… and touch noses and get to know each other, right? Maybe not.
“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals… In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth. “ ~ Henry Beston
When was the last time you laid hands on an animal? For some of us, it may have been quite a while. For others we lay hands on our beloved pet daily, for a few others we lay hands on animals for our livelihood.
Many of us wear leather each day and yet have never been in the presence of a living cow. Some of us will eat an animal’s flesh more often than we lay hands on it; touching hide, feeling fur, smoothing feathers. It is not uncommon to meet a Pagan, Witch or Heathen who proudly displays a bear skull upon their altar, yet when asked, they admit they have never actually seen a bear in its natural habitat.
Throughout my life I have had the privilege and the responsibility of living and working with animals. Up close and personal, from birth, through life and unto death. Perhaps even onto my own dinner plate.
I come from farm folk, I have participated in dog shows and kennel clubs, and I have worked in rescue and the fostering of abused animals. I have assisted with the training of dogs and horses. I have worked at boarding kennels, pet stores and dog groomers. I have been a midwife to birthing animals and I have also hunted and killed. Always with reverence and respect, even when I was knee deep in half frozen mud and manure, bone tired and heart broken.
Animals have been my hobby, my friends, and my joy, a big part of my spiritual path, my frustration, my job and my life’s work. Recently I have decided to back up all my experience with education as well. It is from this perspective that I will be writing this column.
I am not anti or pro anything. This is not a soapbox. I do not bother with black and white; I am a pluralist and a polytheist. My goal with this column is to encourage discourse and raise awareness. It is up to you to form your own opinions.
Here are some of the topics I hope to cover in Fur & Feather:
Animals in the News: This being part of the PNC and all … I will post and comment on news stories about animals. Everything from painful stories such as cases like the slaughter of mush dogs in Whistler this past winter and the ongoing investigation, to the heart warming tales we all like to read now and then. I hope to not only report and comment but to also take a look at why such stories might matter to your average Pagan, Witch or Heathen.
Animal Rights, Rescue and Rehabilitation: The Earth is our Mother and we must take care of Her … but what of Her creatures? Here I will share my personal experiences working in these fields and interview other people who work to save animals. As well as ask if a Nature worshipper is obligated to volunteer at the local Humane Society or to report a case of a neighbour hoarding cats. How relevant is animal rights, the extinction of species and the abuse of family pets to the Pagan community?
Animals and Spirituality: Together we can study animals in mythology and folk lore. What is our evolving relationship with animals compared to our Pagan ancestors and their rites of animal sacrifice?
Let’s take a look at how a modern Pagan works with animals in ritual and magick. How does one train their dog to behave in ritual, or keep kitty off the altar? Is animal sacrifice ever acceptable in a modern setting?
Many Pagans work with spirit animals, totems or guides we may call them. But what does this mean and what are these animal spirits? How can we connect so easily with a spirit animal and yet be so removed from the flesh and blood critter lying as road kill on our street?
Cohabitation and Training: Many Pagans have pets, but how do we live with them? I hope to offer tips and advice on training, first aid and emergency procedures, how to introduce a new pet to your home and much more.
Ethical Eating: Many of us eat animals; this is a big part of humanities’ relationship with them. I hope to respectfully cover the many different perspectives on eating, and not eating, our fellow members of the animal kingdom.
Not just what we eat, but also what we feed our critters. How ethical and healthy is your own pet’s diet?
Farming, Hunting and Husbandry: From homesteading to factory farming and from the breeding pen to the show ring. More and more people are raising chickens in their backyard, even in the city. What are our alternatives to the modern factory farm?
Are we doing right by our animals to create inbred champion dogs, cats and horses to display for trophies? How do you tell if your puppy came from a reputable breeder or from a puppy mill?
How do we hunt ethically and with respect? The hunt is an important motif in many Pagan practices and celebrations, deities of the hunt populate our many pantheons’. Yet this topic is often glossed over, it is time to stop romanticizing and start scrutinizing.
Book Reviews and More: I will review books, documentaries, blogs and maybe even the odd film about animals.
I plan to post at least once a month to Fur & Feather. I will also contribute to the main body of No Unsacred Place when I can find the time. While I am not new to blogging, I am new to this style of column writing, so expect a certain amount of “growing in” at first. I should also note that I am a farm girl, not an academic; my grammar, research and use of the language may not be on par with someone holding a Masters degree. You’ll just have to bear with this hill-billy Pagan chick, I guess. *grin*
If you want to know more about me, please check out the author page. I will post to Fur & Feather again soon.