Face Value

It’s as though every moment there is something happening that is worth writing about and the slight tendonitis in my right hand is testament to that!

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The other day I walked into the house and found about 8 people gathered around the dinner table. It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces and to be greeted by some of my new nicknames including: Coromandi and Casava! There was something unusual about this meal though and I couldn’t put my finger on it until I sat down next to Justin’s brother, Frederic. I noticed Justin knawing on something as well as his sister-in-law, Celine and when I looked closer I saw …….a furry nose! Yes, a nose! It was a sheep skull that they were eating on and from. They offered me a piece of brain and I reached in and took a small piece with my fingers. They all watched as I talked myself into putting it into my mouth and when I did they were all very excited. This is a delicacy here and Justin told me about how much people covet it. He was lucky to have found a sheep being butchered that day in a field.

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As far as taste goes, it was not bad, I would even call it – buttery! But I could not get the words “Its a Brain!” out of my head. I feel like I couldn’t really enjoy the taste of it because of these words repeating themselves over and over in my mind. I watched as the group passed this head around and ripped off pieces, sucked on it, gnawed on it, broke it open for more deliciousness that lay inside the bones. Justin turned to me and said, “This is very good for you!” Frederic opened the lid of another pot and inside was the intestines that had been boiled. It was such an unusual experience for me in some ways and in others not. I grew up in a hunting family and so animals being killed and dissected by curious children like myself was not uncommon but this felt different. I could feel judgment of some kind creeping around in the back of my mind. What was it?
It felt like my moral compass was chiming in and saying “This isn’t right.” I am not sure what about it wasn’t right, I mean eating meat is eating an animal so why is eating a brain any different than eating a leg? Would it be better to just toss the brain away and not use it at all? No. In Aboriginal culture they use the brain as part of a hide tanning process for leather making and in many cultures, such as this one, it is a delicacy to eat. So what was it really that was making me tense?
It was the rawness of it, the animalistic nature of it that upset me on some level, for some reason. Maybe because it was the face, the actual face, of another creature that was being ripped open and eaten. I don’t really understand it fully but the word consciousness keeps coming to mind. In some way I see how being connected to the earth and to being more in tune with nature and our primitive ways is very beautiful especially while living here in this country. I also see how the more “civilized” we are the more opportunity for disconnection from the earth and our part in the cycle of life there is. Even in writing this I do not feel like I can completely express what I mean to say, maybe because I don’t fully understand what I am feeling. I have no bias towards eating animals or not, and I can argue either side, but somehow while I am here and in this moment I am aware that there are many other options for survival and I don’t see any of those options begin offered readily.

Maybe its just because I have been working on my own connection to food and my body and at one point in the healing journey was practicing being Vegan, which after leaving the Ashram where I had a chef cooking for me, it became very difficult and was very expensive to keep up. Our society does not support people eating in alternative ways the way it supports meat, dairy and processed foods which makes it very challenging at times to make the choices I really want to make and live on a budget.
The reason I was exploring this way of eating had to do with energy, specifically the energy that I put into my body. The treatment of the animals has an impact on the energy that they will carry in their bodies, just like I know my body carries energy from my experiences. So if I want my body to feel good and carry positive energy then I need to feed it positive energy. It all goes hand in hand with eating vegetables that are organic, treated with care and grown in a balanced environment with healthy soil – we are what we eat after all! It is a new level of awareness that I was becoming in tune with and carry with me even as I eat Sheep Brains!
So yesterday when Justin and I were presented with a gift of a beautiful rooster from one of the cooperatives and I watched as it’s legs were tied and flopped into the back of a truck and I knew we were going to be eating it for dinner I made sure, in my own way, to give thanks to the rooster for giving its life in order to keep ours going. I feel that deep down its not the eating of the meat, the fish or brains that makes my brain say things like “This isn’t right!” it’s the disconnect between what and why we are putting things into our bodies and for me this ties into what we then allow to feed our minds and our spirits.

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As my dear friend Ananda says in her book, “Divine Jokes and Invisible Realities”, she eats solely for consciousness. So I continue to practice Gratitude for all that I am given and for the opportunity to further understand and know myself.

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