Time to gather around the fire on a cold evening, with good food, good family and friends, and celebrate abundance and sharing. It is the harvest here in the northern hemisphere, and in the Wiccan nature calendar, it is Mabon. Let’s gather and eat!
We have quite the lovely and creative community in the Tarot Blog Hop Facebook group. If you came here either from Ania’s or Morgan’s fine blogs (see links above), welcome! And if you get lost, the Master List will give you a bird’s eye view to find your way again.
Yes, eat. For what we gather, we then consume to create the energy to survive the winter. Energy to matter, matter to energy. We are part of that basic cycle. Being human social animals, though, we’ve turned our need to translate matter to energy into a sharing of food and friendship/family.
For this season’s Tarot blog hop, in accordance with our wranglers’ call for food sharing (a very tasty theme!), I’ve chosen the Wildwood Tarot, by Mark Ryan, John Matthews, and Will Worthington to create a picture story of our original gatherings to share the harvest. It’s a tale of energy expended and life sacrificed to gather matter (food) to consume to create the energy for us to continue as conscious beings.
And of course there will be a recipe in the end. 🙂
The Hunter and the Hunted
In the world of the Wildwood, it’s hunter-gatherer time, so the balance of nature is found in the process of killing and being killed. These days, post-agricultural revolution, we think of ourselves as owning and cultivating our food, and we often feel detached from the plants and animals who give their fruit and their lives for our sustenance. In the Wildwood, one moves eye-to-eye and arrow to claw with one’s food.
One of my favorite Wildwood cards depicts the intense energy of focus and hunting skill that is necessary to gather food for our sustenance (The Archer/The Chariot). I think my favorite part of this wonderful Worthington illustration is that the hunter is female, and also not alone. She is using the skills of her canine companions to support her own. A wonderful twist on the in-charge Chariot card.
Because food is so easy to obtain these days, we have mostly lost our focus on its value, as well as the sacrifice of the food itself, and we waste both it and our bodies in unconscious consumption. The Archer calls upon us to engage in conscious eating with gratitude for our prey’s sacrifice, in order to find balance in our bodies and our lives.
Sourcing the Water of Life
Along with good hunting grounds, the folks of the Wildwood need clear water to process their food and keep soul and body together. They found the calmness and flow of a good spring to be good for both. I love the Cups cards in this deck; I always get this feeling of meditative calm or the relief of releasing the flow to create new pathways.
Today, we have used up so much water, particularly in urban and agricultural areas, that we are finally seeing that there is wisdom in conserving this universal resource. Conscious appreciation of our water sources, including the savoring of water instead of sugar drinks, continues to be good for human bodies and souls. Besides, toasting one’s friends in a shared beverage feeds our social connections.
Being social animals, we like to share our food with others, so get out your cauldron and let’s mix up a great comfort meal (see below) to celebrate this harvest season.
In the Wildwood, the folk bring food and beverage to the village fire to cook and share abundance and the accomplishments of the hunting and gathering season. Worthington, the illustrator for this deck, has deftly captured the simplicity and good feeling that goes with love and full tummies after great effort.
And the cycle of energy to matter to energy continues on and on…
Comfort Food Time!
In my old New England family, food has always been savory but basic: animal protein, veggies from the garden, some savory herbs, salt and pepper. Over the past year of living with my mother-in-law and then traveling to Oregon from Texas, I’ve relied heavily on the simplicity of the basic foods from my childhood because complex culinary activities just weren’t working (or appreciated!).
I’ve also found that I don’t need to rely on cans and packages to create good comfort foods, and that my ideas for recipes are often tastier anyway. One of my favorite basic meals was inspired by Shake ‘n’ Bake chicken, although I no longer use the package. I add mashed potatoes and either salad greens or broccoli to round out this recipe. Here are the details.
1.5 to 2.5 lbs (or more if you have more folks) Chicken or other white-meat fowl (you could shoot your own quail, turkey, etc.) cut into pieces (breasts, legs, and/or thighs, etc.)
1/4 to 1/2 cup breadcrumbs (either plain/make your own—need to be dried—crackers are good—and add your own herbs and spices, or buy Garlic and Herb breadcrumbs)
1 or more tablespoons of oil or oil spray
For the potatoes:
3 or more medium white or red potatoes to mash
2–3 tablespoons butter
1/8 cup milk (I just pour a little in, and I love goat milk!)
1/2 teaspoon basil, and salt and pepper to taste
Greens and other harvest foods for a salad or cut broccoli or other favorite veggie to steam
Favorite salad dressing for salad choice
Sprinkle in a large plate or shallow bowl half of your breadcrumb/herb mixture. Rinse your chicken pieces (or dress/clean your own fowl as appropriate) and lay them out on the breadcrumbs. Pour more breadcrumbs on your fowl and turn with tongs to cover (you can also pour all the breadcrumbs in a plastic bag and do the shaking thing if you like).
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
Grease a cookie sheet or shallow baking pan that will hold your fowl pieces (I use an oil spray or a thin layer of vegetable oil) and then place your pieces in the pan/on the cookie sheet. Bake for at least 45 minutes. Enjoy the lovely smell while the herbed chicken cooks!
About a half hour before your fowl is done, cut your potatoes into chunks and cook in a medium saucepan half-filled with water until tender. Drain out the water and add the butter, milk, basil and salt and pepper to the potatoes. Then use a fork or masher tool to mash your potatoes (always better than boxed potato flakes, especially if potatoes are from your own garden!).
If you choose steamed veggies, you will want to start them while the potatoes are cooking. You can use a steamer device, or just a basket in a saucepan with a little water (my choice). Keep an eye on it, because you want your veggies firm and smelling slightly cooked, but not turned to mush.
If you choose salad greens (and whatever else you might have from your garden like radish slices, carrot shavings, green onion, etc.), I assume you’ve already cleaned and sliced earlier. Toss them together and add a store-bought or homemade vinaigrette and you are done!
Gather your community and enjoy!
And don’t forget to eat up the rest of the great blog hop posts along the way (see below for links).