Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
This presentation is about food and its magical correspondences. It is also about how those magical correspondences can be of great benefit to every magician. I’m going to share with you how this can be done, and then you will be able to take that information and make it work for you and members of your local body. In fact, I promise you that before I am finished, you will never think of food in the same way ever again.
What I’m going to present has been around for hundreds of years. At least since 1653 when an English botanist, herbalist, physician and astrologer, Nicholas Culpepper published the first book about this concept. Born in 1616 in London and trained as a pharmacist, he is responsible for cataloguing and writing about the pharmaceutical uses of hundreds of herbs and plants, and the belief that medicines from plants should be made available to the public. He was despised by physicians for treating his patients often for free. He did not believe in bloodletting or treating patients with poisons like mercury, practices that were so common at the time. The Society of Apothecaries also criticized him for his cheap herbal remedies, instead of selling their expensive potions. To this day, modern medicine is indebted to his studies on many plant extracts, which influenced the evolution of modern pharmacology, such as the medical use for foxglove in the treatment of heart conditions, and many other herbs and plants that modern medicine has continued to use.
I discovered the work of Culpepper when I began to study herbalism in my twenties, and used his book, The Complete Herbal1, as a reference (originally printed in 1653, and which has been reprinted repeatedly for centuries). Culpeper was educated at Cambridge with studies in Latin and Greek, but his interests took root in astrology and medicine. He went to work as an apprentice for seven years with a master apothecary in London, and during this time he carefully catalogued all herbal and plant medicines of the time by collecting and processing them. He married a young woman with means, which allowed him to open his own apothecary shop, and he set to work as a botanist and physician to treat the poor. He believed that medical treatment should not be just for the wealthy. He was able to
1 Nicholas Culpeper, Culpeper’s Complete Herbal. (London: W. Foulsham & Co., 1975.)
translate from Latin, the Pharmcacopia Londonesis2 into English, which he published in 1649, much to the distain of the physicians of his time. This most important work on plants, which described the virtues, qualities, and properties of every plant known at the time, allowed him the opportunity to study even more in detail, the medicines of the Old Latin world and the works of Galen and Hippocrates. In this book he also included information about child growth in the womb and child delivery, and because of this early study, Culpeper came to be considered the Father of English Midwifery. It was through these studies and his continued work in astrology that he was able to add to his knowledge, by combining his knowledge of medicine and astrology. He was able to see direct correlations with plants to astrological aspects with each plant. Thus, four years later when he published The Complete Herbal he was able to be even more precise with his assignations. Tragically, his life ended at 38 after suffering from tuberculosis, which was not curable at the time. It is, from studying his work that I began to look at plants in a new way.
Sparked by writings such as his, I turned my attention to working with herbs to both heal my self and use them abundantly in my cooking. In fact, I launched a 20-year career of working in the food industry, earning a degree in Food Service Management, training as a chef, working as a manager and chef for some top restaurants in San Diego County, and opening my own catering business. At the same time, I began working in my first magical practice as a priestess in Egyptian ceremonial magic, and continued to explore other magical traditions, as well. I was a priestess in the Majestic System, a Western European form of Wicca; in the Celtic Celestial Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids; in the Aridian tradition of Italian Strega, in the Northumberland Faerie tradition, and the Eleusinian Greek mysteries, with some Hawaiian Huna magic, as well. For several years, I was celebrating five different New Year’s traditions. In time, I ceased practicing all the above traditions and took up Thelema full time. But, it wasn’t until I began working for a top vegetarian restaurant that I began to make the important connection between practicing magic and cooking magically.
While reading a myriad of mystical and occult texts in my various magical studies, I came across the work of Franz Bardon. He was a Czech, who in his early career had been a stage magician and later became a teacher of Hermetics. In one of his books, Initiation Into Hermetic, he wrote instructions on how to aid a magician’s physical, mental and astral abilities.
2 Nicholas Culpeper, Pharmcacopia Londonesis (London: Royal College of Physicians of London, 1649)
A segment of his work was used for analyzing the negative and positive qualities of the personality called the Black and White Mirror3. Bardon made use of the ancient four elements, air, earth, fire and water, plus the akasha or quintessence. He believed that the accomplished magician was one who could manipulate the elements to achieve a desired effect. Before the student could become master of the elements without, he had to first harmonize and control the manifestations of all elements, within. It was only through a thorough self-analysis that one could become a successful magician. With each working one came to some balance with the self and the elements. He instructs the student in theory and practice, within a magical curriculum. An excess of an element had to be lessened and a lack of an element needed to be developed. Bardon taught that without this inner control, outer elemental workings could not be accurately achieved. He is the author of also two other books written on magic: The Practice of Magical Evocation, and The Key to the True Quabbala. After Bardon’s death, his secretary Otti Votavova wrote a fourth book, Frabado the Magician, which was based on Bardon’s life.
It was one line in Bardon’s book, Initiation Into Hermetics that sent me headlong into the direction that I had been looking for:
It will be very useful if the adept becomes acquainted with the cause and the effect of the four elements and knows how to use them correctly. By drawing analogies to the human body, one will certainly find out how to draw the parallel to the elements.4
An astute astrologer, Tim Scott (a contributing writer on the Franz Bardon website), helped me to expand upon Bardon’s small example of this process. We created a working balance sheet for the personality in order to transform vices into virtues, and cultivate balance and harmony. This transmutation is in essence an alchemical and magical process requiring practical training through introspection and self-discovery. By the time we had concluded our analysis, nearly 600 specific characteristics of human personality traits had been assigned their elemental assignations. This became the first real delving into the elements for me, and I teach a class on
3 Franz Bardon, Initiation Into Hermetics (Wuppertal, W. Germany: Dieter Rüggeberg, 1976), 56.
4 Ibid., 31.
this process to this day. If any one would like to know more about this process, email me and I will send it to you.
