Why should we look into how food has morphed our religions over the years?

It is vitally important to maintain cultural knowledge! Gods & Goddesses can be a source of inspiration for how we think bout, interact with, & eat food.

"Killing an animal and eating it's flesh traditionally has been considered a sacred act, which is why- in ancient Greece, Israel, and many other cultures - the roles of butcher and priest often blended together: holy men killed animals at the altar according to sacred protocols, offered burnt offerings to their God or gods, and then distributed the remaining meat to the crowd."
This blog series is inspired by Mark Essig's words in the book, "Lesser Beast."

Huixtocihuatl, The Aztec Fertility Goddess of Salt & Water

Salt has always been vital to food production & preservation prior to the advent of refrigeration, and of major fixation to humans being that it is the only rock we all consume. One surprising finding of mine is that salt is also associated with fertility and sexual desire.

salt.jpg

Salax from Roman Latin means a man in love. Salacious means treating sexual matters in an indecent way and typically conveying undue interest in or enjoyment of the subject (from google dictionary.) Both words contain the prefix Sal which translates to salt in Latin and a few other romance languages which were decedents of Latin.

In Mark Kurlansky's book, aptly named, "Salt" he says,

"In 1912, (Ernest) Jones published an essay about the human obsession with salt- a fixation that he found irrational and subconsciously sexual... Jones further built his case: Celibate Egyptian priests abstained from salt because it excited sexual desire; in Borneo, when Dayak tribesmen returned from taking heads, the abstinence from both sex and salt was required... In Behar, India Nagin women, sacred prostitutes known as "wives of the snake god," periodically abstained from salt and went begging. Half their proceeds were given to the priests and half to buying salt and sweetmeats for the villagers."

Salt being a source of wealth and symbol of sex it's natural that numerous religions worshiped salt as a female deity.

  Beautiful Note from the Ocmulgee Bank of the State of Georgia issued in 1837. This historic document was printed by the Rawdon, Wright & Hatch Company and has an ornate border around it with a vignette of Hippocampi pulling a shell chariot that holds Neptune and Salacia.

Beautiful Note from the Ocmulgee Bank of the State of Georgia issued in 1837. This historic document was printed by the Rawdon, Wright & Hatch Company and has an ornate border around it with a vignette of Hippocampi pulling a shell chariot that holds Neptune and Salacia.

The Romans knew her as Salacia goddess of the sea and wife of Neptune, to the ancient Greek's she was Amphitrite wife of Poseidon, and the Egyptians considered salt in itself divine because of its huge role in mummification. Given this understanding of salt, Egyptians & other ancient cultures considered salt a bridge between life and death, salt having power in both realms.

 Depiction of Huixtocihuatl

Depiction of Huixtocihuatl

The Aztecs seemed to believe the same; blessing their goddess of salt and salt water with the name Huixtocihuatl. Not much is known about Huixtocihuatl aside from: 

"One interpretation of the myths surrounding Huixtochiuatl says she gained control over sea water when she was having a fight with the Tlaloque and they threw all their salt water at her[2] and Chalchiuhtlicue, sister of the Tlaloques were her sisters, or, in some sources, the younger sister of Tlaloc in an attempt to drown her.
In June, there was a ten-day festival in her honor. During the festival, one woman was considered to be the embodiment of Huixtochiuatl. That woman would be sacrificed by the end of the festival.[3] Salt makers would honor her with dances."

Quote taken from wikipedia. 

It is interesting though, the connection of salt and fertility. Maybe, that's why food is a community builder, stimulating, and a unifying sustenance, just a conjecture. Food for thought. 

All the best,

Graham Calabria