According to ancient earth-based traditions, a deep-seated spirituality has always been a part of food preparation. When cooking is combined with a ceremonial significance, it transforms an ordinary task into an extraordinary connection with the Divine Source. Without requiring any commitment to Wicca and its beliefs, The Wicca Cookbook
offers ways to celebrate and honor the divinity in nature and each of us.
Wicca, also known as Witchcraft, the Craft, or simply the Old Religion, is a nature-based religion, close in ideology to Native American and shamanistic traditions. As an earth-centered religion, its origins predate Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. Wicca comes from the Saxon root wicce
, loosely translated as “wise” or “to bend or shape the unseen forces.” The knowledge of Wicca is derived from the movement of the sun, moon, and stars, and the cycles of the seasons.
No hard and fast rules exist in Wicca. It is not based on a degree or a set of beliefs but rather on a practice of aligning oneself with the natural forces of life. Wiccans honor and celebrate the female energy known as the Goddess in Her triple reflection of the Maiden, Mother, and Crone. Her Consort, the male energy known as the God, Hunter, or Horned One, completes the total being of the Divine Source. Emphasis is placed on personal experience and a tolerance of other paths and lifeways. Wiccans recognize the innate presence of divinity in the natural world, each individual, and the cycle of the seasons.
Within Wicca are eight sabbats, each holding a sacrosanct place on the Great Solar Wheel of the Year, also known as the Mandala of Nature. The sabbats give way to each other like the changing of the seasons. Each sabbat is celebrated with corresponding symbols, traditional foods, herbs, and the ritual invocation of Divine power through the creation of sacred space.The Wicca Cookbook
is divided into these nature-based festivals. Each recipe is preceded with a hallowed meaning, the ingredients’ therapeutic value, historical significance, or a spell or ritual that you can perform in conjunction with the food preparation. Great value is placed on personal creativity, poetry, and the artful integration of different myths and ritual elements. Therefore, you are encouraged to add to or create a ceremony or meditation that reflects your feelings and understanding.
The recipes include many edible flowers and medicinal herbs, whose use dates back to the Middle Ages and even earlier, when ancient people included them in recipes as well as used them for their healing and medicinal properties. Except for those few that were grown locally, most herbs were quite costly in the Middle Ages and protected with tenacity. Only the lady of the household held the key to the herb cabinet, since the servants were not to be trusted with such a precious commodity. The village midwife held the secrets to the curative uses of the flowers and herbs and the lore was then passed down through the generations.
Meals were heavily spiced to add flavor to otherwise bland food and in an attempt to cover up the unsavory taste of decaying food. Flowers and herbs were also used in dishes to impart both flavor and beneficial medicinal effects. The fragrances and textures of herbs and flowers delighted the senses. Their importance can be seen in the many treatises on gardening that have survived from the Middle Ages. Eighty-six plants are listed in a fifteenth-century treatise on gardening, and the author clearly indicates that he could have added more. Herbs have long been considered essential for a full and happy life.
Each flower and herb possesses unique characteristics that not only enhance the flavor but also add a sacred quality that imparts the Divine in every dish. By inviting Mother Nature into your dishes, you welcome the flow of Divine spirituality. In this cookbook, herbs and flowers from the Mother’s garden are used in recipes during sabbats that coincide with their seasonal peak. This alignment increases the spiritual benefit of the recipe and reflects the Universe’s perfect rhythm. Eating foods at their prescribed times not only offers more nutrients, it also ensures heightened medicinal potency.
You may either grow your own herbs and edible flowers or purchase them. A delightful kitchen herb garden conveys the message of Divine abundance. It reminds one of the wealth that is available to us all in the natural world. The recipes in The Wicca Cookbook
call for fresh herbs, but in most cases you may substitute dried ones. When substituting dried herbs for fresh ones, halve the required measurement of fresh herbs to get the desired amount of herbs. You may even choose to grow your own herbs and dry them for your culinary purposes. (See Growing and Using Herbs, beginning on page 23, for suggestions on harvesting, drying, and preserving herbs.) If you do not have the time or means to cultivate your own garden, you can obtain medicinal herbs from various seed and nursery companies that specialize in growing herbs. In addition, we encourage you to grow flowers specifically for culinary purposes. If this is not possible, be sure to purchase flowers that are organically grown and free of pesticides.
