hundreds of miles. If that’s what you want, we can check into a hotel in Boston.”
He smiled. “Yes!”
“Anytime,” she kissed him. “I’m ready, you’re the man chained to his desk. Just say the word and I’ll make reservations.”
“You mean we never have to get out of bed?”
She smiled. “If that’s what you want.”
He hugged her. “Our second honeymoon. How about The Charles in Harvard Square?”
She giggled and wriggled against him. “Just like the last time,” She slid her hand under his shirt, “but without all that driving.”
He smiled as he recalled that conversation. Then he looked up and realized he had arrived at the grounds surrounding the Palmer mansion, now the home of Houndstooth Academy.
The Houndstooth campus was located on the spacious, well-tended lawns and gardens of the old Palmer estate in Brookline. A tree-lined driveway led to the once elegant Victorian mansion that now housed Houndstooth’s administration building, offices, and some classrooms. Gilberto parked and saw construction of several new buildings. Houndstooth was certainly on the move. Greeted at the front door, he was escorted to the headmaster’s office by a smiling young woman.
Ed Long, tall, thin and tweedy, rose from his desk and greeted Gilberto. “Gilberto Santiago,” he proclaimed. “Meeting you is very special. I’ve read how you and your teammate Ramon Gomes won practically as many cups as the Yankees did World Series.”
Gilberto tilted his head and smiled appreciatively. “That was a long time ago.”
Ed waxed enthusiastic. “But those records still dominate amateur soccer and what you achieved contributed strongly to soccer’s growing into a major league sport. Why you and Gomes are considered the Mantle and Marris of soccer.”
Gilberto’s smile broadened. He hadn’t anticipated this welcome. “I love soccer. It’s in my blood. I’m glad my step-son Joey Sanchez is so enthusiastic about the game.”
Ed Long nodded. He pressed a button on his polished mahogany desk. “Coffee?”
Gilberto nodded. “Thank you.”
Within minutes an attractive assistant wheeled in a coffee wagon. After she poured and left, the headmaster began to speak.
“Basically Gilberto, our alumni want greater athletic visibility for Houndstooth. You’ve come at a good time. The building drive for a gymnasium and adjoining athletic facility is well underway. We all agreed that soccer and eventually rugby is the way to go. Nothing against football but we feel soccer is more in alignment with the Houndstooth tradition.”
Gilberto nodded, sipped his coffee. “Soccer is becoming more popular by the day,”
“What we need Gilberto is an athletic director and head coach who can implement soccer from intermural to varsity, involve us in strong competition with other private schools, oversee recruiting and basically get our name on the map.”
“I expect there’d be some recruitment needed,” Gilberto said. “A team is only as good as its players.”
“True,” Long said. “But not to short change scholarship. “We all want our Houndstooth graduates to be accepted in top colleges and to make a name for themselves in the world.” (To be continued )

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CINNAMON HOT COCOA MIX (Pantry Cooking II)

1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
2-1/2 cups non-instant powdered milk
1-1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup baking cocoa (sift if necessary)
1/2 cup non-dairy creamer
2 tablespoons cinnamon

Finely chop chocolate chips or chop in a food processor or blender. Pour into a mixing bowl. Add other ingredients and mix thoroughly. Store in an airtight container.

Mix 1/3 cup cocoa mix with 8 to 12 ounces of boiling water. Makes 19 to 20 servings.

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Kitty Kat’s Korner

Help Your Cat Exercise More
Reviewed by Vanessa Farner, DVM

You’re not the only one who needs to work out. Exercise is important to your cat’s overall health. Movement, especially the kind that uses their hunting skills, can keep their weight down and help them work off extra energy. Playtime is crucial for their mental well-being, too — it can help stop depression and boredom, which can lead to bigger health and behavior issues.

With a little help from you, your kitty can stay healthy and active — and have a little more fun, too.

Aim to play with your cat for around 10 to 15 minutes at a time. If they don’t enjoy it, they’ll let you know. When they get bored, put the toys away and offer some praise and a few treats.

Introduce some new toys. You probably already know that cats are fond of feathers and strings. But you can watch them while they play to find out what kinds of objects they like best. Try out a toy shaped like a bird, then one that looks like a mouse, and another that resembles a bug. The plaything she likes most can help you figure out what kind to buy in the future.

Be prepared for the kill. Cats are especially satisfied when they can get their teeth and claws solidly into their playthings. Let them do it, and be ready to offer replacement toys and feathers when old ones get worn out.

