Friday, September 22, 2017

Mystic Repast (Cakes and Ale)

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Welcome to the Mabon Tarot Blog Hop. Regular readers will remember that the the Tarot Blog Hop is an online blogging event where members of the TBH come together, all writing about the same subject, and linking to each other's blogs in a big circle. Regular readers will also remember that I quite often don't exactly blog about the topic in the manner that one would expect.

We were given two possible choices this blog hop: Tarot characters and sacred cooking (feasts), or Tarot characters and beauty products.

Given that I often walk around for hours in the morning before glancing at a mirror (useful for greeting Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, and other door-to-door sales types), it is obvious that I am going to give beauty products a pass, and focus on sacred cooking instead.

The task for those of us who chose the food option was to imagine what some Tarot characters would cook, and how they would cook, what ingredients they would use for a sacred meal.

I decided to tell a story about the Fool and the High Priestess (or is it the Empress), and how the High Priestess would whack the Fool with her wooden spoon that doubled as a wand because the Fool's idea of a Sacred Meal was a roasted chicken from the local deli and a bag of Doritos, and...

...that is as far as I got.

Then I thought about the time I accidentally made bluish-purple pancakes (it is what happens when you use frozen blueberries)...which would be the Eight of Pentacles, and obviously the Star Trek engineer would do something...

...and that is as far as I got on that one.

Then my mind turned to the Mystic Repast as done in Golden Dawn, and its Wiccan counterpart, Cakes and Ale. And I got stuck there...

For those who are unfamiliar with Golden Dawn, the Mystic Repast is a sacred meal that is part of the end ritual of the Neophyte Grade (0=0) which is the first level of membership and study in the tradition. It is administered by the Hierophant of a lodge (think gaggle of students led by someone making up answers to the student's questions as they go along...or maybe that was just my experience).

It consists of a Rose (East), a Red Lamp (South), a loaf of bread and a bit of salt (North), and a chalice of wine (West); all placed on the black double-cube altar along with the Mystic Triangle and Red Cross.

The officers of the lodge partake first (except for the Kerux--announcing officer--who goes last); then by the students of the lodge based first on their Grade in the system, and secondly by their date of entry.

The Hierophant says, "I invite you to smell with me the perfume of this Rose, sacred symbol of the element of Air. I invite you to feel the heat of this Lamp, emblem of sacred Fire. I invite you to eat with me this bread and salt, symbols of Earth. And finally drink with me this wine [or juice pretending to be wine] as emblem of the element of Water."

In one of the instructional documents of the tradition, the Mystic Repast is referred to as The Formula of the Justified One. "For Osiris-On-Nophris, who is found perfect before the Gods, hath said: These are the Elements of my Body, Perfected through suffering, Glorified through Trial. For the scent of the Dying Rose is as the repressed sigh of my suffering: And the flame-red Fire as the energy of mine Undaunted Will: And the Cup of Wine is the pouring out of the Blood of my Heart, Sacrificed unto Regeneration, unto the Newer Life: And the Bread and Salt are as the Foundations of my Body, which I destroy in order that they be renewed. For I am Osiris Triumphant, even Osiris-On-Nophris, the Justified One: I am He who is clothed in the Body of Flesh, Yet in whom is the Spirit of the Great Gods: I am the Lord of life, triumphant over Death. He who partaketh with me shall arise with me. I am the Manifestor in Matter of Those Whose Abode is the Invisible: I am purified: I stand upon the Universe: I am its Reconciler with the Eternal Gods: I am the Perfector of Matter: And without me, the Universe is not."

There is more to the Mystic Repast than just this, but this should be enough information for the reader to follow the rest of this post.

The symbols of the Four Elements given as the Mystic Repast.
And when I say I got stuck there--I mean that I kept thinking about different layers of this part of the Neophyte ritual. 

For instance, the obvious Tarot card that is serving the Mystic Repast is the Hierophant; after all, the officer that is administering the Repast is the Hierophant. Except that only the outer appearance of the Hierophant is associated with the Tarot card of that name. When the Floor Officers (those officers who do not remain sitting on the Dais during the Neophyte ritual) are associated with Tarot cards on the planetary layer, the Hierophant cannot be the Hierophant card, for the simple reason that the Hierophant card is a zodiac card, and not a planet card. 

If your eyes glazed over at any point during the preceding paragraph, feel free to skip this section and resume reading below the next picture in this post. 

For those brave souls who stuck around, and still have no clue what I am going on about, just bear in mind that I was initiated into the Neophyte Grade of a Golden Dawn group twenty-five years ago, and into its Inner Order a couple of years later, and have been active more or less constantly practicing its style of magic since then; and therefore, have spent more time tinkering with the system than a most sane people have spent trying to figure out how the latest phone works. 

Again, I suggest that you run for the hills and skip to below the next picture. 

So looking at this from the viewpoint of the planetary cards, I know that the Hierophant represents the Sun, and therefore is more proper to be the Sun card itself. But viewing the ritual as the basis of magic, the Hierophant could also be the Magician (Mercury). There are also the view that the High Priestess is involved here (Moon), and there is the influence of the Universe card (Saturn). And... some point, I came to the conclusion that from a viewpoint of magical operations that each of the planetary associated cards could be administering the Mystic Repast during an operation dealing with their respective planets. This also could be true of the Neophyte ritual itself which is considered to be a summary and overview of the entire Golden Dawn tradition; and therefore, shows the influence of the planets working on the newly minted member of the system (this is especially true if one was forced to serve in each of the six other Floor Officer positions before being allowed to serve as Hierophant--the Hierophant would be informed and shaped by those offices, their duties, and their associated energies--they have partaken of all the planets.)

