Inspiration Fanatic

Crafty Coasters for Ritual Use

For today’s #InspirationFanatic Friday, I wanted to provide instructions for a simple and affordable craft you can add to your altar or use during ritual.

Supplies

Beads and embellishments

Needle and thread

Cork coasters

Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Ribbon or twine

Instructions

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1. Sew the beads and embellishments onto the cork coaster.
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2. Apply hot glue to the back of the coaster and adhere another coaster to it.
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3. Apply hot glue around the edges of the sandwiched coasters, and adhere ribbon or twine to the circumference.
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4. Cover the place where the ribbon or twine meets with an embellishment.
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Step 5: Enjoy your coaster for use during ceremonies and/or as a part of your altar!

 

Inspiration Fanatic

Mabon Molasses Apple Crumble

For this #InspirationFanatic Friday, I decided to create a recipe for apple crumble. Apples are traditionally associated with Mabon, the Pagan festival celebrating the autumn equinox.  Mabon is a time to express gratitude for the harvests of the active, light parts of the year, which we are now carrying onward towards the restful times of inner work as the night begins to overtake the day. Apples can be seen to represent fertility as well as divination, especially in regards to relationships.

I’ve included some substitution suggestions; I didn’t try out all the possible versions so you’ll want to adjust to taste. It is possible to make a lower-sugar version of this recipe. When I made it with just the molasses and no sugar; it had more of a savory quality.

Ingredients

3 cups of apples, sliced thinly

1 ½ cups of oats (steel-cut)

2 TBS shelled hemp hearts (optional)

4 TBS butter, unsalted and melted (Sub: coconut oil) + 1 TBS butter, solid

1 tsp cinnamon + cinnamon to sprinkle

½ tsp salt

3 TBS molasses or honey (Sub: 1/2 cup brown sugar)

½ cup brown sugar +2 TBS, separated

3/4 cup water

Instructions

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1. Slice apples, mix with 2 TBS brown sugar, and arrange in baking dish (8-9 inch dish).
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2. Mix the remaining ingredients except for the water.
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3. Spread crumble over the apples; pour water over the contents of the pan.

4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

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5. Uncover, dot with butter and cinnamon. Bake for an additional 10 minutes
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6. Let rest at least 15 minutes before serving.

The final product will look a bit watery, but the liquid is basically an apple syrup you’ll want to spoon over the top when portioning. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.

Inspiration Fanatic

Art Celebration and Critique

One blessing of the digital age is a world of creativity at our fingertips. Some famous museums allow you to peruse their collections without having to leave your armchair. I am fascinated by creative work, but I haven’t developed the framework needed to contextualize much of what I see. I wanted to spend time on this #InspirationFanatic Friday to discuss ways we can connect with artistic inspiration in order to meet some of our spiritual needs. We can also challenge our perceptions and complacency by critically evaluating the meaning of various forms of artwork. My ideas here are those of a novice in the art world, so I welcome your input and insights. My focus is limited to the visual arts such as pottery, paintings, drawings, sculpture, mixed media and photography.

Studied Reflection

In the museums to which I’ve been, there are at least a few kinds of art lovers. There are those who stare at a piece in silent contemplation, those who speak in hushed whispers to those with them, and those who walk into the room loudly proclaiming “now which one are we looking at?” As a meditative practice, spending time alone taking in a piece of art can be a powerful way to connect with the inherent meaning in the work as well to glimpse the soul of its creator.

You can study artwork in a multitude of ways. One option is to center in yourself and attend to the thoughts and feelings that the work evokes in you. I don’t think there is any right or wrong here; art can serve as a medium to access our innermost desires and fears. Perhaps you can journal or sketch your own response to what you are seeing. Pay attention to any pattern in the type of art that you find most evocative; there is actually at least one study linking our preferences to our personality types.

An entirely different approach is to concentrate on the creative process. Study the piece in terms of the physical labor and mental effort it took to produce it. Focus on the technique, such as the layers and edges of the artist’s method. See what they reveal to you about the creative process. From which distance and perspective did the creator work? How much of the content is a produce of the inner world of the mind, and how much of it springs from the outer world around us? How are light and shadow, texture and form used? What shapes and shades of color are most apparent?

