Gael Ùr

Discussing Gaelic culture, advocating Pagan story, honoring the Earth and the beings who share it with us.

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C.S. MacCath

C.S. MacCath

C.S. MacCath is a writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry whose work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Clockwork Phoenix: Tales of Beauty and Strangeness, Murky Depths, Witches & Pagans and other publications. Her poetry has been nominated twice for the Rhysling Award, and her fiction has received honorable mention in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection.

Ceallaigh's first collection of fiction and poetry entitled The Ruin of Beltany Ring has been called 'wonderful, thoroughly engaging, always amazing', a book of 'tiny marvels' and 'well-worth reading'. At present, she's working on a science fiction series entitled Petals of the Twenty Thousand Blossom and a second collection of fiction and poetry.
 
The Vegan Pagan: The Case Against Animal Sacrifice

In light of recent Pagan conversations around the blogosphere on the topic of animal sacrifice, I thought I'd skip ahead in the Vegan Pagan series to offer the animal-centric perspective I had scheduled for January. I'll be back on track next month.

Good Samhain to all!

- Ceallaigh


Modern Paganism has more than a few bloody roots. The early Celts practiced both animal sacrifice and human ritual killing1 and might well have engaged in ritual cannibalism under extreme circumstances, as historical and archaeological evidence attests.2 3 Elaborate human sacrifices were performed at the temple in Uppsala and elsewhere in Northern Europe as late as the 10th century AD, and there are well-documented accounts of animal sacrifice as well.4 5 The early Greeks may have engaged in human sacrifice or human ritual killing and certainly engaged in animal sacrifice.6 These are only a few among many examples, as students of pre-Christian religion well know, and they collectively represent a disquieting piece of theological history. However, while most Pagans will agree that cannibalism, human ritual killing and human sacrifice are better abandoned to history, the practice of animal sacrifice has been reconstructed by a few sects of the Pagan community.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • James Taylor
    James Taylor says #
    Thank you so much for writing these Vegan Pagan blog posts Ceallaigh, they are so amazing and well written. I'm very much looking
  • C.S. MacCath
    C.S. MacCath says #
    Thank you so much for your kind words. They mean a great deal to me, and I'm glad the series is resonating with you. As for the b

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Vegan Pagan: Your Health

Note: If you haven't yet read The Vegan Pagan: Introduction, The Vegan Pagan: Interstice the First and The Vegan Pagan: Interstice the Second, I encourage you to do so before moving on to this entry.

This is the least intersectional and least spiritual of the entries I'll be writing on veganism and Paganism. The reason is simple. If a vegan diet is bad for your body, this conversation is over, and that's the way it should be. Conversely, if a vegan diet is good for your body, any spiritual work you undertake is enhanced by the benefit your diet brings you. I'll also be discussing relationships between the vegan diet and disease and the problem of antibiotic resistance as it relates to animal agriculture, since it also relates to food choices and public health.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Vegan Pagan: Interstice the Second

As before, I've been following the Facebook conversations around my vegan blog entries, and this time I've noticed further discussion around the idea of plant sentience. Some of you have argued that plants are no different from animals and so the eating of plants and animals should be considered on equal footing.

How very animistic of you. I would expect no less from my Pagan community.

It's an interesting question and one deserving of its own space, so I've decided to offer a vegan perspective here in advance of my next major blog entry in the series.

For the sake of argument, let's presume that plants possess independent minds and thoughts of sufficient complexity that they can deliberately communicate with the world. From this premise, a plant-based diet would still represent the most ethical choice and the path of least destruction, because every single animal life requires the consumption of many plant lives. There are a number of peer-reviewed studies explaining feed to meat conversion ratios, but here's a handy chart from NPR that shows the amount of grain, forage and grazing land required to produce a quarter-pound hamburger:

Resources required to make a quarter pound hamburger.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Over the years I've seen numerous such cost claims, but they are usually inaccurate. The price at retail reflects the sum total of
  • C.S. MacCath
    C.S. MacCath says #
    Remember that the US meat, dairy and egg industries are heavily-subsidized by the federal government, so the retail cost of meat v
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    In the 1990's an attendee of one of Swami Satchidananda's yoga workshops pointed out that scientific instruments had detected the

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Vegan Pagan: Interstice the First

I've been following the Facebook conversation around my first post in this series, and I'd like to address a few things here that I hope will help to facilitate a more congenial conversation around this topic going forward.

First, to my fellow vegan Pagans: If you've allowed yourself to be baited into flaming on Facebook, you're not helping the animals, the Earth or yourself. Difficult as it is to do, you need to remain calm when you address non-vegans in cyberspace, even when you're treated unfairly. Remember what you believe in, and let your ethics guide your responses, not your anger. Thank you.

Second, to my fellow omnivore Pagans: Many of the arguments you've made on Facebook are addressed via the links I provided in my first post, so I would encourage you to peruse them. I would also encourage you to remember that I wrote my introductory post for the very reason that I was concerned about the possible tone of the conversation around this topic.  So please think carefully before you comment. Thank you.

Third, to Witches & Pagans: I understand the need to foster a balanced environment around difficult topics, but I ask you to remember that I have not yet made an argument of any kind. When I do, it will certainly be appropriate to point interested readers to "the opposite argument". Further, I hope to provide the sort of pro-vegan information you can point to for balance when others write anti-vegan blog posts. Thank you.

