My most recent post about ahimsa and Druidism sparked some conversation with prophet_maid on Live Journal. We talked about vegetarianism, eating meat, the food chain, and the hierarchy implied by Jainist ahimsa. It helped me sort through my thoughts better and I realize that that isn’t the best way for me to express my reasons for what I do. Many of the ideas surrounding ahimsa still resonate with me. I am very inspired by Gandhi’s application of it
A hierarchy naturally implies that I feel I am better and more privileged than other creatures. As I’ve expressed to others before, I really don’t think that. I don’t believe that humans are any better or worse than the other Nature Spirits. I believe we all have natural talents and that some of us are better at certain things. Framed by human-centric values and aspirations, I can say that we are more creative and innovative than other creatures (sometimes for better or worse), but there is a bit of hubris to that. I am proud to call myself creative and artistic, but I am not close-minded to the possibility that some other creatures have a different definition of art and think of themselves as more capable in that area than us. Who really knows?
In the end, I have made a spiritual decision about what I will and will not eat. It almost seems like a hierarchy in that I am choosing to eat some things and not others, but I feel no true superiority over the plants I eat. I have a great respect for plants. I talk to them, ask permission before I harvest, leave offerings, sing to them, and thank them frequently. I hug trees and am not ashamed to admit that. I do not feel as closely related to plants as I do those in the animal kingdom, but I fill a kinship nonetheless.
In talking more about it to prophet_maid, I compared myself to herbivores like rabbits and deer. I explained that I didn’t feel removed from the natural cycles of life or somehow less human because I was denying myself participation in a common human act. I said that I was just as connected to the cycles of life as a deer. I don’t see it as the denial of basic human needs; I see it as another way of experiencing humanity – a way just as valid as eating sustainable meat. Thinking of it this way in combination with the end of my previous post, in which I discuss spiritual prohibition and life lessons, it makes so much more sense to me. I am feeling more comfortable simply saying that it is a spiritual choice I have made connected to the lessons I must learn at this time in this life. Perhaps there will come a time when I am meant to learn the lessons of eating meat again. Who really knows?
Comparing myself to a deer, though, opened up a new door – one that has been slowly opening for years. I’ve had different spiritual experiences with deer. I could say it started as a child as I delighted at seeing the deer outside my home, but what child wouldn’t feel that way? Truly, the first time I felt spiritually tuned in to this creature was when I started college. I was in a rough place emotionally. Although I was experimenting with Wicca before a breakup, it was after that I really became a practicing Pagan. It was then that I started to work harder and develop my skills. I went into the woods to meditate. One day, after meditating, I opened my eyes and was surrounding by a herd of deer. It seemed like a buck and a harem of does. I looked at the buck and I remember that I wasn’t afraid. I was in awe as he stared me down. I remember saying to him in my mind, “I’m not here to hurt anyone.” He made a noise – the first time I ever heard a deer speak in anyway – and stamped a hoof. The herd moved away, dissolving into the woods. I felt such a rush and instinctively felt like, after so many years of playing in the woods as a child, I was finally formally allowed there. Was the spirit of the Horned God in that deer? I’ve never been sure, exactly, but it was one of the most spiritually important events in my life.
The second time I brushed with the spirit of deer came during meditation. I met with a spirit of the forest – a fair woman who called herself a lady of the deer. I was then obsessed, for a short time, with Flidais. I tried to research her and seek advice from others. There is little on her, and some people seemed dismissive of it. Yet I felt so drawn. I still do… I let that fall by the wayside because I didn’t want to seem too “New Agey” to Celtic Reconstructionists and scholarly folk who seemed to think she was just a literary character in the tales and little more. I wasn’t as driven or emotionally strong then.
Most recently, I was in the woods making offerings. I called to the spirits of the forest and asked for their teachings. In that moment, a deer ran through in the distance, vanishing into the darkness. I wanted to follow it, but was also frightened for some reason…
I don’t think of myself as the sort to attach oracular significance to every natural event I witness. Most of the time, if I see a raven, fox, or such, I just hail it as a passing nature spirit. There might be a lesson, but most of the time it is simply a blessing to see them. I feel lucky for that alone. The deer though… I cannot shake the significance of those times. I feel that this is something I should really work through and explore more. Perhaps I have another spirit guide I should be working with in addition to Breeze the Lynx? Perhaps I should start walking into that darkness and facing the fears.