A formal ceremony at the beginning of meals encourages us to reflect on our good fortune,

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A formal ceremony at the beginning of meals encourages us to reflect on our good fortune, but the usual "graces" are monotheistic and patriarchal. Therefore I have composed a Pagan "grace" that may be useful for holidays or even for ordinary meals. If the bracketed references to the Gods are deleted, it shouldn't even offend (reasonably open-minded) Christian guests. "Gratia" means thanks, thankfulness, gratefulness, kindness, charm, pleasantness, etc., all attitudes conducive to a centered meal. The Gratiae (Graces) were Goddesses who "stand for the joy and beauty produced by the blessings of fertile nature and by other things that evoke spontaneous emotion of pleasure." They included Euphrosune (Joy), Kale (the Beautiful), Aglaia (the Radiant), Thaleia (the Flowering) and Auxo (the Grower) -- all Goddesses we should welcome to our table. GRATIA PAGANA John Opsopaus {In the following, the "dedications" can be made in a small bowl or into a fire. One person may officiate, making dedications from the common dishes, or everyone can make dedications from their own dishes. Alternately, each person may take a part, making dedications from their own dish or the common dishes.} "We are grateful [to Demeter] for the fruits of the earth. In recognition of our gratitude we give back this grain." {Dedicate a piece of bread, some grain, or other plant material.} "We are grateful [to Artemis] for the animals who have given their life that we may eat meat. In recognition of our gratitude we give back this flesh." {Dedicate a small piece of fat or other meat.} "We are grateful [to Dionysus] that nature transforms food that we may enjoy it better. In recognition of our gratitude we give back this wine (beer, cheese, yogurt, etc.)." {Pour out a little wine, beer, etc. or dedicate some cheese, yogurt, etc.} "May we always enjoy Nature's abundance and recognize our good fortune." {The "offerings" are left throughout the meal as a reminder; after the meal they are returned to the earth in some way.} Since the point of the ceremony is to make the participants mindful of the sources of their good fortune, it is better to skip the ceremony altogether than to perform it perfunctorily. B*B, JO

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