Welcome to a more or less Celtic Reconstructionist blog, where love of the Old Gods is still strong

Donnerstag, 29. März 2012

Giamos and Samos – Celtic Worldview I

For my first “G” post in the Pagan Blog Project, I’d like to address one of the fundamental distinctions in the Celtic world, namely that of giamos and samos.
In the Celtic mindset, we can see a primary guiding concept of universal duality; in the words of Alexei Kondratiev, one of my favourite scholars in the field, this duality can be expressed as “Day and Night, Summer and Winter, God and Goddess, Tribe and Land,, this world and Otherworld” (Kondratiev 2003: 79).

It is the differences between these principles that allow changes to occur (Kondratiev 2003: 80). In this case, the Celtic worldview seems to be similar to the concepts of Fire and Ice in the Northern mythology, since the contact of both these elements created Ymir, the first living being (Prose Edda, 4). 
Kondratiev (2003: 88) agrees when he notes that “fire and water are of primary ritual importance in Celtic tradition, representing the polarity of samos and giamos.” So maybe the similarities between these concepts will help me incorporate more Northern elements in my practice to honour the Northern gods I follow.

But now to the topic of my post: 
The Celtic year is separated in two halves: giamos and samos; Freeman (2001: 5) refers to this as gam and sam, but her distinction is essentially the same. The terms were developed by Neven Henaff, a Breton nationalist thinker of early 20th century (Kondratiev 2003: 79).
The giamos period encompasses the time from November 1st to May 1st and is thus the Night or Winter half of the year. The period represents the Goddess, the land, the dead, as well as all unconscious activity (Kondratiev 2003: 81). According to this definition, rituals should begin after sunset – apart from those that are specifically designed or required to be held during daylight, such as Bealtaine (Kondratiev 2003: 87).
The samos period, on the contrary, is understood as the Day or Summer  half and goes from May 1st to November 1st; it represents the God, the tribe, the living, and all conscious activity (Kondratiev 2003: 80).
 For Celtic peoples, the year started with the giamos period at Samhain, since “unconsciousness precedes consciousness, an unseen gestation of the womb precedes birth, and so Winter is felt to be the gestation of the Summer” (Kondratiev 2003: 97); likewise, days start at sunset. We can thus see that all time structure can be divided according to the samos/giamos principle. The concept also pertains to space, where South is equalled with Night and North with Day (Kondratiev 2003: 80). However, we’ll go into more detail once we reach “Q” for quarters.

Looking at the four seasons that we know and celebrate today, we can say that Spring is the samos- or summer-oriented half of the giamos (winter) season – Spring still belongs to the Winter half of the year, but we feel that the sun is getting warmer and flowers start to bloom. On the other hand, Harvest is the giamos (winter)-oriented half of the samos (summer) season), because the days are getting shorter and it is already getting colder, although the Harvest belongs to the Summer half.
This gives  us the following calendar of festivals:
o       Samhain at the beginning of Winter
o       Imbolc at the beginning of Spring
o       Bealtaine at the beginning of Summer
o       Lúghnasadh at the beginning of Harvest

During the time from Samhain to Bealtaine, we witness changes within the land – snow falls, then covers the earth during the Winter Solstice, and thaws again to allow new flowers and new life to grow.
In the time from Imbolc to Lúghnasadh, however, we witness changes pertaining to the tribe, i.e. humans, and the land, since it includes the time of sowing, growing of crops, and the harvest (Kondratiev 2003: 109).

The concept of samos and giamos can also be found in the ritual rivalry between the two consorts of the Goddess – the Maponos figure and Cernunnos. 
In Celtic belief, Cernunnos is not seen as a horned god, but as a god with antlers – this is a necessary and important distinction, since antlers fall off and grow back, and so represent natural changes (Kondratiev 2003: 105f.). During the summer half of the year, Cernunnos has lost his antlers (and thereby his consort and his creativity); he now is in his personal giamos-(winter) mode of contemplation. When the world turns to winter, Cernunnos is re-united with his consort the Goddess and his hence capable of active exchange which will renew the land (hence he enters his own summer/samos mode) (Kondratiev 2003: 108).

