6 January 2023

Orpheus and the Animals, circa 1600. Copyright ©Museo Nacional del Prado. Image downloaded from the Image Bank of the Museo del Prado and reprinted from Main Street Vegan and All-Creatures.


Savage Din, Soft Lyre and the Call of Wild Natures

Karen Davis

The wild mountaintops shake with running feet. The alarm of cymbal, pipe, flute and drum echoes throughout. The chase is on. The huntsmen roar by, animal-masked to resemble the beasts who fly helter-skelter before them, the beasts of primeval sacrifice – tiger, lynx, panther, roebuck, wolf, bear, and bull. With these men are the Maenads, the Raving Women who, entwined with snakes, and clad in fawnskins, had earlier suckled at their own breasts the young of the frantic creatures they now harry down the mountainsides. The hunt ends with the pursuers tearing to pieces the living prey, devouring them in mouthfuls on the spot. This is the primordial Feast of Raw Flesh, in honour of the god Dionysus, the “eater of raw meat.”

On Mount Pangaion not far away, music fills the air, enchanting the woods and streams. No savage din makes the wild beasts’ hearts pound or sends them fleeing in all directions. Instead the soft lyre, accompanied by a singing voice, emits a music so pure and sweet that hearing it, the birds, beasts, snakes and even fishes converge irresistibly towards the musician. They do not dread to be part of the charmed circle that surrounds him. For they know, this is no blood-stained hunter or wild mountain god luring them to destruction. It is Orpheus, mystic healer, poet and teacher, whose custom each morning is to greet the sun, whose vision embraces the earth and sky. Orpheus rejects the blood sacrifice and the Feast of Flesh (raw or cooked). He and his followers take only a gentle nourishment and cultivate the arts of peace.

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The Trumpeter

The Trumpeter is an environmental humanities journal dedicated to the development of an ecosophy, or wisdom born of ecological understanding and insight.

This article was published in 1990, the year before United Poultry Concerns was established as a 501©3 nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl.

The Trumpeter

The Call of the Wild is in Their Hearts, Too!

KAREN DAVIS, PhD is the President and Founder of United Poultry Concerns, a nonprofit organization that promotes the compassionate and respectful treatment of domestic fowl including a sanctuary for chickens in Virginia. Inducted into the National Animal Rights Hall of Fame for Outstanding Contributions to Animal Liberation, Karen is the author of numerous books, essays, articles and campaigns. Her latest book is For the Birds - From Exploitation to Liberation: Essays on Chickens, Turkeys, and Other Domesticated Fowl published by Lantern Publishing & Media. Karen hosts a biweekly podcast series titled Thinking Like a Chicken -- News & View.