Pagan Relationship with Food?

Is there such a thing as a Pagan relationship with food?  What I mean by that is this: many monotheistic religions thank God for the bounty He has provided, creating what I call a monotheistic relationship with food.  They thank their deity for giving them sustenance.  Do Pagans, then, have a Pagan relationship with food?

I’ve been realizing more and more lately that I take food for granted.  This seems wrong to me. Food is the means of life, it is the reason we can keep living and functioning.  Without food we die (we die faster without water, but I’m putting liquids in with the category of food).  I think this attitude of taking food for granted comes from the capitalist mindset many of us have grown up with.  I know that at any time of day or night, I can go out to a store of some kind and get more food, generally any kind of food I want, especially if I live in or near a city (which I do).  I know that if I run out of food in my fridge, I can always go find more.  I consume without thinking twice about it.

Since I’ve begun doing metaphysical work, I’ve been having the realization of just how much I take food for granted.  I never said grace at the table before unless my Christian family did so.  While I do not throw away good food, if something goes bad in the fridge it never bothered me when I ended up throwing it away except in the fact that it was money wasted. And when I chose the Pagan path, it never occurred to me to say a grace or a thank you because of the consumer mindset and because it reminded me too much of the Christian traditions I had left behind.

I think a Pagan mindset toward food would include thanking the food (whether vegetable, fruit, or meat) for giving up its life in order to give us life.  I think this because many Pagans consider any thing to have an energy, especially when it is obviously living (i.e., the difference between a stone, which is not obviously energetic, and a plant, which obviously has life).  A plant has a life force, though different from a human’s life force.  By eating that plant, or fruit, or animal, we cut off the life force, the energy, in order to ingest its energy and provide ourselves with life.

We could certainly thank a deity for the bounty, especially one tied to the earth (or thank the Earth goddess herself), but I think a lot of the thanking goes to the food itself and the sacrifice the food made in feeding us than it goes to a deity.

I would be interested in what other Pagans think on the subject.  What are your thoughts?


4 responses to “Pagan Relationship with Food?

  1. (post necromancy!)
    What Derrick said.

    I think whatever it was that drew me to Paganism also drew me to environmental science. So, even though I am not a farmer, I appreciate the physical energy required to get food on our plates, from the nuclear reactor burning in the sun to the gas in the stove that cooks it (to say nothing of the energy that went into making the gas – I’ma blow my own mind). You see, even without the consideration of metaphysics, I have a deep appreciation for food. I am saddened and angered that many agricultural workers are exploited (read Tomatoland for just one example), perplexed by industrial agriculture, dismayed by waste, and depressed by monocultures. This isn’t to say I’ve figured out a better way to feed all the people (which, incidentally, we don’t – folks even here get hungry), just to say… I don’t think some entity gives us food because it’s arbitrarily merciful to those of us who happen to not be starving. We eat because we’re animals; we don’t have the specs to make energy from light, we’re not extremophiles, we need to metabolize things we instinctively know to consume, in order to live (which is to say continue metabolizing, and maybe reproduce while we’re at it). And that perspective bolsters my relationship with all the physical things – I cannot isolate myself nor food from the universe of matter and energy.

    I am grateful for my food because I am grateful for my life, and sometimes the gratitude is directed also towards the person paying for lunch. 😉

    Once again, a stimulating topic (even one year later).

  2. “Thankful mind at all times” could be a Pagan axium. All creatures live because other creatures have died and provided food. It is the way of this World. However, the Pagan mind also desires to become wise and learn how to sustain all species without the cycles of death and rebirth. A thread runs through all of the divisions of Paganism and it can be stated simply that ALL Pagans look forward to becoming One with the Light, Great Mind, and the All and All. By becoming one, there is NO MORE CYCLE of death and rebirth. However, this Earth may continue as it is indefinitely as enlightened and developed souls continue into the Great ALL.

  3. Derrick Hinkle

    Well, take into account that pagan religions have traditionally been agriculturally centered – our holidays follow the days in which you would sow and reap your fields. Also take note of the prominence (and importance) of fertility deities, which aren’t fertility deities just for humans, but also for crops and livestock.

    • A good point. That also brings up another difference between the monotheistic tradition and the Pagan tradition, that of a closer tie to the earth and earth’s cycles along with an emphasis on the agriculturally-based traditions and deities. Monotheists tend not to have the same view of agriculture and the earth, I think, than Pagans (which makes sense). But this difference in how the different traditions view food wasn’t something I had even considered or realized existed beforehand–hence the post exploring the topic! =)

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