Pagan Meal Blessings

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5 Simple Blessings for Pagan Mealtimes

Many Pagans offer a prayer of some sort prior to a meal, giving thanks for the food which is to be consumed. Image by Thomas Barwick/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Although there's a misconception that Christianity has a monopoly on saying a prayer over food and drink, many religions celebrate the consumption of food with some sort of prayer of thanksgiving.

The practice most likely originated with the classical Greeks. Author Maria Bernardis says in Cooking & Eating Wisdom for Better Health, "Cooks... were versed in sacrificial [rites] and understood the spiritual connection of food to life and the gods. They prayed for safety, health, and blessings for all ... [as] part of the cooking and eating process."

Interestingly, in the early Hebrew scriptures, there's no reference at all to meal blessings. In fact, the idea that food was unclean would have been abhorrent and disrespectful to God; after all, if He created all things, then food was already holy and sacred simply by virtue of being one of God's creations, and blessing it would not have been necessary.

Jamie Stringfellow of Spirituality & Health says there may have been a more practical application of the practice of meal blessings. "Theologist Laurel Schneider, the author of Polydoxy: Theology of Multiplicity and Relation, said that in the time before pasteurization and refrigeration, “blessings may have been part purification (we pray that this food will not mysteriously kill us)” along with simple gratitude and the practice of “pleasing God/the spirits/the ancestors.” Acknowledging, she says, that the food “is not ours to begin with, but loaned to us” by those entities keeps us humble and in proper harmony."

Many Pagans today believe that not only should we thank the gods for our food, but also the earth and the food itself. After all, if you're eating plants or meat, something had to die so that you could have a meal. It seems rude not to thank your food for its sacrifice.

Any of the following may be said over a meal, a Cakes and Ale ceremony, or any other event where food is served. Feel free to include the names of the deities of your tradition, of you prefer.

A Simple Thanks

Use this prayer as a very basic mealtime blessing, expressing your gratitude to the god and goddess of your tradition. You can use "Lord and Lady," or substitute the specific deities that you honor in your belief system.

Lord and Lady, watch over us,
and bless us as we eat.
Bless this food, this bounty of earth,
we thank you, so mote it be.

A Prayer to the Earth - Mealtime Blessing

If you'd like to keep things basic, and not call upon specific deities, you can thank the earth and all of its bounty instead.

Corn and grain, meat and milk,
upon my table before me.
Gifts of life, bringing sustenance and strength,
I am grateful for all I have.

Celebrating Meat

If you're a carnivore, whatever is on your table probably once roamed around on hooves or feet, or it swam in the water or flew through the skies. Thank the animals that have provided you with sustenance.

Hail! Hail! The hunt has ended,
and meat is on the table!
We honor the deer* who feeds us tonight,
may his spirit live within us!

*Note - feel free to substitute other appropriate animals here as necessary.

Invitation to the Gods

If you'd like to invite the gods and goddesses of your tradition to join you at mealtime. set an extra place at the table for them.

I set a place at my table for the gods,
and ask them to join me here tonight.
My home is always open to you,
and my heart is open as well.

Offerings Prayer

In ancient Rome, it was common to leave a bit of your food on the altar for your household deities. If you would like to do this at your meal, you could use the following prayer: 

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.

More Mealtime Blessings

The Secular Seasons website suggests some really lovely humanist versions of mealtime blessings. This can come in very handy if you've got guests at your table who are not Pagan, and you want to show them hospitality by not making them uncomfortable. Amanda Kohr of Wanderlust has some additional suggestions, and adds, "Throughout history, people of all different cultures and religions have paused before a meal in order to express gratitude for the nourishment food provides. This practice not only leads to amore present and enjoyable eating experience, but also helps us appreciate the great communal effort that goes into growing, harvesting, and preparing each ingredient."