| up a level
from the mind-your-own-munchies dept.
Crowley's recommended "blessing" of a meal, "Will," is an exercise I've always liked. Eating is the fundamental life-sustaining activity of all animals, and is thus a powerful connection between ourselves and the natural world. I am pleased to be reminded, each time I eat, of my higher self and purpose.
Crowley's Will is quite simple and direct, which is a virtue. However, in its brevity, it omits certain worthy considerations. In the spirit of Thelemic creativity, I offer this variation on "Will" (which unfortunately destroys Crowley's simplicity with a number of baroque additions).
Crowley recommends saying "Will" as a Thelemic substitute for fasting. Whereas an Osiris-era mystic needed to fast to remain pure for spiritual practices, Thelemites need only dedicate their food to the Great Work (Magick in Theory and Practice, ch. 13). Crowley's text accomplishes this purification by using the Scholastic idea of tracing all events back to a First Cause (for the Scholastics, this was God; for Thelemites, this is the Will). Saying "Will" before meals also expresses another powerful Thelemic idea (actually, straightforward biology) -- that "meat and drink are transmuted in us daily into spiritual substance."
One critique of "Will" is that it pays no attention to the food and where it came from. There is no acknowledgement, as in meal blessings from other religions, of the source(s) of the food, and no expression of praise or gratitude. In the Thelemic context, such an acknowledgment could take the form of a magical listing of various elements that go into the food, in keeping with the idea that these elements are transformed into the fifth element, spirit.
"Will" is organized as a logical chain, each step going backwards along a line of causation leading to the "first cause," the speaker’s Will. This causes a problem, in that each of these steps is completely subordinated to the next step. While I agree that it is magically useful to ultimately subordinate all things to the Will, and that this is the purpose of the ritual, it is also useful to acknowledge that each step in the logical chain is also an independent fulfillment of the eater's will.
Finally, "Will" in company is done in a role-playing dialogue, with a questioner and an answerer who declares his or her will with regard to the meal. However, the questioner (who usually is also eating) makes no statements about his or her will.
The following is an attempt at a "will" dialogue (between persons "A" and "B") incorporating responses to these criticisms:
A: 333-55555-333. Do What Thou Wilt shall be the whole of the Law.
If any of y'all have other interesting variations, do post them.
A related topic is the use of food in ritual in different cultural traditions. In Jewish ritual, food is important in several important ritual, including Seder and Sabbath. Anyone know of other interesting food rituals (hey, not to mention the Mass)?
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