Sourcing the Psyche through intention, imagery, and ancestral wisdom
Seeing the world and all within it through the lens of the sacred,
Transforming the ordinary to the extraordinary.
Alchemical cooking for mind, body, and spirit
With Alchemical Chef Dr. Janet Piedilato
In modern times many catch a quick meal between business meetings, children’s school tasks, and self-appointed priorities, ordering in or taking out from fast food or fancy food restaurants and small cafes. Food is viewed as the necessary answer to body hunger. It is not viewed as something that needs any more attention other than opening the mouth and quickly eating. Preparations for a holiday feast often draw upon the local resources of prepared crudities, frozen entrees, and bakery treats. Less and less time and thought go into personal preparation. Very few thoughts are spent on the importance of the food offerings and their significance. It is not unreasonable that many such meals deteriorate into heartburn. Lost to the modern food consumer is the magical significance of meals. What the ancients knew to be powerful ritual, modern meal takers have forgotten.
Who even honors the sacrifice of the meal when eating food prepared by others yet beautifully offered for our enjoyment? Do we stop and give thanks for this blessing? So we pause to remember and give thanks to those who entered into the preparation of what is to become part of the fabric of our body?
Alchemical Feasts! seeks to bring back the alchemical lore and power that is available to each one of us every day as we chose what food we take for nourishment. Alchemy is mistakenly perceived to be the ancient practice of seeking to change base matter into gold. Yet it is more about the transformation of the ordinary to the sublime. To participate in alchemy is to elevate the ordinary senses to the finely tuned realm of intuition. It is to seek the alchemical Mercurial Fountain within in order to communicate with the deepest wisdom that resides within all being. Such communication brings us sight, insight to see beyond ordinary surface perceptions, what appears obvious, to the indwelling essence. It is to look at something with new eyes, to uncover special meaning. The ancients who elevated their food to the sacred in the ancient mystery traditions. A modern priest consecrating an offering before his community is participating in this alchemy. We too can take the time to really see what is in our food preparations and intakes, something divine, elevating food into a sacramental communion with the Unseen Beloved. Each time we take food into ourselves we cause a change which results in the food becoming part of us, an alchemical transformation of one substance into another. The body is a marvelous instrument for such changes.
Thousands of enzyme systems exist in the body tissues for the sole purpose of converting one chemical into another, a continual cascade of alchemical reactions! The food we take in is constantly feeding these systems, continually interacting with our body mass and our vital life force. Yet how little we think of this. How often we eat junk food and participate in a meal without any thought of how intimately the chemicals of the food will be assumed into our being. Food is an opportunity to recognize the unity of all being for in sacrificing the gifts of the earth, in preparing, cooking, presenting, and taking them within our own physical bodies we become one with our sacrificial offering. We are taking the gifts of the alchemical transformation to become part of our flesh and our spirit. What we eat simply becomes part of the fabric of who we are. Do we not need to pay attention to honoring the entire process from field through kettle, plate and palate? Do we not recognize the sacredness of the meal, of sharing the gifts of the earth in an atmosphere of friendship and of love?
The ancients attached great significance to different foods, preparing and using them for precise purposes, with specific intention, at specific times of yearly and life cycles. Feasts, celebrations, and rituals were created and repeated with reverence. Some of the foods still carry significance within modern religious cults while others have been found to contain chemicals that confirm their ancient purpose. What we eat does affect us, in body as well as in spirit. Some foods will uplift us while others will depress us and make us sad. Science has suggested certain foods as powerful healing agents while others have been implicated in disease. Food clearly plays a significant role in our lives. The joy of the making elevating the food to something extraordinary, to an alchemical feast!
Alchemical Feasts! takes in account both the scientific knowledge about certain foods as well as the folklore, the myths, spiritual and magical lore surrounding the food to enrich our experience of everyday food consumption to the level of a feast! Each day is a blessing and a gift. Each day is reason to celebrate the magic of the alchemy of life, the marvelous ability of human to interact on a cellular level with each particle ingested. Earth, air, fire, and water, the elements of being, all work together to cause this magic. The body works like a furnace to cook up the soup of life from what we ingest. Why not make a ritual out of it? Why not recognize the beauty of its magic? Why not use our knowledge of the wisdom of the foods to create for us an internal environment of health?
Alchemical Feasts! is about eating but not just eating as taking something into ones stomach! It also shall explore what we “eat” with our senses….Sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch. The environment we create around ourselves is important and too often we ignore it. The Alchemical Feast is about honoring mind, spirit, and body.
Here in this virtual space I hope to share with you not only the stories of ancestors in our common far past, but stores of my childhood love affair with food and its deep spiritual connections bestowed upon me by my well-chosen loving parents, Jeanette and Phil Riche. It was in my childhood home that I experienced the full power of food, its preparation, and presentation, as well as the power of the meal shared. What began with my mother’s loving preparation was shared as a daily sacred communion as our family came together after a day of school and work. We sat and bread was placed upon the table, the presence of God, my mother would begin. And then in quiet, I, the baby, offered grace.