As the years ticked by and I began to apply what Bardon described, by applying the process of the Black and White Mirror, a new understanding of what a person could do for his or her self became clear on a personal level. These changes for me were slow to achieve, but eventually there was improvement, and the process came to be useful in honing the magical and alchemical self that became my new goal. At this same time, the process of becoming a hypnotherapist began to occupy my time. Assisting others in turning bad habits and fears into positive forces and strengths seemed a logical and parallel path with the working of the Black and White Mirror. In fact, my business was called, The Balance Within, with the byline “Learning to go inward, in order to go forward.” Here was a way in which assisting others, who were not involved in a magical practice, could see the value of changing their life for the better. In fact, hypnotherapy works so well it almost seems magical to my clients.
The work of running a local O.T.O. body took shape, and through the years I continued my own magical process and helped others to develop theirs. There was always the next magical event or initiation feast needing to be planned and prepared. Then it occurred to me: If balancing the elements could influence the personality, why couldn’t the body find a balancing of the elements through the food we eat? I reflected back upon the time when I was a 16-year-old vegetarian and first studying plants. I was fortunate to have grown up in a rural environment on a small avocado ranch in inland San Diego. Every year we had a large garden of fresh herbs, vegetables, and a wide variety of berries and fruit trees. The methods of planting, tending, and harvesting foods, were a part of my home life. I learned how to work with herbs, preserve foods, later how to distill plants, and how to heal myself through plants. If the application of working with the elements in the personality could also be applied to food, I would be even further along in finding the balance of the elements within, just as I was learning to work with the elements magically without.
So I took another long look at the foods we eat. All my old herbal texts came off the bookshelves and research began anew. (These books are listed in the back of my cookbook in the bibliography.) I started once again, with new eyes, to review the materials. I reopened my old copy of Culpeper’s The Complete Herbal and found the plant All Heal5. After its description, the place where it grows, and the season in which it can be
5 Nicholas Culpeper, The Complete Herbal (London: W. Foulsham & Co, 1975), 14.
found, were listed its government and virtues. I now noticed that it was under the dominion of Mars and was considered hot, which only meant that it had to be a plant of fire in the sign of Aries. If planetary, elemental and astrological correspondences could be assigned to all edible foods, this meant that menus could be devised with any specialized magical focus that I wanted to address.
Culpeper had already assigned planetary correspondences to most herbs and some trees, but still many edible foods were not listed. As new foods got added to my growing list, their magical correspondences had to be addressed. That’s when the work of botanically studying these plants to assess their primary qualities was approached. At the end of two years the list of foods and their correspondences had grown to over one thousand edible foods from around the world. Their element, ruling planet, and astrological sign, as well as its chakra of influence had also been identified. That was how my cookbook got started. There have been others that have gone down this road. In fact, there are a couple cookbooks already written that offer some wonderful recipes based on these same principles, but they are limited in scope, dealing with only planets or astrological signs. All I needed to do was examine the magical aspects of our Thelemic celebrations, and work out what those correspondences should be.
Another author that supported the magical usefulness of plants was Scott Cunningham, who I knew well, as we ran in the same magical circles in San Diego in the 80s, and we were both members of Raven Grimassi’s Strega tradition. Scott published several books based to a great degree on Culpeper’s work: The Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs, The Magic in Food, Magical Herbalism, and Earth, Air, Fire & Water; among many more. In his books on magical herbs and plants he expanded upon the work of Culpeper adding together a plant’s element, planet and astrological sign with historical uses and magical folklore.
In addition to his works others appeared on the market during this rich and revealing time for practicing witches and herbalists. All of them added to the public’s knowledge of working with plants through magical means, but it also became apparent that some writers did not convey the correct magical correspondences for the foods they spoke about. At times the assigned element did not match the planet. For instance, some fruits were said to be foods of water, yet were assigned to Venus as the ruling planet. But Venus is not a planet of water. Venus is a planet that rules Libra in air or Taurus in earth. What then? What I had to do was go back and once again analyze each plant, in much the same way that Culpeper had once done more than 350 years before. Eventually, by analyzing the botany of those plants and the characteristics of edible animals, I was able to come to an understanding of their properties, and complete the assigning of the correspondences for all foods. Because Culpeper and Cunningham had stayed with the classical planets I did as well, even though later Pluto became the modern ruling planet for Scorpio, Neptune for Pisces, and Uranus for Aquarius.
The challenges did not end there. A lot of foods can be eaten raw and with those foods their inherent quality remains constant. However, there are still a lot of foods that in order to be digested and enjoyed, need to be cooked. Wouldn’t the action of one element upon another change that elemental property? I knew it did, because I had changed the property of foods in everything I had ever cooked. The way in which a food is prepared can greatly alter its properties. A food can be diced into tiny squares or mashed, its flavor altered by contrasting seasonings, and many different methods of cooking can be employed. Take the common table grape for example. Due to its shape, light flesh below the skin (regardless of its outside color), and the fact that it is mostly made up of water, the grape is considered water of the Moon, which places it in Cancer. Easy enough, but what happens if that grape is dried and becomes a raisin, or its juice is fermented into vinegar or wine, or is made into champagne? Then I realized that there was an inherent elemental aspect, and a transitory elemental aspect, to all foods. And sometimes there may be more than one transitional phase that it goes through, as in the case of the common grape. That is how I came to understand their differences. Like everything else in life, I found some exceptions, but they were rare. It was becoming clear that these very things had to be explained, in order to work with them in a disciplined and magical way.
