Hi Vilde Chaya! (That’s wild child in Yiddish!)
I can’t think of a better time to start The Vilde Chaya than the week before Purim — a topsy-turvy-full-moon-spring-fever holiday.
After a winter of doing as little as possible1, I thankfully again feel the urge to create. It’s the same urge that a seed feels to sprout. This newsletter is a response to that urge.
During Purim we get to play with our identity. After hibernating through the winter, we’re ready to emerge into the playful and creative energy of Spring.2 We ask ourselves, “Who do we want to be this year? What do we want to create?”
To be honest, until I started studying with Jill Hammer, a witchy feminist Rabbi and creator of Kohenet, I didn’t think much about Purim. It was a holiday with plays? People wore costumes and got drunk and kinda belligerent? Nah, not for me. Sounds like all the college frat parties I hated.
But like most things in Judaism and beyond, the more you know, the more interesting and nuanced it gets. Rabbi Jill awakened me to the mystical, feminist, and especially the Earthy interpretations of this holiday.
There’s no evidence that the events of Purim, written in The Book of Esther, actually happened. Most likely, it was written as a play, a fairytale of sorts, to entertain the Jewish community of Persia. This makes so much more sense, right?!
We celebrate Purim with elaborate Purim spiels because it itself was a play! Why didn’t anyone ever tell me this? (Someone probably did explain this at Hebrew school but I was too busy doing anything besides listening to the teachers.)
Purim falls on the full moon of Adar, a month of increasing joy after the winter. It’s a time to shake loose after hibernating and tap into our wild side. The plays, costumes, and libations are all part of a cathartic release. A communal orgasm if you will.
Purim is also a story about hiding Jewish identity and assimilation. While I never hid my own Jewish identity, I was always a little nervous about coming off as “too Jewish” and never before wore it so proudly that I would write a whole newsletter about it! What about you — what part of yourself are you ready to claim this year?
In a feminist take on Purim, we do not eat hamantaschen based on the villain Hamam’s three-cornered hat, but vulva cookies with seeds of fertility to celebrate the fertility of the Earth in springtime. We honor the Earth’s body as she awakens from the dormancy of winter because the body of the Earth is our own body. The seeds represent the power in each of us to root, grow, flower, and fruit.
Nowadays we might find the idea of vulva cookies “gross,” but that’s because women/womxn/womben and men too have been acculturated to hate our own bodies!
Innana, the ancient Sumerian goddess who has some springtime and fertility connections to Queen Esther, celebrated her body. Check out this quote from Inanna translated by Sumerian scholar Samuel Noah Kramer and storyteller Diane Wolkstein:
"When Inanna leaned back against the apple tree, her vulva was wondrous to behold. Rejoicing at her wondrous vulva, the young woman Inanna applauded herself."
Starhawk writes that Inanna’s erotic power generates good for all the community. I think that’s true for all of us. Claiming our erotic power is an important part of saying no to patriarchal systems of oppression and YES to life.3
Before this week, I hadn’t eaten a hamantaschen since middle school. It might have been the last gluten and sugar laden pastry I ever ate since I mostly remember that eating hamantaschen made me feel sick. I’ve been off gluten and sugar for a very long time.
I once had a friend come over after school. We had some snack and she kept saying she was still hungry so I gave her more and more things from our pantry and eventually a hamantaschen, a brick in the stomach, in the hopes that it would fill her up.
This recipe is paleo, vegan, and refined sugar free so it’s quite nourishing! It’s surprisingly easy and not too precious — meaning you won’t mess it up! — and won’t make you feel like you ate a brick.
paleo vegan hamantaschen with chia jam
(aka “vulva cookies”)
Adapted from The Primal Palate. Makes about 12 hamantaschen
For the pastry —
2 cups Blanched Almond Flour
1 cup Arrowroot Flour, plus 1/2 cup for dusting
1 tsp Salt
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 cup Maple Syrup
1/4 cup Coconut Oil, Organic, melted
For the filling —
I used some local rosehip jam that my neighbor gifted us and added some chia seeds to thicken it up (and symbolize fertility!) You can use any jam you have on hand or make your own filling! If you happen to have some frozen blueberries in your freezer, put some in a saucepan and let them cook down then add chia seeds and you’ve got an epic blueberry filling.
Make or gather your filling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the almond flour, arrowroot, and salt.
Add in the vanilla extract, maple syrup, and melted coconut oil. Stir until all ingredients are combined and you have a ball of cookie dough. **You can use your hands for this as well.
Place ball of dough on to a sheet of parchment paper or dust your countertop with arrowroot flour, adding additional arrowroot flour and kneading the dough until it is firm enough to be rolled and cut into shapes. Sticking the dough in the fridge for a moment while you clean up also helps it stay firm and not too sticky.
Roll the dough into a 1/4 inch thick layer.
Dust dough with additional arrowroot, as well as dip the cookie cutter in arrowroot flour, so the dough does not stick. **If you’re like me and don’t have cookie cutters, a cup will work.
Carefully cut circles in the dough, and remove the excess dough from around the circles.
Add about a teaspoon (give or take) of filling to the center of the cookies, and carefully fold three sides in, making a triangular shape. Pinch the corners in to seal the cookies.
Transfer the parchment to a baking sheet, and bake cookies for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack.
Repeat this process until you have used all of the cookie dough.
Enjoy erotically and celebrate your body and the seeds you’re planting this year!
It’s customary on Purim to give baskets of food to friends and family so consider making an extra batch for the people in your life!
If you’re a nervous baker, I’m here for you! Paying subscribers will get to join a live zoom (and we’ll record it too) next Wednesday night at 5pm PST.
Also, when I’m baking something new, I like to channel my grandmother who was a great baker and all my ancestors who have been making these recipes forever. It really works!
Do you know someone who would love this newsletter or want to try this recipe?
Besides playing with my puppy, taking longs walks in the snow, planning a wedding, and studying herbalism
Almost ready, anyway! We still have a lot of snow here on the mountain where I live in Southern Oregon.