Bless us oh Lord, for these thy gifts which we are about to receive through thy bounty…..
I finished and we waited, my three brothers, Tony, Phil, and Rocky along with my mother. We were silent and still, all eyes on my father as he picked up his utensil and tasted the first morsel….Smiling his wonderful loving smile, he complimented my mother on a dish beautifully prepared! And then we began our meal. We ate and shared more than the food on our plates as one by one we spoke telling the tale of our day, sharing our experiences, our joys and challenges. And at the end of our meal my father raised his voice in a closing prayer of thanks to God and to my mother for preparing the feast. Together my brothers and I shared the task clearing the table and washing and putting away the dishes as my parents enjoyed a quiet moment together in our living room. It was a sacred sharing, our meal, something we looked forward to every day of our lives together. It is a memory I carry with me, one I shared with my own family when I wed. Every night it was a feast. Holiday and Sunday meals were extra celebrations. Such alchemical memories are carried in my heart, carried into my adulthood as I created meals for my own family and friends, always remembering the circle of my childhood table, our joy in one another and in the food prepared. It was a communion that extends far beyond our physical parting, the passing away of those who once sat at that table for the memories join us beyond time and space.
It is thus I begin….so much to tell, so much to share with all who wish to hear the stories. For the stories are the threads that pass through the needle of time. They begin in the far distant past and they extend into the unseen future. These are the stories we tell for our children to remember, to tell their children and their children’s children….Until the end of time when beyond the gate that leads us into Eternity we shall all rejoice in the reunion with all who once graced our lives, walking alongside us, sitting, talking, and partaking of the many alchemical feasts of life. It is our journey to partake in this joy and to carry it with us. It is our role to remember……
I welcome you, initiates into the Mysteries of Alchemical Feasts!
I will be telling stories as well as sharing recipes teaching the traditional cooking and baking I partake of in my own alchemical kitchen.
Let me introduce myself. I have worn many hats in my life. Child of my parents, sister to my brothers, granddaughter to the only grandparent I knew, I grew to be a pupil and then a proper student attaining two doctorates, one in biology and another in transpersonal psychology. Along the way I collected a culinary degree from the French Culinary Institute in NYC, spent years studying herbal medicine weaving it with further studies in Ayurvedic Medicine for Health practitioners. In addition to my scientific interests I studied altered state experiences, something I seemed to experience naturally from childhood, powerful visions and dreams. Thus very early on in an attempt to better understand my experiences I studied parapsychology, psychic phenomenon, past life regression, mediumship and dreams all beneath the watchful eye of my lifetime friend and mentor, dream guru Dr Stanley Krippner. I had the honor of studying shamanism with anthropologist Michael Harner as I learned of communities of people for whom the altered state experience was a way in to discover hidden wisdom, healing, and information in service of others.
Thus I am a perpetual student as the cosmos is my library. There is so much to learn and I never stop in one field knowing it would limit my vision beyond to all the others. It all boils down to one thing for me: Entering the Imaginal to source the psyche! I thus stand at the center of directions seeing the treasured experience, the alchemical feast of life, as that which is accessed by seeing within, beyond the physically perceived! What we see and experience on the physical level is, for me, simply only part of the experience of life.
We have a long road ahead, we who journey through life, walking through its joyful as well as difficult times. Yet each experience is an opportunity to go within, to enter the imaginal to source the psyche, the essence of meaning beyond the seen. I invite you will come along with me, making this pilgrimage which shall take us from the ancient caves to our modern kitchens.
Look for our stories, our demos, our classes…..herns, marking stones, along the way!
Thus I say welcome and for now I leave you with a blessing. My childhood blessing grew in time and I offer it here for each who wishes to partake in the alchemical transformation of a simple meal:
The Alchemical Feast Offering Prayer:
We give thanks for the offering of thy bounty oh Beloved and we remember all who take part in the gifts, the sacrifices we are about to receive: Earth, Air, Fire, Water, and Metal, all working towards the creation of our food. We give thanks to our mother earth in which the seeds take nourishment, the animals who graze the land, the farmers who tend and nurse it, as well as those who transport these offerings along with the cooks who transform all into that which we are about to receive. We give thanks for the gathering of loved ones at our table asking for blessings upon all. Amen.
What we shall be visiting upon our gatherings at the Alchemical Feast visits
Pilgrimage, beginning the journey of empowerment of entering the alchemical feast
Historical stories of ancestral relationship with food.
Personal stories, memories of yesterday, memories to call each into creating new experiences and new memories.
Recipes on the making, inviting creativity
Demos, demystifying the process in the kitchen.