Cook with as many whole foods as you can obtain. The way in which you create the recipes will reflect your personal spirituality and love. This individuality is vitally important in Wicca. So create and enjoy! Wicca adores and praises our uniqueness. The Old Religion revels in individualism, recognizing that every one of us is a perfect child of the Universe and created from the same Divine Source. This Divinity is both male and female; however, to reestablish our connection with the earth and the Mother energy and since the feminine power is considered the beginning of all creation, the place from which all life originates, Wiccans often say Mother or Goddess when referring to the Divine Source. We always remain a part of that source, just as the rays of sunshine never leave the sun. “We have not left that Source to enter a body and die,” explains A Course in Miracles
. We are a life, a spirit having a body for a time, not a body having a life. As such, we each have something miraculous and Divine to offer. Today too many people do not recognize the Divine in everything and everyone. They only see the Divine in extraordinary events, miracles not to be expected every day, whereas Wiccans know magic is commonplace and happens throughout the natural world, manifesting in the smallest acts from hour to hour, day to day, season to season.
Wiccans take part in ceremonies and rituals as a means of performing white magic for healing purposes. White magic is positive and used only to promote good and healing. The innate good within Wiccan magic transforms negativity, allowing the old to die and make room for the new. The cyclical change of the seasons in nature and human life is seen as the essential erotic dance of life, death, and rebirth. New growth comes from death and destruction of old ideas, past pain, and bad habits, just as the greenest plants grow best from a pile of compost.
Each ceremony is as unique as the Wiccan performing it. Some ritual items are common to almost every Wiccan tradition, such as the athame
(ritual knife) and chalice
(ritual cup). Other tools that you may want to incorporate into your realm of magic could include bells, a Book of Shadows (a secret diary of spells, rituals, or dreams), a besom
(broom), a burin
(engraving tool), candles, cauldrons, cords, crystals, drums, incense, jewelry, special plates, pentacles, rattles, rune stones, scourges, statues, swords, staves, tarot cards, and wands. But it will be your own personality that adds a unique dimension to each magical incantation, providing the meaning and resonance. The tools just enhance the process and help you focus.
The key to building power within your tools and manifesting that which you desire is to use your ritual items often. These tools will help you connect with the Mother when you are feeling detached and alone. Place them where you see them every day. Many Wiccans choose to create an altar where they can arrange their most sacred items. An altar offers a refuge for meditation, relaxation, and observance. You can also place your ritual items throughout the house, reminding you at every turn that the Mother is waiting to shower you with her love and guidance. With regular use, your tools will soon be charged with your unmatched energy and ready for the next ritual.
When you perform rituals, you will be invoking sacredness into being. Whether you are holding ritual ceremonies, casting spells, or working with symbols, always keep a positive goal in mind. One commonly held Wiccan belief is the threefold law: Whatever you do comes back to you three times. The first rule of all Wiccan traditions is “Harm to None.” Wicca is truly a joyous religion with a reverence for the benevolent Divine Source who gives lovingly in abundance.
Rituals remind us of the deep spirituality found in everyday life as well as in sacred ceremony. Rituals recognize and honor the moon, the sun, the Goddess, the God, the sabbats, and more. They offer guidelines for honoring the changing seasons, planetary cycles, and the Mother. All Wiccan rituals welcome a personal touch as each practitioner contemplates the higher power within and surrounding them. Through rituals, Wiccans work magic that takes them beyond the human limitations of mind and substance, creating a sacred connection with Spirit.
This is not to say one must deny or disregard desires of the flesh. Spell casting for material gain or comfort is a legitimate manifestation of the Divine. We are put here on this earth plane to learn lessons of the highest order such as forgiveness, trust, and the gift of life, but we must still thrive on the material level. When we prosper and flourish, we illustrate to the world the many forms of abundance available to us all. As the faery saying goes, “Work for yourself, and soon you will see that Self is everywhere.” By casting a spell, we tell the Universe it is okay to send us our most fervent desires. We will
it to happen, and as long as it is in the highest good of all concerned, the Universe complies. We are in charge of our own destiny; we create our own reality. When we look deep within, we see that the Divine Universe is not outside of ourselves, but within us. This revelation is so profound and expansive that Wiccans utilize rituals and symbols to conceive its vastness. It is when you stop trying to understand through the commonplace and the five senses that these rituals and symbols open up those channels of understanding and propel you toward enlightenment and personal growth.