Looking at his rival, the Maponos, we can describe him as the “archetypal young lover” (Kondratiev 2003: 108), expressing vitality and youth. He is born by the Goddess at the Winter Solstice, then grows up to mate with Her on Bealtaine, and goes into the giamos (winter) mode together with the land, i.e. he is imprisoned or dies as the year progresses, to be freed or reborn at the Winter Solstice (Kondratiev 2003: 109).
Wiccans might be familiar with this system in the form of the Holly King (similar to Cernunnos’s role) and the Oak King (the Maponos figure ruling through the summer period). This distinction is beautifully expressed in Damh the Bard’s song Noon of the Solstice, which can be found here.

My final question is whether we can work with this mindset outside of rituals and magical workings, since people do get confused when I wish my Wiccan friend a happy new year halfway through our annual Halloween party.
What do you think?

Blessed be,


Freeman, Mara. 2001. Kindling the Celtic Spirit. New York: HarperCollins.
Kondratiev, Alexei. 2003. The Apple Branch. A Path to Celtic Ritual. New York: Kensington.

Sturluson, Snorri. The Prose Edda. Accessed online (and in German) here.

Damh the Bard – Noon of the Solstice: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFvpMObnzB8

Sonntag, 25. März 2012

Finding your Deity

For my second F post in the PaganBlog Project, I’d like to address the question of how we pagans find the deities that we pray to and worship.
It seems that there are several ways in which worshippers find their matron or patron gods.
But before we start on those, remember that you don’t have to have a certain deity you follow to be a pagan – some practitioners took years to find theirs, and others are quite happy working magic or walking a pagan path without belonging to a specific goddess or god. So don’t stress if you haven’t yet connected to a certain deity.
So, now on to finding your deity:

One way of finding your deity is by research, so to speak. Some have always been attracted to a specific culture or pantheon, and reading the myths they find a goddess or god that speaks to them. If that is the case with you, you can start to worship Them by leaving offerings, and (hopefully) slowly form a deep, fulfilling connection to this deity.
So, for example, somebody who works in a healing profession might easily connect to Brighid, as well as a poet might seek Her inspiration or “fire in the head.” I also felt drawn to Persephone from childhood on, as I loved my book of good-night-stories that also included Her myth. Eventually, I found out that another goddess was responsible for me, so to speak, which brings us to our next point.
an image of Persephone, Demeter and Hades from my favourite children's book
There are some within the pagan community who are simply found or claimed by a deity. Sometimes accepting this claim is not easy, since you might not have expected this specific deity to have an interest in you. Usually you’ll know when a deity claims you – connections with this deity seem to pop up everywhere you look, you’ll be visited in a meditation, or you’ll feel what some describe as a distinct “spiritual slap on the head” by the deity, telling them that they are Theirs. Essentially, this is how I met my matron, Anann (Who I used to mistake for Persephone, since She is also connected to the earth and to death). Why She chose me I cannot fathom, but I’m sure I’ll find out one day what work She wants to be done.

Sometimes it can happen that despite everything I’ve just said, you fail to notice that a certain god or goddess is trying to get your attention (although once you realize it it’s usually glaringly obvious). As a general example, a pagan might get followed by ravens all of a sudden (especially in places or times of the year when there shouldn’t be as many ravens about), at the exact time that they feel compelled to start practicing martial arts, and only after a very long while realize that the Morrighán is calling them. But if you’re involved with a pagan community, telling your fellow pagans about coincidences like these will usually get you pointed in the right direction quite easily.
I should mention here that sometimes, people will be called by a god or goddess Whose lore hasn’t survived, but since I don’t have any experience with this myself, I won’t stress this part here (if you are familiar with this, however, I’d love to hear about your experience!).

