This page is dedicated to those who want to not only enjoy great food but also use the inherent magic connected with food to improve their experiences of living.
Food has been a part of magic for thousands of years. Not only was food sacrificed to the gods to curry favor with them, but food was used to represent symbolically important parts of the culture. Eggs, bananas, and pomegranates represented sexuality and fertility in some cultures and were taboo for certain members to eat. Some food represented tribal markers and were used (or forbidden) to help define family. Other foods were used to increase desirable characteristics and qualities, like poisonous snake and scorpions to increase fearsomeness. There were many foods used in rituals by the local shamans to assist in healing individuals, some to purify the person, some to chase demons away.
We generally don't have the same worldview as our ancestors, but there are many more modern ways that we can use foods to support our intentions and aid us in changing our experience to something better. Food connects us to the core of our physical life. While there is some truth to the adage that we are what we eat, there really is much more to us physically. Our bodies are also the product of what we think and, more importantly, how we feel. If we are feeling good about ourselves, then our bodies relax and function well. However, if we are stressed, then our bodies reflect that stress and function poorly to the point of disease and ailments.
Food can operate on our whole being in several different and important ways:
Giving us the basic nutrition that our bodies need
Providing some of the necessary pleasure that all parts of our being need
Helping us connect to others with whom we share the food
Helping us connect with spirit and divinity, however we conceive that
Providing an immediate connection to our subconscious mind for healing and programming.
I welcome your thoughts on the subject of food and magic. This is an area that we all can explore to our benefit.
There are many more articles and videos coming but in the meantime you might enjoy Buffet Night at the Restaurant of the Universe.
People have been trying to get more information about what’s happening in their lives, as long as there have been people. And one of the most common is the simple divination.
There is some version of the “Hot Pot” in almost every cuisine in the world. Basically it is a stew where there is some involvement by the diners in its preparation. The East Asian version is reputed to have come from Mongolia over a thousand years ago.
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People have been trying to get more information about what’s happening in their lives, as long as there have been people. And one of the most common is the simple divination.
Divination is a combination of asking a question, having a way for something beyond oneself to answer, setting rules for understanding that answer, and some intuition about what that answer means.
All forms of divination provide a way for that something beyond our conscious minds to influence the elements of our divination. At the level of strict objectivity, this influence looks like random luck. If we are willing to consider non-physical influences then we can suggest things like spirits, unseen “forces,” or our own subconscious acting on the elements of the divination. For instance, if we use dice as a form of divination, then we are asking these non-physical influences to guide our hand and the way the dice roll in order to give us a valuable answer to our question.
Many forms of divination have very few rules, simply that the elements of the divination stay within bounds. Reading tea leaves, chicken bones, and sheep knuckles fall into this category. One simply lays them out and “see’s” what’s there. The intuition plays a staring role in this form of divination.
Another form uses very specific meanings of the order of the elements of the divination. Tarot has well-defined meanings for each of the cards as well as meanings for the order in which they come up. The combined meaning is left up to the psychic skills of the reader. The I Ching also has well-defined meanings with much less left up to the reader.
The idea or assumption behind the use of the divination forms that have well-defined meanings is that whatever force we are asking for information from understands the implications of each element and that it has chosen the appropriate ones for us.
There are other divination forms, like induced trance via crystal balls or shapes in smoke, that don’t rely on our physical contribution, but we will leave them alone for now.
The Fruit Salad Divination can use either the lay-out-and-see or the specific-meaning form of divination. But to begin with, we need a fruit salad.
I recommend making the fruit salad with 7 kinds of fruit that are roughly the same size but of different colors.
For red we could use pieces of watermelon or strawberries
For orange we could use tangerine wedges, orange pieces, peach pieces, or pieces of cantaloupe
For yellow we can have pineapple chunks or banana pieces.
For green we can have green grapes, kiwi, or honeydew melon.
For purple we can use red grapes or plum pieces
And for white we can use peeled apple chunks or pear chunks.
