Your Animal Spirit for January 30th is The Beaver

Your Animal Spirit for Today
January 30, 2014

Beaver

Beaver may be one of the hardest working animals on the planet. Beaver is attuned to both earth and water medicine, and is strongly attached to home and family. Beaver appears in your reading to remind you that sometimes there’s no substitute for hard work. Make a plan, create a solid foundation, then take  the next indicated step.

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Witchcraft, Ethics and the Role of Animals in Society

Witchcraft, Ethics and the Role of Animals in Society

Author:   Skye of the Hallowed Grove 

Witchcraft is more than a religion; it is a magickal way of life that encourages living with compassion and tolerance toward all of Earth’s creatures and working to heal and protect the environment as well as ourselves. We acknowledge that we are part of the great web of life, and this interconnection extends to all beings.

Our daily lives are intertwined with not only other human beings, but with the animal kingdom and the Land as well. Without this relationship to animals and the Land, our civilization would not exist as we know it. As Witches, it is our moral obligation as protectors of our planet to speak out against injustices towards other living things and our environment.

The Role of Animals In Society

In the pre-history of civilization, our ancestors were nomadic hunters and gatherers. As agriculture and the domestication of animals developed, small clans were able to merge into larger communities. Domesticated animals played an essential role in these communities, providing labor in the fields, meat and milk for the table, and skins for protection against the elements. The herds were protected and cherished, because man’s survival was dependant upon them. In the warmer months, crops were plentiful but in the harsh Winter months, the fields were fallow and communities relied heavily on meat and animal products to sustain them until the next growing season. The history of Imbolc is a classic example of the reliance on ewe’s milk for survival during Winter.

When animals were slaughtered for food it was done with great respect for the life taken. Many cultures would offer prayers of gratitude to the spirit of the animal. Ritual animal sacrifice was not uncommon during this period. These sacrifices were not senseless acts of violence but reverent ceremonies where the most prized and valued animals were offered to deity in exchange for something considered as having higher value – namely, favors and blessings for the community’s prosperity and well-being. These animals were extremely well cared for, as only “perfect specimens” could be sacrificed.

The method of sacrifice required a quick and humane slaughter (which was most likely far less traumatic than methods used in commercial slaughter today) . If the animal cried out, flinched or otherwise showed fear (“unwillingness”) , the sacrifice was considered null and void.

We won’t argue that throughout the history of mankind, some ancient civilizations were notorious for animal mistreatment, much of which was purely for sport. However, rural communities for the most part, were much more concerned with the welfare of their livestock.

Centuries passed and communities grew larger as human populations increased. Beginning in the eighteenth century, agriculture made improvements in farming techniques, which allowed for improved yields, which in turn supported the urbanization of the population during the Industrial Revolution. People migrated from the countryside and moved into large cities, distancing themselves from the Land that sustained them.

In the late nineteenth century, there was a movement towards mass production in industry, causing another surge in urban settlement. This again meant more people to feed, with fewer farmers to supply the food. As a result, the agricultural industry had to begin adopting the same mass production techniques that lead to the demand for more food. At this point in history, meat and animal products were not only considered a necessity for health and survival, but also an economic commodity.

Factory Farms and Animals

To meet ever-increasing demands for animal products, factory farms began to emerge. The first animals to be factory farmed were chickens. The discovery of vitamins and their role in animal nutrition, in the first two decades of the twentieth century, led to vitamin supplements, which in 1920s America allowed chickens to be raised indoors. In 1960’s America, pigs and cows began to be raised on factory farms. This innovation then spread to Western Europe.

The concept of the family farm, where animals had pasture to graze and room to exercise their natural behaviors, gave way to large-scale commercial operations whose sole purpose was mass production of meat and animal products. The well-being of the animals was no longer a priority. Family farms simply could not compete economically with these factories.

Today, there are now nearly five million fewer farms in the U.S. than there were in the 1930’s. Of the two million remaining farms, only 565, 000 are family operations. (1.)