Let’s examine some of these foods so that you will more easily understand how this works. Every food I’m going to talk about is edible, either in its seed and root, stem and leaf, or flower and fruit stage. Here is a general guideline that helps to delineate and characterize a food for an element. Air foods are primarily leafy herbs and trees that have bright flowers and hanging fruit, as well as most fowl. Fire foods are yellow to red, have a warm to hot taste, are spicy, and include many seeds and oils. Water foods are usually clear to white, have cooling properties, can be found in lakes and seas, and have an extraordinary juiciness about them. Earth foods are generally root vegetables, low-lying plants with an earthy color, are heavier, and more compact carrying substantial protein, as in grains, nuts and meats.
Take the fennel plant, for example. Its edible base is above the ground rather than below. Its leaves and small flowers are airy and light. Even its seeds are light green and aromatic, and when pressed produce a strong oil. The plant overall, due to its delicate leaves and pronounced scent, is a plant of air. Its stems are full of water, so they are water of air. And the seeds with a high amount of oil within them, and the fact that the seeds must go through a heating process to produce the oil, are fire of air.
Here’s another example: Chiles are a plant of fire. Chiles grow on low bushes and they produce fruit that comes in many colors, but mostly yellow, orange and red. The color helps to discern its element, but taste is the true test. Chilies are hot, so its overall elemental element is of fire. When freshly produced with a watery base like chile salsa, it becomes water of fire, much like bell peppers that hold a lot of water. When infused with oil, chiles become fire of fire. Its inherent quality of fire is maintained, so for our purposes and the way I have delineated this in my cookbook, we can just refer to them and all foods that keep their inherent property as the same, so chile oil is of fire. When chilies are dried or powdered, they become air of fire, because evaporation of being exposed to air acts as a transitive element upon the food.
Next are grapes, and now we can answer the previous questions about the elemental changes that can occur with this fruit. One simply needs to look at the inherent element and see what that is. Grapes are 80% water, so their element is evident. When the fruit is pressed and grape juice is made they retain their inherent element, so they are still of water. When they are dried like with raisins, the water is evaporated, so they become air of water. When they go through a heating process to become vinegar, wine or brandy, the heating process of fermentation directly affects them, so they become fire of water. And when that wine has yeast and sugars added, and the yeast produces a carbonated aspect adding air to produce champagne, a second transformative elemental process has taken place. Champagne becomes air of fire of water. So here is the first example of how more than two elements acting upon the first, can produce two transitional changes.
Next are foods of earth. As will be explained, not all earth foods are found in the ground. Aged cheese goes through a natural change. It becomes solid, dry, and often takes on a pungent earthiness. Cheese is one of the exceptions to the rule. Fresh cheeses are of water, but when cheese goes through a natural transition and is only eaten in its cured form, its inherent property has changed. It becomes an earth food. Roots or tubers like black salsify and beets, or compact foods like sorghum, millet and meats, and even earth colored foods that hang from trees where their inner seeds are hidden and very strong tasting like tamarind, are also foods of earth. Beets can be juiced, and juice can be made from tamarind paste, so both can become water of earth.
There is one more food of the elements that I want to share because of its unusual quadruplicity with the elements, and that is the egg of any animal that produces them. The whole fresh egg and the egg whites are water of the Moon, the shell and the whole cooked egg are earth of water of the Moon, the egg yolk is fire of water of the Moon, and the air pocket that forms under the film between the egg and the shell, is air of water of the Moon.
Now that we have discussed the elements, let’s talk about the planets, the moon and sun, and the foods that they rule. Remember, I am only going to be speaking about the classical spheres of Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Mercury, the Sun, and the Moon. And, I will only be able to give a few examples, as most of them rule over a long list of foods.
First up is Saturn. Saturn rules over two signs and their elements, earth in Capricorn and air in Aquarius. Cheeses that are eaten aged and have a dry or sharp flavor, like Gorgonzola and sharp cheddar, are earth of Saturn. Rutabagas that grow in the ground are also earth of Saturn. Saturn rules goat, sheep and deer, so they are foods of the earth. Those foods that are white, light and expansive, offer properties known to Aquarius. Examples of this are the pacay fruit from Peru, also known as the ice cream plant. It has a large pod with large Saturn-black seeds, but is surrounded by a soft edible fiber that is sweet with a hint of vanilla. There’s the slippery elm pod with its Saturn like shape and dark seed in the middle. The tree’s inner bark is harvested for a healing tea. A third is the linden tree with its thousands of frilly white blossoms, also used for making a delicious tea, and bees make an excellent honey from these white blossoms.
Jupiter is next and it also rules two signs: fire of Jupiter in Sagittarius, and water of Jupiter in Pisces. Examples of the former are the Crimson Maple tree, as maple syrup is fire of water of Jupiter, along with purple bilberries, both in Pisces. Macadamia nuts and eggplant are earth of fire of Jupiter, and figs and radicchio are water of fire of Jupiter.
