Kitchen & Green Witchery
his 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 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.
- A Taste of History: 10,000 Years of Food in Britain
- Childhood Memories by Cora Anderson
- Folklore and Odysseys of Food and Medicinal Plants
- Food and Rites of Passage
- Food and Vegetation Magic
- Food in the Ancient World
- Magic Harvest: Food Folklore and Society
- Mead Hall: The Feasting Tradition in Anglo-Saxon England
- Origins of Festivals and Feasts
- Sacred Food: Cooking for Spiritual Nourishment
- Celtic Folklore Cooking
- A Finnish Christmas Cookbook: Recipes and Traditions from the Old Country
- The Scots Kitchen: Its Traditions and Lore (by the author of the Silver Bough – folklore on Scotland)
- Rue’s Kitchen (Kitchen Witch and Stregoneria practitioner)
- Acanthus Books (historical cookbooks and reference books)
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.
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’.
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…
- Compendium of Herbal Magic by Paul V. Beyerl
- Compendium of Symbolic and Ritual Plants in Europe
- Earth Wisdom by Glennie Kindred
- Farmer’s Almanac
- Folk-lore of Plants by T.F. Thiselton Dyer
- Green Mantle: An Investigation into Our Lost Knowledge of Plants by Michael Jordon
- Green Witch Herbal: Restoring Nature’s Magic in Home, Health, and Beauty Care by Barbara Griggs
- Hedgerow Cookbook by Glennie Kindred
- Herbal Healers by Glennie Kindred
- Herbal Medicine Maker’s Handbook: A Home Manual by James Green
- Master Book of Herbalism
- Mastering Herbalism by Paul Huson
- Tree Medicine, Tree Magic by Glennie Kindred
- Tree Wisdom by Jacqueline Memory Paterson