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Witchcraft and Cultural Appropriation (Context: Shamanism)


ArcticWitch

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I often refer to Cultural Appropriation [CA] via sarcastic observation ("Oh look, another tequila-drunk gringo acting like Cinco de Mayo is important to them"), or respond with eye-rolling at how politically correct the developed world has become (a buddy back in college was tongue-lashed by a classmate because he smoked weed out of a Native American peace pipe).

 

However, I'm increasingly finding myself confused about how CA factors into witchcraft.  I initially find myself drawn to the lore and traditions of the lands that are now the United Kingdom: either I'm subconsciously influenced by knowledge of my ancestry from that region, or simply drawn to the overall culture.  However, I'm becoming aware that my Path may indeed have some heavy shamanistic influences, and I'm hesitant to get involved in the practice because any link to it would have been practiced by a small fraction of my bloodline.  Obviously, this is as much an issue of personal ethics as it is about exploring my Path- but that niggling little voice asks just how constructive it could be for a Caucasian witch swimming in an already-questionable concoction of Southern American folk, Scottish sea, and Inuit witchcraft to "try out" the more-demanding practices inherent to shamanism.

 

I'm curious about:

- If your Path introduces you to a tradition far beyond the scope of your blood or cultural heritage, do cultural associations fall away and you recognize it All as drawing from and/or being part of the same Current?  Or do you view it as one primary Current with many "tributaries" (i.e.- witchcraft traditions, cultures) with access only given to those accepted and/or invited?

- An obvious "solution" is to research such traditions as much as possible, whether academically, meditatively, or otherwise.  In my case, I personally perceive shamanism to be more "hardcore"- I don't need to go into a fully altered state to cast a healing spell or divine from a deck of playing cards.  Because such a pronounced disconnect from reality is needed needed for this Practice, it would seem prudent to me that embarking on such a Path would require the guidance of another shaman, for both education as well as protection.  But what if such a person (or correlating spirit guide) was unavailable?

- Lastly, if you did make the decision to embrace a Path that utilizes traditions you have zero ancestral link to, how did it go?  Do you feel good/bad/indifferent about the choice?

 

[Disclaimer: It's ridiculous that I feel the need to say this, but with how often my posts are inferred incorrectly (sigh!), I do feel it's appropriate to point out that I'm not asking for input about IF I should participate in shamanism and/or practice cultural appropriate in witchcraft.  Just asking for others' views on the topic.  Thanks.]

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As far as I know, I do not have any blood ties to any cultures of a Mesopotamian or North African origin yet I am frequently drawn to and reminded of how powerfully I am affected by the music, languages, artwork, and architecture of the region.  Simply seeing a picture of the Ziggurat of Ur beckons to some unknown latency that shudders within my bones, as though some unknown spirit ancestor of long ago is drawing me to lands of sand and dessication.  I once visited the desert regions of North America and did not want to return home, especially with the combination of my ancestral native blood and the scorching dry atmosphere --both quite prevalent there.  I have no real explanation why I am drawn so readily to the sands of the deserts, or to the old cultures of the Sumerians, Babylonians, Hebrews, Egyptians, etc. but I take it as a sign that one day I should visit the region for an undetermined period of time--ideally in a State that isn't a complete religiously violent clusterfuck like most of them are.  I have looked into visiting either Turkey or Morrocco but they aren't my targets in truth.  I would love to explore the back dunes of Syria and Iraq like the traders in caravans of old....perhaps there is a reason why they have been such unstable regions for all this time---I believe there is some strange thing which draws humanity to this region--violently.  "Holy lands" or not, I am likely equally fascinated by the Middle East as a whole as those who have religious interest in it.

 

My best guess about this is that my ancestral spirit line reaches much further into the annals of time than I can really tap into.  The furthest I can see in the old world is the old Germanic and Nordic pieces of my soul.  Maybe one day I will be able to reach even further into the ages and retrieve what it is that beckons me to the sand.  Until then...books are nice.  I'd love to be able to read Akkadian.

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There is cultural appropriation, and then there is cultural misappropriation.  Only you can decide where to draw the line.  

