I just finished a week of hunting deer in Wisconsin, and am a Pagan. Most Pagans don’t have a deep connection to hunting, I guess their demographic is more urban than many religious groups. Hunting is not a big Pagan topic of conversation unless you are from, or live in, a rural area.
A recent blog post by author Stifyn Emtys caught my attention. He wrote questioning hunting, well really questioning it as if hunting is essentially “enjoying killing”. The post goes on to conclude that some, “people don’t kill because they have to. They kill because they want to. And that, my friends, isn’t just scary. It’s horrifying.“ Another, commenting on social media about that post, took it a step further with, “Hunting, when one has access to vegetation and other food sources is just cold-blooded murder, no way around it. ”
Murder is killing a person with malice a forethought, quite a stretch to classify hunting with this term.
What offends me is that the post’s author admits that hunting experience is an area of limited personal contact and understanding, but still concludes, “ people who kill animals in the name of sport or spirituality …. reveal something starkly horrific about the human condition.” The author equates hunting with “enjoying killing”. I don’t hunt because I enjoy killing. I accept that many things in life involve death, and yes, sometimes killing.
As a Pagan and a hunter, I don’t feel compelled to proselytize about either activity. There are plenty of horror stories about both designations, there are plenty of reason to be neither, it is a personal choice. The blog post did get me to think about killing, death, and particularly our relationship as Pagans to it.
Where is the Pagan experience with death in this intellectual argument? It seemed lacking. My spirituality and experience has changed how I look at death, and at killing. I don’t see it as a punishment, an act of fate or karma, even something to fear. I see it all around me, everyday.