I went through a brief pagan phase a number of years ago; it didn’t last long. I thought about it too much and let it go — but I kept a sense of the passing of the seasons, and a sense that events can be influenced, by changing yourself more than anything else.

This was about the same time that I started getting interested in cooking, though, and I ended up using magic in my cooking from time to time. Not to say that I can make love potions or anything, but what I cook (and what I eat) depends on the seasons a lot. (You may have noticed.)

Most of the magic you see is about creating big changes. “Make X fall in love with me.” Or whatever. But part of what turned me off about paganism is that you shouldn’t make X fall in love with you: if that person wouldn’t have chosen you at that time, there’s probably a reason for it, and you’d be reckless to try to get around it without paying the price, because you will, sooner or later. (Nevermind for the moment whether or not a magic spell could do such a thing.) What really needs to happen is “Make me understand why X hasn’t fallen in love with me.”

So me, I stick with cooking. “Celebrate the way you feel in Spring.” “Boost the immune system.” “Cheer me up.” “Revel!” “Comfort.” Small things. Food can do these things. The magic part is the intent. When I cook, I keep my intent in mind. Doing this helps me adjust flavors, make last-minute adjustments, to know when something is going wrong, wrong, wrong. Regardless of whether they accomplish what I want them to or not, I end up with something a little bit beyond what I can normally cook, which is good enough for me.

Anyway, here are some of the books that have a little magic cooking in them:

Like Water for Chocolate, Laura Esquivel
Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses, Isabel Allende
Goddess in the Kitchen, Margie Lapanja