And then, there are situations when you might perfect well realize Who it is that’s calling, but are unwilling or afraid to form a connection. In my opinion, this is the most difficult outcome. Not seeing a connection, obviously, can happen sometimes, but I’d be cautious if I’d wilfully ignore a deity.
However, I guess that it depends why you’re ignoring Them. Did you hope for a different deity of the pantheon to contact you and be your matron/patron? Or, let me put this provocatively, is this specific deity not “fancy” enough (as in, everybody worships Brighid, so why do I get called by Donn)? Or do you shy away from forming a deeper connection because of, how shall I say, reverence?
For me, reverence for Odin was what kept me from approaching Him for the last 10 or so years (boy, do I feel old right now!) – that, and not knowing how to approach gods, since the internet and books on paganism hadn’t really made it to my little hometown in the late 90s.

 It was only lately that I realized how many connections to Him are basically staring me in the face.
First of all, I am an academic, currently working on my PhD, so it would only be fitting to start a relationship to the god of wisdom and knowledge. Then, Odin is also a god of poetry Who gives the mead of inspiration and creative fire – I see myself as a writer, and my greatest dream is to be a full-time writer of horror and crime fiction.

But there are also other, perhaps less obvious connections. For example, the number 9 has always been my favourite number. Using a number oracle that I believe originated in the Kabbalah tradition (I’m not really sure anymore where it came from; I noted it down in my book of shadow-of-sorts about 12 years ago) my name number as well as my birth number are 9 (and if you combine those, you’ll get your fate number, which is – you guessed it – 9).

Then, I love the colour blue. My room as a teenager was completely blue; the carpet was a deep blue, the walls were light blue, the curtains were blue, and my bed was usually covered in deep blue sheets. Unfortunately, there aren’t any pictures of the room without 15-year-old me (with a weird 80s Jon Bon Jovi hairstyle) in it, so you’ll have to use your imagination ;-)
And I also love the colour black – basically, most items in my wardrobe are black (apart from jeans and the occasional green, blue or red items; and no, I never was a goth) – both colours are associated with Odin.

In my teenage years, I also developed an interest in the military. I read all the books my grandpa had on the military and important wars (and I tried to write an abysmally bad story set in the Vietnam war, which thankfully I abandoned), and I still enjoy war movies like Full Metal Jacket. Considering that Odin is a god of battle, this is quite a fitting interest.
And then, I had one of those new age cassettes (yes, an actual cassette!) with wolves howling in a storm. And I love the time between Christmas and New Year when the Wild Hunt is said to pass over the Harz mountains.

So I’m wondering if it is fate that led me to Him in the end? I’m still trying to figure out what He could possibly want from me, but I believe that time will tell.

So how did you meet the deities you honour? Or does your practice centre on other elements apart from deity worship?

Blessed be,

Persephone image taken from:
Yeatman, Linda. 1985. Bedtime Stories. [German translation, titled “Die schönsten Geschichten zur guten Nacht” by Eleonore Melichar]. Wien: Ueberreuter. p.51.
Odin image: http://silverbough.webs.com/Images/odin2.jpg

Freitag, 23. März 2012


“When you were young
And your heart was an open book
You used to say, "Live and let live"
(You know you did, you know you did, you know you did)
But if this ever-changing world in which we live in
Makes you give in and cry
Say live and let die“ – Paul McCartney: Live and Let Die

A couple weeks ago, my husband found a cartoon on the internet that discussed being pagan from a fundamentalist Christian perspective (the cartoon can be found here, but make sure to shield yourself before looking at it).

It wasn’t even so much the fact that the account was wrong in more than one instance – first of all, initiations work differently, as far as I’m aware, and I assume that not all members of the PBP regularly indulge in role-playing sessions. Getting some facts wrong can and does happen when you’re not overly familiar with another faith (but if you should use your bits and pieces of knowledge for a cartoon is a different question). My problem here is that you can tell that the writers apparently did not take any time to truly understand what it was they were condemning. 

This brings me to my topic of today: fundamentalist attitudes. People as the writers of the above cartoon believe that their path is the one and only true path leading to salvation. So if you believe that yours is the only way, obviously you want to propagate the good news and save others – so from your point of view, you’re acting out of love for your fellow humans. 

