It’s September. The harvest season continues. If we could make a symbolic soup to heal the Earth, what ingredients should we include? What ingredients does Mother Earth have for you? I explored all that and more in a special harvest ritual.
I’ve seen first-hand how effective rituals can connect us to our tribe, deepen the meaning of our lives, give comfort, and reveal our personal magic. That’s why I created the Ritual Recipes podcast. In past episodes, I’ve talked about wedding rituals, baby blessings, rituals to begin the New Year, and more. Future episodes will include seasonal rituals as well as rituals for funerals, memorials, and divorce…and more. Lots more.
Earlier this month, I gathered with friends and people I met that evening. We were fortunate to have use of the space at Meg’s Inspirations, a gift shop and spiritual boutique in Manchester, CT. We began the evening by talking about memories, especially the memories we treasure and about how often they are connected with food. We talked about how anything, even a peanut butter sandwich, tastes great when we know it was made with love.
Because I’m a big believer in “show, don’t tell,” I showed everyone my 1968 cookbook, A World of Baking by Dolores Casella. On page 257 is the recipe for Crispy Cobbler. The margins are filled with my handwritten notes. Here are just a few:
- 9/30/99 to celebrate Dick’s homecoming from completing the Appalachian Trail (Dick is my husband of 37 years)
- 11/17/99 for Anne, Mike, and his parents on their first visit to America from Wales (Anne and Mike are dear friends. Back in 1999, Mike built the website DickTakesAHike.com so I could report on Dick’s progress. At the time, I didn’t even know how to send a group email!
- 2/24/11 Dick made for Zita. His first cobbler. Best ever!
- 8/16/17 for Logan, released from the hospital (Logan is my grandson)
Next to the recipe for Apple Pie with Yogurt, I have this note:
- 11/27/91 Laurie’s favorite. She’s coming home tonight! (Laurie is my daughter.)
For me, as delicious as those recipes are, the memories I associate with them are even better.
Others shared food memories, too. Then we moved to ingredients. Not the usual kind. These ingredients were designed to help each of us in some deeply personal way. Let me set the scene.
I had two long tables decorated with symbols of the harvest. There were scarecrows, wooden crates with apples, carrots, and corn, and bowls of green and purple grapes. We had two, tall, brass candle holders that looked like sheaves of wheat. In each, I had a 12-inch, soft gold taper. The candle holders were placed where they would be safe to light.
We also had a cast iron cauldron. I surrounded it with red fairy lights to symbolize fire. On a separate table, the size of a plant stand, I had a large bowl, actually the liner from a big fire pit.
Before everyone arrived, I had filled the bowl with more than 200 pieces of autumn colored cardstock. Each piece was 6” x 1.5” with a hole punched in one end. Through each hole, I had threaded about 8 inches of autumn colored satin ribbon. I tied the ribbon into a loop, making the knot as far away from the card as I could. It was important for the loops to be big enough for a spoon to slip through.
On each of the 200+ cards was a label. I used simple Office Depot return address labels, 1”x 4”. On each label I had typed one word, something meant to inspire the reader to acknowledge, or to share, or to take some other action. Thanks to a few productive brainstorming sessions, I had well over 200 words, on over 200 cards, tied with over 200 satin ribbons. Here are a few words from the list: Abundance / Action / Ask / Bridge / Comfort / Dialogue / Guide / Imagine / Legacy / Nurture / Seek / Transform / Truth / Voice / Wonder.
People came to the bowl in groups of four and stood around the bowl. Each person had his or her own wooden spoon. They had been invited to bring a spoon when they registered for the ritual.
Four at a time, they stirred the ingredients, always following the clockwise movement of the sun, a direction known to raise energy. As their spoons caught in the ribbon loops, they pulled off the ingredients meant for them. Each person needed to have at least three ingredients before leaving the bowl. If the spoon scooped up more than three, that was fine, too. Sometimes a recipe needs something extra.
Once everyone had stocked their personal metaphysical pantry, we talked about the ingredients we had received. For some of us, the resonance was immediate. For example, I pulled the ingredient “Write.” Just that week, I had started an outline for a new novel. For others, there was no obvious connection to their lives. I reminded everyone that this ritual’s resonance was to the reaping energy of the Autumn Equinox. I asked that we all keep an open mind, that over the next six months we might realize a connection to the sowing energy of the Spring Equinox next March. Then, harkening back to the notes I made in my cookbook, I suggested that over the next six months we make notes on the ingredients we had pulled from the harvest bowl.
We also talked about our wooden spoons. One woman’s spoon had belonged to her grandmother. One man’s spoon had been sitting in a kitchen drawer, unused for years. Several of us brought extra spoons to share. I had three, each with a design burned into the wood by a friend. I explained how I use the spoon with the sun and moon when I’m cooking something special for my husband. Fortunately, he likes everything so I use that spoon a lot. I stir with the spoon filled with stars when I feel like celebrating. I use the spoon with the owl when I’m searching for wisdom. I use that one the most.
Then we came to the heart of the evening. If you’re like me, and so many of my friends, you want to do something to help heal the world. We’ve all heard the wisdom about lighting a candle instead of cursing the darkness. Can one small act to better the world, multiplied hundreds, thousands, millions of times bring change? I believe it can.
With that in mind, I gave each person another ingredient card, complete with satin ribbon. This time, the label was blank. While musician Doug Yager played soft, meditative chimes, we each reflected on what ingredient we wanted to add to our soup to heal the world.
Before I go on, let me remind you that ritual is a visible act performed with invisible intent.
One by one, we all came to the cauldron rimmed with fairy light fire. We read out loud what we wanted to add to the soup, dropped our ingredients into the cauldron and stirred with our own spirit spoon. We left our spoons in the cauldron to symbolize that each of us had a hand in making the soup.
In the end, we took our spoons, stood in a circle, and held our spoons in the center so they would touch. The idea was that we would take home the ingredients each of us had added to the healing soup. I know the next time I used one of my spoons, which was the next day, I did so feeling a connection to the people who had gathered with me the night before.
Curious about the ingredients we put in the soup? Here they are:
- Be kind to one another.
- Truthfulness. Joy. Harmony.
- Honesty and Sincerity.
- Listen, not talk.
- Peace. Stop the prejudice and judging of others.
- Realize we all need each other.
- Share your smile.
- Have compassion and love.
Imagine sharing this soup with the world. Imagine it being served at the White House!
What ingredient would you add? Please tell me. I’ll write it on a blank card and add it to the soup. We’re making another pot for the Spring Equinox. You can email your ingredient to me at Zita@RitualRecipes.net — Just the words, please. No attachments. Or stop by Facebook.com/MoonRiverRituals and leave your ingredient there.
If you want to create a ritual practice for yourself or your family, this podcast offers a safe and simple way to begin.
Before I close, I want to give a big THANK YOU to Rob Walch at Libsyn, the company that hosts Ritual Recipes. Thanks to Rob, my podcast is now on Amazon’s “Alexa” device. So, if you have one and you want to listen, just say, “Alexa, play Ritual Recipes podcast.” If you know someone who has an Alexa device and would enjoy easy access to this podcast, please let them know. Thanks.
I believe in the power of ritual. If you do, too, or you just want to know a little more, please join me for the next episode. And tell your friends! It’s like sharing a recipe – a Ritual Recipe.
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