Cauldron to Kitchen

Paganism, food and spirituality

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Kitchen to Cauldron

b2ap3_thumbnail_cauldron.jpgLately I’ve been contemplating the title of my blog. Cauldron is magikal space. The theta wave brain state where we access guides, ancestors, and deities stands in contrast the kitchen, mundane space. Many Pagans struggle in mundane space. But even those of us that function effectively in the world outside the circle or festival, often find ourselves longing for that place of magik and connection.

We all know how hard it can be to keep swimming in the cauldron when the kids or boss is screaming, and bookkeeping (my personal nemesis) is looming. I go to a yearly festival, and, in the last few years, weekend conferences here and there. For the first few years of attending Rites of Spring, I would return home feeling torn and saddened. At the closing ritual, we were invited to take the magik back out into the world and that just seemed so impossible. But I kept working on it.

Food has been my main focus, and examining how my connection to the great unseen relates to what I put in my mouth has been an exercise in expanding connections. How much more grounded can you get than food? But food is easy compared to bookkeeping, or picking up after my family (I don’t work full-time so I get the job) both of which I really do not enjoy. But then again, I didn’t enjoy cooking when I started either.

Living on the southern coast of CT often feels like a hostile environment. Money is important here, and connection often takes a back seat to collapsing on the couch after a long day of gainful employment. It is notoriously difficult here to get people to come out in the evening, unlike neighboring New York City where one often doesn’t need to drive (again) to go socializing.

Our ancestors lived in hostile environments, and still managed to maintain brain state that allowed for constant connection to spirit. Is my suburban environment more hostile than the Arctic? Or the Amazon? Or any other open landscape? In fact, the skills they needed for survival, and the execution of those skills, made it easier to access the state of flow that lets us connect to magikal space. According to psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, when any activity is executed at a high level of skill and challenge, flow transforms into ecstasy.

I don’t need to feel ecstasy every day, but I would like to spend most of my time in a state of flow. For that, I need skills. Some of the skills I need to get through my day smoothly are different from those of my Ancestors. I can get by not knowing the best technique for turning a hide into leather, or how to cut and bale hay - although I do enjoy reading about, and sometimes experimenting with such things. But I do need to know how to keep track of money, how to communicate with cranky people, and people who I never see in person, how to manage time, how to drive really well, and myriad other skills that are required in my fast-paced environment.

With each thing that I learn to do well, I have a better sense of flow, and a better connection with the unseen around me. By learning the skills of the kitchen, I can get back to the cauldron.

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Selina Rifkin, L.M.T., M.S. is a graduate of Temple University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. In 1998 she graduated from the Downeast School of Massage in Maine. She has published articles in Massage Therapy Journal, been a health columnist, and published The Referral Guide for Complementary Care, a book that describes 25 different healing modalities. In 2006 she completed her Masters program in Nutrition with a focus on traditional foods, and the work of Weston A. Price.
Currently she is the Executive Assistant to the Director of Cherry Hill Seminary, the first Pagan seminary to offer Master’s degrees.

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