Cooking Dinner Does Not Make You a Kitchen Witch
Author: Deborah Castellano
I spent my twenties fighting against who I really was in oh so many ways. I didn’t want to be a kitchen Witch. I thought that was the least impressive, most Holly Hobby branch of magic there is.
You have to picture me from ten years ago: I’m constantly listening to NIN! I wear boots with sparkly laces to my corporate gig! I’m thrashing around on top of tables pumped full of piss and goldschlagger! I’m trying to break glass ceilings! I’m smoking cigars with the boys! I’m demanding my place at the occult table at occult events! I’m getting tats! I’m going through Shamanic trials! I’m punk rock and . . . you want me to bake a cake? Really? Really?
So I fought against it for while, which is why I wasn’t terribly successful in my own personal magic for quite some time. Somewhere around 27? 28? I started really embracing it. Once I bought my own home, my own hearth, I *really* started embracing hearth Witchery. I had the tools all along, it turns out. I just needed to know how to use them.
When I first started blogging, I wanted to bff (best friends forever!) a variety of people in the magical world. But let me be honest, most of all I wanted to befriend fellow kitchen Witches. Sisters/brothers unite! Let’s get some spit, blood, hair, dirt, and basil and get this party started!
But I didn’t find too many. I Googled. I tried tracking down people. I tried a lot of different key words. Honestly, I found a lot of people who claimed to be kitchen Witches, but in scanning their blogs all I generally found were recipes and chatter about their kids. Now, there’s nothing wrong with any of that, but there are some flaws to it.
What Doesn’t Make You a Kitchen Witch Per Se (in my opinion) :
A recipe isn’t magical in and of itself. Just dumping a bunch of recipes on your blog doesn’t make you a kitchen Witch anymore than it makes Wolfgang Puck a kitchen Witch. If you said I use honey in my Chocolate Lavender Mousse to sweeten my mother-in-law towards me because she’s a complete bitch on wheels to me by that point in the meal or I put menstrual blood in my spaghetti sauce so my husband still thinks I’m dropping it like it’s hot even when I’m tired and in sweats, rock! Those are magical acts. Bring on the recipes!
Having children. While yes, it is a very specific way to mark your transition into motherhood (sometimes) , kids don’t really make you a practicing magic type person any more than it makes SuperNanny Mary Poppins. Things that would: Using magic to help soothe a baby/get a baby to sleep (I will only slightly guiltily confess to having done this before) , protection magic, detailing tiny rituals you do with your kids.
Being a Homemaker. I do very much think that unpaid labor in the home needs to be appreciated and ideally compensated (please see here for more clearly articulated thoughts on the matter, it’s applicable for both mono/poly people) , but it’s a job. And just like going to work in an office is not a magical act in and of itself, neither is taking care of your home. If you were talking about cleaning/organizing in a magical blog and discussing how to be more green (because we need to take care of Mother Earth of course and she’s a goddess in and of herself) , discussing what oils you use to scent your house and why, what you do to keep the house spiritually/magically clean, rock on.
What Qualifies You as a Kitchen Witch/Hearth Wo/man/Someone Who Does Hedge-Like Magic (in my opinion) :
If the Personal is Political, then the Every Day is Magical. Look, you don’t have to cast +5 magic every time you make hotdogs for dinner on a Tuesday night. But what can you be doing in your every day life in your hearth to make it more magical? Smudging with sage every few days to clear out the energies? Spray bottling your bed with a water based mist you made that has come to me oil in it? Choosing your cooking herbs based on magical purposes? Go crazy.
Deb’s Example Rite for Making the Every Day Magical: I had been hemming and hawing about starting my current novel because (a) I’ve never finished writing one and (b) it’s a little silly in a genre that’s already a little silly. But it came to me in a dream and it feels right. So I started by not just slap dashing it together, I took my time. I did research on names, other books in the genre, brainstormed and I made a mood board for it. When I knew it was time to start writing, I wanted it started right. I wanted my surroundings perfect, like giving birth (which is what I do with writing) . I made sure my house was clean, went to brunch (appropriate for the kind of novel it is) and then I put on mood music and wrote. When I finished the beginning, I sealed it with eating a really posh chocolate (salted dark chocolate with balsamic and caramel) from the best chocolatier in NJ, which was also appropriate for my novel’s genre. It wasn’t about me putting together a mojo bag in this case; it was about choosing my actions carefully and doing everything with intent. There would have been nothing wrong with making a mojo bag, but it was more important in this situation to write in a magically charged environment for me to get this show on the road.
