Magical Eating in a Mundane World
My food posts are surprisingly popular. Surprising to me at least. Sure, it's a topic I'm passionate about, but it's also a topic that seems far from the core purpose of Circle Thrice. But maybe it's not as far as it looks at first.
One of the reasons I am so very passionate about food is because I see food as having the possibility of being incredibly magical. Food gives love and energy, it strengthens family and community, it nourishes us literally as well as spiritually and emotionally, it bonds us to place and time, and it mines our deepest memories and can change the future.
Food is magic. Recipes are spells. Meals are potions. If you are looking for ways to get more magic into your busy life, if you want to integrate your witchcraft/sorcery/magic more deeply into your day to day activities, get into the kitchen. Here's a list of ideas on the cusp of magic and food making, followed by some thoughts on how to get more of those magical meals into yourself and the people you love.
- Tea. There's a poncy shop at the mall that sells overpriced teas. Some of the teas are honest high-quality blacks and greens that really should cost more than Tetley. But others are herbal blends and I'm always surprised how much they get away with charging for basically potpourri. But making your own herbal tea (or herbal flavored black or green teas) is easy and so easily amenable to magic. I collect herbs, flowers, dried fruits, even oils. I make drinking teas and medicinal teas (there's sometimes little difference) and all of my teas are magical. The equipment is simple (mesh tea balls and jars, basically) and the ingredients don't have to be expensive. It's super effective for enchantment, to the point that I'm surprised that anyone doesn't occasionally blend up a tea to deliver a spell. (Also note that bath sachets are kind of like "people tea").
- Yeasty pursuits. From brewing to baking, anything that uses yeast is perfect for the kind of magic that sets things to growing and multiplying. And by the way, since the little creatures are alive, you are technically sacrificing them in the baking process. The history of baking is rife with magic and magical symbolism. If you want to brew up something longer term, mead making is a perfect vehicle (ditto wine and beer).
- Preserves. The point of a preserve is to capture the bounty of one period of time and save it for later. When you open a jar of homemade strawberry jam in the dead of winter, it's like a little dose of early summer coming into your day. Think of your magic in the same terms. You enchant your pot of jam with something and then access it later when you need it. Kind of like wind knots, but nicer on toast. Jam making is one of those things that has a high payoff for the time input. And if you grow your own fruit or buy in bulk from local farms and markets it can be lots cheaper (OK, maybe not cheaper than Smuckers, but much cheaper than an equivalent quality preserve). I haven't bough a jar of jam in over five years.
- Baking. I love to bake and I'm sort of relieved that I don't have more time for it (we'd all end up a zillion pounds). Baking is like a honey jar spell wrapped in pastry. Want to charm the hell out of people, enchant them to your cause, align them on a course together? The most modest homemade cookie will get praise all out of proportion to what you'd expect. And a pie? With homemade crust? People will follow you anywhere. I used to bring a handmade baked good to my team's overnight software updates to ensure a smooth update with no glitches.
If you enchant a roast chicken on Sunday and enchant the stock you made from the bones and giblets, you are set up for a week of magical meals. If you make and enchant a huge batch of chili or enchiladas, you can freeze multiple meals of enchanted leftovers for days when cooking isn't in the cards. Even the simplest supper of grilled cheese, pasta with a basic tomato sauce, or a salad can share love, comfort, wellness, or togetherness.
New Years is one time of year when symbolic food hits the mainstream. The idea that what you eat at certain symbolic times of year is what you are calling to yourself is deeply magical. But it doesn't have to just be at the start of a new year. Every meal you make from scratch (or mostly from scratch) can be imbued with this kind of symbolism. And when you get into the habit of cooking, the magic starts to permeate your very pots and pans. One of my most powerful household charms are two very old wooden spoons that belonged to my grandmother. When they became too worn to cook with anymore, I turned them into a kitchen blessing charm. Other friends have cast iron pans that have been handed down through the cooks in their family. All my cast iron is first generation, but they and their patina will be passed down to our descendants in turn.
This blog will not be turning into a foodie blog. Don't expect glossy semi-professional photos of our dinners or tweaked recipes or cookbook reviews. Still, food is an important link to sustainability and magic in my life (and you guys seem to like my posts on it). Here's to nourishment in the coming year.