Just wondering if there are many vegans or vegetarians out there in the Druid community. I've been a vegan for about 15 years, and a vegetarian a few years before that - more through personal inclination than purely ideological reasons. However it does seem in harmony with the Druidic reverence for all living things. So how about you? As a newcomer to Druidry I ask this purely out of interest rather than a mindset of what dietary lifestyle one should or shouldn't adopt.
Excellent thread this, very worthwile discussing as it tells us a great deal not just about a Druid's but anyone's view of the world. Sorry to say that I, for one, still do eat meat, though he balance of my (and my family's) diet has shifted more towards vegetarian food over the past few years. You mention reverence for all living things, but then, what counts as a 'living thing'? I can't speak for all druids, of course, but to me literally anything and everything is imbued with spirit and therefore living, including even the rocks and minerals! In this matter I follow the ancient wisdom teaching that in our time is relayed to us by Theosophy which speaks of the 7 life weaves on the Earth - 3 etheric ones, then the mineral kingdom, the plant kingdom, the animal and finally human kingdom. Should we condemn the plants for absorbing minerals for their growth or the animals for consuming plants or even other animals in order to survive? The cabbage we chop off and eat in the summer, at the hight of its growth, we took months to tenderly grow in the spring. We humans take it upon ourselves to decide when it is the time to sever the umbilical cord that connects any plant or any animal to its roots, i.e. to the land. That is the concept of sovereignty - the connection to the land - but with sovereignty comes responsibilty, not just for one's family, tribe and people but also for the supposedly 'lesser' beings. Sovereignty is service, service to the land and ALL its inhabitants!
Sorry for rambling on but what I mean to say is that, in my minds eye, everything on Earth has a role to fulfil, even if 'only' to become a source of nutrition. I have no problem with eating meat as such but what concerns me is how animals (and plants!) are treated prior to their consumption. And yes, from THAT point of view I feel we all should abstain from consuming industrially reared animals (and plants!) until the the day they are given the reverence they deserve, both whilst rooted in the land and landing on our dinner plates. This, of course, has practical implications (and more so, complications) and somehow we all end up having to make concessions somewhere along the line for a whole host of reasons that I won't even start to discuss her just now. Best we can do is to minimise our use of (any) non-organically grown food and work to the best of our abilities - on our own and/or as part of a charitable organisation - to achieve changes in how our food is produced!
Enjoy yor meals,
Remember what you already know!
A considered and well-founded response, Oak King. Food for thought, as it were. On reflection, after my previous posting, I felt I had probably used the term "all living things" too narrowly in that context. I then thought "how about all sentient beings" but realised that too could be problematic. One of the reasons I tend to stay away from vegan groups is the piety and judgement that prevails, particularly when asked why I'm vegan and I say "personal preference" (rather than animal rights or whatever). On the other hand I'll get non-vegos asking me "but what about carrots", etc. (They do have a point!) If we avoided everything that is imbued with spirit we would all be breatharians, and then probably derided for being oxygen thieves! My general view therefore is to eat, sleep, work and play in a way that works best for the indvidual's physiological and spiritual needs, but be environmentally sensitive about it (ie. choose organic wherever possible, reduce the ecological footprint, etc).
I too have an interest in Theosophy, so will follow up on the seven life weaves on the Earth that you mention.The learning continues!
Interesting topic, the concept of vegetarianism has been associated within the revival of druidry for some time. I have always been fascinated where its roots lie historically in relation to this, but have found little evidence which may support the notion to the period concerned at present. One has to travel much further back to the early Medieval Period (also known as the Dark Ages), and to Ireland to find any connecting links.
These are associated with the Céli dé – ‘Clients of god' also known as the Culdee's. Overall this is a home grown religious and monastic movement which developed in the 6th century. One suspect the associations of Druids with the early evangelisation process is relative here. St Columba has been associated with its formation from Iona together with others. The Céli dé are a hermetic in nature both individually and as a group, within the documentation one can locate the absence of meat in there orders dietary requirements. Meat is only consumed once a year on the calendar; the remaining year vegetarian eating is observed. Indeed one might ask the question of whether this was undertaken through there ‘reverence of the land’, or for other reasons, such as becoming closer to their deity, could remain unanswered.
For myself within the 21st century I eat both, however it comes down to personal choice and what one is comfortable with eating, to replenish the fuel in which the body functions on.
