Moon(cake) Magick

I used to pay attention to the cycles of the moon but in recent years I fell out of the habit.  Celebrating the 8 festivals (Wheel of the Year) became more important to me. I began exploring Chaos Magic alternatives, linking the festivals to the 8 colours of magic. Doing so definitely added a breathe of fresh air to my magic. I can not stick to doing the same thing over and over too many times. I like change, innovation and creativity. I also realised that I miss something about playing with the moon even if all it means is having a dedicated glass of wine. I used to like the sense of timing and rhythm that came with it. I decided to rekindle my relationship with the Moon and September proved an excellent time to do it.

dscf1518In China and few other Asian countries people celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival around the time of the full moon each September. One of the main traditions is baking mooncakes and they became so strongly associated with the festival that many know it as Mooncake Festival.

dscf7187I tried them last year during the moon eclipse. I was passing through Bristol and visited my favourite Asian Supermarket late in August. The cakes were displayed together with paper lanterns and few other festive specialities. I bought couple and really enjoyed the  experience of celebrating an eclipse with them.

dscf7189Traditionally mooncakes have an egg yolk in the centre to symbolise the full moon. In addition to eating them  people  go outside to drink tea and watch the moonrise until they see the moons reflection in their teacups. They also light up lanterns, special fire structures and play games re-enacting different elements of the Legend of Chang’e and the Jade Rabbit.

Like many legends these stories seem pretty strange and have many alternative versions. I found some really good ones on youtube. The Legend of Chang’e tells a story about an Archer who shoot down 9 suns from the sky in order to save the earth from scouring heat they produced. In return for this he was offered an elixir  or a pill of immortality but his wife Chang’e drunk the elixir /ate the pill instead of him and she flew off to the moon where she still l lives.

Another associated story tells how the Jade Rabbit got its name and ended up living with Chang’e on the moon.

After baking the cakes myself and Anton decided to set up the altar. We chose a selection of moon cards from different tarot decks and combined them with a selection of seasonal magical object we like to take out of the cupboards this time of the year. We had just enough time to light up all the candles and lanterns before the moon began to rise.

dscf1520We raised a cup of ritual sake to honour the moon and admired its golden round shape travelling through the sky. The evening birdsong and scent of fresh garden herbs added to the magick. Soon we had bats flying over our heads and the chill of an autumn night chased us back inside where we could gorge ourselves on the lovely mooncakes.

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Mooncakes for two

Mooncakes are traditionally baked for Mid-Autumn Festival. You can find out about the folklore associated with them in my Moon(cake) Magick blog. They can be a great offering or celebratory snack for any moon related magic.  I improvised a recipe based on what I had in my kitchen at the time of baking. The proportions are perfect for 2 cakes.

dscf1502The filling:

  • tin of red kidney beans (200g)
  • 50g sugar
  • splash of coffee or water or anything
  • 2 eggs
  • 1tbs coconut butter (any butter will do)

The pastry:

  • 1/2 cup wholemeal flour (or plain flour)
  • 2tbs honey (or golden syrup)
  • 1tbs coconut butter (any butter will do)

Begin by making the pastry. Combine ingredients and knead until you get small ball of dough. Put this in the fridge and meanwhile prepare the filling.

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Strain the beans and pop them in the blender with the sugar and coffee/water. Once mashed transfer them onto a pan and heat stirring until mixture is thick enough to make a spoon stand. Take of the hob, add 1tbs coconut butter and mix in. Set aside to cool.

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Separate the yolks from the egg whites. Keep both. Hard boil the egg yolks. I used pouching pockets to do mine. I also sprinkled them with salt and a tiny bit of vinegar to add flavour. Once boiled the yolks really look like a moon!

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After around 45 minuted take your dough out of the fridge and divide in half. Heat oven up to 175C (350F) Roll each half thin and flat put a generous serving of bean paste in the middle, add egg yolk in the centre and fold the pastry over the top.

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Once sealed you would normally pop it in a special mould. I squeezed mine inside a cookie cutter and used few different cutters  to make a pattern at the top. Glaze it with egg whites. This will give your cakes a lovely glossy look. Bake them in the oven for around 20 minutes or until cakes are golden brown. Take out and leave to cool down.

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