Pagan HAES

A great deal of conversation has begun across the Pagan blogosphere regarding the physical health of our spiritual community, sparked by the passing of a prominent young man.  I am not going to recount the points that have been raised, or all of the posts and comments that have been made.  Tara “Masery” Miller of Staff of Asclepius has done an excellent round-up of the conversation, thus far, and I encourage the curious to check out that post.  (Trigger warning: some of the conversations linked to include the usual fallacies,including conflating weight with health, thankfully, the round-up post, itself, does not.)

As a Pagan, I strive to live in harmony with Nature and Her cycles.  I strive to live with respect paid to the world around me.  As a Wiccan, I strive to live according to the Rede: An’ it harm none, do as thou wilt.  There are a number of questions the Rede raises when it comes to health.  Does the Rede mean that I should be mindful of my health?  I think so, yes.  So what does that mean, exactly?

I’m a big fan of Ragen Chastain’s underpants rule, and as such, I’m not going to sit here and tell you what you should or should not be doing.  What I will do is tell you what works for me.  What being mindful of my health, in accordance with the Wiccan Rede means to me is this:

  • Eat balanced meals of wholesome, nutritious foods grown from the Earth, not test tubes, petri dishes or beakers, with as little commercial processing as possible.
  • Engage in safe, enjoyable movement options that make me feel good, on a sustainable schedule.
  • Do not allow anyone to bully me for any reason, no matter who they are… including me.

In other words, I make Health At Every Size a part of my spiritual practise.

Health At Every Size is a health movement that focuses not on weight, BMI, or size, but on developing healthful habits:

Health at Every Size is based on the simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being (rather than weight control). Health at Every Size encourages:

  • Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes.

  • Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite.

  • Finding the joy in moving one’s body and becoming more physically vital.

— quoted from

This blog is an exploration of how I make HAES a part of my spiritual practise, and how it informs my food choices, movement choices, and how living Health At Every Size helps me to live the Rede.  The posts here will include recipes, information on movement options, cooking techniques, and other things that help along this path.  I am hopeful that there will be guest posts from time to time, showing how other people live HAES as part of their Pagan path, as well.  It will be maintained as a safe space to talk about HAES and Paganism — constructive, respectful dialogue is welcome.  Trolling, body shaming, and other hate is not.

Thank you for joining me in this exploration!  I hope you are able to find something that helps you, and that you’ll share what works for you in the comments!

Covered in Light International Day

I’m taking part in this.  I’m also distressed by some of the comments on the post.

Pagan Women Organize Covered in Light

For those of you who want to know why I veil:

Through experimentation borne out of a conversation with my partner about Pagans who cover their head as part of their spiritual practise, I discovered that veiling helps me focus — a significant challenge for me, trying to manage ADD without medication.  I also found that, energetically, it aided some of my spiritual practise.  Then, I read something about the Jewish tradition of veiling which resonated with me profoundly:

“Once a woman is married, she enters into a completely unique relationship with her husband. This transformation is alluded to by the Hebrew name for the wedding ceremony, “Kiddushin”, which means sanctification or holiness. Through this act, the bride and groom are totally and utterly dedicated to each other in a holy coupling. This dedication manifests itself in both an internal and an external form, in many ways, and for both partners.
“One of these ways is by a woman covering her hair, which is viewed by Judaism as a sensual and private part of a married woman’s appearance. By covering her hair a woman is expressing her exclusive devotion, love for, and unique connection to her husband. “

That led me into researching traditions surrounding married women veiling — given that I was engaged at the time, I think my interest is understandable.

Two different Pagan bloggers I respect posted round about the same time discussing Pagan women who choose to veil, and sparked by that, I started delving into the ancient Roman traditions of veiled wives.  I found enough in all of this research to lead me to strongly consider the choice to cover the top of my head and my hair when I’m in public.  

I spent time meditating on the matter, talking with my partner about it, and contemplating the potential fall-out.  … would people mistake me for a different faith?  Would people think ill of my partner because of my choice to cover?  Would it be disrespectful to the women all over the world who are oppressed by modesty laws?

… and one of the things I realised was that we reclaim the tools of oppression all the damn time.  It’s part of how we take power back.  So why the heck couldn’t I reclaim the veil?

So, I veil because I respect my marriage.  I veil because I like subverting the idea that women are on display every waking moment.  I veil to reclaim and take power back from the tools of oppression.  I veil because it seems to please my Gods.  I veil because I’m sick to death of complete strangers walking up to me and fondling my hair.  I veil because I like the way it makes me feel.  I veil… because I choose to.

Won’t you consider spending a day covering your head in order to stand with women the world over in making their own choices about how much of themselves they bare to the world?
Covered in Light International Day
Friday, 21 September 2012

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