Imagine sitting down to a meal. It is spring, and there are fresh vegetables on your plate that you just picked from your own garden, chanting a blessing for the plants to be fruitful as you pick. You are eating a salad made from leaf lettuce and baby spinach leaves, with radishes and chopped green onions perhaps. There is a side dish of green beans that you canned yourself the previous year. Also on your plate is a sizzling venison steak, from the deer you were lucky enough to harvest the previous fall, after petitioning the Goddess of the Hunt for success. Before you eat this meal, you express your gratitude to the plants who give you sustenance, to the spirit of the deer who sustains your body with its own. This meal sounds delicious, and you know exactly where every part of it came from. This is kitchen witching at its most basic level.
Where does our food come from? Anyone who has spent a bit of time with me has probably heard me expound on this topic more than once. There’s an old joke about a lady who wrote a letter to a newspaper, complaining that people shouldn’t hunt deer because it’s cruel. She goes on to state that people should go buy their meat in the grocery store where no animals were harmed. Funny on the surface, but not so funny when you realize that a lot of people truly do not understand where their food comes from. If they buy a steak in a grocery store, many people are unable to make a connection between that steak on their plate and the cattle in the field, or in the case of big chain store, a feed lot or factory farm. They close their eyes to that, and in doing so I feel they disrespect the spirit of the animal who gave their life to give them sustenance.
In my own life, I’ve been lucky enough to have had opportunities to have gardened, taught myself to do canning, fished, hunted and processed my own deer, raised chickens for both eggs and meat, searched for and harvested wild plants and mushrooms, and have been apprenticing for keeping bees. I feel blessed that I have had all of those opportunities, as it has really opened my eyes to appreciating where our food, and where it really comes from. Those hands-on experiences have been incredibly valuable, both in my mundane and spiritual life. Some of my happiest days have been spent in the woods, communing with nature as I searched for edibles. I highly encourage anyone who is able to do any or all of these things to give them a try.Not everyone is in a position to able to garden, hunt or raise their own meat, do canning, or be involved in the production of their own food, and that’s OK. What is important is to remember to honor your food. Search out the places that care about their animals. I am lucky enough to live in a rural area, and over the years have been able to visit many family farms, and saw for myself how their animals are taken care of. If I want beef for example, I would strongly prefer to buy my meat from a local farmer who pasture-raises their animals, rather than from a big chain store where I don’t know how the animals were treated. Spend time at farmer’s markets and buy your vegetables and other produce locally. Get to know the people who produce your food, and visit if you can. Research companies that are in line with your values and ethics, and support them.
No matter where your food comes from, take a moment before eating to really connect with and appreciate it. Even a hamburger from a fast food chain started out with living animals and plants. That burger you get at the drive through came from cattle, from grain, from tomatoes and other vegetables. Acknowledge the source, and thank it for its sacrifice. It can be a simple chant, or it can be a more elaborate ritual, but give them the respect they deserve.
Here is a simple chant that I wrote, to be used before meals. Feel free to use it or change it as needed.
I give thanks and gratitude,
To the spirits of the plants and animals,
Who give of themselves,
So that we might eat.