I know, I know–I’ve been talking about this a lot lately. But there’s a lot to chew on, so bear with me here.
So the other day, when I was talking about dead critters, I mentioned some of the ethics surrounding the use of animal parts in my art and spiritual practice. Specifically in that post I discussed the ethics of honesty in admitting the source of said parts, especially the issue of people misrepresenting supposedly vintage or otherwise secondhand parts. However, the ethics go much further than just how we represent what we offer.
As mentioned in the earlier post, one of the important reasons for accurate representation is because there are a lot of buyers out there, either of animal parts or things made of them, who restrict themselves on what they may or may not buy for ethical reasons. Some only want secondhand/vintage. Others only want parts from natural deaths, or even only shed antlers or molted fur and feathers. For these people it is imperative to know that what they offer didn’t come from a fur farm or otherwise have a bad life and/or death.
I don’t restrict myself that much. I am an equal opportunity spirit worker when it comes to skin spirits. The only limitations I make are regarding legalities, which is why I put so much effort in trying to educate myself on the laws. I don’t support poaching, and I don’t support other illegal acts. Beyond that, though, I don’t discriminate.
Why? Because all the skin spirits deserve attention and honor, as do their remains. And, in my experience, it’s the ones that have had the worst deaths that need the most spiritual help and cleansing. I do a full purification ritual on everything I make with animal parts, and part of that includes talking with the spirit of the skin or bone I’m working with to be sure it’s ready to go to a new home. Some of them? They’re just not there yet, and I respect that.
And? It’s all death, one way or another. No matter how it happened, or at what point in the lifetime, some animal lost its unique vehicle for interacting with this world. The soul moves on; the “spirits” that are left are more impressions, haunts, though they may have strong personalities. The death doesn’t change, either. A farmed fox tail from fifty years ago is still from a fox that lived and was killed on a fur farm. The vintage status doesn’t change that. Any way the death happened, whether through snare or bullet or gas or electrocution or roadkill or parasitic disease, the end result is a carcass. And that’s where my work starts.
Yes, I try to balance my works with donations and volunteering to help animals and their habitats. But I still own that my art, and my income, rest directly on the backs of hundreds of deaths, and I can never forget that. To do so would be to the detriment of everything I have done for the past 13 years.