Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pomegranate Martinis

It has occurred to me that while I have showcased several other pomegranate based cocktails, I have never posted a recipe for a Pomegranate Martini.  If I go out for cocktails, I always seek out the pomegranate martinis from the menu.

Pomegranate Martinis have become very popular with bars and clubs and when you search for them it isn't hard to find several tasty looking options.  I thought I might catalog several offerings here. 

Oprah even has a favorite recipe
This one includes vanilla
This website has several recipes
And this website has a few as well

Enjoy a pomegranate martini at your next Persephone themed cocktail party!  What, you don't have those?  Well, you should. 

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What makes a family?

I have been in various conversations about just this subject over the years and this holiday season has really made me think about my place in the structure. 

Persephone has two very specific family roles.  She is a daughter and wife.  One thing she is not, as I have discussed before, is a mother.  Her identity is defined by what she is as well as what she is not, which is really what a lot of us deal with when understanding our place in our world.  

Starting about a year ago and brought up again this year, a friend of mine is very offended by a jewelry commercial that plays during the holidays.  While I don’t get as worked up as the people in the linked forum discussion, I do agree that a baby doesn’t necessarily make a family and I think it devalues child-free couples as non-families in our societies. 

In another conversation at The Wild Hunt, there was talk about whether or not marriage as an institution is in crisis in America.  I have a particular stake in this debate as I have specifically opted out of “Marriage” in my relationship.  There are a lot of reasons for this including financial choices, spiritual choices and not wanting to support a program that is discriminatory by nature.  In that post there was a great point made by blogger and friend Cara Schulz: 

“I don't think marriage is obsolete any more than families are obsolete. How we define "marriage" and "family" may change, though, and has changed in the past. I think Americans are disillusioned by marriage because we, culturally, have placed marriage into a fairy tale.

Looking to the past, before we get into such a rush to throw it all away as meaningless, there is some wisdom to be learned about marriage.

We marry (in this country) primarily for love. We love the person and decide to make it official. That's OK as far as it goes, but it shouldn't be the only factor in that decision. What about shared core values? When looking for a mate are you choosing one based on if they have the capability to be a full and true partner to you? Do you respect one another and is that respect reflected in your actions? Do you love this person in a non-romantic way plus a romantic love -meaning - do you see them as FAMILY? Family that you can stick with even when they piss you off? Are they your ally in life? Do you have each other’s back? Can you count on them? Are they reliable?

In the past parents arranged marriage based on property, title, wealth, connections, and other economic reasons. But they also looked for mates for their children (and for themselves) based on the questions I listed above. Parents in the past didn't love their children any less than parents do now. And parents in other cultures where arranged marriage is still the norm don't love their children any less. But they did have a firmer grasp that a spouse isn't just a romantic interest - a spouse was a new member of the *family* and great care needed to be taken when accepting a new member.

I'm glad I didn't have an arranged marriage and I'm happy our culture encourages marriage for love. But we've gone too far. We now exclude almost every other consideration other than romantic love when deciding who to marry. We don't look at spouses as *family* anymore.”
What is interesting about both of these discussions – about the Kay Jewelers commercial and about the marriage crisis in America – is that they are both the same issue.  We don’t seem to look at our partners as “Family” anymore because apparently we aren’t family until we have babies.  That is why gay marriage seems to be such an issue in our country.  Fundamental opponents to gay marriage are worried that it will destroy family values and because gay couples can’t have children in the truest biological sense, then they are not “Families”.  

So, for Persephone – is she more of a daughter or more of a wife? Which is her family?  Of course Demeter, her over protective mother, is her family but do we view Hades as her Husband – her Partner?  Do they have each other’s back when it really counts?  In spite of some indiscretions that are common for the Gods, I believe that they do.  When it really mattered, Hades let Persephone go because it was for the good of their family. 

My partner and I have been together nearly 16 years.  While we love each other very much romantically we also love each other as true partners.  We work together to achieve common goals.  We support each other emotionally as well as practically, which includes financial and household matters.  We provide each other with the things that each of us needs to feel fulfilled spiritually.  I think for that reason alone, my partner is very much my family.   

