Ecstatic Traditions Feed

Countdown to Halloween ~ Beignets and Broomsticks

Bayou collage

 It's Samhain. My favorite time of year when and if I had my way I would be in New Orleans completely naked , drinking chicory laced, milky Cafe au Lait out of a antique silver pot and eating beignets dressed with chocolate sauce and powdered sugar, having never moved even a toe from out of an enormous duvet covered bed. That bed would be canopied of course and the sheets would be silky Egyptian cotton and the duvet would be silky and as airy as marshmallows. The pillows would be embroidered and lavish and the curtains would be a deep bottle green velvet.  There would be pralines dripping with brown sugar and sass and there would be gardenias in bunches everywhere.  There would be a bewitchingly beautiful man with an equally devastating mask waiting for me to finish breakfast so that he could draw my bath, liberally laced with Frederic Malle's Carnal Flower.   I know that none of these thoughts will come as any sort of surprise to those who know me well, especially the lusty man that I was smart enough to marry. I cherish food, perfume, magic and passion equally with a fervor that some women reserve solely for diamonds, shoes and pearls.  Gift me with truffles, tarot or tuberose on any given day and I will be properly enslaved ! 

 The thing about New Orleans is that she's a completely sensual, captivatingly sexual creature who's literally dripping with the sweet fleshy smell of the morning after a marvelous night with the naughtiest man.  The carnal and sardonic vibe of the deep south spells trouble for me with a capital T, but you have to experience it for yourself. You'll never ignore her haunting sirens call although you might hate yourself in the morning for heeding them..remember that I said  "might". Those beignets and gardenias blended with a soupçon of bloodlust can produce some very powerful magic. New Orleans produced the incomparably beautiful and tortured Louis Ponte du Lac, Anne Rices first beloved vampire. New Orleans is also the home of some of the finest burlesque in the world. Where else can you take a walk late at night with a Sazerac  in your hands and discover  just as many beautiful antique stores , strip clubs and tarot readers open all on the same block?

Burlesque

 I can never forget the all of the flowers, jasmine vines and dripping wet gardenias in the courtyard outside of Brennans Restaurant, where their pungent aroma mixed with the chicory and cinnamon coffee was about as heady a scent as a woman like me could ever ask for. I still revel in the memory of a sweet and sticky Banana’s Foster dripping with hot caramel and the flowering Jasmine climbing the wrought iron fences. I remember the candlelight and the hauntingly flirtatious laughter from women heard but never seen. The sticky Tuberose that grew everywhere was as stunning as a full moon and as narcotic as an opium den. Then there were all of the women, gorgeous hot house flowers with slickly coral lips , caramel skin and curvaceous bodies that were a promise of something that took me years to understand.


Southern women just astonish me with their ability to entice and enchant. I’ve never met a man who didn’t just love them, even if they love them only in secret , but I’ve met lots of women who absolutely hated them although I’ve never understood why. Not me…..I’ve always wanted to be one of them because they literally smell of orange blossoms, sex and white chocolate. They're the ones who really know how to wear stockings, gloves and hats...and they know how to take them off just as well. Their powers of seduction are legendary and who wouldn’t want some of that? Their magic is alive all year round....They love to have a cup of afternoon tea and I've never met one who couldn't read the tea leaves.  But truly? I think that the magic lies in the Beignets and Cafe au Lait! 

 

 

 Here's the best Beignet recipe that I've found yet from none other than Emeril Lagasse!

Beignets and Cafe au Lait

Ingredients
1 package active dry yeast
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 1/4 cups warm milk (110 degrees)
1 egg, beaten
4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
Oil for frying
Powdered sugar for dusting
5 cups of Chicory Coffee, hot
5 cups whole milk, hot
Directions
In the bowl of an electric mixer, fitted with a dough hook, add the yeast, sugar, shortening, and milk, mix for 2 minutes. Add the egg. Mix well. Add 4 cups of the flour and salt. Beat at low speed until all of the flour is incorporated, about 1 minute. Then beat at medium speed until the mixture forms a ball, leaves the sides of the bowl, and climbs up the dough hook. Remove the dough from the bowl. Using your hands, form the dough into a smooth ball. Lightly oil a bowl. Place the dough in the bowl and turn it to oil all sides. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draft-free place until it doubles in size, about 2 hours.

