Poison in the home

Today, the cats are not at home, nor are the humans.  We’re poisoning our home.

Dusk, left, and his older sister Dawn.

We brought home two sweet and darling kittens in October, in part to soothe the pain of having my cat Myrlyn disappear without a trace back in June, and in part because opening our home to little furry ones is what we do.

Those darling little kitties were simply infested with fleas, and all the natural remedies we tried to kill the buggers were completely unsuccessful.  Sure, we killed and combed out bunches of them, but they breed so much faster than we could remove them that it was an impossible battle.

We’ve had only partial success with Frontline, and we weren’t eager to try it on the little ones anyway, so the problem wasn’t going away.  So today, we packed up all four cats and carted them off for a flea bath, and set off toxic flea bombs to destroy the ones hiding in the nooks and crannies.

. . . and he was never seen again.

I have mixed feelings about this.  Fleas are an intolerable pest.  It’s cruel to allow our cats to suffer from an infestation.  I haven’t seen it yet, but I know that they’re more than happy to bite humans when they’re hungry, as well.  Even more concerning to me than getting a few bites is the possibility of them infesting my dreadlocks.  They may have evolved to coexist with fur-bearing mammals, but fleas in the home is simply unacceptable.

But harsh chemical treatments don’t come without a price.  My cats have had some pretty bad experiences with conventional medical care.  
  • Myrlyn was a victim of vaccinosis, brought on by my ignorant belief that repeatedly injecting him with rabies vaccines was a good idea.  It wasn’t – he became more aggressive, developed irritation at the vaccination site, and over time changed from a sweet a loving animal to one that was unpredictable and extremely temperamental. I’ve been extremely skeptical of shooting up a pet with this crap ever since I watched his struggles; I really feel like I failed him.
  • Peregrine had his own issues with conventional medicine.  He had to be intubated for some extreme oral care, and he spent weeks in respiratory distress after the procedure.  It got so bad that this loving and affectionate cat was avoiding contact with humans, because purring was triggering the attacks.  We were powerless to help him.  Even now, years later, he occasionally has coughing and huffing fits.
So my cats are all getting this toxic bath, which means that they’re all getting vaccines which I think are a terrible idea, and some of them may even get sedated.  I don’t think it’s a good idea, but I don’t know what else to do.
There has got to be a better way.

Embracing orthopraxy

or·tho·prax·y

 [awr-thuh-prak-see]  Show IPA

noun

1.

correctness or orthodoxy of action or practice.

I encountered this word in the book Kharis: Hellenic Polytheism Explored, an excellent resource for Hellenismos.  The definition above uses its antonym, so let me give it a stab:  orthopraxy is the idea of following correct action, while orthodoxy focuses on correct belief.

Home altar to Poseidon

The idea that doing the right things is more important than believing the right beliefs is reassuring to those of us who find that the gods aren’t always super forthcoming about their intentions.  If your gods want you to believe a certain way but don’t tell you right out, that can lead to stress.  If, on the other hand, your gods want you to behave in a certain way, well that can be a pretty helpful road map.

Here’s an example of orthopraxy:  I set up a shrine to Poseidon at home.  Making offerings to the gods (my gods, anyway) is proper behavior, and having an altar makes it a lot easier.  I’ve actually had an altar to Poseidon for some months now, but the wreath and Poseidon bust are new additions, and they definitely help keep my orthopraxy sound.  In fact, when I received the wreath, I was told that they “have a way of reminding you” to do the right thing.

And yes, because I must care for the wreath, I also tend to the altar (which is also an act of devotion in Hellenismos), and it’s not easy to dust and clean without wanting to make an offering or at the very least thinking about the god or gods the altar is consecrated to.

So to me, orthopraxy is about establishing habits, and orthodoxy is about establishing rules.  Neither one is going to give a full answer to the unknowable question of “why?”  That answer comes from faith and a relationship with the gods.  Both orthodoxy and orthopraxy can make it easier to get to that answer, though; for me, the habits of orthopraxy are just an easier tool than the rules of orthdoxy.