A journey through the hands of a maker of magical items, discovering not only the secrets of Sacred art, but also the history and preservation of disappearing forms of Artisan work.
The Crafting Of Sacred Food II - New Year's Day With The Ancestors
When a person sees the world, and his/her own life, as something sacred, the last and first days of a cycle have tremendous symbolic importance. In many Spiritual traditions around the world, whatever is done on the last and the first day of the year, and even in the very moment when one year turns into another, will determine or predict the stronger tendencies in the cycle.
Since most Afro Latin traditions follow the Gregorian Calendar, December 31 and January 1 are busy days for practitioners. On December 31, the house must be cleaned, physically and magically, to eliminate negativity and assure that, whatever we want to leave behind, we will. A dirty, cluttered house will call for problems and obstacles in the following year; just so, a clean, energized house will propitiate blessings, good health and luck. Altars get cleaned and refreshed too, and it is considered a call for bad luck to do any work after the sun goes down, so everything must be finished during daylight hours.
January 1 is a day for blessings and new beginnings; the house is blessed with incense and Blessed Water, and having a herbal bath in the morning is considered specially lucky. It is also a perfect day to clean and refresh our magical tools, to make prosperity and health spells, and of course to be very, very grateful for the year that has ended and the one that is starting. Any work done in the day will influence the next 365 days, so any new Spiritual or personal practise that we want to make more important in our life should be started on this day. These are not New Year's Resolutions – these are New Year's Actions, powerful transformational acts of Magic. Resolutions are made to be broken; Actions are change for ourselves, the world and the future.
This lucky, strongly energized period extends into several days, specially if you have cleansed before the previous year ended – there's no need to do everything the first day, but a day spent in the sofa, surrounded by the leftovers of last night's party, doing nothing but watching TV in your pyjamas is considered a call for a slow, unproductive year.
On our personal practise, January 1 is a day to honour the Ancestors. Before we go on, I would like to say that the term Ancestors applies to both bloodline and Spiritual Ancestors – we honour our families, the Guanches (our ethnic Ancestors) and all the Spirits that guide and help us. This year, we chose a very Spanish dish to honour them: Churros Con Chocolate. Churros are made from dough and deep fried (recipe below), and are eaten with hot chocolate – as you may imagine, this is a winter-only treat here, as the rest of the year the temperatures are too high to truly enjoy this dish.
Churros Con Chocolate are eaten as breakfast or as an afternoon/tea time snack, and in my family are a New Year's day tradition (another reason why we chose it). To honour the Spirits, we dress the table as if we were receiving guests (not as if, we truly are!) and use our prettiest dishes. A cup of chocolate and a serving of Churros are reserved for them, and as the food is served, we invite them to honour us with their presence and acceptance. That is the only formality – after that, we eat just as we would if they were sitting at our table (again, not as if, they truly are!), since all the attendants are family, and family must be treated with warmth and a respectful informality. The cups may not match, and they may be chipped, but they are filled with Love.
Recipe For The Churros
(makes about two dozen churros)
1 cup of water;
1 cup of white, regular flour;
1 pinch of salt;
1 spoon of butter;
Olive Oil (for frying them);
Sugar (to sprinkle them after frying).
In a small pot, place the water, the butter and the salt and heat until it boils. When it is boiling, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture doesn't stick to the sides of the pot; the consistency must be that of a thick cream, so you can add a little water if necessary.
Put the mixture away from the fire, and when it's a little above room temperature, fill the Churros extruder (or a pastry bag) with it. Put enough oil in a pan to fry them (they must float on it, or else they will stick to the pan), and when it's really hot, use the pastry bag to squeeze about five inch lengths of the mixture - using scissors to cut them off is recommended. Fry them until they are golden. Take them off the pan, and place them on a plate with paper towels or any other absorbent paper so it takes any extra oil away, and sprinkle with sugar.
Churros are eaten hot, so it would be a good idea to prepare your hot chocolate beforehand. The chocolate should be not too sweet, and as thick as it can be.
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