Big Week in Witchcraft History

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This week in witchcraft history:

~ Yesterday in 1612 the trial of the Pendle witches, one of England’s most famous witch trials, begins at Lancaster Assizes.

~ Yesterday in 1634 Urbain Grandier, accused and convicted of sorcery, is burned alive in Loudun, France.

~ On this day in 1612 the “Samlesbury witches”, three women from the Lancashire village of Samlesbury, England, are put on trial, accused of practicing witchcraft, one of the most famous witch trials in British history.

~ On this day in 1692 in Salem, Province of Massachusetts Bay, five people, one woman and four men, including a clergyman, are executed after being convicted of witchcraft.

#WirchcraftHistory #Witches #Pendle #UrbainGrandier #Samlesbury #Salem

Tanabata

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Happy Tanabata tomorrow July 7th! Tanabata is a day that celebrates the legend of star-crossed lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi, who are separated by the Milky Way and permitted to meet only once a year. As part of Tanabata traditions we write our wishes on strips of paper and tie them to branches of bamboo. What’s your Tanabata wish?

#JapaneseCustoms

Passover Slow Cooked Brisket with Red Wine and Mustard

In honor of Passover I am offering the delectable version of brisket. To all of those of the Jewish faith Happy beginning of Passover. Of course this dish can be prepared anytime of year.  This version takes some time so plan ahead, it’s worth it.

  • Brisket (about 6 pounds)
  • Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 6 carrots sliced into 3 chunks each
  • 4 large quartered onions
  • 6 ribs celery with the greens in 2-inch chunks
  • 5 cloves smashed and peeled garlic
  • ½ cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 4 tablespoons grated horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • Mushrooms (optional)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Season the brisket with salt and pepper, don’t skimp on seasonings. Add a few tablespoons of the olive oil to a braising pan. Warm the pan over medium heat, then sear the brisket on all sides, this takes some time.  When the brisket is mostly browned on all sides, remove it from the pan and set aside. Searing the brisket is really optional, but it is traditional.

There should be enough fat rendered in the pan, but if not add a few more tablespoons of oil. Add 3 of the carrots, the onions, celery, and garlic and sauté for a few minutes, stirring and sprinkling with more salt and pepper.

Stir together the wine vinegar, wine, honey, grated horseradish, and mustard in a bowl, then pour the liquid into the pan and deglaze, gently scraping up any stuck bits with a spoon (preferably wooden). Simmer for about3 minutes, until the sauce is slightly reduced.

Return the brisket to the pot and add enough beef broth to just cover the brisket. Add the bay leaves, thyme, and parsley and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot and put in the oven for about 4 hours. At the end of the fourth hour, add the remaining carrots, and return to the oven for one more hour.

Remove from the oven and let sit until the brisket reaches room temperature.  Cut the brisket against the grain into slices about an quarter of an inch thick.

When ready to serve, remove the fat that has accumulated on top of the brisket. Heat the liquid in the pan and reduce by half, then strain out the vegetables if you want. Return the cut brisket to the pan, heat, ladle the carrots on top, pour the sauce over, and serve.

 

Chadō (茶道): The Way Of Tea

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The Japanese tea ceremony, also called the Way of Tea, is a Japanese cultural activity involving the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha (抹茶), powdered green tea.

In Japanese, it is called chanoyu (茶の湯) or sadō, chadō (茶道), while the manner in which it is performed, or the art of its performance, is called (o)temae ([お]手前; [お]点前).  Zen Buddhism was a primary influence in the development of the Japanese tea ceremony. Much less commonly, Japanese tea practice uses leaf tea, primarily sencha, in which case it is known in Japanese as senchadō (煎茶道, the way of sencha) as opposed to chanoyu or chadō.

Osirian Mysteries

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The month of Koiak (November) was the time to celebrate the Osirian Mysteries. For 3000 years, the chief sanctuaries of Osiris reenacted the epic story of Isis and Osiris. If you are familiar with this early myth, you know that Osiris was killed by his brother Seth, and hacked into fourteen pieces and thrown into the Nile. Upon learning of this dastardly deed, his wife Isis began her search for the remains of Osiris. Her grief was deep and dark and it carried her along the river for miles and miles. Wherever she found a body part, a temple was built in his name. It is thought that each temple celebrated the mysteries of Osiris in a different way depending on the body part found there. For thousands of years, these holy sites were extremely important for pilgrimage and worship…

#AncientEgypt #EgyptianMythology #Osiris #Isis #Seth

Tefillin, what is it and why?

Bar Mitzvah - Jewish coming of age ritual

Tefillin are one of the more distinctive parts of Jewish ritual when non-Jews (Gentiles) think about Judaism.  Tefillin are a pair of black leather boxes containing Hebrew parchment scrolls. A set includes two—one for the head and one for the arm. Each consists of three main components: the scrolls, the box and the strap.  The tefillin consist of two black leather boxes and straps to hold them on. One is worn on the biceps, and its strap, which is tied with a special knot, is wound by the wearer seven times around the forearm and hand—on the left arm for right-handed people and on the right for those who are left-handed. The second box is worn on the forehead at the hairline, with its straps going around the back of the head, connected at the top of the neck with a special knot, and hanging in front on each side.

In the Torah Jewish men are commanded to bind tefillin onto their head and upper arm every weekday, in fulfillment of the verse (Deut. 6:8), “You shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for a reminder between your eyes.”  Most men wear tefillin in Orthodox and Conservative congregations, as do some women in Conservative congregations. The use of tefillin is less prominent in Reform and Reconstructionist congregations by both men and women.

What’s in the boxes you ask?  The Torah mentions the mitzvah of tefillin four separate times. Each of these texts is inscribed on parchment and placed into the tefillin.  These verses cover the fundamentals of the Jewish faith. These texts are:

1–2. Kadesh (Exodus 13:1–10) and Vehayah ki yeviacha (Exodus 13:11–16): These describe the duty of the Jewish people to always remember the redemption from Egyptian bondage, and the obligation of every Jew to educate his children about this and about G‑d’s commandments.
3. Shema (Deut. 6:4–9): Pronounces the unity of the one G‑d, and commands Jews to love and fear Him.
4. Vehayah (Deut. 11:13–21): Focuses on G‑d’s assurance to Jews of reward that will follow their observance of the Torah’s mitzvahs.

close up of pair of tfillin, jewish religious symbol

In order to be kosher according to Jewish law, tefillin must meet thousands of requirements. If one part is out of place, the whole thing won’t work.  The scrolls inside the tefillin are inscribed in black ink with a quill (or reed) pen by a specially trained scribe, known as a sofer. The parchment is handmade and must be from a kosher animal. There are 1594 letters in each of the tefillin boxes. If one letter is extra, missing, or even incorrectly written, the tefillin are invalid. The boxes and straps are also made of leather from a kosher animal. The head-tefillin is made of four separate compartments, each one containing a scroll with one of the four Torah selections. The hand-tefillin has just one chamber, with all selections written on a single scroll.  You’ll notice that the head tefillin has the Hebrew letter Shin (ש) on both sides, one with three branches, and the other with four.

The hand-tefillin are strapped onto the left arm (or on the right arm, for a lefty), with the box resting on the bicep, facing the heart. The rest of the strap is then wound around the arm seven times, extending down to the long finger. There are many customs regarding how the coils are positioned on the arm and fingers.  The head-tefillin are placed on the head like a crown, with the box resting just above the hairline in the center of the forehead.

Sources : “Essential Judaism” Robinson, George. 2016.  myjewishlearning.com. chabad.org