First off, quick note–I think I’ve mentioned a ritual I did in preparing a chicken a few weeks back. At any rate, I wrote an article about the process, and you can see it at Culinary Adventures of an Urban Shaman, via Key64.net. While I don’t hunt or fish for meat (though I’d like to), I do believe it’s important to honor the animals (and plants, etc.) who become our food and preserve our life. The article details the ritual I developed for honoring the spirit of a fre range chicken I prepared for supper one evening.
This ritual is a part of my recent efforts to boost the amount of environmentally friendly actions I take, both mundane and spiritual/magical. Therioshamanism, as I am developing it, is very much an Earth-centered path. When I work with deities, for example, I don’t simply see them as abstract beings, separate from the natural phenomena they “represent”. My patron Goddess, Artemis, with whom I will have been working for a full decade this February, is very much associated with the wilderness and the animals therein, as well as the Moon. To me, that means not only honoring her, but also doing what I can to preserve the wilderness, the animals, and to clear the sky so the Moon may be seen without the haze of pollution. Granted, Artemis is also the Huntress–which means she’s no vegan. (Then again, neither am I.) Between her, and the Animal Father who is also, of course, strongly associated with the wilderness and the creatures in it, you can see where a lot of my emphasis is.
It makes no sense to me, therefore, to turn a blind eye to the degradation of what these deities hold sacred. However, I do not live in ancient Greece, or paleolithic France. I am an urban American in the 21st century, and therefore my relationship to the environment is different from people in other cultures and times. To me, it’s not enough to celebrate Nature, when all around me it’s being destroyed through our actions. Where is the honor in that? If I talk about how amazing and wonderful Nature is for giving me life, and then ignore my impact on the land, water and air, then I’m not walking my talk.
Granted, we each have to come to our own balance. I still drive a car, though I use public transit to get to and from work, even though driving might be faster. I’m omnivorous, and meat takes a certain amount of land and other resources to produce, though I try to go for local, free-range meat when I can, and have been eating more poultry, smaller animals that require fewer resources to raise. I know not everyone can afford to buy organic. However, we can buy with an eye towards reducing packaging, recycle whatever we have the facilities for, make small investments such as a few canvas bags for groceries (guaranteed not to rip no matter how wet they get or how many canned goods you stuff in there!), and other such things. Being an environmentally-friendly pagan (or non-pagan, for that matter) isn’t about worrying about what you can’t do right now–it’s about what you can do, and being aware of the choices you make with regards to the resources and opportunities available to you at any given time.
For me, walking my talk means changing my everyday lifestyle, no matter where I live. I made my own bread for the first time this weekend, so I could have a little more control over what ingredients I used, and what went into my body. The clove of garlic that bravely put forth a bright green shoot was saved from the pizza sauce and is now in its own pot of dirt, growing happily, the start of what I hope will be an excellent garden someday. I want to buy a secondhand hand towel so I don’t have to dry my hands with paper towels at work. I can’t buy solar, can’t buy a hybrid, can’t raise rabbits or chickens for food–but I can do these things, and help make others aware of what they can do, inspire people to take a conscious look at the choices they have before them. And in the end, that’s enough, I think, to do what I can, and look forward to what may be later on as circumstances change.