Finally, to the peaceable Pagans who commented thoughtfully in the aforementioned Facebook thread: Vegan or omnivore; thank you, thank you, thank you.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Lee Pike
    Lee Pike says #
    As a fellow PaganSquare writer I'd like to welcome you! The Facebook community for Witches & Pagans is very large and for that re
  • C.S. MacCath
    C.S. MacCath says #
    Hello Lee, and thank you for your thoughtful comment. You know, I hadn't really considered (until I drafted this piece) that many
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Hi, my friend. I complained to Anne about Facebook a couple of months ago, saying that most of those people were responding withou
  • C.S. MacCath
    C.S. MacCath says #
    Hello, Ted! Thank you for your counsel on this. I'll certainly consider it, though I am hoping my post here will help smooth the t

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Vegan Pagan: Introduction

In the next several weeks, I'll be discussing intersections between veganism and Paganism. As a long-time vegan, animal rights activist and wildlife rescuer, I believe I can bring a perspective to the discussion that might be helpful to vegans and non-vegans alike. But before I do that, I think it's important to lay some groundwork, and that's what this entry is all about.

First, I'd like you to check in with your body and your emotions right now. Take a breath and ask yourself if reading the last paragraph left your neck, shoulders or any other part of your body feeling tight or tense. Consciously release those muscles. Give 'em some love. Now ask your mind, heart and gut if they've thrown up any defenses to the topic at hand. Acknowledge those defenses, if they exist, and remind yourself that you are ultimately in control of your body, your mind and your words. You don't have to let anything in that you don't want to explore, and you don't have to let anything out that hurts others. Now take another breath. Thanks, and good on ya.

I began with that exercise because many people have strong, negative reactions to veganism, and that's okay. It's a mighty challenging subject. That said, I don't want for this space to be about offense and defense. Yes, I believe in what I'm writing about, and yes, I'll be writing about some challenging things. But I'm first and foremost a fellow traveler on the path, and I'm not here to pass judgement on your plate. I'm also not here to be the recipient of reactionary discourse. So let's be kind to one another around this topic, even when we disagree.

For those of you who plan to comment on this series, there's one other thing I'd like you to do. You might not know this, but vegans are asked the same sorts of questions all the time, so often that there are many articles on the Internet devoted to listing and answering them. So before you ask a 'What about...?' question in the comments, please peruse the fine selection of links below. No disrespect, but I won't be answering those questions here if they should pop up.

Song A Day #810: Vegan Myths Debunked WATCH ME FIRST!
Simple Answers to Vegan FAQs
A response to typical comments vegans hear from non-vegans.
Vegan Outreach - Frequently Asked Questions

Above all, I ask that you hang in there with me while we have this discussion. Pretend you're in my house eating an awesome chocolate chip cookie and drinking the finest tea my prodigious tea cabinet has to offer. Pretend you have strong opinions and I have strong opinions, but we want to keep eating these cookies and drinking this tea because they rock and we want to be friends. Thank you.

Last, but not least, I offer you the beautiful, inspirational and amazing "Vegan Pagan Prayer" written by one of our fellow travelers on the path, Dianne Sylvan. Go read it. You won't be sorry.

I'll see you next month.

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Interstice: Appropriation Looks Like This

This is just a quick, interstitial post about a thing I found online today. The attached meme tells us that the word 'tenalach' is Irish and 'describes a relationship one has with the land, air and water, a deep connection that allows one to literally hear the Earth sing'.

According to my Irish dictionary and the researches of several Irish-speaking commenters on the original post, this word does not exist in the language. In fact, it violates a basic principle of Irish spelling.

Folks, this is what cultural appropriation looks like. It matters less that the spiritual concept is gorgeous and fulfilling than it does that Irish language and culture were inappropriately overlaid upon it to lend it legitimacy. Irish deserves better than that and so do the people who speak it.

 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    This reminds me of the 1990s when a long poem about saving the environment attributed wrongly to Chief Sealth (the guy that Seattl
  • C.S. MacCath
    C.S. MacCath says #
    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I agree it's best to object to these sorts of things whenever we see them, both for the sak

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Culture of the Imagination, Part 3

Last month, I wrote about the psychological dynamics behind the sacred spaces we create together and the ways we might utilize the power of sacred space to create a better world. This month, I'll be writing about what happens when the people to whom we have given power abuse it, and in doing so weaken both the internal and external cultures of the imagination we've worked so hard to build. Specifically, I'll be writing about the work of Marion Zimmer Bradley (MZB), its influence upon a generation of Pagan women and the destructive effects of the recent pedophilia allegations against her.

The younger Pagans among you might not recognize the name, but if you're a Pagan woman of a certain age, you'll remember that MZB is the author of a much-beloved novel called The Mists of Avalon. This novel tells the Arthurian story from the point of view of its women and follows the life of Morgaine, otherwise known as Morgan le Fay. It was released in 1983, just a few years before I left an abusive family of Jehovah's Witnesses to live with my grandmother, who was also a Christian conservative. An avid reader, I found the novel in 1986, and it changed my life in ways that echo even now. It was the world I wanted to live in; a place where women existed in community with one another, where they wielded the ancient power of the divine feminine, where the sacred was protected from the mundane. Because of that book, I was drawn to Western European Paganism, and then to Celtic Pagan spirituality, and then to a degree in Celtic Studies, and then to Cape Breton. In a very real sense, The Mists of Avalon shaped my own culture of the imagination and helped make me the woman I am now.

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  • C.S. MacCath
    C.S. MacCath says #
    In hindsight, it sounds uncomfortably like what Moira Greyland has written of her mother. Interestingly, that passage struck me a
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    C.S. and Carol: I actually have found a paragraph from one of the Avalon books which could, in a certain light, be construed as a
  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven says #
    In re: Diana Paxson and the MZB situation, please see Diana's public statement here: http://www.diana-paxson.com/writing/avalon/ma
  • C.S. MacCath
    C.S. MacCath says #
    Thanks for this, Anne.
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Thank you, Anne. Good enough for me, too.

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