Feeding the Spirit
©2007 Turtle Heart
We are down here
waiting with the wind
we were over there burning in the dryness
and emptiness of those who guide us
except in line
now we are waiting with the wind
here on the other side of the world
I put down my dreams
I feed my earth and sing an old song sometimes
waiting with the wind
on the other side of the world
Spirit bowl is a daily practice when practiced in its pure form, but can be done at anytime. Anyone can do it, rich or poor, in the city or the country.
Each time you eat you prepare a small plate of food. This small plate of food is taken to a place near to your home and left there. It is food for the spirits, for the hungry, for the mystery life. It does not matter if it is eaten by birds, or dogs, or cats, or whatever might be out there and passing by.
Many of my old friends would put their favorite foods or the favorite foods of someone who has passed away into this plate. I knew one elder who really loved strawberry jam, especially homemade jam. Whenever I visited these friends I would bring home made strawberry jam so we could put it on the spirit plate.
The energy of this practice is a great meditation on so many levels. It prospers the ideas of abundance, of sharing, of respecting what you have been given. It is a small giving back ceremony.
In modern society people do not like so much to put food out near their homes. It attracts problems they say. In the indian world it is not so important who or what may eat your spirit food. It is the offering that is the operative function in this practice. There is a bond created between your life and the mystery life of the earth when you honor such old ceremonies. It creates a thinking, a feeling that otherwise would not exist in your life.
Theoretical science has made good arguments that, as Huxley said, “consciousness is a function of the brain”. The spirit plate creates a physical link between you and this small need of the earth. Feeding the spirits invites the spirits to respond. Biology clearly teaches us that nearly every form of life has response capability.
I knew an old indian man who always put their favorite treats near a big ant hill. He never had ants in his house, though nearly everyone else did. He did not have to use chemicals or any other behavior except his respect and acknowledgment. You can always go some distance from your home to do this ceremony as well. Some people have a special place they love to visit and make the spirit plate when they go to this place.
In America for some reason it is very easy to find pretty good wild bird seed in many kinds of supermarkets and even hardware stores. All my life in america, wherever I have lived I have made spirit bowls for the birds. In return my home has always been filled with singing, migrations and multi generation bird families. These days I live on a small island in the Mediterranean Sea and it is almost impossible to find wild bird seeds. I have made a stone water bowl and now I am on my fourth generation of birds who have raised their babies on my water. Having a big crowd of happy birds around your home is very entertaining and interesting. I do also the regular spirit plate for the earth, but have a special fondness for birds. Here on Pantelleria where we have absolutely no fresh water (except what we catch in cisterns from the rain), the water bowl has become a very popular spirit bowl.
In the Pacific Northwest I had a big round ceramic spirit bowl. One day it just disappeared. We later learned that one of our neighbors had seen a big bear come and grab that spirit bowl and walk off with it. More than two years later I was walking in the big hills near the house and found that spirit bowl and brought it home.
Most families use spirit plates to feed the spirit of those loved one who have passed on. Some people who want to grow and change their lives make a spirit plate to offer to the spirits of change and renewal. When you are trying to make progress every small positive movement towards what you want is in fact progress. Even small things are important. Small things have great value that is often overlooked. Sometimes we want what is dramatic and profound. That which is small progress is the food of the sacred tree. The rain carries the sacred tree but also the mist in the morning covers her flowers and shines like the stars in full light of day.
When you want to grow, to be in balance or harmony, to make changes it is important to understand simple things, easy things They are so often over looked. When you go to sleep at night, you can tell your brain to visit the spirit plate while you are dreaming. It is your brain and sometimes it will help you out like this.
PS...don't use plastic plates. find a nice strong ceramic.