The Real Life of Babe - How Pigs Live...And Die (page 3)
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pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as
equals." - British politician and Nobel Prize Laureate Winston Churchill
THE MYSTICAL TRADITION OF BABE, THE PIG
by Philip and Stephanie Carr-Gomm - Excerpt from The Druid Animal Oracle – Working with the sacred animals of the Druid tradition
Boar – Druid name Torc representing - The Warrior Spirit, Leadership, Direction
In the Celtic tradition, the boar symbolizes raw power, which is often destructive but which can be used and channeled by the hero – the warrior. Many terrifying and magical boars are depicted in the old tales. In the Irish Book of Invasions there is the Orc Triath, a huge and destructive boar. In the Fionn Cycle of stories there is Formael- massive and vicious, he kills fifty soldiers and fifty hounds in a single day. In the Welsh tale of Culhwch and Olwen, two boars play a central role. Ysgithyrwyn, Chief Boar, and Twrch Trwyth must both be defeated by the hero Culhwch (“pig-run”).
The comb is a symbol that has been associated with the boar for thousands of years. The ancient rock-carvings in Scotland depict both combs and mirrors beside boars, and these symbols provide the clue that the boar is in fact sacred to the Goddess-despite the fact that it can also symbolize the aspect of male aggression and sexuality. The Jungian Erich Neumann suggests that “The Great Mother is the sow that farrows and the boar that kills.” The terrifying and destructive Irish boar Formael confirms this association with the feminine when we read that he has neither ears nor testicles. And in Scotland women would traditionally give birth at the Boar Stone, placing their bare feet on the stone to absorb its power. The theme of the boar as secretly or inwardly feminine is further confirmed when we learn that the White Boar of Marvan, in Irish tradition, acted as muse to his master – inspiring him to write music and poetry.
The boar’s wildness and destructiveness were used by the Celts to arouse their fierceness and to terrify their enemies. The boar was used as an emblem on helmets, and as a mouthpiece on battle-horns. The snarling open mount of the boar’s-head trumpet found in Grampian held an articulated wooden tongue which would vibrate when blown – undoubtedly making a horrendous and frightening noise. The boar was also depicted on swords and bronze shields, and here these images are used to invoke the power of the boar to protect the warrior and to instill in him its supernatural vigor and fierceness.
Sow – Druid name Muc representing - Generosity, Nourishment, Discovery
The pig is sacred to the Goddess, the providing and nourishing aspect of divinity, and as such it is often depicted in the old tales as a magical beast, which is constantly reborn.
The pig as a gift from the gods or the Goddess was clearly recognized by the Celts. The Celts had enormous herds of swine which were allowed to forage in the woods, keeping down unwanted shrubs and undergrowth. In the spring and autumn they were turned on to the fields to manure and break up the soil.
Because of the pig’s importance to the Celtic way of life, it was honoured and respected, and was also used ritualistically. At a burial site of Skeleton Green in Hertfordshire male pigs were found buried with the men, while the women were buried with birds.
The pig represents the Goddess, and in parts of the Scottish highlands a brood-sow is termed Seanmhair-grandmother. As evidence that Druids was perhaps originally Goddess-centred, Druids were referred to as “piglets” and the Goddess was sometimes pictured as a sow. One of the early Welsh Triads, The Three Powerful Swineherds of Britain, talks of the sow Henwen, the White Ancient, who gives birth to a wolf-cup, an eagle, a bee, a kitten and a grain of wheat. Henwen was said to possess great wisdom, having eaten the nuts which had fallen from the beech- a sacred tree of the Druids symbolizing ancient knowledge and tradition. Also within Welsh mythology, Ceridwen, responsible for the initiation and transformation of Gwion Bach into the magical bard Taliesin, is known as the goddess of pigs and barley. She manifest sometimes as a pig, her neophytes being addressed as piglets, and her worshipers as swine.
A pig is completely omnivorous- eating virtually anything it finds. But this lack of discrimination is balanced by the pig’s ability to find hidden treasure, and pigs have been used to discover truffles and other fungal delicacies for centuries in Britain and Europe.
The ability of pigs to discover the earth’s secrets is one of the reasons why the pig is so important in the Druid tradition. Both male and female pigs are sacred to the Goddess- the sow representing her life-giving aspect, the boar symbolizing her life-taking aspect.
INTENSIVE PIG FARMING - Excerpt from "The Source of Life" by Sarina Damen
`A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast' - Proverbs xii, 10
Today’s animal products are neatly packaged and wrapped. Their sterile presentation seemingly devoid of any relationship to the suffering and slaughter of a recently living creature, so the consumer is spared making the conscious connection between the living creature and the ingredients for their family meal. Of those who do stop to consider that a lamb, pig, or calf has died to become a component of their diet, most are unaware that the idyllic farms of yesteryear have almost vanished. The farms where an animal could enjoy their life in comparative freedom in pleasant natural surrounds until their eventual slaughter are being speedily replaced. In the case of pigs and chickens, almost all animals are raised in production areas which resemble a factory assembly line, forever surrounded by wires, metal and cement, never knowing the grass beneath their feet or the sun and rain on their face.
