Eating and Spirituality Part 3: Food rituals in the childbearing year

Eating and Spirituality Part 3: Food rituals in the childbearing year February 23, 2012

In part 2 of Eating and Spirituality I talked about how the food we eat is connected to the physical well-being of our bodies and of the planet, as well as how enjoying food can be a way to celebrate the Goddess.  This week I want to suggest some specific ways to incorportate food into your spiritual practice.

Food is at the heart of so many rituals.  Probably your tradition already has food rituals such as sumble or cakes and ale.  You can also design rituals around nourishing your pregnant body and your new baby.  Here are some ideas:

1. A simple meal blessing before you eat encourages a sense of gratitude and awareness of your food.  Yes! magazine has an inspiring collection of mealtime prayers from around the world.

2. Selina Rifkin suggests that pregnancy “is a great time to connect with ancestors if you have not already done so. Find out what they ate and see if you can make some of that. Give it as an offering – either by offering it to the Earth or eating it yourself – and ask for protection for the baby.”

3. If you do a mother blessing ritual it can include a shared feast with foods symbolic of healthy growth – or just foods that make you feel good!

4. Some people choose to eat their placentas for the nutritional benefits and assistance in preventing postpartum depression.  If you do so, you can also make a ritual of eating it.

5. Make a ceremony of your baby’s beginning transition to solid foods.  Selina points out that, “The Hindus do a rite called Annaprasana for the baby’s first solid food. Offerings are made to the gods and it is considered that any impurities the baby may have taken in if the mother consumed impure food during the pregnancy are removed. The first food is generally rice offered in the presence of a priest, or family members.”

Also, check out this recent New York Times article on mindful eating.  It ends with a list of simple ideas for bringing ritual awareness to your meals.

Have you tried any of these rituals?  What others ways do you make your eating sacred during the childbearing year?


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.

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