For blue, well we don’t have anything that’s really blue, so we simply have to use something distinctive to represent blue. Blueberries don’t quite work because they aren’t really blue and they are little smaller than the other fruits. So we can use big berries, like blackberries or boysenberries and call them blue for the sake of the divination. Or we could take pear chunks or apple chunks and add a little blue food coloring. What ever we use here only needs to be distinctly different from the other colors. We want seven different fruits that can each have their own specific meaning. We then mix all the fruits together in equal proportions in a convenient large bowl. We should have enough fruit for several serving so that we can get a good random sampling when we do our divination. This also makes for a fun and entertaining way to finish a dinner party.
We then ask our question. If we want to ask yes-or-no questions, that only takes three pieces of fruit. We could take a red piece of fruit, a green piece, and a white piece. The rules would be that whichever fruit, red or green, was closest to the white piece, when they were dropped simultaneously onto a plate, would give us our answer. If the green piece were closest to the white piece, the answer would be a “yes,” and if the red piece were closest then the answer would be a “no.” If the red and green pieces are equally close, then the answer can be taken as “it doesn’t matter,” or “you’ve asked the question in a way that is impossible to answer. Try a different question.”
If we want to ask for some advice then we have to assign meanings to each of the fruit colors. One system uses each color to represent an area of difficulty and the quality needed to clear it. I present here a variation on one proposed by Serge King. The advice is to reduce the first one of the pair and increase the second one.
Red represents Restriction/Freedom
Orange represents Confusion/Focus
Yellow represents Weakness/Energy
Green represents Anger/Love
Blue represents Fear/Power
Purple represents Doubt/Optimism
White represents Pain/Pleasure
Now we need something else to represent us. That is, we need something that will indicate which of the fruits to pay attention to the most. We can use anything we like to be our representative in the fruit bowl. I like to identify as chocolate, so I use a piece of good dark chocolate to represent me. But you could use anything else of similar size that would go well with fruit salad: a marshmallow, a piece of candy, a different fruit (perhaps a cherry or a loquat), or even an ice cube.
Toss your representative into the fruit bowl and ladle out a bunch of fruit, including your representative, and pour it onto a plate. You don’t have to get every fruit in your ladle; missing one or two would be part of the divination. See what fruit or fruits are closest to your representative and using the chart above, let them tell you what the fruit salad has to say about your question.
Another way to do this is to simply ladle out some fruit salad on to a plate, without any representative and without using the chart of meanings, and see what story comes to mind as you look at the scattered fruit. This is very much like seeing shapes in the clouds, only this time what you see is in reference to your question. Feel free to turn the plate around and look at it any way you please. In the picture to the left, for instance, I see two separate groups with a couple of fruits in each section but over all a state of tension with the side on the right being overwhelmed by the left side. My own question was where do I stand on publishing my book on Pleasure? To me the answer is that I still have some obstacles to overcome yet, but that the seeds of my success are there. So let your imagination run free with this, for it is through the imagination that the higher powers communicate with us.
No matter what answers you get, please remember that this is only information. This is not meant to tell you what to do. Your free will is much more important that any divination. However, the fun in doing this counts, too.
There is some version of the “Hot Pot” in almost every cuisine in the world. Basically it is a stew where there is some involvement by the diners in its preparation. The East Asian version is reputed to have come from Mongolia over a thousand years ago. In the West we find relatives of it in the fondue and the Pot-au-Feu. The Japanese have several varieties of it, including the famous Sukiyaki and Yosenabe. The spiciest version is the Szechuan Hot Pot that is cooked in a broth half-filled with hot chili peppers.
The idea is to have a communal pot of broth in the middle of the table that each diner uses to cook bits of raw food in. It is a very customizable meal that enables each diner to create what he or she wants. Often there are several dipping sauces at the table to choose from as well.
This kind of preparation is particularly useful for rituals of change and renewal. We are presented with some food as it is in the moment. It is ready to be modified and transformed in some manner that will please us more. It’s very much like taking the present moment in regards to anything and seeing how we would like to change it.
