One of my tasks as Priestess of the Flames is making the offering cakes for the Temple, both for daily use and at the Mysteries. Makes sense, I work with Hekate’s Flame, hence I get to be the cook. There are a couple different recipes I’ve found that have been used successfully as offering cakes for Her altar. One involves using steel-cut oats to shape an unleavened cake that is nutty and chewy. The other involves using flour and (optionally) a leavening agent to create the cakes, which are fried in olive oil. The one thing they have in common is honey.
For daily offering cakes, I’ll use whatever honey happens to be in my kitchen, but for the Mysteries, a little more effort is required. When I prepared for the first Mystery rite we did several years ago, I researched far and wide for recipes that would have been used in ancient Hellas or its environs. While doing this research I came across mentions of asphodel honey. This caught my attention, since asphodel has many associations with Chthonic deities, including Hekate. I decided to see if it was possible to get actual asphodel honey here in the U.S., and was pleasantly surprised to discover that I could get it imported from Sardinia, an island in the Mediterranean. Ever since then, I’ve used the same importer to obtain asphodel honey for the offering cakes each year.
However, this year I found that my importer was out of stock. With only a few weeks left until the Mysteries, I had to look around to find more. In the process of finding another supply, I came across several articles about asphodel honey in medical and scientific journals. This intrigued me, and after placing my order through a new supplier, I decided to check these out. It turns out that asphodel honey and ONLY asphodel honey contains a fair quantity of an important compound which inhibits the formation of certain toxins in improperly stored foods. Apparently this is striking enough where a test for this compound is a definitive confirmation that the honey is in fact asphodel honey. The nurse in me was impressed at this, and the priestess in me simply grinned.
How fitting is it that this wayside flower, this bloom of the fringes, produces a honey which can prevent the forming of nasty toxins in foods, which no other flower does? I think it’s pretty amazing, and just oh-so-fitting.