Add some new levels to your games. Get a multi-story cat tree and put it near an open floor space where your cat can run, then jump onto it.

Get your cat a piñata. Cats love to bat things that hang overhead. Food inside will offer even more motivation. To make a piñata, use a plastic container, like an old yogurt or sour cream cup with a lid. Cut a small hole in the bottom of it. Put a treat or two inside and hang it up with a string where your cat can reach it. If they hit it the right way, the treats will fall out.

Put on a tail. If you tuck a string or a long piece of cloth into the back of your pants, your cat can chase it as you walk around the house. But don’t leave the string out if you’re not supervising. If your cat swallows the string, it can be life-threatening.

Take a hike. Just like dogs, cats can learn to walk on a leash, though it’s best if you can teach them how while they are young. Strolls outside are best suited to cats who aren’t shy. Use a harness instead of just a collar and the leash. Before you go outside together, make sure there aren’t any loose neighborhood dogs that might spook them.

Don’t forget the lasers. A laser pointer can provide endless entertainment and, yes, exercise, as your cat chases it. Take care not to shine the laser directly into the cat’s or anyone else’s eyes.

Put playtime on the calendar. Carve out a spot in your schedule for you and kitty to have some fun every day. Cats are most active at dawn and dusk, so the evening or early morning would be ideal. You might also work in a play session before their meals to give them the thrill of the hunt as the cat “catches” their food.

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Georgia Nicols Weekly Horoscope: Sunday, December 12, 2021

The 2022 Annual Forecasts are available for pre-order. Annual Forecasts will be sent via e-mail on January 1st.

All Signs
We will feel a shift of energy this week. On Monday, two planets change signs: Feisty Mars moves into energetic Sagittarius (for six weeks), while Mercury moves into business-oriented Capricorn. Probably a good thing because Mercury in Capricorn will help holiday shoppers be practical and avoid going overboard. (Capricorn hate waste.) Midweek, especially by Thursday, everyone’s in party mode! “Count me in!” Nevertheless, throughout the week, there’s a steady build up to the Full Moon in Gemini on Saturday. It’s a Little Richard week: “…there’s a-whole lot-ta shakin’ goin’ on.” By Sunday, everything settles an anti-climactic way. Ah yes…. the one who stays after the liquor is gone is the host.

Aries (March 21-April 19)
Grab every chance to travel because you want to get away from it all. You need a change of scenery. With Mercury at the top of your chart, you’re thinking about long-term goals. You might make an effort to impress bosses, parents, teachers and VIPs, which is a good thing because Mercury at the top of your chart favours discussions with authority figures. Midweek, especially around Thursday, enjoy schmoozing with friends and interacting with clubs and organizations. Nevertheless, be aware that there is a steady build up towards the Full Moon on Saturday, which is a bit accident-prone for you. Pay attention to everything you say and do, especially at the end of the week. Be alert. (The world needs more lerts.)

Taurus (April 20-May 20)
This is an intense week, especially dealing with other people’s property, shared possessions, loans, mortgages and debt. Do your best to stay top of things because you might face disputes about these issues in the next few weeks. In fact, something about these disputes might come to a head by the end of the week, when the Full Moon peaks on Saturday. If these disagreements are not about shared property, jointly-held possessions or other people’s wealth, they might be about a difference in values. A difference in values is tricky. Who has the right values? Perhaps you can say, “If I agreed with you, then we’d both be wrong.”

Gemini (May 21-June 20)
Relations with partners and close friends are testy. This is because both the Sun and Mars are opposite your sign, which sets up a polarized situation. This makes you more impatient with others. (Remember: Patience is the antidote to anger. Anger is never your friend. Anger is like drinking poison in the hopes of killing your enemy.) Another contributing influence that might make you tense is that as the week wears on, there’s a build-up of energy before the only Full Moon in Gemini all year. That’s your sign. These are the stress factors. The plus factors are that this same polarized situation will give you more objectivity and more wisdom about your relationships.

Cancer (June 21-July 22)
You’re still in work mode. You’re doing your best to get better organized, as well as doing whatever you can to improve your health. (Nicely done.) Ironically, your motivation to be more productive will increase this week and stay that way for the next six weeks! (You’ll be running around with an overboard motor on your butt.) Mercury is now sitting opposite your sign, which will help you to clarify and explain issues to someone close to you. This is a good week to discuss difficulties. You will also welcome stimulating, intellectual conversations. Don’t worry if you feel muzzled by the end of the week. After the Full Moon on Saturday, this restriction will diminish.