When, as a child, Gillian (my partner, btw) and her mother spend periods of time in Ceylon (sorry Sri Lanka) they used to stay with Buddhist friends who in fact ate meat, once a month! According to them certain amino-acids vital to the body can only be found in meat.
Closer to home I have come accross the opinion that the diet best for you is determined by your blood type; some apparently DO need meat while others can do very well without.
What I have noticed myself though is that, while many vegetarians do eat a healthy, wholesome and truly satisfying diet, some others seem to equate vegetarianism with eating 'bugger all'. Even here in our village I know a couple of them who look so thin, pale and downright sickly that one must fear for their wellbeing. Whether they simply not know or weren't being taught by their mothers how to cook a descent meal or whether they just can't be 'bovvered', I daren't say. (Perhaps their blood type says they should eat meat, at least occasionally?) Good vegatarian food is not a myth though - it DOES exist!!
Happy autumn days,
When recently I had to undertake another trip to a day hopital with my elderly father-in-law I spent some of the waiting time glancing through one of those weekend additions of one the British newspapers and came accross an article on 'freeganism', somthing else that swapped over from America where it seems to have a considerable following. What it means is that an increasing number of people does not shop for food in their supermarket but rumages through the waste bins outside the store to fish out still edible goods. Though greeted by rathter unpleasant smells on opening the lid, at the top of all that waste they tend to find remarkable amounts of foods with a use by/sell by date of that day and so in theory still fit for consumption. The people mentioned say they easily save £30 to £40 a week on their food bills and show no negative effects on their health. Having decent jobs with an appropriate income they all could afford to buy in-store but it is their conviction in the face of soo much food waste, day after day, that they should do something in trying to reduce it. Apparently, the Portsmouth supermarket in question recently started locking its bins so that these freegans had to find another one further afield.
What do you think about freeganism? Would you feed yourself from these free finds or even offer it to your family and friends?
Godd luck rumaging,
This practice - known here as 'skip-dipping' - attracted some media attention in Australia a couple of years back - your above posting reminded me of it. The practice is not limited to food and can include all sorts of potentially useful household items. The Australia Institute, a social and environmental issues think-tank, even published a web paper on the subject - I remember reading it at the time. If you're so inclined, here is a link to this empirical piece of research:
To answer your question: to me personally it seems all too much of an effort. I can think of far less hazardous ways of being frugal and saving money (eg. buying clothes from op shops). Probably the closest I've ever come to salvaging anything useful from a waste dump was to rescue an antique dictionary from the paper recycling box at the aged care home my (now departed) mother was in. It was in pretty poor shape but I recently had it rebound and have added it to my vast collection of books on words and language.
Hope your father-in-law is ok by the way, Oak King.
Thanks Oak King and Astrocelt for putting this topic into a much wider perspective than is normally available in the usual either/or arguments. You've also extended my knowledge of druidic philosophy, beliefs and wisdom (with its refreshing absence of dogma).
Yes, it all comes down to personal choice. I like my coffee of a morning, and will go on drinking it despite what all the coffee-wowsers say about it being bad for you. Thankfully that's my only addiction, apart from learning!
Well, as much as I hate waste, food from a bin is an absolut 'No,no' to me; never know how many hours its been in there, possibly in scourging sun, or how many rodents might be living in there. On the other hand, I am not ashamed to admit that in the past I have fished quite a few bargains out of skips at our local recycling site such as practically new carpets (off-cuts still big enough to fit in the back of our van or a small room) and book shelves. My biggest find though was an admittedly oldfashioned but very large wardrobe that I spotted on someone else's trailer and got to it even before it ended up in the skip. Unfortunately it is now against the law to remove items from skips and the people working there seem to keep an eye on them even though they only go to landfill - absolut crazy!!!
Greetings from a rather wet Wales,
While there is no historical basis for any association between Druids and vegetarianism, and at least one Druid ritual (the Tarb Feis) involves consuming beef, there is mention that the ancient Celts did have dietary prohibitations from eating the meat of both the goose and the rabbit, perhaps because both these animals were considered sacred to the goddess. We do know that the ancient Celts ate pork however, as pigs were considered a particular delicacy and were consumed at celebratory feasts, and several Celtic myths make reference to enchanted pigs which could be eaten but would magically reappear alive the next day so that they could be eaten again.
