There are few things in the kitchen more spiritual for me than the act of baking bread from scratch. No bread maker, no bakery.
Just a few basic ingredients and the simple luxury of creating something with my hands.
It is my favorite Lammas tradition.
Baking bread has changed little over the course of thousands of years. This humble food connects us to our shared ancestral heritage and the cradle of civilization.
Every year, I make it a point to try something new with bread baking for the holiday. This year, I went with a braided bread, which is a technique I’ve never used before.
I included some dried harvest herbs. It’s best if you can dry ones you’ve grown yourself and crush them with a mortal and pedestal. This extra effort is worth the time and attention!
Stir the cauldron! Or whatever, the wood bowl.
When I make food for spiritual reasons, I always try to find ways to make it more ritualized and separate it from mundane cooking.
Drawing symbols and shapes when you flour the surface for kneading is one way to do this during the bread baking process. It’s like a mandala. The impermanence is the point.
My favorite part is kneading the dough. The feeling I get is very relaxing, like a zen state. I fall into the rhythm of it without much thought at all. Kneading dough has a meditative quality to it.
I thought a lot this time about how mysterious and magical it must have seemed to our ancestors to let bread rise in the centuries before anyone understood the scientific process of it.
When you let the bread rise, you can treat it just like a waxing moon spell if you want. Bless it for abundance, or something you want to increase in your life.
I made two loafs. One for offering, and one for the meal. So I divided it into two groups of three.
For each loaf, I rolled out three long strips. The number three has many significant meanings in religious traditions all over the world from ancient times to modern. The Holy Trinity in Christianity, the three primary gods of ancient Babylon, the three aspects of the Egyptian sun god.
For our purposes, the number three represents the love connections of family and deep friendship gathered around a life-giving loaf of bread. The process of braiding them symbolizes and strengthens this powerful bond.
And there you have it! Enjoy this amazing tradition with your family, covens and friends this Lammas.
It’s truly a magical experience!