I mentioned earlier that mealtime gratitude was one of the first things I incorporated into my life, so that seems as good a place to start as any. Actually, this section might be one of the longer ones, since there is so much magic that can be worked into food and eating.
So there’s gratitude. I know, The Secret and all the stuff that’s come since then has ruined a lot of people on the whole gratitude thing. That’s unfortunate, but the simple fact is, gratitude is important. Being grateful for what you have is a lot more powerful than you might think. I know when I was growing up I often heard people say “If you’re not grateful for what you’ve got, what makes you think you deserve more?” It’s true enough. If all you do is gripe about not having enough, life, God, or whatever you believe in isn’t likely to give you more.
Giving Thanks and Meal Prayers
Mealtime gratitude can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Back when I was Wiccan I had a meal blessing that I said out loud before every meal. Other people were welcome to say it with me or sit in silence until I was done.
“From the East the sun rays shine,
From the South the gentle rain.
From the West blow winds divine,
From the North the gifts of grain.
We gather now to bless this food
In perfect peace and love.
Lord and Lady touch this meal
With magick from above.”
The Meal Blessing by Silver Ravenwolf
I’m sure that idea is fairly familiar to most people. Maybe not that blessing, but saying Grace before a meal is something most have seen before or at least know about.
“O Lord, we thank you for the gifts of your bounty which we enjoy at this table. As you have provided for us in the past, so may you sustain us throughout our lives. While we enjoy your gifts, may we never forget the needy and those in want.”
Common Christian meal prayer
That’s one way to do things, with a before-meal prayer. If you can do that in your household and it feels good, then by all means pick a prayer and say it alone or with your family. For me, living in a house with people of other faiths, that didn’t go over too well.
What I do now is to silently give thanks for the meal, and for whoever prepared it, if it wasn’t me. If there’s an animal product on the plate, I take time to give thanks to the creature for giving its life to help sustain mine. I acknowledge the circle of life and feel grateful for all that I am about to eat.
For me, the meal gratitude doesn’t stop there. I try to make sure to always thank the cook if someone else made the meal. If someone cooks for you, they deserve a little gratitude, especially if the food is good. My husband is always grateful when I thank him and give honest compliments about his cooking. It’s a joy that we can share together.
I also make the act of eating less mundane by really paying attention to my food. I enjoy the scent, the colors, and the textures as they cross my tongue. I taste everything alone, then together. I savor each bite and I really try to take my time with my food. Yes, there are days when I’m really hungry and I don’t eat as slowly, but I usually try to make it an enjoyable experience, and not just an act of fueling my body. You should really try to slow down and enjoy your food at every meal.
Being truly mindful of your food, no matter how simple or complex it is, really changes the experience. It’s a little bit of magic in your day. Honestly, dinner time is one of my favorite times of the day. I usually look forward to it. Lunch is often less focused, but dinner is a time to unwind and enjoy. Even if all I have to eat is a bowl of Ramen, it’s something special.
When you pay attention, food becomes so much more amazing. When I take my time and really feel grateful for my food, it tastes better. It smells better. It’s good no matter what I’m eating. Saltines and peanut butter can become a divine treat. I’ve found that I actually have a much greater appreciation for simple things now. Even a kernel of raw corn is something I enjoy and smile over. It may sound silly, but try it for a while and you’ll probably experience it too. Once you do, oh man, when you get good food, it’s pure heaven.
Back to the point of mealtime thanks, you need to figure out what makes you feel good. That’s always the key, and I’ll likely point that out many times throughout this book. There’s no “right” way to do any of this. You have to look inside yourself and discover what feels right for you. Maybe you just want to show some general gratitude for your food. That’s fine. Maybe you want to give thanks to a particular deity or deities. That’s cool. Maybe you want to make mealtime a full-on ritual celebration of food, life and the gods. That’s good too. It’s all up to you.