Kitchen & Green Witchery

This introduction is not on kitchen or green ‘Wicca’, but instead focuses on how these paths fit into traditional witchcraft and stand on their own. These two paths are personalized and should not be forced to meet anyone’s requirements or outlines of how one thinks others should practice them. There are no set beliefs, structure, or ritual guidelines. How kitchen and green witchery are practiced differs for each witch. They are generally solitary paths or are part of a practitioner’s path who may also be a member of a more structured magical system such as Wicca or Druidry. However, this is not always the case and many practitioners create their own structure and system of working magic solely based on kitchen witchery, green witchery, or both.

Kitchen Witchery

Kitchen Witchery is essentially the practice of witchcraft or folk-magic based in the kitchen or hearth of the home. The new rash of books on Kitchen Witchery may lead many to believe that it is a new practice, but magic in the kitchen and hearth goes back thousands of years and is practiced across cultures. Fire and stone ovens were thought to be magical with their transformative powers. In later centuries the large iron cauldron over the fire was the centre of the hearth – where dinners were cooked, water boiled, and medicines made.

In peasant mythology the oven had a magic dimension, and ritual propitiators presided over the rising and baking of bread. Even the curdling of milk and the fermentation of wine were mediated through ‘spirits’ or elves in certain area where the Celtic substratum had left indelible traces. The oven was where food passed from the raw to the cooked state, and like all transitional places (chimneys, doors and so on) it held a powerful magic: the rising of dough was associated with the rise and ‘growth’ of the solar orb in the sky.” (Camporesi, The Magic Harvest, p.4)

The easiest way to see how important the processes of food making and agriculture were important to our ancestors is to look at their deities. There are numerous domestic and hearth deities across cultures (too many to list here), some of the more well-known ones being Brighid, Frigga, and Hestia. The Chinese have various deities whose specific role it is to watch over the stove or hearth such as Zao-Jun and Sui-Ren. There was even a specific Roman goddess Fornax whose role was to watch over bread baking and ovens. The list of agricultural deities is even longer.

Kitchen witchery is the continuing practice of domestic magic where for the practitioner, the mundane is magical. The stove, spoons, knives, pots, and ingredients are the magical tools. The rituals of the everyday are this witch’s magic. From our ancestors’ domestic rituals of baking bread, churning butter, brewing, and preserving to today’s rituals of preparing the daily meal, brewing a cup of tea, or making medicines – the role of the domestic witch hasn’t changed much over the centuries. A kitchen witch is obsessed with food and has a gift for cooking. They might have a large store of knowledge about the folklore and properties of different foods as well any rituals or superstitions surrounding them. They may be well-versed in rituals involving feasts and eating, which also go back thousands of years for various cultures and are part of many of our traditions today at celebrations. If witchcraft is practiced by a kitchen witch, then it is most likely to be done in the kitchen or through the medium of food. The pot boiling on the stove isn’t always edible; salves, decoctions, tinctures, and even candles are all made in the kitchen.

I didn’t plan to go this in-depth, but I think it is important to stress how complex and full of history this path is and that it can stand on its own as a legitimate practice. For those who are interested in learning more, resources are provided below.

Resources

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Cookbooks:

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Green Witchcraft

A green witch is someone who works closely with nature and her gifts. This witch is usually a wildcrafter, a herbalist, or an amazing gardner. The folklore on the spiritual and medicinal uses of plants is incredibly extensive and global, and it is this along with personal experience from which the green witch draws their knowledge and practices from. If the kitchen witch’s focus is the hearth, then the green witch’s focus is the woods and/or agriculture.

Our ancestors’ agricultural traditions and practices are steeped with folk-magic and pagan belief. Everything from planting seed, to the harvesting of crops in the fall is governed by rituals. Some farmers today still plant and reap by the phases of the moon. At various festivals the fields are sained with fire for protection, or given libations of alcoholic beverages to ensure fertility and a bountiful harvest. To our pagan ancestors, some crops were not just food but gods and were treated with reverence. In Northern Europe at the end of a harvest the last sheaf of wheat or other grain was kept and either named ‘Maiden’ or ‘Old Woman’, after Brighid or the Cailleach, and was placed in a spot of reverence, to observe the festivities after the harvest was complete. In animistic cultures each plant and tree was thought to be alive and have a spirit, and there were specific chants and songs that were sung when taking from the plants – asking their permission and giving thanks. Trees were once worshipped and if certain species were cut down without permission it was considered a crime — the penalty being death. Each tree even had its own specific deity.

