I never felt drawn to kitchen magic until I was properly settled down. Prior to that I lived in two homes – my parents’ house and my boyfriend’s apartment (which actually belonged to his brother and sister-in-law). I never felt like I had my own kitchen. And even though I still don’t actually own a home, I feel like I’m an actual adult now with a responsibility to take care of my tiny family.
I don’t view this as some feminine setback. On the contrary, I feel that my comfort in the kitchen gives me power. When my life becomes hectic, working in the kitchen has become one of the most important links between me and my magical spirituality. I recommend kitchen magic to anyone fretting about a perceived chasm between their magical and “mundane” lives.
Above my stove is an altar to the Irish Goddess of hearth and home, Brighid. I keep her flame there on designated nights. I keep my mortar and pestle there, charging in her sacred space. Whenever I clean the home or invite guests over, I light incense and place it on that altar as an offering to her and in the hopes that her welcoming spirit will fill the air.
Preparing food is a type of alchemy. We gather ingredients from the Earth Mother. We transform these Nature Spirits, these children of land, into nourishment through the powers of fire and water. The pot or kettle is the sacred cauldron. The spoon is the wand. The knife is the holy sword. The cutting board or cooking stone can be as the stone of destiny. Using local, sustainable, free-range, and/or organic ingredients can strengthen your relationship to the Nature Spirits and better connect you to the agricultural cycles we claim to celebrate. ( I don’t think I really, fully appreciated them until my dear friend Imagickat prompted me to think about food in relation to the High Days.)
Cooking can also be a way to connect with our ancestors. Last year I started to experiment with a few dishes my Irish ancestors would have eaten. I was working on eating more local ingredients. In the winter, that means root vegetables. I started with shepherds pie. I changed it to match my vegetarian morality. It was a huge success and continues to be a favorite winter dish.
Last night I made the dish pictured above – Cornish pasties. I made my first batch last winter and, while they tasted fine, they did not look as wonderful as the second batch I photographed. I’m pretty sure I had my first Cornish pasty in Marazion, a fishing town in Cornwall. It was vegetarian, but many varieties contain meat. They’re basically apple turnovers filled with veggies and/or meat. From what I understand, pasties were made so workers could have a nice portable lunch. I don’t know if I have any Cornish ancestry, but it’s possible if one looks back far enough. Even if I don’t, making them someone seems significant. It reminds me of my first foray into a land still attempting to cling to its Celtic roots. It is a ritual of sorts. When I make pasties and eat them, I remember the sea and the strong stirring I had in my heart as I rode on a train through the English countryside.