Our Thoughts About Animals

February 27, 2012 by Categorized: Fur and Feather.

While I polish up my next instalment (or two) on our Lord of Animals series, I thought I might share with you some insightful and interesting articles about our relationship with animals from the Pagan blogosphere … and maybe an episode of a podcast or two. (Yes, I know some of these are older posts; don’t we have a short attention span?)

If you have written a blog post on the matter, or know of one that you would like to share, please post the link in the comment section.


Familiar Spirits and Animals– dedicated to Aszdra and her successors

At Walking the Hedge, Cyne shares some personal reflection on working with familiar spirits.


Animal Sacrifice in Modern Paganism?

A contemporary Druid takes a look at animal sacrifice in modern Paganism.


Familiars and Familiar Spirits

Here is another look at familiars from an American Folkloric Witchcraft perspective.


How I Accidentally Became A Toadwitch

One Traditional Crafter recounts her reluctance to become a Toadwitch and how it happened anyway. There are some follow up posts on this blog (Root and Rock) about sacrifice and the toad Rite that might interest you as well.


High Performance Symbolism: The Jaguar

Rebecca takes a look at the symbolism of the Jaguar.


The Naturalist’s Altar

Sarah Lawless shares some wonderful images and ideas for natural and animal centric altars.


A Dog’s Perspective on Paganism

Star foster is inspired by two puppies she is caring for.


Blog Post 121 – Watching Birds

New World Witchery studies the connection between birds and divination.


Episode Seven: Coyotes in the City

Did you miss this episode of Standing Stone & Garden Gate? We talk about urban wildlife, coyotes to be exact.


Pagan Centered Podcast – Episode 124 – Lukumi Trad + Animal Sacrifice

The Pagan Centred Podcast weighs in on the issues of animal sacrifice.


How to Save the World: Seven Pillars of Vegetarianism

A while back, our very own Allison wrote about vegetarianism.


Q of the Week: Animal Rescue

Dr. Myers asks some tough questions about animal rescue.


Tags: , , , , ,

New Staff Writers to Join No Unsacred Place!

November 1, 2011 by Categorized: Nature in the News.

With the start of the new year, No Unsacred Place is thrilled to welcome two new writers to the staff: Lupa, and Eli Effinger-Weintraub!


Lupa is a (neo)shaman, pagan author, dead critter artist, and wannabe polymath living in Portland, OR. When she isn’t immersed in creativity-fueled self-employment, she’s either hiding in the woods somewhere, figuring out how to use her MA in Counseling Psychology for the forces of good, or indulging in Nintendo-circa-1985. She’s all over the place online, including The Green Wolf, Pagan Book Reviews, and Antler Runes.


Lupa will be writing the newly re-envisioned Earthly Rites column here on No Unsacred Place, exploring themes of environmentalism and nature spirituality in ritual and liturgy within a Pagan context as well as sharing her expertise and personal experience in Therioshamanism, totemism, shamanism and ecopsychology.


Eli Effinger-Weintraub practices naturalistic Reclaiming-tradition hearthcraft in the Twin Cities watershed. She plants her beliefs and practices in the Earth and her butt on a bicycle saddle. She writes plays, essays, and short fiction (especially of the steampunk variety) and is attempting to wrestle a novel into submission. Previous works have appeared in Witches & Pagans Magazine, Circle Magazine, and Steampunk Tales, as well as at the Clarion Foundation blog, I’m From Driftwood, and Humanistic Paganism. Eli earns her daily bread as a comma wrangler. She shares her life and art with her wife, visual artist Leora Effinger-Weintraub, and two buffalo disguised as cats. Check out Eli’s corner of the Internet: Back Booth.


Eli has already graced the pages of No Unsacred Place as a guest writer with her piece “Bee and Orchid.” In her new column, Restorying the Sacred, she’ll be exploring the process of re-storying and how it can help Pagans today connect with their own time and place by honoring the ancient myths of the ancestors and cultivating a new corpus of tales that reflect a modern scientific understanding of the world.


Welcome to the NUP team, Lupa and Eli!

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The Death of an Elephant

May 12, 2011 by Categorized: Fur and Feather, Nature in the News.

Recently Bob Parsons, CEO of the web hosting company GoDaddy, released a video of himself hunting and killing an elephant in Zimbabwe. This has caused a great deal of controversy for both the CEO and his company. PETA was a client of GoDaddy and they have now put out a statement that they will not be using GoDaddy’s services any longer. A Number of other companies and organizations have also done such.