So glad, pork is one of my favourite meats! I find it interesting that they didn't eat goose and rabbit - I wonder if the same applied to the Hare, which goes back a long way in the mythology of Wales in particular... I'm glad they didn't eat goose though as I rather like them - surprisingly intelligent birds.
Thanks for sharing!
I was a vegetarian for a few years, due to how I felt about farming practices, but it wasnt right for me and it went right out the window when I got pregnant. I craved meat very strongly. I have vegetarian friends that are quite right wing, which I dont feel comfortable with either.
I personally have taken a stance, that if possible i shall eat free range, organic meat and put my money in the pocket of responsable farmers.
I think it is important to support and promote farming with a conscience as we will never get everyone to go Veggie.
I often hear people talking about not affording to eat free range. I am on a low income, I just choose to eat meat less often and make it better quality.
But that is just my opinion and I try to be quite low key about it.
The depth of a soul cannot be measured by what appears on the surface
Actually it was hares that were mentioned. The source of this information comes from none other than good old Julius Caesar, who noted it in his journal that he kept on the Gallic Wars and his expedition to Britain:
'The mainland of Britain is inhabited by a people who claim to be indigenous to the island, but on the coast live the immigrant Belgae, who crossed over for war and pillage, but settled to cultivate the land. The population is very large; they have many houses rather like those in Gaul and large herds. They use bronze or gold coins or, as an alternative, iron rods of fixed weight. Tin is found inland and small quantities of iron near the coasts but they import their copper. Apart from the beech and fir, there are trees of every kind as in Gaul. They think it is wrong to eat hares or chickens or geese but they breed them as pets. As the cold is less severe, the climate is more temperate than in Gaul...Those living inland do not sow grain but live on milk and meat and wear clothes of animal hides. All Britons paint their skin with woad which makes them blue and more terrifying to confront in battle. They do not cut their hair but shave all the rest of the body except the head and upper lip.’
Interesting topic this. I share Oak Kings views here, and yes I try
to eat a balanced diet keeping off red meat as much as I can and eat
veggies and salads. What is annoying is the tremendous waste our
western society creates. On the whole we eat far too much, are very often
overweight (I count myself in here) or at worst obese.
morality of killing and eating, well, its a part of our existence on
the material plane but it's the way we do it that speaks out. The
Native American peoples and other native peoples living close to the earth
have great reverence to the bison or deer they are about to hunt, kill
and eat, often involving much ritual and ceremony. Also nothing is
wasted, bones and hide have their uses. As a contrast to this is the
fast food beefburger that was bred in a factory farm or raised in
artificial tropical pastures created at the loss of vast tracts of
rainforest with no consideration at all for wildlife and driving many species to extinction. The loss of biodiversity due to these practices is
shameful in my opinion.
Our supermarket culture does not
help much in keeping waste down. Everything is double or triple
wrapped in non-biodegradble plastics and it is only recently that PET
plastics can be recycled. If we could only go back to returnable
bottles and recycled paper for paper bags, but that is said to be
Built-in obsolescence is another "capital sin" against the earth that creats even more waste and pollution. It is said that it keeps people in jobs (through consumerism) and we are just beginning to see the consequences of these attitudes. I remember that at one time you could take in a worn out car part for a factory reconditioned one, but gone are those days. Had to scrap awhole steering box beacuse of a non-replacable oil seal!
Sorry I've rambled on a bit, summing up I suppose the best Druidic approach to this is to eat a balanced diet (considering where the food came from - organic being the best choice) and to eat as low as you can on the food chain which is more efficient caloriewise.
Compost organic waste - this can be done in the smallest back yard and recycle as much as possible.
Albion Druid "Celts did have dietary prohibitations from eating the meat of both the goose and the rabbit, perhaps because both these animals were considered sacred to the goddess."
I thought the romans introduced rabbits to Britain?
Not sure either about them solely being sacred to the Goddess, Which Goddesses are they sacred too?
There are references to the non-eating of poultry but I believe it's mainly to do with Gaul & at a guess I would imagine it would be local tabboos at specific times rather a complete cultural abstinance.
Hares have to stewed & re-cooked TBH otherwise even the most hardened carnivores like me struggle with the toughness of the meat. It's a lot of work & maybe the pragmatic Celts couldn't be bothered with the hard work
I enjoy every kind of food, including wild boar. It's most certainly THE food of the Gods IMHO.