 

It's safe to say that many traditions have gone global.  That's as far as I can address this subject on this board...this is obviously a very sensitive subject, and I am not subtle :)

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Guest monsnoleedra

There is cultural appropriation, and then there is cultural misappropriation.  Only you can decide where to draw the line.  

 

It's safe to say that many traditions have gone global.  That's as far as I can address this subject on this board...this is obviously a very sensitive subject, and I am not subtle :smile:

 

 

Have to agree.  It descends into a very touchy discussion real quick like.  Sad part is each party insists they are correct in their usage and right to connect to the divine.  As such unable or unwilling to acknowledge cultural, social, ethnic, etc boundaries and what is appropriation, misappropriation and everything in between. 

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I agree mostly.  People like Aleister Crowley (although I genuinely enjoy his writings) and other new agey type beliefs are often a result of people bastardizing the cultural beliefs that are not their own.  I think there is some great tragedy in this, such as how the aboriginal Americans and their various cultural systems have been morphed, changed, spit out, spit on, and formed into some sort of "catch all" system of animism in the new age circles.  There are serious reasons why small cultural villages across the world do not share their beliefs with outsiders and this is one of them.  I know very little about the original belief systems of my ancestors here other than a handful of folklore that is familial and what I can read about...reading about it doesn't necessarily make it so though.

 

Nothing wrong with Americans getting wasted on Cinco de Mayo IMO, but the real tragedy is how many people don't even have any reverence for our own American Independence Day.  It's not a day just for barbeques and fireworks, it is set aside in remembrance of the day our forefathers decided to be kingless...and blood was spilled to achieve it.  That in itself is another form of cultural misappropriation.

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Capsicum, I totally agree with you! I stick with my families tradition exclusively and very guarded about everything within it. I believe in secrecy. Here in this forum I open up a little about it but for me to open up more it comes down to trust. I'm not saying that anybody here is not trust worthy. I just have to get to know people better :smile:  I agree that alot of traditions have been twisted,changed and sugar coated by alot of new age morons! Sorry if that sounds harsh but it something that really pisses me off.

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As far as I know, I do not have any blood ties to any cultures of a Mesopotamian or North African origin yet I am frequently drawn to and reminded of how powerfully I am affected by the music, languages, artwork, and architecture of the region. 

---

I find that same connection with the widely varying cultures of the "in between" region curving from Alexandria to Turkey and north to the Urals, essentially separating the East from the West.  I share your impression that hearing or seeing aspects of those cultures stirs something latent, perhaps ancient, deep inside.

 

There is cultural appropriation, and then there is cultural misappropriation.  Only you can decide where to draw the line.  

 

It's safe to say that many traditions have gone global.  That's as far as I can address this subject on this board...this is obviously a very sensitive subject, and I am not subtle :smile:

 

---

I have a vague idea of where I draw the line for myself, but the point of this post was that I'm curious where others draw the line.  Globalization, specifically in regards to cultural spiritual practices, is where my curiosity lies.  It seems many are gun-shy to discuss this topic at length, which I find rather disappointing.  It would seem this forum has tackled more sensitive issues with a great deal of respect in the past.

 

 

I agree mostly.  People like Aleister Crowley (although I genuinely enjoy his writings) and other new agey type beliefs are often a result of people bastardizing the cultural beliefs that are not their own.  I think there is some great tragedy in this, such as how the aboriginal Americans and their various cultural systems have been morphed, changed, spit out, spit on, and formed into some sort of "catch all" system of animism in the new age circles.  There are serious reasons why small cultural villages across the world do not share their beliefs with outsiders and this is one of them.  I know very little about the original belief systems of my ancestors here other than a handful of folklore that is familial and what I can read about...reading about it doesn't necessarily make it so though.

 

Nothing wrong with Americans getting wasted on Cinco de Mayo IMO, but the real tragedy is how many people don't even have any reverence for our own American Independence Day.  It's not a day just for barbeques and fireworks, it is set aside in remembrance of the day our forefathers decided to be kingless...and blood was spilled to achieve it.  That in itself is another form of cultural misappropriation.

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Caps, I think you've hit the nail on the head, my friend!  It's when one takes another culture's long-held beliefs- then bastardizes and promotes them for their own benefit, with total disrespect for the originating culture- that careens into 'cultural misappropriation' territory.