Mars as well rules two signs, fire in Aries and water in Scorpio. Foods that are hot and spicy are of Aries, and foods that are spiky, clawed or thorny are of Scorpio. The agave plant, from which we get agave syrup and tequila; lobster with its large claws, and the fruit of the prickly pear, are all examples of water of Mars in Scorpio. Examples of fire of Mars in Aries are the onion, mustard greens, and the coco pod, from where we get chocolate. When those foods are juiced or turn into liquid beverages, they become water of fire of Mars in Aries.
Foods of the sun or of Sol are fire in Leo. These foods are bright, having more of an outward growth like those foods which stretch to the sky with bright yellow flowers; also most citrus fruits, which produce bright globes of juiciness; plants that produce seeds with a high amount of oil; and those foods that need full sun to grow. Corn is water of fire of the Sun. Sunflower seeds, are fire of the Sun due to their high oil content. The olive is air of fire of the Sun. Most squashes are fire of the Sun, and most citrus are water of the fire of the Sun. Iguanas spend most of their time lying in the sun, they offer a hearty meatiness with a flavor similar to chicken, and they are earth of fire of the sun.
Venus rules an extensive list of foods as it is another planet that rules two signs, air under Libra and earth under Taurus. Avocados, apricots, apples, blackberries, tomatoes, and a long list of fruits are water of air of Venus. Sugar cane is water of Libra in Venus and when dried into granulated sugar is air of Venus. Thyme is air of earth of Venus, and kola nuts, wheat, and beef, are earth of Venus.
Mercury also rules two signs, air of Mercury in Gemini and earth of Mercury in Virgo. There is a long list of foods for both but here are some. Quinoa, mint, and green beans are air of Mercury, along with most legumes. Almonds and pistachios are earth of air of Mercury, and cloudberries and celery are water of air of Mercury. Yams are earth of Mercury, and baking powder, baking soda and cream of tarter are air of earth of Mercury. Additionally, all fowl are earth of air of Mercury, most easily identified because they are identical on both sides of their bodies, a predominant trait in recognizing Gemini animals and plants.
The last celestial body is the Moon or Luna, which is water in Cancer. Foods of this nature can be fresh dairy foods like ice cream; soft, white and un-aged like Brie cheese; and foods grown in water like lotus, water chestnuts, taro, and water lily. Also, foods that hold a lot of water like broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, cucumbers and lettuce. Fruits that are white and round like cherimoya, coconut, and lychee, and legumes like soybeans and lentils. All are water of the Moon. Some foods appear one way, but belong to another planet. The South American fruit called the jaboticaba looks like it belongs to Saturn because of its large, black spiracle shape, but it belongs to the Moon because of its roundness and clear to white juicy insides.
Next are the foods that fall under the different astrological signs. I have already mentioned many of them while discussing the planets, moon and sun foods, but here are foods specific to the astrological signs.
First are the foods of Aries. We know that Aries is a fire sign ruled by Mars, and we have already spoken about cocoa, chilies and bell pepper, but here are some more. Cilantro and its seeds have a biting flavor along with garlic, mustard, chive and its flower, radish, tarragon, coffee berries, watercress and peppercorns. When cilantro is dried it becomes air of fire, the flowers of the chive are also air of fire, like most flowers are of air. Some foods of Aries will appear orange or red to indicate this sign, but the true test is in their hot and spicy flavor.
Second are the foods of Taurus, which are foods that are earth of Venus. I’ve already spoken about some foods of Taurus like hard cheeses, black salsify, beets, sorghum, millet and tamarind. There are also: barley, rhubarb, sorrel, zucchini, black-eyed peas (which are actually beans), garbanzo beans, sweet potatoes, and beef and bison, among others. Think of these foods as being close to the ground where cattle and bison might graze and you will get a good idea of the types of foods that come under this sign.
Next is Gemini with foods in air of Mercury. Earlier, when I talked about the planet Mercury, celery, quinoa, mint, green beans, almonds, pistachios, cloudberries, and all manner of fowl were mentioned. Additional foods that fall under the sign of Gemini are: dill weed, lemon grass, adzuki bean, lavender, mulberries, lemon balm, fava bean, and pinto bean. Foods like the mulberries when juiced become water of air in Mercury, and foods like the legumes, whereas their plant is of air, the beans they produce will be earth of air.
Cancer has many foods, and you have already heard about Brie, ice cream, lotus, lentils and soybeans, several vegetables, and fruits. But there are more: fresh mild goat cheese, mushrooms, truffles, sapote, melons, kohlrabi, potatoes, caviar, and oysters. Some display the whiteness of the moon, others the shape, and many posses both properties.
The sign of Leo is next, which are fire of the Sun foods. I’ve already mentioned corn, sunflower seeds, olives, squashes, citrus and iguana. Here are more: the cashew plant with its yellow casing and its nut; the Jerusalem artichoke with its golden flower soaring to the sky and its edible tuber; the bright and highly citric citron; and the carambola or star fruit, which can be cut sideways to reveal its sunny 5-pointed star shape. There are also the yellow spheres of bee pollen collected by bees, the golden-centered chamomile flowers, and pineapple. Each reflects the sun with its bright coloration, needs the warmth of full sun, and often mimics a spherical shape.