So, what makes a family? 

Monday, December 27, 2010

Small White Flowers

This is something that I wrote back in January of 2008.  I had requested an oracle from Kate Winter, author of the Girls Underground Blog. I asked her to see if Persephone had a message for me for the coming year.  Check out her information on her mantic practice here.  I wrote this at the time to sort out the meaning of the message, but it was very personal and I never shared it.  With the dawning of this new year around the corner, I feel like it is the right time to share.  There isn't anything terribly revelatory here, but I thought the images of the small white flowers would bring us through this winter on our journey with Persephone. 

“I saw a pretty gentle year ahead of you, but with a lot of work. But even though there will be work, you will have help and encouragement and gifts along the way. I saw Persephone handing you a bunch of small white flowers and then stepping back to oversee what you were working on. It was pretty sweet, actually.
I think this is straightforward (unlike so many oracles I get!) but if you have any questions, let me know.” – oracle by Dver

When I received the email, I thought to clarify which “small white flowers” Persephone was giving to me. However, I had a sudden sense that this wasn’t something Dver could provide for me. She is the vessel, she is the oracle – but I am the one living my own life. I was inspired to take her words and discover for myself what flowers Persephone might have chosen and, using the Victorian conventions for the language of flowers, determine just what the message might be. So I researched white flowers and came across 10 types that I though the Goddess might have gathered in her bouquet. Then I looked up what those flowers meant. What follows is the message I believe I was given.

Baby’s Breath

A typical addition to wedding arrangements, bouquets of red roses and high school prom corsages, Baby’s Breath seemed to fit the description of “small white flower” more than just about any other. They don’t get much smaller, or more delicate. The Victorians ascribed the message of “Everlasting Love” to these flowers. For Persephone this may describe her own marriage to the Lord of the Underworld. For time and memorial, she remains his loyal and faithful queen returning to his underworld realm each year as promised and taking up her mantle of wife. I’ve often seen her journey back to the upper world to see her mother more of a visit or a vacation, her real work and her real life exist with her husband. Is this not true for most people? Especially in modern America. Children are raised by their parents to be independent beings and eventually leave the nest and make their own fortunes. I myself have been in a long term relationship. I have been with the same person since I was 19 years old and our partnership continues to get better with time. Persephone approves of my choice in made and gives us her blessings that this is indeed an Everlasting Love.


I originally overlooked the carnation as a flower that Persephone might have chosen for me, but I was drawn back to it. When I read the meaning that it was given, I was glad that I did include it on my list of the flowers. The Victorian’s believe is represented “Sweet and lovely”, “innocence” and “pure love”. All of these things fell in line with what Dver saw in Persephone’s message. However, there was one final meaning that seemed more appropriate to me; “Woman’s good luck gift”. Would Persephone have handed me a carnation to give me a boost of “luck” or even her blessings for the coming year? I think a wish of “good luck” form a Goddess would be fortuitous indeed.


I needed to include the Daffodil, or Narcissus, in any bouquet of flowers that Persephone would have gathered. I know, typically they are yellow but indeed they do come in white varieties as well. The Daffodil was the very flower that was planted for Persephone to find that led her to Hades himself. And I was surprised to find what the Victorian’s had considered it’s meaning: “respect”. This gave me a new understanding and appreciation for the choice of the Narcissus as the “trap” for Persephone to fall into. Perhaps it was Hades way of showing that he respected her. It makes the store a little sweeter, in my opinion. Persephone places it in the bouquet for me as a symbol of respect – her respect for my goals for the year or my respect for her presence in my life.


I chose the daisy because it is indeed one of my favorite flowers, and certainly it fits the bill as a small white flower. The language of the Victorians gave it the meaning of Innocence. Innocence is an interesting concept in my life. At my age, I feel perhaps a little old for it. However, it doesn’t need to have that kind of connotation. Perhaps Persephone’s message to me is to live life with more wonder or stay on the path of living life with open and innocent eyes. Enjoy the things that come you way, without to many preconceived notions.


