Cauldron to Kitchen

Paganism, food and spirituality

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The Spirit of Food

If I seem food obsessed, please understand that in the normal stretch of human history, I am quite normal. My blog postings often come back to the kitchen, the hearth. And when that is the case, it is because this is where my explorations of what it means to be nourished have lead me. In our modern culture, what you eat only matters if it will make you fat. Appearance is an obsession of the wider culture, one which Pagans have, for the most part, been successful at resisting. What matters to us is connection, integrity, and celebration.

Our ancestors were most certainly food obsessed. My grandparents spent the vast majority of their time either growing food or preserving it for later use. George, my grandfather, was a farmer, a common profession at the turn of the century. Now we have so few farmers that the profession is not even listed on the US Census. In his book, Folks, This Ain’t Normal, Farmer and food activist Joel Salatin describes how his apprentice cannot marry his Canadian lady love if he says he is a farmer. He must work at some other “legitimate” job for two years if the authorities are to recognize their union.

Food production, once such a vital part of our economy, is out of sight and out of mind. In this gap of attention, corporations and government have colluded to turn food into commodity, and consumers and ecosystems both have paid the price. Commodities are produced with no concern for anything but profit. Quality, health, safety, enrichment of the ecology are of no concern. Consumers pay with healthproblems brought about by chronic nutritional deficiencies and additives. Ecosystems pay with pollution, algal blooms, erosion, and water runoff. Food matters.

What I put in my body affects how I feel. Not just whether I have the right amount of energy to get the job done, but whether or not I am depressed, or anxious, or agitated. What I put in my body affect my integrity. Has the Earth or Water been contaminated by the production of my food? Did the animals I am eating live a good life? What I put in my body honors the needs of my body and brain. If mybrain chemistry is correct, joy is more accessible. If my body is nourished, I have energy with which to serve the Gods or the environment. What I put in my body connects me with my Ancestors. My grandmother canned apple sauce and grew a kitchen garden, and when my grandfather butchered the yearly pig, they wasted none of it. 

As Westerners, we live in a world of abundant and cheap food. As Pagans, when we eat this food, we support the disconnection between humans and the Earth, and we forget how our Ancestors lived. Food is not a commodity, food is not an escape. Food is how we connect. It is communion.


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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.


  • Larksong
    Larksong Saturday, 02 June 2012

    Hi Selina,
    Great article. When your ready for your next post I've installed a new blog system. Its working, thou I'm still working out details over the next few days,

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