There are two main reasons why I am so keen on this practice: Grounding and Community.
Rituals can take you to places of incredible spiritual highs. You can open yourself right up psychically and whilst this is great and feels wonderful it isn’t a good idea to walk out in the world in such a state of openness. Being psychically open means attracting and absorbing all energy with no filters. In a cleansed and sacred space with trusted friends this is no problem, in the big wide world you face attracting and absorbing everything from other people’s anger and frustration to spirits looking for mischief. In particular I seriously counsel against anyone driving back from a ritual in such a heightened state as it simply isn’t safe, your senses may be heightened but this means your reaction time will be slowed as you will be taking in far more information that you can realistically process. Eating a meal after the ritual is a fantastic and earthy form of grounding. Nothing gets you back in your body quicker than having to digest something!
But on to my second reason for a post-ritual nosh…the dissection! It is really important for groups to discuss what happened in the ritual they just performed, share what you experienced and listen to the sharings of others. Usually you will find that in this process of sharing, absorbing and rationalising you will get better insights and bond more closely as a community.
I have worked with groups where a post-ritual meal was an unspoken expectation and other groups where barring a bit of drinking everyone scooted off home without talking about the ritual. In every case the former rituals were far more spiritually satisfying that the latter.
Historically in many cultures breaking bread together is a vital ritual in itself and that is something you should be capitalising on for your post-ritual meal. Whilst sharing yourself in the energetically charged circle is a close and binding thing, nothing makes people closer than sharing it all again over a meal. It brings the spiritually sacred experiences straight into the middle of your mundane world …for what is more mundane than eating, we do it 3 times or more a day.
The key to a post-ritual meal is low prep food or food you can easily prepare in advance. You are not throwing a dinner party, people are primarily coming for the ritual; the food is just a bonus. Choose simple but nourishing food which is cheap and filling. I find it easier to making vegetarian food as standard since it is cheaper and many pagans are vegetarian and obviously always check if people are vegan or have allergies to wheat, egg, nuts, dairy etc. A post-ritual meal help to create an inclusive atmosphere and continue the sense of “safe space” created in the ritual, to help facilitate this ask about allergies beforehand to avoid making anyway feel awkward afterwards.
Shortly I'll be posting some of my favourite, no-fuss recipes for post-ritual feasting!