Background Research

Contextualization helps to center a work of art in time, place and circumstance. When we take the time to investigate, we often find there is “more to the story.” This research can be done ahead of time, but I like to let creative work speak to me on its own, tracing the lines it leaves as in impression on me, before contextualizing it. The contrast is sometimes a bit of a let-down; I think that this alone is a useful experience. We may construct a narrative of why the piece was made and for whom it was intended, only to find out the truth is entirely different.

You’ll need to record the name, artist, date and other information available at the time you are viewing the artwork if it’s in a public space, and you can then examine its place in history. In which culture was it made? Was it a representation of the culture, or a pushback against the prevailing attitudes and beliefs of the time? What is known of the artist? What did the artist wish to convey? Depending on the provenance of the work, you may discover wildly different explanations as to how it came to be and why it was created.

In light of the debate regarding statues of the Confederacy in the Southern U.S., another layer to consider is the social effect of the creation, if it is known. What was the social position of the individual or group who created it? To which audience(s) was it directed, and what message was it intended to broadcast? Has its impact changed with time? Could an act of allegiance to the piece lead to an inference of complicity in oppression? Art is not necessarily neutral; it can be used as a tool for propaganda, intimidation, subservience, rebellion and to many other ends. There is a reason that many authoritarian leaders have targeted artists in their purges. The artifacts that remain often speak to the prevailing force.

Proper Patronage

After responding with both intuition and information to a piece of artwork, we can then ascertain its meaning for our own lives. Some pieces may sum up in one creative moment what it feels it would take days or weeks to convey in words, and should likely make their way in some form into our daily physical surroundings. Other pieces may push against our sensibilities and reshape our viewpoint on a particular issue or topic. There may be some we refuse to support or protect because of our moral and social beliefs. Art is powerful!

If the artist who created an item that spoke to us is still alive, it can be very meaningful to be able to tour their exhibition and learn more about their process. Financial support in the form of respecting copyrights and buying directly from an artist demonstrates that we are more than mere consumers; we are keeping alive the creative process. Attending fine art fairs, craft shows and the like are a great way to lend a hand to new artists.

Despite historical efforts at suppression, Goddess figurines have been found in many cultures. My house has started to have a trace of Her in nearly every room. The prohibition of my religion of birth against “graven images” has been thwarted; I now understand the power of an image of She. I intend to concentrate some of my artistic interests in finding local artists who celebrate Her form and working to understand their intention and purpose in the images they create. I hope you’ll share the types of art that speak to you, and how you connect with artistic creativity.

Inspiration Fanatic

Marzipan Moons

Today’s #InspirationFanatic Friday is a candy decorating venture in which you can create a moon made out of Marzipan to represent each moon phase. The candies are very easy and simple to make; it’s a great project for kids!

The brand of Marzipan I purchased from Amazon was Odense. I haven’t attempted to make my own Marzipan, in part because several of the recipes call for raw egg whites. Let me know if you have a go-to recipe that you recommend!

I used Wilton gel food coloring; make sure whichever kind you use is gel because the liquid in regular food coloring will soften the marzipan too much. If you use Wilton, use the Lemon Yellow for the moon; I started with the Golden Yellow and it ended up reminding me of Colby Cheese so I had to redo it. If you notice the color changing in my photos, that’s why.

Instructions

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1. Color about 5/6th of your Marzipan blue and 1/6th of it yellow. It’s up to you how thoroughly you want to mix it; I went easy on the blue so that it had a bit of a swirled appearance.

 

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2. Shape the blue dough into at least 8 balls to represent the sky. To make a rounded flattened circle, pat the dough between your hands to shape.

 

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3. Roll the yellow marzipan between a sheet of waxed paper to your desired thinness.
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4. Cut out the different moon shapes using a circle-shaped cookie cutter. I used a frosting tip because that was all I had that was small enough, but I then had to use a toothpick to help retrieve the pieces.
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5. Place the moon shapes on the sky pieces. You’re done! Marzipan freezes very well if wrapped tightly in plastic wrap. You could save it and have a piece at each phase of the moon during your ritual or ceremony.

This project could also be adapted for the upcoming solar eclipse and might be a fun treat to bring if you are having a potluck or gathering to celebrate.

