14 June 2012

Understanding a Food Blessing

Within the tradition that I follow and teach, part of specific rituals include the sharing of food and drink with those who have joined us in a circle.  Prior to this sharing, the food and drink is blessed, and portion of which is set aside for libation.

The word "libation" has been described as being "... a ritual pouring of a liquid as an offering to a god or spirit or in memory of those who have died."  Or even "an act or instance of drinking often ceremoniously."

As interesting as these dictionary explanations may be, within my tradition the essence of making a libation is the sacred act of giving back to the earth a portion of what we have received with the knowledge that when we partake in this seemingly simple yet sacred act, we are reaffirming our position within the sacred Wheel of Life.

Veronica Cummer advises that when we bless or consecrate food, not only are we giving thanks for it but we should also be showing respect for the idea it reciprocity that it symbolised.  We give in order that more may be given, so that we may receive without expectation.  Acknowledging and being thankful for food, as with any gift, helps keep the flow of energy going, helps the Wheel to keep on turning.

Numerous spiritual traditions include food blessings.  Within Buddhism, for example, food should be received with gratitude and reverence, and the offering of food is believed to be one of the oldest Buddhist rituals.

Within Christian and Jewish teachings, the worshiper is taught to pause for a moment prior to eating and recite a few words as, with these words, this simple blessing, the most prosaic of acts has been transformed into something holy.

A simple food blessing is:
"Made with love
Blessed with love
Eaten with love
We are one with the Earth
And give thanks."

A Buddhist food blessing is:
"This food is the gift of the whole universe,
Each morsel is a sacrifice of life,
May I be worthy to receive it.
May the energy in this food,
Give me the strength,
To transform my unwholesome qualities into wholesome ones.
I am grateful for this food,
May I realise the Path of Awakening,
For the sake of all beings.
Namo Amida Buddha."

An example of a meal blessing is:
"This meal is the work of many hands,
and I offer you a share.
Holy ones, accept my gift,
and upon my hearth, leave your blessings."

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