This comes up every now and again but I have some decidedly un-elitist views with regards to sourcing magical ingredients.
Something Jason wrote the other day about McDonald’s salads got me thinking whether these magical views run contrary to my unabashed food elitism.
And so I thought about this for a while and reached a conclusion.
It doesn’t because both these views spring from the same anthropological understanding of marketplaces and supermarkets as well as a continuing amazement at the marvel that is globalisation. (When it’s done right.)
Any lamentation about losing traditional values or ‘Old Ways’ of doing things carries a fatal logical flaw:
The past was shit.
It stank. Women couldn’t own property. Nobody could read. People died of parasites or pneumonia before they were twenty. Nobody travelled more than fifteen miles from their home village. Slavery was legal. If you lived past forty you would have no teeth because the stale bread you ate everyday had ground up stone in it from the baking process. You had no legal rights. 30 Rock wasn’t on television because there was no television.
If you live in the First World, then you live a life that the mystics and druids of old could not even begin to conceive. Hell, I couldn’t conceive of it in primary school and that was only twenty years ago.
When I enter my local supermarket, I can buy things from the bottom of the sea. Or I can buy Himalayan rock salt to use on my eggs. I can look on the side of the packet and see the name of the farmer that grew these potatoes on the tiny island of Jersey. I can buy spices that mighty kingdoms used to fight great sea battles for.
Like it says in the Hermetica:
Man is a marvel,
due honour and reverence.
He takes on the attributes of the gods,
as if he were one of their number.
No grizzled magician from ages past is going to choose his/her stinking desert marketplace filled with rotting lamb and pickpockets over today’s supermarkets.
In fact, if you divide up the common spell ingredients by place and historical period you don’t get a secret formula handed down through the ages. What you get is a fascinating snapshot of market variation for that exact place at that exact time. English hedge witches used berries and nettles found in the hedge rows, Greeks and Romans used thyme and rosemary that grows wild in the hills (and smells amazing in the afternoon sun), indigenous Americans used white sage. These were supplemented by ingredients believed to be rare and mysterious at the time; frankincense, cinnamon, licorice… Even tea.
Sure, different ingredients have different spell properties but seriously, how many spell categories are there, anyway? Seven at most? Do you really think you need to buy something odd from the ends of the earth because your supermarket won’t stock something with ‘love’ properties?
So I thought I might put together a few spell combinations using only things you would find in any reasonably sized supermarket (and most large gas stations, to be honest).
In the meantime, please do share any supermarket workarounds you have discovered for the more unusual or pretentious ingredients.
This post was (hopefully) published on time by the helpful wordpress robots as I am on vacation in South West England. If I get 3G reception, you can follow along here via crummy cell phone photos until I get back. But otherwise, there might be a little bit of a delay when it comes to replying to comments.