Monday, September 21, 2009

May You Never Hunger

In Wiccan ritual circles, it is traditional to share a bit of food and drink near the end of the ritual. The plate and cup are passed to each participant with the words, “May you never hunger,” and, “May you never thirst.”

It’s one of my favorite parts of ritual…but I’ve always been nagged just a bit by the words. To never know hunger…to never thirst…isn’t quite right.

I don’t know that changing a time-honored and much loved ritual tradition is in order…but the thoughts beg to be shared so share them I will…with you…here.

My wish for you…

May you know enough sadness
to deepen your joy.

May you experience fear
that you may know your own courage.

May you feel loneliness
that you may cherish company.

May you be acquainted with death
that you may live fully.

May you experience hunger
that you may understand enough.

May you thirst just enough
to sweeten your cup.

Blessed be, my friends…and may you live in gratitude and abundance.


  1. I love these thoughts! It is the experience of contrasts which teaches us how to live, to grow, to love. You are right on. :o)

  2. Anonymous11:32 AM

    You're absolutely right, as usual. It feels good to wish each other love, light and abundance. But if you think about it, how can we appreciate them if we've never been without them? We wouldn't know how good being full felt if we weren't ever hungry; we wouldn't appreciate joy if we never sorrowed.

    Why do we still have "sacred cows?" LOL If we do or say something just becuase it's always been done, or said that way, we stop thinking: we become lulled into the trap of complacency and stagnation. And nothing grows in a stagnant bog! Our path mirrors nature: nature stives to assert herself and grow! How do we grow? We change. When things don't change when they need to, the natural course is either death or a slow fade into irrelevance.

    Your insight exhibits the wisdom that comes from a profound understanding of life. In my humble opionion, your words would be an improvement! ~zephyr

  3. Well, that's 3 votes...wonder how long it would take to get thousands of Wiccans on board? ::grin::

    I'm sure that most people who speak those words in circle realize, at some level, that a literal interpretation wouldn't be good for us. They speak those words to wish their brothers and sisters a life free from extreme want, and there's nothing wrong with that.

    I also believe words have power...not the least of which is the power to remind us, touch knowledge held deep within that we forget from time to time...floating it gently to top-of-mind for a little while to remind us to be grateful in times of plenty and scarcity. Whether we change what we say in ritual or not, internalizing words that speak truth, reminding ourselves, and sharing those words with others is a good thing.

    Thanks for the comments, and on other posts. Your voice is clear and strong, and a welcome addition to the choir!

  4. Though we are not Wiccan, there are many similarities; we however do not say "may you never hunger/thirst". I like your ideas, for only in conflict can there be growth... we do not wish for hardship, but "that which does not kill us makes us stronger" is undeniable truth.

    My research has led to a long history behind the rite of "cakes and ale" that is far too lengthy for the space of a blog comment. :) However, what the Christians say (which they got from us!) along lines of "this is my body/blood" is quite accurate; we are taking in the symbolic blood and flesh of the gods by this ritual act and it was never meant to guarantee a lifetime of full bellies and wet whistles. ;)

    Instead, it is the act of taking the slain god into oneself, that we might through it gain the essense of the god. It is an act of oneness with something with which we are already one; therefore is serves to remind us that we, too, bear the spark of divinity and that we, too, must sacrifice... that we, too, must go into the ground and fertilize the earth with our bodies, bringing forth new life in the ground... and that our spirits, like that of the slain god, shall live again.

    Great post... thank you for sharing!

  5. Ken, welcome to the choir! Really glad to have you here.

    Your comments about the "essence of the god" and the sacrifice inherent in that essence struck a chord with me. As a pantheist, I like incorporating ritual acts that reinforce the sense of oneness (or sameness) with divinity. I do enjoy the more mundane meaning behind the sharing of cakes and ale, the deeper symbolism you describe adds a whole new dimension to it. Can you suggest some resources for learning more?

    Though I'm certainly not the most educated Wiccan in the woodpile, I'm surprised that none of the sources I've read have mentioned that history. Then again, I have been a very "experiential" learner; I read a lot of books early on, the usual entry-level titles, but most of my spiritual practice comes from personal experience. I appreciate people like you, who do the research that I am rarely patient enough to do.

    Thanks for singing along...hope you'll lend your voice often!

  6. I am sadly addicted to the research. ;D That moment when I chase a trail through history and a dozen books when the path crosses one I've tread before and I realize that I've found part of the common ancestry of an idea... that moment is utterly thrilling for me.

    I've been wanting to do a post on the origins of Cakes and Ale... in fact, somewhere in my piles, I'm pretty sure I have one partially written. (Just checked my Google Documents folder... sure enough, 725 words that haven't been touched since March. I'll try and finish that one really soon and post it up!)

    BTW, I appreciate you "experiential" folks, too. :) You serve as a reminder that my unending quest for knowledge may benefit my path but it is NOT my path... if a person doesn't do the hands-on stuff, all the books in the world won't make them witches. :)

  7. I really like this.
    I think it does well as the intro to the cakes and ale with the never hunger/thirst or similar passing along with the cakes/ale. If for no other reason than its a bit much to stand through if everyone were to say it.
    I don't know if you meant it to be said by everyone. But that's my 2cents.

  8. Hello, seeker...thanks for singing with me! I never really thought about everyone in circle saying the words for exactly the reason you would be a mouthful to say and take a long time to say it! I popped over to your blog and looked at your Imbolc ritual there, and I think the way you've incorporated them is beautiful (and flattering...thank you!).

    I'm glad you're here...hope you sing with us often.


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