Plus if one extends the symbolism of the Mystic Repast to include its mythical story lines, one ends up with other Tarot cards also being represented in part by the Mystic Repast: Osiris was torn asunder by Set (Devil card), put back together by Anubis and Isis (Moon card), the Elements themselves (the Four Aces), etc. 

Eventually if one thinks and mediates hard enough on the Mystic Repast, one sees echoes of the entire universe, and the kabbalah that describes it, in the Elements being served. 

At this point, I must admit that I might have gone a little mad.  But that is ok, for everyone in Golden Dawn is a little mad.

The seven planetary Major Arcana according to the Golden Dawn Tradition.
Ok, we are all back together now--those who attempted to understand what I was going on about, and those who just smiled and wondered if the madman would go away if one offered him a cookie. 

One of the reasons that so much time is spent thinking about the aspects of the Neophyte ritual is that the ritual is the basis of much of the magical operations that a Golden Dawn magician performs. It also colors much of the magic that one does outside of the system, as well as adding a layer to whatever religion (if any) that the member observes. For instance, it colors my experience of Cakes and Ale, the Wiccan version of the sacred meal. 

Now, we were to ask what a Tarot character would serve at a sacred feast, and how they would cook it, etc. For me, this is actually a real life game. 

I do a lot of ritual, including an annual open Wiccanish ritual. Near the end of designing of every ritual, the question comes up--"What are we going to use for Cakes and Ale?" The obvious answer--Cakes and Ale--often needs to be adjusted. For instance, I know several people who have a non-gluten requirement...what bloody Tarot card would one associate with non-gluten food...the Devil...yeah, the Devil...I think. As for Ale, it along with Wine, are not suitable for public rituals, so it is grape juice, or apple juice, or water (as one of the other members of Denver Open Full Moon community uses).  

In private rituals, I often include a pomegranate in my Cakes and Ale (Universe and High Priestess cards). Other things I have used: chocolate and honey (Empress), gold foil chocolate coins (Wheel of Fortune), fortune cookies (Magician), handwritten poetic fortunes (Magician--trickster), beef jerky and Twinkies (Death and Last of my honored dead I associate with those foods).   

And so it goes. 

In closing, I would like to tell a joke:

Strength says to their furkids, "Yes, I see that you are not happy with tonight's meal. This is what I am offering. Eat or starve. You have four types of dry food in your bowls. I am not going to the grocery store, just to get you something else to turn your nose up at."

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Tarot By Arwen said...

Here's a cookie...backs slowly away. But no, this was fascinating! I think I know that yearly ritual...GC? :D I miss that. I did enjoy this.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I had a Pagan handfasting officiated by a Wiccan priestess registered with an event agency in the region. Since my wife is a Wiccan-y witch, we did cakes-and-ale at the end of our handfasting. You could tell we were super-duper serious about, too, because our cakes were donuts and the ale was hot apple cider both purchased earlier that morning at the local Tim Horton's. It isn't that we didn't have time to prepare, we just... didn't care that much? LoL

Unknown said...

O-k.... would you like a cookie?

It is absolutely fascinating how much you know about the Golden Dawn and their rituals. Thank you for sharing a tiny morsel with us!

Joy Vernon said...

I know the officer positions on the ToL, and I know about the two forms of Osiris, but I haven't heard of the officers being assigned to the planets. Hmm. I can think of a couple different ways to make the assignments. I like this since it gives them tarot cards! But anyway, I was hoping for a bread recipe. I almost included my soda bread recipe that I use but I ran out of time. I was going to cook squash bread for this week's ritual, and have picked out a recipe, but ran out of time for that too. Maybe we can swap recipes sometime.

Aisling the Bard said...

Just loved this--learned so much about Golden Dawn that I didn't already know, and loved the concept and the thoughts behind the sacred food. Much "food for thought" here, Morgan--many thanks!

TAROT ├ęs Tea said...

Wow, Morgan! This was more than deep! First I was laughing my head off at the blue pancakes and the Fool with his chicken - that part was very funny! :) Then it went very deep. Thank you so much for sharing this awesome post with us!

Unknown said...

I'm in awe and laughing my arse off. I never realized the intricacies of the Golden Dawn. WOW!!!!

Unknown said...

Informative GD info, always learn a little more from your posts! It is one of those influencers of tarot that I am not intimate with but peripherally know via card associations and such. Thank you~

Anonymous said...

Ah, brilliantly comical trickster you are, giving us so much food for thought but just teasing our empty bellies. Feed the brain, starve the body, as it were. ;)

I did read the heavier Neophyte ritual and planetary stuff and definitely filled my brain with awesome occult goodies. Thanks so much.

Hannah Berg said...

Fascinating post. I know so little about GD ritual. Enjoyed the correspondences between food and the trumps. Can you tell me... which tarot card says, "Oh, you're not eating! I'll roast a chicken for you!"

Ania said...

A gift of bread and salt is traditional at a Polish wedding with the wish that the couple never lack for these.

Unknown said...

Very cool, very informative!

Morgan Drake Eckstein said...

This was my most read post in September.