Next are the foods of Virgo, ruled by Mercury in earth. Before, you heard about the Mercury foods of yam, baking powder, baking soda, and cream of tarter. To add to that list are more Virgo foods: the yellow flowering herbs of purslane, St. John’s wort, and the golden peanut flower and its legume, among many yellow flowering plants. Also, there are parsnips and tiger nuts. Many plants display the yellowish and orange of Mercury. The meats of Virgo are rabbit, opossum and nutria. These animals are included under Virgo because they eat many of the plants of Virgo. Also, one of Virgo’s weaknesses, is that it can be interfering, as rabbits, opossums and nutria can be down right pests, and even destructive in their own environment.
Libra foods ruled by Venus with the element of air, are mostly fruits, and you’ve already heard of many. I won’t mention the long list again, but here are a few more. First is the pansy leaf with its equally flat balanced leaves on both sides of its stem. There are also goji berries, which like the elderberries and the yellow Kangaroo apple and strawberries, among many fruits of Venus, hang in clusters like a chandelier or a hanging scale. Another Venusian trait, are beautiful and exotic flowers like the passion fruit flower. And both the carob bean pod and banana are able to balance on their curves. The gorgeous flowers, the hanging clusters, and the balancing aspect of some foods are strong characteristics of belonging to Libra.
The foods of Scorpio ruled by Mars with foods of water, are those that have spines, are prickly, spiky or thorny, have tusks and sharp teeth. You heard earlier about the prickly pear and the agave plant of Mars, and here are some more of Scorpio: the scorpion fish, the Caigua [Ki-egg-wa] cucumber, the bitter melon, and gooseberry, as well as the animals of wild pig and hog, and alligator. The scorpion fish is good eating, but don’t get pricked by its poisonous fins. The caigua has a soft interior despite its rough exterior. The bitter melon is called that for good reason, along with its spiky exterior. Gooseberries are also of this astrological sign. Not all gooseberries have a prickly skin, but the golden variety does. Wild boars and pigs have large tusks, and the alligator has several rows of unforgiving teeth, so all of them are under this sign.
Sagittarius is next, which is a fire sign ruled by Jupiter. Some foods of Jupiter were mentioned earlier, like maple syrup, macadamia nuts, figs, eggplant, radicchio and bilberries; and here are some more. The anise plant has beautiful purple plumes. Clove blooms have a pinkish-purple cast before being dried, and the seed has a similar coloration with the mace membrane around the clove. Juniper berries are purple, and so is the hyssop flower. There is also safou fruit of west and southern Africa, and the extremely tall Banya nut tree with its huge cone full of nuts, native to Australia. Donkey meat (along with the horse) is a specialty item highly thought of and available in China. Both fall under the sign of Jupiter because they posses some of the characteristics of this sign. Astrologically Jupiter guides us with movement and a sense of purpose along the road of life, and influences us as to whether a journey will be rough going or smooth sailing. The donkey and horse have an inherent sense of destination. Left on their own, both will always find their way home, and on the way, they can amble along gently, or run at a jangling and rough pace.
Foods of Capricorn are of earth ruled by Saturn. The foods that were already mentioned under Saturn were some hard cheeses, root vegetables and tightly packed grains, tamarind, goat, lamb and deer. However, there are more that also fall under the sign of Capricorn. The list of hard cheeses continues with the round orange Mimolette and Emmenthaler Swiss cheeses. There is the earthnut pea flower with its edible nutty bulb. Also, the white rooted skirret, and all varieties of chard, green, red and rainbow. In the animal kingdom there is also the Nordic reindeer, which offers extremely healthy meat due to the lichen that this animal eats all summer. Additionally, there is the Saturn-like shape of the flat and rounded Chinese elm seedpod, and the dense quince fruit. Indications of Capricorn qualities can be seen in the horn shape of the skirret, chard, the earthnut pea, and the horns of the reindeer. Also, the darkened seeds inside the elm flower and the black seeds in quince. Hardness and compactness as in the cheeses and the quince is an additional quality of Capricorn foods.
Aquarius is an air sign ruled by Saturn as well. Besides the pacay fruit, slippery elm, and linden tea, and honey, already spoken about before with Saturn, here are more foods of this sign. There is the soft white pincushion sphere of the button eringo, which is a type of edible sea holly; the small white star-pedaled flower of the neem tree; the bright white and blue star-shaped borage flower; the fan-like leaf and white dangling fruit of the ginkgo; and the white threaded and delicate flower of the jambul, which produces a purple fruit. There is also the kurranjong seedpod, only found in Australia. When the seeds are dried they take on a black Saturn coloration, and can be ground into a rich dark flour to cook with. As well, there is the giant Grandilla in the family of passion fruit, with its all white soft interior. An animal included under this sign is the peacock of both the white and blue-green variety. Their plumage is extraordinary and their meat tastes like wild turkey, but even more so linked to Aquarius, because of one of this sign’s characteristics. Aquarians can be vulnerable and sensitive, are often found in groups for they are social creatures, and they often have unique ideas. As with most of the flowers and seedpods of Aquarius, they appear in clusters, like a crowd of people. The peacock is not a strong flier. It is only able to flap up into low branches of trees, so they are vulnerable to predators. They hang together in a muster or grouping called ostentation, and because they offer a showy appearance this makes them quite unique.