However, what some fail to see is that by proselytising their faith, they are effectively discriminating against adherents of other religions – especially if they don’t try and get to know others’ practices or reasons for choosing their religion.  

This shouldn’t be read as a rant against Christianity, however (or, for that matter, against any other religion of which I am not a member). I know many very open-minded Christians, one of them a priest, who’d be willing to discuss your differing positions with you and who’d be prepared to learn more about your faith or lack thereof.

And anyway, it’s not only strongly religious people who can be fanatic, since non-faith-adherents advertise their position quite aggressively, too, as in this bus ad campaign: 

Here, the fallacy is that all religious people are necessarily fundamentalists. Obviously we know from personal experience that this claim cannot be upheld. And secondly, referring to an act of terrorism to bring this point across IMO will drive more religious people away from atheist ideas than engage them in fruitful dialogue.
So, for now, we can sum up that when we want to share our religious ideas with others, we might want to
a)      learn about their faith first, so that we don’t accidentally oppose them or insult their core beliefs (and also, seeing that you maybe have some common ground already might make for a better discussion),
b)      refrain from openly advertising very controversial topics because this might hinder a loving or respectful discussion between parties of different faiths,
c)      and, most importantly, be respectful. You’ll get no-one to listen to you when you’re being condescending, belittling the other’s faith or when you’re stressing that you know better, anyway. So think twice before forcing your opinion on others.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen the exact same problem come up in pagan circles. Just to name some examples, there are some Asatrúar looking down on Wiccans who work with the Northern gods in their paradigm, or there are Celtic Recons essentially making fun of new adherents who are attracted to an idea of Celtic spirituality that they do not share or think correct. Some groups seem to forget that everybody started off as a newbie – even the famous Elder Recon, who now looks down on the newbies’ lack of knowledge – and/or fail to see that reading libraries full of archaeological texts before engaging in worship isn’t the right path for everyone. A – more or less – funny summary of “who looks down on whom” can be seen here:

Obviously you’re allowed your own opinion – I, for once, don’t engage in eclectic witchcraft, but I can understand why this would be the right path for others. Especially in a minority faith like ours, we should be more accepting towards other branches so we can make a stronger impact on the public – not to proselytise, but to make our religious demands known (e.g. concerning our sabbats being recognized as holidays).

In the end, I believe that there is more than one way to find the Gods, and within this way there are multiple smaller paths that one can choose to walk on; and all these different paths are valid for the people walking them. I’m just terribly annoyed by people of any faith claiming that other paths (or for atheists, that all paths) do not actually exist or that theirs is the best one. So I’m hoping for more understanding and getting to know each-other in interfaith dialogue so we can all let each other live our respective (non-)religious lives.

Blessed be,

cartoon: http://www.chick.com/reading/tracts/0046/0046_01.ASP
bus ad: http://a4.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/419906_362799317082861_205344452828349_1351162_1223978752_n.jpg
pagan hierarchy: http://seapagan.org/pagan-hierarchy/pagan-hierarchy.png  

Donnerstag, 22. März 2012

Spring Equinox 2012

What is happening in Nature?

On or around the 20th of March, depending on our preferences and schedules, we as pagans celebrate the spring equinox. Day and night are of the same length, and after today, the days will get longer and warmer – winter has finally ended! So the equinox is a time to celebrate: new growth is visible in nature as new flowers rear their tender heads to the sun, and we too shed our thick winter clothing and start walking barefoot to feel the new grass underneath our feet.
On this day, I honour Anann, my matron, in Her aspect as earth goddess, as She is the land, the green country that starts to blossom now.

Themes of the sabbat

For this sabbat, we concentrate on balance. As much as day and night are balanced, we too need to look for balance in our daily lives – balance of work and pastimes, balance of mundane and spiritual activities, balance of time spent alone or with loved ones. The equinox, with the return of the sun after a period of darkness, is also a time of rebirth and new beginnings (Blake 2009: 125). So in a ritual we can ask ourselves which groundwork we need to do before we can express our souls and deepest desires. How indeed can we find space and time for cultivating the soul (Freeman 2001: 72)?

