Ritual is the difference between the ordinary and the special. Rituals surrounding objects, times and places signify their importance, their sacredness. While there are certainly other things involved with Kitchen Witchery, rituals surrounding the kitchen and the preparation of food is a defining feature. It reflects the sanctity of the space as well as the importance we place on the preparation and sharing of food and a sacred act.
While the word ritual often evokes visions of unnecessary complications, that isn’t really what ritual is. Rituals can be very simple and easily incorporated into mundane activities to give them a little sparkle. Read on to see what I mean.
Keeping things Clean
Everyone knows that a clean and organized kitchen makes for a happy cook and a wholesome meal. In recognizing the kitchen as sacred space, keeping it clean becomes not just a daily drudgery necessary to prevent food poisoning, but the blessed act of the Priest/ess.
Whether you make your own cleaning supplies, choose ready-made supplies based on the energies their fragrance brings into your house, or buy the least expensive product that will do the job effectively, cleaning with the intention of purifying and sanctifying your space will bring magick to everything you do in it, whether you’re actively spellcasting or not.
And while it is often difficult to get past the fact that cleaning is rather boring, you can brighten up the job by turning it into a meditative interlude. If you have trouble being still to meditate, you may find that the rhythm of dishwashing or floor scrubbing helps to lull you into that mental space, and before you know it, you’re done. Some people find these tasks very “zen” if they allow themselves. Just focus on what you are doing and allow yourself to settle into the rhythm instead of wishing you were somewhere else! You may find it helpful to begin your cleanup time with a bell or similar to signal to your subconscious that the sacred task is about to begin. Some other sensory cue can be used, of course, such as lighting a candle.
If this doesn’t work for you, you can go in the opposite direction and turn on some upbeat music, perhaps something by Wendy Rule or Dead Can Dance and dance your kitchen clean. If these don’t work for you, choose music that reminds you of good times with family and friends. The argument can also be made for heavy metal or anything with significant drums, as drums, rattles and loud singing have been used by many cultures to purify space and drive out unwanted energies.
I like to listen to audio books while I’m doing my kitchen chores and my young son is recently starting to pick up the habit (My husband is still rocking out though.) I like to mix it up between fiction and non-fiction and tend to listen to the same thing over and over- knowing I am going to do this makes it easier to miss something because I ran the blender or something. One of my favorites is Braiding Sweetgrass and I also like to listen to the Great Courses (I’m currently listening to Food:A Cultural Culinary History) between visits with the Discworld Witches who are basically my witchy icons. Choose books to listen to that remind you of family, or that put you in a magical mindset, or choose nonfiction books that further your cooking or witchcrafting knowledge.
Choosing a specific time each day to do the work will also solidify its significance and make it easier to deal with. It will take awhile, but, eventually, the 7pm (for example) ritual of washing all the dishes, wiping down the counters and appliances, sweeping and spot-mopping the floor and emptying the garbage and compost will become such a habit you won’t even bother dreading it. Choose whichever time is convenient to you and stick with it. I actually do it all at 6am, because I am too tired after dinner to mess with the kitchen and there’s nobody around to bother me at 6am. But it does get a bit of a touchup (and the audiobook gets turned back on) at 5pm as a prelude to cooking dinner.
Of course, once everything is physically clean, a carefully selected fumigation or wash will banish any unhelpful energies and/or draw in helpful ones. You can light some incense or a smudge, or give everything a final wipe with an appropriate floor wash. Or (and?) you may wish to make a final pronouncement or affirmation when the cleanup work is done. “My kitchen is a magical place of healing and nurturance!” Or just “I love my kitchen!”. Whatever works for you!
Dressing the Part
When I go out to the barn I wear muck boots, bright pink work gloves and a scrub shirt (lots of pockets). My gardener outfit is pretty similar. I generally braid my hair into pigtails and if the sun is out I wear a floppy hat and sunglasses. When I go to my day job, I wear my steel toed work boots, khaki pants, the shirt they gave me and a badge and I put my hair up in a bun. No hat. Sometimes when I am doing heavy work around the house, like putting in fencing or building a coop or planting trees, I wear my work boots too. When I work in the kitchen, I put on my comfy house shoes, discard the barn-fouled scrub shirt in favor of a something clean and comfy and an apron with lots of pockets. I would never wear my day job clothes to cook or farm, they’d get dirty and I’d have to buy new. And I would never ever wear my farmgirl outfit to work. I’d be out of uniform!