Preheat the vegetable oil a deep fat fryer to 360 degrees F.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Lightly dust the surface of the dough. Roll out the rectangle to 12 1/2 inches long by 10 inches wide and about 1/4-inch thick. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into twenty 2 1/2-inch square beignets. Fry the beignets, a couple at a time until golden brown and crispy on all sides, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and drain on a paper towels. Sprinkle the beignets with powdered sugar and serve. Fill each cup with 1/2 cup of coffee and 1/2 cup of the hot milk. Stir well.

Serve the coffee with the beignets.

In Bed. 


Milady's Pantry & Stillroom ~ Lilac Sugar

I'm a Midwestern witch through and through and there is nothing that captures those memories of an Ohio spring like the extraordinary scent of a glorious French lilac in bloom! Alas, it's also one of the hardest of scents to capture because unless you are working with a natural perfumer, most of the lilac perfume that you will encounter is synthetic.

I've discovered though that one of the best carriers for this elusive scent is good old fashioned cane sugar, so when the lilacs are blooming I beg , borrow and steal enough of the fragrant blooms from all of my friends and neighbors to create a sweetly perfumed lilac treat. The end result is a beautifully tinted and infused lilac sugar that I can use to make jellies, syrups, love spells and tea sugars. 

Kitchen Apothecary~ Lilac Sugar

The process is simple. Take as many lilacs as you can find and pick the blossoms off of the stems. Put them into a bowl and add a bag of white sugar. Toss and cover and allow the blooms to infuse the sugar. The next morning take the cover off of the bowl . The sugar will smell amazing, but it will be damp. Place all of the sugar and lilacs evenly on dehydrator trays (or cookie sheets if you are using a low oven) and allow it to dry for about 2 hours and then put all of it back again into a covered bowl. Pick another large bunch of lilac blossoms and put them into the dehydrator for about 3 hours (no sugar this time). When they have begun to really dry but not yet lost their scent, take them out and stir them into the already infused sugar. 

Kitchen Apothecary~ Lilac Sugar

Let it  air dry (or you can use a very low oven~ careful, you don't want caramel!) for about 6 more hours and put it all up in an air tight jar. The scent is astonishing and the sugar is delightful when you use it in tea or sprinkled on cookies or other confections. It makes a gorgeous gift packaged in a pretty cut or porcelain glass sugar bowl. I wouldn't use metal because you don't want any sort of bitter chemical reaction , a common chemistry problem between metal and flowers. 

One warning...really make sure that you dry it properly..keep checking the flowers. It takes lilacs a while to dry properly. You want the color and scent to still be there but not too much of the moisture otherwise your sugar will end up with a brownish tint!

I use this sugar to make several bottles of a luscious love philtre every year. I only make three bottles and they go very quickly!  It is quite an effective heart opener & aphrodisiac when used appropriately.  I won't be making them until early May , but please email me at beth.gehring@stirringthesenses.com if you are interested in purchasing one of them. 


Milady's Pantry and Stillroom: Incense and Peppermint

 

10370892_515676655135479_4909648871449330194_n

“I unlaced the front of my robe and rubbed my body quickly with handfuls of the lavender and valerian. It was a pleasant, spicy smell, distinctive and richly evocative. A smell that, to me, conjured the shade of the man who wore its perfume, and the shade of the man behind him; shades that evoked confusing images of present terror and lost love. A smell that, to Jamie, must recall the hours of pain and rage spent wrapped in its waves. I rubbed the last of it vigorously between my palms and dropped the fragrant shreds on the floor.

With a deep breath for courage, I picked up the vial of ammoniacal spirits. I stood by the bed a moment holding it, looking down at the gaunt, stubbled face. At most he might last a day; at the least, only a few more hours.

“All right, you bloody Scottish bastard,” I said softly. “Let’s see how stubborn you really are.” I lifted the injured hand, dripping, from the water and set the soaking dish aside."

Excerpt From: Diana Gabaldon. “Outlander.”  

Incense and Peppermint

Please enjoy this lovely chart! Click on it, blow it up and print it out! I don't know who to attribute it to but I'm very grateful that it showed up on my personal facebook page.  It's one of the best tools that for creating incense that  I've seen in a long time! I love incense and I make my own and burn it often for healing, conjuring or simply when I just want my home to smell simply wonderful.  There are all kinds of glorious combinations that you can use when you want to provoke different emotions, for example, an incense of cinnamon, rose petals, cloves, dried apple, basil, lavender buds, vanilla bean , cardomom and sandalwood sprinkled with a couple of drops of essential oil of rose is one of the sexiest love potions that I know...... 

