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But that isn't all that I am. I am also Homo sapiens, proud descendant of thousands of generations of hunter-gatherer tribesmen.
We need to remind ourselves that Wicca was religion of an extremely robust hunter-gatherer culture. Humans have been hunter-gathers for 99.9% of our history, and many of world's ills today can be traced to our efforts to change that.
As an animal lover, I have always abhorred hunting, but much of that feeling comes from being a city girl. The hunters I knew for most of my life, including one unlamented ex-husband, bought six or eight cases of beer every year, drove out to a deer lease where they got drunk out of their minds and shot up woods, and a very, very few stayed sober enough to hit something besides each other and came home with a grisly trophy to hang on wall. The vast majority didn't even know what venison tasted like, and would be honestly horrified at idea of trying to cook it. City hunters, and their lack of respect for life, appalled me – and they still do.
Hunting horrified me so much as a teenager that I even tried earnestly to become a vegetarian, and damned nearly killed myself with malnutrition in process. I held a sneaking suspicion that vegetarianism was only truly decent way to live, and eating meat from supermarket was a dirty little secret addiction.
I don't have that luxury anymore. Wicca is about observation, and my body dropped some pretty major observations on me – with weight of a good-sized anvil – about four years ago. Chief among them was that if I kept eating agricultural products – namely sugars and starches – I was going to die. Cut and dried. Eating meat was no longer a matter of choice.
Wicca is about observation. My only choice to restore my health was to accept some pretty unpalatable observations, beginning with fact that I am a carnivore. And so are you, if you are Homo sapiens. You cannot escape it, and you have not evolved beyond it. The very worst thing that ever happened to your health was development of agriculture. Unless you were actually engaged in back-breaking labors of planting and/or harvest, you became sedentary, because crops tie you to one place. And if you are honest enough to hold your diet to your beliefs, you almost certainly eat foods that range from merely very bad for you to outright poisonous. And no, I am not joking. Most legumes are quite dangerous if not handled properly, yet they are touted by medical science as being most "healthy" source of protein!
In addition, higher brain development requires longer chain proteins available only from a meat diet. ADHD was almost unknown to our hunter-gatherer ancestors.
You say you do eat meat? Really? Abhorring hunting while going to store to buy your steaks is just about ultimate in self-deception.
I no longer have luxury of self-deception.
I couldn't resolve this conflict for myself and achieve any personal comfort level at all until I moved to country and met a different kind of hunter – hunter who hunts for meat, and prunes cherished herd with care. A real hunter kills quickly and cleanly. His enjoys testing his abilities in woods and pitting his intelligence against that of his prey, but he takes no pleasure in cruelty. Naturally, he enjoys fruits of hunt, often feeding his family for weeks or months on meat. If he takes a trophy, it is secondary in importance to meat unless prey was at least as dangerous as man.
Such a hunter often has more respect for life he harvests than many who claim to have never harmed a housefly or a spider, and I count several such as my close and respected friends today.
Still doubtful? Are you Wiccan? Have you ever listened – really listened – to drums? Can you honestly tell me that your heart does not pound, that you cannot feel rush of blood in your veins echoing running of King Stag with Horned Hunter close on his heels?
If you are a man, do you know wild joy of testing yourself against most difficult thing you can imagine – and winning?
If you are a woman, have you never tasted tenderness and violence of a man who wore his antlers with pride?
Have any of you, man or woman, held that big, heavy rifle in your hands and taken astonished pride in actually hitting that little bitty target that seemed so many miles away?
When God stretches out His hand to you, do you join in dance?
The God has as much place in our lives as Goddess. The wild woods, rampant sexuality, playfulness and courage are all woven into His dance. We dance with Him when we fly, when we skydive or scuba dive, when we race cars and boats – and yes, when we hunt. If we leave dance behind, we also leave behind that which makes us human. To do it, we must give up courage, and we must give up joy. If we do that, we might as well be dead.
Wicca is about attuning oneself to rhythms of nature. Wicca is about reaching way down deep in our genetic heritage and finding courage to become what we truly are, what our loving Creators always meant for us to be. Wicca is about tasting full measure of what life has to offer. There can be no compromise here. Anything less is swimming upstream against Nature, back-breaking, heartbreaking and ultimately doomed to failure.
My decision to taste hunt was not an easy one, but it is made. I am eagerly waiting for first freeze this year. Two of my most trusted friends have promised to take me on a wild pig hunt (I hate venison, and I love pork). I know I am a good shot, but I have never killed anything more sentient than a paper target. I honestly don't know if I will have strength or courage to pull that trigger, which is why I am grateful for their backup – as I do know that wild pig is very, very dangerous. But if I can work up my courage enough to do it, that pork will taste better than any other meat I have ever eaten. I will have earned it with my own skill and my own courage.
My mouth is already watering, just thinking about it.
What are you having for dinner tonight?
"When we get there we'll discover All of gifts we've been given to share Have been with us since life's beginning And we never noticed they were there We can balance at brink of wisdom Never recognizing that we've arrived Loving spirits will live together We're all swimming to other side . . ."
From "Swimming to Other Side" by Pat Humphries © 1992 Moving Forward Music May be heard on Faerie Goddess CD, Elaine Silver vocals Used with permission.
At a tiny 5'1", Kathryn A. Graham is a licensed private investigator, pilot, aircraft mechanic and handgun instructor in Texas. Also a prolific author, she has written numerous articles, short stories and a science fiction novel. http://www.kathrynagraham.com/