Ritual Fasting

Meditating Woman
Many people combine meditation and fasting. Compassionate Eye Foundation/Katie Huisman Taxi/Getty Images

Fasting is something that is done in many different religious groups. Muslims abstain from eating during the holy month of Ramadan, Jews often fast in observation of Yom Kippur, and Hindus sometimes fast as part of worship. In some Pagan traditions, fasting is seen as a way to get closer to the Divine, to cleanse the body, or to prepare for a more elaborate ritual later on. 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.

There are different types of spiritual fasting, as well. In some cases, the person may abstain from food but not from drink for a prescribed period of time. In other cases, the faster may eat during certain hours of the day, but not others. Generally, even if you are eliminating your food intake, you should still make sure you stay hydrated. Water or fruit and vegetable juice is a good way to keep your system going during a fast, and will help you maintain good nutrition.

Some people choose to combine ritual fasting with meditation and spiritual introspection. It can be used as a time of reflection and growth on the spiritual plane.

However, if you decide to do a ritual fasting, always check with your doctor prior to fasting. Make sure you're in good physical condition before you start. Some people should never fast without proper medical supervision. Do not perform a fast if you are one of the following types of people:

  • Someone who is being treated for cancer, blood diseases such as anemia, or heart disease.
  • Someone whose immune system is compromised.
  • Someone who is prone to anorexia or bulimia.
  • Pregnant women or nursing mothers.
  • Someone with certain types of mental disorders (consult your mental health professional for his or her evaluation before you begin a fast).

You should also limit your physical activity during a fast. Intense exercise combined with a lack of food can lead to a dramatic and unhealthy weight loss.

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Wigington, Patti. "Ritual Fasting." Learn Religions, Aug. 26, 2020, learnreligions.com/ritual-fasting-2562877. Wigington, Patti. (2020, August 26). Ritual Fasting. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/ritual-fasting-2562877 Wigington, Patti. "Ritual Fasting." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/ritual-fasting-2562877 (accessed March 28, 2023).