Terrific Tuesday: The Sirens Way October 17, 2017

It's a Terrific Tuesday here at the Sirens' Lair. Let's hit it!

Before we do, let's find out who won the Tree of Life Apothecary Smudging Set Giveaway. And the winner is....

Kellyanne Swensen!

Congratulations! Be sure you send in your mailing address to Kallan so she can pass it along to Dawn for shipping. Now, on to the festivities!

Today's Music: Black Magic Woman

Who can resist some Santana?

Cultivating the Dark with a Gothic Garden

By Johanna Lawson

As Samhain approaches, we begin to prepare for the dark time of the year. The bright and cheery colors of summer are gone. For a gardener, such as myself, this can be a truly saddening time. Yet this gardening witch knows better. The dark half of the year is a time to dream, plan, and prepare for the gardens to come next year, to plants the seeds for future gardens to spring forth. It is not a place of fear but a place of rebirth. All witches often work with this balance in magickal practices and rituals, using the energies of both dark and light to bring transformation. In the garden, the dark often is forgotten, overlooked, and dormant among the sunny days of budding, growing and blooming. But what if we could cultivate the dark even in those glorious summer days by reminding ourselves that there is darkness even in the brightest of places? To do this, you need look no further than the gothic garden.

In the Victorian era, the dark was embraced. Perhaps due to the gloom and doom of the period, this was a time that saw heightened interest in all things that go bump in the night, evidenced most notably in Victorian literature, architecture and recorded activities. The gothic garden grew out of this time as well, often becoming displays of morbid reflections on death and the darkness and drawing crowds of people seeking a fright. Some were grand and picturesque while others seemed unkempt with withering vines or decaying flowers, both by intent. Today, the gothic garden has made a comeback and gardeners are cultivating the dark in their own backyards.

The modern gothic garden is grown with the dark in mind. Many commercial plant growers and breeders are developing plants with flowers that are black, deep purple, electric blue or blood red. Some of these include: ‘Blue Lady’ hellebore, ‘Black Velvet’ petunias, ‘After Dusk” dahlia, ‘Green Wizard’ rudbeckia, “Vino” or ‘Black Dragon’ coleus, and ‘Hello Darkness’ iris. There are also black hollyhocks, hyacinths, sunflowers, and ornamental grasses. To add some height and depth, there are several varieties of roses that come in deep and dark colors, most notably midnight black, deep purple or burgundy, and blood red. I will add here that using plants native to your region will attract wildlife like snakes, toads, and insects that are beneficial to the garden and make it just that more “creepy” to those who may already be a bit creeped out by it.

Dark shades are not limited to flowers. They can also be found in vegetables. Varieties of tomatoes such as ‘Indigo Rose’, ‘Cherokee Purple’, or ‘Black Cherry’ grown along with eggplant, some darker varieties of squash, gourds, lettuces and cabbage, and some blackberries, elderberries and blueberries would make excellent additions to the edible area of the gothic garden. In excellent contrast to the darkness during the day, a gothic garden could also include plants that bloom at night and are illuminated by the moon. Plants such as datura, ‘Moonlight’ caladium, yucca, jasmine, and, of course, moon flower vine are just a few with which to start.

A true gothic garden is not complete without a witch’s herb garden. This part of the garden need not be dark in color, although there are some varieties with darker foliage. Let it grow wild into a tangle of fragrant and abundant herbs like thyme, rosemary, sage, chamomile, and lavender. Some of the baneful herbs and plants, like aconite, nightshade and wormwood, could be interesting to add in a corner of the herb garden, cultivating the dark even further. Add a well-displayed “Poison” sign and see what the neighbors say then!

As a Master Gardener, I must make a public service announcement here. Before planting anything, it is imperative to know the light, water, and soil requirements of the plants. A plant meant to grow in shade will wither in full sun. Another plant that needs little water will not thrive in a very moist area of the garden. Some plants grow better in sandy soil versus clay soil. Know what the plants need and the environment in which they will grow.