Inspiration Fanatic

Goddessing on a Budget: Arts and Crafts

Your inner spiritual world can take on material expression through arts and crafts projects. In order to do this in a budget-friendly way, consider spending time diving deeply into a particular project and letting the materials draw out that which needs to be expressed. I also often find a spiritual rhythm in watching someone who has mastered a craft and can make it look like it is child’s play.

I have a large gap between my appreciation for aesthetics and the fine motor skills necessary to execute something I find “beautiful.” Basically, I have an imaginative idea in my head but what I actually make is often worthy of a Pinterest fail. I recently took a clay class which involved throwing pots on a wheel.

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My one success!

I had only one bowl that held together; there were times where the entire lump of clay flew off the wheel and nearly hit someone! But I found other methods like hand-building that I could use and stuck it out. This experience can be a metaphor for how our spiritual practice might go; right when we want it to flow easily, we feel stuck. Perseverance helps, but we might also have to adjust our expectations and goals. It is also a perfect opportunity to find others with whom we can share a good laugh before we take ourselves too seriously!

Given my own limitations, the specific projects I’ve described here are designed to work for those of us who might be “artistically challenged.” They can be completed individually or in a group setting. I would love feedback if you try any of them or if you have other recommendations!

Springboard Into Spiritual Connection With Others Through Crafting

There is a special flow that can develop in creating artwork alongside others who are also engaging their artistic talents. I find something about the process often leads to people opening up and sharing what’s on their hearts. The collective work that arises from these encounters can be a powerful testament to Goddess.

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Created at Paint & Take.

Classes allow for supported learning that can be tailored to an individual’s skill level. They can also be amenable to sticking to a budget depending upon where they are being offered and the time frame for which they meet. I recently was able to take a painting class that focused on creating a fiery Goddess. Everyone’s painting had their own unique touches added to it, and I felt the presence of Goddess in the moment as I walked around and saw what everyone had created in Her honor!

Craft Energy-Infused Items for Ritual Use

As I’ve added to my altar and meditation room, I’ve slowed myself down quite a bit in acquiring items. I’ve found that hand-made items can have power and intention behind them because I think that an item you make yourself can be filled with Goddess-energy as you wield your creative force in making it. Below are instructions for building a tarot/oracle card holder out of polymer clay:

  1. Choose two or more colors of clay, rolling it into a ball and then a log-like shape. Line up the logs next to each other.
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2. Twist the colors together, rolling gently to lengthen.
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3. Fold the clay over itself.
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4. Twist together again, tightening in order to lengthen the strand.
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5. Bring the edges of the clay strand around the card, and check for fit. Clay shrinks when baking, so having it be a little loose is better than it being too snug.

6. Remove the card and transfer the clay to an aluminum baking dish. I used two disposable aluminum containers, one upside down on the other one, to create a sealed compartment. Bake according to the manufacturer’s instructions and allow to cool thoroughly before use.

Express Inner Spiritual Knowledge and Power Through Artwork

Herbs and other plants have spiritual as well as physical uses and properties. Correspondence books and charts can help to determine which one relates to which properties. With this insight, I created “intention jars” to help me connect to particular feelings and states. It can be a bit pricey to get the materials, but buying in bulk means it could work very well in a group setting. This project uses tiny metal, plant and glass materials, so it is not suitable for children under 12. Instructions to create your own intention jar:

  1. Spend some time researching the specific intention you would like to manifest in order to discover the specific dried plants you would like to include in your jar. Gather your materials, which will include tweezers, mini glass jars, dried plants, necklaces or keychains, and wax to seal (optional).
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2. Aquire fine-point tweezers to help to grasp the plants.
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3. Add each plant separately to maximize the color scheme. Don’t overfill.
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4. You can use a jump ring to connect to any necklace or find one small enough to fit through the corkscrew.
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5. Wax seals used for envelopes can be melted to seal the top of the jar. Press the bottom of the cork into the melted wax and then push the cork gently into the bottle.

Goddessing Your Craft

There is an unlimited amount of creativity and innovation that can be brought to using arts and crafts to connect to Goddess. Allow yourself time and energy to be inspired. Rather than push for perfection, look at the creative process as a way to connect in flow with others, energize your ritual space, and explore your inner world. Get crafting!