Intensive animal production operations, or Factory Farms allow the maximization of profits through the optimum usage of available space, but without any consideration for the needs and rights of an animal capable of feeling fear and suffering as any cat or dog we pamper.
As a consequence of these new procedures, intensively farmed animals live a miserable, inadequate life from birth until the time of their slaughter. They suffer from mental and physical illnesses due to these systems designed to increase human profit and meet human demand for meat. Intensive farming is the method of choice employed by the Australian pig industry.
Although pigs have generally been perceived as unclean and unintelligent creatures, scientific studies have shown that they have a higher level of intelligence than most dogs and horses, and avoid fouling their living space if at all possible.
Pigs show the same capacity for fear, pain, contentment, and affection, yet factory farming exposes them to conditions which could only be considered cruel and inhumane if imposed upon companion animals who exemplify similar natures.
Pigs are often kept in narrow stalls in long sheds, their living space so small that they cannot turn around or take more than one step forward or backwards. Over-eating induced by boredom, anxiety and depression, and an appetite encouraged by drugs such as HOG-CRAVE, frequently results in these creatures' skeletons buckling under their unnatural, excessive weight. In combination with the painful lesions developed as a consequence of standing on metal slats or concrete flooring, many pigs attempting to relieve the pain by contorting their posture, eventually become crippled from the strain.
`I have a friendly feeling towards pigs generally, and consider them the most intelligent of beasts, not excepting the elephant and the anthropoid ape... I also like his attitude towards all other creatures, especially man. He views us from a ...sort of democratic standpoint as fellow-citizens and brothers, and takes it for granted, or grunted, that we understand his language, and without servility or insolence he has a natural, pleasant, camarados-all or hail-fellow-well-met air with us.' - W.H. Hudson, Naturalist.
Farrowing crates,stalls in which sows give birth, are often so restrictively small, that the larger animals frequently do not have enough room to rest their heads on the concrete floor. These creatures only alternative is to lay their head on the drinker. To do this they must endure the constant dripping of water on their heads; a similar process of dripping water is used in Chinese water torture! Some pigs are also tethered by a small length of chain to further restrict their movement. Some piggeries do not insist that their employees deliver piglets wearing gloves, the result of this unhygienic practice is that many sows die slowly and painfully from septicaemia.
`Forget the pig is an animal. Treat him just like a machine in a factory. Schedule treatments like you would lubrication, breeding season like the first step in an assembly line, and marketing like the delivery of finished goods.' - Hog Farm Management (USA).
Due to the harsh, unnatural conditions these sensitive intelligent creatures must suffer, pigs are literally driven mad. The resultant neurotic behaviour includes the chewing of bars and chains, waving their heads back and forth, and trying to bite off each other's tails. The pork production engineer's solution to the latter problem is to cut off their tails. Tail-docking is performed when the pig is two days old without pain relief. After the procedure, which causes the piglets severe pain, their rear end bleeds profusely. Often unqualified farm hands perform tasks such as giving iron injections, tail-docking and teeth clipping - another procedure which is performed two days after birth without anaesthetic causing extensive bleeding, sometimes death.
Stalls at some piggeries are coated with lime to help prevent scour (diarrhoea). The lime frequently comes into contact with the animals sensitive skin, irritating the sows' udders and causing the piglets skin to peel. It is not uncommon for piglets to die from this condition.
A number of piggeries have also become notorious for their physical abuse of animals - treatment which ranges from the kicking of sows in the udder to transfer them to farrowing crates, to beating them with iron bars. (Publishers Note: Recent examples of inhumane treatment of pigs by the meat industry caused the closing down of a slaughter house in New South Wales, Australia. The graphic clip can be found on page two of The Real Life of Babe.)
"The sow had been beaten and was bleeding from one eye. Her back was lacerated, bruised and bleeding. She was in a stressful, terrified state and was breathing rapidly. Over the next two weeks I observed the sow. She lost the sight of her injured eye.'
`There was a sow...which was lame in the back legs. The handler tried to move her by kicking her to the hind quarters and head. The sow tried frantically to move but with limited success. She was screaming. He was swearing. He then got in front of her and began pulling and twisting her ears, swearing at her and becoming increasingly frustrated, and the sow more and more distressed. He then kicked her in the head and swore again. He walked off and came back with a steel hook used to drag dead pigs. He put the hook up the sow's vagina and dragged her. She screamed and tried desperately to move. This lasted 30 seconds until the sow reached a position where she wasn't in his way. I later checked her and she was bleeding from the vagina.'
(Quotes from former employee of a piggery who reported this animal abuse to AL.)
Piglets who are not kept for breeding purposes are slaughtered at six months of age. To keep them inactive, which helps to reduce feed costs, these baby pigs live their short lives in small, wire cages in semi-darkness. Their deaths often as barbaric as their short lives have been. Pigs require stunning from seven to ten seconds to ensure death or unconsciousness before being processed - boiled, cured, cut up and sold. However, due to the pressures of time and profit, many animals are only stunned for two to three seconds so live, conscious young pigs are dropped into vats of boiling water - a process used to soften their skin and help remove their bristles. As a result the animals drown or boiled alive, screaming in fear and agony, until eventually silenced by death.
