Preserving the Past

store cupboardAnyone who follows me on social media will know that my life over this last month or so has pretty much been consumed by harvesting home grown produce, foraging the wild bounty and preserving the lands abundance.  Given that most Witchcraft literature these days is very… intensely academic shall we say?!? And definitely more inclined to a more traditionally ‘occult sensibility’, it’s understandable that people may wonder what the hell gardening, foraging and pickling have to do with my Craft and spirituality.  The answer is pretty simple…

…I’m not just preserving food, I am preserving the past.

Multi Mead

The ancestors, and by that I mean those spirits to whom I am linked by blood, land and craft lineage, would have done exactly what I have been spending the last few weeks doing.  Their time would have been devoted to harvesting their home grown produce, gathering whatever they could from the wild and making sure they preserved as much as they could to get them through the stark lean winter months and the early spring ‘hungry gap’.  Survival depended on a well-stocked pantry, and even the most cunning of Witches still need to eat!  They didn’t have refrigerators and corner shops to call on in an emergency, if a crop failed…tough shit, death by starvation was a harsh reality.

Multi Fruit

Many people nowadays enjoy the art of preserving as a hobby, even buying fruits and vegetables just for the fun of preserving them, but a few jars of jam is not going to feed a family of four for an entire year and if needs must we pop to the supermarket and grab some more… fine.  However, by insisting that all I have is all I’m going to ever have, by living seasonally and eating only what is available is, for all intents and purposes, akin to walking a mile in dead men’s’ shoes…I do it because they did it, I do it to honour the hardships they faced, I do it to connect with them (and the seasons and cycles of the land by default) in a way that a candle and prayer simply cannot.  Through these practises I understand my forebears, bridge the gap of the centuries and I learn their language.

Multi BasilWitchcraft is often made overly complicated…rituals, charms, altars and paraphernalia which of course play their part but we can also gain wisdom simply by connecting with the land and our ancestors, seeing the world through their eyes… gathering firewood out in the bitter cold, living only on food that’s in season, pickling, preserving…’make do and mend’.  It doesn’t have to be all the time, and I’m not suggesting we shun the conveniences of modern life (I use my freezer a lot!) but a ritual dedicated to the ancestors can stink of bubbling malt vinegar as much as it does smouldering incense, our blades can chop and dice chutneys as well as carve a hallowed circle, our cup can overflow with unusual hedgerow home brews and infused spirits.  Every time you eat that blackberry jelly, pickled veg or drink that cloudy home brew cider or wine you are tasting what your ancestors tasted, calling forth their memories from your DNA.  Your blood and bones, whilst being sustained by the harvest actually connect us to lineage because we consume it.  With every basket of goodies we gather, with every act of cooking and eventually eating those goodies we ‘tap the bones’…

Multi Herbs

Temples can be kitchen shaped, Magic can be bottled and our Ancestors can live again.

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