Food is the product of the earth; the earth is a mother goddess, literally the matrix of our physical existence. We are all products of the stars: earth, animals, plants; all the elements were forged in the reactions in the heart of stars. We are what we eat, so it is important to eat healthily & well. —Yvonne Aburrow
In Part 1 on Eating and Spirituality I talked about getting started incorporating food into your spiritual life during pregnancy. I also had the pleasure of introducing Selina Rifkin who graciously answered many of my questions on the subject. This week I want to go a little further into why Pagans should give attention to food.
If we follow Pagan paths of celebrating and honoring our bodies, then nourishing those bodies makes sense. It’s especially important to feed our bodies well during pregnancy because, as Selina says, “The long term-health of the baby is dependent on the nutrients she receives while in her mother’s womb.”
In addition to the question of what goes into our bodies, there is the question of what goes into making the food in the first place. Our babies, our physical bodies, our foods, and our natural environment are all interconnected. Selina says,
We care about the health of the planet. Industrial agriculture has a huge negative impact on the health of the planet. First there is the constant spraying of chemicals and the over-use of fertilizers. The chemicals sterilize the soil and the fertilizers cause dead zones in coastal areas all over the world. Second, is mono-cropping and the use of GMOs. Mono-cropping destroys biodiversity and GMOs are just plain dangerous. The companies that make them have no idea – or are in complete denial – of the effect they are having. Third, how the industrial system produces animal foods is cruel, as well as being unhealthy. There is a spiritual disconnect between how we nourish our bodies and our souls. If we care about the well-being of all life, then mindlessly eating meat from animals raised in factory farms is spiritual necrosis.
So we should take what steps we can to reintegrate that spiritual disconnect and see ourselves in relationship to the production of our foods.
Finally, attention to eating shouldn’t just be about worrying over chemicals in our food or the effects of mono-cropping; it should also be delicious. When “all acts of love and pleasure are [Her] rituals” then when we can take pleasure in eating yummy, lovingly prepared food that nourishes our bodies (I know this isn’t always possible in pregnancy; sometimes nausea and food aversions leave us feeling lucky if we can choke down any food at all).
The meal itself, consumed with pleasure, becomes a celebration of the Goddess. So if your developing baby is asking you to indulge in a great meal, grab a fork, and eat up!
Next week I’ll continue this series with some more specific ideas on how to incorporate food into the spiritual practice of pregnancy.
Sarah Whedon teaches in the Department of Theology and Religious History at Cherry Hill Seminary and is the founding editor of Pagan Families: Resources for Pagan Pregnancy and Birth. Sarah’s teaching, research, and advocacy work center around topics of spirituality, feminism, and reproduction. She makes her home in San Francisco with her partner and their children.