In early March, the people of Lithuania hold the Kaziukas Festival celebrating St. Casimir, the patron saint of Lithuania. St. Casimir was born in Lithuanian to a respected ruling clan shortly after the ruling classes adopted Christianity.
During his brief life, people loved him for his virtue, piety. He contracted tuberculosis, and died on March 4, 1483 at the age of twenty-five. They buried his body in Vilnius.
From the beginning, believers appealed to god at his grave and believe he performed miracles, The church considered his fabled appearance in 1518 his first miracle. During a pitched battle with the Russian army, Saint Casimir appeared astride a white horse and urged the army to follow him into the fight. They won.
On November 7, 1602, the Catholic church canonized St. Casimir and his feast day added the calendar of saint’s day. It is celebrated through the Balkans. For Lithuanians, March 4th is also a national holiday.
In Vilnius, an enormous festival takes place on the weekend nearest to his March 4th feast day. Craft and food vendors offering produce, regional treats, and traditional handmade goods pack the capital city streets. Street performers, concerts, and folk dancers perform in the central squares of the old town. On Saturday; crafters, musicians, and locals wearing traditional costumes parade throughout the streets in the Procession of Kaziukas.
Popular craft items include hand painted Easter eggs and palms bouquets called verbos. (More on verbos in a future post). Great street food is an important aspect of the festival. Cast iron skillets overflowing with sausages and sauerkraut, giant kettles of rich chili join stalls selling cured meats, smoked fish, cheeses, and seasonal fruits and vegetables. Diners enjoy steins of Gira (kvass, a fermented bread drink) and beer in great abundance.
You too can celebrate Kaziukas with some Grybukai, a popular mushroom shaped gingerbread cookie. Here is a recipe.
· 1/2 c honey
· 1/4 c table sugar
· 2 T brown sugar
· 2 T butter
· 1 large egg
· 1 1/2 t cardamom
· 1 1/2 t cinnamon
· 1/2 t clove
· 1/2 t nutmeg
· 1 1/2 t lemon zest
· 1/2 t freshly orange zest
· 2 3/4 c all-purpose flour
· 3/4 t baking soda
· 1/4 t salt
· 2 T sour cream
· 2 c powdered sugar
· 1/2 c poppy seeds
· Heat honey over medium heat until it begins to boil.
· Remove from heat and stir table sugar and brown sugar, butter, egg, spices and zest.
· In a mixing bowl combine flour, baking soda and salt.
· Stir in the honey and sour cream. Alternating a little of each to form a dough.
· Knead the dough on a floured board for about five minutes (until dough is not sticky)
· Rest dough for twenty minutes.
· Heat oven to 350°F
· Cut dough into four equal parts.
· With one part make stems by rolling into long coil about ⅜ inch thick. Cut into 1 inch lengths.
· Place “stems” about 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
· Bake about seven minutes and cool on wire racks.
Form the caps
· With the remain dough, shape 1 ½-inch balls.
· With the handle of a wooden spoon make an indentation about ½-inch deep on one side of each ball
· Place caps, indented side down, ½ inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
· Bake about 12 minutes. Cool on wire racks.
Make the icing
· Mix together the powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon water.
· Add another 2 tablespoons water a little at a time, beating well in between, until the icing is combined.
A brown crested bird with white-sided tail, the skylark is smaller than a starling, but larger than the common sparrow. The Audubon calls skylarks one of the most famous songbirds in the world, celebrated by British poets and naturalists. Today, European skylark population is in rapid decline.
Lithuanian’s have many other Skylark Day superstitions.
On January 30th, 2021, the relative motion of the planet Mercury appeared to reverse its course in the sky and move backward. This reverse relative motion continues through February 19th. Astrologers believe that during this period areas of life ruled by Mercury (travel, communication, health, etc.), become confused. Retrograde in the house of Aquarius can also affect technology and the internet, so don’t become surprised if your gadgets stop working, emails and letters lost, and your doctor must redo important medical tests. Aquarius also rules the intellect, so study hard and prepare to mishear and misunderstand important information.
I’m not sure how I believe, but last year, I scheduled my gall bladder surgery AFTER mercury went direct. I am also not bent out of shape by low click through on my Amazon Ads.
