Wk 4 - Mar. 23 - Any writing for the letters E orF – “I am keeping this familiar format on week 4 for those who have joined me from the Pagan Blog Project.”
F is for Fasting
I have mixed feelings about fasting.
I’m a fat girl who has always had blood sugar issues, so fasting isn’t easy for me. (Though I understand it isn’t supposed to be “easy”…) But the more I learn about the occult, the more exposure I get to the idea of fasting. Back when I was a Baby Pagan I didn’t know anyone who ever fasted (unless it was for a fad diet.) So while it’s not a completely foreign concept to me, fasting is not something I engage in very often.
I’ve been told that a light fast is good before a ritual, which would include eating simple foods like salads, brothy soups, fruits, veggies, and tea. Sparse eating before a ritual ensures that your body isn’t too distracted by digesting your food. It means you won’t get too sleepy or distracted that you can’t engage in higher processes, like chanting, charging an item, concentrating, serving as an oracle, or something similar. I’ve also been told that fasting before sleep is really conducive for initiating active dreams. A light-headed feeling allegedly helps you reach higher realms.
I know that I personally feel bogged down if I eat too much. It makes me feel unwell, and if I don’t feel well I don’t want to engage in ritual. But on the other hand, if you fast too much, you run the risk of getting too distracted from your hunger and bad feelings. So, while too much food will bog you down and make you feel yucky, too little food may make you feel too light-headed and out of whack, which is also not conducive to magic and ritual.
|from The Last Temptation of Christ|
I’ve seen too many people get overly hungry in the middle of rituals. They don’t eat beforehand, they don’t ground and center, they get loopy, their attention wanders, and they get whiney. This isn’t just unpleasant to the person experiencing that moment, but it’s distracting for the whole group. So what’s the point of fasting (a type of purity) if you just fill yourself with another type of impurity (negative and disruptive thoughts and actions)?
Certainly there is a historical precedence for fasting. We’re all familiar with Jesus’ 40-day fast in the desert before he decides to finally accept himself as a sacrifice. Muslims also abstain from all food and water from sunup to sundown every day during Ramadan. Certain groups of people rejected certain foods because of their supposed detraction from living a pure, religious life. (Such as the Pythagoreans and beans, and Jews and pork). So part of pre-ritual fasting may include abstaining from certain foods like coffee, tea, alcohol, red meat, processed foods, meat in general, or too much dairy.
Of course, while it’s advised to fast before ritual, it’s highly encouraged to eat after a ritual to make sure you get re-grounded. I’ve seen people reach for the sweet (key lime pie), the salty (sacred Tostito chips), the carby (slice after slice of bread), the healthy (hummus and veggies) and everything in between. I find that I personally feel better (post-ritual and in my life in general) with lots of protein, but with a fair amount of hearty carbs thrown in, too.
There are examples of austere mystics and occultists who we admire because of their ability to fast and to reach higher realms, but this is something I rarely see modern people even attempting, let alone succeeding at. All in all, it seems like fasting can be a useful tool, but that many of us don’t know our body’s strengths and limits enough to engage it effectively. It’s all part of self-knowledge, I suppose, and of maintaining balance and health.
Please, chime in! Do you fast? How often, and for what reasons? Do you cease the consumption of food and drink completely, or do you just cut back on certain items? What are the pros for fasting, the cons for fasting? What have been your successes or your failures? I’d love to hear your thoughts?