I chose this flower based on its physical attributes. It is a tiny white daisy like flower – individual white petals with a yellow center. It symbolizes protection. It is also a useful medicinal herb helping headaches and fevers. For Persephone to hand me this flower meaning protection I again feel cared for and feel as though she will be looking out for me in the coming year. This does not mean, however, that I should be lax about my own personal safety. I just know that I have some divine assistance along as well.


Though typically seen in purple, I discovered that Heather comes in a beautiful white variety. They are tiny bell shaped flowers with red at the stems. I imagine a cluster with the evergreen foliage would be placed in Persephone’s bouquet. White Heather also represents protection but also, according to the Victorians, they mean that “wishes will come true.” Based on the very gentle nature of the oracle I thought this was a terribly appropriate message. Thank you, Persephone, for allowing me the ability to make my wishes come true. Though, I know it will not be without a lot of hard work.

Lily of the Valley

This was another seemingly obvious choice. They are tiny delicate flowers, bell shaped like the Heather but with big broad green leaves. The Victorians believed it meant a return to happiness. Sweetness was another message they ascribed to the Lily of the Valley, which sounds like it was Persephone’s intention all along. It also stands for humility. Humility is a hard one for me. For some reason, and probably from a “wounded Christian” perspective, I have a negative connotation associated with Humility in my brain. I don’t see why that should be the case. Perhaps that is Persephone’s lesson for me in general. However, recent research into the subject suggested that in many religious traditions, humility is part of the process to finding inner peace. I will take that for what it is worth.


I felt it was important to include the White Rose. The rose has, arguably, the longest continuing history in the “language of flowers” out of any of the blooms discussed here. In mythology, the rose is sacred to lots of Goddesses including Aphrodite. The white rose can symbolize so many things including innocence, purity, secrecy, friendship, reverence and humility. There is the word humility again. I have also read that it can mean Eternal Love and silence. Out of all of these meanings, a couple stand out specifically: Secrecy, Reverence and Silence. What could these mean in terms of Persephone’s message to me? I have always felt that much of my relationship with Persephone is a secret. Not out of shame, but more out of Reverence. I understand that I am breaking this idea with some of the essays I write so that others may better understand my relationship with Her, but there will always be parts that I will remain silent about. To conclude, the Rose may not be able to be explained in word. Rumi, the Muslim mystic might have put it best when he says: “In the driest whitest stretch of pains' infinite desert, I lost my sanity and found this rose”


I understand that the Stephanotis might be an odd flower to choose for me as an avowed unmarried person since its meaning is so tied up with weddings. However, I chose it for a purpose. Persephone, I don’t think, has a preference for those who are legally married. However, I have been dedicated to the same partner for [16] years. Persephone herself, as a queen but not as a mother, holds a special place among the Greek pantheon as a goddess of wives alone. Happiness in marriage has little to do with the paperwork that a couple must file with the state. I think we have demonstrated happiness in marriage more than many married couples that we know (though certainly not all). I also read a meaning that indicates that the Stephanotis represents the desire to travel. In my life, travel may be the second most important thing to me besides my relationship. Brilliantly, it is also immensely important to my partner. Happiness in marriage indeed.


Even though this flower is more commonly found in its purple or even its yellow varieties, I chose the white violet for a specific purpose. I loved the Victorian meaning ascribed to it in the language of flowers. “Let’s take a change on happiness”. I think little more needs to be said than that. Happiness isn’t a right, it is a privilege and we must make the conscious effort to either be happy or not. So, as a final message from Persephone, let us take a chance on happiness!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Your Holiday Song

My favorite holiday songs are ones where everyone is included.  I have written about "Christmas" by Blues Traveler before as well as Dar William's classic "The Christians and the Pagans".  I think this season should be about celebration, no matter what it is you want to celebrate.  Celebrate everything or just celebrate because it is a good time to do it.  That is my wish for everyone during the winter season.  In this dead world where Persephone is hidden beneath the earth and Demeter mourns covering the ground with her frozen tears, we need to love each other so that spring will return.  That is one of the many things I celebrate. 
Well, I just found another holiday song that I love.  The Indigo Girls released a holiday album this year, Holly Happy Days.  It features some originals including a great bluegrass Christmas song as well as many of the traditional carols we all grew up with.  There is also their version of "Happy Joyous Hanukkah". There is also an original song called "Your Holiday Song" that, like the Blues Traver's song feels very inclusive of the winter holidays.  The Unitarians will like it, I bet.
Gather round girls and boys,
It's time to make your joyful noise
Some feel it in the feast after the fast,
Or the oil lamps everlasting,
Or the Solstice in the wild,
or the birth of a baby child.