 

I don't have a problem with Americans getting wasted on any day, holiday or not...I just get irritated that Euro-Americans feel entitled to celebrate holidays with deep significance to other cultures, all as an excuse to get drunk and party.

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If you are honest with yourself, I think you will realize that everyone on this planet is related if you go back far enough.  We all share the same air, water, and earth, and we are all the same race.  I think a lot of problems can arise from people trying to pretend they are different from the person in front of them.  All of our DNA is almost exactly the same.  

 

That said - I greatly enjoy experiencing unique cultures, and if a culture wants to protect itself and preserve itself in some way, I respect that and greatly appreciate it.  However, I also find the anthropological attempt to preserve cultures that arent theirs to be demeaning and patronizing.  The idea of the "noble savage" I find especially patronizing, as if Indians didnt sometimes destroy their own ecosystems or have incredibly horrible warfare, slavery, and human sacrifice sometimes.  I think the "noble savage" is a good example of how we view other people as different then us, when they are really our brothers and sisters.  As much as people might try, it is unreasonable to think that things will always stay how they are, or that human nature is going to suddenly change - for our entire history, we have fought for land and resources, we have learned from each other, and we have changed again and again.

 

Throughout history, all cultures have constantly learned from each other and adopted the customs or ideas, or technology of other cultures.  This is a natural process, and we only hurt ourselves if we deny progress because another culture thought of it first.  Ever eat potatoes?  Well, you are appropriating Peruvian culture I guess, but who really cares?  Potatoes are probably more associated with Irish people now, but fact is, they are recent to Europe, but people figured out how to make potatoes non-toxic in Peru thousands of years ago.  When tomatoes came to Europe, people thought they were a deadly nightshade, until a famine in Italy led to people learning tomatoes are awesome - and now the Peruvians are culturally appropriating the Italians every time they eat a tomato!  When will the appropriation end!

 

I'm Jewish, but my peoples culture comes from a mix of Egyptian influences, Canaanite influences, Vedic influences, Tibetan and Turkish influences, Greek and Roman influences - because it is impossible for a culture to not be effected by other cultures it contacts!  All contact rubs off at least a little bit!  So, even if I only stick to my "families heritage" (as opposed to the heritage of all human beings), I am really still stealing from many cultures I never had contact with (I have never been to Egypt or Greece or any of the other places that effected Jewish culture).

 

I do a lot of traveling lately, and most of it is in Peru with indigenous peoples.  Mostly I work with Shipibo indians and Q'ero indians, as well as some mestizos (mixed decent).  These natives draw from western culture as much as we draw from theirs.  They wear mostly western clothing, they drive motorcycles, they drink soda if they can afford it, they eat rice from Asia and sell us their Quinoa.  Some of them can afford ipods or TV's to watch soccer on.  They also get some awesome stuff from us: like medicine, soap, and all the other important things most of us take for granted.  Soap especially is incredibly important and helpful for people who havent had it before - it can save many many lives for them.  

 

When I travel - the Q'ero and Shipibo love to share their culture with others.  It is actually what keeps them alive and allows them to preserve some part of their culture.  It does alter their culture in some ways, but why should the religions and practices of some people get to change while other people have to keep their exactly the same?  Fact is, all cultures and practices evolve with time, and this doesnt mean they are getting "watered down."  It means they are changing to fit the times and the people.  So these natives will gladly teach me their practice, and it not only helps me greatly, but I always try to give back - not just in cash, but in other ways too (recently I helped install outdoor bathrooms at a Q'ero village that has never had any - they were extremely grateful, and this will probably save lives for them).  But here at home, people may sometimes try to tell me it isnt okay for me to learn and practice these techniques the Q'ero freely taught me - they cant decide for themselves, because someone else knows whats best for them apparently.  

 

Surprisingly, the local customs taught to me by the Q'ero are incredibly similar to how my Jewish family practiced their spirituality as well.  Almost like seeing my families faith in the past.  Both cultures worship God through nature, both revere mountain spirits above all, and both work with nature spirits.  Both have many different classes of spirit they work with.  Both use smudging, dreams, visions, fasting, sacred baths, calling in the directions, long prayers and conjurations, respect for the dead , offerings ect.....  But even though my family used to do these things, I am misappropriating culture if I do them now, because my family does them less often or something?  Doesnt make a lot of sense to me....

