In earlier times, people understood their connection with animals to be a spiritual principle. The original stories about the sacredness of all life can be found on walls of caves and temples and the first ancient writings. This original knowledge still exists in the basic writings of world religions and philosophies. Yet, virtually no Western religion today teaches its adherents how to practice compassion toward all species and how to protect the natural world.

What happened?

Could misinterpretation of the religions’ texts, and an incomplete understanding of the meaning of spirituality be why the human species continues to cause pain and anxiety upon the other animal world -- as shown by unnecessary animal experimentation, inhumane slaughtering methods, using animals in “sport” and entertainment, and the wanton destruction of animals who live in the wild.

What happened?

When and why did the other animals become invisible in our spiritual adventure? Why did we place ourselves over and above all other animals in some sort of hierarchal system? Did the separation come about simply because of our material wants and needs? Or, are there reasons that we have yet to imagine -- beyond religion, science, and history?

What happened?

Thursday, December 12, 2013



    Take a look at the worldwide December celebrations posted by Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia found on Google.  There are probably more events not on the list, but you get the idea.  For the most part, the events have some sort of cultural-spiritual theme. The celebrations come with food, music, dancing, shopping, laughter, gifts, and sometimes prayers for a better new year.  The worldly secular, humanists and skeptics have their celebrations too! (Scroll down) Yes, there’s something for everybody to celebrate the last month of the year (except the animals).

    Advent: four weeks prior to Christmas (Western Christianity).
    Chalica: A holiday created in 2005, in the first full week in December, celebrated by some Unitarian Universalists.
    Saint Nicholas' Day: 6 December
    Bodhi Day: 8 December - Day of Enlightenment, celebrating the day that the historical Buddha (Shakyamuni or Siddhartha Gautama) experienced enlightenment (also known as Bodhi).
    Saint Lucy's Day: 13 December - Church Feast Day. Saint Lucy comes as a young woman with lights and sweets.
    Winter Solstice: 21 December-22 December – midwinter
    Hanukkah: Starting on 25 Kislev (Hebrew) or various dates in November or December (Gregorian) - eight-day festival commemorating the miracle of the oil after the desecration of the Temple by  Antiochus IV Epiphanes in 165 BCE.
    Dongzhi Festival - a celebration of Winter
    Soyal: 21 December - Zuni and Hopi
    Yalda: 21 December - Shabe Yaldā or Shabe Chelle is an Iranian festival celebrating the victory of light and goodness over darkness and evil. Shabe yalda means 'birthday eve.'  According to Persian mythology, Mithra was born at dawn on the 22nd of December to a virgin mother.
    Mōdraniht: or Mothers' Night, the Saxon winter solstice festival.
    Saturnalia: the Roman winter solstice festival
    Pancha Ganapati: Five-day festival in honor of Lord Ganesha. December 21–25.
    Christmas Eve: 24 December through Dec. 25 Christmas Day.  Celebrating the birth of Jesus the Christ.
    Dies Natalis Solis Invicti (The birth of the Unconquered Sun): late Roman Empire - 25 December
    Twelve Days of Christmas: 25 December through 6 January
    YulePagan festival celebrated by historic Germanic people from late December to early January.
    Anastasia of Sirmium Feast Day: 25 December
    Boxing Day: 26 December - Gift-giving day after Christmas.
    Kwanzaa: 26 December - 1 January - Pan-African festival celebrated in North America
    Saint Stephen's Day: 26 December
    Saint John the Evangelist's Day: 27 December
    Holy Innocents' Day: 28 December
    Saint Sylvester's Day: 31 December
    Watch Night: 31 December
    New Year's Eve: 31 December - Last day of the Gregorian year
    Hogmanay: Night of 31 December - Before dawn of 1 January - Scottish New Year's Eve
    Sikh Guru Gobind Singh Gurpurab: birthday of the Guru Gobind Singh, generally falls on December.
    Slavic  Old New Year includes a winter ritual of strolling and singing that was later incorp. Into Christmas.
    Secular Celebrations:
    Zamenhof Day: 15 December - Birthday of Ludwig Zamenhof, inventor of Esperanto; holiday reunion for Esperantists
    HumanLight: 23 December - Humanist holiday originated by the New Jersey Humanist Network in celebration of "a Humanist's vision of a good future." [5]
    Newtonmas: 25 December - As an alternative to celebrating the religious holiday Christmas, some atheists, skeptics, and other non-believers have chosen to celebrate December 25 as Newtonmas, due to it being Isaac Newton's birthday on the old style date.
    Constitution of the Republic of China (Taiwan): 25 December - a national holiday

                How many newscasts report the suffering and losses experienced by the animals that live with us and in the wild?  How many stories about the loss of people's pets in a deadly storm have been published? Does the reporter sympathize with the deer running from a “sportsman” during the hunting season?  Do the media report about  billions of chimpanzees, monkeys, rabbits, rats, mice, birds, dogs, cats, pigs being experimented on (tortured) annually for the cosmetic and soap and research and military industries…?  I could go on and on. 

          But it’s Christmas, you know…  It’s December and time to celebrate.  
    Celebrate the media sources that do tell the animals’ stories, and remind the public that there is a vast network of life sharing the planet with us. Thank you, Animal Planet, PBS, Discovery Channel, Science and History channels. Time to celebrate those who care about the lives of the other animals and are doing something about it.

                Celebrate the filmmakers who produce thoughtful documentaries about the plight of animals.  I highly recommend two powerful films.  Don’t miss:

    THE LION ARK (Jan Creamer, producer, and directed by Tim Phillips)‎  

    THE AMERICAN MUSTANG (Ellie Phipps Price, producer, and directed by Monty Miranda)


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About the Author

After spending several years in Public Relations initiating and organizing award-winning multi-state community relations projects on behalf of a global telecommunications company, Judith Hensel has written her first fictional book, THE QUESTION. “What Happened to the Animal-Human Spiritual Connection?” The book is a fantasy about characters created out of real life people who join the animals in an imaginary setting to find the answer to their question. Among articles published about the book’s premises, one article “Evolving in a Conscious Universe,” was published in QUEST, international Theosophical Journal in 2003; and inspired the magazine’s content theme. As former Associate Professor of Art and Humanities, St. Xavier University, Chicago, she received numerous awards as an artist and teacher including special recognition by the Associated Press and the Governor of Illinois. She wrote and directed two critically acclaimed rock operas, “Hosanna!” and “Taproot” performed by student talent as well as talent from across the Chicago region to sell-out audiences. Her artwork is in several private collections in Australia, the Netherlands, New York, Illinois, California, Colorado and Wisconsin; and for several years was available at the Art Institute of Chicago rental gallery. She holds the MSA in Painting and Graphics, University of Wisconsin; and the MA in Communications/Television Production, University of Illinois-Chicago Campus.

Paintings by the author.