This mini-rant is part of a much larger rant about how Pagans seem to have confused ‘spirituality’ with ‘medieval reenactment’. But seeing as I brought up the ‘r’ word, let’s start with a little creative visualisation:
- I invent a time machine and take you back to the Kingdom of Wessex in the ninth century. (Sidebar: I have actually been in the DeLorean from Back To The Future. But in this visualisation my time machine is bigger and also has a slot for my iPod. The doors still open up, though.)
- We see a village ‘wise woman’, on the eve of a major Pagan festival, carrying food supplies along a path.
- We bundle her and her food into the time machine and bring her back to modern Britain.
- We then take her to Waitrose.
- Several hours later, a large table is laid out, covered in the foods and French wine we have bought at Waitrose and the fish, turnips and rock bread the wise woman was carrying. The room is decked out in a way most pleasing to High Priestess Lawson.
Now… Which side of the table is she going to enjoy more?
Yes, yes. She’s probably mistaken us for awesome, handsome elves and is refusing to eat anything we have prepared for her lest she be trapped in Elf-land forever. (Elf-land has really turned to shit if it looks like modern London.)
But I think you get my point.
Our ancestors choked down rocky-bread, hideous honey cakes, soured ale, etc because they didn’t have Waitrose. If your belief system requires you to prepare a meal that is literally fit for The Gods then what are you doing messing about trying to make homemade mead in the food processor?! Food for Pagans doesn’t have to be ‘Pagan Food’.
Food itself is a cornerstone of all major belief systems. It also has the potential to greatly enhance your magical practice… If you get it right. Think about this: you consume several pounds of food every day. Nothing in your entire life chemically affects you as much as the food you eat.
Which is why I cannot stand the prevailing concept of ‘Pagan food’. Pagan food like this Witch’s Cauldron Pasta. Has this woman based her entire belief system on some kind of theme restaurant? Do you think she can get unlimited refills on her chalice? Is her pentacle a paper placemat that has been coloured in with crayons?
And by the way, ‘a jar of Alfredo sauce’ is not actually an ingredient in anything except wallpaper glue. This ‘recipe’ is just a list of vile packaged foods and yet if we combine them all they somehow become a meal that’s fit to be named after a nature religion? Cooking -especially sacred cooking- is not just buying ready-made ingredients and applying heat to them.
Let me tell you what Pagan food is, in my estimation. It’s the first asparagus of the spring, it’s fresh oysters pulled off cold winter rocks, it’s locally made cider fresh from the cask.
So, here’s my three step formula for proper Pagan food:
- Buy some proper cookbooks and commit to actually cooking from them
- Book yourself on a wine appreciation course
- Eat the seasons. Here’s a helpful website called -funnily enough- Eat The Seasons.
Is it not written:
“Be goodly therefore: dress ye all in fine apparel; eat rich foods and drink sweet wines and wines that foam! Also, take your fill and will of love as ye will, when, where and with whom ye will! But always unto me.”
Becoming proficient at food preparation -not just sacred food preparation- is an essential part of the magical arts. Not only does cooking provide regular alchemical metaphors of transformation and completion, but an expanded knowledge of food is also an expanded knowledge of the world, of culture, of history.
Our ancestors prepared the best food they could for festivals, sabbats, etc. Rather than simply playing dress up, we need to do the same thing today.
Shaping a tube of cookie dough into little half-moons is not food suitable for divine beings. Please don’t feed your Gods the way you clearly feed your children. They deserve much better.