The Contemporary New England Witch

The Contemporary New England Witch
Author Ms.Faith

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Mortar and Pestle

Good Evening,

Have you a mortar and pestle? It's a very useful tool and a must have for all well stocked witches cabinets! A mortar and pestle pictured here:

is a tool that is made up of two parts. The bowl being the mortar and the grinding handle that is the pestle. It is the ancient version of the food processor or food grinder. It has long been used to break up and pulverize all sorts of foods. Meats, vegetables, spices, herbs and grains have been broken down using the mortar and pestle in a practical sense. This ancient tool also has magickal properties attributed to it.

It can be a symbol for the unity of the Goddess and God with the mortar, bowl, being representative of the Goddess and the pestle, grinder, being a symbol of the God. The two together, the pestle resting in the mortar is a symbol of the Great Rite, the union of the Goddess and the God.

I instruct my students to use a mortar and pestle instead of the easier, more modern food processor to process and grind down ingredients for spell mixes and incenses simply because you put more of your own physical energy into the mix with a mortar and pestle. Yes, a food processor is much easier but with magick you get out of it what you put into it.

I remember a few years ago, I had signed up for a hearth cooking class at a local Historical Society property from the 1700's. It was a homestead for a famous Revolutionary War hero from the area and around Thanksgiving time they sold tickets for a small group of people to gather in the ancient kitchen with a huge open hearth fireplace and to cook a complete meal using nothing but the tools and supplies available in the 1700's. We made butter from scratch in a butter churn, apple pie from scratch, a chicken stew and vegetables all cooked over the open fire. Part of the meal required cinnamon. They had a very large, granite mortar and pestle at least a foot in diameter and sticks of cinnamon that needed to be ground into a fine powder.

When I saw that mortar and pestle, I fell in love!!! I politely let everyone have a chance at grinding the cinnamon rather than give into my secret desire of pushing everyone aside and grabbing it for myself, but soon everyone tired of the seemingly tedious job of endless breaking down of the sticks of cinnamon and the grinding. Soon the beautiful mortar and pestle lay in my lap and I was grinding away, so very happy and content! I offered everyone another go at it, but everyone was more than happy to let me continue and I did!! Far too soon the cinnamon was a fine, beautiful powder that was to be used to spice the apple pies. The mortar and pestle was property of the Historical society but I still remember it with fondness.

The meal came out delicious and everything was cooked perfectly, all over an open hearth. If you ever have the opportunity to try open hearth cooking with authentic 18th century tools and supplies I highly recommend it!

If you are planning on purchasing a mortar and pestle be sure to get one that is functional rather than decorative. A functional one has a slightly rough inner surface to the mortar and to the end of the pestle for grinding purposes. They can be made out of many materials such as ceramic, stone, even glass. There are some made out of metals that do not have a rough inner surface, but are used primarily in the formation of medicines and the pestle is used to break up ingredients by a gentle pounding rather than a grinding.

Mortar and pestles that are completely smooth I consider decorative. They can be used as described above like the metal ones, and used for pounding and breaking up ingredients but I use mine primarily for grinding herbs so a rough surfaced one is best for my needs. I collect mortar and pestles and have some around the house, on my office desk at work and of course ones in the potions room at Enchantments.

I have even used the mortar and pestle as the center piece instead of an altar pentacle on my altar. Especially when doing 'green witchery' and crafting potions and herbal simples.

If you don't have a mortar and pestle I would recommend spending some fun time this summer searching out the right one for you. Even if you don't use it, it is an ancient symbol of the witch who was amongst other things the physician, surgeon, pharmacist, midwife and herbalist. I find the mortar and pestle as important to have as a pentacle, at least for me!

Peace and Happiness

© 2010-2012 Faith M. McCann. Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see or go to the title of tonight's discussion and click, it will link you to my school's website. Please note that the copying and/or further distribution of this work without express written permission is prohibited.

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