My research shows mercury retrograde is a great time to eat comfort food, like Chicken & Waffles, Spaghetti & Meatballs, Mac & cheese, Deep-Dish Pizza, Grilled Cheese & Tomato Soup, and Chili con carne.
It is snowy retrograde day here in Washington. So, tonight I’m cooking a warm & comfy favorite for dinner.
KETO Garlic Butter Ground Turkey with Cauliflower
All over the world, winter and the hope of spring is celebrated in the month February.
Here are a few of these celebration.– the twelve-day observance of Entschtanning (the emergence), the Shinto Festival of Setsubun (February 3), the feast day of Saint Brigid of Ireland (February 1), and of course for many Pagans, the fire festival of Imbolc with the Goddess Brigid at its heart. Ground Hog's Day, Strove Tuesday (Feb. 12) and Carnaval/Mardi Gras (Feb. 16) are in the same vein. I'm not sure how St. Patty's Day and Valentine's Day fit in.
Here is a opportunity to clean out the fridge and celebrate UK Pancake Day on Feb. 12. with this genuine BBC Pancake Recipe.
BBC Pancake Day Recipe
Gaby Lukas from the novel, Takakush, serves the Lithuanian goddess of fire Gabija. The first of February is her feast day. On that day, they bake a special loaf of bread to honor her and her Christian aspect, Saint Agota. Notice the traditional woodcut of the saint on the left is stand in front of a house carrying bread on a platter.
To celebrate, they divide the finished bread among members of the household and place leftovers along beams and behind pictures of ancestors and holy figures for additional protection. I don’t know how they keep the mice away.
Ancient Lithuanians offered bread to Gabija to protect their home from catching fire. A loaf on the roof stopped lighting from striking the home and a loaf buried in the foundation of a new house protected it from burning down. The placed bread consecrated to Gabija in a vehicle or luggage before taking a long trip. Mothers give it to their sons, heading off to war. A farmer attached the bread to their plow shafts on the first day of plowing to prevent the crops from burning. Offering Bees some stimulated the production of honey. Carrying bread in a handkerchief while taking a hike protected from snake bite and attaching it to a cow’s horn to encouraged milk production. Wash sores with water soaked in Gabija’s bread to aid healing. It’s very useful stuff.
Should all this fail and the building still catches fire, here is a backup plan. Run around the building three times while holding the holy bread over your head, then throw it in the middle of the flames. Gabija should take pity on you and the fire will go out. But don’t forget to call 911, just in case.
Happy Gabija’s Day. Here is a recipe to help your observance.
Ruginė Duona, Lithuanian Dark Rye
Starter (Raugas) Ingredients
Store in a glass jar in a warm place for there days. Mix every 12 hours. It will bubble and smell yeasty.
2 bowls (small and large)
9” x 12” bread pans (lined with parchment paper)
Takakush is available on Amazon at http://tiny.cc/TakakushNovel.
In ancient China there once was a monster name Nianshou (年快). Most of the time he lived deep in the sea and bothered no one until each New Year’s Eve.
At midnight on that one night, Nianshou crept on shore to destroyed nearby villages and eat all the villagers and livestock. Fearing for their lives, the people fled to the mountains for safety.
One year, all the people in the village were packing up to leave. An old beggar with long silver hair and beard, sharp black eyes, and a long walking stick limped into town.
“Where are you going?” he asked a man shuttering his doors and window. The man didn’t answer so the stranger moved on.
Farther down the street, the beggar met a young mother and her children carrying bundles to a cart. “Why are you packing to leave here?” he asked. But they were too busy to chat, so he moved on once more.
The silver-haired man stopped in front of a tidy little cottage.
The granny came out the front door and saw the man in the middle of the street with a smile on his face. “Why are you standing there and not leaving town?” she asked.
He looking around and shrugged his shoulders.
“Aren’t you afraid of Nianshou’s sharp fangs and horns?”
The stranger stroked his long white beard, chuckled, and shook his head. “No, I’m not afraid,” he said. “Leave me a bowl of rice, let me stay in your home for one night, and in exchange I will protect your all property from destruction.”
The granny argued with him. “It’s foolish to stay, come with me.” She pleaded and begged but he wouldn’t change his mind.
Near sunset, the woman gave up and left for the mountains alone.
