I’m not much of a traditionalist when it comes to ritual. Sure, I learned the ‘proper’ way, but more importantly, I learned the reasons why we cast circle the way we do. once you learn rules, you can bend them to your liking. Its not so different with what to serve for cakes and ale ceremony.
Why do we have cakes and ale? the main reason is to ‘ground’ the energy you raise during ritual. There are other ways to ground, from ground-and-center techniques, to snapping fingers, to feasting.
There is also the element of building bonds with a group with the act of sharing food.
Traditional cakes and ale? If you want to get picky, you serve what they did in the good ‘ol days’. Origins of the ritual arise from various places (depending on your tradition) but I’ve known of recipes that go back a few generations. This was often cookie like confections or biscuit like, with wine, ale, or mead. Making from scratch also lends to adding a bit of magick while creating the cakes, and adding what you need for the intended ritual.
bannock– a recipe for a simple, heavy, but tasty bread
Ritual recipes– a couple of recipes for ritual use.
Non-traditional cakes and ale? With the growing population of individuals choosing vegan, gluten free, or refusing alcohol. fear now, there’s plenty of choices for you too;
You can also select gluten-free or vegan varieties, switching flour for the gluten free flour.
Sparkling juice. I like serving this because its refreshing, more healthy, and adds enough ‘special’ to the occasion. You can select flavors such as grape, apple, or even pomegranate. You can also make your own.
Regular juice or punch. I often find sparkling juice in the grocery store, but you can make your own sparkling juice by mixing juice with seltzer water. You can often select fruit juices to help symbolize the ritual, such as pomegranate for harvest, or strawberry for one of the ‘strawberry moon’.
I would also suggest offering more than one choice. On the plate we serve for cakes, I will sometimes offer fruit along with sliced homemade cake (such as banana bread, cupcakes, etc). It still serves the same purpose of grounding and centering, but also providing unity in the act of sharing food.
What are your favorite traditions with cakes and ale? Do you have a favorite recipes, or preference to the types of food/drink served? Post in comments. I’d love to hear your thoughts.