Tag Archives: pagan

Choices, Changes

Over the last few years, I have moved from a Paleo type of diet to Vegan and back again several times. This blog had ‘From Paleo to Vegan in one easy midlife crisis’ as its subtitle at one stage.

The truth is, though, that it hasn’t been ‘one easy midlife crisis’ at all of course, it’s been more like a car with a faulty starter motor, so I lurch from one obsession to the next, and never quite seem to get anywhere.

Every year, it seems, I try to go vegan again.

Even going back to being properly vegetarian seems to be a challenge this time. But I will keep trying.

It’s not that I don’t care. It’s not that I don’t know either. I know.

I’ve had to block several over-zealous vegans who insist on sending me graphic pictures of animals being brutalised.

I know.
I really don’t want to see it.
I really don’t want to eat it.

So why do I keep falling off the vegan ‘wagon’? Why is it so difficult to stay vegan?

I have personally justified it with regard to my own specific health issues, most particularly PCOS which comes along with insulin insensitivity which means that, contrary to the oft-repeated mantra of ill-informed vegans that “carbs are not the problem”, they really can be a serious, even potentially life-threatening problem for people who can’t tolerate them.

Not all carbs are equal, and not all fats are equal, but that discussion is for another post. Suffice to say, though, that even allowing for the insulin insensitivity issue, it’s no real barrier to veganism. Low, or at least lower carb veganism is possible, it’s just more of a challenge.

On an unrelated note, I’m finding it a little bit difficult to stay ‘Christian’, or at least keep up the ‘respectable’ middle class mainstream image version of Christianity that is sometimes confused with authentic Christianity.

I’ve actually been exploring paganism – firstly for general cultural literacy (I had so many misconceptions) and secondly because it is something that has fascinated me for years. I will post again with more details about that exploration and what I’ve found, what I’ve been able to love and embrace, and what I’ve had to reject and draw the line at.

To me (and what was communicated to me by my Dad – what he saw in the Bible and in Christianity), the core of the faith is clearly love, peace, joy, mercy, forgiveness, reconciliation and more love.

Matthew 12v7

But sadly it doesn’t seem to be what is commonly offered by the church. Certainly individual believers embody those principles and exude a genuine spirituality. But the church as a whole seems characterised by the very opposite: intolerance, unkindness, judgmentalism.

Why should this be?

In fact, these things are not unrelated at all.

Veganism is supposed to be about compassion, kindness, love for all creatures. And most of the vegans I have met in person do indeed embody the compassion they espouse. But veganism as a whole has without doubt been brought into disrepute by some of its most vocal members.

I completely understand the anger that vegans feel about people blithely and ignorantly allowing animals to be brutalised and killed just so we can have a certain taste and texture on our plate.

We have no excuse.

But those tastes and textures continue to persuade us to ignore what we know, to carry on along the path of least resistance.

But the anger and self-righteousness and judgmentalism of some vegans continues to drive people away.

The anger and self-righteousness and judgmentalism of some Christians continues to drive people away.

(Do you see what I did there?)

I think I know what the essential problem with Christianity is. It is the over-riding emphasis (at least in Western Christianity) on ‘right belief’ over and above ‘right living’ and ‘right feeling’. It is entirely possible to be a Christian in good standing with the church who claims all the ‘right beliefs’ and have absolutely no change of heart, absolutely no true spiritual experience whatsoever. But as long as the beliefs are in line with the doctrines your denomination emphasises, there is no reason to question the heart or the spirit. It is entirely possible to carry hatred in your heart while claiming to follow the God who is Love.

I think the same thing can be true of veganism.

As long as you maintain a vegan diet, and you are able to feel self-satisfied in that, there is no reason to question yourself, search inwardly, become more compassionate.

But I think I’ve said before that there is no ‘upper limit’ for compassion, kindness, love. All of us can always move forward, become kinder, more compassionate, more understanding, more loving.