When midnight came and the new year arrived, Nianshou attacked the village, roaring and slashing with his horn. The horrible beast was having a grand time until he arrived at the grandmother home. Instead of being boarded up, a hundred candles burned in all the window.
Someone is home, fresh meat. Nianshou giggled and licked his lips while spittle ran down his chin.
The monster charged the door, then froze in place. Red paper flags in all the doors and windows flapped and fluttered in the wind.
Nianshou stared at the strange sight, and a low growl rose from his throat.
Bang. The door burst open, and the dressed in a dressed all in read and banging a gone, the beggar jumped out. He picked up a firecracker, lit it on a candle and threw it. The projectile exploded in the monster’s face. Nianshou jumped back into a crouch.
The stranger roared with laughter and holding another firecracker slowly raised his arm.
The monster Nianshou screamed and fled into the night.
In the morning, the villagers returned. They saw the old woman’s cottage undamaged and realized red decorations, loud noises, and bright lights must have scared the monster away. The next year they did the same and Nianshou was never seen again.
That story is one Chinese New Year legend. Another is manic house cleaning, red flags, bright light, and explosives ward off plague spirits and keep the family from becoming ill. In the time of Covid, I’m ready to try anything.
新年快乐 my Friends!
Today is the official release of Takakush – Genus Magica Book One. Check it out @ http://tiny.cc/TakakushNovel
Photo by Eva Elijas from Pexels
Thorrablot, the Icelandic midwinter festival was on January 14th. After the winter solstice, Icelander’s celebrates the return of light. Don’t worry, people don’t sing the exploits of the Frost King or sacrifice to the God of Thunder any more.
In modern Iceland, people commemorate the midwinter festival with a grand feast where family and friends play games, sing songs, tell stories and read poems. Traditionally, the host arranged food in a wooden through because common people didn’t own platters.
In an elegant Reykjavik restaurant expect to find Fermented Shark, Sour Ram Testicles, and Blood Sausage on the menu. :(
But I’ll stick with Icelandic Thunder Bread with fresh butter. Here is a recipe.
Remove bread and serve with butter and cold meats, smoked fish and heirloom cheeses. Don’t forget to wash it down with Brennivin (Iceland’s strong schnapps).
Imagine a world where stories of a mythological creature has an element of truth but the creatures are very rare.
The Korean a nine-tailed fox, Gumiho, a shape-shifting succubus tricks unsuspecting travelers, Brazil’s pink dolphin, Boto Cor De Rosa, wanders the banks of the Amazon, or the Hiisi, an elf-king of Finland rides his hundred horned elk through the remote hills. Real, but uncommon and seldom seen, and creatures hiding in wild places in the world.
Until today. Human beings invade every part of the planet, from the headlands of the Amazon river to the remote ice flows of the Arctic, or the highest mountains of the Himalayas. People are driving these creatures into the open.
Like the black bear or cougar wander into a subdivision, mythological creatures tangle with humans at greater and greater frequency. Even more frightening, these creatures are now invasive species migrating, like a poisonous tropical spider appearing in a midwestern Safeway with the bananas.
This is the magical world of Takakush, a dark paranormal fantasy. The Lukas family of hereditary priestesses living ordinary lives in Olympia, Washington. They run a business, pay bills, and go to school. These powerful women also are avatars for four Lithuanian Goddesses. They channel the deities and the goddess’ gift them with powers, but at a cost.
Mother Mina Lukas volunteers at the children’s hospital and local nursing homes and uses her gift of healing to help the patients. She also cares for her ancient mother, Regana, the mentally declining goddess of the occult, fate, and magic and her fifteen-year-old daughter, Gabby, who struggles to control her fire goddess powers.
Eldest daughter Professor Elena Lukas’ fiance cancels their wedding, she returns home to her eccentric family and faces her destiny. Dedicated at her birth to the Lithuanian Forest Goddess Mediena, Elena must decide if she will commit to serve as a priestess and avatar for her lifetime. Or turn her back on the bonding and live a normal life.
Prepared to hide in a local liberal arts university, Elena arrives to find that a series of so-called animal attacks have terrorized her forest. Early investigations lead her to believe this may be a deadly creature of dark magic.
Takakush offers readers magic, mythology, mystery, and a small touch of romance.
