Kitchen magic was one of my first introductions to modern witchcraft. The simple charms, the belief in eating with purpose, living simply, getting as close to the source as possible, and that the emotions and desires we pour into the food we cook is swallowed into the body with each morsel resounded fully within me, and were things I already believed, practiced, or had interest in practicing. But there is often even more to kitchen witchcraft than that: it is typically also the crafting of oils, incenses, candles, soaps, potions, and salves, the knowledge of herbalism and herbal remedies, the making sacred of daily “domestic” activities, the use of charms to protect the home and bless its inhabitants, the practice of hospitality, and the reverence of the Hearth-goddesses, as well as the ancestors and gods and spirits of the household.
Practicality and simplicity are big components of kitchen witchery. While in more ceremonial traditions the ritual knife never cuts anything but “the astral,” the kitchen witch will often replace it with a simple kitchen knife; and the cauldron with a large cooking pot. Kitchen witches, like Traditional Witches, turn towards folk traditions and non-ceremonial magic. Elaborate ritual is replaced by the casting and crafting of simple charms and spells that are typically done by the hearth, which in our time is typically in the kitchen, at the stove.
A common way of performing kitchen magic is by forming the cooking and baking into a spell. The most important ingredient in a home-cooked meal is Will. If you’ve ever watched Like Water for Chocolate, you know how powerful one’s Will can be while stirring a pot or batter or kneading a dough: the emotion and intent is swallowed into the body with each morsel, each grain and seed and herb and vegetable slice, with each spoonful of compote and each bite of sweet and sour fruit. Cooking and baking are therefore powerful methods of spell-casting, especially for healing, prosperity, abundance and fertility, and harmony.
- Placing a crystal or amethyst on or near the stove is said to make food cooked there taste better by keeping negativity out of the bubbling pots on the stove and the pans of breads and baked goods in the oven.
- Physical cleanliness is an important aspect of spiritual cleanliness in kitchen witchcraft. Maintaining organization, keeping spaces clutter-free, and sanitizing the home are essential, and all ought to be performed before any spiritual home purifications and protection charms, no matter your tradition. To the kitchen witch, honoring the home means honoring her goddess(es), and is a sacred practice.
- Chants are a big aspect of kitchen magic, the simplest method of trance, utilized while cleaning or preparing a dish.
- Stir the pot or batter in the direction most befitting your intent. The number of times a dough is kneaded or the contents of a bowl or pot are stirred round can also be decided based on the sacred numerologyof your tradition.
- Every herb and spice has its own associations; use the ones most relevant to your Will.
- This is the Mead Moon–why not brew some mead with magical intent?
- Sigil magiccan weave its way into kitchen magic. Create sigils with spreads and condiments across bread, in how you add ingredients to your bowl or pot, or in how you decorate the meal before serving.
- Grow seasonal and organic foods and herbs in your garden, to be cooked in your kitchen and shared with your guests from the wild. The garden is sacred space, and can be used to bury offerings, pour libations, recite prayers and supplications, cast spells and charms, and interact with the Landspirits and the sprites of your land.
- Live more sustainably. Go vegetarian or vegan, purchase fair-trade, organic, all-natural products that aren’t tested on animals, recycle, compost, avoid chemicals and processed junk, utilize herbal remedies, and try to give back just a little of what you take, perhaps by doing a little restoration at your nearest forest, or removing invasive species where spotted.
- Crafting is the sphere of the kitchen and traditional witch just as it is the realm of household goddesses and goddesses of destiny. Decorate your home with wildcrafts, woodcrafts, knits, quilts, tapestries, your loom, spindles, or spinning wheel, sculptures of the Gods, paintings, poetry, and other crafts made by your own hand. Creativity is a form of devotion.
- Enchantyour crafts and utilize them in charms and spells.
- Other forms of folk magic have a place in kitchen witchery, including weather magic, ribbon charms, divination and prophecy(which most Hearth-goddesses practice), and candle magic.
- Research the traditional foods of your hearth-culture or heritage, and their associated folklore. Food is how I have personally deepened my connections with my Afro-Caribbean, Irish, Welsh, and Scottish ancestry. There is just something so right about honoring your ancestors with their traditional dishes, and imagining the lives they may have lived as you feast with the Dead. Check your local thrift stores for old, out-of-print traditional recipe books; you’d be surprised what you can find!