In the Bible, a ‘righteous’ man is defined not as the one who never falls, never makes a mistake but rather the man who ‘falls seven times and gets up again’. Proverbs 24:16

This year is probably the first time in maybe 15 years when I haven’t really managed to celebrate Passover/ Easter, count the Omer/ Eastertide or keep Pentecost/ Shavuot (the fact that they are all out of sync this year hasn’t helped). There’s a little voice in my head that wants to condemn me, make me feel guilty and miserable. But I’m not listening to it.

I’m not as observant as I’d like to be right now, but it is what it is – this is the season I’m in, and there’s not much I can do about it. The traditional Passover concludes “Next Year in Jerusalem”. This too shall pass, and perhaps next year I will be where I want to be with my religious observance.

I’m not going to kick myself either about repeatedly failing to be faithful to veganism. Honestly, I may never reach 100% total veganism for ever. But that’s ok. I’m moving towards it, I’ll keep trying.

And actually, as much as I can understand the wish that the whole world go 100% vegan today, every little helps. Small steps save lives.

If I fall down again, I’ll just get up again.

Don’t be discouraged.

Do whatever you can and know that it’s good, and don’t let anybody condemn you because you’re ‘not good enough’, ‘not vegan enough’, ‘not Christian enough’, or whatever.

It’s a cliche, but learning to love and accept and forgive yourself is the first and crucial step towards spiritual growth. And it’s probably the hardest.

But it’s never a wasted effort.

Don’t give up. 🙂

From my heart to yours. xx

 

Moon Child

harvest-fullmoon-stonehenge

Just a quick post to tell you a little bit about my new NaNoWriMo project this year.

I am writing what is evolving to be a mixture of murder mystery, adventure and tragic love story, all set at the end of the neolithic age, and covers the height and breadth of Britain, and of course it does feature some of the most prominent neolithic sites such as Stonehenge.

“The high king of Albion is murdered, and his daughter must solve the mystery, apprehend the murderer and sacrifice her greatest love to take on the mantle of her father to lead her people into a new era.”

I am taking rather a lot of liberties, and now that I know what it is, it might even qualify as ‘speculative’ fiction, since I am speculating that the people of the late neolithic age allowed almost equal status to women as to men, that these people were basically Celtic, though from an earlier wave of Celtic immigration than the Celts we know, and that they remembered their ancestors right back to Noah and the Ark. So I am using the traditional names and ideas from Geoffrey of Monmouth and others of the early inhabitants being known as the Samotheans, after their founder Samothea, and the island being known as Albion after the ‘giant’ who invaded the island but who was later defeated.

It is obviously not a ‘Christian’ novel, as it pre-dates the Christian era considerably, and it has quite a different feel to the novel that I wrote in 2012, which was very religious in content by the end of it, but that really was a cathartic process for me and included autobiographical elements – the loss of babies, moving to a new land, the depths of disappointment and despair and finding hope and new meaning and purpose in God. (That last part, to be honest, was rather speculative itself.) I did not like that book when Nanowrimo was finished, and I have not yet gone back to edit or complete it; actually I suspect it may need a complete re-drafting, and I have never showed anybody what I wrote. It was just a little bit too deeply personal and painful.

This time, hopefully, I am writing a book I would enjoy reading. It has the similar themes of tragedy and triumph, but this time I hope to enjoy the adventure a bit more.

I am downplaying the pagan elements, so it may not appeal to everyone – there is no human sacrifice, nor do the people worship the celestial bodies. These are a people who know that the sun and moon are created bodies, that there is a creator, but they know nothing of him. I also speculate that these early people did, contrary to accepted notions, have a written language, but that they used leather to write on and therefore we have no record.

So anyway, I am having a bit of fun with pre-history, basically.

I’m sure you’ll be pleased to know that I won’t have time to post regular updates on how I’m doing, though I may post again at the midpoint, and I will be posting word updates to twitter.