Shamanic_smudging1
Abolone shell with white sage smudge stick/ origins of photograph unknown

 It's truly easy to create your own.  Take a flameproof bowl and fill it 1/2 way with sand. I use a beautiful abalone shell that I bought years ago because it does have a wonderfully feminine vibe! Then get a pack of incense charcoal disks and lay one on top of the sand. Light it and let it burn until you're sure that it's ready (It will be ashy and glowing, not flaming!) and scatter any combination of herbs and spices around and on top of it. Please be sure to only use leaves , petals , spices and woods  that you know have not been treated with pesticides and have fun....the magic's even more personal if you've gathered them yourself. Just be sure to gather conciously. Never take an endangered species . Don't take to much of any one plant and be sure to ALWAYS leave a little love token for the fey folk !

You don't want to upset them you know:)

image from home-school-coach.com

 My husband laughs because he does the laundry (love that man!) and he's always emptying my pockets which are filled with offerings of seeds, pennies and pretty stones. You can even add a couple of drops of any essential oil that you love, provided that it's organic. Please don't use perfumed oils. Perfumed oils are generally derived from petroleum products and other nasty things. They will produce a horrid black smoke when you light them and the magical correspondences are not  present in chemically produced scents. My favorite? A combination of White sage, Lavender , Bourbon Rose,  Bay and Pine.  Please write me at My Outlander Love Affair/Milady's Pantry and Stillroom  and let me know yours!

Now for fun:)

 


Wise Woman Traditions: The Training of a Reluctant Healer

 

John_William_Waterhouse_-_Magic_Circle

All of my life I've been drawn to helping others create lives of full self expression. I spent most of my time in high school "counseling" my friends who would seek me out because somehow they thought that I had the answers. During a time of highly charged personal challenges that I was facing as a very young woman in a very young marriage, I spent much of my time with a marvelous social worker who encouraged me to look more deeply within myself and to express the passion and gift that I had for healing work , a concept which at that time seemed a bit New Agey to me, but was absolutely spot on.

Starting in 1984,  I spent the next 2 decades learning everything that I could from LaWanna Rine about traditional herbalism and essential oils. I became obsessed with the teachings of the Sacred Feminine and the Wise Woman Traditions. At the same time I was spending some weekends at the Phoenicia Pathwork Center in New York State with my mentor Robert Tobey and a group of amazing healers learning to work with the energy that flowed almost uncontrollably from my hands. It was a wonderful time for me. In Phoenicia I learned that the energy that I was experiencing wasn't "mine", but instead I was the conduit for something that to this day I don't quite understand, but acknowledge as a gift from a universal source. It was the very lesson that I needed to be able to use the  abilities I'd been given. I spent my time there working with others while at the same time healing my own wounds. Facing my own demons allowed me the wisdom and compassion to truly begin to work with others in a way that was safe, expressive and powerful.  

When I wasn't in Phoenicia, I was working with a group of extraordinary healers that my husband and I started, offering bodywork to anyone who needed it through the laying on of hands in the safe, loving space of our home. I'm convinced that anyone has the capacity to be a healer, mostly you just need to get out of your own way. Healing can happen anywhere at anytime.  

That whole time I was living a dual life. I was the President of one of the most prominent gift stores in the city of Cleveland, yet at I'd find myself sitting on the loveseat in my store with my hands on a customer who was sobbing because they'd just confided in me about some of the things happening in their lives. Finally my husband said to  me, " Do you think that you're missing something?" but I still wasn't sure that I was comfortable with the concept of "Beth , the Healer".

Around that same time I took a course called the Landmark Forum, a curriculum that really taught me so much about what it mean't to live a life of integrity. What I realized from that moment on was that I didn't have the answers, but what I was able to do for people was listen to them carefully and provide the supportive space for them needed to be fully present to themselves, their pain and their desires. I also realized very quickly the inauthenticity of living my life expressing only part of myself. I stopped ignoring the obvious, faced my fears and threw myself onto the playing field as a lifecoach!

 A few years later I found myself facing the death of both my parents and wondering after being their caregiver for so many years  just what was next. I watched my mother die from severe complications stemming from her type 2 diabetes, a disease which is largely environmental and in many cases easily controllable through diet and exercise. The epiphany came while siblings and I were working almost non-stop using herbs and other alternative modalities to keep my fathers immune system functioning well in the nursing home where he lived. There was illness everywhere, ranging from chronic urinary tract infections to staph, mrsa , klebsiella and cedif. It was easily traceable to the food that the residents were served, food that was cheap,  poor quality , unappealingly prepared and of the lowest nutritional value. I realized that many of the problems that we were facing with my father were systemic throughout our American culture. It is a simple truth....food matters and so does quality of lifestyle. We truly are what we eat. At that moment I began to look for a school that could give me the tools that I needed to help others learn to eat and live well no matter their means. 

