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Sunday, June 2, 2019


ani-mism noun 1 the attribution of a living soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena (Barber 2005, 51).

Folklorist Sabina Magliocco writes that most contemporary Pagans grew up in a dominant social system that rejects the existence of a spiritual realm but are, nevertheless, engaged in a re-enchantment of the world (Magliocco 2012, 17). Citing Starhawk, she argues that Pagans do not so much believe in...

Sunday, January 28, 2018

This semester, I'll be writing a paper on performance theory, activism, and scholarship using the work of a few well-known activist scholars but primarily that of Dwight Conquergood. My research question, while not fully formed yet, will have something to do with positioning the self in scholarship when the topic is familiar, or even dear to the researcher. I'm presently in this position and will continue to be so throughout the remainder of my PhD research and writing, since I'll be studying the beliefs and performances of animal rights activists in Canada.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the idea of subject positioning, Bronwyn Davies and Rom Harre define it as:

...the discursive process whereby selves are located in conversations as observably...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Please Note: This article has undergone a revision since it was first written. Two footnotes have been added.

There are many introductions I might make to this post. I might discuss the accusation that vegans are privileged city-dwellers subsisting on a First World diet who don't understand how animal agriculture works. I might relate the conversation I had with a Buddhist friend last week when I told him we planned to attend a cattle auction. I might use any number of tried and true vegan inroads to conversation (Meet Your Meat, etc.). But we didn't do this so that I could answer vegan criticisms, tell personal stories or fill this space with received language. We did it to see and to tell you what we saw.

This is what we saw.

We attended the auction with two other vegan activists from Halifax, and some of the photos below are theirs. The auction was held at Atlantic Stockyards Limited, where the animals are temporarily housed in...

Thursday, September 12, 2013

So, my post yesterday garnered 120 separate hits, far more than most of my others. We're a species who loves its drama, we are. And I also attracted a troll, but dramatic posts will do that.

In the wake of that post and its fallout, there are some issues I want to address about the way I approach vegan consciousness. Yes, I do think the eating of meat, milk and eggs is morally wrong and contributes to the suffering of sentient beings. I think it unapologetically, and it constitutes part of my core value system. It's also a well-informed belief, and I can present my reasons for it chapter and verse from many reputable sources. Further, I intend to participate in more direct vegan action going forward, so you might expect me to blog about bearing witness to factory farming brutality and vigils for farmed animals. I cannot be other than this, do other than this and still live with myself.

That said, I don't sit in judgment of you, whoever you are. I also don't expect...

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

From August 30th to September 1st Sean and I participated in a group retreat at the Tatamagouche Centre called "Crossing Stony Ground: Earth Spirit and Justice for Challenging Times" led by Starhawk. For those of you who don't recognize that name, Starhawk is a longtime Goddess worshiper, political and social activist and permaculture expert who has been and continues to be a seminal influence in Pagan, activist and farming circles. In fact, her book The Spiral Dance brought me to Goddess spirituality when I was sixteen, and I've had a great deal of respect for her work since then.

The focus of the retreat was activism grounded in spirituality, specifically Pagan...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Barbara J. King, Chancellor Professor of Anthropology at the College of William & Mary, presents an elegant survey of a difficult topic in How Animals Grieve. In a tone both measured and sympathetic, King asserts that animal grief is a strong indicator of animal love, that 'animals grieve when they have loved'. Evidence for this assertion ranges from accounts of dolphin mothers mourning their deceased infants to captive bear murder/suicides, and in each case she demonstrates that while their expressions of grief might vary, animals do respond emotionally to loss.

As an anthropologist with extensive field experience, King is able to effectively articulate the reticence of scientists to discuss animal emotion and the reserve in their approaches to...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Modern Paganism has more than a few bloody roots. The early Celts practiced both animal sacrifice and human ritual killing1 and might well have engaged in ritual cannibalism under extreme circumstances, as historical and archaeological evidence attests....

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Please Note: With this edition of Activism Updates, I'm relinquishing the illusion of a schedule for the series, since it's become abundantly clear to me that I haven't the time to stick to it. Worse, I've stopped actually reading the activism e-mails that come to me from various sources; I drop them in a folder for later perusal, thinking I might use them in the blog series, and then never return to them. So I've actually become a less-effective activist than I was when I began, and that's problematic for me. I've also noticed an uptick in the number of activism posts from friends in my social networking feeds, which seems to indicate an increasing level of comfort among my peers for this sort of material, so I'm less worried about the spamming issue.

What this means is that the Activism Updates series will remain the same in terms of content but become less frequent. I'll post a book review when I have one, offer the space to other activists who have...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Like any pair of geeks, Sean and I have been looking forward to this film for years, have played and shared the trailers, have swooned over the snippets of song we've heard. We've even planned to go to the midnight showing on the day of its premiere, and we've talked about whether or not Peter Jackson will once again render Tolkien's work with the loving detail he gave to "The Lord of the Rings".