 

Really, overall, I greatly believe in respecting and preserving cultures that want to be preserved.  When I travel, I try to participate in the local culture and not rub off to much if I can help it.  At the same time, I know that it is only natural for people to learn from each other, and everyone is my brother and sister if we go far enough back, so I dont feel guilty when a native teaches me something, or if anyone else teaches me something for that matter!  We shouldnt single people or groups out - if we treat each other as equals, I think we will get along better.

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To add to the above post:  I dont think it is cool when people mis-represent other cultures (similar to the "noble savage" idea) while claiming to be "traditional".  It is okay to be eclectic, but just be honest abut your eclecticness!  Taking the above Crowley example: he would teach about "Traditional Jewish Kabbalah", but all his teachings were made up, and nothing like Jewish Kabbalah.  At this point, I dont think it is right to misrepresent other cultures and teach bogus shit about them that isnt true.  This just seems disrespectful and ignorant to me.  I spent a good while trying to deprogram all the stupid Theosophical Society and Golden Dawn bullshit, which I originally thought was accurate....  I think people should be honest about their influences, and be honest when they draw from other cultures, but also be honest when they are adding something or changing something.  If you are influenced by Jewish Kabbalah, but teach your own style, that is fine, but dont call it "Traditional" Jewish Kabbalah - state your influence, and also state that this is your own interpretation, and maybe not traditional.  

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In my opinion, cultural appropriation to some extent is okay, as long as it is done out of a genuine drive to learn and understand, but in general I tend to think that one should focus primarily on their own ancestral/cultural backgrounds. But if for some reason, a strong affinity with "the foreign" keeps calling it cannot be ignored and is worth investigating. 

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Carrying Travsha's example a little further: I just finished an "Introduction to Curanderismo" course (and am finishing reading their "recommended reading" list). Curanderismo is "native" healing of Mexico, and some parts of Central & South America. (And due to the huge Hispanic population, the southwestern US, as well.) "Native" is really a subjective term. Speaking only of Mexico, when the Spanish invaded & overtook that country, they pretty much destroyed what the Aztec & Nahuatl peoples had done in the area of medicine - including a 700 (?) acre medicinal garden (memory's a little fuzzy on the size). That said, they learned a lot from the native healers, taking some plants & remedies (including bathing with soap) with them back to Spain. 

 

Curanderismo isn't just herbal healing. They have their own version of chiropractic and cupping. There's what might be considered magic in it, too. (Although not "bad" magic, you understand. That's brujeria.) They smudge; they pass an egg over the body & after breaking it open, read the yolk/white mixture; they put specific stuff on altars; and they pray...

 

Now ... before Cortez, I seriously doubt their prayers would've included Jesus or any of the other saints they currently pray to. (Although the folks saints - the ones not officially recognized by the Church? Maybe.) Since the Spanish took herbs & healing practices back to Europe & the Mexicans now pray to the Christian god & saints, who's to say who appropriated what?

 

My personal opinion is that our world is a melting pot. I know where my immediate ancestors came from, but that's only 7 generations back (on one side - haven't done the other). Where did their ancestors come from? If I feel a pull in one direction or another, chances are it's that tiny bit of my DNA from that part of the world that's leading me there. Am I going to claim it's my tradition? No, because I don't know for certain, I just have a feeling. But that's enough for me.

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Where I study in Peru, they also call the healing practice curanderismo (curar is latin for "heal" I think).  A lot of it was protected by the impossible stretches of dangerous and difficult wilderness in the high Andes and deep Amazon (still many "contacted" people to this day).  

 

I know what you mean by melting pot though....  I could not tell you where many of my ancestors originated from.  On the flip side, some of my family is from Russia, which is where Siberia is located.  Since shamanism first developed in Siberia, does that mean all other shamanic cultures are appropriating my people?  Even though I am white, and I am probably in turn appropriating them as well?  A giant circle of appropriation?  Especially if Siberians crossed the Pacific during a past ice -age to populate the Americas in the first place (not to mention: Where did those Siberians first come from?)...  