I believe it was the Flylady who first pointed out to me that everything has a uniform. If you get up and put on your “housekeeper” uniform, it’s easier to get into the “housekeeper” mindset and thus, easier to get your housekeeping done. The Flylady is also a big fan of rituals, though she’s not a witch (I think she’s some type of fairy).
And so I suggest to you that you get yourself a Kitchen Witch uniform. It doesn’t matter really what it is, but it should have comfy shoes and lots of pockets and be easy to clean. When it’s Kitchen Witchery time, put on your uniform, put up your hair, wash your hands and become!
Cooking with Intention
Even when we’re just cooking to fill our bellies, the act of cooking is a sacred alchemy that transforms ordinary items into appealing foodstuffs. Eating an apple is nice, but when someone cores and slices that apple so that it’s easier to share, that’s even nicer. And if they bake that apple into a pie, well that’s nice. But if they did that because it’s your favorite pie and they love to see you smile, that’s really nice.
The difference is in the intention. It’s the difference between cake and birthday cake and a wedding cake. A plate of spaghetti because it was easy after dinner, the spaghetti your great-grandma always made for you when you came to visit and the spaghetti dinner fundraiser go to with your neighbors. These differences are so meaningful but not generally recognized by the average person.
Acting with intention is a defining characteristic of a witch so it is only logical that cooking with intention be a defining characteristic of a Kitchen Witch. And so we have it in our power to transform every meal, not just special ones, by infusing it with intention as we create and serve it. This may seem that such a practice might diminish the importance of significant meals, but those meals have their own intentions. Your everyday meal intention need not overshadow those. And intention as simple as “that all who gather to share this meal be well-nourished, spiritually and emotionally as well as physically.” Or that “all who share this meal feel welcome and loved.” or something.
To create such an intention in your meal, simply declare it out loud as you begin your meal preparations. You may wish to do this in the form of a prayer to your God, ancestral spirits or house spirits, or you might want to make up a little chant or song, or simply say it as an affirmation. It’s up to you. It is important to say it out loud, but the actual form it takes isn’t significant. I like to light a candle as I say my intention out loud and allow the candle to burn as I continue to work, to remind me that I am working with intention.
There are some ritual actions that you can take while you are cooking to support your intention. If your intention is to draw something in (love, joy, money, wellness), you should stir clock
When you serve the meal, you may wish to repeat the intention out loud in the presence of your diners. You can do this in the form of “saying grace” if you like.
Eating with Gratitude
When we eat, we absorb the essence of other living beings and use it to create our own bodies. With the exception of fruits, nuts and a few species of herbs and vegetables, those living things gave their lives to feed us. If that isn’t humbling, I don’t know what is. I believe it is very important to keep the sacrifices of other species as well as our own place in the world in mind and I think a very simple and powerful way to do this is to practice gratitude.
There are tangible benefits to gratitude that go beyond keeping us humble and aware. As witches, we know that the kind of energy we cultivate is the sort of energy that we attract. Gratitude is one of those energies that just keeps on reproducing itself. It works in many ways and even more scientifically-minded disciplines such as Psychology recognize its value and research has demonstrated that practicing gratitude in a variety of ways has beneficial effects on mental health. (Psychology Today has a lot to say about the benefits of gratitude. Go to https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/gratitude to learn more).
On the metaphysical front there is the idea that we attract similar energy to that we are sending out. In the case of gratitude, this means we are attracting gratitude both externally and internally. Externally, our gratitude inspires other to feel gratitude toward us, which makes them place a higher value on us; and thus our health and happiness. More importantly, the energy of gratitude affects us internally by generating the energy of gratitude which helps us see things to be grateful for (rather than things to feel disappointed about), overall improving our outlook on life which causes a landslide effect of positive energy coming our way.
Practicing gratitude isn’t complicated. Just take a moment to say thank you, every day. Saying “grace” over a meal is a good way to do this. Something simple like the old standby in our family “For this food we are about to share, we are truly thankful.” Or take a moment of quiet contemplation before digging in. I also like to take a moment every new moon to write a thank you note to the Universe in general for all the wonderful things that happened that month (and also make plans for the coming month). You can spread the gratitude around by thanking the Universe for every beautiful thing you see.
I am so grateful that I live in a world with a sky that looked like last night’s sky, clear and star-filled with a giant sliver of the new crescent moon, all orange and glowing.