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What is Kitchen Wicca?
The term "Kitchen Witch" brings up many different images to people, but the most common idea is that of a Witch who practices her art mainly thru cooking and common household skills. Another image is that of one who uses common everyday items in her art, drawing up memories of the Burning Times, when it was necessary to hide your working tools from those who would persecute you for their possession. While both of these images are certainly true ones, Kitchen Witchery goes far beyond magical cooking or using ordinary items as magical tools. One Kitchen Witch, Mama Rose, defines Kitchen Witchery in the following way: "My spirituality and my priestesshood and my magic are based around the concept that my home is my temple, all in it are consecrated and holy, and each action that I do is a portion of the ritual of my life."
It is my belief that the heart of Kitchen Witchery is a talent for finding the sacred and magical in everyday tasks, a philosophy which "practices the presence of the Goddess" in daily devotion through ordinary actions. The Kitchen Witch makes the ordinary, extraordinary, the mundane magickal and by doing so, acknowledges the presence of the Divine in all things.
Sacred vs. Profane
One way in which Neo-Pagan religions differ in philosophy from the Judeo/Christian/Moslem paradigm is in their recognition of the sacredness in all things. The mainstream paradigm creates a philosophical dichotomy between the Sacred and the Profane (i.e. ordinary/mundane), that which is not "sacred" is, by definition "profane". In Neo-Paganism, ALL things are sacred. No such dichotomy exists.
The Kitchen Witch takes that philosophy to it's extreme logical conclusion and finds ways to acknowledge the sacred within the mundane. How this is done is a matter of personal artistic expression. Most are familiar, of course, with the act of cooking magickally or setting up household altars. But it doesn't stop there. Some Kitchen Witches may clean magically, turning every act of cleaning into a psychic clearing as well. Others may tend magical gardens, care for familiars or raise their children within a magickal world. Kitchen Witchery can extend into actions as mundane and simple as stirring one's coffee clockwise to bless it or remembering to recycle as an act of daily devotion. Not to say that being a Kitchen Witch is restricted to the home! Oh, no! Kitchen Witchery can be practiced anywhere that a Kitchen Witch travels. It can extend to her car, her work and her play, since it acknowledges the divine all around us. Thus, keeping a magickal office can be as much an act of Kitchen Witchery as cooking a magickal meal. Wherever the Divine exists, a Kitchen Witch will find and acknowledge it.
Practicing the Presence of the Goddess
Barbara Ardinger, in her book A Woman's Book of Rituals and Celebrations discusses the concept of "practicing the presence of the Goddess". She describes this practice as a type of mysticism.' In her words;
"Mysticism is not a matter of doing anything special; it's a way of life. It's recognizing that we're related to everone else, even those who don't look like us or talk like us...
Mysticism in the tradition of the Goddess is living an ordinary life, not acting spacy or sanctimonious or as if we were specially 'chosen'. It's making a living, making car payments, disciplining our kids. It's doing regular things but doing them in an attitude that some call mindfulness. This means being aware of what we're doing, reflecting on our thoughts. It's living with raised consciousness." [A Woman's book of Rituals and Celebrations, pp. 20] I would expand on that to say that it is also changing your everyday actions when your conscience requires that you do so.
Regardless of what type of personal artistic expression she uses, the Kitchen Witch's goal is to reach this level of 'mindfulness'. To reach the point where "As we live each day on earth, we become more aware each day of the ways She is present in our lives." [Ibid, pp. 18] In leading a mindful life, the Kitchen Witch becomes sensitized to the presence of the Goddess both within and without and interacts with that presence.
Becoming More 'Mindful'
The central core of Kitchen Witchery is learning to live consiously, developing the 'mindfulness' that Dr. Ardinger and others refer to. As Wiccans, we recognize the value of using symbols within ritual to create an altered state of consiousness, but we often forget that the symbols which surround us in everyday life can be used to the same way. They can be used to help us recognize the Sacred in our everyday lives and to assist us to adopt a lifestyle where our consiousness remains open to such change on a daily basis. Understanding and, when necessary, redefining the symbols which surround us is sometimes an important key to developing a higher level of consiousness about your actions. As in ritual, symbolism in everyday life is both a process and a tool in developing the habit of living a mindful life. Becoming more mindful involves recognizing the symbols around us and creating new symbols to create change. Living in the presence of the Goddess demands that we consider our every day actions and adapt those actions to fit our personal values.