Today a green witch may use some of the beliefs of our ancestors in their practices. Perhaps in methods of plant or herb collection, saining (blessing), prayers & chants, as well as the way they celebrate festivals. Most of the magic practiced by a green witch will involve herbs and plants in some way. They may also work with nature itself instead of just parts taken from it. Some green witches become guardians of a piece of land – protecting it, cleaning litter, healing wounds of the past, and working with the spirits and creatures that live on it. This is more likely the practice of a wildcrafter than a gardener. A wildcrafter harvests foods, herbs, and medicines from the wild, while also taking into account ecological ethics and responsibility. A green witch with a focus on herbalism will learn the spiritual, magical, and medicinal uses of various herbs and plants and incorporate them into their magical and healing practices. It is recommended to take a legitimate herbalist’s course if this is your desire – without the correct knowledge about preparation and dosage, one can do more harm than good with herbal medicines.

Disambiguation

This form of green witchcraft is not to be confused with Ann Moura’s books on Green Witchcraft, which are better classified as ‘Green Wicca’.

Resources

Books:

Believe it or not, books useful to the green witch can be found at your local public library. Instead of looking for occult or witchcraft books, search for books on the botany of your local area: wildcrafting, edible plants, native ethnobotany, herbalism, trees, gardening…

Books:

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Comments

8 Responses to “Kitchen & Green Witchery”

  1. Nikiah says:

    Beautiful description of Green Witchery Sarah, I am grateful for your recent posts as they are resonating with me deeply.
    I just thought that I would add a little about Susan Weds extensive work with a link to her web-site
    I know that in the past she has been a bit political for some folks tastes, but her work does stand out as one of the major sources of Green witchery.
    She also initiates women as green Witches.
    Here is a link to her Green Witch info:http://www.susunweed.com/Correspondence-Course.htm#cc2

    Blessings Nikiah

  2. Sarah says:

    Hi Nikiah!

    I’ve heard of Susun Weed, but I’m not familiar with her works or teachings, I’ll have to follow your link and learn! Thanks ;)

  3. M. says:

    This time not an email, but an entry here ;-).
    It the direction of the kitchen with (or rather domestic because the focus is not just on the kitchen) that I feel most drawn to. My home. My hearth. My sanctuary. My safe place. A few years ago while doing the housework and my mind being somewhere completely different, all of a sudden utter silence. Around me as well as in my mind and then one word popped up in my head out of the blue: Hestia. What? Who? Where? That was it and everything around me kicked in again. Slightly perplexed about what happened I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote the word down. At this time I did not know what it meant and told myself that I will research it later which I did. Somehow a missing piece of puzzle was handed to me that day. I was (still not) not really bothered about “looking” for a patron Goddess nor God, but when Hestia “came” to me it just felt right. A perfect match if you could call it that and I never questioned the fact that Hestia is the right one for me. Others usually go out and look for one that they like to work with. Preferably one well known for her strong/ worrier aspects, but that never felt right to me.
    Reading your entry here and actually mentioning Hestia as well made my heart skip a beat. You find more about Vesta, but that is not the one that came to me. At the time I even checked all the books and online resources that I was reading if any of them mentioned Hestia, just to make sure that I did not choose her myself unknowingly. No, no mentioning in any of the books.
    Still a lot to learn and I am again happy about all the sources you give here. Thank you!

  4. Sarah says:

    If you want to find some really good info on Hestia try “The Gods of the Greeks” by Karl Kerenyi – he is amazing when it comes to Greek mythology.

  5. Sarah says:

    I checked out Susun Weed’s website, and while the graphics and design are atrocious and so “90s” the content is really good, but there’s so much of it! I sense lots of future reading material. Thanks Nikiah!

  6. M. says:

    You are just a wealth of information. Is there an area that you don’t know anything about? How do you decide what is relevant on your path and what isn’t when you choose books? Whenever I go to the library I just get completely overwhelmed.
    Thank you for the tip and I checked it on Amazon second hand.

  7. Sarah says:

    Well, I never know what will have relevance so I read everything! But my heart belongs to folklore and pre-1920s pagan books as well as anything on indigenous shamanism…

  8. sara says:

    Thanks for this entry on kitchen witchery. I’ve been doing it for eons and it was a largely nameless thing that I did until I came to terms with the fact that I was not just brewing a pot of tea, or not just stirring a batch of soap, or not just making a nice perfume in my kitchen. I wasn’t just baking a loaf of bread to feed my family. There is instead this sense of doing something so much larger and the kitchen is just the microcosm with all the elements represented.

    That sense of ‘not just’ is what clinched it. And then mythic references and correspondences began to follow, as they still do. And in my case it is spilling into the garden which I finally have space for.

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