Gratitude, Feasting and Foodlore
Warm greetings to my Canuk friends, and our neighbours south of the border who are still looking forward to their own Thanksgiving in November. May your cupboards always be full and your cups overflowing, and may you know true gratitude and experience prosperity all your days.
I am very thankful for the many blessings in my life; every circumstance, challenge, opportunity, unplanned event holds a lesson or insight that helps me to grow and appreciate more about life. I understand and admit that it can be difficult to see the silver lining when trials appear, and an attitude of gratitude can make all the difference to whether you float or sink in a situation. I have found that keeping a gratitude journal or journal of appreciation is a positive thing. For me it’s a physical reminder of what is working and it’s a powerful tool to uplift my spirits. Each day I name 5 things that I appreciate, it can be as basic as a warm bed or as complicated as learning a new skill, I choose to physically record my answers though it’s not necessary, awareness is the focus of the exercise. Many spiritual leaders, life coaches and life skills teachers encourage the practise of gratitude because it creates a place where shifting or pivoting our focus is possible, rather than being overwhelmed.
I am appreciative of my blessings every day, and I think it’s so cool there is a day recognized on the calendar for giving thanks. As a Wiccan, not only do I celebrate our sabbats, I also embrace the calendar holidays. Mabon is my sacred thanksgiving and Thanksgiving Day is another opportunity to gather with friends who may not share my beliefs, so I have the best of both worlds. I really enjoy the sense of community, and most feasts are potluck, meaning every person contributes in some way. The days of being chained to the stove have passed, and I prefer to spend time socializing rather than doing kitchen chores; those dirty dishes can soak in the sink, it’s not like they are going anywhere, it’s the people attending who will leave. Traditionally women gathered around the hearth to prepare food, medicine, visit, sew, preserve etc. while the men did other activities, it was a cooperative effort for both groups. Somehow with modern conveniences the role of providing and preparing a feast often becomes a one woman, or man, effort, and it’s a huge job. I really prefer the mutual contribution model and promote potlucks as much as drinking enough water! Even kitchen witches appreciate the lesser work load-something to think about at your next feast.
I’m a total foodie and enjoy the lore associated with the fare of the feast! For example onions are used in wellness magic to absorb illness, or put in the windowsill to prevent negativity from entering. Tossing an onion behind a new bride apparently ensured she wouldn’t cry. Onions are also associated with love, clearing obstacles, power, seduction, and mending relationships, depending on the colour and goal. I just love it when science confirms folk wisdom and magic; scientists recently discovered that peeled or cut onions absorb germs and bacteria and recommend discarding any unused portions rather than saving them for later use!
In the mundane world carrots are associated with eyesight, folk wisdom says they increase psychic vision, give motivation, willpower and drive, and the seeds are a potent aphrodisiac when eaten on Tuesday.
Parsnip is a root vegetable linked with grounding and finance; placing a root with your bills helps to pay off debts, and adding it to your piggy bank keeps the money there. I’ve also heard adding some parsnip to water used for cleaning the house ensures your home isn’t a financial drain.
The first jack o lanterns were made from turnips, they were carved with scary faces, hollowed out, a lamp or candle burned inside and they were placed at the door and windows to scare the evil spirits away on Samhain. Turnips keep away negative influences, and if someone won’t leave you alone, serve up a plate of turnips to the offender to end it. I’ve also heard that they boost personal and physical power.
Potatoes are used in sympathetic magic, in 19th century England, carrying a potato in your pocket was thought to draw out rheumatism and gout, when it shrivelled and hardened you were cured. Spuds are associated with healing and protection and were often used as a poppet, sometimes potato eyes are used for poppet eyes, and in seeing spells.
Yams have other associations, mostly with love; round yams are associated with female energy and the long ones with male. If you put a silver coin in a yam and cook it on the full moon it brings fortune and luck, eating yam does the same. If you want to keep bonded with your mate, choose a yam that represents each of you, round or long, then bake and mash them together and share with your partner. A yam can be used for a love attracting poppet too, choose the shape/gender you prefer and carve a rough image of a male or female to bring him/her to you. Yams are also love offerings, keep one on your altar and when it roots bury it in the earth and say a love blessing, preferably on a full moon.
I’ve shared some of the lore about the most common veggies that are associated with fall feasts, whether pagan or political. I find it adds a whole new dimension to the experience, you just might find yourself chuckling unexpectedly! Bob and Jane love sharing their yams, John the psychic favors the carrots, and Paul who’s into extreme sports thinks turnips are great! When you choose to hold a feast, it’s not necessary for you to do all the work ask your friends and guests to contribute, and then y’all can be thankful together!