What is a kitchen witch? This form of paganism emphasizes simplicity. In today's hectic world, the way of the kitchen witch is growing increasingly popular with those who want to integrate their spirituality and their everyday life as seamlessly as possible. This article examines the history and defining characteristics of the kitchen witch.
In the old days, a kitchen witch was known as a hearth witch. Because she was a village wise woman with few belongings besides some cherished household implements, she would practice her craft at the hearth, which is the area inside and in front of the fireplace where fuel burns. The hearth was the heart of the house. It provided warmth and light every night when the countryside lay wrapped in absolute darkness, and so it was a place of power. At the hearth, the hearth witch cooked meals and mixed potions with the same utensils, which were all the tools she had. Her religion, witchcraft, and everyday life were all intertwined.
By contrast, the practitioner of ceremonial magic was usually a wealthy, well-educated man often of the aristocracy. Historical examples include Dr. Johann Georg Faust, Leonardo da Vinci, Nostradamus, John Dee, and Edward Kelley. The ceremonial magician could afford to have special ritual tools and a separate room from the main household in which to perform sorcery. This reinforced the ceremonial magic concept of the Divine as something transcendent or beyond the confines of everyday reality. By contrast, the hearth witch recognized the spiritual as an intrinsic part of the mundane world.
Nowadays a kitchen witch is likely to be a solitary practitioner. She could be a Wiccan but probably not of a formal tradition such as Gardnerian, which would be too coven-oriented and ritualistic for her tastes. Her sacred space is the kitchen, the same place where she prepares food. She probably has a small altar in the kitchen, but nothing big or impractical that would interfere with her workspace. She doesn't need special ritual tools because she consecrates and uses regular kitchenware such as a paring knife for an athame and a coffee mug for a chalice. She doesn't practice skyclad (nude) or wear special regalia. In witchcraft as with cooking, she works primarily with the culinary herbs and spices and not the more exotic, possibly poisonous plants. Many kitchen witches are proud of their skill with handicrafts and can make their own candles, oils, and incenses.
To be a kitchen witch means to value simplicity, practicality, and independence. Some may see it as too small and unassuming a path, but others may value it as a natural extension of their everyday life.
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