“Is [Serpent] coming out to eat with us?” My boyfriend’s mom asked as the family arrived together for a dinner.
“No, she is on a fast for tonight and tomorrow.” He told her.
His cousin then asked, “A fast? I thought she was a Witch.”
“Fasting isn’t just for Christians. Lots of people fast for different reasons.” He told her.
“Oh, I didn’t know Witches fasted.”
This is why I chose this for today’s post: to explain that fasting is something that some, not all, Witches may choose to do and talk about it.
People from all walks of life and many faith traditions practice fasting for different reasons.
To fast means you abstain from food and drink for a set period of time. In Witchcraft, a fast is generally looked at as a means to internally purify your body in preparation for a rite or working. Fasting may also be used because going without food for a while causes a distinct physical change once you make yourself push through the “hangry” phase.
It has long been a discipline for achieving altered states of consciousness, which depending on what type of rite or magic you are doing, can add to the power involved. Thirdly, a fast can be undertaken as part of a sacrifice contract, where you give up eating for a period of time as a show of commitment or faith. Ascetics take this road, and you’ll see this mostly among those who eat very little, just enough to survive, as a means of denying the physical in an effort to attune more to the spiritual.
I don’t subscribe to that philosophy. As a Pagan Witch, I’m all about enjoying the physical experiences that life has to offer, including delicious food.
But, a fast is an activity that I employ for certain things. I typically fast prior to working intensive ritual magic. If I’m leading a group ritual, like a coven celebration for a sabbat, I encourage all of the participants to fast the day of (no food after sunset of the day prior) and only water to drink. Then, after the sabbat there is our traditional feasting where we use the food as a way to ground the residual magical energy, joyfully bond with each other, and just plain eat because we are very hungry at that point.
If going without food for an entire day is a health concern, then there are restrictions I suggest be followed for the day of the fast to minimalize the impact of eating food.
They are as follows:
- Avoid salt in all forms
- Do not eat processed or prepackaged food
- Avoid meat and dairy products
- Drink only water or clear fruit juices that don’t contain additional additives or sugar
These restrictions permit eating fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans, and grains. I encourage food intake to be “only as much as needed; not until you feel full” because the idea is to be empty or clear. It is for the person undertaking the fast to set their own parameters and be aware of their physical needs. Fasting should never be taken to an extreme point, and if you want to fast but are not familiar with this practice, seek the advice of your doctor to do so safely.