Elixir and Ambrosia

Back when my wife and I considered ourselves practicing witches, we used to follow our private ritual circles with the traditional cakes and ale, or in our case pre-packaged snack cakes and tea.  Traditional or not, the idea was to ground ourselves after the ritual experience and to take time to share food and conversation before going on with our mundane lives.

Though this isn’t nearly as symbolic as the use of food and drink in other religious contexts (Christian communion, for instance), the ritual use and significance of foods and beverages is a nearly universal phenomenon.  Everything from fasts and ritual breaking of fasts to special foods prepared for certain celebratory meals can be found in a wide range of traditions.  

For the most part, the food or drink itself is merely a symbol of some kind, either because of its ingredients or preparation, or the timing of its consumption is symbolic or meaningful.  This gets carried through all aspects of our lives, well beyond spiritual boundaries.  Certain foods are associated with certain occasions or situations, like turkey with Thanksgiving or hot dogs with baseball games.  

Far from being silly or meaningless, these associations we make with foods and beverages are an important part of our personal ritual lives.  In fact, it’s almost a natural reaction to mark special occasions with special meals, especially those which include gatherings of friends and family.  What we eat and why and with whom is really the foundation for observing what’s truly important to us.

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