Food, feasting, celebrating, staying alive…

Food is an essential part of everyday life, a focus at festivals, and a significant ethical consideration. How we handle food day to day can have huge effects on family life, and spiritual expression.

What do we buy? Producing food has huge environmental impact. Do you source locally when you can? Free range? Does meat feature in your diet? Do you think about food miles? (the drive to and from the supermarket causes the most damage in this regard). How healthy is your diet? Do you make food from scratch, or buy pre-pre-prepared? All of these issues represent ethical dilemmas around food and family.

I’m not suggesting there are any right answers, but, here are a few things to mull. Good diet significantly contributes to good health. Whatever else you do or don’t eat, getting plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables on your plate is good for you. Eating together is a powerful, bonding activity. It creates opportunities to talk, and listen, and reinforces bonds. There is a quote (no idea where from) that goes ‘families who eat together and pray together, stay together’.

There’s a trend in western culture towards fragmented eating, individuals foraging from fridge or freezer to re-heat in microwaves, eating alone and around other activities. Good food, and the sharing of it, is life enhancing. If it’s not viable to do all the time, there’s still much to be said for trying to do it as often as you can. Making good food is an expression of care for your tribe, and an act of creativity. Those who put in the time and effort, should be honoured for their generosity. If someone makes a cake for your ritual, that’s something to celebrate and praise. If someone other than you does the cooking, make sure their work is fully acknowledged. Meal making is important, don’t take it for granted! There is fun to be had in making good food, and it is something that can be shared. If you want to teach children about nutrition and food ethics, nothing beats getting them into the kitchen.

Western culture pushes us towards living faster, doing less for ourselves, and perceiving less value in traditional skills. There is nobility in self sufficiency. There is magic in the rising of a loaf, the crafting of a banquet. ‘Ease’ and ‘convenience’ are seldom satisfying, and pre-made food, whacked into the microwave may keep your body moving, but it will not feed your soul. If you let food be an active expression of your paganism, it will have significant positive effects on you, and those around you.

Bryn Colvin

5 thoughts on “Food, feasting, celebrating, staying alive…”

  1. Mmmm … yes … thanks for that, Bryn. Food is SO important and so under-rated by far too many folk nowadays.

    I got a friend to take me to one of our local farmers’ markets the other Saturday. She loved it, hadn’t been before. She’s a single mum with two young boys and has a very demanding counselling job as well as being student shaman. We were talking about how to organise local markets and good food into her time-regime. You know, it’s odd how many mums nowadays haven’t got their kiddies organised into the shopping from the moment they exit the womb. I was really surprised. And if they do go then it’s the supermarket … as being somehow easier. Anyway, during the chit-chat it seemed she felt she might well begin to change the regime.

    Another witch-friend with a couple of kiddies, of similar ages, has always organised them into “foraging”, as she laughs about it. They mostly go to markets, have a box scheme and grow as much of their own as they can.

    It all seems to be about how you decide to go on from day-1. The children get used to how things in the house work, what their part in food choice and provision is and what food is about. The ritual of family meals is important – even if not possible every single day. There’s a coming together, joining, communing, bonding as you say, Bryn, that’s just so important. And the caring for your tribe.

    Having friends round for meals is part of that too, bonding outside the immediate family. Sharing meals – including sharing the provision of them as we do with many friends, everyone brnging a dish – is good too. We’ve even incorporated the “bring a dish” into a quarterly work-meeting of the Transpersonal psychotherapy group I work with.

    Food is soooooooooo much more than “bread alone” :-).


  2. I am trying to buy more locally. While I am making a transition to Vegetarian myself, my family is still meat eaters. After watching some videos on how animals are treated commercially, I am even more determined to buy from local farms. Not to mention, it seems healthier for my kids and husband. The crap they pump into meat and stuff is really horrible. Most people don’t realize but if a cow, chicken, or pig has cancer, tumors, or is sick in whatever way—going ahead and butchering them is not against FDA regulations. Now my local farmers would NEVER do that. How do I know? I know em lol. So people should start supporting local farmers. If you can’t afford a whole beef, then its real easy to divide it up with another family member or friend. Some farmers even sell individual stuff…some local grocery stores only sell from local farmers. I prefer fresh vegetables and so forth more anyway. There are local farmers for Herbs, dairy, eggs, honey, and or whatever.


    1. Right on! We do that here, share a beast between several of us. And, like you, I know how the beasts have lived and that it’s been good. Several of the farmers I know (& work with) have a strong spiritual element to them, feel they have a contract with the animals who help tem make their living … like the shamans and hunters did of old. The same sort of agreement that your animal would turn his side to you when you were hunting.


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