When two animals team up, they may form a beneficial partnership called symbiosis. In symbiosis, the two animals provide something, which the other cannot, for each other. It could be food, protection or eliminating parasites. In many cases, neither can survive without the other. This other animal is in a special relationship with your animal teacher. Therefore that animal is also one of your animal teachers.
For example, oxpeckers ride on a rhino’s back. For allowing the oxpecker to eat insects off his back, the rhino gets and early warning system. These two disparate species work together to help each other. They are a unit to be studied as one animal teacher.
Where and how does food become a religious issue? I can think of two cases. The first is when we have a relationship with what we eat. The second, when there are purity issues at stake. In his Moral Foundations theory, Jonathan Haidt says that human concepts of purity are shaped by the psychology of disgust and contamination, and holds that the body is a temple that can be desecrated by eating something that has been contaminated. While this has not, in my experience, been the case with the Pagans I know, it is common in many other religions.
I’ve found the first case is far more common for Pagans. Ritualizing the harvest of a carefully raised animal is now not uncommon among Heathens. Of the Pagans I know who garden, raise livestock animals, or grow their own food or herbal medicines, every single one has a relationship with the land, and the living beings that thrive there. Such relationships are deeply interactive. Goats are fed and milked. The milk is drunk, and soap is made nourishing humans and creating products that can be gifted or sold. Chickens are fed and housed, their eggs supporting bodies and their antics providing food for the soul. Gardens are carefully planned, mulched, fertilized and the harvest proudly shared, or preserved.
The Harvest moon...she was quite marvelous this month. And now we move toward a dark moon where she invites the depths of knowledge to mingle and play in the soil beneath our feet.
Are you feeling the palpable richness of this moment? The effervescent juiciness of the energies?I experience it as acceleration in my heart center and a Knowing in the gut. Indeed we sit within a time of sacred transition. A process of celebratory release this time of year so that the elasticity and resiliency of our very foundation may become more apparent.