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Is Food Sacred in Paganism?

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_blacktomatoes2_sm.jpgWhere and how does food become a religious issue? I can think of two cases. The first is when we have a relationship with what we eat. The second, when there are purity issues at stake. In his Moral Foundations theory, Jonathan Haidt says that human concepts of purity are shaped by the psychology of disgust and contamination, and holds that the body is a temple that can be desecrated by eating something that has been contaminated. While this has not, in my experience, been the case with the Pagans I know, it is common in many other religions.

I’ve found the first case is far more common for Pagans. Ritualizing the harvest of a carefully raised animal is now not uncommon among Heathens. Of the Pagans I know who garden, raise livestock animals, or grow their own food or herbal medicines, every single one has a relationship with the land, and the living beings that thrive there. Such relationships are deeply interactive. Goats are fed and milked. The milk is drunk, and soap is made nourishing humans and creating products that can be gifted or sold. Chickens are fed and housed, their eggs supporting bodies and their antics providing food for the soul. Gardens are carefully planned, mulched, fertilized and the harvest proudly shared, or preserved.

And then there is the ethic of caring for the Earth. Modern agriculture is one of the nastier things we do to the planet.

I want to know what you think about food and whether or not you view it as a religious issue. If what you eat is sacred, how does that play out in your day to day life? Please share…

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Selina Rifkin, L.M.T., M.S. is a graduate of Temple University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. In 1998 she graduated from the Downeast School of Massage in Maine. She has published articles in Massage Therapy Journal, been a health columnist, and published The Referral Guide for Complementary Care, a book that describes 25 different healing modalities. In 2006 she completed her Masters program in Nutrition with a focus on traditional foods, and the work of Weston A. Price.
Currently she is the Executive Assistant to the Director of Cherry Hill Seminary, the first Pagan seminary to offer Master’s degrees.

Comments

  • Jenn
    Jenn Friday, 07 February 2014

    I am a homesteader and so food is definitely a sacred part of my life. We raise chickens (for both meat and eggs) and Shetland sheep - so far just for wool, but if we ever have any male babies, for food as well. Raising animals (and gardening for that matter) has taught me so much about the value of food - where it comes from, how it is grown and treated while it is alive. All of these things are so important energetically that I make sure I know where my food is coming from, if I don't raise it myself. I am also an adherent to the work of Dr. Price, reading his work definitely set me straight about how food is really medicine and if our bodies are temples, then we should feed them well.

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