Get a Base Education in the Lower Arts. Yeah, yeah, you like to put on your robes and call on all the archangels and whatever. Cool. But sometimes for whatever reason, you’ll need to know how to do things quick and dirty, so learn how. Learn what salt and kitchen herbs can do for you, learn about mojo hands and honey pots and spirit bottles. I recommend of course the incomparable cat yonwode’s Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic as your Idiot’s Guide. Test yourself if you’re super structured magically, pretend a friend needs a fertility charm tonight and you need to get to her just using stuff around your house. What do you do?
Get a Base Education in House Wifery. Some men back in the day got married because they had no clue how to take care of themselves. While that’s not so common in this day and age, you still need a base education in house wifery to be a successful hearth wo/man. Thanks to most of the first world being a convenience culture, you may have been getting by on relying on take out, a dry cleaner, and a cleaning service. That’s all well and good, but you’re missing pieces you need to be a successful hearth wo/man. If you are missing any of these things, that’s okay, don’t feel bad about it. But a lot of people cry, ‘Oh I’m no good at it’! Or, I don’t know how! Ignorantia juris non excusat. Ignorance of the law excuses no one, so get to work. It won’t be perfect from the gate, but nothing is. Ask someone better versed for help, if you know someone. Worst case you burn a few casseroles and shred a few shirts; it’s no big deal. Even if you won’t use it for a while or ever (though you’d be surprised) , these are all good life skills to have that will translate over into your magical life. Think of them as Hearth Meditations.
* Do your own laundry?
* Have your house clean enough to have your mother or mother-in-law or Miss Martha over without them making a face?
* Cook a dinner for yourself and others?
* Meal plan?
* Budget and financially plan?
* Be able to make a casserole quickly for an emergency?
* Host/ess a party?
* Know how to bake something from scratch?
* Know how to do your own grocery shopping that’s more than just “box food”?
* Know how to do basic clothing repair?
* Know what to bring as a hostess gift?
* Know how to conduct yourself socially at various social obligations?
* Know how to give yourself self-care?
* Know v. basic first aid?
* Know how to care for small children for a day?
It’s okay to have untargeted kitchen Witch practices. Look, I’m the first to say that some of my more focused practice is lacking. You don’t have to use every bread baking experience as a magical attempt to influence a situation. You can use it as a meditational practice and focus on the magic of the experience, that’s perfectly valid. Think about why whatever is you’re doing – baking, cooking, cleaning, sewing, whatever is a magical experience for you. This is a free form essay, you’re not being graded, whatever reason you have for it being a magical experience for you is right. There are things in everyone’s life I think (I hope!) that are magical to him or her but not targeted for results. It’s good to have and share those experiences too.
You need to know how to do this stuff. That does not mean you need to do it all the time. I had suggested a base education in house wifery, but that doesn’t mean that you’re responsible for it all the time in some kind of psychotic Valium laced Stepford scenario. I know how to do laundry, but my significant other does it in our household. If he ever said, do your own laundry, I could. If you know how to clean your house sparklingly clean but chose to not live in a constant Miss Martha police state, that’s okay. If it’s part of your strategy as a hearth Witch, well then you must be a clever kitchen Witch! My house would not pass Lakshmi inspection at all times (or really like 29 days out of the month) either. If you have the means to send out your laundry or order take out every night, rock out. You just need to know how to perform these functions should you ever need to. It’s sort of like knowing how to do long division. It’s good to know how to do by hand, but the gods made calculators for a reason.
Sometimes, simple is best. I suggested a basic practice in kitchen/hearth Witchery for people who work primarily in “higher” magic because like a proper dilettante, I believe in being well rounded. And frankly sometimes if you need to do something on the fly, it’s a lot easier to pour some salt into a bowl and spit into it than to do a long formal practice. I also think it’s good to know simple magic in order to be able to obtain simple things. You need fifty bucks to make your bills this month? You could do something v. formal or you could do something quick and get on with your life. Formal magic often requires a lot more time, energy, and effort. And there are certain things that are better suited to those practices, but you need a quick little something, low magic just seems like a better way to do so.
Furthering the math analogy, you may become so accustomed to Calculus and using a calculator to do so, you forget how to do basic level math. This is not going to help you when it’s your job to do bistro math for the table ’cause you’re the math chick and you left your cell phone at home.
Some of what I suggest needing to know may seem unnecessary and sort of Mr. Miyagi, but look at it from a kitchen Witch’s perspective: You claim to be a kitchen/hearth Witch, I’m supposed to trust you to do a love spell for me using hearth magic, but . . .you don’t know how to take care of your hearth which functions as your temple, your magical work space? Fill in your own mechanic/gyno joke here.
– Article referenced in “Homemaker” section