This accent on profit to the exclusion of compassion has also led to other intensive farming developments - the transgenic pig. Through improved breeding stock and technological advances in genetics, drug and hormone treatments, this poor "designer" pig is said to grow fifteen percent faster and produce flesh with a lower fat content. The term `new-fashioned pork' to the development of a `new-fashioned pig', but whatever technology has helped shape the transgenic pig, it still has the same capacity for fear and pain, despite how profitable it may be for the pig producer. Although these pigs will effect a quicker turnover and thus increased profits, scientists involved in the creation (or mutation) of this new type of pig `regret' that these animals suffer from abnormalities including arthritis, lack of co-ordination in the legs and susceptibility to stress.
Crammed in stalls and frequently forced against their own nature to stand in their own excrement, pigs are fed a diet that often features their own manure, along with drugs to induce faster growth and deal with stress-related illnesses. These farming methods do not make for a healthy or ethical ingredient to the human diet. We have sold our integrity for the price of our taste buds and the almighty dollar.
`The animal world is a manifestation of God's power, and demands respect and consideration. The desire to kill animals, unnecessary harshness and callous cruelty towards them, must always be condemned.' - Pope Pius the Twelfth
Pictured below, a Happy Ending For Some Pigs, rescued from factory farming to live out their lives in a loving, and healthy environment.
is as dear to the mute creature as it is to a man. Just as one wants
happiness and fears pain, just as one wants to live and not to die,
so do other creatures.” - Dalai Lama - The Vegetarian Way, 1967.
to hurt our humble brethren is our first duty to them, but to stop
there is not enough. We have a higher mission—to be of service
to them wherever they require it.”—Francis of Assisi
“Animals are God’s creatures. He surrounds them with his
providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give
him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness
with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated
animals.”—Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 2416
For more info on slaughterhouse techniques,check out "The Ethics of
What We Eat" by Peter Singer and Jim Mason or "Introduction to Animal
Rights" by Gary Francione.
Most of us are fortunate enough to be spared the look of what happens in a slaughterhouse; but worse are the sounds of fear and pain, and the smell of death and agony. Those who spend their time working in these places obviously can become hardened to the suffering of animals, and maybe even hardened to blood and death. (Investigations into the percentage of murderers and cruelty cases and their current, or previous, occupations, has revealed an alarmingly high (but not surprising) percentage who have worked in the slaughter-side of the meat industry!)
Despite the marketing that animals that die for our food, die relatively painlessly, most do not die an instantaneous death. Animals have their throat cut, and are bled to death, as too much blood can "spoil" the meat. It is cheaper to have the animal's heart pump the blood from it's body, then draw the blood out using mechanical means when it is dead.
Many conventional slaughterhouses require stunning the animal before slaughter, except for chickens which are given no pain relief. Chickens are hung upside down by their legs on a conveyor belt, taking them past a blade which is designed to cut off their head...if they are the right size! Any chicken which is too small or too large will meet "messier" fates, though the first option is messy enough. Large birds end up being sliced through the rib cage instead.
Following being sliced alive, the birds are run through tubs of scalding water to soften the feathers to make them easier to remove. Any that have not yet bled to death will be scalded and drown to death. Killed slowly while hanging upside down hardly sounds humane. Is their great suffering worth it for the sake of our taste buds, when there are so many delicious and healthy alternatives? I'm sure the animal would be comforted to know it suffered for a "good cause" - profit and dining; but of course it is only a dumb animal raised for food, so why should we care?
As for larger animals like pigs, sheep, cattle and others, their stunning involves complex machinery in the best cases, and more rudimentary methods in the older style operations. The more complex methods involve electrical charges, and in some cases this is fully automated. Other methods include what is called a captive bolt gun. If you've seen the film "No country for old men" that is what the serial killer uses. Basically it is a tube connected to a canister of pressurized air which fires a metal bolt through the tube. It is designed so the bolt doesn't fly out of the tube altogether like a bullet, it only protrudes about 4-5cm before it can go no further. The idea is to fracture the skull and cause severe brain damage to the animal which will stun it. After this the animal is bled to death.
However in religious slaughter such as for Halal (Muslim) and Kosher (Hebrew) meats they do not use this technique. In many cases the animal is provided with no stunning whatsoever, but there are campaigns by some prominent Muslims such as Princess Alia of Jordan to have electrical stunning recognized as fitting in with their laws of religious slaughter.
Whatever meat is eaten, death is obviously required. Humane methods are important, and obviously our approach in keeping and killing most of the *24 billion animals that die for our dinner tables each year, does not afford the respect an animal that gives up its life for our dining pleasure, should be given.
*24 Billion is a conservative estimate and does not include the animals that are caught and killed for food which are not farmed. For example in 2009, 20 billion sea creatures were caught and killed for food in the US alone. Hardly surprising that scientists have estimated that our oceans will be empty of fish and other oceanic food sources within the next fifty years, unless we change our approach from taking so much from the oceans that it cannot replenish its stocks. No wonder shark attacks are going up. They, like all other sea creatures, haven't enough food to eat.