Kitchen Witchery: Root Vegetables
Root vegetables play a key role in harvest festivals because they store so well for use throughout the winter. Lasting for several months when stored in a root cellar, root vegetables provide important nutrition in months when harvesting isn’t possible due to cold temperatures. Like most things in nature, root vegetables also have inherent magickal properties that make them perfect for kitchen witchery.
So, what is a root vegetable? In agriculture and culinary terms, root vegetables are underground parts of plants that are eaten as vegetables. Mainly thought of as storage organs of plants, they store carbohydrates as energy. This concentration of calories makes them important in cultures where food is in short supply in winter months.
Some examples of root vegetables are potatoes, yams, turnips, beets, parsnips, carrots, radishes, jicama, and yuca. That is far from a complete list, but it gives you an idea of what types of vegetables are included as “root vegetables.”
The wild carrot originated in Persia, in what is today Iran and Afghanistan. Originally grown for its leaves and seeds, it was cultivated over years into the different varieties we know today where the taproot is the most common part eaten. As far back as 3000 BC, there is evidence of the carrot seed. Carrots are a great source of vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin B6. While they don’t actually improve how you see at night (nor are the taproots a favorite of rabbits), they do have properties worth tapping into for some kitchen magick.
Carrots correspondences include the planet Mars and the element fire. It is most associated with the energies of sex and used for that purpose. For example, in ancient Greece, carrots were used to create desire specifically for sexual contact. Carrots can also be used to fight and overcome psychological impotency. Carrots prepared with parsley and caraway yield the best results for sexual energies.
Because carrots are available in a range of colors – orange, red, yellow, purple, white – you can also incorporate color magick into your kitchen magick by using the color or colors associated with what you are trying to accomplish.
Though people tend to think of Ireland when someone mentions the oh-so-versatile potato, they are native to the Americas. Domesticated between 7,000 and 10,000 years ago, potatoes originated in the southern part of what is now Peru. The Spanish brought the potato to Europe after invading and colonizing South America. It is a staple food, and one of the largest produced crops in the world. There are over 5,000 different types of potatoes grown around the world. It is a tuber that is eaten as a root vegetable.
Potatoes are associated with the Moon and the element of Earth. Its energies are compassion and protection, though it has other uses throughout its lore. For example, new potatoes are eaten so the diner can be granted a wish. In America, potatoes were carried as a cure for rheumatism. In England, carrying a bit of potato was thought to get rid of toothaches.
Potatoes should be eaten as part of a protective diet. Seasoned with parsley, rosemary, onions, dill weed, or chives, they are more potent in their protective energy. Their strong lunar connection makes them a good choice when trying to instill compassion. Like the carrot, they come in many different colors including red, orange, purple, and blue, so you can use color magick when cooking up kitchen magick.
Another taproot eaten as a root vegetable, beets originated in the Middle East. They were grown by the biggest ancient empires: Greek, Roman, and Egyptian. A great source for folate and manganese, beets aren’t just used for food; they have a long history of medicinal use and as a dye. Careful with ingesting too much – you might see just how good a dye they are when you go to the bathroom!
For centuries, beets have been eaten to extend one’s lifespan. Beets were a favorite of Aphrodite, who was said to use beets to enhance her astounding beauty. For correspondences, beets are tied to the planet Saturn and the element Earth. Its energies are love and beauty (not surprising, given their ties to Aphrodite). Beets are often big parts of Samhain and Lughnasadh due to their red coloring.
Trying to cook up a love connection? Use beets in the dish you’ll share and make sure you each get a bite of the same beet (even better if you can eat off the same plate at least once). Do this on a first date, not to someone you have secret feelings for. Beet lore indicates love will come to a man and woman who take bites from the same beet. (Obviously, love is more complex than a mere root vegetable tasting but using it in a kitchen magick dish will open the diners up to love.) Beauty comes from the inside, as the old saying goes, so to enhance your own, visualize inner and outer beauty while cooking and dining on a beet dish.
Only distantly related to the potatoes we discussed above, the sweet potato is a part of the morning glory family. The sweet potato we eat is a tuber of this perennial vine that originated in Central or South America. A great source of vitamin C and dietary fiber, sweet potatoes are a favorite substitute for regular potatoes and are often used in desserts in the US. And yes, those are sweet potatoes we use, not yams. True yams grow to be almost human sized, 7 feet in length and almost 100 pounds.
The planet Venus and the element Water are among the sweet potatoes’ correspondences. Working well magickly with beets and carrots, its energies are love and sex. In the UK, sweet potatoes were used to increase sexual desires.
Ready to expand your ability to give and receive love? Eating cooked sweet potatoes will help. Add to their flavor and their potency by seasoning them with honey, ginger, and cinnamon. Share with a partner to increase sexuality.
This article is from the Mabon issue of Wicca Magazine. Our most recent issue can be found by visiting www.WiccaMagazine.com/subscribe