Thanks and Giving: It’s All About the Food Rite?

Thanks and Giving: It’s All About the Food Rite? November 22, 2013

Pumpkin Patch photo by Adrian Valenzuela.

Thanksgiving is one of our most magickal and connected holidays. We set a sacred space in the form of a table. We gather in a circle, or an oval, or whatever shape our table takes. We give thanks to those who are there, and also those who have come before. We even pray sometimes. Then we get down to the real serious and holy business, we eat. The older I get the more I see clearly that mainstream society has made Yule about the gifts, and Thanksgiving about the food.

This doesn’t bother me one bit. The inspiration for the odd celebration between the Pilgrims, Massasoit, and the Wampanoag braves was food to begin with, so to that end the holiday is true to form. It’s a miracle there is any viable food left almost 400 years after that first feast. There has been global deforestation, the genetically modified insanities, the toxic pesticides… and the list goes on. But there is still good food left, free range turkeys for us carnivores, and organic nut loaves for the vegans, and for that we should all be eternally thankful.

In the world of New Orleans Voodoo much of our practice revolves around the ritual of food, both as an offering to the Lwa (Gods and Goddesses) and as a healing force for the participants. Cooking typically starts hours, if not days, before a feast is supposed to begin. The cooking takes place in a kitchen that has been spiritually cleaned and blessed. There are plenty of  ritually inspired rules that are similar to those found in Hoodoo and folk magic.

These include:

Don’t stir food with a knife or those who eat it will get angry. Stir clockwise to invoke deity, counterclockwise to banish negativity.Salt your dishes last, after a portion has been removed for offering to the Lwa and the ancestors.Laughing in the kitchen is good.Ancestors and Lwa eat before humans.Offerings are typically removed from the altar before they spoil and placed outside at a crossroads, under a large tree, or at the gates to a cemetery, depending on who they are for.

Stuffed Acorn Squash for the Ancestors, photo by Lilith Dorsey

Enough of what you can’t do let’s eat. Ancestors are remembered in Voodoo not just on holidays and feast days, but every day. Many practitioners offer up a portion of every meal to them, along with prayers and thanks. The Queen of the ancestors in the religion is Maman Brigitte. She is associated with primal feminine power and wisdom and is a foremother to us all. I’d like to share this ritual recipe with you to enjoy with your ancestors, other loved ones, and those who may be in need of some loving kindness and wisdom  this Thanksgiving season.


Maman Brigitte Sacred Stuffing


6 cups Stale Cornbread cut into 1/2 inch cubes

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup butter or margarine

1 chopped red onion

4 cloves garlic minced

1 cup celery chopped very fine

1 tbs. diced orange zest (peel)

1 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1/2 tsp. onion powder

2 tbs. orange juice

3 pinches sage

3 pinches parsley

3 pinches basil


Place cornbread cubes and dried cranberries in large bowl. Mix together gently. Melt butter or margarine in a large frying pan over low heat; add onion, garlic, and celery. Cook until tender stirring frequently, about 3-6 minutes. Remove from heat; add orange juice, peel and spices (Remember to reserve salt for last). Pour over bread crumb mixture. Toss together well. Bake 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. Serve. This recipe can also be stuffed into acorn squash and bake inside until squash is tender. 

For more Ritual Recipes like this one check out my African-American Ritual Cookbook. Thanks and have a great holiday!



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