-Ended up caring for a stray cat that was very sweet, but made entirely out of stone, and ate only pages from books.
-A silent man woke me up in the wee hours of the morning and handed me his phone opened to Google Maps. He wanted me to drive him to a location over an hour away. I went ahead and did it.
-Met a lonely witch’s daughter, who invited me to her birthday party. I was the only guest. Celebrations included cutting a symbolic umbilical cord that hung from the ceiling and was made out of braided steel fibers. “I have this party game every year and never win,” she said. “But I’ve never had help before…”
Flash-forward several hours later, we were both exhausted and fell asleep on the floor with our hands entwined. We woke when she heard her mother coming home - a blood-curdling shriek from the night. She urged me to go. “You have to leave now! If she finds you here, she’ll eat you!”
“Is this why you never have party guests?” I asked bitterly.
I escaped, but it was implied that I had continued interactions with the witch and her daughter - more narrow escapes, to the point that I got to know them pretty well. I completed some task for the witch and she rewarded me with light… “Here you are, young man! A lightbulb from your family circus that tragically burnt down, from which you have no souvenirs to remember your family!” My heart leapt, because that was apparently my backstory. “Too bad it’s broken! Ha ha ha! But don’t worry, I’ve got you covered…” The witch retrieved a fat half-burnt cigar from behind her ear and stuffed it into my mouth. She struck a match and held it to my face. “There! I promised you a light, and a light you have received!”
I coughed and spat the cigar to the ground. “I don’t smoke!”
“You don’t? Your loss, then. I fulfilled my end of the bargain.”
Later, I was in the witch’s house arguing with her about how scary she actually was. “I’m sorry,” I said, as thorny vines grew out of the floor and slowly encased my body. “You’re just not that scary. At first, sure, but once I got to know you? You try to kill me all the time. It’s not surprising anymore, and I know your heart’s not really in it.”
“I’m literally transforming you into a tree right now,” she said indignantly. “You should be screaming in fear!”
I shrugged. “Trees aren’t so bad. I could probably learn a lot from being a tree. Anyway, I know you’ll just turn me back when you get bored, so….”
Got this idea when I was reading one of skelltales imagines about the skeletons music preferences, and someone sent an ask after it saying Red would listen to My chemical romance, and my mind immediately went to this later that night, when I was just going to bed xD
We die containing a richness of lovers and tribes, tastes we have swallowed, bodies we have plunged into and swum up as if rivers of wisdom, characters we have climbed into as if trees, fears we have hidden in as if caves. I wish for this all to be marked on my body when I am dead. I believe in such cartography—to be marked by nature, not just to label ourselves on a map like the names of rich men and women on buildings. We are communal histories, communal books. We are not owned or monogamous in our taste or experience. All I desired was to walk upon such an earth that had no maps.
Foodie Friday: Angel Food Cake with Elderflower Syrup
Image and Recipe Credit to MarthaStewart.com
Warning: Please use caution whenever harvesting wild flowers, fruits, or herbs, and do not consume them unless you are absolutely certain that they are edible and safe. If there is even the slightest bit of doubt, please resort to purchasing the ingredient in a store or local apothecary for safety’s sake.
Ingredients For Syrup: -4 cups water -4 cups sugar -20 elderflower heads -Skin and juice of 2 lemons
Ingredients for Cake: -1 cup sifted cake flour -1.5 cups superfine (castor) sugar -14 large egg whites (at room temperature) -1 tbsp room temperature water -½ tsp salt -1.5 tsp cream of tartar -2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1. In a heavy saucepan, combine water and sugar and bring to a simmer over high heat, stirring occasionally until simple syrup is dissolved. Remove from heat and set aside.
2. Remove the elderflower heads from their stems, discarding the stems and placing the heads in a large heat-safe bowl. Add lemon skin and juice to bowl and pour simple syrup into bowl, stirring to combine.
3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel and allow to sit at room temperature for at least 2 days and up to 4 days. Strain syrup through cheesecloth-lined sieve and discard solids. Syrup can be stored in an airtight container for several weeks.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. With a fine sieve, sift together flour and ¾ cups sugar four times.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed, beat together egg whites and water until foamy. Add salt, cream of tartar, and vanilla; beat until soft peaks form. Increase speed to medium-high and sprinkle in remaining sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Beat until stiff but not dry.
3. Transfer to a large bowl. In six additions, sift dry ingredients over meringue, folding in quickly but gently.
4. Pour batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan with removable bottom. Smooth top with an offset spatula. Run a knife through batter to release air bubbles. Bake for 35 - 40 minutes, until golden brown and springy to touch.
5. Invert pan on its legs or over the neck of a glass bottle and let cool completely, about an hour. Carefully run a long offset spatula or knife around the inner and outer perimeter of the pan to release cake. Place on a plate, bottom side up; cover with plastic wrap until ready to use.
9. Serve each slice with some elderflower syrup poured around the base, and whipped cream and berries on top.
Many of us are at least somewhat familiar with the iconic scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail in which French soldiers throw insults at King Arthur. “Your mother was a hamster, and your father smelt of elderberries!”