So we were devastated to learn that animal wranglers for the film have recently alleged that at least twenty-seven horses, goats, sheep and chickens died off-set during production because of poor living conditions and neglect. Entertainment Weekly writes:

Wrangler Chris Langridge said he was hired as a horse trainer in November 2010, overseeing 50 or so horses, but immediately became concerned that the farm was full of "death traps." He said he tried to fill in some of the sinkholes, made by underground streams, and even brought in his own fences to keep the...

Saturday, October 6, 2012

My next Activism Updates post isn't due until next weekend, but with Thanksgiving on Monday, a trip to Bangor on Tuesday and Wednesday and Celtic Colours after that, there's little chance I'll be posting much of anything at all next week. The following week I'll be finishing up the panels I'm writing for Hal-Con, completing a course of spiritual training I've been undertaking for many years and attending a two-day Shambhala meditation workshop, followed by my nephew's birthday. The week after that is Hal-Con, shortly followed by World Fantasy Con, likely followed by my collapse into a pile of coffee-saturated goo for a couple of days before I leave the researching/marketing/submitting/conventioning part of my writing career behind for a long spate of actual, honest-to-goodness story-writing.

So, the next Activism Updates post will be up on the weekend of November 10th-11th, when I'm planning to review Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism. I'll...

Saturday, September 29, 2012

You heard me. Vegan french toast.

Why is it activism? Well, the vegan part is mostly self-explanatory. Being vegan is better for us, better for the animals and better for the planet. The french toast part is mostly because it's a rainy, autumn Saturday, and I'm thinking about the good we all try to do every day, online and offline.

For instance, some of my online friends post regular alerts about GMO foods. Others care about the bee blight. Still others are vegan grandmas who post delicious recipes. I have LGBT activist friends, too, and friends who are dedicating their lives to sustainability. I have friends who step in to care for companion animals while their humans are away, veterinarian friends whose good work cannot ever be over-stated, friends who are studying for the ministry and friends who are teaching their children Gaelic. I have a husband whose vegan activism is the brilliant crystalization of an engineer's mind with a compassionate heart.

I am so...

Monday, September 17, 2012

In this edition of Activism Updates, I'm delighted to host my friend and fellow blogger, Lance Frizzell-Reynolds, who writes on Humanist Pagan, sustainability and LGBT issues, among other things. I have always found his work erudite and inspiring, and I'm honored he agreed to write for my blog.

Veganism, It 'Ain't' Nothing New But It Has a Big Impact!

Before I jump into my guest blog post, thank you C.S. for this awesome opportunity. I thought I would introduce myself and of course thank my incredible host for coming up with this cross-blogging idea.

My name is Lance Frizzell-Reynolds, I am 34, gay and married, and live in Massachusetts, USA. I am currently a graduate student at Marylhurst University in the Green MBA program in Sustainable Business, specializing in Government Policy and Administration. Essentially I am working towards becoming a sustainability expert that focuses on ensuring businesses, communities, and...

Monday, September 3, 2012

This edition of Activism Updates will introduce you to the issue of fracking in Nova Scotia and empower you to protest against it.

What Fracking Is

Fracking is the extraction of shale gas and other hydrocarbons held in dense rock formations using modern hydraulic fracturing techniques, including the combination of toxic chemical slickwater, high pressure fracturing and horizontal drilling. These extraction techniques come with serious risks, including:

∗ Risks to drinking water, including the use and contamination of huge volumes of water with toxic chemicals, and risk of well contamination from methane and other substances.

∗ Risks of contamination of streams and rivers and soil from fracking fluids and fracking waste through accidents, extreme weather, or poor practices.

∗ Risks to human health from exposure to airborne toxins at multiple stages of production, exposure to toxic waste, and exposure to toxins through drinking water or soil....

Sunday, August 19, 2012

This edition of Activism Updates is of the link spam variety, containing opportunities for activism in Canada and the United States.

Canadian Residents and Interested Friends

Senator Mac Harb reports via the Huffington Post that he has received a humanitarian award from PETA for introducing Bill S-210 to end Canada's commercial seal slaughter. He writes:

As a result of overwhelming support, my bill was seconded, and the Senate recently unanimously consented to continuing this debate in the coming months. This is historic, and every single person who has taken action has made a difference.

I encourage you to contact members of Canada's Senate and call on them to support my bill to...

Sunday, July 15, 2012

My heart is moved by all I cannot save:
so much has been destroyed

I have to cast my lot with those
who age after age, perversely,

with no extraordinary power
reconstitute the world.1

This weekend, I attended the Spiritual Activism: Soil and Soul retreat held at the Tatamagouche Centre and facilitated by Isle of Lewis native Alastair McIntosh, who is perhaps best known for his work that advanced land reform on the Isle of Eigg and helped stop the proposed Harris superquarry in a National Scenic Area....

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Please Note: My work on the next ConLangs 101 entry is ongoing, but it will probably be another week before I post it, and I'll be moving to a monthly posting cycle for that series going forward. The research and writing for those entries is somewhat time-intensive, and there has been some minor movement in my efforts to place my novel series (though certainly nothing reportable as yet), so I'm eager to stay on that task. Thanks for understanding, and I hope you enjoy this Activism Update. ~ C.S.M.

