When I first asked my readers, “Is it Ethical to Use Silver in Druidic Rites?” I was bracing myself for some tongue lashings. I felt the same way sharing my concerns on the ADF Discussion list. Although I did get responses along the same tone I’m used to when explaining my vegetarianism, many people – more than I originally thought – were very supportive. Many, to my delight, feel the same way and have been working through similar issues! As I explained yesterday, while not dogma in ADF, the use of silver has quite the tradition. Coming out and expressing discomfort with a tradition in a group as established as ADF can be very uncomfortable… but I’m so pleased to know I’m not alone. Even within the larger Pagan community, there are others who recognize the environmental hazards related to mining – whether for silver, other precious metals, or even the gems everyone in the Pagan scene is so gaga over!
Regardless of whether you continue to use mined resources in your magical workings, it should be important to you to learn where your tools and materials are coming from. When you walk on an Earth-Centered path, your impact should be of concern. Personally, I want to walk in balance. I am not perfect – would never claim to be. The majority of my food is organic and/or local; I grow some of my own food and many of my own herbs; I compost; and I use reusable shopping bags. But I still drive a gas-powered car. I rent and can’t convert my apartment to a solar-powered, grey-water using haven. I take control of what I’m able to, and putting a halt to my personal use of mined products seems like a pretty good thing to do. It’s easy. It’s good for Mama Earth. Traditions sometimes have to change in light of environmental impact or societal change. I leave this behind with the head hunting, the human sacrifice, and the exclusion of men from keeping Brighid’s flame.
Precious metals and gems have real potential in the form of talismans, I think. One of the arguments with regards to the ethics of silver is recycling it. By continually offering it, we take it out of the system of reuse and recycling thus requiring more to be extracted. Some people have commented saying that they like the idea of using a silver piece as a magical talisman to consecrate the water. Through ritual reuse, the talisman will grow in power. There is a large silver triskel pendant on my altar. I felt compelled to buy it while vacationing in Ottawa. At the time I didn’t know why other than the Kindreds seemed to want it – but they wanted it on my altar. Now I’m wondering if I could use it for consecration purposes. The silver is already in my possession, albeit claimed by the Kindreds for use on my altar. I would be reusing it ritually, it would become a spiritual heirloom, and it wouldn’t be removed from the system of reuse and recycle. Others have commented that this possibility intrigues them and they are also thinking of trying it.
|A silver pendant I felt called to bring home. It’s been waiting on my altar and is a bit tarnished now. Time for my favorite silver cleaning ingredient – toothpaste!|
Others are also comfortable using quartz. Several said they already use them or locally found stones.
Some ADF members rely on the waters themselves to consecrate the well. ADF Druid Fawn explained, “In my own Druidry I prefer to offer sacred waters from different springs to the Well, or flower essences.”* Another ADF member, Drum, shared a similar sentiment. He commented on the e-list about other Indo-European practices:
It is interesting that the idea of silvering the well is not universal throughout Indo-European practice.
In Avestan practice, it is water from the well itself that, after a number of draws, IS pure and in my limited understanding putting anything other than water that is “pav” or pure back into the well would only defile it. Silver is not a universal requisite for the well**
Author Nimue Brown commented that she only leaves biodegradable offerings and prefers the option of cleaning up a location. In my post yesterday, I suggested the possibility of a grove pledging to clean a beach or river area prior to a ritual. The more I think about that possibility, the more I find it attractive. It could easily be combined with simply using other sacred waters to consecrate a well. Perhaps after the cleaning, a small vial of water would be taken then placed in the well vessel.
There are clearly so many possibilities when working with water and consecrating the well. It is important to respect and learn from tradition, but I would argue it’s more important to update and adapt our traditions to live in better harmony with the world. It’s also equally important to get involved with organizations to protect sacred places, end devastating environmental practices, and lobby politicians for ethical, rather than purely financial, ends. Perhaps this isn’t the right fist step for you. Perhaps there are other aspects of your spiritual life that you could change for the sake of the Earth Mother and Nature Spirits you so love. Evaluate your practice and make changes there first. As a people who so revere Nature, it only seems right that our “greenest” practices are within our spiritual rites. Through those changes, all others should follow.
While she is not a Druid, I want to leave you with a quote from Starhawk.
Not everyone has the extra dollar for the organic tomatoes, or the time or space to garden. Bringing our lives into alignment with the earth should not become a burdensome, guilt-filled project, where we are constantly in an unshriven state of eco-sin. Instead, we can think of it as a gradual, joyful process, where we look for the choices we can make that will enhance our lives … Making small choices that align with our values is important. It helps give us a sense of integrity, and it gradually transforms the whole of our lives to be in better balance (36).***