All Life is Sacred

Photo of Tony Taylor with deer staff

Tony Taylor

From the President

I recently received a question regarding Keltrian beliefs, in particular our stated belief: “We believe that all life is sacred and should neither be harmed nor taken without deliberation or regard.” The questioner wondered if members practice vegetarianism/veganism.

We often receive this question, so this is an opportunity to remind everyone that interpretation of this belief is really up to you.  It identifies the basis for your individual practice and it isn’t something that the Henge dictates as dogma.

Certainly, there are members who choose the vegetarian or vegan path. It is their own decision, which may be strengthened by their interpretation of this belief.  We, as the Henge, respect that interpretation and do our best to include a vegetarian option at gatherings sponsored by the Henge. However, the vast majority of Keltrian Druids are omnivore.

To me, the spirit of this belief reminds us that shooting an animal to eat may be a necessity to provide meat for a family. However, it must be taken with regard for the animal. On the other hand, shooting rabbits for “fun” from the back of a pickup is not honorable.  Likewise, I won’t squash a bug just because it was in the house; rather I  capture it, move it to the outside, and release it.  If there is a chance that I will be stung and go into anaphylactic shock, I may reconsider that plan. The point is that my actions are based upon regard.

The story of a remarkable young lady comes to mind. She was fourteen years old at the time.

We cherish children, however, kids can often get antsy and disrupt the concentration of the adults. This was not the case with this particular youngster. Not only did she contribute to the lesson discussions, she volunteered for ritual parts and did a better job than most of the adults.

Her family depended upon the fall deer kill to stock the freezer with meat for the winter. Her grandfather had already bagged his deer, so he took our little friend hunting to see what luck she would have. The night before the big hunt she called to ask me which goddess she should pray to for a successful hunt. I gave her a suggestion for which she thanked me and we hung up leaving me surprised and pleased that she thought of that detail.

The next evening she called again barely able to contain her excitement. She had indeed shot a doe. She went on to say that when she and her grandfather field dressed the deer, she insisted that the heart be buried where it fell. Grandfather grumbled because that was his favorite part, but he did as she asked. She offered a prayer of thanks to the deer’s spirit and the Goddess who guided her hand. She did this on her own with no adult prompting.

It’s our custom in the Grove to draw names for the Yule gift exchange. To my surprise and pleasure, she had my name and created a beautiful staff with one of the deer’s hooves on the top. Not only was the meat going to feed the family, but no part of that creature of nature went to waste.

This belief is really all about paying attention to what you are doing and not taking a life without thinking about it.

Walk with wisdom,
/|\ Tony

One thought on “All Life is Sacred

  1. I really like your comments on this subject, Tony. Just as I would honor the nature of the lion or any hunter to hunt and eat as nature provided for it to do, I honor my human nature to eat as humans evolved to eat- as omnivores. Our evolution into Homo sapiens depended on the cholesterol intake from animals to develop our brains. I respect and will not challenge one’s need to eat as an herbivore. But for me, one who studied plants formally and understand them as having a consciousness if not a nervous system, they are equally alive and deserve life every bit as much as animals. Life itself is based on life taking other life in order to live. Regard and honor is the key to all of it.

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