Gratitude for what we have right now is wise and savoring the present moment is important. But we are creator beings; we are constantly adjusting things and changing our realities in ways that we hope will make us feel better. The process involves making these changes as consciously as possible. When we look at each aspect of our lives that we would like to modify and mindfully think about what it is that we desire, we can use something like the Hot Pot to power the transformation with Pleasure.
We start with a broth that is flavorful, either lightly so for foods to be dipped in a more strongly flavored sauce, or a more powerful broth with little or no dipping sauce. Meats are not essential, but if they are used they need to be very thinly sliced for quick cooking. The more other things that can be cooked in a broth the better. We want to convey a feeling of abundance and an enormous potential for customizing each bite. I like to have a couple of meats, like beef and pork, but tofu works just as well. Then we want 6 to 8 other things, like scallions, bean threads, mushrooms, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, spinach, lotus root, carrots, Chinese cabbage, fennel, asparagus, or broccoli. It’s best to avoid things that will fall apart in the broth, like tomatoes and squash.
The pot that the broth is in is placed in the center of the table on some sort of heating source. A hot plate works well as does an electric skillet. There are special hot pots available at most Asian food markets that are circular with a special place in the middle to place hot coals. However, you do it, the intention is to have the broth available to all the diners around the table to cook their food.
The invitation to each diner is to take ingredients that they would like and think of various things that they would like to change in their lives. For instance, say I wanted to improve my relationship with my family. I might pick us some meat and say to myself, “I am grateful for this family of mine. However, I would like to have my interactions be sweeter and smoother.” I would then cook the meat to my liking and as I dip the meat into a sauce or just pop it into my mouth, I would savor both the pleasure of the meat and the feeling of a better relationship.
I might decide that I want to bring something in particular into my life, like a new bed. I could give thanks for all the wonderful time on my old bed and then take one or more vegetables and cook them just right. As I eat these vegetables I could both thoroughly enjoy the pleasure of eating them and enjoy the feeling of sleeping on my new bed. The focus and visualization are important, but so is the pleasure of the end result. The power of the pleasure is what energizes the whole process.
This can be done for changing old beliefs that are no longer useful. For example, I might say that I no longer want to think of myself as inadequate and unworthy. I may have adopted these ideas as a way of conforming to someone else’s ideas of me, or perhaps they protected me from some dominant person who had a great deal of power over me. However, they came to be held, I don’t want them anymore. I could use the Hot Pot to transform the beliefs into ideas of strength and being valued. A simple statement during the cooking process might be, “I transform my old beliefs about my adequacy and worth into powerful beliefs that I am all I need to be in this moment and I belong right where I am right now.”
We most easily change our beliefs and habits when we go towards something that has greater pleasure associated with it. By enjoying the pleasure of the food we attach pleasure to the new beliefs and that becomes the motivation to keep the new beliefs.
A simple cooking broth:
2 cans Chicken or vegetable stock
2” piece Ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
6 cloves Garlic
1 or more Whole chilies, halved
Simmer this on the stove until ready to present everything.
A ginger-scallion dipping sauce:
3 tablespoons Regular soy sauce
3 tablespoons Water or chicken broth
2 teaspoons Brown sugar or maple syrup
6 to 8 Scallions, sliced thinly
1” piece Ginger, finely chopped
1 Chili pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced (optional)
Mix together and let stand for at least 1/2 hour.
A sweet and sour dipping sauce:
4 tablespoons Regular soy sauce
2 tablespoons Wine vinegar or rice vinegar
1 tablespoon Sugar of any kind
1 medium clove Garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Chili oil, or your favorite hot sauce
1 teaspoon Sesame oil
¼ teaspoon 5-Spice powder (Optional)
Mix together and let stand for at least 1/2 hour.
