Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Kitchen Gods and Goddesses

Zen…does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.
— Alan W. Watts from The Way of Zen

One way to become more conscious of the sacredness of your kitchen is to have a kitchen altar. This is an honored tradition in many cultures, including Chinese homes, which have worked with feng shui principles for thousands of years.

Your kitchen altar can be as simple as a window sill, perhaps also with symbols of the Elements (for instance, feathers, stones, shells, and a candle), or it can be made as elaborate as a shelf or table space allows, with statues, symbols, magical potions, and so forth.

On my own window sill above my sink, I have a hand-sculpted Goddess statue that holds a votive candle. To signal my intention to cook in a sacred way, I light this candle and gaze into it for a few moments before beginning my preparations. It is a great way to center myself, and remember that potato peeling is my prayer.

Or you may choose to make your altar in honor of a particular God or Goddess. One appropriate choice would be an altar to Brigid, the Celtic Goddess of the Hearth, whose gifts to us are fire, smithcraft and poetry. Naturally, this includes the fires of the hearth and the smith, the flame of life within every living creature, and the spark of divine inspiration.

Hestia is another good choice, as She is the good and gentle Goddess of Hearth and Home, sacred to both Greeks and Romans, who knew Her as Vesta. She is felt in the hearth fire that cooks our food, as well as the spiritual life of Her children. Every city-state in Greece had a common hearth with a sacred fire, presided over by Hestia. From that hearth, individual families would take Her fire into their homes. In Rome, all prayers and offerings began and ended with Her because, as Cicero explained, “She is the guardian of the innermost things.”

Tsao-Chun, also known as Tsao-Wang, is the traditional Chinese Kitchen God of the hearth. His image hangs above the stove in traditional homes, for He not only watches over the domestic affairs of a family, he judges the morality of family members and reports good or bad behavior to the Jade Emperor. Including a place nearby to leave bribes, er, offerings of sweets for Him is very traditional and a smart move.

Another Goddess to include might be Gabija, an ancient Fire Goddess of Eastern Europe. Her name comes from the Lithuanian word, “gaubti,” which means to cover or protect. This was in connection with keeping the hearth fires from going out overnight, a life and death matter that was tended to by the mother of the house. This Goddess has never disappeared completely, even to this day being revered and honored in household practice.

Many Hindu kitchens have an area where Ganesha, Lakshmi or the Laughing Buddha oversee and bless all preparations. Ceres, Ops, Bona Dea, the Dagda, Gaia, and Danu can also give bounteous blessings to those who invoke Them. Actually, any deities who are associated with health, the benevolent use of Fire, abundance and beauty are welcome, because when we prepare food for ourselves and our families, those are precisely the energies with which we are working.

You really only need open your awareness and listen to hear Who might like to be invited to your table.  Make them welcome and see how everything tastes so much better, both in and out of the kitchen!

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  • April 1, 2010, 9:28 am Maria

    You are giving me some great ideas! I’ve got a kitchen windowsill that could use a Goddess. Right now it has delft blue pieces that belonged to my Gram, but they might like some company. 🙂