Here is a little excerpt, to give you a taster. After the murderer has committed the main murder, he then goes on to kill both the witnesses:

“Almost instinctively, he had reached for his dagger and had slain the second man before he had even consciously known that he had the dagger in his hand. But now Zaidar had lain Franek down, covering his eyes one final time, and stood to face the foe. The two men stood still for a moment, opposing each other in the moonlight, and the stranger knew at that moment that he had a choice – if he allowed this man to run and raise the alarm at the settlement, he would have no hope, no chance, no future. He knew that he only had one choice: kill the man and escape.”

Let me know what you think! Are you Nano-ing? What is your genre?

Finding a Trail

I don’t normally make a big deal of Easter – I normally try to keep passover and if it coincides with Easter, well and good, but if it doesn’t, it’s just another weekend.

This year though we have relatives visiting over the long weekend, with all the attending issues of a family holiday. It has also become much more like Christmas since the weather changed and we’re all stuck indoors.

I would have liked to do things ‘my way’ in a much more Jewish context but with family visiting, I’ve been inundated with all the Eastery things I dislike about the Christian festival – chocolate eggs and bunnies and the temptation to gluttony and selfishness and bad tempers.

The issue of mental health, or rather illness has reared its head as well, and I can’t help feeling, in the context of Christ’s work on the cross supposedly including healing our diseases, just very frustrated and a little bit angry (with God? With the Church?). Why is there not more healing? Why are some faithful believers never healed?

Then there has been the inevitable holiday telly. We’ve been watching “Dances with Wolves” this afternoon.

One of the themes of the film is Identity, with American / Anglo culture clearly portrayed as lacking soul and integrity in comparison with the Lakota Sioux Indian culture.

Whilst there is undoubtedly some historical revisionism going on for the film, it does seem to be an ongoing theme of shame or guilt over historical English misdeeds, all related to the idea that somewhere along the way we lost that soul and lost who we were meant to be.

It’s an old film, but it still raises the questions (for me anyway) What does my name mean? Who are we? What is English culture? Is there anything of value that’s worth saving, redeeming, re-discovering, protecting? Is it a hybrid culture anyway, a mixture of Celtic, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Norman, is it natural to carry on absorbing other cultures into our own?

But there is a deep longing, I think, to find deeper roots, so people are looking all over to find a solid path – in Buddhism or Paganism, atheism, politics, or even dare I say Judaism or Celtic Christianity.

I do believe that underneath it all is God the Rock, who is Jesus and He is solid and reliable. But in terms of health and mental health, the Rock seems so slippery, so covered in moss or seaweed or something that stops us quite getting hold of Him. How do we scrape away all the things that prevent us from holding on to the solid place?

“I was just thinking that of all the trails in this life, there are some that matter most. It is the trail of a true human being. I think you are on this trail, and it is good to see.” – Kicking Bird in Dances with Wolves

The Celtic Year

I thought I would share some of my reading, even if I don’t always manage to finish with them. In which case, I do have quite a large backlog of books I have started this year.

The Celtic Year by Shirley Toulson is a fantastic month-by-month list of Celtic saints with recommended ‘pilgrimages’ to make in every month.

It is put together in a peculiar arrangement of pagan seasons: Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane and Lammas. I think that, if I hadn’t already done a lot of research on all things Celtic, and had my hardline ‘Messianic’ head on, I might have been put off by this arrangement.

But an unexpected delight in this book has been the attention that the author has drawn to the fact that the very early Celtic church very much resembled the earliest, ancient Jewish Christian church, before it became influenced by more powerful forces.

Toulson also points out how the early pagan Celtic year resembled the Jewish year in many respects – a calendar based on the moon rather than the sun, counting the day from sunset to sunset rather than midnight to midnight, and the year from the autumn harvest instead of midwinter for example.

Additionally, the timing of the Celtic pagan festivals at the cross-quarter days, rather than the solstices and equinoxes of Anglo-Saxon and Roman paganism, are not far removed at all from the Jewish festivals. So when primitive Jewish Christianity came to Britain, as there is ample evidence it did, it would not have been an enormously difficult task to convert these pagan festivals to the new God of Christianity.