CHARLES LAMB, the gentlest and one of the best loved of our English writers, once wrote an essay on the subject of saying grace before (or after) a meal. The tradition is probably as old as our religion for it is really an expression of gratitude to our gods for the fruits of the earth and to the animals that provide us, often ungrateful and unthinking, humans with nourishment.
The grace before meat that forms part of our rituals is straightforward and easy to remember. Standing before one’s place at the table each person takes the hand of his neighbour to left and right. Then together they say, ‘For food and friends we give thanks’. That’s all.
Note that we do not direct our words to a particular god or goddess – too many are concerned for us to remember all their names and, moreover, we owe at least same debt to the toilers who nourished the food through its various stages until it was ready for the table. We can’t spend all our time thinking of such details. But we should occasionally remember them and those of our ancestors to whom we are indebted for all that we have inherited from them: the cultivated soil, the livestock, the skills of the kitchen and the peace in which to enjoy them, so hardly fought for and so costly in blood spilled.
The meal – every meal – should be an act of worship in itself, a communal sacrifice and a symbol of the family. When we eat together after the ceremonial Blot we call it by its proper name, the feast. So let us, whenever we eat, start off with this simple act of worship. Invite other family members and friends, whether Odinist or not, to join in. They might think it is fun but they just might start to think our way. So,