Experiencing the Goddess in food
I have an insatiable appetite. My eyes, ears, skin and heart want to taste the fullness of life, thirsting for truth. There is art in the everyday and in the ordinary. As we flow through life, it offers us reminders of just how connected we are and gifts us with moments that will never be exactly repeated as seasons change. For me, food is a big way of speaking to these moments. We digest them, as the cells in these bodies of ours vibrate and multiply, die and return back to the earth.
Eating is a sensual experience. It is an act of creation. We harvest the body of the land and take it into us. Food penetrates us and becomes us from the inside.
The crunch of onion skins in my hands,
the chatter of cumin and mustard seeds in the pan,
the smells that bring the saliva,
the damp coolness of coconut cream on my tongue,
the drama of Szechuan on my lips.
Cooking: Sacred preparation
Preparing food is an act of alchemy and transformation. This is practical magic. There is ceremony and ritual in the way we bring the elements together, and in the times of the day that we eat.
What I know of food comes to me through experience and culture. Years sat on the kitchen counter as my grandma peeled vegetables with a knife and the print of her thumb. The felt sense in her body that always knows when to switch off the heat, whether she’s watching the pot or not. My knowledge is humble and majestic at the same time…it comes from feeling in the moment, and it has taken hundreds of years and three continents to get to me.
Here are 6 practises to re-member the sacredness of the act of cooking.
Create a kitchen altar
Having a sacred space in your kitchen can help to bring consciousness to the fact that we are acting as Divine beings when we create; especially when we create meals which then create our bodies. The altar is a visible space to keep clean, and maybe even refresh to reflect the seasons as they change.
You can put representations of divinity on your altar; I have a murti of Lakshmi (goddess of Earthly abundance and beauty) and an old picture of my grandma on mine. Lakshmi blesses the food that I make and I also experience deep gratitude to the Earth for gifting me with the food as she blesses it. I also have a candle, some seeds, some coins and a small cup of water on there.
Bless your water
The water that you drink once lived in the bones of the dinosaurs. It carves a sensitive, rippling, intuitive trail through all life, right to the beginning of earth. The water that moves through your food will flow on to quench the beings of the future. Before I drink a glass or add it to a pot, I hover my hand over it and say a brief prayer or infuse the name of God into it. I often speak Oshun’s name into my water; Yoruba goddess of love, sensuality and the sweet waters.
Cook with your senses
When we eat, we take in more than just the calories and physical aspects of the food. Food also carries the more subtle, but hugely influential, energy transmission of the makers. When you cook with Eros energy and with loving awareness, a whole new dimension is added to the plate.
Listen, observe, smell, touch and taste your food as you prepare it. Ask yourself, “can I feel my feet on the ground as I stand here and stir this?” As you chop and gather and approach the heat of the stove, what do you feel on your skin, in your body and in your belly? What energy do you want to infuse into the flavours?
Pancha Maha Bhutas (the 5 great elements)
The ancient Indian practise of Ayurveda (the science of life) teaches us that all life- including our bodies- consists of different combinations and proportions of earth, water, air, fire and space. We all have our unique constitution of the way the elements are optimally balanced within our bodies and souls. Food can be a medicinal tonic to restore this balance. The balance is affected by the time of day, the season, our age and our emotional experience. It’s a detailed (but also pretty intuitive) science. As you decide what to eat and add ingredients, consider what elements you need in the moment vs. what is present in the food. To learn more about Ayurveda, take a dosha test online.
Pray over your seeds
This one intersects tending to the land with eating. I grew sunflowers on my front step for the first time this summer. When autumn time came, I harvested their seed heads, kept them on my altar and chanted over them. I visualised the things that I am hoping will grow in my personal and our collective lives. I kept some of these seed heads to plant next year and gifted some to loved ones, in the hope that we can all plant and reap this intention to bring love, revolution and revelation into the future. See if you can find your own version of praying over something that you will grow, eat or share in community.
In a capitalist society and globalised economy, self care is a politicised act, whether we are aware of it or not. Food is not excluded from this truth. Consider the carbon footprint and human story of how your food arrived into your hands. For example, BDS (Boycott, divestment, sanctions) is a Palestinian-led movement which helps consumers to boycott Israeli products that have been made under their military occupation of Palestinian land. Rotten is a Netflix documentary which also reveals some of the conflict stories of products that we import and consume.
Eating: The ritual of breaking bread
Say grace, give thanks. Use this food meditation recording to initiate the beginning of your meal. You can use it alone, with another or even to initiate a sacred dinner party. Once you’ve used it once, continue the process by starting meals in silence every now and then, personalising yourself through the steps.
Bless all future journeys of this energy through life.
Here are some tunes to add flavour to your cooking journey. Cooking in silence is also great.