This Ceremony is designed to be accessible to anyone of all faiths and none, so it is deliberately non-denominational, open to personal interpretation, and has only three scripted elements. Add elements from your own religious or other spiritual / psychological practise that will make it meaningful to you and to the people you are doing the Ceremony with.
You will need: An ‘Aurochs’ sign of some kind – either just a capital ‘A’ laid on its side, a copy of one of the pictures shown above, or a copy of the sign shown below (you can draw it with your finger if you want to).
A tray of sand, salt, or dirt, if working indoors.
Water (or some other liquid if appropriate to your tradition) in a bottle, cup, or jug, for a small peace offering.
Photographs or video film of farmed Animals, if you have no way of getting to see living ones.
The ideal place to carry out this Ceremony would be somewhere that is meaningful to you, where animals are (or have been) farmed, traded, or otherwise kept for Human purposes – for instance a field where Cattle are pastured during the summer or at the historic site of an open air market. In practise, this may not be possible or safe, and, in Winter particularly, most farmed animals may be indoors and out of sight. But if you have animals of your own, or know a friendly farmer, or are simply very determined, you may be able to perform it on the Land.
If you do plan to go to a place where there are likely to be large animals nearby, use your common sense and take care to avoid any harm to them or yourself. Cattle can be unpredictable, Pigs can be aggressive, and there may be a risk of bird flu associated with Chickens, Geese or other domestic fowl. All animals may be startled or upset by the sight and sound of unfamiliar Humans doing unfamiliar things too near them. Do not go into any fields where there are free roaming animals (unless they are yours) and ensure that if you have a Dog with you he or she is kept under your close (on lead) supervision at all times.
If you need to carry out the Ceremony indoors, then before you start spend some time watching film (The Secret Life of Farm Animals could be a place to start) or looking at photographs of as many farmed animals as you can to get a realistic idea of who these creatures are. You could also make a visit to a City Farm if there is one nearby.
Open in a way that will be meaningful to you – set up a Circle or offer a Prayer or Blessing, light a candle to suggest sanctified space, etc. Sit down if you can, and make yourself comfortable. If you have travelled to a specific place, look around and get an honest sense of how it feels to be here. Notice if you feel uneasy or unhappy, or alternatively whether the place inspires calm in you. All places will be different, and all responses valid. An uneasy feeling (unless it is alerting you to a real and present danger) is unlikely to mean that you should not do the Ceremony here – quite on the contrary, it may be that the Place is crying out for Healing.
Now slowly direct your attention to whatever domesticated animals you are honouring, and offer a prayer for them or a blessing on them. It’s fine to use either your own words or to find something pre-written for this. One suggestion is given below. But remember that you cannot speak for them, do anything ‘in their name’ (though you can promise to do this later if you are moved to do so during the Ceremony) or demand anything from them: they have given quite enough for free, and this Ceremony is all about offering gratitude and giving something back.
“Blessings on you all, Creatures of the Field, who have lived and died alongside us since before Humankind began to sow the red soils of the Earth.”
Now see them. Really look at them. If you are looking at living cattle or chickens, try to really see each one as an individual – see the patterns on their skins or feathers, the shapes of their ears, etc, and notice how some individuals behave differently from others. If you are not able to see live animals in front of you, think back to your visit to the City Farm, or look again at the photographs you examined earlier and/or closely recall them or the film footage in your mind’s eye. When you feel that you are really seeing them, and feel ready to acknowledge the Personhood in every one of them, challenging though this may be, repeat some version of the following:
“I / we offer my/our deepest thanks and gratitude for the gifts of your freedom and your bodies so that we might live. I / we acknowledge that these gifts have too often been taken for granted and for this I am / we are deeply sorry. We admit that our civilised world could not exist as it does without your help and your presence. We beg you to forgive us for our ignorance and our wilfulness. We had stopped seeing you before, but we see you now.”
Having offered this apology, mark the Ceremony either by drawing the sign of the A on the ground or making it in the tray of sand, salt or dirt if you are indoors. Make a Peace Offering of clear water as a gesture of good faith and gratitude by pouring it into the centre of the A. It does not matter if the sign is washed away by this. If you are outdoors, remember that whatever you do or use for any Ceremonial purpose, it must not in any way damage the land – do not make any marks that will not wash away or will not biodegrade quickly, and if you are not using water, avoid pouring anything that could pollute the soil such as milk or essential oils.
Sit or stand for as long as it feels appropriate. Notice how you are feeling. Do not judge your responses, simply notice them.
When it feels right to do so, close the Ceremony in whatever way is appropriate and feels right to you, either by taking down the Circle if you have put one up, offering a closing Prayer, or by saying any words that come to you. Avoid making any vows that you do not intend or will be unable to keep. Assume that God/dess / the Animals / the Land / the Sky / the Ancestors/ All and Any of the Above are watching and listening to everything you say and do.
Now clear up any mess you may have made, and leave quietly. Do not speak about the Ceremony until you feel fully ready to do so and even if you are bubbling with inspiration do not force any others you have brought with you to do so.
We are going to do this Ceremony for the first time on the NEW MOON AFTER THE WINTER SOLSTICE, January 2024, and repeat it at every New Moon after that. Although we are going to do this Ceremony for the first time in Winter, you can begin to perform it at any other time, and in any place that feels appropriate. You may feel drawn to perform it in places such as the on edge of a main road outside an industrial Pig farm. Be aware of your own safety at all times if you are working in any place where there is likely to be motorised traffic, and if you encounter any unpleasantness from members of the general public, simply move on – there is no need to make the Ceremony into a protest – unless you are doing it in the middle of an already established demonstration, in which case listen to the advice of the organisers. If you are asked what you are doing, explain politely but avoid proselytising – the aim is not to convert anyone (including yourself!) to vegan / vegetarianism, or Animist Practise, but simply to apologise and offer gratitude to those farmed animals who remain under human control.
We would be delighted to hear your experiences of undertaking the Ceremony, so if you would like to share these please email these to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would be happy for us to share these on the website, please let us know. You can be anonymous if you wish.