In the spirit of keeping at this, I’ve decided to theme my days. Now, don’t get excited and start thinking I’m going to post every day. Or even weekly. I reserve the right to be flighty, forgetful, and unreliable. I do promise, however, to try.
So Wednesdays are Witchy Wednesdays.
Recently (Sunday), I led a talk with our local pagan group about kitchen witchery. Yes, it’s a real thing. No, you don’t have to be a good cook, or even like cooking, to do it. Anyone can do it, and everyone should.
Now, I have mild social anxiety and I get stage fright, so I missed a few points I wanted to make. But the internet is made for people like me, and this is my queendom, so I’m going to do the whole thing properly here.
First, some history:
I was born in the wane of 1987. From a young age, I was enamoured with what my mother did in the kitchen. Most children who hang out with Mommy while she’s cooking are given an overturned pot and a wooden spoon and are quite content to bang away and call it helping. I, however, turned the pot over and stirred the ‘sauce’. Like you’re supposed to.
In Jr High, I took Home Economics which was falling out of fashion due to the trend of assuming that teaching little girls to cook will doom them to a lifetime of domestic servitude. I firmly believe that women can and do belong wherever they damn well please, and I don’t believe that the kitchen should be gendered. It’s not anti-feminist or emasculating to cook. Especially in this era of diet-related illnesses and mystery foods. Food is an essential element of life, we need to eat every single day. It is too important to make political or to take lightly.
Anyway, I digress. People are stupid.
For my 15th birthday, my mother got me a tea towel, measuring spoon set, and a damn fine knife for Christmas. Now, that may seem like a crap gift, but that was 13 years ago, and I still use them. For my 18th, my aunt bought me a chef coat. And when I went to college, I was gifted a set of measuring cups patterned after Russian nesting dolls, a matching set of spoons, and my very own copy of the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook, a rite of passage in my family. In my family, food marks the stages of life. We gift knives and cookbooks the way other families gift video games and cars.
I still don’t have a car. But the stockpot is going to me in my mother’s will.
So, Kitchen Witchery
Kitchen witchery is essentially performing magick (energy working, not illusions) with edible ingredients and/or tools of the kitchen. This can include, but it not limited to, spells in the form of food, magickal herb blends, incense, soap, sachets, teas, herbal medicine, and much more. Many things are intended to be eaten in order to work, some merely need to be smelled or set in a particular place. It depends on the intention and materials used.
You can perform light and dark magick with food. Healing soups, for instance, are almost universally welcomed. However, the notorious love potion is discouraged by most ethical practitioners. The same laws of magick apply to kitchen witchery as with anything else. Always ask permission first.
Always, ALWAYS, make sure that what you’re using IS EDIBLE. I cannot stress this enough. Some ingredients are highly potent magickally, but are poisonous if ingested. Likewise, if you’re cooking for an animal, check to see if it is safe for them. Our furbabies can’t eat everything we can. Also, if you’re cooking for another person, be sure to ask about their allergies.
Many kitchen witches have altars or shines in their kitchens to make them feel more holy, give thanks and ask blessings of the gods, goddesses, and spirits of hearth and home, or to keep themselves organised while they’re working. In our house, we have a framed picture of Hestia and Julia Child, as well as a knitted doll of Hestia on the stove hood. Yours can be as simple or ornate, decorative or functional as you want it to be. Because eating is something absolutely everyone has to do, this is one of the most subjective and personal forms of magick there is.
Anyone can be a kitchen witch. Do you eat food to stay alive? Do you know how to channel your energy and use ingredients to affect change? If you answered yes to both of these, then you’re already there. If you only said yes to the first one, you can be taught the rest. And if you didn’t, you’re just being silly. That’s ok, you can be silly here.
So then how does one go about this kitchen witchery business? There are many techniques. You can squirt sigils in mustard on your sandwiches, or in frosting on cookies. You can stir clockwise (deosil) to bring energy to you, or anticlockwise (widdershins) to push energy away. You can whisper spells over your food. You can choose ingredients based on magickal use, rather than taste and smell. You can make drawer sachets for romance. You can make wallet charms out of cinnamon for wealth. You can sprinkle rosemary and salt around your door to keep nasties out. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination and what you have access to. But kitchen ingredients are far easier to come by than eye of newt and wool of bat. (Although, I can nerd out about what Shakespeare actually meant by those names)
So I’m going to teach you one of the easiest and most versatile skills I know:
Magickal salts can be used in a variety of ways. Sprinkle on food like regular seasoned salt, dash on oiled candles to add some oomph, add to incense, line doorways, line pockets. They can even be decorative. For Imbolc, we had a vase of coarse salt and stuffed it with rosemary and lavender sprigs for a festive and subtle family altar centrepiece.
For these recipes, I’m taking from one of my favourite books, The Encyclopedia of Magickal Ingredients, by Lexa Roséan.
You’ll need some salt, dried herbs, a mortar and pestle (or some way of grinding them, if you so choose), a pen and label to keep track of what you put in.
Dill, ginger, oregano, sage, anise (weight loss)
Bay, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, lemon verbena, orange peel, oregano, paprika, saffron
Garlic, lavender, marjoram, orange peel, saffron, vanilla bean
Obviously, those are very strange combinations. You can mix and match as much as you want to get the flavour, colour, and texture you desire. Here are some blends I came up with.
- 1 small piece of star anise, 2 tbl coarse salt, 1 tsp each of dill, oregano, and sage.
- Crush the anise with 1 tbl of salt. I find that salt helps to grind difficult ingredients like star anise. Once you have a fine powder, set aside about 3/4 of that mixture, otherwise the anise flavour will be far too strong. Add the other three herbs and another tbl of salt. Grind until desired fineness. If you find it not to your liking, mix and match until it’s better.
- Place in an airtight container, and label.
- I think this would go nicely in a hearty beef and veggie stew, or pork chop.
- I recommend breaking up the bay leaf before attempting to crush it. Again, the salt and other herbs help with this.
- I use one bay leaf, and a tsp each of orange peel and oregano, three strands of saffron, 1/2 a teaspoon of paprika, and just a dash of cinnamon.
- Grind together with a tbl of salt, bottle, and label.
- Try this one on veggies or fish.
- This is a sweet one. I used a tsp each of lavender, orange peel, and salt, and a dribble of vanilla extract. I intended to use vanilla beans, but we don’t have any, so I decided to turn this into a teachable moment about substitutions.
- A note about using liquids in salt: always dry them thoroughly before closing the bottle. In an airtight container, they could mould.
- Grind all together, and leave to dry. Then bottle and label.
- I might put this in bread or sprinkle on top of sugar cookies. It is just a little bit salty, but salty sweets are in right now.
These recipes are intended to be eaten. On the Summer Solstice we had a full moon, the first Solstice Moon since the 80’s and the last before the 2100’s, so I made some power salt to add to spells. My recipe has onion powder, rosemary, lemon peel, lime juice, 4 different kinds of salt, and ‘a bit of [mine] own tongue’ (á la Hocus Pocus). So obviously, not intended for other people to eat. Besides, it’s far too precious. I need it to last me a hundred years!
Some salts can even have inedible ingredients, just be sure to LABEL THEM CLEARLY and keep them away from unconscious hands.
So you see, kitchen witchery is super easy, versatile, and fun. If you hate cooking, don’t think about it as cooking. Make some magick, and eat it too!