Year and a Day Journal #37: June 5th, 2016

Well, here I am again, kind of wondering what to write about.  Why is there no full and complete list of 366 journal prompts somewhere on the Internet?  Somebody needs to make that happen.  I mean, I guess I’m doing it, but…somebody else should be in charge of this.  I can barely make toast some days.  As I’m writing this, I’m realizing I’m out of soy milk, too.

Anyway, no one should be surprised, I suppose, that I’m again taking some inspiration from the Pagan Perspective!  Seriously, if you haven’t checked them out, you need to do that pronto.   They have some really great information for pagans, whatever level of experience you have.

This week’s prompt is also taken from my own life, really, because this is it: How does food play into your path? 

Now, if you have the chance, go back and read my previous post, which was Food-for the Soul?  I don’t know why exactly, but it got a lot of hits, and I have the suspicion that it’s because that topic speaks to a lot of us.  Or maybe because it had a proper title unlike most of my posts, but that’s neither here nor there.  Anyway, probably 90% of the population has a weird relationship with food at best.  But, as I said in the end of that post, we have to try to mend this relationship in order to be at our spiritual best (or something to that effect).  Perhaps there’s no better way to mend this relationship than to make food into something spiritual in itself.

I’m leaving this prompt wide open, so if you ever use my prompts as inspiration, you can take it however you’d like.  Maybe you want to think about some recipes you make for the different sabbats.  Maybe you want to talk about how eating everyday is some kind of spiritual experience for you.  Maybe you want to talk about how your food choices are tied to your beliefs.  Now that I’ve suggested these things, I’m going to do all three.

Firstly–recipes for the sabbats.  I don’t freely celebrate the sabbats due to still being firmly located in the broom closet, but a lot of these recipes are just seasonable dishes that you can make without raising too much suspicion.  For example, for Yule I made wassail, which is a drink utilizing apple juice and spices.  There’s nothing inherently magickal about this particular recipe or anything, but the spices in your nose and wafting through the kitchen can help to warm your spirits.  I even used it as an offering for my Yule ritual.  I think the most important thing about sabbat recipes is to bring the essence of the sabbat into your cooking.  Why not make recipes with flowers for Beltane, or lots of wheat bread for Lammas?  Make stuff with pumpkins for Samhain, and stuff with eggs for Ostara (if you eat eggs).  For inspiration, I really enjoy the book The Kitchen Witch, by Soraya.  I have the Kindle version.  The author compiled lots of recipes for each sabbat and even has some extra tips.  The only frustrating thing about it is that the majority of the recipes including meat and dairy, which I tend not to eat.  But the book is really interesting and helpful, nevertheless.

Secondly–making food spiritual in itself.  It might be helpful here to insert the beautiful phrase, “Self love is synonymous with self care.”  I heard that once on YouTube (I’m so enlightened).  Regardless of the source, though, I think that the message is really important: if you want to love yourself, you have to take care of yourself.  If you want to take care of yourself, you have to love yourself.  So when you’re cooking, you’re (hopefully) caring for yourself.  You need food to live, to survive, to thrive.  The act of making your sustenance is the act of caring for yourself.  It is, perhaps, a very personal thing.  A ritual in itself.  Some people choose to treat it as any other ritual, with the lighting of a candle and the use of special utensils.  Sometimes I’m not that focused.  But once in awhile, if I’m making something that feels especially witchy (like homemade soup), I’ll actually set an intention for the food and I’ll put energy into the spices and herbs.  I’ll stir the thing deosil or widdershins.  Usually I make this soup for the purpose of healing and health, so it’s packed with tons of vegetables and good intentions.  I’ve eaten it myself when I had a cold to help me recover, and I’ve given it to friends who were sick.  I even told my friends that it was “special healing soup” and that it would make them better, because mentality is sometimes half the battle.

Lastly–food choices in relation to our beliefs.  As you can probably figure, I’m referring to certain lifestyles like vegetarianism and veganism.  For me, personally, my ideal lifestyle is vegan.  I was vegan for a few years, and while I’ve been abroad I’ve been vegetarian/pescatarian (the food culture here makes it very difficult to cut out dairy, eggs, and fish).  When I buy food to make for myself, it’s almost always vegan, but eating with friends or in restaurants is usually another story.  When I return to the United States, I hope to go back to being about 95% vegan.  Of course, people in the vegan community might tell you that there’s no such thing as being 95% vegan, and if you are truly vegan, you’re 100%.  But I’m kind of a believer that each time you make a positive choice is what matters, and doing something positive is better than nothing.  For me, veganism started out as a diet choice based on my weight and my obsession with food, but at least in the midst of my obsession I did get to learn a lot about the meat and dairy industries, and how veganism can impact these industries.  I don’t like to hurt animals.  I don’t really like to eat animals or animal products, at least not when I think about it.  I don’t want to harm anyone or anything.  Does that sound like a familiar lesson we Witches learn?

Food is such a complex thing sometimes, but I truly hope that someday I, and everyone else, can have a healthy relationship with food.  Regarding food as a spiritual tool may be one way to make that happen.  When I eat, I want to know that it is the best thing for me, and that it doesn’t conflict with my values.

If you’re interested in hearing more about other Pagans and their food choices, check out the Pagan Perspective channel on YouTube from a few weeks ago.  They touched on veganism and had some pretty interesting things to say.

I hope you all are having a wonderful weekend.

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Food–for the Soul?

 

Today I’m going to talk about something that I think affects a lot of us.  It’s a personal story kind of day; there’s no prompt.  However, this is going to lead into my next Year and a Day Journal, so keep an eye out for the follow-up.