Goddesses of Hearth & Home
Kitchen witches honor the goddess of the Hearth, the sacred center of the home, the source of all life and where, in ancient times, the eternal flame, that little spark of the greater Sun, burned eternally. We are all familiar with The White Goddess by Robert Graves; he wrote that one symbol of “the White Goddess” was the omphalos, which he believed was the same white brick as the burning lump of charcoal of the hearth. The following are some popular Hearth-goddesses.
Many kitchen witches create shrines to their Hearth-gods in their kitchen. I’ve written about three–Hestia, Frigga, and Brighid–but other Indo-European Hearth-goddesses include Vesta, Matka Gabia, Gabija, and Berehynia; and Ceridwen, as the stirrer of the magical cauldron of Awen, is also commonly worshipped. Earth-goddesses are also honored, and the Indo-European Earth-goddesses are known as Mother Earth, Gaia, Demeter, Nerthus, Jorth, Danu, Aine, Prthivi, Dheghom Matr, the Cailleach/Bone Mother (the dark and dying Earth), Don, Ceres, and Tellus Terra Mater.
The Hearth-goddess of the ancient Greeks, who crafted the omphalos, was Hestia. She was the first God who received the sacrifice at all public rites of offering, as well as first and last libations of wine at feasts, as ordained by Zeus, who is Her brother and reveres Her, as well. She is a protectoress, and in ancient Greece, anyone who prayed for Her aid at any of Her shrines in all households and court houses, received it. In Greece, the Hearth was the sacrificial altar, and Hestia as its goddess represented personal security and happiness.
Hestia never takes part in wars and disputes, and has never accepted any amorous offers from her fellow gods; after being approached by Poseidon and Apollo after Cronus’ dethronement, She vowed by Zeus’ head to remain a virgin (for which He rewarded Her first sacrifice, for preserving the peace of Olympus). Hestia sat on a wooden throne with a white woolen cushion, and never took an emblem. The central hearth and sacred fire of the state or community was especially sacred to Her, and She was the keeper of the sacred fire in the Olympian hearth. The Homeric hymn to Her tells us a bit more:
Hestia, you who tend the holy house of the lord Apollo, the Far-shooter at goodly Pytho, with soft oil dripping ever from your locks, come now into this house, come, having one mind with Zeus the all-wise: draw near, and withal bestow grace upon my song.
Frigga is the wife of Odin and Queen of Asgard, and the only Being besides Odin Himself who is permitted to sit on His high seat Hlidskjalf and look out over all the Realms of the Universe. Friday is named for Her, and She is still remembered for ruling over love and marriage, in addition to being a seeress, though She never reveals Her secrets, and Her powers of prophecy caused Her great pain when She Saw the death of Her son Baldur, whom She loved dearly and who was killed by Loki, the Trickster having discovered the one thing that She couldn’t iamgine would kill Him: mistletoe. Frigg’s hall in Asgard is Fensalir, “Marsh Halls,” and She sits at Her spindle and weaves the destiny of Gods and humans alike. The Goose is sacred to Her, a symbol of her nurturing nature. She is invoked by women in labor and the dying.
The loving Mother who labored all of Midwinter Night giving birth to the radiant Baldur, Goddess of love, marriage, fertility, and weaving, who weaved the clouds and therefore brought rain to the crops, Frigga has a beautiful and complex body of myth behind Her.
Also known as Bríd, Bride, Brigid, and Brigit, this Triple Goddess of the Tuatha Dé Danann rules over poetry, healing, and smithing, as well as fertility and agriculture. In Her earliest incarnation, as Breo-Saighit, She was called the Flame of Ireland, and a goddess of the forge. The household fire is sacred to Her, and at Kildare, Her eternal flame was kept by nineteen priestesses. Brighid was also a sage, a wise-woman, and a prophetess; She dipped Her cupped hands into Her frith to divine that which was lost, that which was to come, and that which was far away. She is honored at Là Fhèill Brìghde (Scots-Gaelic) or Lá Fhéile Bríde (Irish-Gaelic) on February 1, also called Imbolc (“Ewe’s Milk”), during which festival Her figure is crafted, placed into a bed, and invited into the home. She, like Hestia, is a keeper of the sacred hearth; but is also extraordinarily diverse in Her skills and knowledge.