 

If homo sapiens have lived here on this rock for 200,000 years, it might be a little hard to say where any individual peoples really came from....  Just think of how much has happened in the last 500 years with expansion into the Americas, or the last 4-5000 years with the "onset" of civilization....  And all that is only a tiny fraction of our history.

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Interestingly, one of the main tribes I work with, the Q'ero, who have had almost no contact with the modern world till recently, often say that the future caretakers and shamans will be from the Western world.  I have heard a number of them echo this sentiment.  I dont know whether or not they are right, but it is interesting to hear this perspective from them, and I think it is part of why they are so happy to pass on their knowledge to others.  With only a few hundred living Q'ero, their traditions are in danger of extinction, and I think especially when they returned to the modern world recently, and so many people thought they were all ready extinct, it was kind of a wake up call for them to pass on their knowledge.  I am always blown away at their extreme love and trust of other people - they are really inspiring to be around.

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I have seen threads that bring up this issue, and I do not usually contribute to them because it is such a sensitive topic. Tavsha pretty much just said everything I would have if I had the eloquence and the cahoonas. In my case, it is really nearly impossible to trace my true lineage. On both sides there are so many secrets and lies to obscure the truth. How can one stick to what one knows, if one knows nothing for certain? I am sure anyone who is adopted could have the same problem. Should they limit themslves only to what they can know for sure? That seems unreasonable.

 

Recently I had a very vivid and powerful experience that seems to be leading me in a direction I would have never even considered, mostly because I would have believed I had absolutly no connection to it at all. The exact name of an obscure path was literally  spelled out to me very clearly so that I could not mistake it, and what I felt at the time where ancectral spirits where encouraging me to set foot on the path.  I tell you I do not think I had ever even heard that word before, although it is possible I had stumblled on it in passing and since forgoten. Only after doing some reasearch, did I learn (sort of) what it means. Much more learning is required. Should I then just dismiss the whole thing because I cannot trace my ancestry to such a path? Indeed, I have no indication whatsoever why I should be drawn in that direction. It seems evident however, that something in me or outside of me, believes I have something to learn from it. Is it cultural appropriation if I do as I was clearly called to?

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I agree with Travsha's views. I feel that many things which were once universal are now lost but in small pockets. If one respectfully takes something from a specific path they may well be staying true to their roots by doing so. This is of course very different from taking something and making claims on it.

 

I've lately been nudged into the very early stages of a tradition where it's difficult to see where or even if there are any blood lines connecting me to it. Bluntly put, if the tradition were healthy there would be others with the blood to match practicing it. There aren't, so I'm a broader placed stepping stone. I may not have been raised in the culture, know the language (yet), have visited the land (yet), even feel inspired by it (yet), but here I am. I'd rather the world were full of capable, culturally confused caretakers than dying traditions.

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- If your Path introduces you to a tradition far beyond the scope of your blood or cultural heritage, do cultural associations fall away and you recognize it All as drawing from and/or being part of the same Current?  Or do you view it as one primary Current with many "tributaries" (i.e.- witchcraft traditions, cultures) with access only given to those accepted and/or invited?

 

 

 

I've been drawn to things and found I had a natural Talent for them that were far outside of my own cultural heritage.  I didn't understand it at the time.  Why was I invited and accepted to something that I believed wasn't my own?

 

Several years ago I had a DNA test done.  I'm adopted and wanted to see where I really came from.  It turned out, for me, that the things and cultures that I was drawn to were already in my blood.  It was rather mindblowing at the time.

 

It can be difficult to trace back our heritage with any degree of accuracy the further back that we go.

 

Another example of this is with a particular NA culture.  I don't have a drop of that blood in me but my child does.  She was too young at the time but as she got older I was able to explain and put certain things into context for her.

 

It continues to amaze me how far reaching our blood and blood ties go.  I hope to never lose this sense of wonder.

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I believe in the soul... so, to me,  blood doesn't encompass all the soul is, was, or will be.

 

I am very attracted to 'things' that my blood may not reflect ... however, that's not to say to my soul hasn't Been There - Done That... and, Loved it.

 

So, I don't limit myself in this regard.  Deep respect and reverence is my approach. 

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I'm curious about:

- If your Path introduces you to a tradition far beyond the scope of your blood or cultural heritage, do cultural associations fall away and you recognize it All as drawing from and/or being part of the same Current?  Or do you view it as one primary Current with many "tributaries" (i.e.- witchcraft traditions, cultures) with access only given to those accepted and/or invited?

