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Paganism and Food
· Article ·

The Wheel of the Year: becoming better attuned with our agricultural cycle.

Paganism is a nature–centred religion as is often chosen by people who have a desire to re–connect with nature. Oddly enough, I see a lot of people in the pagan community who are happy to connect with nature on a symbolic level, but not in actuality.

As we all know, climate change is one of the biggest environmental issues of our time, produced as a result of burning fossil fuels. While many of us will make a greater or lesser attempt to cut back on car use, often forgotten is how our purchasing habits affect the planet.

The Sabbat cycle celebrated by Wiccans, Druids, and many other pagans is based on the agricultural cycle of northern Europe, which is much the same as the agricultural cycle in much of Canada. Yet few pagans are farmers, which makes it difficult to truly internalise the cycle and make it part of their everyday lives. Eating locally not only helps the Earth Mother, but also makes us better pagans in that it attunes us to agricultural cycle that is celebrated by our holidays, thus making the holidays more meaningful. Eating locally also makes us appreciate our food. Having everything available all the time encourages us to take it for granted, and to be fussy about our choices. Not having had raspberries or asparagus or squash for 10 months makes us want it and enjoy it much more when it comes around again.

Besides, local food is healthier and tastes better: it is super–fresh and bred for flavour, rather than the imported varieties usually seen in the grocery store that are selected to transport well and ripen in a truck rather than on a vine. If you are the kind of person who prefers hamburgers to fruit and vegetables (or your kids are), it might be because you have been eating tasteless stuff from California all this time.

Such realisations have lead to a growing "Slow Food" movement to bring back tasty, local, thoughtfully prepared food back into our lives. As pagans we can take it a step further by making it a religious experience as well.

First step is to get out of the grocery store and start visiting farmers markets. You get to meet the people who grew your food, check out their vibes, ask them questions that would only get annoyed looks at Loblaws, and you have a real sense of what is in season and what is not. A word of caution: some stalls are owned by resellers who will order from abroad – if it looks too much like the grocery store, move on. Bananas and oranges are a bad sign. For those that must buy from grocery stores due to time or transportation constraints, keep a close watch on the signs – they have to post where food comes from.

No matter how good a ritual is, the feasting is one of the best parts of any holiday. Here is how I like to celebrate the Sabbats through my holiday meals:


The first few products of the harvest season are sprouts, asparagus, and leafy vegetables such as lettuce. In this part of the world, actual local pickings are still slim. Nonetheless, celebrating Beltane with a big salad brings us in tune with the greenery poking up through the soil, and you might be able to score something grown in Leamington rather than California. Asparagus may not sound appealing to some of us, but the trick with it is to cook and eat it as soon as possible after picking. With lots of butter and garlic.

Actually, a number of local weeds are edible and rather tasty when they first appear. Some people swear by dandelion greens (you need to get them really early), I prefer lambsquarters and pigweed myself. There is no reason why a few of these cannot be added to the Beltane salad to make it more interesting. And if you can get fresh herbs to go in the dressing, (chives are often up) so much the better.

I always see if I can score fiddleheads by Beltane, but on average they tend to come out a week or two later. Still, my annual fiddlehead search makes me look forward to this tasty morsel as a first sign of the harvest season.


By now the harvest season is well under way. The most important crop of this time of year, in my opinion, is strawberries. There is nothing like celebrating Midsummer with fresh local strawberries, strawberry–rhubarb pie, or anything else you can dream up.
I am always sad to see our grocery stores flooded with California strawberries in June. I also have no idea why people actually buy these mealy tasteless things. Opt for the local strawberries – smaller, rounder, and full of flavour. Okay, so their shelf life is not so long, but then, they are so delicious that you will be tempted to eat them all in one sitting. Go to the farmers market if there are none in the grocery store. Plus, your money stays in the community.
While at the farmers market, check out what else they have that is local. You may find green and yellow beans, peas, radishes, spinach, green onions and fresh spices such as basil or dill, all of which are fine additions to any meal.


This is traditionally the first harvest, and the variety of local food that is available will be incredible. This is the time to be vegetarian, even if you ordinarily are not. A Lammas holiday dinner can be centred around lightly steamed or stir fried vegetables, young thin–skinned potatoes or fresh bread for substance and whatever sauce suits your fancy (or even none at all). The variety alone will make it a fine feast.
The star of the Lammas meal is corn, for this is the holiday of the Corn God. Indeed, corn is at its best around Lammas. A corn roast is an ideal way to celebrate Lammas.