The Dogwood Local Council (DLC), a southern affiliate of Covenant of the Goddess (CoG), released a statement of their own; swearing to never use GoDaddy’s hosting services or for its domain registering services. (see bottom of this article for full press release)

In their press release, the DLC site an article from the New York Times about how elephant aggression is largely the fault of how humans interact with the elephants. This is not unlike how in North America we see mountain lion and bear attacks increase when we encroach on territory, remove food sources and do not treat animals with proper respect. (People have been known to try to bait bears with food to get a good photo of them, with disastrous results)

Some highlights from the article:

“Decades of poaching and culling and habitat loss, they claim, have so disrupted the intricate web of familial and societal relations by which young elephants have traditionally been raised in the wild, and by which established elephant herds are governed, that what we are now witnessing is nothing less than a precipitous collapse of elephant culture.”

Elephants are becoming increasingly destructive and dangerous, trampling huts, crops and even people seemingly out of spite.

“He confirmed that a small group of elephants charged out one morning two years earlier, trampled the fields and nearby gardens, knocked down a few huts and then left.”

It seems that the greatest cause of this change in elephant behaviour stems from the changing dynamics of how young elephants are raised. With less territory, less food sources and poaching, elephants are not being socialized by their elders as they ought to be. In a sense elephant society, is experiencing a dramatic break down. Elephants rely heavily on the herd: the family or clan system, with this deteriorating, we see the results in aggressive (usually young male) elephants that become dangerous. They are a danger not only to the humans who live near their migration routes or at the edges of their protected parklands, but they are also a danger to other elephants. Researchers have found that young male elephants are killing each other at alarming rates.

“This fabric of elephant society, Bradshaw and her colleagues concluded, had effectively been frayed by years of habitat loss and poaching, along with systematic culling by government agencies to control elephant numbers and translocations of herds to different habitats. The number of older matriarchs and female caregivers (or ‘‘allomothers’’) had drastically fallen, as had the number of elder bulls, who play a significant role in keeping younger males in line. In parts of Zambia and Tanzania, a number of the elephant groups studied contained no adult females whatsoever. In Uganda, herds were often found to be ‘‘semipermanent aggregations,’’ as a paper written by Bradshaw describes them, with many females between the ages of 15 and 25 having no familial associations.”

It seems that Mr. Parsons encountered such a young and aggressive male elephant on his trip to Africa. These elephants are referred to as “rouges”. The people of the village Mr. Parsons was visiting reported this dangerous elephant to the authorities and with their help; Mr. Parsons hunted and killed it. The people of the village rejoiced as they butchered his carcass and distributed the meat. There was not enough meat for everyone it the village and it quickly became something akin to vultures in a feeding frenzy, with much pushing and shoving. The video show Mr. Parsons proudly posing as he leans on the dead elephant.

Here is a link to the video (which has become harder and harder to find as Mr. Parsons tried to claim copyright and have it shut down) It may not be appropriate for the easily squeamish.


Mr.Parsons is not a villain; let us not paint him with that brush. Thing are never that cut and dry. While his hunting practices may be unethical he also does a great of good work. GoDaddy does a great deal of charity work, including raising funds and awareness for the folks in Haiti. Mr. Parsons served as a rifleman in the Vietnam War, where he was wounded on duty. It is quite possible that he felt his actions in Zimbabwe were altruistic in some fashion. In response to the outrage Parsons explained,

“The tribal authorities requested that I and others like me patrol the fields before and during the harvest.”


There has been speculation that the release of the hunting video was part of some kind of publicity stunt, which I find myself doubting. GoDaddy is indeed known for it “extreme” advertising, having had commercials pulled from the Super Bowl and such. However, the initial release of the hunting video came from Mr. Parson’s blog and Twitter account, which he often posts videos of his activities to. The blog itself is certainly part of his promotional tool kit, but I find it unlikely that he posted the hunting video specifically to generate controversy and Internet drama. Generally the man uses sex to sell his product, which is much more effective, don’t you think?

Bob Parson’s hunting practices do not strike me as within the lighter side of the grey area that is ethical hunting. But to give ourselves some perspective, his big game hunting practices are not much worse than those done right at home. Behold, for example, the mirrored hunting hide:

Is this really necessary for hunting deer?

Honestly, if I was a former rifleman carting around a big gun in Africa and some local villagers asked me to remove an elephant who was making it dangerous for them to tend their crops and bring in the harvest … I’d kill the elephant. I’d do it after ascertaining whether or not all other possible avenues had been tried. Though I’m not sure if banging pots and pans or setting up a few bonfires will deter a pissed off pachyderm.

I’ve lived on farms, I’ve had to deal with my share of coyotes going after the flock and I lost a horse to a hungry bear last year. We always tried everything we could to encourage those animals to go elsewhere, from hanging motion sensor lights to wind chimes to shooting blanks. But I understand very well that if your own livelihood, and the ability to feed your family is being threatened, you take up you gun and you shoot that coyote. Or you ask the very nice rich man from America to kill that elephant. Sorry guys, but I’m not going hungry to feed a jack rabbit who is eating my food.