Last of the astrological signs is Pisces. These foods are of water and ruled by Jupiter. We have already looked at specific Jupiter foods that display a purple color, but for the Jupiter of Pisces and the vastness of its seas, the list is quite extensive. First, there are edible plants of the sea like sea grapes, sea asparagus, spirulina, and a variety of seaweeds. Then sea urchins, octopus, sea bass, anchovies, swordfish and red snapper, just to name a small percentage of the seas vastness of offerings. All of these plants and most of these animals reproduce in huge quantities, along with their size, and both are characteristics of Jupiter. A one-year-old female anchovy will spawn 10,000 eggs, a two-year old will spawn 20,000 eggs, and they will spawn up to 60 times in one season. An octopus can lay tens of thousands of eggs. A red female snapper can lay 1000 for a small female and as many as 2.5 million for an adult female. Sea urchins produce multiple millions of eggs. Or if the animal is large like the swordfish or a whale, it will produce fewer young, but their Jupiterian size more than makes up for their lower birthing rates. This concludes the listing of foods for the astrological signs, and now we move on to the chakras.
Within the Thelemic description of the Man of Earth Degrees, Crowley assigned the workings of the chakras. His use of the seven chakras was meant to emphasize the different energetic vortex that each chakra possesses. As the degrees progress a combination of chakras may be introduced.
Initiation gives outward recognition for the steps that we have chosen to go forward with a magical life. It is a process by which we commit ourselves to taking another step toward change. As we advance, we recognize that there are forces in nature about us that can be worked with, so we form a commitment to ourselves to work in cooperation with the world’s natural elements and dynamics with change for the benefit of our selves and those around us. Just as we are able to recognize the many elements in nature outside of us, we begin to gain a sense of feeling them work inside us. Anyone who has experienced an initiation may have felt this. There is also a special bond that forms with our brothers and sisters afterward. What better way to celebrate these magical steps than to share a feast and raise a glass to the advancement of our selves beyond the mundane world?
When it came to configuring menus for the initiations, the best way was to formulate them based on the influences of these seven basic Hindu chakras. The energetic influences upon and from the chakras cannot be underestimated. Chakras are directly stimulated to work upon a candidate when stimulated during an initiation. When each of those energies is awakened within the candidate, the initiate learns to recognize that energy and to reactivate them when needed.
If following the initiation the new initiate has the opportunity to take those chakra-stimulating foods into them self, then more of that specific energetic influence can be added to support the experience of the initiation. The color of food has direct influence upon the chakras. For example, when foods assigned to the root chakra of the Muladhara are eaten, like root vegetables or protein-enriched foods of beans, meats and nuts, the body becomes grounded and sustained. Activating the chakras are an effective way of stimulating the physical and psychic body, so adding foods dedicated to those chakras will only add to the power of an initiation.
The world of food is amazingly diverse in its color, smell, texture, taste and energetic properties appealing to all of our senses. Perhaps the most obvious and easiest way to work with food is through color. A corresponding colorful arrangement of food taken in after a corresponding ritual working, not only has the prospective two-fold beneficial effect upon our minds with its deeper symbolic arrangements and with our bodies satisfied with the food’s nourishment, it also has a potential synergistic affect. The experience will anchor a positive emotional impression, the food will ground and enhance our bodies, and an expanded knowledge of how we can live and eat magically will be achieved, gaining a balance within and without. In the very nature of their motion and energy, color does work upon us and through us.
There are already many books devoted to the work of the chakras, so within the confines of this one presentation only rudimentary references will be given. Our next endeavor would be to go through the chakras and list foods for each one with their specific coloration, but since I have already explained to you a diverse array of foods, and I think the colors of foods needed for each chakra should be pretty obvious, I’m only going to give a brief overview.
They are, beginning at the base chakra the red Muladhara. Red foods of all kinds should be offered here. Rising up the body, the next chakra is the Svadhisthana or Sacral chakra. This center is the orange sphere and all foods should be of this color. Next is the Manipura or solar plexus chakra, the source of will power and self-confidence. It is yellow and all yellow foods should be served for this chakra. Rising again is the Anahata chakra of the heart. Its energy center is green and the source of self-love and love for others, and green foods benefit this chakra. Next is the throat chakra, the Vishuddha, the source of creativity and truth. It is blue and as illusive as truth can be, are the more unusual foods of blue to support this chakra. Next is the Ajna chakra, source of spiritual awakening and wisdom at the third eye. It is purple and all foods with this coloration support it. The last chakra is the crown chakra, the source and connection with the divine. It is the Sahasrara chakra, which is primarily white, and all white foods should be served. That is all I am going to say about chakras due to our time limitation, but you can read about the foods for the chakras in my cookbook.
In this final section, I want to talk specifically about foods that can enhance our Thelemic feasts. For the spring and fall equinoxes and for the summer and winter solstices, serving the foods of those seasons should be the primary goal, aligning them with the elemental aspects of each season. For the Feasts for Fire and Water, they should be made up primarily of fire and water foods, respectively. For a feast for life, the foods should be young, fresh, tender, and sweet, with seeds and sprouts, and of simple construction. For a feast for death the foods should be heartier, stronger of flavor and texture, aged, offer spices, and their construction should be more complex.
Our Thelemic holidays begin with a New Year in spring. The ritual invocation of Horus that Aleister Crowley performed on the night of March 20, 1904 in Cairo, inaugurated the shift from the Aeon of Osiris to the Aeon of Horus, and is recognized as the Supreme Ritual. A menu dedicated to this event can be used to represent many of the ideas expressed in the Ritual. This is a feast emphasizing a special form of Horus and his coming into power. This power can be experienced with the red pulsating aspect of fresh foods from the land and the sea.