Autumn Equinox

A holiday dinner for the second harvest can be approached much the same way as Lammas, but there will have been a subtle shift in the bounty that is available to make it rather different. Some foods will be no longer available, while others will have started appearing in the market stalls. Corn is still available but is no longer as sweet. Potatoes will have thicker skins. There will still be piles of tomatoes, broccoli, and cauliflower. Winter squashes will make their appearance, and apples will be in abundance.
I have always considered apples to be the signature food for autumn equinox, and usually make an apple pie for my coven. This is a good time for apple crisps and cobblers, or just cut up and eaten raw.


This is the final harvest of the year, and it will be evident in the market stalls. Winter squashes will abound, cabbages, potatoes, anything that is frost–resistant. This is the time when gardens are ransacked for the last of everything before the frost hits so you may find such things as green tomatoes. Also it is traditionally the time for pickling and preserving for the winter.
One thing that will dominate are pumpkins. Not only for carving, a pumpkin pie is an appropriate contribution to a Samhain dinner. Rather than buying the canned pumpkin (doubtless produced in California and imported by a company in Mississauga), simply get one of those small cooking pumpkins, cut in half, hollow out the seeds, and bake. The soft baked flesh can be easily scraped out with a spoon and put in the blender, then follow your favourite recipe. The seeds, once clean and roasted, are a tasty treat.
This is also the time for culling the herds, when farmers take a realistic look at how much hay and fodder they have, and how many of their animals they can realistically support before the spring grasses grow. This is a meat–eating time, a time to contemplate the role of death in our own survival, and to give thanks.


Here is where I depart from my theme and have a traditional Christmas dinner. No matter what we think of the religion that gave rise to it, many of us grew up with it and there is a certain comfort in that familiarity. So what if we have it a few days early.


Imbolc is the half way point of the winter. Traditionally, this was when people looked at their stores to decide how much more they would need, and had a feast with the surplus to break the monotony of winter.
Now, the extent to which one is able to eat locally between Samhain and the following Beltane will depend on how much one was able to freeze, can, or otherwise preserve what they got in August. Some of us are more into this kind of thing than others, but without a chest freezer or pantry, plus a lot of time, few will be able to store enough to last the winter. But every little bit counts, and even if we indulge in California's winter bounty half the time, we are still making a difference.
An Imbolc feast should centre around such stored food, especially those we have stored ourselves. Potatoes, cabbage, pickles, and sausages are traditional, and this is a good time to ransack the freezer. Dried goods such as beans and pasta are also winter food. Casseroles, stews and comfort food make for a fine Imbolc holiday dinner. The light is returning, and even though it is still darn cold, at least we no longer have to get up in the dark.


This is when the herds start to produce. Lambs and calves are born, and chickens start to lay their spring eggs. The theme of eggs and dairy are ideal for Ostara. Milk and local cheeses are available year–round, but one has to make the effort to read packaging to make sure that camembert did not consume fossil fuels to get here from France. Quebec produces some fine tasting cheeses to rival any from Europe. Local eggs are also possible to find, especially at health food stores. Chocolate eggs are hardly local, but we can make an exception.
In many parts of Europe and the U.S., planting season has begun. Here in Canada, we can enjoy the snow melting but it will be awhile before things start to grow. When that time comes, having spent the year focussing on local bounty, those first greens will taste better than you remembered them.

Submitted by Kristina M

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Lament of A Newbie Pagan
· Jokes ·

I have been lurking here for 26 minutes, and I thought that it was time to introduce myself. My name is Bastet RunningDeer MorningGlory MoonBeam SunSoar. I used to be just Bill, but during deep meditation and astral projection, I met my spirit guide, who I believe is Winston Churchill's mother while I was cooking marshmallows at my astral camp on Jupiter, and he told me this should be my new name. I'm thinking now of legally changing my name to this. What do you think?

BTW, there really are giant squid that swim about in the heavy atmosphere of Jupiter. Jovian giant squid are now my totem animal. It just feels right and we should always go with what feels right. Right?

Anyway, back to me. I've been officially pagan since last Thursday, but it seems that I have been living my life in a pagan style since at least last Monday. I just didn't know that there was a name for it. I just read Covencraft by Amber K and am thinking of becoming a high priest and starting my own coven or grove or church or synagogue or temple. I may be new to this path, officially at least, but I feel that it is the right thing to do at this point in my spiritual development, and we should always do what feels right. Right?

It's okay, because just because I have only been pagan a little while in this lifetime, I have lived many lives in the past as a pagan, and died at least 162 times when killed by Christian witch hunters for my beliefs. It is probably more than 162 times, but those are all that I can remember since I started doing past life regressions yesterday.

I was always a Celt in my past lives. Well, almost always. Usually, when I wasn't being killed by the witch hunters, I was a king or queen of Ireland. The two exceptions that I have found so far are when I was incarnated as Cleopatra and as Julius Caesar. This proves that we don't reincarnate linearly. I was both at the same point on the time line. It was a very interesting experience, to say the least. I actually experienced having sex with myself, complete intercourse, and also discovered that I always faked my orgasms and thought that the other me had way too much body hair on my back.