Yes, the government now imposes rules and guidelines for factory farms to follow, but the sheer volume and speed at which animals are processed makes these rules difficult to enforce, and the result is extreme suffering for the animals. The factory workers themselves often become desensitized to the violence and suffering they witness and inflict on a day-to-day basis.

We find it rather ironic that society today shudders at the thought of ritual animal sacrifice in ancient cultures, when the widespread exploitation and inhumane treatment of animals in modern society is met with such indifference.

Disregard for factory farm animals persists because few realize the ways in which these animals are mistreated, and even fewer actually witness the abuse. Once aware, most Witches are appalled, not only because they support animal rights, but because they also know that animals feel pain and that morally decent human beings should try to prevent pain whenever possible.

Most of us are also completely unaware that the dairy and egg industry also contribute to an enormous amount of exploitation and suffering. Everyone should have an understanding of where their food comes from and how it was handled from farm to table. Earthlings and Food Inc. are two excellent documentaries that chronicle man’s relationship to animals and the animal farming industry.

Factory Farms and the Environment

The livestock from factory farms are major contributors of greenhouse gas emissions, which are thought to be responsible for global warming. They are also major contributors of ammonia emissions, which contribute significantly to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems. The term “livestock” refers to all farmed animals, including pigs, birds raised for meat, egg-laying hens, and dairy cows.

Livestock are also key players in increased water use, accounting for over 8% of global water use, mostly for the irrigation of feed crops. Factory farms are probably the largest source of water pollution, contributing to “dead” zones in coastal areas, destruction of coral reefs, human health problems and the emergence of antibiotic resistance. The major sources of pollution are from animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and pesticides used for feed crops, and sediments from eroded pastures. (2.)

Thankfully, with the renewed interest in organic farming and agricultural sustainability, family farms are beginning to make a comeback. I’m sure most Witches would agree that this is at least a step in the right direction for ensuring better conditions for farm animals and the Earth as well.

Every Life Counts

Regarding other sentient beings as objects or property for the sole purpose of serving mankind is ethically questionable. So is attaching a value to the life of other species based on their differences from humans. This is known as speciesism, which is a form of prejudice and discrimination against non-humans. A double standard also exists in society regarding the preferential treatment of pets and the inconsequential treatment of farm and laboratory animals. If anything, we owe farm and laboratory animals a great deal of gratitude for their service to humanity.

The mainstream religious view is that animals were put on this Earth to serve mankind. This view may also be shared by some Pagan belief systems. A common theme in defending speciesism is the argument that humans “have the right to compete with and exploit other species to preserve and protect the human species”. Witches should examine these statements before accepting them outright.

Witchcraft, as a religion, does not take an ethical stance on whether slaughter and the consumption or use of animal products is morally right or wrong. Witchcraft does however, object to the exploitation, disrespect and inhumane treatment of the Earth and Her creatures. We realize that Witches may have differing views regarding the role animals play in our lives, but animal mistreatment is unacceptable no matter what view you support. Of course, it is up to the individual Witch to ultimately decide for themselves what is morally right and what is wrong.

Witches have always believed in our interconnection with all of creation (both physical and spiritual) , and with new insights into quantum mechanics, science is now suggesting that this interaction of energy and matter occurs at the sub-atomic level and perhaps even beyond into levels of pure consciousness. In light of this new paradigm, do we really want to be consuming fear, pain and unimaginable suffering, or even supporting it on any level? If we know what is going on, and we continue to do so, aren’t we just as morally accountable as the individuals who are inflicting such suffering? Animal exploitation and cruelty doesn’t just apply to the food industry, it extends to the clothing, pet and entertainment industries as well.

Do your karma a favor and do not support these industries, and educate others about these issues as well. Reducing (or ultimately eliminating) our consumption or use of animal products, and/or purchasing organic and local food when possible, is a realistic and attainable goal for anyone who is willing to commit to it. We may not be able to stop the abuse completely, but together we can all make a difference in reducing the suffering of animals and the destruction of our planet.

