St. Nicholas was born in the 4th Century in Lycia, Asia Minor to very wealthy parents. Even as a child he was very religious. He was very young when he became a priest and he went on to become a bishop. Sadly, his parents died shortly after he was ordained. He inherited a great fortune, and he shared it generously with people in need. His giving was from the heart - he was not interested in credit or compensation. He often gave unanimously. He was dedicated to common people and emperors alike.
St. Nicholas is the patron saint of children, laborers, merchants, pawn brokers, and particularly sailors and those who work near water.
There are many stories describing his generosity. A nobleman who had lost his fortune was unable to provide dowries for his three daughters so planned to sell them into slavery. St. Nicholas galloped by their castle in the dark of night and threw a bag of gold in the window. He did this three nights in a row, providing each daughter with a dowry. Eventually, it was discovered that he had been the generous benefactor. His fame as a gift giver spread through out many lands and he has been credited with the concepts of Father Christmas and Santa Claus.
The three bags of gold represent the three golden balls found on the signage outside pawn broker's shops.
In another more gruesome story, he saved three babies, often pictured beside him. During a famine, an inn keeper had no meat to feed his customers so he cut up three children and tossed them into a brine filled pickling tub. Thankfully, St. Nicholas walked in just in time to bless the boys and bring them back to life!
During that same famine, he convinced sailors on a ship filled with grain to unload some of their cargo to feed those who were starving. They were initially reluctant since the grain had been weighed and they wanted to deliver the entire shipment. He assured them that the cargo would weigh exactly the same amount when it was delivered. It did.
As you celebrate St. Nicholas Day, give a gift from the heart. It doesn't need to be expensive. It could be a kind word, a quote that would make someone feel valued, a thank you. Or is could be a poem, or a recipe! Here's my gift to you!
Golden Bishop's Tea
4 cups black or green tea
4 cups apricot nectar
Serve hot with a honey if desired and a sprig of rosemary
and a sprinkling of nutmeg
Optional: 1 Tablespoon apricot brandy per cup
Golden Apricots, Tansy and Wheat
As you celebrate St. Nicholas Day, think gold! Decorate with golden wheat and tansy! Serve apricot or orange nut bread with Golden Bishop's Tea. Create your own golden delights!
The Feast of Saint Barbara
December 4th is the day we honor St. Barbara. Barbara was born in Nikomedia, now Turkey, in the third century. She was the daughter of Dioscuros, a very wealthy pagan who imprisoned her in a tower to keep her isolated and protected from the evils of the world.
She secretly became a Christian, baptized by a priest disguised as a physician. The tower had only two windows, but while her father was away on a journey, she had a third window added to represent the Holy Trinity.
When Dioscuros returned, he asked her about the third window and she told him that she had become a Christian and would no longer practice pagan rituals. The authorities ordered her execution. She escaped from the tower but was caught, tortured and then killed by her own father. Her father was immediately struck to death by lightning.
Barbara protects against fire, storms, lightning, sudden death and is the patron saint of stone masons, firemen, artillerymen, and those working with fireworks.
Herbs Associated with Saint Barbara's Day
Barbara kept cherry branches in the tower and on the day she died, they burst into bloom. December 4th is the day to bring a cherry branch inside and begin the process of forcing the blooms.
Maria von Trapp of the Trapp Family Singers from the Sound of Music wrote in "Around the Year with the Trapp Family" (Pantheon Books, 1955) that the Austrian legend states that if a person's branch blossoms on Christmas Day, he or she will be married in the following year.
Wheat and Roses
Wheat and roses are both beautiful additions to the Feast of Saint Barbara for decorations and for your meal. Freshly baked bread with rose petal jelly is sublime!
Happy Birthday Nancy!
My dear friend Nancy celebrated her 75th Birthday in late November and we threw her a surprise party at one of my favorite restaurants in Baltimore, the Bygone, located in Harbor East. Nancy and I decided on the date and time together which fortunately gave me plenty of time to collaborate with her daughters who created and sent out gorgeous invitation by snail mail.
Since the Bygone has a 1920s theme, coming in period garb was suggested but not mandatory. I encouraged Nancy to wear the Roaring 20s outfit she had worn for Halloween. The creativity and variety of costumes were impressive and the restaurant, with it's Art Deco theme and spectacular views was a worthy backdrop!
Yet as the time of the party drew near, Nancy began to ask about changing the day and/or the time of the celebration. She thought only the two of us were going and seemed confused that I was so adamant about keeping it at the designated time.
Everything worked out well and she was undoubtedly surprised. Later she said it was the best birthday of her life so the efforts were certainly worth it!
If you live in Baltimore, or plan to visit, the Bygone's spectacular views, scrumptious cuisine and superlative customer service and attention to detail will provide the perfect setting for your most memorable moments!
Yesterday I presented an overview of my course scheduled for spring at Renaissance Institute! It was wonderful to see so many friends and hear about the other presentations being offered! The amount of creativity and talent in this world never ceases to amaze me!
I'm presenting Seeds, Roots and Routes -
Our lives are rich with miraculous seeds - a thought, a smile, a class . . . Roots gather nutrients to help seeds grow. We will explore stories, legends and symbolism, protection and conservation, paintings, songs, short videos to illustrate parallels to our life experiences and journey. Bring a journal to reflect on your life’s seeds, roots and routes - past, present and future.