How can we celebrate it?

With kids around, we can make the celebrations of the equinox a very lively, joyful one – for example, we can colour eggs together with them, or play football games or tug-of-war to symbolize the war between darkness and light that on this day comes to a standstill (Kondratiev 2003: 164; 168).
When working alone or with a group of adults, a meditation on the sleeping Oak King can be appropriate; we will visit him in his winter resting place and wake him up to journey with him and behold his rise to full power on Bealtain when he marries the Flower Maiden (Kondratiev 2003: 166ff.).

My celebrations

For my solitary celebration, I start with setting the altar with candles in spring colours (pastels, greens) and daffodils. My husband and I have pancakes for lunch as a symbol of the sun.
After a ritual shower which I use to attune with Manannán, whose element is water, I go to circle in the early afternoon (usually I hold ritual at night or at dusk, but for a spring celebration feeling the sun on my skin seems more appropriate). Usually I’d use 9 candles to mark the circle, but today I’m going for petals.
After calling the quarters with meditations found in Kondratiev’s book, I invite my Gods and Goddesses, as well as my ancestors* and the landvaettir.
I then meditate on the new season and find one (or mostly two) areas where I find I need balance in the months to come.
I end my ritual with feasting on coloured eggs. This year, I use store-bought ones; I’ll colour eggs myself together with my little brother at the family Easter celebrations (watch out for my “H” post on holidays with the family where I’ll delve further into this topic). 

 my altar for the spring equinox


An obvious symbol to choose for altar decorations today is the egg that brings to mind the Cosmic Egg of the Druids that hatched the world. Kondratiev (2003: 164) also suggests red eggs, as red is the colour of blood and hence fertility.
Other choices could be the hare – or Eostre bunny if you’ve got kids -, chickens or birds like little geese that fly freely in the warm spring air; basically anything that is afoot now in your area seems a good decoration.
Fresh flowers to me are also a must; I usually go for daffodils, but any flower that is in bloom now or that has a bright sun colour is appropriate. Any further decorations, like candles or the altar cloth if your tradition uses one, can be done in pastels – any nice, warm colour that you associate with springtime is great.
If you choose to do a meditation on where you’ll need balance you might also want to have or create a symbol of whatever you want to implement in the coming months. So you have a visual reminder of which work needs to be done.

What can we take with us after the celebration is over?

For me, the spring equinox celebration isn’t over once I end my ritual. The plans we made at Imbolc still have to be implemented and put to action (Blake 2009: 126); for me this would be getting back to the novel and plot.
Also, I’ll do a spiritual spring cleaning (Blake 2009: 128ff.) once the weekend approaches and I’ll have more spare time on my hands; this will include: 
-   cleaning the house – swiping the floors, de-cluttering cupboards and wardrobes, cleaning the windows, the whole nine yards
-  clearing away negative energies – after cleaning, I will use incense to rid my flat of any residual negative energies
-   cleansing my body – by meditations and affirmations said each night before bed
I don’t know if I’ll get round to it in the end, since I have a presentation and oral exam coming up, but I’d like to try and follow up on my spring equinox meditation. So either each day, or at least once a week, I’d like to revisit my goals so I can grow and sit back on the autumn equinox and reap the seeds I’ve sown now.

* a note on my ancestors: thanks to a hint I picked up somewhere in the PBP, I now see my ancestors not only as my family members who’ve passed. I also call upon those ancestors who have worked in the same craft as I do, e.g. writing, so I’ll ask my favourite German poet to be present, too.

Blake, Deborah. 2009. “Speing Equinox.” In: Llewellyn’s Sabbats Almanac Samhain 2009 to
Mabon 2010. Ed. by Ed Day. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn Worldwide.
Freeman, Mara. 2001. Kindling the Celtic Spirit. New York: HarperCollins.
Kondratiev, Alexei. 2003. The Apple Branch. A Path to Celtic Ritual. New York: Kensington.

Sonntag, 18. März 2012

England, or: Are the Gods Local?