Everything is laid our on the table in an attractive arrangement. Diners should have their own dipping bowl as well as their own plate. Each diner selects what they would like to eat and cooks those choices in the Hot Pot. At the end, when all the cooking is done, the now very flavorful broth is shared to drink.
A few moments of gratitude at this point gives the ritual extra umph.
A shaman often works with more than one layer of reality at the same time. For instance, a shaman might use an herb both to soothe a severe abrasion to the skin and to invoke a certain spirit to assist in the healing. Eggs have long been used to symbolize fertility in rituals and then eaten for nutrition. Bananas were used in some cultures for similar reasons. In China in a shamanic holdover to this day, live highly poisonous snakes are killed at tableside in certain restaurants in order to serve the blood and gall bladder bile fresh to customers who want the implied power of a dangerous animal. The rest of the snake is then served in various ways for the flavor and nutrition it provides.
Working with the spirits of the natural elements has been an important part of shamanic healing for many millennia. One finds evidence of this usage all over the world. Calling in one or more of the elements can increase the intensity and power of any ritual. Now suppose that we wanted to invoke all the elements at one time in order to connect as fully as possible to life here on Earth. Perhaps we want to celebrate someone’s birthday, or to encourage a depressed person to continue living, or to initiate the process of bringing a child into this world. In all these cases we might desire to call upon the spirits of the Seven Elements to aid us.
We talk about seven elements because we include plants, animals, and humans, as well as the usual earth, wind, fire, and water. This pretty much covers all the things we encounter in this physical world. Humans are a special kind of animal and thus deserve, though arbitrarily, their own elementhood.
There are many ways that we can make meaning for each of the elements. These meanings are subjective but they can be very useful. Whatever meanings we create, the point is to evoke feelings within us that will energize what we are attempting to do. So we could say that fire is the energy of transformation and that we want to use that energy to take us from a stagnant place to one of enthusiasm and joy. Or we could say that fire is a profound cleanser and that we want the energy of fire to burn away all our dysfunctional beliefs and clear out the old debris so that we can focus on crafting our lives to our liking.
Likewise, water could symbolize the essence of our being or the blood of the world. It could represent our emotions or it could symbolize the nurturing fluids of the womb and thus nurturing in general. To use the power of the elements we need to choose for ourselves what these elements mean to us. A little time on this is well spent. Using other people’s meanings for the elements can still work if we genuinely accept them, but I think it’s important to remember that someone else made up these meanings. Our own meanings are likely to be stronger for us.
So let’s say that we want to create a romantic ritual to initiate the process of creating a child. And let’s say that we want to bring together all the elements at one time to symbolize for us all the forces that come together at the inception of life. And we wanted each element to bless this endeavor. How can we invoke all the elements at once? One way is to make a soufflé. Many people regard a soufflé as an impossibly tricky thing to make. I’ve always taken advantage of this misconception to make a reasonably easy dish that inevitably evokes satisfying Ooohs and Ahhhs. So, as a chef. I encourage you to not be afraid of making a soufflé.
The water is in the milk we use. The plants are the onions and whatever other vegetables we put in. The animals are in the eggs, the butter, and again the milk. The earth is in the salt crystals. The wind is in the air we beat into the egg whites. The fire is what we use to cook our soufflé. And the human element is, of course, the diners.
I’m not going to give you my favorite recipe for a soufflé because I don’t have one. There are plenty of good recipes online. I make up my recipes each time just as I make up my meanings. The important thing is being conscious of all the elements at all the levels that we’re playing with.