Symbols speak volumes to our unconscious mind of things that cannot be explained, defined, or fully comprehended with our everyday language. They represent concepts that extend far beyond human understanding. Wiccan symbols provide a point of reference, a wider awareness for “that-which-cannot-be-told,” and allow infinite interpretations of experience, especially those in which one feels the connectedness to Spirit. Symbols speak of love and the universal and eternal intelligence that is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Symbols put us in touch with our younger selves, when we never doubted out intimate relationship with the Universe. Therefore, they are essential for recognizing and remembering the love the Mother holds for all Her children.
Symbols hold a place in magical history as well. Often symbols were used to hide the workings of ancient people from a populace afraid of self-sufficient women. Many people had moved so far away from their natural roots that they deemed women who practiced the Old Religion evil witches. The pentagram, ankh, and symbols of the Goddess and the moon in Her many phases were carved into woodworking, sewn onto robes, or engraved onto chalices and athames. These symbols provided identification amongst fellow worshipers, which enabled them to maintain anonymity from the society at large.
You need not belong to a coven of witches to practice these age-old traditions: you just need to believe that something wiser and older than you is working in harmony with nature. Through heightened consciousness—seeing the life force in everything—you can direct nature’s gifts for your highest good as well as for that of others.
To ensure the most potent kitchen magic, we suggest that you consecrate your kitchen, stove, and utensils. Consecrating your tools is a means of purifying them from past energies and intent and infusing them with your vibrations and purpose. If this ritual seems complicated, we invite you to create your own for manifesting a sacred environment that feels right for you.
Place a pentacle on your kitchen counter. A pentacle is a physical representation of the pentagram, a five-pointed star, which symbolizes the four elements in balance with Spirit. Fill a chalice or other cup with water. The chalice is symbolic of the receptive passivity of the Mother’s womb. With your finger or an athame, draw three pentagrams in the air over the chalice and say I purify thee, O Element of Water,And cast out from theeAll impurities and negativity.By My Will so Mote it Be.
Place a pinch of salt on the pentacle. Draw three pentagrams over the salt and say I purify thee,O Element of Salt,Free of contamination, pure by nature,I infuse my blessing upon thee.By My Will so Mote it Be.
Add the salt to the water and say I mix this water and saltSo that whatever it touchesShall be blessed by my pure intent.By My Will so Mote it Be.
Walk around the perimeter of your kitchen and sprinkle the stove, oven, your utensils, and anything else you wish to be purified. Say By casing this water and saltNo interference can permeateMy spells good and true.By My Will so Mote it Be.
Place an inch of sand in a thurible or other safe incense burner. Burn charcoal, a representation of the element of fire, on top of the sand. You may substitute a lit candle for the charcoal and use stick incense as well. Draw three pentagrams over the charcoal and say I purify thee, O Element of Fire,Free of contamination, pure by nature,I infuse my blessing upon thee.By My Will so Mote it Be.
Place incense, symbol of air, on the pentacle. Draw three pentagrams over the incense and say I purify thee, O Element of Air,And cast out from theeAll impurities and negativity.By My Will so Mote it Be.
Add some incense to the coals and say I mix this fire and airSo that whatever it touchesShall be blessed by my pure intent.By My Will so Mote it Be.
You are now ready to begin cooking. When preparing your dishes, it is important to remember the sacredness of food preparation. There are two joys to gain from creative cooking within a hallowed space: one, in which you are cocreator with the Mother, thus allowing Divine interpretation to shine through you; and the second, in which you welcome the creative forces, enabling all Her love to flow from Her through your hands and kitchen to your loved ones.
When you cook, declare yourself an artist at work. Handle each ingredient with loving care. See the life force still pulsing through each whole food. Allow your ego to step aside and make room for divination and magic to take place. When you are creating with the Mother, you may find that inspiration will direct you one way or another; always follow Her instruction. With these recipes, you are creating from the fruits gleaned from the Goddess’s garden. Together you bring into being the food that turns into energy for the ones you love.
Making food with love and harmony raises the vibration of the ingredients, invoking their most innate healing powers. Cook not only to satisfy hunger, but also to quench the thirsty soul that is searching for comfort. This process appeases and fulfills the ancient need to intertwine food, security, and love. When a great work of art is completed and the meal is well received by all, remind yourself that you were just present during its creation. Only by working with the Divine and allowing sacred guidance to direct you were you able to create such a masterpiece.
Excerpted from The Wicca Cookbook, Second Edition by Jamie Wood and Tara Seefeldt. Copyright © 2010 by Jamie Wood and Tara Seefeldt. Excerpted by permission of Celestial Arts, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.