Obviously we should look to the root of the problem; we are encouraging elephants to attack people in Africa, just as we as the root cause of a mountain lion attacking a person right here at home. We move into their territory, we don’t respect them, we mess with the food chain, we change the dynamics of the herd, and this is the result. These things do need to change and we need to start making those changes now.

However, I am not so strong as to look a mother in the eyes and say “I’m terribly sorry about your elephant problem ma’am, but you see, it’s your fault for expanding your crops into elephant territory. So yeah, good luck with that, hopefully one of your kids doesn’t get trampled to death.”

Maybe Mr. Parsons is not that strong either. Or maybe he simply had a hard-on for killing something as large and impressive as an elephant. There has always been plenty of people like that around.

Some of them are considered heroes

Maybe Mr. Parsons saw himself as part of a line of men like Teddy Roosevelt there. It’s easy to convince yourself that you’re doing the right thing. Or maybe he’s just a spoiled millionaire who likes to shoot things. I can’t climb into his head to know for sure, nor can you.

There are some positive outcomes from the death of this elephant. The carcass of such a large herbivore can feed a dozen different species of predators and scavengers, and not just hyenas or flies, but humans as well. Certainly the villagers in the video seemed thrilled to butcher the carcass and distribute the meat.

It is certainly positive that the DLC and PETA (and others) are moving their services, since they have chosen to seek a provider that is more Earth conscious. It’s good to put your money where your mouth is. An organization which follows an Earth centric spirituality, or which promotes animal rights, ought to be making such choices and thus be an example for us all. I expect organizations to follow their principals.

Whether you boycott GoDaddy or not is your choice (or the choice of your organization). I do hope that any decision is made with careful consideration and not a knee jerk reaction, or jumping on the bandwagon.

For myself, I’m not a GoDaddy costumer to begin with (I buy my hosting from a Canadian company, since one of my principals is to buy as local as possible). If I was a GoDaddy client, well even after writing this article I am uncertain s to whether I’d take my money elsewhere. What would you do?


Southern Witches and Wiccans join the protest against Go Daddy CEO’s slaughter of an African Elephant.

Atlanta – The Dogwood Local Council (DLC), a southern affiliate of Covenant of the Goddess (CoG), has formally decided to discontinue the use of GoDaddy’s hosting services after the release of CEO, Bob Parsons’ hunting video.  In March of 2011, Parsons released a video depicting himself and others shooting a “troublesome” elephant.  As he explained to reporters, these elephants, “trash fields and destroy crops” leaving villagers to starve.  According to Parsons, the hunting is a welcomed activity which brings both food and safety. (As reported by The Los Angeles Times)

“We understand that Parsons’ acts were within the legal limits of Zimbabwe’s laws.  And he may believe that he is doing good.  However, the ends do not always justify the means.  After careful consideration, we, as Witches and members of humanity, have decided to protest these killings,” states Hawk, First Officer of Dogwood Local Council and High Priestess of GryphonSong Clan.

In the hunting video, Parsons comments on the well-documented fact that there has been a noticeable increase in elephant attacks.  However, as noted by Dogwood’s members, Parsons fails to identify the reason for this elephant problem:   humanity’s own aggression toward the elephants.  In a 2006 New York Times Magazine article, entitled, “Elephant Crack-Up?” written by Charles Seibert, this proverbial Catch 22 is well illustrated. Seibert writes, “The great paradox about this particular moment in our history with elephants is that saving them will require finally getting past ourselves; it will demand the ultimate act of deep, interspecies empathy.” (As published by The New York Times Magazine, October 2006)

In their discussions over the GoDaddy Video, Dogwood Local Council’s members repeatedly expressed the need for a genuine and reciprocal balance between humanity and animal cultures as expressed by Seibert.  The teachings of Wicca and Witchcraft do not place humanity over the natural world but within it.  According to the Pagan world view, humanity is as much a part of nature as the elephants.

“While we do not want to see humans starving as a result of these roving elephants, we cannot condone the progressive annihilation of a species simply because they are in our way.  And the African Elephant is still on the WWF endangered species list,” adds Hawk.

Moreover, Dogwood members echoed the concerns of others that Parsons’ video was merely a publicity stunt for GoDaddy services.  Questions have been raised by various media outlets as to whether the hunting event was, in actuality, a selfless attempt to come to the aid of a starving village. After all, GoDaddy is known for its somewhat risqué advertising and marketing campaigns.

“Was this a true act of humanitarianism or was this an outrageous promotional stunt for GoDaddy?  If it was purely an act of goodwill, was it really necessary to release the video and, more poignantly, the photos of villagers wearing “GoDaddy” hats?  Does Bob Parsons always carry around a few hundred logo caps on those yearly trips to save people from marauding elephants?” questions Lady Miraselena, Public Information Officer of Dogwood Local Council.