In this edition of Activism Updates, I'm reviewing Will Potter's book Green Is the New Red: An Insider's Account of a Social Movement Under Siege. Potter is a journalist who begins investigating the "Green Scare" after being...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My husband and I take very different approaches to activism. While I'm more rescue and writing focused, he's an advocate and excellent vegan cook. Together, we make a fairly well-rounded team, but until now you've only heard from one of us. That changes with this guest entry, which will hopefully be one of many going forward.

I asked him to write something about our love for human animals, since vegans are often accused of sacrificing them in favor of the non-human variety. What he gave me was the following excellent discussion of the physical and psychological benefits of the vegan diet. So without further preamble, I give you my husband and fellow activist, Sean P.O. MacCath-Moran.

Vegans are often viewed as being people who are over-concerned about the plight of helpless creatures, driving themselves to deny the sweetest pleasures of life in vain efforts to help the fuzzy-wuzzies. To some small extent, there is some truth in this view, since...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Two weeks ago, I rescued my first baby squirrel of the season. His mother had apparently built a nest in the frame of a parked car, which had driven off with the baby inside. It's entirely possible that his brothers and sisters fell out while it was in transit, but this fortunate fellow landed in a parking lot near a municipal enforcement officer, who called Hope for Wildlife, which called me.

I'll doubtless be seeing this sort of thing more often in the weeks to come, and I know that by late May, the mammal and bird nurseries at the Hope for Wildlife farm will be filled with young animals. So I thought this might be a good time to discuss the rescue of injured and orphaned wildlife babies and offer a few pointers.

Your Initial Investigation

When you encounter wildlife babies on their own, it's important to answer the following questions first before intervening on their behalf.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

I wrote in 2011 about the Atlantic Canadian seal slaughter here and here, so I won't repeat myself in this entry. However, I do want to point you to the new Humane Society International infographic on the topic, which encapsulates a tremendous amount of information in just a few words and pictures. I've linked that infographic to the left. I also want to provide you with some information I've just received from Nick Wright, the Humane Society International Canada's seals campaigner, which I found very helpful in understanding the...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

This edition of Activism Updates focuses primarily on permaculture and sustainable gardening, especially with organic/heirloom seed. It's also more locally-focused, because I believe local action is the very best kind. Also on offer is an abbreviated list of the organizations that send me alerts by way of e-mail and social networking, so that you can use them in the formulation of your own action strategies, if you like. Most of them advocate animal rights and environmental issues, but I'm also a big fan of the transition movement, and I've included a local link or two, as well.

Permaculture for Transition Workshop - April 14-15

What It Is

From the Web Site: We're going to spend lots of time introducing some of the most accessible and effective solutions out there in permaculture, applied as design. Here's a few we will highlight:


Monday, March 5, 2012
The release of Quill, a Great Horned Owl I transported to Hope for Wildlife in the winter of 2011.
Friday, March 2, 2012

Iowa and Utah Ag Gag Bills

What They Are

This week's activism updates come a few days early for the sake of the Iowa and Utah Ag Gag bills. In Iowa, the bill has passed the Iowa Senate and is due to be signed into law by Gov. Terry Branstand. If signed, the law would criminalize undercover investigations of animal abuse at factory farms in the state by making it illegal to shoot undercover photos and videos and to lie about animal rights affiliations in an application for employment. In Utah, similar legislation has been overwhelmingly approved by the House and...

Sunday, February 26, 2012

I read recently that it's impossible to be an activist without living in a constant state of grief, and I agree. People of conscience willingly expose themselves to the suffering in the world so they can act upon it, and in acting upon it they realize how very small they are. There are days when I sit at my keyboard heartbroken, knowing there isn't anything more that I can do than I already have, knowing it isn't enough in the face of the great machines of industry and apathy. But I post another social networking update, fill out another petition or send another letter anyway, believing that action is better than inaction.

Which brings me to the subject of slacktivism. I've also read a great deal recently about the fruitlessness of those social networking updates and the pointlessness of petitions, and I agree with that to some extent as well. When social networking updates and petitions are the entirety of an activist's work, the effort amounts to a kind of emotional...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

As I begin this post, I find that I have so much to say in frustration with PETA that I hardly know where to begin. So I'll start with the organization's most recent advertisement:

Trigger Warning: Depictions of Violence Against Women:

Now let's look at another PETA campaign from 2009.

Here's what the Huffington Post had to say about it. Here's what the Feministe blog had...

Friday, February 3, 2012

Important Note

The episode of This American Life that inspired this blog entry has since been retracted. It appears Mr. Daisy fabricated many of the personal experiences he had while in China and lied to Ira Glass and his staff when they asked him for his interpreter's contact information. So in the interest of full disclosure, I think it important that you listen to This American Life's Retraction episode before proceeding with the rest of this blog entry. I still think much of the information here is worthwhile, but I'd want you to hear the truth of things before you read it.

All the best,

Original Entry

I am a geek married to a geek who works in technology. So we like our electronics; desktop, laptop and tablet computers, MP3 players, cameras and GPS devices. We're not upgrade-at-the-slightest-provocation types;...