I received my training as a Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition's cutting-edge Health Coach Training Program.

During my training, I studied over 100 dietary theories, practical lifestyle management techniques, and innovative coaching methods with some of the world’s top health and wellness experts. My teachers included Dr. Andrew Weil, Director of the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine; Dr. Deepak Chopra, leader in the field of mind-body medicine; Dr. David Katz, Director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center; Dr. Walter Willett, Chair of Nutrition at Harvard University; Geneen Roth, bestselling author and expert on emotional eating; and many other leading researchers and nutrition authorities.

My education has equipped me with extensive knowledge in holistic nutrition, health coaching, and preventive health. Drawing on these skills and my knowledge of different dietary theories, I work with clients to help them make lifestyle changes that produce real and lasting results.

If you'd like to speak with me, please sign up for a free, absolutely no strings attached 50 minute gift session with me at http://beth-gehring.healthcoach.integrativenutrition.com/lets-connect-1

Also , please feel free to connect with me on my facebook page  

 


Wise Woman Traditions: Numan: The Nature of Plants

This is  an absolutely beautiful documentary about herbs and other healing plants and the amazing gifts that they give to us. You can watch it in it's entirety for free until the 30th!

                            

 

"NUMEN TRAILER 2013 - Free online screening of complete film Oct 20-30!

from  PLUS 3 weeks ago ALL AUDIENCES

We are thrilled to announce the free online screening of the new edition of the documentary, Numen: The Nature of Plants, for ten days, from October 20–30th. To watch the film go to:

numenfilm.leadpages.net/8min/

10% discount, free domestic shipping, and bonuses on all screening licenses purchased before Oct. 30th. $0.99 shipping on all personal use DVDs as well!

Numen is the first feature-length documentary to celebrate the healing power of plants. The film features stunning footage of medicinal plants and thought-provoking interviews with Drs. Tieraona Low Dog and Larry Dossey, the late Bill Mitchell, ND, author Kenny Ausubel, herbalists Rosemary Gladstar, Phyllis Light and many others and calls for a re-awakening of traditional knowledge about plants and their uses.

Our hope is that Numen will spark new conversations and debates about health and wellness and inspire real, tangible actions to build a grassroots, ecologically sustainable healthcare movement. To help sow the seeds of this movement, we are making the film available for free online for a limited time.

We owe it to our children and grandchildren to do everything we can to make the world more sustainable, including making better choices about the medicines we consume. Numen encourages viewers to think deeply about the sources of their medicine and how those choices affect themselves and the larger web of life. It inspires us to deepen our relationship with the natural world and reminds us of the healing made possible by re-embracing our place in the wider web of life. And it shows that all of these changes can begin with the simple act of growing thyme in a pot in your window or harvesting nettles from a field behind your home.

To watch the film go to: numenfilm.leadpages.net/8min/"

 


Sacred Sexuality: Benwa Balls! I'll bet I've got your attention now !

 

Warning ~ If you blush easily or are under 18 than this post is not for you! We're going to talk about shhhhh...SEX:)

Benwa balls

I cracked up the other day when I went to the local Ambience store to help one of my clients choose her first vibrator. As we went to the counter I noticed a small package with the words.. "Ben wa Balls just like those used by Christian in 50 Shades of Grey". I was amazed to see these sex toys which have been used happily by women all over the world for centuries being repackaged to suit a newer, less familiar and less experienced American public. I lost it..I didn't know that they'd ever gone out of style:) I bought a pair of them for fun but I  have to say..go to an Oriental shop and get the real thing. These were cheap and unimpressive!

I'm a 50 plus year old woman who cut her teeth on the likes of Colette and Anais Nin so quite frankly I found "50 Shades " as a novel rather silly and slightly boring. My apologies to any and all who loved it. That being said I had to laugh. Ben wa Balls, most commonly called "orgasm balls" , "Geisha Balls" or "Venus Balls" should really be given to a woman as soon as she has her first child right along with a case of wonderful ale..."good for the breast milk" and a gift certificate for babysitting and a night away with her husband! 

