At the time, my mother was writing a cookbook called Beyond Measure: The Cookbook For People Who Think They Can’t Cook. She used the major arcana of the tarot as a jumping off place in guiding her readers to learn to use their intuition when they’re in the kitchen trying to cook a meal.
Her book is about trusting your sense of smell to see if something combines well with something else, to believe in your sense of taste as you go along, to reach out and touch the fruit to feel if it is ripe. Don’t listen to what someone else thinks is the ‘right’ way to do something.
Just as in using the tarot to offer guidance, the magical power of divination lies in sparking that flame of ‘aha’ that a delicious sauce or delightful dessert can offer.
Here’s what she writes about Appetizers, inspired by the ‘Lovers’ card:
“Love and cooking both need some discrimination. In our kind of Kitchens your tools are equanimity, perception, attention, choice, honesty, no tricks. In Love: the same.
The meal is prepared. The table set. Tempting fragrances fill the air. Life is a feast. I believe in myself, and it is balm. Life is beauty and beauty is love.
We invite people to our table where Love helps us bear the oppression of closeness and the terrors of separation. We open to new undertakings, regularly bringing them to fruition. We eat from our bountiful table, letting new people, places and experiences into our lives, while changing accordingly.”
And here’s what she writes about Herbs and Spices, accompanied by the Hermit:
“Whatever else we do in life, sometimes we need to be alone.
Say there’s something that demands our attention. We become a Hermit, if just for an hour, a day, a week, a year, or a lifetime. Solitude tends to re-true us to ourselves. We replenish lost energies. The Hermit respects solitude, since, strange as this may seem, solitude is what binds relationships.
Herbs do the same for food. They bind and enhance the relationships between ingredients, and like solitude, they release tremendous energies, as vital nutrients appear like genies to serve our kindest imaginations, our most generous instincts, and our subtlest intuitions. Herbs lift us out of the mediocre into the extraordinary. They waft us to India or to Italy in a pinch. They are basic to homeopathic medicine. Alive in our gardens, their fragrances awaken us to our own healing powers. Working at the cellular level, herbs restore levels of harmony we may be unaware have been abandoned.”
Images drawn by Alexander Eliot.