Kitchen Witchery: Old Ways & New Magic

Kitchen Witchery: Old Ways & New Magic August 6, 2019
There’s a common phrase you’ll hear around almost every Pagan water cooler. It goes something like “I practice the old ways”. As it turns out, much of what we think are the “old ways” are really pretty new ways in the scheme of things. One way to step into a different time and practice a slower magic, is to get yourself in the kitchen.
I’m fascinated with kitchen witchery because I get a visceral and tangible connection to the processes that happen all around me, all the time. Watching a seed grow into a small plant, and then watching that plant bear fruit, is simply magical. Washing and chopping that fruit, adding spices and what not to it and turning it into a meal, is endlessly magical.
I’ve been speaking with a few of my favourite kitchen witches to see what their brewing up these days. We’ve talked about food and memory, food and ancestors, and how a magical practice can be built around kitchen witchery. Here’s part of a conversation I had with my friend and frequent magical co-collaborator, Sisal. She’s been delving into some of the “old ways”.

How Is Food Magic Sacred?

There are many touchstones, and they shift. I only ever did magical work beyond the veil and
mundane work on this side of the veil. Working with Hecate for the past several years has made me view the body, my body, this world, the here and now, as sacred too. More and more I’m finding that food magic, especially kitchen witchery, helps me merge the work I do on this side of the veil with the far side of the veil.
Food is a part of honoring that sacredness. I have autoimmune disorders and have to
watch food pretty carefully. I cook and eat with more intention these days. That gives me a real love and connection to food that is home grown, organic, healthful. The sensuousness of a basket of food from the farmer’s market is just
vibrantly magical, and it invites me in to make use of that magic. I’ve written about some of
this on my blog at sustainablewitch.com.
The Old Ways of Fermenting are alive and well

The Old Ways of Being A Brew Witch

And then there’s my work as a brew witch. I’ve gotten seriously into fermenting. I thought,
“Oh, how cool, a new way to be a witch!” No. Apparently the alewives were the first brew
witches, forced out of business by those who wanted women out of the way of the profits. Ha!
I am reclaiming brew witchery now! I am so in love with the alliance between me, the onions or
tea, and the little buggies that will find a home, eventually, in our biomes. There is something in
fermenting that, for me, puts me in touch with the Star Goddess. Brewing and fermenting contains the magic that is ecstatic creation.
Fermenting is, by nature, earthy. I mean, really earthy. On day three of fermenting two gallons of red onions, my house positively reeks. It smells like my grandmother’s fridge. She grew her own onions, always had a bunch of them sliced up and in the fridge, uncovered, invading the flavor of everything else in the fridge, even the milk I had with my cookies. She taught me to appreciate that things come from the gritty, rich soil, unashamed of that grittiness, unashamed of how fragrant they are. In fact, reveling in the romance of it. I’ve come to absolutely love the onion dense reek that imbues my on day three.

Why Is Cooking For Others So Important In Your Magical Practice?

It’s all about building community one meal at a time. Cooking with others, for others, lets me share a physical, sensual connection to our alliance with the earth and the benevolent spirits of the earth.  Most magic is about finding connection in some way or other. When I cook with people, I find the conversations turning to a deep spiritual hunger and a profound yearning to belong.
When we come together as community, we are all bridges for each other to the sacred.
Sometimes I build that bridge as a ritualist, trance worker or death worker. Sometimes, like the retreat in October, I build it as a kitchen witch. Food is magic and food is fuel and providing great food helps to replenish the tremendous amount of energy many of us burn performing magic.

What’s a favourite food memory?

Well, I’m surprised to say it’s the first time I made gravy and it turned into a gummy ball in the
middle of the cast iron skillet. I looked at it. Thought, “I guess we’re having something else for
dinner.” But I was 19, and mostly I thought: there are a whole lot of adventures ahead for me in
the kitchen. It was exciting. We ended up having baloney sandwiches.
A more obvious pleasurable memory, for me, is holiday dinners of posole and tamales. I am
famous for my posole rojo – pork, garlic, tomatillos, hominy (the dried kind that’s an inch
square), Mexican oregano and bay leaf from my garden, roasted chiles, and a seriously good
broth. Full disclosure: I haven’t had the courage to take on homemade tamales. The stories my
friends tell have scared me away.
Oh, and cooking with my grandmother, being with her in her kitchen. She let me turn her sifter,
which I still have (it’s about 80 years old).

Eating & Feeding Is A Magical Act

In my book, The Magick Of Food – Rituals, Offerings, & Why We Eat TogetherI take a long look at why food magic and kitchen witchery is such an important part of my practice. Food magic is part of every tradition, in every age.

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