Plants are not the only things used to cultivate the dark in a gothic garden. It is not complete without some d├ęcor and magickal design elements to bring the darkness to life. Wrought iron fencing rescued from an old house can be used around garden beds or as trellises. Statues and figurines of gnomes, dragons, gargoyles, and whatever or whoever speaks of the dark to you can be placed in, among and under plants. Adding bits of gnarled old wood will not only heighten interest but become places of refuge for beneficial garden insects. Old tree stumps can become homes to garden fairies and gnomes with some creativity. Create stepping stones with sigils and magickal symbols on them. In researching gothic gardens, I even saw stepping stones made to look like the phases of the moon, which would be amazing in the moon garden area.

Cultivating the dark through gardening is a way to remind ourselves that the darkness need not be feared but understood as a place where transformation happens. In the dark, seeds lie dormant until spring and, from the dark, all life returns anew. Be with it. Embrace it. Cultivate it. It is then that the light returns.

Johanna Lawson is a longtime solitary-practicing witch. She is the author of a blog, Village Wise Woman, that documents her journeys on the Pagan path, through the changing seasons of her magical garden, and through the life of her small Pagan family. As a writer, her work has been included in several Pagan anthologies, including Pagan Writers Presents-Samhain and Pagan Writers Presents-Yule (Pagan Writers Press, 2011) as well as Paganism 101: An Introduction to Paganism By 101 Pagans and Naming the Goddess (Moon Books, 2014). Her work has also been featured in Circle Magazine (Spring, 2012).

Johanna is also a Master Gardener through the Penn State Extension Master Gardener Program and is a monthly contributor to the Delaware County Master Gardener Newsletter with a column entitled “Plant Lore and Legend”. She is an avid gardener and budding herbalist, growing and harvesting her own herbs and flowers for use in both her magickal and medicinal cabinets. She is also an activist, fiercely defending the environment and nature through her work with such organizations as Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Climate Reality Project.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, she currently lives in the Philadelphia suburbs with her husband and son, surrounded by her magical garden and a diverse “village” of family, friends and garden dwellers.

Johanna’s blog, Village Wise Woman, can be found at:http://johannavillagewisewoman.blogspot.com

Today's Recipe: Easy-Peasy Dinner Rolls

Kallan Kennedy

This is in honor of my grandmother, Helen Milya (Millie) Kennedy. She was an absolute bread-lover, and she was more like a mom to me than my real mother. She died from lymphoma on my last day of boot camp. Whenever I cook or bake something, I think of her, and how much enthusiasm she emanated with everything in life. She loved all of it. She was a bird-whisperer. She put her whole self into every aspect of her existence, and taught me how to see all that is around me from her childlike perspective. You all would have adored her, and she would have adored you back.

No, these are not gluten-free. No, I don't feel guilty. I love bread, and these are so easy to make. They go perfectly with a nice stew, chowder, or pumpkin soup. It's that time of year for comfort foods, and if you cheat, I promise never to tell ;)

3/4 cup of milk
3/4 cup of water
1/2 cup of white sugar (honey makes a great substitute)
1 tsp of salt
2 eggs
5 tsp of active dry yeast
5 cups of all-purpose flour (wheat flour works with this really well)
1/2 cup of butter (I use Irish butter), melted

In a medium saucepan over medium heat: warm milk, water, sugar or honey, and salt. It should be really warm (almost hot) to the touch, but not boiling. Remove from heat, and mix in the eggs and yeast. Measure flour into a non-metal large bowl. Make a well in the flour, and pour the milk mixture into it. DO NOT STIR. Cover with a lid (you can substitute saran wrap or foil for this) and let stand for 20-30 minutes. Covering with a lid is the secret ingredient to these amazing rolls.

Pour melted butter into the flour mixture and stir well (use a wooden spoon- metal will kill your yeast). Add more flour if this mixture is too sticky for you.  Knead lightly for a few minutes. You're trying to get any air bubbles to pop out of it without overworking the dough. 

Pull off pieces of the dough and shape them into rolls. You can get creative with this, just remember not to overwork the dough when doing it. Place them on an ungreased baking sheet (parchment paper is recommended, but not necessary).  Let them sit again for 20-30 minutes. About 15 minutes in, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. 

Bake for 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown on top. They are so moist and fluffy. You'll thank me for this one.

