The Beauty of a Gathered Meal

Our time together is just as nourishing as the food itself

The menu changes, but the ingredients are always the same. Take five women, add one meal, two bottles of wine, two decks of prophetic cards (one of the Angel variety, the other of the Tarot tradition), and one smudge stick. Blend in crystals, candles, and the occasional feather. Let sit. We call it “women’s circle,” but that’s mostly because “Mystical Badass Yoga Ladies’ Association of Brooklyn” is a bit of a mouthful. Gus, my main squeeze, is the only man allowed, but that’s because he’s a cat and, well, he lives here.

Once a month the five of us gather for the evening, ideally the night of the full moon (because, you know, periods), but if not the full moon, as near to that date as possible (because, you know, life). We come with arms laden: fresh flowers, dewy fruits, and ready vegetables.

Lately we cook around a theme. It started with Mexican, and we’ve since made our way through Mediterranean fare and into Japanese, ambitiously rolling our own sushi (which might have been a less formidable undertaking had our bellies not been quite so sake-soaked).

I tend to think that when our hands are busy with meaningful work, words are free to heave from our hearts up and out through our mouths.

The preparation is just as nourishing as the meal itself. We task each other with chopping said vegetables and lighting said candles and no one is in charge. We contribute to each others’ dishes and the conversation is easy and honest and blissfully free from snark. I tend to think that when our hands are busy with meaningful work, words are free to heave from our hearts up and out through our mouths.

When our food is ready, we eat it—always on real china, which feels important. I believe in the heft and clatter of ceramic and silverware, the perceived permanence of not the moment itself, perhaps, but the ceremony of it at least.

We leave the cleanup for the end rather than tidying all along, and that seems important, too.

When we feel full we move from the table to the floor, sitting around a coffee table that is more than a coffee table but less than an altar. Its surface is strewn with the cards and the crystals and the candles, books we’ve for brought each other and the smudge stick that lives in the underside of a shell.

We follow each others’ interests: some months it’s been essential oils, in others it’s flower essences. There have been collective breaths and a beaded necklace, individual inspiration boards and vision quests. We always read aloud. Oh, and one time we made bath salts that were steeped in each other’s intentions.

The meal we make is the only must-do, as there are no “best practices” for our women’s circle, and we certainly don’t have a rulebook. Rather it’s a discussion, a discovery, a process. A time for us to be together in a way that is at once social and soul-nourishing. It’s hippie dippie to the max, and I love every second of it.

Because here’s the truth: We could take away the stuff—the candles, the cards, the smudge stick. The feathers, the flowers, the oils. We could replace those things with other things or, hell, take “things” away altogether, and the point, the underlying message, would still be the same:

Eat with me. We’ll take turns at keeping one another, and at being kept.

Photo by Elli Lauren

sized Bio PicJessica Kulick is a certified vinyasa and hot traditional yoga teacher, as well as freelance writer. She has contributed travel writing to sites such as Matador Network, Literary Traveler, and Spotted by Locals, and currently manages the offices of Wanderlust’s Brooklyn headquarters. You can find her on Instagram (@jess_kulick) where she is usually chasing sunshine and eating pistachios.