Veganism, The Compassionate Choice

Fortunately, with all the technological advancements in agriculture, a better understanding of nutrition and supplementation, and a wider variety of organic and plant-based food options available, consumption of animal products is no longer a necessity for health or survival. Individuals can now make an alternative choice as to how they wish to nourish themselves.

Strict vegetarianism, or veganism, as it is more commonly known, is a lifestyle option for modern Witches who are concerned with animal rights and animal welfare; the ethics of factory farming; the environmental and social benefits of organic farming and agricultural sustainability; and holistic wellness. Veganism promotes the health and well-being of both the individual and the planet.

For Witches who embrace a vegan lifestyle for ethical reasons, this could be considered as taking the “harm none” concept of the Rede to the next level. In this context, the Rede might be literally understood as meaning: do not cause intentional harm to anyone or anything and, to the best of your ability, avoid participation in the intentional harm of anyone or anything. “Harm none” basically refers to the intent, and under these circumstances the intent would be the reduction of suffering and the preservation of life.

There’s no doubt that veganism can be a challenge initially. It involves a complete lifestyle change and this change can be overwhelming for some. But it is not an impossible or difficult lifestyle and with time it becomes second nature. It does, however, require education, commitment and practice.

Witches work very hard at taking ultimate responsibility and control over their own lives and this can be an excellent exercise in self-empowerment, as well as a magickal and very rewarding experience. This is the essence of magick – causing change in conformity with Will.

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Footnotes:
1. sustainabletable.org
2. veganoutreach.org

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Power Animals

Power Animals

A power animal, is a broadly animistic and shamanic concept that has entered the English language from Anthropology, Ethnography and Sociology. A tutelary spirit guides, helps or protects individuals, lineages and nations. In the shamanic worldview, everything is alive, bearing an inherent virtue, power and wisdom. Power animals represent a person’s connection to all life, their qualities of character, and their power.

Power animals are endemic to shamanic practice in both Eurasia and the Americas. They are the helping or ministering spirit or familiar which empowers individuals and is essential for success in any venture undertaken.

In the shamanic worldview, everyone has power animals or tutelary spirits which empower and protect them from harm, like guardian spirits or angels in the Abrahamic Traditions. The power animal may also lend its ward or charge the wisdom or attributes of its kind. For example, a hawk power animal provides hawk attributes, such as hawk-eye.

Power animals most often come to us in dreams, meditations, initiations, and visions.  You can have more than one power animal.  Your power animal at a given time can change depending on your life-path at that time.  Power animals are often attracted by one’s emotional needs of the person – viewed as protectors who help overcome fears and empower us.

The concept of a Power Animal is universal to all cultures. Tribal cultures  will recognize a Totem for the tribe, one for the clan one belongs to,  and one for the family that one is born into. In the United States, and  in other countries, the Tribal and Clan Totem still exists, although it  is thought of in a slightly different manner.

There are also totems for our adopted cultures, such as clubs or societies which we may belong  to, such as the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Loyal Order  of Moose, and the Lions Club.

Even Christianity, the prevalent religion  of this country, has maintained two Totem animals, these being the Fish  and the Lamb. Specialized Totems are also seen in organized sports, their  names being reflected in the team names. Example: Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Falcons

The next type of Power Animal or Totem is that which is personal for  the individual. These Totems are protective spirits which help us in our  everyday life. Everyone has such a Totem. Even today most parents give  a special protective Power Animal to their children and tell the child  that it will be protected over night by that Power Animal. They don’t realize that is what they are doing when they give a teddy bear to their little one.

We often unconsciously recognize the Power Animal affecting someone, and use terms which give away our unconscious recognition.

