Daily Archives: June 5, 2012

A is for Animism – Pagan Blog Project 2012

So, further to my last post, I’m continuing the Pagan-themed Alphabet posts with a second “A” entry:

A is for Animism

I talk to my plants.
That’s the short, moderately mundane-acceptable version of “everything has a spirit”. It’s also What I Do. I garden – and talk to the plants. I forage – and talk to the plants. I go on long walks through my neighbourhood – and talk to the plants. I also talk to the animals (not just cats and dogs, I mean “Excuse me, ladies,” when I’m walking through a crowd of pigeons outside my building, or “Hey, there,” to the crow Making Announcements from the top of the street lamp on my way down town, or to the bee(s) visiting the roses in the back parking lot).
I am less likely, it must be said, to talk to rocks and furniture. It’s not that it doesn’t happen. I’ve talked to storm clouds, talked to my pots and pans, talked to the food I’m about to cook (that happens a lot, but also tends to fall under the head of “talking to plants/animals given that this is what I eat – it’s just). I’ve listened to rocks.

Which doesn’t mean I understand a damn thing that they’re saying – if they’re saying anything in particular or saying it at a speed I’m likely to follow (for all I know they’re just sort of doing the rock version of zen chanting, so…) – but I’ve listened.

Which means that thinking there’s something to listen to is part of my Pagan World View: The idea that everything has a soul and a life and a thought process of some kind.

It doesn’t stop me from eating – anything – but it does, I think, contribute to my general (attempts at an) gratitude towards The World (or my little place in it) for looking out for me and ensuring that I get fed. It means that, when I talk about eating animals, I frequently use “someone” as opposed to “something” to describe who (not what) died for my meal.

That’s (side tangent?) something I really appreciated about the part of The Omnivore’s Dilemma wherein the author talks about hunting and killing a wild pig. He uses the word “she” rather than “it” to talk about the sow he killed.
There’s a tremendous respect in that, to recognize the personhood of someone who’s just walked into your gunshot so you can have dinner[1].

I think that’s a Thing in my Paganism. To not “look away”. Both to recognize it when I’m eating someone who’s spent all of their short life in horrible living conditions AND to actively try to minimize (or outright remove) the role those people play in my diet[3] in favour of other people who have had better lives – either on farms where they got to live out their lives the way Nature (and Nurture)[4] intended, or from the wild, where there was nobody around to try and stop them from living out their lives as Nature intended[5].

Animism is part of my Paganism.
It’s also part of my dietary choices (and I realize this post has been far more about A-is-for-Agriculture and/or A-is-for-Appetite than specifically about Animism).
I think that, as Pagans (this is where I get preachy, y’all), we need to walk the walk of our beliefs as best as we can. One way I walk the walk of my Animism is by choosing (when I can – because money is very much an object in my house) to eat animals (and plants) who are my neighbours and whose wellbeing has been taken into consideration during their lives.

Anyway. That’s my talk about (sort of) animism (and appetites and agriculture, apparently).

Meliad the Birch Maiden.

[1] I feel I should note here that I’m not under (too m)any illusions about a given animal offering themselves up to be killed. There’s luck and grace (and skill) involved in, say, fishing. But there’s also shiny/tasty hard-to-resist bate with a hook in it. There are blinds and camouflage and long-range weapons involved in hunting. Someone may turn up exactly when I need them – and maybe that’s Deer or Moose or Bass or Turkey (whoever the all-soul of an entire given species might be) saying “Okay, child of mine, I’m bringing you home today,” and giving a specific deer/moose/bass/turkey/etc a push towards my (in my case) fishing rod[2] – but I don’t think that specific individual deer/moose/bass/turkeys/etc are meandering through life and then go “Hey, yeah, I’ve got a death wish. I think I’ll go this way today!”
Not so much, no.

[2] I don’t – currently – hunt. I may never. My partner won’t keep a gun in the house and I’m up for standing by that. So, no, I’m not likely to kill a deer with a fishing rod. However. You get what I mean, right?

[3] The idea being that if you keep buying meat, but don’t buy it from companies who treat the animals badly, those companies will either (a) change their ways, or (b) go bankrupt and cease to exist. And, either way, you’re no-longer keeping them on life-support.

[4] I’m saying Nature and Nurture here because the evolutionary process of what we think of as Farm Animals has included a lot of human input, wherein we nurtured certain characteristics and actively encouraged them to become dominant traits in the species (and sub-species) with-which we were interacting on an agricultural level.

[5] An intention, I feel I should point out, that typically includes death by predator (E.G.: Me).