Foods recommended for this menu might offer fresh oysters, the bright and full flavor of red salmon roe on grain crackers. A pâté formed into a Khepera beetle, can represent the “hidden Mastery of Midnight”6. Spring eggrolls with assorted sprouts are a good contribution because they are a concentrated food at the beginning of their growing journey. Breads with
6 Aleister Crowley, The Equinox, Vol. 1 No. 7, (New York: Samuel Weiser, 1972), 380.
seeds and the grain support the energy needed for this magical shift. Beef Shish kabobs can represent the “flaming sword”7 in the invocation. Fruits that are water of fire add to the fiery nature of the event. Tapioca pudding can represent the “garment of white”8 and “the Beads of Pearl”9 also referred to. Star shaped cookies can represent the “Child of the Flaming Star”10 symbolizing Ra-Hoor-Khuit; and together the pudding and the cookies lend to the conception of the Milky Way and it’s star-studded fiery heavens. Finally a cake made with foods of fire like coffee and chocolate can be made, topped with frosting of a yellow equal armed cross, symbolizing the “Cross of Life and Light.”11 Add 44 candied pearls referring to the master number in the invocation, and center a red sugar rose for love and unity, and a celebratory feast is accomplished.
An additional menu can be created for the specialized aspects of the Equinox of the Gods. It is a feast paying homage to the Gods that dawned our new aeon. In the old aeon, it was Osiris who sat upon the throne of the East and oversaw the seasonal changes, like Isis before him. Due to the Supreme Ritual, Horus advanced and took Osiris’ place upon the throne, and a new aeon was born. This marks a time for Thelemites as a new era in which a sense of personal growth may be achieved through the realization of their True Will. Within this new spiritual awakening, a greater sense of self- actualization may be attained. Crowley wrote in The Heart of the Master:
The crowned and conquering child, who dieth not, nor is reborn, but goeth radiant ever upon His Way. Even so goeth the Sun: for as it is now known that night is but the shadow of the Earth, so Death is but the shadow of the Body, that veileth his Light from its bearer. 12
The gods of the past aeons, of Isis and Osiris, can begin the meal with cheeses of blue and gold; and an appetizer made with the slice of a hard- boiled egg, artistically rendered with the black olive and red pimiento can form the right eye of Horus. Spiced rice rolled in grape leaves in honor of the mummified Osiris can be offered. More foods of Egypt like lentil soup and flat bread can be added since these are Egyptian gods that have worked
8 Ibid., 381.
9 Ibid., 382.
10 Ibid., 380.
11 Ibid., 383.
12 Crowley, The Heart of the Master, (Tempe: New Falcon Publications, 1992), 116.
together to make this change. Lamb can be offered as the main course as it is the spring sacrifice of Aries. A combination of sweet fruits with a honey and rosewater dressing can be in Isis’ honor. A cinnamon spice cake flavored with Abramelin oil can be served with eleven sparkler candles to celebrate this imposing and explosive new energy released upon the world.
We move on to the Three Days of the Writing of the Book of the Law, and the first menu dedicated to Nuit. Foods attributed to Nuit should be soft, creamy and enriching, as well as the colors of white, blue, and indigo. The primary element for Nuit is closer to water than the other elements, but she is also beyond the elements, for she possesses a combination of both Lunar and Venusian qualities. As Crowley learns in the first Chapter from Nuit, “eat rich foods and drink sweet wines and wines that foam!”13 This menu is rich in texture and flavor and the appropriate liquid refreshment. It is still springtime and those foods should predominate. Blue cheese dip and blue crab with their coloration and sea attributions are a good way to begin. More foods of the Moon like melted Brie, the blue of Peruvian potatoes, soft steamed cauliflower and creamy white soups. Salad with water filled vegetables, almonds of the goddess, and blue borage flowers to fill her sky. The main course can be tender white chicken breasts in a creamy white wine sauce. Sweet fruits of Venus to appease the tongue, dark blueberry topped cheesecake for her night sky, and silver almonds to sparkle from atop a white chocolate cake, will all do her justice.
The second chapter of The Book of the Law is unto Hadit. The key to this menu is found within its stanzas. Hadit is “the flame that burns in every heart of man, and in the core of every star,”14 and that core is golden. The “light [that] devour[s] men and eat[s] them up with blindness,”15 is the sun, which will cause blindness if stared at for too long. Hadit is the “force and fire” which burns with “beauty and strength”16 and it is the “Sun, Strength, colors are distinctly described: “Blue am I and gold in the light of my bride; but the red gleam is in my eyes; & my spangles are purple and green. Purple beyond purple: it is the light higher than eyesight.”17 With these words, we are informed as to the colors and intensity that shall be employed. For this menu we concentrate on spring foods that are blue and purple, yellow and orange. Hadit with its bright fiery aspect may be aligned with the energy of
13 Aleister Crowley, Liber AL, Ch. I, v. 51. (York Beach, ME: Red Wheel/Weiser. 2004), 33.
14 Aleister Crowley, Liber AL, Ch. II, v. 6. 39. 15 Aleister Crowley, Liber AL, Ch. II, v. 14. 40. 16 Aleister Crowley, Liber AL, Ch. II, v. 20. 41. 17 Crowley, Liber AL, Ch. II, v. 50-51. 45.
the solar plexus, so yellow foods should predominate. Also, since Hadit is the counterpart to Nuit, foods that are predominantly of fire will prevail. The type of cuisine that suits these parameters is Moroccan. Its foods are colorful, strong in flavor, and diverse with texture and seasoning that warm the body and enliven the spirit. The sharp bright flavors of Moroccan-styled pickled lemons and spiced olives will open the taste buds. Spicy meats in appetizers with a warming Harissa sauce, bright yellow vegetables in a salad, and a hearty golden pastry filled with ginger, cumin and turmeric can be offered. Yellow and orange squashes and phallic spears of asparagus with sesame seeds, a pinwheel of golden fruits, and a puff pastry in the shape of a horn can be filled with whipped cream, for a match made in heaven, like Nuit and Hadit.