Two days ago, I returned from a short trip to Nottingham, England. A very good friend of mine, who I shared a flat with in my year abroad, is in her final year now and I wanted to see both her and the city again, although the trip was overshadowed by family matters (let’s keep this short and simple: two weeks ago, the house my mum lived in burnt down. As of today, we still cannot enter the building and my mum’s staying at her parents with my little brother, our rabbit and the best dog in the world, who alerted her to the fire).

Before starting on the post, I have to stress that I moved to Nottingham in autumn of 2008, a couple months after I properly started researching paganism (my copy of the Farrars’ Witches Bible was the only book that came with me on the plane), and so the place will always have a magical connotation for me.

Visiting this time, I was staying with my friend in her tiny single room. As we’re not allowed to burn candles within the flats, I decided to do my weekly devotions for Thor by taking a walk through nature. The university has a beautiful campus with a small lake, where waterfowl (especially Canada geese) and squirrels abound; and there are many hidden gardens where you can sit and take some time out. 

When I set out, the fog was still heavy over the lake, and I was instantly reminded of the Avalon books that I love. It would not have surprised me to see a boat with a priestess clad in dark blue garments appear in the fog. So possibly remembering the book series gave me this instant “Celtic” vibe that I’ll speak about later.

 lake at the campus of the University of Nottingham

Walking on, I asked both Mr Squirrel and Mr and Mrs Goose to take some pictures of them, although neither came close as there were quite a lot of other people and dogs around for a foggy Thursday morning. 

 Mr Squirrel
So I decided to walk to a small circular garden that I’ve always loved (in case you’ll ever go there, it’s the Millennium Gardens behind the Law Building), where I thought I’d have some privacy. There are two labyrinths like the ones that you can find on the floor of churches like Chartres in France (a beautiful building, if you ask me), and I decided to walk them to get into a prayerful mindset. 

 Millennium Gardens, campus of the University of Nottingham
Arriving at the round stone in the middle, I was planning on meditating on Thor and praising Him, but I found this very difficult to do. Instead, I felt instantly drawn to my matron, Anann. I remained in meditation on Her and the Summerlands for only a short while. There is a construction site for a hotel close by now and I hadn’t considered the through traffic and builders walking past. As I said earlier, maybe thinking of the Avalon series put me in a mindset that was better suited for praying to Anann, who is a Celtic Goddess, after all. But it also made me wonder, which brings me to the question of my post: are the gods local?

For me, it seems more easy to connect to my matron Anann – and my patron Manannán, for that matter; a heron was constantly visible while walking along the lake – while I’m in England. Possibly this is because I first met my matron while I was living in Nottingham, so the place and especially a certain area around the lake will always be associated with Her. Also, there is an abundance of animals that I associate with Her, like swans and the geese. 

On the other hand, I find it more easy to connect to Thor and the Northern Gods when I’m in my hometown, where They must have been worshipped in the past since we still have a Woden’s Oak. Especially in winter, when temperatures drop to minus 20 degrees and small villages are in danger of getting cut off from the roads, I feel closer to my ancestors’ gods. I’m assuming that I’ll have a deeper connection to Odin in His Wild Hunt aspect when I’ll go back to my hometown in winter (until a couple weeks ago, I’ve shied away from His contact, but that is a topic for a different post).

 This is me, on a normal winter day in my hometown.
So, are the gods local then? For me, the answer to this question is both yes and no.
Yes in the sense that for me, some places and even seasons are so deeply connected with a specific Goddess/God that I find establishing a connection to Them in prayer is quite effortless. For example, I can feel my matron more strongly in an autumn equinox ritual on English soil, because this is the time and place where I first found Her (or rather, She found me, for various reasons) – connecting with Thor in the same place and time would prove more difficult for me; but He has His own times and places where I strongly feel His energy – just think summer thunderstorms over a field. 

