Every nation-state is built around an altar; ours is no different. But I am not sure what to think about altared states of being: the bull that turned into a god in the ancient Near East, the Mesoamerican serpent demanding that the whole world shed its skin. Like so many moderns, I prefer the living with their claws and hooves, their manes and humps and barbs, their scales, their feathers. When I eat them, it is not for power. At most I might sketch their shadows, I might dream of trading colors for a world of scent. I have no ambition to don a theurgist’s cloak or wield a jewel-encrusted letter-opener to read a supposed message from another supposed world: this one’s enough. To suck the marrow yet would be too much. I don’t taste half of what I eat.