I say this because aside from being very successful at creating the desired sexual response , Ben wa balls have the ability to tone the muscles of the vaginal walls. Any woman who has ever had a baby knows just how important this is. There's a reason that our mothers (well at least my mother!) always said to do your Kegal exercises. Ben wa balls can be made of sterling silver, stainless and I've  seen some beautiful ones made of jade. The most important thing is that they are heavy enough to create a feeling of fullness in the vagina so that you involuntarily have to contract your muscles to hold them in. Yes...that feeling inspires almost continual amourousness.

Excuse me..that's the whole point for a guy like Christian Grey.

Yes..if you do this one of the side effects is that you will constantly be dragging your partner into bed but really is that so bad? 

The other side effects of using Ben wa Balls are very important but very very practical. Childbirth really loosens up the muscles of the pelvic floor. Sneezing can bring on bursts of incontinence in even the youngest woman. Instead of worrying about it, buy yourself a pair of Ben wa balls and use them. Regularly. The benefits are amazing. You will be able to control your muscles such that as soon as you begin to sneeze they take over and incontinence is a thing of the past. The other thing that happens is that your muscles become so strong that you can control and contract them easily and that means alot more pleasure for yourself and your partner in bed. 

Ben wa Balls are easy to use. Seriously... Please don't be squeamish! Just google them, buy a pair , some lubricant that you like and practice inserting and removing them a couple of times. Better yet? Let your partner do it!  In case you're wondering, they can't get lost and if you're that worried about it buy a pair with the string attached to both. No..they won't fall out!

Do this for yourself  and your partner !

Trust me. 


Ecstatic Traditions: Yoga = Bliss

 

Detox

I love Yoga so much and I try to incorporate some poses into my life everyday because it's so very relaxing and yesterday was no exception. It had been a particularly tough day for me; a board that I run literally ripped me into emotional shreds for presenting an idea at a meeting that was too scary for them to see all of the possibilities. By the time I got home all that I could do was crawl into bed, pull the covers over my head and just cry. I was really taking it personally and letting it throw me out of balance.  

Jim called at about 5:00 and said ," I want to take you on a date tonight....lets go have some Italian food and a glass of wine, but first lets go to a Yoga class!" I really felt like I didn't want to even get out of bed but I trust him. He always knows how to make me feel better. So I grabbed my Yoga mat and  went out to the car.

As soon as we walked in and rolled out our mats I began to feel better. It was a basic class which was good because I didn't want to work hard, I just wanted to relax and enjoy myself. The instructor turned down the lights , led us through a series of simple stretches and then many relaxing poses. Halfway through the class I realized that I'd just let go of the worst of the day. We finished with a long Shivasana and several energy and color meditations and I walked back into the locker room where I was greeted by a very obese woman who I'd never met. We began to talk for a bit and she asked me why I looked so happy. "I see all of you go in and out of that class and you always come out smiling and relaxed. Is that what Yoga does?" I smiled and said" Well truth be told, YES! I had an awful day but I feel much better now!" "You'd never know it" she said."I d love to try it, but I'm embarassed about my size". 

What ensued was a conversation about standing in the possibility of your life and starting wherever you are to make the changes that you want. It was absolutely wonderful and a conversation that I couldn't have struck up if I hadn't gotten onto the mat. Before I walked in to class I was whining and feeling really sorry for myself, but as soon as I began to move I couldn't do anything but be present. The mornings meeting became a part of my past and as a result I was able to create my present to be the way that I like it...full of lively and affirming conversations where I'm able to make a difference. The woman that I was speaking to promised to meet me in class next week although she's terrified. Stretching and doing something wonderful for myself completely changed the dynamics of the day and put my spine and my heart back into alignment. 

If you've never tried Yoga I encourage you to do so. It's not necessary to turn yourself inside out like a pretzel to begin to experience the health giving benefits of this ancient and peaceful practice. Go to a studio and sign up for a basic class. Rent a mat and wear something comfortable. Get to know your body just a little bit better and relax...Breathe in and breathe out over and over again without worrying about what you look like. No one cares, they're not paying attention. The only rule is that you stay focused on your mat because this time is yours and yours alone. 

To get you started here are a couple of apps that might interest you!

 

Namaste' 

I'd love to hear from you! Please keep in touch with me at http://www.facebook.com/bethschreibmangehringholistichealthcoach or atwww.bethschreibmangehring.com

 

 

Photograph is used too widely over the www to know who to attribute it too.