(Alexis) Kallan Kennedy is the brain-parent and sponsor of Samhain's Sirens. Her vision for this project was to bring together Pagan authors, bloggers, crafters and vendors under one umbrella to celebrate the Samhain season with the community. She has been blessed to find so many wonderful folks who wanted to participate. 2017  marks the 5th annual celebration for the sirens.

Kallan is a Celtic/Greek Wild Witch who lives in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.She has raised five children as a single mom and home-schooled them all. She is a proud grandmother of 3. Somehow, she was adopted by a wolf hybrid puppy ten years' ago, and has lived a life of regret and bliss ever since.
A United States Navy veteran; honorably discharged and proud to have served, she holds a bachelor's degree in Religion and Philosophy, is working on degrees in History and English. Her passions are anything wild: her family, friends, writing, and reading. If it involves rivers and forests, you'll have her attention :)

You can find Kallan writing, teaching, and reading tarot/totems at Wildly Witch  If you have any questions or concerns during the season, feel free to email her directly at kallan.kennedy@gmail.com

Today's Giveaway from Hauntiture Creations

Tara does it again with a stunning Goblin Box!

This hand-painted piece of Hauntiture is a vintage silverware box, crafted to hold magical items of all sorts. Retail value: $80.00.

How to enter:

US Residents

First entry:  Go to The Hauntiture Creations shop, peruse the amazing creations, come back here and tell us which is your favorite in the comments.

Second entry: Share this giveaway on your Facebook page (note: Facebook in no way endorses our giveaways). Come back, tell us you did in the comments (share the link, please).

Third entry: Share this giveaway on Twitter or Instagram (your choice). Come back, post the link to your share in the comments.

Fourth entry: Like the Hauntiture Creations Facebook page. Leave a comment on her Facebook page telling her you're visiting from Samhain's Sirens. Come back here, and let us know you did.

Fifth entry: Like the Samhain's Sirens Facebook page. Leave us a comment below letting us know you're a follower (hint: this is going to be a gimme if you do it now or if you've done it in the past. It'll be one of the entries for all of our giveaways).

Canadian Residents

For 5 entries, please correctly answer the following question in the comments section:

Where does the word Canada come from?
a) Jacques Cartier
b) Samuel de Champlain
c) Jean Nicollet

You have until 11:59p EDT to enter this giveaway. Winner will be announced in tomorrow's post. Good luck!

That's it for today. See you tomorrow for more Sireny fun!

Happy Samhaining!


  1. Tweeted! https://twitter.com/mbdauberman/status/920286784323510272

  2. Already liked haunted!! I sent some love!!

  3. Visited their page and I still love that mermaid board!!! Love love!!

  4. Many thanks, I’m thrilled to have won!!!

  5. I love the Ouija board, I liked her page, shared give away, all entry's completed except 3rd as I don't have Instagram. But I love Hauntiture how they repurpose items and give them a second life.

  6. This time I'll put another favorite, I love the mythology trunk!! It is fabulous!

  7. Tweeted https://twitter.com/SagasCottage/status/920387037957689345

  8. Still loving the mermaid vase, although the merbaby photobomb is a close second, at Hauntiture. jonquilsgrdn@gmail.com

  9. I tweeted: https://twitter.com/jonquilsgrdn/status/920388801243107331

  10. I absolutely love On A Full Moon trunk from Hauntiture!

  11. Shared on FB https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=10214666430565483&id=1564793014

  12. Went by Hauntitire FB page and said hello!

  13. Always a fan of Samhain's Sirens!

  14. Deer lord baby jesus how am I supposed to choose just one thing at her amazing shop?? I want it all! The Papa Legba centerpiece, the On a Full Moon Trunk, Chazbonez, Madgy Figgy and on and on!


  15. Shared on my page


  16. I shared on Instagram


  17. I love the Squadron Barrel. tvschwartz@yahoo.com

  18. I shared the giveaway on my facebook page under "Clara Pitt." tvschwartz@yahoo.com

  19. I liked and and follow Hauntiture Creations on Facebook.

  20. I still like and follow Samhain's Sirens.

  21. Love the mythological hangers :)
    Liked and shared samhains sirens :)


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