The following are simply a few examples of things to do to develop a habit of living more consciously. You may wish to explore one or two and see where they lead.
Develop a daily ritual
Develop a personal daily ritual which creates a conscious connection with your environment. This could be Yoga or a daily meditation or any repetative action which causes you to reflect on the divine. Even the smallest and most common actions can be used as a trigger to remind us of our connection to the web of life. Using those small actions repetatively turn the everyday action into a symbolic ritual.
In her essay, "Running with the Goddess", Arishna WolfMoon talks about making running into a daily ritual and how it has enhanced her life. Here are some more examples of small daily actions which can be made into rituals:
Take 10 minutes to go over your checkbook daily.
Think about what you spent and where and what impact it might have on the big picture.
Tuck your child in every night. Reflect on what a miracle birth and life are and take time to appreciate your child each time you do so.
Sing a chant in the shower each morning to set your mind for the day.
What other actions can you think of which can be made into daily rituals?
Go on a Sacred "Diet"
Develop a personal dietary style which reflects your values. This can be as simple as not eating meat for both dietary reasons and reasons of social conscience and as complex as becoming educated about exactly where all of your food comes from, what steps it has taken to get to you and what impact it had in getting there. For example, in the PBS special "Escape from Affluenza", describes the impact of drinking his morning cup of coffee. In addition to the fact that a portion of the cloud rainforest was destroyed to plant the coffee and migrant workers were exploited to harvest it, he recognizes what system was used to transport it to him, where it was roasted, what forms of energy were used in those processes, even where the water comes from that he uses to brew it. Go as deep as you feel is necessary to develop a higher level of consciousness about what you consume.
What, specifically, you choose to do is not the point. Becoming aware of what you eat and why you have chosen that diet is the important part. Everything you put into your body not only affects you, but also has numerous other connections, to the environment, to other economies and to other social systems. Remember with every bite what you are doing, what it represents and why you have chosen that particular dietary path. Eating consiously is also a good way to bless the food that we eat and to give thanks for it.
The old saying, 'we are what we eat" has a lot of truth to it. Become aware of what you are becoming through your daily dietary habits. Recognize the web of life connecting you and your food and honor it by consciously choosing a diet which supports your personal values and beliefs.
Prepare a Sacred Feast
Cooking is probably the most commonly recognized type of "kitchen witchery". Anytime that you feed people, you are performing a magickal act, nourishing the body and soul. This is why so many of our holiday observances are centered around food. Learning to create magickal foods and to cook magickally simply enhances this experience.
Symbology in food varies as much as any other personal symbol set, but within any cultural or religious group we usually share a great deal of common symbology. This symbology can be used to enhance every meal or to make a meal for ritual more special. When planning a sacred meal you can use your personal symbol set, or you can research more about the common symbolism of foods through resources like The Kitchen Witch's Cookbook.
Remember, it doesn't need to be a ritual meal to be a Sacred Feast. You could also create a weekly sacred meal for your family. Use the time to help you and your family connect to each other and to be mindful of the food that you eat, the value of your family, your special actions to nurture each other,etc. It really makes this activity special if the whole family gets involved in preparing the meal, each member adding their own energy to the feast.
Decorate your home or office
The symbols that are in our everyday surroundings can be used to trigger a change in consciousness, just as they can in ritual. Decorating your home or office with elemental symbols, God and Goddess symbols and elements which remind you of ritual creates and environment which helps you remember your connection with the Divine. Surrounding yourself with items from nature can likewise help remind you of your connection with nature. By using symbols which have personal meaning to decorate with, you can turn your living room or your office cubical into a subtle altar.
While having candles, incense or an athame on your office desk is probably not practical, you can use other symbols which represent the elements to create your office altar. You can even get very creative in your symbology. Being a Techno-Pagan, I think of computers, televisions and radios as symbols of air (communication, thought, ideas), but of course it can be much simpler. What you use should show your own personal style.
Being a Kitchen Witch involves more than cooking. In the broadest sense, it means living a life which is mindful, becoming conscious of your actions and how they connect or disconnect you with the world around you and the Divine, both within and without. Being a Kitchen Witch is not as much about what you do, but instead about how and why you do it and about doing everything that you do with an aware conscience. It's not as much about doing something special, as about doing things in a way which are special to you and in recognizing the "special"ness (or sacredness) in all that you do.
Now that you've heard the opinion of others, it's time to come up with some examples and ideas on your own. Discuss what "kitchen witchery" means to you and different ways that you can work towards leading a more "mindful" life.
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