In the shamanic belief every thing is alive and carries with it power and wisdom.  Power animals are an essential component of shamanic practice.  They are the helping spirit which add to the power of the shaman and are essential for success in any venture undertaken by the shaman.

Shamans believe that everyone has power animals – animal spirits which reside with each individual adding to their power and protecting them from illness, acting similarly to a guardian angel.  Each power animal that you have increases your power so that illnesses or negative energy cannot enter your body.  The spirit also lends you the wisdom of its kind.  A hawk spirit will give you hawk wisdom, and lend you some of the attributes of hawk.

Everyone is thought to have a few of these guardian power animals or it is thought that the individual could not survive childhood.  Over the course of her or his life the person may have several.  If a power animal leaves and one does not come to take its place the individual is considered, by the shaman, to be disempowered and therefore vulnerable to illness and bad luck.

Power animals do not have to be mammals and can be reptiles, insects or sea creatures.  Any living creature can serve as a power animal.  (Plants and trees can serve as plant spirit guides.) Domesticated animals are generally not considered power animals because they already in service to human beings.  It is possible to have a domesticated animal, but it is more likely to have a wild untamed animal serve in the capacity of a power animal.

The gifts that a particular animal is thought to give an individual varies depending on the culture.  Although there are certain consistencies for certain animals.  A particular power animal can come to help you with an issue that is very specific for you.  It is important not to lock each animal into a category, and be open to the gifts it may be coming to share with you.

It is important to honor your power animal.  In many western cultures we are not taught to value animals or the gifts that they add to our life and the world around us.  In shamanic work the power animal is essential, for a shaman who has no power – is not going to have very good results.

On a personal level by honoring your power animal you let it know that its assistance is appreciated.  The spirit of the animal is giving up its mobility in order to spend its time with you and assist you with your life.  Also, by honoring the power animal we make a deeper connection with it.  Honoring it can be as simple a saying a thank you inside yourself, or getting an object which represents it and putting it where you can see it as you go about your day.

Shamanic practice honors and acknowledges the life and wisdom that exists in all things.  Everything is believed to have something to teach you and animals are thought to have a wealth of wisdom and protection to offer you.

If you would like to find out who your power animal is, consulting a shamanic practitioner is an option.  But to discover this on you own, you can ask for a dream and see if anything comes up. You can ask the power animal to show itself to you and if you start seeing one or another animal frequently that would be its way of revealing itself to you.

Power Animals are usually a reflection of your deepest self and also represent qualities which you need in this world, but which are often hidden or obscured. A mistake that people often make is to be dissatisfied when they find that their Power Animal is some non-ferocious animal like  a mouse. We tend to think that a mouse is not very powerful – that it  is meek and afraid. What they forget is that spirits are not limited to  physical reality and that size is irrelevant. Your Power Animal may be  a tiny mouse, but in times of need this mouse can and will change its size  and deportment to that which is appropriate to the occasion.

Source:
Crystalinks

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Your Animal Spirit for January 1st is The Cardinal

Your Animal Spirit for Today
January 1, 2014

 

Cardinal

Wake up! Cardinal is chirping at you—bringing a message of personal power. Stop shrinking from your destiny. Stop pretending that you are less than. If you are unsure of your path, ask Cardinal to fly with you—it’s certain he will help you focus, gain clarity, formulate a plan, become self-assured, and step out into the world with the confidence befitting a person of your power.

A Little Humor for Your Day – Controversial Coyote Control

Controversial Coyote Control

A few years ago a group of animal rights activists were presenting an alternative to the ranchers for controlling the coyote population.

It seemed that after years of the ranchers using the tried and true methods of shooting and/or trapping the predators, the activists had a “more humane” solution. What they proposed was that the animals were to be captured alive, then the males would be castrated and let loose. By implementing this method they explained, the population would be controlled.

Believe it or not, this was actually proposed to the Wyoming Wool and Sheep Grower’s association.

