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A Witch Gives Thanks - A Gratitude Ritual

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Thanksgiving, as celebrated in the United States has a complicated history. We are inundated with bucolic images of blue-eyed, cherubic pilgrims in the buckled shoes, sharing a bountiful table with the ever so grateful and equally generous natives who are just so gosh darned pleased that the pilgrims could stop by for dinner. Then, of course, after dessert, the genocide.

The "real" story of Thanksgiving is particularly bloody, and not just for the turkey. The Pequot Nation lost over seven hundred men, women and children.The ensuing decades brought near total devastation for the First Nations peoples living all around what is now New England.

It's difficult to get behind a holiday with such a dreadful history. It's further complicated for me as a Witch and Pagan, because of the religious overtones the holiday has enfolded all through it. How can I participate and hold the awareness of the suffering and somehow mindfully enter into, what otherwise (can there really be an otherwise, I wonder?) is a lovely idea for a gathering? I mean, getting together with loved ones, sharing a meal and giving thanks for what we have sounds like a lot of Pagan rituals I've been too.

So with an eye to the past and an honoring of the terrible losses, the best I can come up with is a gratitude ritual. Here's how it goes:

           (Of course, this ritual can be modified a zillion ways to fit your needs and circumstances.)

While I'm chopping food and sauteing vegetables and prepping a mountain of delectables, I'm grounding. I find making food to be a wonderful way to bring myself to center and a place of being grounded. I mean, connecting to the very planet we walk on everyday is pretty easy with a big bunch of carrots in my hand.

I light at least one candle in every room ( I do use a couple of the LED ones in certain rooms, ya know, just for safety). This feels like a circle casting to me. Bringing light into areas where there are shadows and setting an intention that this house is safe and protected.

Working with Elemental forces in a kitchen is so very present and obvious. Air is represented by songs and conversations and the words typed into cookbooks and my notes scribbled in the margins. I'm cleaning kitchen tools and vegetables with Water. There's Fire present in the oven and stove top, even a little spark of heat in the Whiskey I'll be drinking. Earth is all around disguised as wooden chopping boards and food and the very bodies of the people invited to sit at the table.


There are always pictures of my ancestors about the house, but this time of year we'll encourage our guests to tell stories of their ancestors. Tales about those wonderful, terrible Turkey Day recipes that are  salads in name but have more mayonnaise and butter than any salad I've ever seen. We'll laugh about the time uncle so and so did this or the time the dogs ate the stuffing off of the counter and for a moment forget that our dearly departed ones aren't just sitting in the next room.

And at some point during our meal. I'll say what and who I am grateful for in this moment, right now, even in the midst of hard and uncertain times. Then each guest will share (if so called) something that they are grateful for. We will look at a full table and take note of the faces that are present and not present. We remind ourselves of what we are thankful for. And we'll remember those that have paved the way, sometimes by their suffering, for us to be here.

There's no rush or time limit to this part of the ritual. Devoking the circle and thanking the elements and Ancestors will happen whenever I get around to doing the dishes and putting the last of the desserts back into the fridge.

May we never hunger. May we never thirst. May we always remember those that went before and honor them. May we recall that we live on stolen land and give back to it and the People in every way we can.


 Note: All pictures courtesy of Pixabay free images - creative Commons

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I've been a practicing witch and ritualist within the Reclaiming Tradition since 2003. I love being in service with this community of witches and world changers.   My own practice, my own way of changing the world is through devotional practice. It's my belief that we can re-enchant our lives by re-framing the so-called "mundane" as sacred and divine. By imbuing the familiar with a sense of wonder and infusing daily life with acts of magic, we choose to consciously make all of life devotion. Whether we engage in large, public rituals or sink sumptuously into the pure ecstasy of eating a delicious meal by ourselves or meditating at sunrise, our daily rituals can draw us back into harmony with the world and each other.  


  • Jenya T. Beachy
    Jenya T. Beachy Wednesday, 23 November 2016

    Gwion, I love this. It's very similar to what we do and I see some things here that I want to add to our practice. Especially now, it feels so important to remember our right place, between our ancestors and our descendants, between our different kinds of kin, weaving that web of love and protection. I hope your Tday is magnificent

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