Pagan News and Views Since 1998
This is spun off from another comment from Shadow Blade --
From Patti Wingington's awesome column, she mentions for fasting:
In many cases, the point of fasting is to deny the body physical pleasures and needs in order to attain a deeper connection to the gods.
The tradition where I initiated required ritual fasting if health conditions permitted (although, truth told, part of me thinks it was done to make sure people didn't vomit during initiation, as the initiation ritual could really wreak havoc on one's digestive system).
I've fasted a few other times to try and explore the spiritual work, and while I'm glad that I've done it, I can say that for me it didn't provide any positive in my life. Perhaps it is because I eat healthy and do not try and partake in things like coffee or soda, so fasting doesn't trigger those "chemical purge" types of experiences that other people have. (The people who I know who have had the most profound spiritual experience were coffee drinkers, and so I wonder if they could have had a similar experience just by foregoing coffee….)
Although fasting, done properly, does not do long-term harm to the body, the act of denying your body food does cause temporary harm, so some would argue that it is not in line with the ethos of modern Neo-Wicca.
For me personally, what I find much more effective is either embracing the Christian idea of giving up something for Lent (but aligning it with pagan holidays -- so, for instance, giving up something for the time between Samhain and Yule or between Samhain and Imbolc) or doing either the Minimalism Challenge or the 40 Bags Challenge. I've done both of those and find *that* truly brings about a spiritual transformation by releasing the dependance on "stuff" that permeates our lives and takes us farther from the divine.
If you are not familiar with either one, here's the 30 Day Minimalism Challenge:
or another version here:
And the 40 Bags Challenge:
Not only are these great ways to clean your house, but they also allow you to remove spiritual blockages, improve your health (because you'll be able to really clean where you live instead of cleaning around your stuff), and improve your quality of life.
If you feel moved to fast from food, or fast from a vice (smoking, drinking, caffeine, etc.), then by all means do so with the blessing of the gods. For those who want to shake things up, during this dark time of the year, you might try those other suggestions -- but remember, once you start, you are making a sacred contract to the gods. It would be in your best interest NOT to break a promise made to the gods, no matter how hard it gets.