15° of Scorpio, The World Dies.
The world dies as the Last Harvest come in, and the whole of the wilds begin to fold in on themselves to face the cold. It doesn't come back until "Spring" - there is no hint of life renewing here when Yule comes around, espousing some "return", or if it is it is a vain lie before the icy horrors of January stomp the lingering green out entirely. Normally that means that other than perhaps visiting the local Pagan group for Yule, and the usual Secular Christmas... I don't do jack shit in the winter. The Altar is stone cold, lights are not set. It usually gets veiled, shrouded, and left "in state".
The Hungry Dead
But there is something that does go on. The world gets cold, bitter and hungry. Birds begin to flood in colorful waves over the feeders, clinging to suet cakes until they're leaden and stuffed. Spirits begin to drag themselves by, eyes pleading, voices scorched. Because those dead that cannot pass over into the otherworld do not get to experience the lush bounty the restful dead are experiencing at this time. They get our world, cold and lifeless, with not even the spark of trees to draw from.
The Compassionate Supper.
Miss Dirty, for whom I have great respect and admiration, recently shared a holiday Tradition from her blood family - that of the Holy Supper, or Sviata Vechera. It is a grand feast to ancestors, family, the dead. And I liked the idea. Maybe I wouldn't do it quite like Miss Dirty (I'm hard-hit by the U.S. economy, and though I'd love to feast boldly, our once gastronomically lush Christmas was sparse... and sandwichy), I signed up to do it none-the-less. For me this was less a feast, and more "sharing what I had" with those who needed it.
Oxtail Stew - Scyllastyle.
Approx 1lb of Oxtail.
Approx. 1cup chopped Celery.
Approx. 1cup chopped Carrot.
1 head of garlic, peeled and chopped coarsely.
1/2 medium-sized white or red onion... I chose white.
3 small red-skinned potatoes, chopped.
1 cup Good Red Wine (I did Cabernet Sauvignon, the only wine I drink).
3 cups Chicken Stock (we make our own from chicken wings, and veggies).
1 16oz can of Diced tomatos AND Juice.
Salt and Black Pepper to taste, and a few pinches of Thyme.
Extra: 1/4cup AP flour, salt, pepper, spices (such as curry) to taste.
Roll your oxtail in the flour and brown it slightly in a skillet with some olive oil. Add ingredients in listed order, more or less, to a large Crock Pot or Slow Cooker, and utterly ignore it's existence for 20hrs. After 20hrs, skim the top - you will not regret skimming off the OUNCES of fat (this gets added to Their Portion). Then crank to high and "offset" the lid for another four hours to partially reduce. It won't reduce much, but will lose it's raw wine flavor, and begin to develop more subtleties. Total cook time is an entire 24hr span, and it is well worth it.
Serve in crust bread bowls, with a dash of Sriracha sauce and some lime juice. Maybe a tiny pat of butter.
Supping With The Dead.
It was LATE by the time it was all done and ready. I'd set out an extra place-setting, and doled out a little wine into the glasses. The bowls were heaping and fullsome, a little shiny from beef fat, and a little glossy from butter. We did not eat in silence, we laughed and "mmm"d and "OH MA GAD"d, we got flush from wine and watched scary movies. And after my Dear Sweetie was tucked into bed I returned for Their Portion.
I took some Christmas candies, and some bits and bobs, the remaining wine and the bowl of food out into the chilly night. I was instructed to finish the wine seeing as "You'd only have to dump it out, and never waste wine!" and I shared the meal with them as they, those not of my Family, tore specks of spirit from it. And there it sat, empty as a hollow log, but still a piping hot bowl full of stew... and then the animals were welcome to it.