A note from Witchy Words: At the beginning of the year, I asked the circle I coordinate, Circle of Fountains, if they'd each like to do a guest article based on a topic that I might not be able to cover. This is a great effort by my amazing circle to give you information that you might not otherwise encounter here at Witchy Words. The following article is not written by me but another member of Circle of Fountains, with credit and notes about its author below. Enjoy!
I came by my Paganism in a similar manner. For the longest time I attended Christian church because it was supported and readily available. As I learned more about what beliefs I had and found that they didn’t coincide with ‘traditional’ religious systems I made the choice that was right for me. Finding others who shared these beliefs also make it easier to practice my faith.
I made the conversion to full vegetarian about five years ago. My path was made a bit easier by the fact that I had been in a relationship with a decade-long vegetarian for about 6 months. He is an awesome cook and helped to navigate the landmines of grocery shopping and eating out.
It wasn’t until a few years later after reading some articles and blogs regarding the subject that I began to contemplate how being a vegetarian related to Paganism. Many specifically referenced the Wiccan tenet, “And it harm none, do what you will,” and how literal should that be taken when it came to the food we ate. I feel that, for the majority of Pagans, the holding of nature as sacred is important. We understand the interconnectivity of all living entities and feel that we get back the energy that we put out. “Put your intentions out for the universe.” This is the line of thought that makes more sense as to how the two are related.
Many texts and rituals discuss thanking the tree or bush or plant from where you may have taken a clipping or branch to use in your magickal workings. Do your best to leave as little a mark or scar on living things as they provide for us tools or ingredients. Yet every day we allow factory farms to cage chickens in overcrowded conditions, stacked upon one another or keep cows perpetually pregnant so that we may take the milk meant for the calf and boxing that calf in so the meat can then be sold for a high price as young, tender and delicious. Other cows are pumped full of hormones and antibiotics, made to eat corn instead of grass to fatten them up, yet causing disease in the process. How is this revering life as sacred; especially life that is being sacrificed so that we may eat? Yes, I will concede these days there are more farms that are refusing to treat these animals in such a barbaric manner, but that are few and because of that are more expensive to maintain.
When it comes to parsing our Pagan beliefs with our everyday actions, how does this one get a pass? As an animal lover, would you go to a puppy mill knowing how horrible and unhealthy they are for the dogs? That’s the kind of question I ask myself, along with “Would I personally kill the animal I wanted to eat?” For me, it’s an easy choice to not eat animals. Being a Pagan helps solidify that decision. I believe the moral and ethical reason behind being a vegetarian/vegan fits right in with my Pagan beliefs.
Reading this you may think I’ve tried to convert you, but I assure you I haven’t. What I do hope is that you will take a more conscientious look at where your food comes from and reflect upon whether you feel that your spiritual beliefs are uncompromised by the decisions available to you (and if not, what can you do to change it). Living a life where you can put your spiritual beliefs into practice isn’t always easy. Some beliefs dictate that believes must share them with everyone; others require special clothing or rules for genders and ages. I feel that all Paganism requires is a respect and reverence for all living things and that we take responsibility for ourselves, our choices, and the energy we commit to the universe. As a Pagan vegetarian, I know I have made a lifestyle choice that embodies those beliefs wholly.
Employed in the non-profit sector, Jessica has been a long-standing vegetarian. She was one of the original forming members for Circle of Fountains and currently maintains the yearly ritual book as the circle's Archivist. When not at work or in circle, Jessica has a strong love for roller derby and is a referee with Fountain City Roller Derby.