Well, all the ranchers thought about this amazing idea. Then finally, an old boy in the back stood up, tipped his hat back and said; “Son, I don’t think you understand the problem. These coyotes ain’t screwing our sheep, they’re eating them!”

Turok Cabana

Your Animal Spirit for December 19th is The Otter

Your Animal Spirit for Today
December 19, 2013

Otter

Otter represents one of the most playful feminine energies on earth—and she has swum over into your reading to bring a message of joyful play. If life has been difficult or challenges overwhelming, relax a little—Otter is here to remind you that play is just as important as work—and NOT competitive play, but rather the kind you loved as a child. Hopscotch anyone?

Daily OM for November 13th – The Ecology Around You

The Ecology Around You
Finding Nature in Your Neighborhood

by Madisyn Taylor

Nature is all around us and there is a plethora in every neighborhood, one only needs to become still and watch.

Because both cities and tightly packed suburbs offer wildlife bountiful nooks and crannies in which to hide, it can be difficult to spot the animals that live in our midst. Many thrive among paved streets, sidewalks, buildings, parking lots, and high-ris

es. There are animals in abundance burrowing in the soil of center medians and tiny backyard gardens, making nests in the trees that line broad and busy avenues, and buzzing round the flowers that beautify our parks. To find these creatures, we only need to stop, look, and listen. Nature’s drama is continually playing out on the window ledges where weary birds stop to roost, in the shadowy places where cautious nocturnal mammals wait for night’s mantel to fall, and the fountains where playful waterfowl splash and frolic. In observing the animals that share our habitat, we become a part of their beautiful, complex, and exciting world.

Season by season, cities offer diverse ecosystems for you to explore. If your search for urban and suburban wildlife is challenging, try to look at your community with an animal’s eyes. Where there are shrubs and flowers, insects such as butterflies, ladybugs, beetles, and spiders can usually be found. The insects, in turn, attract the birds who feast upon them. Even the smallest green spaces are hosts to squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, and moles. Decorative awnings offer falcons a place to raise their young. At night, a different community of animals wakens to the world. Raccoons, skunks, and possums emerge to examine our human leftovers for edibles. Even pets feel the call of the wild—it’s not uncommon for well-fed cats in colorful collars to stalk the streets in search of prey. Signs of habitation, like nests or hives, and audible evidence, like chirps, will help you find them.

Recognizing that you share your city with a wide range of animals can make you feel like a part of the grand circle of life and help you appreciate the importance of a healthy urban environment. You can admire the hardiness and adaptability of the urban animal while developing a sense of stewardship that inspires you to become their champion. The shrill calls of birds, the hum of bees, and the sweet squeaks of city-dwelling mammals can be a symphony that help you develop a deeper connection with the nature world.

The Daily OM

Your Animal Spirit for Nov. 13th is The Opossum

Your Animal Spirit for Today
November 13, 2013

Opossum

You’ve heard the expression “playing possum”? It means to play dead and is derived from Opossum’s ability to act in whatever way the situation demands. If it’s practical to play dead, so be it; if it’s to Opossum’s advantage to be aggressive, watch out! Take your cue from this master actor today—and play the role that will serve you best.

Your Animal Spirit for October 24th is the Antelope

Your Animal Spirit for Today
October 24, 2013

Antelope

Antelope medicine is one of right action. If you were to visit Northern Plains today, you would see groups of antelope scattered about the fields and hills. However they are so quiet and unmoving that (from a distance) they resemble stones. But, get too close and they move like lightening. Antelope asks you: are you being still when you should be moving, or moving when stillness is required?

Your Animal Spirit for August 17 is Beaver

Your Animal Spirit for Today
August 17, 2013

 

Beaver

Beaver may be one of the hardest working animals on the planet. Beaver is attuned to both earth and water medicine, and is strongly attached to home and family. Beaver appears in your reading to remind you that sometimes there’s no substitute for hard work. Make a plan, create a solid foundation, then take  the next indicated step.