Leo (July 23-Aug. 22)
It’s a playful week for Leos! You want to party, schmooze and enjoy the company of others. You want to visit restaurants, art galleries and enjoy sports outings and fun activities with kids. You feel the holiday buzz and you want to share good times! Fear not, you’re still in work mode. In fact, as Mercury changes signs this week. You will become more hands-on with tasks, especially those that involved mental work. It will be easy to pay attention to detail. (I will proof my forecasts for 2022.) A tiny warning: Be careful about being critical of others, especially coworkers. Remember the wisdom of Goethe, “Correction does much but encouragement does more.” This Full Moon can create tension with kids and romantic partners. Patience is your best friend.

Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22)
Home and family continue to be your primary focus. Do be aware that with fiery Mars in the picture for the next six weeks, there will be increased chaos and activity where you live. This might be due to visiting guests, renovations or residential moves. Naturally, this might provoke domestic strife. This week in particular, some kind of energy will build up before the Full Moon on Saturday, which makes you choose between your career and your external world versus family and home. Note: With this particular Full Moon, you can’t ignore home and family. Nevertheless, opportunities to party, enjoy sports and playful activities with kids are abundant. Enjoy!

Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 22)
This continues to be a fast-paced, busy time for you because of the demands of your schedule, including short trips, as well as errands, appointments and increased reading and writing. Be extra cautious this week because as the week approaches the Full Moon on Saturday, it becomes an increasingly accident-prone time for you. Remember this and be aware and mindful. Pay attention to everything you say and do. Family discussions will take place in the next few weeks. Some of you will also tackle home repairs. Enjoy entertaining at home and tweaking your digs because this will please you. (It always does.)

Scorpio (Oct. 23-Nov. 21)
Money is still a major focus for you. We’re talking about the money you earn and the money you spend. You’re also focused on your assets and possessions. Starting this week, you will work harder to boost your income. (This is a good thing because Mars will encourage you to spend money. Money in – money out.) You might also disagree with someone close to you about how to handle or approach things. This friction might come to a head by the end of the week during the Full Moon on Saturday. Fortunately, although you’re busy and talkative this week, you will be charming and diplomatic. Perfect. You can use your charm to placate others and keep the peace. Why wouldn’t you?

Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21)
You’re pumped because the Sun is in your sign. Then, on Monday, fiery Mars enters your sign as well (for six weeks). Well, this makes you PowerPoint on steroids! This is great if you have to get a lot done, because you will have the energy to do whatever you want. The downside is you might be coming on a too strong for some. (If you see the hair blowing back over their ears – that’s your first clue.) Be patient with partners and friends this week because by Saturday, the only Full Moon opposite your sign all year will take place. This means tensions will increase until they come to a peak. Meanwhile, listen to your moneymaking ideas because they might be worthwhile.

Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19)
On Monday, Mercury moves into your sign to stay for the next few weeks giving you a stronger than ever desire to express your point of view to people. You want to be heard! Your mind will be very busy jumping from topic to topic, which might confuse others. In one way, you will want to get out and travel so that you can see people and do things. And yet, because both the Sun and Mars are hiding in your chart, you will want to hide at home and be invisible. (Note: This week is still a great time to buy wardrobe goodies for yourself.) Meanwhile, be circumspect and notice the activities of others – what they’re doing and saying. (If you think something fishy is going on – it is.)

Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18)
Your popularity continues this week. In fact, your interactions with others will become even busier and more intense. You might be involved in competitive sports or group activities with a competitive edge to them. In part, this is because you identify with your ego energy. This is also why you’ll be interested in making long-term goals for the future. Your best success will be to coordinate your needs with the needs of others and turn your efforts into a win-win situation through some kind of mutual cooperation. You have a lot of energy now to work with others. Don’t waste energy on disputes. Go with what works.

Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20)
This week you look fabulous in the eyes of others, especially bosses, parents and VIPs because the Sun is still at the top of your chart casting you in a flattering spotlight. Now Mars is also at the top of your chart, which means your ambition is aroused! You have big plans and you intend to achieve them. This is a popular week; and you will enjoy schmoozing with others, especially younger people and creative types. (In fact, some friendships will be very cozy.) Please be aware that as this week progresses, there will be a buildup of energy leading up to Saturday’s Full Moon that might create issues with parents and family members. Be patient and charming. Go do that voodoo that you do so well.

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By GrannyMoon Posted in Pagan

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