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What I Get from Cooking (And How itís Part of My Path)

Author: Nar Leoterra
Posted: November 10th. 2016
Times Viewed: 2,100

Of course I get food out of cooking, but I get so much more than a meal out of the process. For me, the act of meal preparation is an exercise in spirituality as well. Allow me to elaborate.

I am what I call an Agnostic Pagan, or Pagan-ish Agnostic, depending on the day. I have written about this topic before, so I wonít go into it too much here. I will say that I connect more with the wheel of the year, the changing of the seasons, than I do with the (to me) rather abstract notion of Ďgod (s) í.

I do not have a garden currently. I have a postage stamp-sized yard and a brown thumb. However, I was raised by a mother who is also an avid gardener. It is something she does because she enjoys growing food, and it is something she does so we can *have* food. She may not identify as Pagan, but she does have a deep connection to nature and the seasons. She depends on the earth, rain, and sun to help her crops grow. She preserves everything that comes out of the garden, either by canning or freezing.

I have seen what a drought can do. I have seen what a severe storm can do, flattening stalks of corn to the ground and making my mother almost cry from frustration. Nature has a lot of power, and I grew up respecting it. Late winter was a time to plan; spring was a time to start seeds. Summer brought hoeing, watering, weeding, and the first harvest of green beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes.

Since I have never been very talented at growing food, I helped to harvest it. To this day, I love picking and shucking corn. I still gag at the smell of tomato plants. My back and knees hold the memories of stooping to pick green beans (ouch!) .

I also learned to take the bounty from our two small gardens and turn them into delicious dishes. These meals are my way of giving thanks, not only to the earth, but also to those who worked so hard to plant and tend these edible gifts.

Food is tangible. We can touch it, smell it, and taste it. Nature is also tangible. The concept of god (s) is not something we can see, taste, hear, or touch. It isnít even something that I proclaim to feel all that often.

I wonít go so far as to say food is a manifestation of the Divine. If it were, wouldnít everyone have enough? Would there still be starving people in the world? I would hope not. What I will say, however, is harvesting and preparing food and giving food to those who need it helps me feel a closer connection to the Divine.

Nowadays, most of us donít have gardens. We donít depend on our own agricultural efforts, but we do depend on the agricultural efforts and talents of others. In these modern times, we can get strawberries in January (yuck) if we want them or asparagus in October. Food is grown all over and shipped great distances. Most of us donít even know where the majority of our food comes from, let alone have an actual hand in its production. I count myself in that group. I try to know where my food comes from, yet I still donít grow it or slaughter it myself. Our connection is waning, but I am trying to get some of that connection back. I long to feel a deeper connection to the Earth. From there, I believe that I will feel the essence of the Divine.

Sure, Iíve plucked chickens and helped cut up venison and such, but itís been a long time. I havenít lived with my parents for many years, and I canít really do much in this little trailer park. What I can do, though, is support local farmers by buying locally and seasonally. I can show my gratitude to them in that way.

Other ways in which I practice my path in the kitchen include being mindful and trying not to waste food. I admit that things do sometimes get pushed to the back of the refrigerator and forgotten about for a while, though. Iím a good cook but a lousy housekeeper.

I used to identify with the term Ďkitchen witchí. I suppose I still do identify with it to some extent. Once upon a time, I read and researched the magical properties of certain fruits, vegetables, herbs, grains, and nuts. My goal was to include ingredients with similar energies into my recipes and to make meals that were harmonious as well as delicious. I strove to make foods for certain purposes. I devised recipes for love and prosperity. To this day, I swear my Prosperity Shortbread recipe helped me land a new job after I left that horrible high school teaching gig.

Currently, my focus is a bit different. I still try to keep similar energies together when I combine ingredients, but it isnít a prime concern. I still cook with intent. Maybe Iíve read Como Agua Para Chocolate too many times, but I donít like to cook when Iím angry, for fear of putting negativity into my food. I still feel that my emotions could affect the outcome of the meal. Maybe it wonít affect the dinersí emotions outright, but I donít think anyone should have to ingest another personís stress or anger.

Even though I still feel that the Divine may not be terribly invested in humanity, I still chant when I knead dough. I say prayers for the health and well-being of those who eat what I prepare. I try to prepare everything with a peaceful mind and a grateful heart. I am grateful for the food itself, for some people have little or none. I am grateful for those who eat the food because it means I have friends and family. To me, thatís what itís all about.

To me, it isnít about casting a spell for love by making an apple pie. Instead, itís more about recognizing the end of the year and enjoying the sweetness of the apple pie and sharing it with someone I love. That, to me, is recognition of the Divine: Love.

It all boils down to love and thankfulness. Thatís where I am on my journey to the Divine right now. It could change, of course, and it most likely will. Thatís what happens when people grow. When I make a family recipe, I feel love and gratitude. When the seasons change and different produce is available, I feel gratitude. I am alive, and thatís a gift.

There you have it. My path is about love, gratitude, and a reverence for the life that grows upon this planet. My path is about nourishing bodies with things that grow in nature and about feeding peopleís spirits as well. I am trying to spread the love around.

Sit at my table, and I will feed you. I will set before you a plate of food that has been cooked with love. I will share with you not only a plate of roast and vegetables, but also my sincere hope that you push away from the table with a full belly AND a full heart. That is how I experience the Divine.

Eat up.

Copyright: Brandy Griffin 2015


Nar Leoterra

Location: Greenville, North Carolina


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