“Eating is so intimate. It’s very sensual. When you invite someone to sit at your table and you want to cook for them, you’re inviting a person into your life.”Maya Angelou
When I was a child, My Mother, a native of Bogalusa, Louisiana, would conjure the indigenous ways of her mother and grandmothers by feeding me directly from her hands. I can close my eyes and see her hands: deep, rich mahogany. Tender, strong. Hands that nurture, love and protect. Still. I can recall the intimacy, love and even the tender touch of her fingers as she placed the food in my mouth with such love and great care. Her eyes soften with love for me. Still.
She was providing more than nourishment for my body.
As I grew into adulthood and was blessed with my own children, I, too, fed them from my hands. First, as an act of feeding and nurturing the bond between mother and child. Later, I understood that the way my mother fed me was a revolutionary practice and meditation on intimacy, love AND of cultivating the earth inside me for who I would become. She was preparing me to be me.
Even now, she feeds me from her hands.
In times of great sadness and of great celebration, we come together in the heart of our family home–the kitchen–and cook our way out of sorrow and elevate our joy to greater heights. Through laughter and tears, rage and joy she calls me in to taste and receive a piece of herself – medicine first to calm, then to nourish and fortify and finally to mend my broken spirit. The act of feeding is a powerfully transformative act that can move us forward together with more agency, power, vibrancy, resilience and love–well fertilized and fortified to move toward a righteous future of our making.
The Torah of Feeding is a practice we can engage for ourselves, our families and our communities. It is about nourishing ourselves now as an act of love, resistance and making our personal/family/community souls fertile for growth–ready to shift, change and transform our future. When we are nourished, we become the Agents of Prophecy rather than the passive recipients thereof. This ritual is a direct call to action to care for our emotional, mental and physical bodies and those of our beloveds right now–so we can be the medicine needed to shape a new way of “being” in the future.
The Torah of Feeding is a simple yet powerful act. Whether alone or with others, I invite you to join us in this sacred practice.
Practice created by Tonda Case
You are invited to gather and prepare your meal. It can be as elaborate or as simple as you desire. A piece of fruit. Roasted veggies. Anything you have available or have prepared to your liking. Choose something you can hold in your hands that will bring you pleasure in this moment. Bring a small bowl or dish (empty) for the final feeding in this ritual, below.
Prepare your space.
You are invited to: Light candles. Soft music. Incense. Grab a blanket and sit in your favorite chair. Relax.
You are invited to wash your hands, meditating on your wellbeing and nourishment. Move into your place of comfort.
You are invited to center yourself in your body. You may close your eyes or soften your gaze. Notice and appreciate the gift you are to the world. Breathe. Inhale fully through your nose, hold to the count of 3. Exhale slowly. Notice your body. Notice the sensations in your body. Breathe. Breathe. Inhale fully through your nose, hold to the count of 3. Starting from your toes, relax with each exhale. Breathe. When you are ready, you are invited to open your eyes and be present in your space.
First Feeding: Feeding of Self
You are invited to, in whatever way that pleases you, give thanks for the gift of your food. With gratitude and love, feed yourself with your hands. Speak words of love to yourself. Nurture yourself. Nourish yourself. Hold gratitude for yourself.
Second Feeding: Feeding of The Beloved
You are invited to, with gratitude and love, feed a Beloved with your hands. If you are alone, feed yourself again and think of a Beloved you hold dear. Speak words of love to them. Nurture them. Nourish them. Hold gratitude for them.
Third Feeding: Feeding of The Other
You are invited to make an offering on the empty plate for The Other. Speak words of blessings and healing for a soul or souls you don’t know who might be in need of blessing. Or medicine. Or healing. Or nourishment. Or comfort. Or shelter. Or love.
You are invited to center yourself in your body. You may close your eyes or soften your gaze. Notice and appreciate the gift you are to the world. Notice and appreciate the gifts you receive. Breathe naturally. Relax. Give thanks in whatever ways you are moved to. When you are ready, you are invited to open your eyes and while holding deep gratitude, be present in your space.
I bow deeply to my Mother, the Elders and Ancestors who share their medicine with me. As much as food nourishes and sustains our physical bodies, it can deepen, heal and transform our relationships with ourselves and our Beloveds. May food be our alchemy, a healing elixir for keeping us whole, truthful and accountable, resilient, in love and free.
Tonda Case is Jewish Woman of Color living in Oakland, CA. As an activist, leadership development professional, facilitator, teacher and learner, mother and Conjure Woman, she lives to experience and elevate the magic and the medicine in the mundane.