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Practicing the Art of Cooking Magic

Why "magic?"

Much of my explanation for this is spelled out in my rationale for why this is The Only True Magic. Using the rationale that magic is the sense of satisfaction and self-worth that comes from making your own creations, one could say that a computer programmer’s magic is in the programs he writes, and a car mechanic is making magic when he takes an old antique wreck and brings it back to working life…or even a cook can make magic, when he creates a delicious meal. I'm not just cooking food with my cast iron pots and pans…I'm making my own creations. I'm putting my own self, my own being, into my cooking. I am making magic. It's not a magic based on the Zodiac, or based on my bowing and scraping to some mystical other-dimensional entity who might choose to "bless" my food if it is pleased. I'm doing this myself, and I am accomplishing my goals when I cook. That, to me, is my very own magic. Cooking magic!

As to how much of this is genuine belief, and how much is bullshit – that is for me to know, and for you to discover for yourself.

Why cooking?

Because I enjoy it!

I learned to cook at a relatively late stage of my life: I was nearly forty-five years old and recently divorced when I was bitten by the cooking bug. I did have an advantage over many other 20th and 21st century Americans, in that I had a wider palate than many people today. This may have stemmed from the fact that my family didn't have a lot of food as we were growing up, and consequently I would always clean my plate and devour anything placed in front of me with (almost) no hesitation. Even as a kid, I enjoyed vegetables and never had the stigma against spinach, brussel sprouts, and non-traditional foods that modern day children are supposed to have. I've always been interested in trying new foods and discovering new tastes; though I willingly allowed my choices and tastes in food to be severely limited for a great part of my life.

When I was married, our freezer was usually stuffed with cheap $1 Wal-mart frozen dinners, pot pies, and microwave pizzas; while our cupboard had cans of vegetables and soups, ramen noodles, and boxes of mac-and-cheese. Of course, there were always chips and snacks available, which my wife and I munched on regularly. Naturally, we became obese; my weight blossomed to about 230 pounds over the course of eight years of marriage.

Meanwhile, my wife was a practicing pagan and proud of it; I encouraged her and supported her, while remaining a SubGenius-cum-atheist myself. She built herself a sizable and very impressive library of pagan-themed books, herbs and spices, magickal implements, and even had a couple of tiny cast iron cauldrons. However, these herbs were only used for her rituals, and she forbade me (and herself) from ever using them in the kitchen. We collected a selection of the usual condiments in the kitchen, and never even considered combining the idea of magick and cooking.

I won't bore you with the details of my divorce; this is an all-too-common occurrence in our society, so I'll just leave it at that. My life went through a radical turnaround in the year between the summer of 2010 and the summer of 2011. Practically every aspect of my life changed: my marital status, my weight, my home, my lifestyle, my eating habits, my friends, my hobbies; about the only thing that remained the same was my job (curiously enough). During that time, I found myself living on my own for the first time in ten years; that meant I was free to cook and eat whatever I wanted. But I had also been eating less and eating healthier, in order to lose weight. Over the course of a full year, I lost about one third of my body weight and went from 230 pounds to 160, which felt great and let me take long walks once again; I was determined to keep this level of fitness and never be overweight again, if possible. It may have been a psychological effect of my lifestyle change, also. But regardless of the reason, something happened in the fall and winter of 2010: I was bitten by the cooking bug. I began cooking my own meals, rather than buying store-bought crap. I happened to document the time I discovered and used my very first cast iron pan, a Lodge 10 inch Cast Iron Skillet. I was seduced into The Cult of Cast Iron, and from there I proceeded to immerse myself in a new world of culinary delights: discovering and learning new foods, new techniques, new skills, and new tastes. I founded the Cast Iron Cooking group on Facebook in April of 2011, ant it grew into a fantastic new community of friends who shared this strange obsession with antique cast iron. And it turned out I had discovered not one hobby, but two: collecting, restoring, and using vintage cookware, including cast iron pots and pans, and vintage knives and cutlery (such as my Sabatier carbon steel chef's knife).

I embraced this hobby with a passion, and I found it filled a void in my life (for the most part). I've been a recluse for most of my life, and I can count the number friends I have (outside the Internet) with one hand. Working a full-time job for an average of fifty hours per week does a lot to kill my social life with both physical and mental exhaustion; and I find myself at home by myself quite often. What to do during these times? It's a great time to cook. Cooking not only takes time and has a productive result (good meals), but it also requires effort and concentration. It's a great way to relax and pass the time in the evenings, and in that respect I find it makes an excellent way to meditate. when I cook at the stove, I can concentrate on the task at hand, to the point where I block out the outside world – there is nothing there but me, in my kitchen. There are fleeting moments of joy to be had during these times, not only when I take a tasty dish out of the oven. People have talked and written about the joy of cooking, and I certainly feel that way as well – that's why I enjoy cooking for my neighbors, my family, and, until recently, my workplace.

It was the relaxation and meditation achieved through cooking that inspired me to begin looking into combining cooking with magic.

Through my SubGenius activities and my observation and occasional (rare) interaction with my ex-wife's pagan activities, I became familiar with the basics of magic. I laughed heartily at those who took it far too seriously, and preferred to approach the subject of magic with a sense of humor and a healthy dose of skepticism. But in spite of the obvious fakery and self-delusion aspect of it, which I've previously talked about, I felt an attraction to the idea and the spirituality of magic. This appeal reached me, to the point where I decided to give Chaos Magic a try. Because I wanted to immerse my entire life into my new passion for cooking, it was only natural for me to look into "kitchen witchery" and apply this to Chaos magic. And this led to the beginning of my development of culimancy: cooking magic!

Having stated all this, I can now continue and get down to the business of culimancy: meditation, ritual, and the creation of magic through cooking.

Most of what is described here is hardly out of the ordinary: traditional kitchen rituals, used for cooking and maintaining a clean kitchen. I like to apply meditation to these, to help focus my concentration and cut myself off from the outside world when I'm working in the kitchen. Sometimes it works, and moments like this can be considered a form of gnosis.

Old School Kitchen Witchery