One look at me and you know I hail from the land of potatoes: Ireland (and Scotland). But the aspect I most love about my Celtic heritage? It’s that we invented trick-or-treating of course!
Samhain, All Souls Eve & Day, Halloween. They’re all basically about the same thing. The veil between the living and dead is thin, and the ghosts are hungry. Whipping up a snack to feed the spirits is what my people were made to do, and they made soul cakes. Soul cakes are kind of like a shortbread cookie and scone. It could be my genetics, but I think they’re delicious.
Soul cakes were left as offerings for the spirits drifting around on the night of October 31st, as well as given to roving bands of Pagan children that would dress up in costumes to ward off the wandering spirits. And bonfires, there were lots of bonfires.
My family is witchy, like real witchy. And what books could be better to read on the best holiday of the year than two books that are about magic and nature?
A Natural History of Magick by Poppy David & Jessica Roux comprises every single thing I was obsessed with as a child. Runes? Check. Numerology? Check. Sacred trees and an appreciation for the natural world? In spades, my good witch.
Flipping through the pages that combine a history of magick and into the present day with nods to modern Wiccan beliefs, the book also touches on potions, crystals, and how to find a good wand tree. Literally if I had received this book as a child I would have committed it to memory and never taken off my cloak. And the gold foil accents? They help to continue my delusion that I possess an ancient tome passed down to me by ancestors as they taught me magick in secret dark woods or stone houses near a river…but who says I don’t?
To go along with my love for nature and all things mystical, we have Lore of the Wild by Claire Cock-Starkey & Aitch. What’s better than learning about folklore and wisdom from nature to go along with my potions studies and collection of pretty rocks?
Every page of this book is fabulously beautiful, with rich colors and small tidbits of information about folklore from around the world and throughout time. In the Shetland Islands for example, it’s a bad omen to see a rainbow. But here in North America, we consider it a special event!
Both of these books are perfect for the best season of all (the fall of the patriarchy, duh) but are delightful reads all year round!
These books were both kindly sent by Quarto Kids, but all opinions and decisions to pair are my own!
Recipe: Soul Cakes
50g almond flour
290g all-purpose flour (I use gf)
1T apple cider vinegar
pinch of salt
pinch of nutmeg
pinch or ginger
1/2c dried cherries (or whatever dried fruit you have/want!)
Measure all dries, sifting the flours. Cut in butter until coarse, add in egg and vinegar and finally the cherries. Mix until a cohesive dough and roll out to your desired thickness. I used a biscuit cutter, and made a cross on top of each. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar and bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cake and your desired level of crunch.
I cut out 9 soul cakes and baked them for 22 minutes! There are no leavening agents in this recipe, which is what makes it have that cookie-like texture.