But no, the Gods are not local because They will hear your voice and feel your love for Them no matter where on this planet you are. The Kemetic pantheon, in my understanding, does not require you to reside in Egypt to be able to call upon Them and have a close and fulfilling relationship with Them, nor does praying to the Northern and Celtic gods require an ancestry based in the Northern or Celtic countries. Claiming such a thing, for me, borders on racism and is a thought best avoided. However, I feel that certain areas where the Gods have been worshipped for thousands of years are more imbued with Their energy and we might feel Their presence more strongly. So going to England for me is always a bit like coming home, both to a place I deeply love and also to the arms of my Mother. 

So what are your thoughts on the matter? Do you have special places that you associate with a certain God or Goddess?

Blessed be,

All photos ©Harzgeist (Monika Pleyer); do not use without permission by the author of this blog.

Freitag, 2. März 2012

Eating and Spirituality

I can’t really say much about the magical properties of food, since I’m just getting started to learn them and made a very long, very colourful list last week. So for this week, I’d like to address why I don’t eat meat and what this has to do with my spirituality.

When I started to read the basic works on Wicca in the summer of 2008 I came to the conclusion that the divine was inherent in everything: in us humans, who are divine ourselves; in nature, the trees, the rain and the wind; and in animals. Hence, I felt that I would not be living up to my ideals if I continued to eat the animals that, like me, were a part of the divine (interestingly enough, J., my husband’s nine-year-old cousin, recently came to the same conclusion, saying that “the animals are a part of God’s creation, too”).
This realisation coincided with my moving to England for my year abroad, where vegetarian products are much more readily available than in Germany. After a while I noticed that the longer I abstained from meat, the more I felt more in harmony with my surroundings. Nature seemed brighter, and I felt more attuned to the divine. Incidentally, it was in autumn of that year when I first met my matron goddess. I also noticed that while staying at my mum’s for visits during that year that I couldn’t really get up to any spiritual work (even the less obviously pagan ones such as praying) – even though the Harz mountains are a very spiritual place for me. 

Cunningham (2007: 26) addresses this, too, when he describes how he adopted a vegetarian diet once but gave it up again as he felt so spiritual that even “walking became a mystical experience.” So we see that not eating meat is not a decision fit for everyone. However, there are many other foods that can have an influence on our spirituality. I, for one, feel that a light meal before ritual is much better for me than, say, eating a pizza.
What about you? Do you have any preferences on what to eat or not to eat before ritual? And how does your spiritual path influence your eating habits?

My spirituality is also reflected in how I deal with foodstuffs. First of all, I try to cook and buy only what I really plan on eating. Wasting foods just because I can’t be bothered to measure ingredients and think hard on how hungry I really am doesn’t agree with my view of a mindful spirituality.
When I have the time, I also love to go to the local farmer’s market and buy fresh foods. I feel that preparing foods that are available naturally in my area at this time of year help me get in touch with the changes in nature, so I celebrate the sabbats with a different, more informed outlook. And second of all, the promise of fresh vegetables gives me something to look forward to: I still remember how my family would be waiting impatiently for a visit by my aunt and uncle because they’d bring fresh tomatoes and courgettes that they grew in their garden. Also, vegetables like asparagus are only available for quite a short time each spring, so preparing it is something very special for me, almost a ritual in itself. I’m thinking of actually writing out a ritual for this to thank my matron for the bounty that She gives us. 
 I’m also planning on working more with the magic inherent in foods; however, I find myself disagreeing quite often with the list Cunningham provides. For example, I don’t associate cinnamon with monetary goals (Cunningham 2007: 134). And I think that fennel heightens my spiritual awareness; however this property isn’t listed in Cunningham’s book (Cunningham 2007: 138). So do you know any other good resource books that discuss the magic of food?

I sincerely hope that I did not sound too preachy here, since I don’t want to advocate a vegetarian lifestyle; after all, what and how you eat is a highly individual decision. So don’t let anybody (other than your doctor, if you have health issues) tell you that the way you eat is not right if you feel it benefits you and your spirituality, cause your body is yours alone!

Blessed be,

Cunningham, Scott. 2007. Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen. 3rd Edition. Woodbury, MN: Llewellyn.

goddess with animals: http://i34.photobucket.com/albums/d124/BluebirdAcresFarm144/animal_angel-1.jpg