The Sacred Kitchen

The kitchen is where we prepare food for our families and friends and a place where we spend a great deal of time cooking, cleaning and planning daily meals. The smells of certain foods like a Christmas dinner or a special cake may conjure memories of childhood. Smell and taste are bound up with our memories and emotions. The smell of chicken soup on the stove on a cold rainy day instantly warms the soul and gives comfort. We often associate certain foods with special holidays; turkey and stuffing play a major role in most Thanksgiving celebrations. The main purpose and meaning of any holiday celebration is to express our gratitude for the good things in life. We do this by preparing special foods for our loved ones.

To restore sacredness to food, we must first create a special place in the kitchen just for ourselves. This can be as simple as separating an area of the kitchen counter for your own special use or maybe a kitchen windowsill. Make this area special by placing a special plant, a small statue or picture of importance to you, as the centerpiece. You could add special photographs, mementos, and your favorite tea mug. Make this space uniquely yours.

Now look around your kitchen, what would you like to keep and what would you like to get rid of? Clean out your drawers and cupboards of any clutter. Give those unwanted items to someone who could use them. Redecorate your kitchen with objects that represent how you feel about the role you play in the kitchen. You might add some baskets, plants, candles, anything that will make it a warm, nurturing place to be in. It is believed by some cultures that the state of the mind while preparing food has everything to do with that food being beneficial for the body’s health or not.

We are all connected to the earth mother Gaia, and the food she gives us should be prepared with thankfulness and love in our hearts. When we prepare food in a sacred manner, we feed our souls as well as our bodies. Filling our kitchen with laughter and joy heals us. You may want to prepare food with your children, sharing your knowledge and skills. Using a good herbal guide, you may gather wild plants for your salads. Fresh dandelions, chicory, and eatable flowers make a nice addition to any salad.

Make a study of herbs and nutrition. Learn the history of the foods you eat. Grow your own herbs and vegetables. Explore the symbolic meanings of the foods you eat. Did you know that the “holy cows” of India are so sacred to this day that no one may harm them. Also Artemis, one of the oldest Greek Goddesses, was called “Melissa,” and sometimes was depicted as half woman, half bee. There are many such associations with food to be found. Explore and most importantly share the information you learn with your family. You might make a map of the world and attach this to your refrigerator door with magnets. Have your children make felt cutouts representing different foods and make a game out of learning where these foods come from and their history. This can be fun for the whole family.

When you purchase items for your kitchen, think about it’s purpose and value. Is it something you really need? Select color schemes that make you feel good. Color affects us on many levels, emotionally and physically. Certain colors have been proven to heighten certain feelings such as peacefulness, depression, joy and anger. Notice how you react to certain colors. What is your first reaction? One method of finding out how you react to certain colors is to have a friend hold up several different colors, one at a time. Record your first reaction or impression. You may use colored construction paper for this exercise.

When you are about to prepare a meal, take a deep breath, look around your kitchen, exhale. Become aware of how you are holding your body. Are you tense, rigid or relaxed? You may want to light a candle and say a short blessing before preparing your meal. Give thanks to the animal or plants that are giving their life so that your life may continue. Many of us are so disconnected from the reality of where our food comes from that we seldom acknowledge that other life forms die in order that we may live. Too few of us have to kill and dress our own meat. We usually pick up our main dinner entree in a neatly wrapped package from the grocery store. Unfortunately this disconnects us from the circle of life.

Our bodies digest and assimilate natural and whole foods more easily. Foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes provide the greatest nutritional value. Also eating fruits and vegetables that are in season are recommended. We are affected by seasonal changes, and other natural patterns such as weather, moon cycles, and our own biological clock. Illness and tension are often a result created by our resistance to natural energy patterns. We cannot stop nature; she always has her way. By paying close attention to our own body’s messages and nature’s ever changing patterns we can flow with the energy currents rather than against. Try to reflect Mother Nature’s teachings in your kitchen and the foods that you prepare. You may want to decorate and cook according to the seasons.

A friend of mine just told me this lovely story about Anna’s Box. I would like to share it with you;

It seems that many years ago a young child grew up watching her mother prepare their family meals. And towards the end of her food preparation she noticed that her mother Anna would always reach up over the stove and bring down this beautifully carved old box. Anna would open the box and take a pinch of the ingredients out and add this to the food. The young child asked her mother “what is in the box”? Her mother would always reply ” an old family recipe” a family secret. She watched her mother repeat this ritual many times over the years that followed. When the young child was grown with a daughter of her own, she was given the carved box upon her mother’s death. She too performed the daily ritual of Anna’s box, and told her young daughter when questioned about the box, it’s a family secret. The young daughter was very curious about the contents of this magical box and could hardly wait to find out its mysterious secrets. The years passed and she forgot about the special box.

Then one day many years later her mother passed on, and she inherited the carved box. She was so excited to finally receive this box; she held it gently almost afraid to finally discover it’s hidden secrets. With held breath she opened it only to find it empty. This can not be she exclaimed. She lovingly closed the lid and smiled. She now realized that the box did contain a secret recipe. It was a recipe for the love a person has for her family, a reminder to cook with love. It was the action of looking into the box and remembering to add a pinch of love to every dish prepared that created the magic of Anna’s box.

We too can create our own Anna’s box and add a blend of special herbs that represent love and enact the same ritual with the foods that we prepare. Why not create a special container or box and in the lid of the container write “In memory of Anna’s box”. Sprinkle with love.

The sacred kitchen is about love, ritual and family. Try creating your own family rituals. Ask your relatives about your family’s history. Create a family history book. Mostly cook with love. May your kitchen be filled with wonderful smells, laughter and great joy ~ Rose