The ancient Romans revered the Lares and Genii, hero-ancestors who returned to serve as guardians of the hearths and boundaries of their kin’s land. Any food that fell to the floor during house banquets was theirs. They had household shrines where both formal and informal offerings were made. The household spirits of Scandinavian folklore are the tomte or nisse. To earn the aid and good favor of the nisse, who are capable of shapeshifting, the head of house must treat them well, leaving food out for them, and must also treat their family, land, and animals appropriately, too; otherwise the nisse will seek to teach them a lesson, which in folklore can leave the mortal near death. The nisse is said to especially like porridge with a pat of butter on top, and they might be related to wights, which hated having homes and other buildings built atop their burial mounds.
Scottish tradition has the brownies (brùnaidh), who avoid being seen and primarily do their tasks at night, appreciating sweet gifts, especially of milk, honey, and porridge. Anglo-Scottish tradition has the hobs, which can live both indoors and out and may choose to assist on farms, but may also become mischevious; they can be gotten rid of by being given clothing). The cofgodas, or “dwelling gods,” were honored with a bit of each home meal.
In my own tradition, I honor my ancestors and the sprites of my home with constant bowls of water and soymilk, porridge, honey, or agave left out; and I offer to them a few bites of the most loved parts of my sunset meal each night. If I want them to leave, I hand-knit them clothes and perform protection charms to ward the house and keep them out. Fortunately, I have a good relationship with the landspirits of my current home, and while they do enjoy their tricks and like to let me know that they’re around, it hasn’t gotten out of hand, and I enjoy the company. (I can only wonder what tricks they might have played on the previous inhabitants, who were members of the Mafia! I think they’re just happy there are two people here now who respect them.)
You can weave magic simply by changing the way you think about your food and the journey it takes to reach your lips, and “chores” like cleaning and organizing; and by bringing blessings to your kin and home. The sacred fire is a bit of the Sun burning away in your kitchen, the source of life and warmth in your home, the place where ingredients become food in a sacred process of transmutation and creation, and the hub of life and conversation in the home, the gathering place where family warms itself with a triad of good food, good talk, and good company.
My own experience with Kitchen Witchcraft as a practice all its own (entertwined with “Green Witchcraft”) ended in the loop-di-loo of 101 Syndrome, but kitchen magic, as a type of magic included in my arsenal, is something I do occasionally practice, typically when cooking or baking for friends, or for feast-days. The making of salves, incenses, and oils is something I think all practitioners could benefit from; there is always more power in that which you craft yourself, and seed with your intent alone. Honoring one’s ancestors is not only respect for the Dead, but also thanksgiving for your very existence; and honoring the spirits of your land and the invisible dwellers in your home is a practice I believe all animists ought to try; all it takes is a splash of drink in your garden, or a cup of honeyed milk when you make your offerings.
- “Kitchen & Green Witchery” by Sarah Lawless
- “Spring Cleaning for the Kitchen Witch” by Louise Heyden
- “What is a Kitchen Witch? Traditional Witchcraft for Hearth and Home” by MissMerFaery
Unfortunately all the traditional cookbooks in my collection are no longer printed. As I’ve said, just take a trip to your local thrift stores and check the cookbook sections; you’re more than likely to find a number of books covering traditional recipes and discussing their lore. This is how my own collection was amassed.
I have a number of traditional recipes from my own heritage (Afro-Caribbean, African-American, Irish, and Scottish) that I am happy to share. Well, they are traditional recipes tweaked (perfected to my own tastes?) by yours truly, a culinary school student working towards her degree in Baking & Pastry Arts. If there’s anything from any of the above cultures you’re looking for, just drop me a comment or e-mail. (I personally think my bannock, soda bread, sweet yeasted breads, hot cross buns, and spicy beans and rice are to die for.)
- Acanthus Books, publisher of cookbooks and food history titles from antiquity through the 20th century
- Cooking Traditional Irish Recipes
- Scottish Food and Drink
Unfortunately most of my favorite websites when I practiced Kitchen Witchery as a spiritual path are gone.