A romantic ritual might start out with both people sitting together, perhaps with some drink like wine or tea, and affirming their commitment to bringing a child into this world and raising him or her to the best of their abilities. They might then proceed to the kitchen and begin the soufflé and anything else they want to eat with it. As each ingredient goes into place one or both could say something like, “We call in the Spirit of Plants as we peel away the dried skin of this onion. May our child be grateful for every plant friend he or she encounters and may he or she understand the nature of our learning to like peeling away the layers of an onion.” “As we pour in the milk we call in the Spirit of Water to bless our child. May our child come to know the power and nature of feelings and to not be afraid of any of them.” “As we open and separate these eggs, we call in the Spirit of Animals. May our child learn to understand our complex relationship with the animals of this earth and may he or she become friends with as many animals as possible.” “We call in the Spirit of Earth as we add the salt. May our child grow up robust and healthy and be blessed with strong bones and skin.” “We call in the Spirit of Air as we beat the air into these egg whites. May our child have strong healthy lungs and the ability to speak his or her truth.” And when it comes time to put the soufflé in the oven, they might say, “As we put this soufflé in this oven we call upon the Spirit of Fire. May our child be blessed with abundant energy and enthusiasm. “
When the soufflé comes out and before it exhales (as all soufflés do) they might say something like, “As we sit down to eat this soufflé, we call in the Spirit of Humans. May our child know the joy of connecting with many humans and the sweetness of deep and abiding love for another human.”
There are two more important ingredients in this ritual: savoring the food itself, for the pleasure of this ritual is the energy to make these desires manifest, and gratitude of all that is involved in this day and for all that is coming.
The other operations involved in initiating a child should come quite naturally at this point!
On September 10, 2013 I did a Shaman in the Kitchen cooking class at Kalani Oceanside Retreat for their Puna Culinary Festival to demonstrate using food intentionally to incorporate ideas, feelings, and intentions into a dish. This dish uses seven layers to represent each one of the Seven Principles of Huna. It could be just as easily used for the seven Chakras or any other group of ideas with particular colors.
Seven-Layer Savory Crêpe Torte
Basic Crêpe Recipe
1 cup flour
½ cup milk
½ cup water
2 whole eggs
2 tablespoons melted butter
¼ teaspoon salt
Combine ingredients in a bowl or a blender and whip until smooth. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Layer 1 – White – “I am Aware”
Ike – The World is What You Think it is. You create your experienced reality with your thoughts, beliefs, and feelings.
Sautéed Onions with Mozzerella Cheese, seasoned with nutmeg, S &P
Focus on beauty and positive thinking.
Invite intentions of appreciation and gratitude for the beauty in our lives
Layer 2 – Red – “I am Free”
Kala – There are no Limits. You have unlimited possibilities to choose from.
Sautéed red peppers with a smear of spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce
Focus on abundance and increased prosperity
Invite intentions of greater receptivity and appreciation for our material wealth
Layer 3 – Orange – “I am Focused”
Makia – Energy Flows where Attention Goes – What we focus on is what we energize, whether we like it or not.
Caramelized Carrots with Cheddar Cheese
Focus on personal energy and enthusiasm
Invite intentions of greater motivation and enjoyment of life
Layer 4 – Yellow – “I am Present”
Manawa – Now is the Moment of Power. We are only powerful in the present.
Corn with lime and chopped cilantro topped with Fontina cheese
Focus on creativity and manifestation
Invite intentions of increased awareness and productivity
Layer 5 – Green – “I am Love”
Aloha – To Love is to be Happy with… someone or something. Criticism breaks Aloha.
Spinach with sautéed garlic
Focus on Love and connection
Invite intentions of deeper relationships and friendships
Layer 6 – Blue – “I am Powerful”
Mana – All Power Comes from Within – We are powerful only when we claim it
Blue cheese with mushrooms
Focus on increased intuition and psychic abilities
Invite intentions of a deeper partnership with spirit and confidence in our own psychic skills
Layer 7 – Violet or Purple – “I am in Harmony”
Pono – Effectiveness is the Measure of Truth – Does this really work for me?
Sautéed purple peppers with cream cheese, shallots, and balsamic vinegar
Focus on magic, synchronicity, and harmony
Invite intentions of increased success, satisfaction, and pleasure
Assemble entire crêpe torte and bake for 15 to 20 minutes at low heat to melt the cheeses and integrate the intentions. Serve wedges of the torte so that each person intakes their own desires and contributes to the manifestation of everyone’s desires.
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