It's your holiday song
No one more true or right or wrong
When our faith calls our name
Someone else's does the same
Hallelujah! Thank you.

So gather round girls and boys
It's time to raise your holy noise
Some feel it in the drum, in the snare
or the silence of their prayer
or the church bells on the hill
or the harmony of goodwill

For every voice lifted in song
The sacred place we all belong
A chance to heal a broken world
with every voice in every song
of every boy and every girl!
You can listen to it and even download it for free here.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Winter Ponderings

I make no excuses.  I love the winter holidays - all of them.  I suppose I've never really celebrated Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, but I love the idea of celebratory days during the winter so I still appreciate them.  Recently, posted this article about the real "Reason for the Season."  I am grateful for the research that went into that piece and it is an incredibly well written offering on the topic.  I'm not here to argue for or against it in anyway, I just wanted to say that I don't really care what someone celebrates this time of year, I am willing to wish that they have a good one in any case.

I believe that the winter holidays were created essentially to keep people from killing themselves when the world was dead around them.  I have a couple of friends who suffer from SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder and I don't think it hurts to have something to celebrate. Sure, the self- or society-imposed stress when it comes to the holidays doesn't help the situation, but if we really look at it as a reason to be with friends and family and honor the changing of the seasons or the birth of the Son or the return of the Sun, it is simply a beautiful time of year.

My holiday officially begins on December 21st.  My partner, Matt, and I celebrate the solstice. We started this tradition several years ago mostly for practical reasons.  We travel during the holidays and we learned after the first year that it made no sense what so ever to haul our presents from Georgia to Michigan and the back again.  The Solstice was a convenient time to celebrate for ourselves because it is usually before we leave for Detroit and also it is a day that is meaningful to me as a devotee of Persephone, the goddess of the changing seasons.  Our home is already decorated with our tree and lights and other assorted holiday items. The entire spirit of the season is festive and pleasing to me.  I always feel a sense of wonder this time of year.

After our Solstice celebration this year, we leave the next day to travel to Michigan to be with our families for Christmas.  Both of our families still celebrate the christian holiday and frankly, I just don't want to miss out on being able to celebrate with them.  For me it is not at all about the Christ the Savior(as my savior, after a fashion, is Persephone Soteira) but about going to Matt's cousin's house for dessert and white elephant gift exchange, or out to dinner with my best friend, or making a gingerbread house with my sister and the youngest member of the family.  It is, simply, about celebrating life even while the earth herself sleeps waiting for spring.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Pomegranate Stocking Stuffers

I often find myself buying products just because they have pomegranate in them.  This applies to food, of course, but also to other products like lotions and even razors. For me, using pomegranate products brings me closer to the Goddess whom I love so deeply. I thought maybe I would share some of my favorite products and maybe they would even make good stocking stuffers. 

I started using Intuition Razors years ago for my leg shaving needs.  I love it and couldn't imagine going with out it.  Recently, I discovered that they make a pomegranate refill, which is awesome. 

Bath and Body Works has an entire line of fragrance called Midnight Pomegranate.  I love this scent.  It has the sweetness of the pomegranate but the mystery of something more, like patchouli. 

I have a pomegranate scented candle that has a central spot on my altar to Persephone.  The one I have is a brand called Illuminations and it smells amazing and makes the whole house smell amazing.  I've googled every combination of words to find it, but I can't.  However, Yankee candle has a scent called Pomegranate Cider that I imagine would be satisfying. 

One of my favorite pomegranate products is shampoo.  Burt's Bees has a great shampoo that makes my hair feel great but also gives me that pomegranate fix. 

And if you're interested in a refreshing pomegranate drink but not pure pomegranate juice, Izze's sparkling pomegranate juice is awesome.