 

I personally think the cultural associations are important to the path, and that one shouldn't allow them to just "fall away." If you're drawn to a certain cultural path, approaching it reverently an as an honest seeker is crucial. The culture that built the path is, in part, what gives the workings power. Sure, it's all the same current/power down at the core, but that particular path is powerful because of the culture of the practitioners who have come before. This is a personal belief, obviously, but I tend to think that certain objects/practices/rituals are powerful because of the collective belief/intent of the ancestors who practiced them. You may be Witch, but that doesn't mean you can tap into the power of an ancestral practice without the proper respect/education/practice. This is what makes New Age animism so abysmally weak in my view. 

 

- An obvious "solution" is to research such traditions as much as possible, whether academically, meditatively, or otherwise.  In my case, I personally perceive shamanism to be more "hardcore"- I don't need to go into a fully altered state to cast a healing spell or divine from a deck of playing cards.  Because such a pronounced disconnect from reality is needed needed for this Practice, it would seem prudent to me that embarking on such a Path would require the guidance of another shaman, for both education as well as protection.  But what if such a person (or correlating spirit guide) was unavailable?

 

Yes. If you are being drawn towards a particular cultural practice of shamanism, research and a teacher are necessary IMO for the proper practice. If one is not available, I would probably think that perhaps you're not ready to make that jump. Teachers appear when the student is ready. Going into a cultural practice without a guide is disrespectful (again, just my opinion), because it smacks of entitlement. That somehow you DESERVE to practice that path simply because you are Witch. 

 

- Lastly, if you did make the decision to embrace a Path that utilizes traditions you have zero ancestral link to, how did it go?  Do you feel good/bad/indifferent about the choice?

 

In my path, I utilize aspects of rootwork. I have ZERO ancestral links to this path, but I approached it with a great amount of study, care, and outside guidance before I committed any of the practices to my path. I feel good about it. 

 

 

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- An obvious "solution" is to research such traditions as much as possible, whether academically, meditatively, or otherwise.  In my case, I personally perceive shamanism to be more "hardcore"- I don't need to go into a fully altered state to cast a healing spell or divine from a deck of playing cards.  Because such a pronounced disconnect from reality is needed needed for this Practice, it would seem prudent to me that embarking on such a Path would require the guidance of another shaman, for both education as well as protection.  But what if such a person (or correlating spirit guide) was unavailable?

 

Yes. If you are being drawn towards a particular cultural practice of shamanism, research and a teacher are necessary IMO for the proper practice. If one is not available, I would probably think that perhaps you're not ready to make that jump. Teachers appear when the student is ready. Going into a cultural practice without a guide is disrespectful (again, just my opinion), because it smacks of entitlement. That somehow you DESERVE to practice that path simply because you are Witch. 

 

-----------

This might be an interesting story for those who havent heard of it.

 

One of the most famous shamans of the Amazon is a Shipibo indian by the name of Guillermo Arevalo.  Supposedly he has cured cancer and many other intense kinds of illness.  I am pretty sure he has at least 30-40+ years of experience helping people heal.

 

Although he practices traditional Shipibo medicine, he never had a human teacher.  In his early 20's, he decided to become a healer, so he went alone into the jungle for 2 years, where he meditated, fasted, and drank lots of plant medicines.  During this time, he was in a highly altered state due to isolation and fasting, and he was instructed on how to heal by the plants and spirits themselves.

 

He emerged after 2 years as a healer for his community.  Now he is regarded by many people to be one of the more effective healers in the Amazon, especially within the Shipibo community.  His main tool for healing is his voice - Shipibo's sing cures into their patients with special songs called "icaros."

 

I would definitely agree that teachers can be extremely helpful - I have had numerous teachers (good and bad), and still work with a few teachers who really inspire me.  But I dont see them as necessary at all - even within specific traditions.  I know westerners who apprentice the same way as Guillermo did, and after years with the plants, they have also earned their ability to help heal illness.  As long as you listen to the spirits, you will eventually learn what you need to know.