The third day of the celebration, unto Ra-Hoor Khuit is next. In the third Chapter we have several references, which lend recommendations as to what should be offered in this menu. Ra-Hoor-Khuit is the active and solar force of Ra. His character is identified, “now let it be first understood that I am a god of War and of Vengeance”18 and “worship me with fire & blood”19. Also, “I am the strength, force, vigour, of your arms.”20 All these statements tell us that the redness of a battle’s blood should be represented, and the flavors should be potent, strong and fiery hot. For this menu, bold, robust flavors are needed, and all foods that are red, spicy and hot. Foods which best meet this description are the full-bodied and intense foods of Mexico and Spain. Spicy garlic stuffed olives and chorizo in cider, salsa with the red tomato, cactus, and the sharpness of lime. Enchiladas filled with chile cheese and covered in a rich red enchilada sauce. Smooth tomato soup with warming fresh basil, sun-dried tomato corn bread, and a salad filled with red vegetables and a ginger dressing. For a main course, a Spanish beef stew made with red wine that’s heavily spiced. Add a Mexican chocolate cake with Kahlua sauce and a cinnamon orange flan, and the offerings to this God will be complete.
Next is the feast for Tahuti and the Child of the Prophet. We do not have any information from Crowley that might help us to fix a date for this feast. However, Egyptian history can provide us with a strong possibility. We know that Egypt’s New Kingdom calendar began with the flooding of the Nile. That first month is called Akhet, which is dedicated to Tahuti, and translates in our Gregorian calendar to July 19th. In ancient Egypt the
18 Crowley, Liber AL, Ch. III, v. 3. 52.
19 Crowley, Liber AL, Ch. III, v. 11. 53.
20 Crowley, Liber AL, Ch. III, v. 17. 54.
Festival of Tahuti was held on this day every year. This is well documented as having occurred in the temples of Ramesses III (a king of the twentieth dynasty) at Medinet Habu, between 1182 and 1152 BCE.21 It was a very happy day when mounds of incense were burned and much food was consumed. Not only did the gods receive food offerings in their shrines, which in turn fed the priesthood, but also the people of the village feasted. It was a day to celebrate the forthcoming blessings of the Nile’s inundation that would enrich their soil and bring an abundant harvest. Tahuti’s statue was ceremonially taken out of the temple, paraded before the people to cast blessings upon all, and returned to his shrine at the end of the day.
Tahuti was a god depicted in two forms, he took the form of an ibis, representing the Moon, and the form of a baboon, representing the Sun; so foods that are both watery and fiery should be offered in combination. Thoth in the form of an ibis laid an egg from which Ra was born, so eggs in their raw and cooked form should be included. We know from tomb excavations what the Egyptians ate: a good selection of fruits and vegetables, legumes and grains, fowl and fish and other meats, so the feast should include a combination of the foods of water with their cooling, juicy, and soothing qualities; and the foods of the sun, with their warm, spicy and invigorating qualities. Soft mushrooms, soft goat cheese, yogurt sauces, a stuffed baked fish, and fruits of the moon, should be served with golden falafel balls, pita, solar vegetables and nuts dedicated to the sun.
The last feast is dedicated to the First Night of the Prophet and His Bride, so make it an anniversary celebration. Offer a wedding feast to celebrate this union. Though their marriage ceremony was a civil one, there is no doubt that Rose and Aleister would have had their champagne and celebrated with the best foods available. Since Crowley places himself and his bride in an alchemical love story, the Moon and the Sun will be strongly activated through her water and earth, and his air and fire. To begin, offer Prosciutto, Goat cheese, Pear and honey. The fresh soft curve of a sweet pear, which sits upon a mound of salty prosciutto ham folded back and forth lies upon a thick fan of tangy Montrachet goat cheese, and on a sturdy bed of wheat grain cracker. But it is the pear, which receives the sweet elixir of honey. Add fresh oysters with Champagne butter sauce, lamb meatballs with spicy chutney, a sweet potato soup, summer fruits with guava nectar dressing, and an anniversary wedding cake layered with sweet syrups, cream and fruits, and topped with sugar flowers. By the time the last bite is taken
21 John O’Neill, The Night of the Gods, Volume 1 (Cambridge: B. Quaritch, 1893), 566.
with such a variety of soft swathes of sweetness, the tongue will lie limpid in Aphrodite’s arms.
This completes our adventure today into the realm of cooking with correspondences. Our feast celebrations may be only periodic, but they are part of our sacred nature, serving as magical markers that allow us to partake in these magical moments. We can relive them all, because our nature is to find joy and seek rapture, and because through our conscious fellowship to meet and eat, we continue to keep alive and strengthen our covenant toward each other in our shared beliefs. I hope you decide to utilize these magical keys at your local body so that you and your members may be able to enjoy the magic that can come from transforming ordinary food into a magical and spiritual sacrament!
Love is the law, love under will.
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