Elderberry was and continues to be a favorite food in Europe and in certain areas of the United States, in varying forms from floral syrups and fried flowers to fermented elderberry wines (and elderberry preserves are simply divine when spread over buttered toast!). The elder tree, however, holds some long-standing symbolism when it comes to witchcraft and magic!
Historically speaking, elder is one of those trees that has straddled the line between a positive symbol and a negative symbol, depending upon what side of the line you were viewing it from - much like how yew was often associated with death from a Christian viewpoint but associated with protection and flexibility from a Norse perspective. In the case of elder, however, it had much more to do with the belief that elder trees were more often than not inhabited by spirits (comparable to the belief that there are spirits that inhabit Jericho roses).
In Celtic lore, elder has a particular link to the fae, as it was considered to be a guardian tree. Faeries would gather about the tree, and if one were to sleep beneath the elder’s branches, she would dream of the faerie realm of Tir na nOg. In pre-Christian Ireland, elder was a sacred tree held to such a high esteem that it was forbidden to break its twigs.
Perhaps one of the most well known legends regarding elder is the Danish Hyldemor, or Elder-Mother. The Elder-Mother was a spirit who lived within the tree who was respected for her healing and nurturing capabilities. Before approaching the tree to harvest the berries, flowers, or wood, it was a common practice to ask her permission with the promise of returning the favor in the next life: “Old Woman, give me some of thy wood and I will give thee some of mine when I grow into a tree.”
With the spread of Christianity, the tree’s association with spirits and faeries would take a dark turn, and elder would go from being a sacred, positive tree to being synonymous with evil and the devil. The Elder-Mother’s rather kind demeanor was twisted into that of a witch. Its red sap and hunched shape evoked the image of a hunched old witch who would bleed when cut, to English eyes. In Ireland, the tree went from being a guardian of Otherworld to being a tree whose branches were cut by witches and used as magic horses.
Furthermore, elder took a darker turn when (much like how the tomato was once associated with the forbidden fruit in Genesis) Christian legends associated elder with the crucifix and Judas’ suicide, as reflected in the carol of the Twelve Apostles:
The twelve apostles they were standing by, Their roots in the river, and their leaves in the sky, The beasts all thrive wherever they be. But Judas was a-hunged on an elder tree.
Not everywhere in the British Isles was the tree feared, though, and it maintained some of its magical qualities. In Scotland, it was believed that if you stood under an elder tree during Samhain, you could witness the faery host riding by, and elderberries harvested on Midsummer’s Eve would confer magic powers. And in the Isle of Man, elder continued to be a home for elves and fae, which protected against witches and malevolent spirits if it grew just outside the front door.
Again in Scotland, elder would even have a positive association in Christian communities, as its twigs would be fashioned into a cross and hung over stables and barns to ward off evil spirits and hearse drivers would use elder-handled whips to banish negative influences.
Today, elder is regaining its positive associations thanks in part to its prolific production of flowers and fruits and in part to its place in ancient Celtic lore. It is a popular addition to Beltane floral rites, and its healing properties are being brought back into home remedies. For instance, the green sticks were said to be able to cure warts when rubbed on the affliction and then burnt, and elder twigs were believed to banish the evil spirits which caused toothaches. Today, its berries and flowers could be used to help alleviate cold and flu symptoms in herbal remedies.
Its associations with the fae make elder a wonderful tree for inviting faeries into the garden, or for honoring them on an altar with elderflower decorations and offerings. In kitchen magic, elderberry preserves, elderflower syrup and cordials, elderflower teas, et cetera, all can bring energies of prosperity and health to food. In addition, elder foods can be used as offerings or can be cooked and eaten as a way of connecting more with the fae or with one’s femininity.
Since elder has a strong association with banishing negative influence, elderflower infusions can be used as a liquid for asperging. Its wood and twigs can be fashioned into charms or amulets for various spells, its flowers and berries added to jars and bags, and the tree can be kissed or hugged to invite good fortune (if you’re not afraid of getting some strange looks from passerby, of course)!
Consider the role elder may play in your life, and how its sweet berries and lovely flowers can bring health and positive energy into your kitchen!
Prompt: #5 Everlark fairytale au of Little Red Riding Hood, preferably similar in tone to the film “The Company of Wolves.” [submitted by Anonymous]
Rating: T for this chapter
Warnings: Mentions of blood, fantasy and horror thematic elements
A/N: This is the first chapter of what will be a multi-chapter story. Overall rating will be M for the following reasons - Blood, fantasy and horror thematic elements, violence, mentions of non-consensual, mentions of child abuse, disturbing imagery, and sexual content. There may be more as I am still working out a few details. Inspiration for this story was pulled from several different versions of the Red Riding Hood tale, to include the film mentioned in the prompt. I’ve been wanting to write this AU for a long time, so I truly hope you all enjoy what I’ve come up with, especially you, Anonymous! Feel free to stop by and tell me your thoughts, I have Anon turned on in case you wish to remain so. <3 KDNFB