I find quite a bit of the new research coming about about how plants communicate, act upon their environment, and sense what’s going on to be simply fascinating. As an animist, I’ve always understood that everything — plants, rocks, animals, clouds, stars, trees, fungi, houses, ideas, cars, computers, clothing, tea cups, tea, tea cozies, letters — is alive. But it’s nice to have scientific confirmation.
I found myself meditating today about what it might mean for Witches to truly understand that everything is, indeed, sentient, alive, connected. I imagine that our elders who wrote, “An’ it harm none, do as thou wilt,” meant “no other human beings,” when they said “none.” But what if, as is beginning to happen, we have to expand our definitions to include octopi, crows, elephants? And trees. And beans. And fungi. Before you denounce the actions of those plants and animals as mere “instinct” or “chemical reactions,” stop and consider that so are the actions of your hormones on your sexual desires.
With apologies to Adrienne Rich, we can’t live like the Jains, and I’ve always suspected that those brooms do almost as much harm as good. Liere Keith grocked some time ago (and continues to take shit for having done so) that simply becoming vegetarian couldn’t save us from one of the basic truths of the universe: in order to survive, we must consume the life of other beings.
So how does that require us to live? How should we raise and ritually slaughter the animals that will become our meat? How shall we care for the watersheds that engender and nourish the fish that we eat? How shall we grow and harvest the fruits and vegetables that will become our salad? The trees that will become our furniture, paper, housing? How shall we treat the underground water that will mix with our food and become our blood?
What if every bite that you took came at the expense of another being? How would you eat? What would you do with the energy you obtained? What would it begin to mean to pour a blot or to offer the first fruits of the harvest in sacrifice? How will you offer yourself to be consumed, when the time comes?
Picture found here.