When I journal, I add seeds at the bottom of the page. A seed may represent a new friend, a class, an idea, etc. When I review my pages at the end of the year it's interesting to see which have flourished, which have remained dormant and may sprout at a later time, and which are best to let fade away.
Decades ago I attended a Brownie registration event in a church basement. I wanted to enroll my oldest daughter, Mycala, in a Girl Scout Brownie troop but they didn't have a leader. I was somehow recruited and loved working with the girls. That led to numerous volunteer positions and I was later hired as a training specialist, then adult education director. The seeds sprouted into numerous friendships that are alive and thriving today!
My training in Girl Scouts was superlative.Francis Hesselbein, our CEO, raised the bar on every aspect of leadership. "Peter F. Drucker, the founding father of management, proclaimed Frances Hesselbein “the best CEO in America.” “She could manage any company in America, even General Motors, and do a great job,” Drucker said." ~ Management Matters Network
When she was called to lead the Girl Scouts, Hesselbein sent all the troop leaders to a leadership training program at Harvard. She believed that it made the leaders feel better about themselves, commenting, “We thought they deserved to go to Harvard that they were the best.”
That seed provided me with the knowledge, skills and attitudes to deliver fun and effective training with SMART goals and objectives, always using the experiential learning cycle as the base.
One unexpected experience in a church basement changed every aspect of my life, leading me to complete my masters in training and become a certified instructor of trainers. It provided me with the opportunity to work with women and girls who were striving to live up to their best potential.
Watching the girls in my Girl Scout Brownie troop, and others in our community, grow into community leaders has been a joy! Continuing friendships and experiences with women of sterling character has been one of the greatest gifts of my life.
The seeds of opportunity are everywhere. Have you had an experience that changed every aspect of your life? Please share in the comments below!
A Festival of Light, Music and Innovation!
The lights in the harbor in Baltimore are always spectacular, but the city really lights up when Light City Baltimore comes to town! It's an event I don't miss - one of my favorite city spectaculars! This is the third year and every year the displays vary.
"In just three years, Light City has become one of the world’s most renowned light art festivals, transforming Baltimore with large-scale light art installations, performances and music. Situated along the Baltimore Inner Harbor and Waterfront, Light City features international, national and local artists, innovative culinary experiences and an interactive children’s area. 2019 marks the 4th year of Light City. Light City is held outdoors in tents, and inside the Inner Harbor’s most popular visitor attractions. The outdoor festival is 100% free and accessible; all indoor venues are accessible and some indoor/private venues may be ticketed." ~ Light City Baltimore 2019
The videos below are the next best thing to being there,
Atropa belladona (Poison)
Solanum dulcamara (Poison)
open their lids
for their lovers;
Maenads fall upon men
dripping with dreams;
& children die
from the sweetest
of inky fruits.
wine of the Bacchanals,
you are indeed the witch’s berry,
I look into your open eye & see
women in love with death,
dying with the widest
& brightest of eyes.
Have you no shame at all
The other herbs
pretend to be angelic,
but you freely play
the Devil’s part.
Dwaleberry, Sorcerer’s cherry,
your sweetness bursts
on the tongue,
the lungs relax,
& death comes
Jimsonweed - Dratura Strimonium
Today's herb is Jimsonweed, also called devil's trumpet, Hell's bells, thorn apple and moon flower, from the genus Datura. It belongs to the Solanacease (nightshade) family. Its toxic ingredients include tropane alkaloids, including atropine, hyoscyamine and scopolamine, and it is particularly dangerous because the amount needed for a high is nearly the same as the lethal over dose which greatly increases the chance of accidental fatal overdose.
There are times I simply must pause when I do herbal research. These are the kinds of things that have guided me to avoid deadly herbs for so long. I've been sharing information on haunting herbs for years and it has all been in fun, using only herbs found in the gardens of the white witches. But there can be a dark and serious side to herbal use. The lists of illness and most often death associated with this herb are readily available on the internet so I won't list them here.
That being said, I have been in awe of the gorgeous Jimsonweed for years and would not be anymore inclined to eat it than I would poison ivy. I can enjoy it at a distance and as with all the deadly herbs, I strongly advise you look but don't touch!
Bliss, M. (2001), Datura Plant Poisoning, Clinical Toxicology Review
~ Erica Jong
of the poisonous flowers--
even your smallest buds
are said to cause
madness, sleep & death,
but your spiny ″apples,″
prickly & stiff as porcupines,
are the real villains,
& were much beloved
by Kali’s worshipers,
(O kill, kill
in a goddess’ name!)
for arrow tips
& sacrificial victims’ hearts--
you were also used
in love philters!
The cynic laughs,
knowing that love
is the first poison--
that takes the soul,
& all the organs
(O kill, kill
in a goddess’ name!)
Venus, Kali, the Great Mother
the God of the Witches--
what does it matter?
Love potion or poison,
it is the same drink
that brings oblivion
in the end.
Love-will, Sorcerer’s herb,
you were used by brothel keepers
to seduce the innocent,
& witches brewed you
for their flying ointments.
The soldiers of Jamestown
made merry with your juice.
It was a new country
but the herbs were old.
The poisons link us
the poisons & the love philters.
Down through the Ages
we are joined by vines;
we wear garlands
of poisonous berries
Green as innocence,
green as love of death,
we bud, we flower, we fall--
& ancient herbs
out of our blind
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
Do The Write Thing
Fashion And Fabrics
Lessons From Nature
Pay It Forward
Take The Rose Instead
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!