Anyway, I think that I qualify quite well as an elder and a teacher. The so called elders and teachers in the community think that I am just being silly and a little strange, but that's just because they are jealous that I am a much more powerful witch and warlock than they are.

My parents just won't understand this new path that I'm on. They think that the devil has taken over my soul and refuse to listen to reason. We don't even believe in the devil, do we? Or, have I been reading that wrong? They keep trying to hold me from my spiritual path. They won't even let me have their credit cards so that I can order all 29,847 books on Wicca Craft and paganism from Llewellyn.com. I really need these books and might as well just kill myself if I can't have them. I need to learn everything I can about every single path, belief system and tradition in the world, and quickly, so that I can pick what feels right to me from all of them. We're supposed to always do what feels right. Right?

While I'm here, can anyone help me with some advice or legal assistance? I am being constantly discriminated against. My local community is conspiring against me and picking on me because of my pagan beliefs. The school system was very Christian oriented, and they acted against my faith on a daily basis. They tried to forbid me from bringing my Athame to school. Hey, it's my religion and I should be able to practice it as I want, right? And we witches and warlocks must always have our Athame with us. It's written in ancient secret texts and scriptures. They even went so far as to have me arrested and removed from school when I tried to show the principle how good and nice my faith is by channeling many different spirits for her and talking in their tongues, and then putting two of my Athames right up in front of her eyes, just so that she could see that they were religious and not dangerous weapons. It's not my fault that she got a couple little cuts. She shouldn't have screamed and jumped. She scared me and interrupted the flow of voices from the other world.

It's not just the school though. I just had to cast a protective circle around myself and my home, so I borrowed the neighbours car while he was sleeping, which felt like the right thing to do, and we should always do what feels right, right? and I drove three times around the block widow–shins to make my circle.

When I'm practicing my religion, there should be a provision in the law that allows this, right? So the one way street laws should be set aside for me, otherwise it's just more religious discrimination. And the people on the streets that I passed were hollering obscenities at me as I drove. They must have figured out that I am a spiritual Wicca witch person. They even went so far as to call on their god to damn me to hell, which we don't believe in anyway, right? We have the Summerland's which are beautiful, and then we come back to life again.

The local law enforcement community is also out to get me. They keep coming around when I play my Nirvana CDs at top volume so as to get in touch with my spirit. Nirvana is what Buddhists strive for, right? And Buddhists are pagans, right? I just felt that I should explore their paths since we are really all of one spirit and it just felt right. We should always do what feels right. Right?

They keep taking away my sacred marijuana, that I use to alter my states of consciousness. The native Americans use mind altering substances, and they are almost just like witches and warlocks, right? I think they passed the laws against marijuana just so that the church can stay in control of America.

My parents are a big part of this conspiracy. They keep forcing me to go to a psychologist. I know for a fact that the psychologist is really an undercover Jesuit priest, and he is secretly striving to perform an exorcism on me. I can't resist them right now, because if I don't go to see him, they say that they will put me in the psychiatric hospital, where what they really do is drug you senseless and then brainwash you.

Now, I don't normally ask for magical help, but this time I am desperate I need a binding spell to kill Jimmy Halloway. He is another that is attacking me just for my beliefs. I could have stayed in the broom closet, but I'm proud of my beliefs so I tried to show his girlfriend Becky how beautiful and wonderful the Great Rite is. She was only scared because she had heard so much Christian propaganda over the years and also didn't believe that you can't get pregnant when you have intercourse during sacred religious rituals. I had to even fight her because she believed that being nude and binding for initiation into the traditions is bad. More Christian propaganda.

Now, can anyone tell me a spell to make my penis 12 inches? If I am to be a high priest, I really should have a large penis, to make the Great Rite so much more special. Where can we all go to be sky clad together and perform sex magic? I've heard that this is the most potent type of magic there is, but whenever I ask the pretend pagan elders about this, all they will say is that I have much to learn, and then after a while, they ignore me. They can fool some of the people with their titles, but not me. I know what is required to be a real witch. It also feels right, and we should always do what feels right. Right?

Anyway, that's my intro. Nice to meet all of you. I hope that there are real witches and warlocks here so I can teach them to grow into more powerful beings. Is there a photo file on this list where you all have your sky clad pictures. I can't seem to find it. Or, has the government conspired with the internet server people to limit us from this most important part of our faith?

Mary parting and have some more Mary Meat.

Reverend Bastet RunningDear MoonBeam SunSoar High Priest and Arch Druid of the Sacred Temporal Temple of the 13 Moon Coven

BB, Hilary

Submitted by ***H***, found in an e–chainmail letter.

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