Sunday, October 3, 2010

What's So Spiritual About Chickens?

My newest book, Zen and the Art of Raising Chickens: The Way of Hen comes out October 31, 2010. The book examines the renewed popularity of urban and suburban chicken ownership, and delves into how hen keeping can actually be a part of a spiritual life. It sounds silly  - and believe me, there is a lot of silliness about chickens - but when I looked more deeply at the reasons for the backyard chicken movement, I found a depth and meaning not immediately obvious.

People keep chickens in their backyards for sentimental reasons, or because they just like chickens. Raising one's own flock helps one become a little bit more self sufficient. Collecting a few brown eggs every day feels earthy and good. Given the price of free-range organic eggs, raising your own saves a little money. But the desire to keep hens goes beyond these reasons, too, or perhaps over time keeping chickens becomes more than that.

Raising birds in the backyard brings us right up close with the cycle of life. A chicken is a pet that offers us food, nourishing us both emotionally as all pets do and physically, just as we nourish them through our feeding and care. A small flock of farm animals juxtaposed with the bustle of city or suburban life offers hope, that we can have it all, that we are not bound by historical ways of thinking and categorizing, and that we can change. Keeping chickens is also a fun project, and embracing joy and simplicity are key parts of spiritual living.

Do you keep hens or know someone who does? Have you always dreamed of having your own chickens? What have you learned from hen keeping?

2 comments:

Moonroot said...

How strange - I wrote along these same lines on my blog a couple of years ago. The post is here:
http://moonroot.blogspot.com/2008/03/paganism-and-art-of-poultry-keeping.html

Clea Danaan said...

Lovely, moonroot! Thank you.