Playing catch-up for last year’s Pagan Blog Project. I figured I’d try and finish up the rest of the alphabet in order to get myself back into the habit of writing about paganism regularly. I’d considered joining the Pagan Experience (basically a replacement for the Pagan Blog Project), but there are a lot of other things demanding my attention this year.
Week 44 (V): adopting a vegan or vegetarian diet as an extension of “Harm none”
Many of you are already familiar with the “harm none” adage that some Pagans follow. But have you ever thought about whether this extends to other areas of your life?
I was re-reading some old forum posts recently and stumbled on this one that discusses a vegan or vegetarian diet being necessary for Pagans who adhere to the “harm none” rule. To be clear, this is not something that I do or an idea I subscribe to. But it did get me thinking. Why do I believe that it is my duty as a witch to harm none, but still eat animals and use animal products?
Full disclosure: I’m an omnivore who loves bacon. For me, it’s far more important to buy local, sustainably raised, humanely slaughtered meat whenever I can than to abstain altogether. Because of a number of personal factors, restricting my diet, regardless of reason, is just not in the cards for me.
Upon further examination, I suppose it’s more accurate to say that my goal is to harm none if there is no justifiable purpose. I don’t send out curses willy-nilly, but if I believe that someone has deeply wronged me, I’ll absolutely invoke Kali and stand back. Like most humans these days, I don’t go around slaughtering animals or hunting for fun*. I have never personally killed an animal, though I have participated in two chicken slaughters at a local farm. What is far more important to me is that I am not inflicting harm irreverently.
Being respectful of the animals you kill is another big part of my interpretation of “harm none”. I try to eat animals with respect. I do not buy factory farmed meat. I purchase milk and cheese made from cows that are not pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics. I consume plants much the same way; I try to eat locally and seasonally. That is what “harm none” means to me in the broader context of my life.
* Before anybody goes nuts, “for fun” is the key part of this sentence. I’m contemptuous of people who hunt for sport, but if you’re using most of the animal for necessary things (food, shelter, etc), then I’m pretty ok with it.
Week 42 (U): uhuru, which means “freedom” in Swahili
I’ve been thinking a lot about freedom lately, and I realized just how lucky I am to be able to be out of the broom closet. I’ve been out since I was 13, reading books about Wicca in middle school. Sure in middle school I got a lot of nasty comments, but that’s middle school for you! I was out of the broom closet all through high school and college, and rarely encountered negative responses from people. Mostly people were interested and wanted to hear more about what it means to me to be pagan. I’m usually happy to oblige (I love talking about it!), so I had a lot of opportunity to educate people.
I know some (many?) other Pagans encounter a great deal of discrimination in their daily lives. This can be because where they live is conservative, or because their families aren’t Pagan-friendly, or (perhaps worst of all) because their partners aren’t open-minded. While none of my partners have been Pagan, they’ve all been respectful of my faith. I’m immensely thankful that, while I’ve had to deal with other types of discrimination, being Pagan is something that’s never caused me harm. May you all find the uhuru to be out of the broom closet.
Week 31 (P): on why I don’t wear a pentacle
I don’t wear the eye-catching pentacle anymore, but I used to. When I first came to the Pagan path, the pentacle was one of the most visible indicators I could find to proclaim my witchiness. As a result, I clung to it for years. I wanted to be able to recognize other witches in public, and to have them recognize me, so I always kept an eye out for someone wearing a pentacle. My heart jumped every time I saw someone wearing one. Then, upon striking up a conversation in hopes I’d meet a like-minded witchy person, I would inevitably be disappointed.
As the years have passed, I’ve come to realize that a pentacle is a less than reliable indicator of whether or not I actually want to interact with the person wearing it. The people who wear pentacles that I’ve run into are, by and large, wearing it solely for shock value. I’m not interested in meeting those kinds of people; I spent enough time with them as a teenager hanging out at Hot Topic.
By contrast, when I encounter someone wearing the triple goddess symbol, I have generally gotten along with that person swimmingly. This isn’t to say that everybody who wears a pentacle is an idiot and everyone who wears the triple moon is awesome. But as far as my experiences go, that’s generally proved true. Of course, now I wear a tiny pentacle ring, which changes things a bit. But it’s usually the ostentatious pentacle-wearers you have to watch out for. Subtlety in jewelry choice appears to have a pretty solid causal relationship with whether or not I want to talk to you.
I learned this morning that Margot Adler died (via Patheos). I remember buying Drawing Down the Moon in a Texas bookstore and being so delighted that I finally had a copy of my own. Like many other excellent pagan authors, Adler made an impression on me and many others. I am proud to say that it is due in part to her writing that I became more introspective about my chosen path, which has lead me to a greater and deeper faith.
May she pass peacefully into Summerland and her next life. Gone from our lives, never from our hearts. Blessed Be.