The Witches of Dogwood Local Council will now join others in moving its website from GoDaddy’s hosting services and no longer use the company as its domain registrar.  Dogwood strongly urges all concerned individuals to follow suit.  Currently, the Council is in the final stages of deciding which new hosting service would best fit their needs.  They are hopeful to find one that derives some of its power from green energy sources; thereby, making two strong statements and taking two steps forward on behalf of the Planet, nature and their Goddess – Gaia.


For more information about Dogwood Local Council,please visit www.dogwoodlc.org or follow @dogwoodlc on Twitter.

For more information about Covenant of the Goddess, please visit www.cog.org or follow them on Facebook: /pages/Covenant-of-the-Goddess.

Dogwood Local Council (DLC)

Throughout the United States, the Covenant of the Goddess has Local Councils that serve CoG members on a state or regional level. Alabama and Georgia are served by the Dogwood Local Council. A Local Council is a smaller branch of the Covenant, consisting of at least three member covens of at least two different traditions, in reasonably close geographic proximity to each other. Dogwood Local Council (DLC) sponsors annual festivals, speakers and a variety of seasonal events.  They are based out of Atlanta.


Covenant of the Goddess (CoG)

The Covenant of the Goddess is one of the largest and oldest Witch and Wiccan associations and was incorporated as a nonprofit religious organization in 1975. The Covenant is an umbrella group of cooperating, autonomous Witchcraft congregations and individual practitioners with the power to confer credentials on its qualified clergy. CoG fosters cooperation and mutual support among Witches and Wiccans and secures for them the legal protections enjoyed by members of other religions.


Tags: , , , , , ,

News & Link Round Up: April 2011

April 25, 2011 by Categorized: Nature in the News.

Welcome to our first round up of links for nature & earth centred news, interest stories, blog posts, podcast episodes and much more!


A tornado ripped through the Lambert-Saint Louis International Airport in Missouri Friday night. The airport was mostly back to business this Sunday morning. The tornado also damaged many homes but oddly (and thankfully) caused no deaths or major injuries.


A new study shows that many children in England know very little about where their food comes from. Including thinking at pumpkins grow on trees and that cucumbers grow in the ground. Some are encouraging gardening to be taught at more schools.


The Great Elephant Poo Poo Paper Co. sells a unique product: Paper made of elephant poop. The owner of the company tells AOL news how his products are safe, sanitary and environmentally friendly.


The hole in the ozone layer is getting some news coverage lately. Researches have found that the hole in the ozone at the southern pole is having adverse effects on weather patterns in the southern hemisphere. Australia seems to be the most affected.


Plant life growing on planets orbiting red dwarf (dim) stars might grow black and grey foliage to help absorb more light.


Matt Walker, editor of BBC Nature Online wrote a wonderful blog post celebrating the humble mushroom.


A Coast Guard report has pointed the finger at poor training and lacklustre emergency preparedness contributed to the Gulf oil spill.


Professional chefs are creating ways to make their kitchens greener. Going beyond your typical recycling box, they are trying to reduce waster of all kinds, included wasted foodstuff.


The good people here at No Unsacred Place as well as at news sources all over the world have been following the debate over Mother Earth’s Rights.


Earth Day has come and gone. Wonderful coverage can be found over at the Wild Hunt Blog, Star Foster reminds us to love our Momma, Cam Mather encourages us to celebrate the day at home, and National Geographic posted 20 truly beautiful photographs in honour of the day. Discovery news also honoured Earth Day with photographs and stunning video.


On Earth Day New York state officials announced the purchase of Long Island’s pine barrens to be protected. This land will be preserved for naturalists, researchers and hikers. It is also a source of pure drinking water.


Science Daily brings us a story about how incense might be good for us. A team of researchers suggest this might mean a whole new class of medicine for depression and anxiety.


A disease that attacks wheat, called Wheat Rust, is causing some some serious concern. Wheat Rust has decimated harvest in parts of north Africa, the middles East, the Caucasus and Central Asia.


The podcast The Pagan Homesteader posted a special episode on dealing with our waste safely and sustainably.


The CBC considers the pros and cons of green power projects in Canada and the hurdles they will face in the future.


Hundreds of small islands seem to appear … and then disappear. Scientists are now beginning to map this very phenomenon; some 657 new barrier islands have been counted.


Wildfires continue to rage in Texas. There is hope that the right weather might assist firefighters combat the flames.


Britain’s beaches have been found to be dirtier than last year’s survey. This is largely due to folks flushing small garbage items down the toilet.


Did we miss something? If you have found a noteworthy article, news item or blog post please post the link in the comments section of this article.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,