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Interesting that you mention DNA tests travsha, I've been considering getting one done for quite a while since my mother's paternal side is so fuzzy.  We know that he was Native American, purportedly from an Algonquian language speaking tribe of eastern Virginia...we have always assumed he was Pamunkey or perhaps Monacan or Massaponax.  Where things get fuzzy is that his surname is Nordic and we have no record of where this originated...people in that branch of the family could not read or write for the most part.  In addition to the inability of Native Americans being able to vote until 1948, he was also not able to vote until the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  This is interesting in itself because my mother and her siblings attended a white school during segregation, but they were among the first to be integrated into black schools.

 

The areas that my known familial ties with that side of the family currently resides points to having Melungeon ancestry and for all intents and purposes I can't see why that is implausible.  Melungeons are a tri-racial isolated group of cultural origins in the area where Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky meet.  It is known that what would become the Melungeon people originated in this specific area of Virginia where I live now and migrated west during late colonial times.  Many of them were of Algonquian speaking tribes of eastern Virginia, free blacks, and European minorities not of English origin. They settled in cultural isolation with other Shawnee and Monacan people of the region.  Many people are vaguely familiar with the Pentecostal church, it has origins stemming from the old practices of the people in this migration.

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I didnt mention DNA tests - I think RoseRed did though....

 

I dont really know much of my family history, especially on my mothers side, I have no idea about half of her bloodline.  All the people I could ask are dead.  I could do DNA testing, but I read that they are only partially accurate, and I kinda like not knowing.  I dont need any more reasons to separate myself from others, and I like the sense of oneness with humanity that comes from not knowing.

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I always kept from commercial DNA tests on ethnicity because most scientists agree that the results are doubtful at best. I would LOVE to seriously delve into my ancestry if I believed DNA tests could "prove" anything beyond doubt. Some google research showed that any of the companies offering DNA ethnicity analysis with a swab kit all showed different results compared to the other, and I figured trying one would be a waste of money.

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Bluntly put, if the tradition were healthy there would be others with the blood to match practicing it. There aren't, so I'm a broader placed stepping stone. I may not have been raised in the culture, know the language (yet), have visited the land (yet), even feel inspired by it (yet), but here I am. I'd rather the world were full of capable, culturally confused caretakers than dying traditions.

I like this point, Pikku.

 

I am reminded of the Neolithic Shamanism book, where the author dedicates a short portion to addressing cultural appropriation. A point which struck me as being interesting was that he said the gods and spirits of his tradition didn't care about bloodline, they just wanted capable practitioners.

 

I agree with previous posters that someone should not be entitled to various paths just because they are a witch. But I also wonder if some Paths don't quite care about political correctness and will gather whomever they can best use to further themselves.

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I would definitely agree that teachers can be extremely helpful - I have had numerous teachers (good and bad), and still work with a few teachers who really inspire me.  But I dont see them as necessary at all - even within specific traditions.  I know westerners who apprentice the same way as Guillermo did, and after years with the plants, they have also earned their ability to help heal illness.  As long as you listen to the spirits, you will eventually learn what you need to know.

Never meant to imply that the teachers must human or corporeal. That was not my intention. However, I stand by my viewpoint that a teacher is needed. 

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I didnt mention DNA tests - I think RoseRed did though....

 

I dont really know much of my family history, especially on my mothers side, I have no idea about half of her bloodline.  All the people I could ask are dead.  I could do DNA testing, but I read that they are only partially accurate, and I kinda like not knowing.  I dont need any more reasons to separate myself from others, and I like the sense of oneness with humanity that comes from not knowing.

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Ah ok, my mistake, I think it's because you both have red avatars XD

Personally I'm just a human alloy when it comes to cultural ancestry, like many Americans.  I think if people go into it with the right mindset and get DNA mapping done it will bring people together more than it will divide, especially with people such as myself who have family lines in the US that stretch back hundreds, and even thousands of years.  Do I think it would affect choices on my path?  Not necessarily.  If I were to discover that I was, say, randomly part Chinese or something due to a DNA test, I might do a little bit more studying on the culture but it's unlikely to affect my path.  Would it be cultural misappropriation if I were to do so?  I think that is what the debate seems to be.  Sharing a minute speck of DNA with Chinese ancestry wouldn't necessarily mean that I can share their culture?

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