“Of Gaia we sing…
Queen and goddess, we invoke you:
you are all-powerful and our needs are so small.”
I recently had the honor of partaking in a very beautiful, holistic ritual with some lovely ladies who really mean a lot to me. A lot of us are working through the book The Goddess Path by Patricia Monaghan. Our first meeting and ritual was focused on Gaia, and we discussed the concepts of abundance, guilt, and love. We also talked a lot about food. How else could we devote a ritual to Gaia without talking about and partaking in food?
We shared our stories of food over a delicious meal. We talked about our obsessions and apathy regarding food, of giving too much and having too little. We discussed our desires for more, our guilt at having too much, the mixed messages we receive in regards to “just enough.” We talked about how our childhood relationships with food and eating have shaped our adult perceptions, for better or for worse.
And what I learned is that our relationship with food and eating is incredibly, stupidly complicated.
Because fat women can’t eat certain types of food without being judged.
And skinny women can’t eat certain types of food without being judged.
And when I order a steak and my husband orders a salad, they always try to give me his salad.
And organic and local food is so much more expensive than the “bad” stuff.
And being sustainable is not really affordable.
And what’s wrong with being fat, anyway?
And so on and so forth… etc etc etc
But eating is really important., not just because of the obvious reasons. It goes deeper than that.
We didn’t just meet for a ritual, but for a meal. When we meet with our friends it often has a meal component. Sharing our food and meals and eating together is a very primal ritual. I’m pretty convinced that sharing of food and community eating is probably the first ritual.
Think about it – you’re a cave-person. You’re hungry most of the time because food is hard to find. You’ll probably eat pretty much anything – plants, animals, nuts, bugs, etc. So, if you’re not hungry, you’re doing pretty well. Like, if you’re not starving, you know you’ve won at life, and that means a lot. And if you have enough food to share with your family and friends, well, that’s just awesome. Because if you have enough food to share, then you must be rich. And maybe you think the gods are the reason that you’re doing so well, so you hunt and kill that wooly mammoth and then you share it with your village and then you set aside some meat for the gods because why not? And maybe you share some with your neighbors, too, and maybe they start thinking that your gods are pretty great so maybe they’ll leave some offerings out for your gods, and isn’t it just great to get together for these celebrations? Maybe we should do it again next year. Maybe add some dancing or drumming or something.
Because if you like someone enough to feed them, that’s a huge gesture of trust. You’re taking food from your own body, literally. Because there were times in our human history when there wasn’t enough food to go around to feed everyone. So if you have extra food and you give it to someone, then you must be the greatest person ever. You trust them enough to give them your hard earned food, and you do it trusting that one day they might feed you, too.
So that’s why I think the rituals of communion and breaking bread were the first human rituals, and probably the most important. In this ritual context, food is joy, health, prosperity, trust, thankfulness, and love.
In our modern world we think we’re removed from that, but we’re not. Maybe we don’t think we’re honoring the gods when we go out with our girlfriends for sushi, but I like them well enough to share my dumplings with them, and that means a lot because dumplings are pretty awesome. I have enough abundance in dumplings to share with those ladies, and I love them so I’m going to show them that I love them by giving them some of my food.
And sometimes we love God so much we want to give God our food, too. And sometimes the food is the God, but that really isn’t as complicated as it might seem. Isn’t it great how Jesus can be the vine, the wine, the flesh, the blood, and the son of God, all at the same time?
Once the Gaia ritual was over I had eaten a whole plate of food plus two homemade cranberry scones and a pile of homemade jam, despite the fact that I have been trying to swear off carbs and sugar, which is everywhere and like, impossible to do. In our modern world our abundance is actually hurting us, and we’re still trying to figure out what that means. But I think Gaia, who is as big and fat as the earth itself, reminds us that abundance, true abundance, can be had without guilt.
Abundance is where we can eat well and be healthy. Where we can be sustainable and afford it, too. Where we can eat, drink, and be merry before we die. Where we can share wine to both Odin and Loki. Where we can eat a pomegranate and see the cosmos within. Where we can share delicious food and wonderful stories. Where we can have a ritual and a meal. Where food is both tasty and nourishing. Where we can be as fat or a skinny as we want. Where we learn from our mixed messages and mixed feelings. Where we are overflowing, our cups runneth over. When we don’t have guilt over how much we have.
Abundance is where we can honor ourselves, one another, and Deity. We truly have so much love to share and so many ways to share it. And we deserve that abundance.