Food is one of the most complicated and yet most integral parts of our daily lives.  We simultaneously love it and hate it, and need it to survive.  I don’t know if people’s relationships with food were always so complex–somehow I think it’s a symptom of what we consider modern fashion–but in any case, nobody alive today doesn’t know what I’m alluding to.

As for me, I’ve had a weird relationship with food for a long time now.  (Cue story time.)  It intensified in college, unsurprisingly, and the scariest part was that I didn’t even realize how messed up it was at first, even though I had been pretty thoroughly educated on eating disorders.  Basically, I’ve always been a kind of endomorph (one of the three basic body types you learn about in high school health class).  I’m tall, I have big features, and I naturally carry a little more weight.  I also had some very tiny friends growing up, and I often compared myself to them.  I mean, I think the first time I was self-conscious of my body was when I was six.  I remember sitting with my knees drawn up to my chin and poking my little calves and watching them jiggle and thinking, “Is this normal?  When did this happen?”  I was also always the tallest kid in my class, and when I was in second grade our teacher wanted to show us how to make averages, and he got our height and weight from each of us.  There were only two kids in my class who were over 100 pounds, and yep, I was one of them.  It really wasn’t because I was heavy or anything.  In fact, my whole childhood I was very active and a normal weight.  But I was just so tall and averagely proportioned, and I was never this skinny little thing you see kids being.  And so I compared myself, and it never felt good.

In high school, it was of course more of the same thing, but even worse.  I was absolutely normally sized, but I was on a dance team with a lot of girls who were extremely skinny or very athletic-looking, and even though I did a lot of exercise I just never looked that way.  In comparison to the other girls, I always looked big.  And I always had to order large dance wear because my limbs were so long.  I remember a track jacket that we had as a uniform once; they were meant to fit tight and cute, but because we had to dance in them, I had to make sure it covered my wrists when I moved my arms.  So my jacket was loose and frumpy, while everyone else’s was little and adorable.

In college I had more control over my schedule.  I was able to choose everything I ate and make time to go to the gym.  I was a bit happier with my body and felt okay with a lot of things.  I even lost eight pounds instead of gaining the freshman fifteen.

My sophomore year I continued to work out nearly every day, but unseasonably brutal weather made me kind of sick and I didn’t feel like working hard when I went to the gym.  I don’t think I gained any weight, but in October I was in an improv comedy show where I wore I skirt, and I saw a picture of myself later, turned around so you could see my thighs from behind.  I couldn’t stop staring at them, and I felt mortified.  It was like, all this time my thighs have looked disgusting, and I didn’t know it?

About a month later, I ordered a book called Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman.  It advocates for a nutritarian lifestyle.  Now, I still really like this book.  I think it is a great resource and it gets at one of the fundamental problems of our culture–not eating in excess, but eating the wrong things.  When I found this book, I was dead-set on following the plan, and I did.  I basically went vegan cold-turkey (perhaps “cold-turkey” isn’t the right phrase when you’re going vegan…), along with some other diet choices.  I dropped another eight pounds, but this time over the course of one month.  By Christmas I was, proportionally, the smallest I could remember being.

Unfortunately I began to obsess, and my diet slowly fell apart.  I had the mentality of an eating disorder; I would eat the same things every single day, I would justify strange behaviors, and I changed other things in my life to surround food.  My friends started going to eating disorder workshops and seminars held by the college to see if their suspicions were correct.  On the surface I thought it was crazy, because I had tons of food on my plate every day (almost entirely vegetables).  But my problem wasn’t about not eating–it was about obsession.

I would binge on the wrong things or drive myself crazy with food choices.  Very slowly I gained a couple pounds back (probably normal, actually), and I panicked.  I ran to the Internet and found a different lifestyle, HCRV (High Carb Raw Vegan), or Raw Til 4, which is the lifestyle of Freelee the Banana Girl, the YouTube personality.  Her tight bod and her videos had me in love.  I immediately was eating a ton of fruit a day, but not much else.  And I’m not saying this diet doesn’t work, because it might in the long-term or it might work better for some people than others.  But I gained a lot of weight back, and my self-esteem went into the toilet.

Now, I’m actually proportionally the biggest I’ve ever been, although I don’t look unhealthy, in my own opinion.  I’m certainly not really skinny, but I’m not about to sign up for The Biggest Loser or anything.  I’m actually blessed that I’m so tall, because I carry weight very well on my body.  That being said, I know that while I’ve been abroad, I have not been eating the way I want to eat.  My roommate and I eat lots of sweets, a lot of processed starches and relatively few vegetables.  Spinach, which was one of my biggest staples in the U.S., is really hard to come by here, especially in the quantities I used to eat it.

I’m hoping that when I return to the United States in about a month, I will have the opportunity to make health one of my main focuses.  Of course, I want to slim down, but I want to do it the right way, with the right goals in mind.  I’m going into the adult world, and I have to start seeing things as an adult–no longer as a college girl, for whom everything was all-or-nothing.  So, for example, I’m cool with going nutritarian again, or being vegan as much as possible, but I also understand that maybe that can only be a 90% thing.  Sometimes you want to go out for dinner, or you want to eat a piece of birthday cake.  And those things shouldn’t be off the table.

I know my boyfriend also wants to get in shape, so I’m hoping we can do it healthfully and together, with each other as support.

I’m talking about this because our spirituality is only as healthy as our minds, and our minds are really connected to our bodies.  I’ve never liked the idea that our bodies are secondary or that they’re dirty things that need to be rejected for religion.  I think they’re crucial.  And unless we take care of our bodies–including eating well and having a good relationship with food–we are going to have a hard time being spiritual.

My next post is going to bounce off of this one, so look out for that coming soon.

Thank you for reading.

Blessed be!

)O(