Contemporary Paganism: Meaningful Practices #1

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R. Eugene Laughlin
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Contemporary Paganism: Meaningful Practices #1

Post#1 » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:45 am

The behavioral practices of any religious framework are, reasonably, best when they foster attitudes and values that support the framework.

Following on the We are of the Earth ideas expressed in the Contemporary Paganism: Soul thread, one meaningful practice is to eat consciously, and to eat locally-produced foods as much as is practical. The basic idea is built from the following facts/ideas:

1. The nature of the world in which we live is that we feed or we die. Therefore, food is sustenance.

2. It is the nature of many animal species (including humans) to take the lives of other things (plant, animal, etc.) to sustain themselves. As was discussed in the Soul thread, the individual thing that was comes to an end at death, but there is enough residual life-force, for lack of a better name, in the physical remains to be transferred to ongoing living things, by way of consuming the remains.

3. The substance of the living body (the consumer), and the necessary constituents of their functional parts are all derived from the remains of previously living things that are consumed.

4. Food chain basics trace the transferable life-force that animals rely on to photosynthesis, an interaction between the Earth (its atmosphere and terrestrial constituents) and the Sun, the resulting life-force springing forth from the land. The animals who feed on the life-force feed back into the process, most obviously by producing carbon dioxide, upon which photosynthesis depends. Of course, every animal eventually feeds back into the system one way or another when they die and leave remains.

Note that there are complexities, intricacies, and exceptions, which are worth considering in the grand scheme of things, but are neither necessary nor useful for making the initial point. So...

From there, the idea is that one can deepen their understanding of and appreciation for the Earth that sustains them by consciously consuming foods that come from the very land upon which they walk. There's value to be found in [recognition of] sharing the water source, in contributing to the carbon dioxide that fuels the crops that sustain the livestock, and so on.

Importantly, there's personal value in honoring the lives sacrificed (even the plant lives) in service of ones own continuance, which is exponentially deepened by acknowledging that the unique thing an individual life (of a plant or animal) represents literally ends with its death (re the Soul thread).

Some additional implications include:

Eating locally produced food inherently supports smaller, independent farming/ranching. There is a growing eat local trend that includes Farmer's markets, farm-to-table restaurants, foraging clubs, etc. It's also connected to a more general live local attitude that people hope will contribute to more sustainable microeconomics (though that is a steep hill in climb in the era of Walmart and Amazon).

Local food producers often, though not always, exercise more ecologically sound practices than corporate farming/ranching. At the very least, eating locally produced foods reduces ones own contribution to the amount of environmentally unfriendly emissions associated with shipping food products from distant regions, and increasingly (in the U.S.) from other countries. There are, of course, benefits to the ability to ship food around the world: delivering food to regions experiencing famine for example. The idea here isn't to reject the global food market; it's mostly an effort to enhance awareness and a more direct connection to the natural process of life on our planet.

For people living in areas where food production is scanty at best, the attitude and effort is more important than the letter of the practice. Anything that supports increased conscious awareness of the nature of one’s personal sustenance approaches the intent of eating local. If the best one can do given where they live is grow a scraggly herb in a pot to make one cup of tea per year, that can be good enough if the attitude is on point.

An Adjunct Practice

One other thing people who eat animals might do to strengthen their connection to their sustenance is to periodically kill an animal they go on to eat. Probably the most common experience modern city dwellers get in that regard is an occasional fishing trip. Organized guided hunting is also available to people who can afford it. Other options include raising a chicken, rabbit, or goat to be slaughtered, butchered, and eaten with a good Pagan attitude.

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