Takakush, the first book in the Genus Magica series, releases in January 2021 and available on Amazon in kindle unlimited, paperback and ebook format. http://tiny.cc/TakakushNovel. Genus Magica Book Two publishes in late 2021.
Follow Raine on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and http://www.twanohpress.com/.
Illustration by N Lucie
In 1997, I was throwing out a newspaper and I noticed a story about Princess Diana’s funeral (September 6th, 1997 ) was on one side of the page and on the other an article about Mother Teresa passed away on September 5, 1997.*
The feeling hit with a bolt of lightning. The mother and the crone are dead.
For those who aren’t into new age religion, American feminist, neopagans and wiccans have come to believe the mother, maiden, and crone represent a divine feminine. The maiden, sometime called the kore, is a young virgin who is not awake to the ways of the world. Represented by the waxing moon, the maiden is magic, spring and sprouting plants. The mother is the full moon. the harvest, fertility and abundance. Winter and the waning moon is the crone, the wise women.
But I digress, on that sunny fall afternoon my second thought was who is the maiden?
Obviously, Colorado beauty queen, JonBenét Ramsey, murdered on December 25, 1996, could fit the bill. The incidents were nine months apart, and interestingly enough, that is also the gestation period of a human embryo, the ultimate kore.
I checked an ephemeris and all three deaths happened near or during a mercury retrograde. According to Horoscope.com
"When Mercury is in retrograde, technology, communication, travel, logic, and information all get disrupted, but understanding Mercury retrograde’s meaning, the risks and benefits behind it, the sign it's in, as well as how long it lasts can help you deal with astrology’s most nerve-wracking event."
Poor mercury gets a bad wrap. It is more likely to cause you to miss a phone call or a plane, and not to kill a saint.
Maybe the answer is in the stars? Here are the charts:
1996 (Jonbenet death)
I’m not seeing much here and I haven't thought about astrology in a million light years. There is a lot of Virgo and Capricorn going on, but that isn't telling me much. Besides those are two sign I have trouble understanding anyway.
Maybe someone else will find sense in their stars.
So back on the hunt, if the maiden is not Jonbenet, then who was she?
There were a lot of scientist having breakthrough around with cloning and stem cells during 1996-7. You remember Dolly the sheep? Maybe that was the death of motherhood as we know it. The maiden is no more.
Another hint may live in the other word for the maiden, the Kore. From the Greek, the word is described in the OED as:
"An archaic Greek statue of a young woman, standing and clothed in long loose robes. The principal difficulty of interpretation posed by the korai lies in the statues' presence - generic and anonymous."
The key words here are ‘generic and anonymous’. The maiden died, but was anonymous, an unknown person.
My last thought is Steve Jobs returned to Apple ( to work on the iPod), Netflix went online, and Nintendo 64 went to market. So, because of media and technology, children stopped having childhoods. They aren't making kore anymore.
This make me want go into a diatribe about the extinction of “childhood, but I’ll save that for another time.
Either this is sign of the end times or I have too much time on my hands.
*The name Teresa is derived from the Greek for huntress and a familiar name to Diana, the hunt goddess, weird huh?
I was listening to a vlog from Galen Emmanuel on youtube. It was about being an entrepreneur and starting your own business. Gallen pointed out that when you start a business be prepared to only spend 3-6% of your time doing what you love. The rest of the time is "running" the business. So, true my friend. I've been working with Galen in my day job. Check him out.
That has been the case for me in the "publishing on Amazon" business I'm starting up. There is all the book publishing prep work, marketing plans, website and social media site building, plus writing all the content you need to create to support. It is fun but exhausting.
And, I have only written about 15,000 words of Colony Collapse - Genus Magica Book Two. And my Novel writing class starts on October 1st and I have to get all the materials into Canvas.
Luckily I know that no one if reading this, so that takes some of the pressure off.
Raine Reiter weaves together an empowered, female-centered narrative with rich descriptions of nature and an ever-present sense of mystery. Her vivid, flowing prose takes readers of dark fantasy into a world that looks and feels real, while still evoking the enticing paranormal creativity shared by authors such as Richelle Mead and Kat Richardson. Follow Raine on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Check out Pinterest to see the world of Takakush.