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Cultural Appropriation

Cultural Appropriation

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#21 Aina

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Posted 11 December 2015 - 09:52 PM

My brother does martial arts and is the most emotionally imbalanced person I know. I told him there's more to martial arts than just kicking around...clueless. Same with yoga, going through the motions but have no idea the meaning behind the movements
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#22 Anara

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Posted 12 December 2015 - 03:34 PM

yeah, but at the same time-just to turn the conversation on it's head for a moment- just because I have a bit of Japanese Samurai blood flowing through my veins, that doesn't mean I can (or should) personally wield a Katana (which can be a very spiritual experience BTW) as well as someone who the Katana may have chosen who happens to have absolutely no Japanese heritage whatsoever. I believe the spirit of the Katana chooses it's student to master it (kinda like what Caps is saying, in a way, I think). This may or may not be based on DNA & cultural upbringing-it may be based on certain characteristics a person holds and what he/she is capable of.

I resonate with Nikki's thoughts in the other thread. I am more than my DNA and American cultural upbringing. I'm a soul traversing a material world. I may have been here before and I may be here again someday-I don't live a static existence. Further than that, culture is not a static thing either-it moves and changes with the people that live it. Globalization has had a huge influence on most every culture & we live in 2015-which is a very different life than what our ancestors led (but, like it has been said earlier-cultures have always been influenced and molded by other outside groups, so this has always been the case..just not to this "fast paced" degree). I'm not one that feels I need to live in the past -although I can & do honor it and do right by it.

re: Hindu influence on the evolution of deity depiction....absolutely agree on the thoughts mentioned here. The earliest religions spread, branched out, and evolved, of course. Summoning Hindu deity energy can be a primal experience and I think many witches can easily identify with some of the more commonly known Hindu "Gods" and what they can do...Shiva, Ganesha, Laxshmi...but I think it can also be true for the old Egyptian Gods and others from other areas of the world..

On a more personal note, I am a student of tantra (not westernized tantra) with a strong appreciation for what the Indian Aghori symbolize. Although I couldn't ever live their lifestyle (eating human feces and engaging in necrophilia just won't ever be something I'd do... ), I do strongly resonate with how they "live in the world, but not of it" and push taboo to the extreme-often for very good reason. My readings on this group & meditations is a form of cultural appropriation, for sure, as I take from it what is good for my soul and learn from the concept of "taboo" in general. I grew up in a household where it seemed like everything was taboo. To live a life where I can cross lines that were once drawn around me, through inspiration and appreciation for something as extreme as the Aghori, is personally liberating and freeing. If someone were to tell me I wasn't allowed to learn from them & apply some influential concepts to help evolve my own soul and bring happiness to my life, I think I'd tell them to fuck right off and end it there. That's my business.

:)

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#23 Aina

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Posted 12 December 2015 - 03:54 PM

yeah, but at the same time-just to turn the conversation on it's head for a moment- just because I have a bit of Japanese Samurai blood flowing through my veins, that doesn't mean I can (or should) personally wield a Katana (which can be a very spiritual experience BTW) as well as someone who the Katana may have chosen who happens to have absolutely no Japanese heritage whatsoever. I believe the spirit of the Katana chooses it's student to master it (kinda like what Caps is saying, in a way, I think). This may or may not be based on DNA & cultural upbringing-it may be based on certain characteristics a person holds and what he/she is capable of.


I agree with being chosen. None of the spirits I've worked with were sought out. They came to me and it was my choice to work with them. My pull toward Sanatana Dharma, I still don't know where that came from...lol. But it was through my first meditation where I met Siva. Before then, I knew nothing about him. It was the same with Het-Heru and Oshun, and I tried to ward them off because I just wan't interested but eventually studied the both of them and decided to work with them.

I know some people who say they've had to actively seek out spirits. I don't know how that works because I've never had to do that. Is there something wrong with me... :no: :yes:

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#24 Oroboros

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Posted 12 December 2015 - 04:49 PM

@ Anara- This post actually seems to me in perfect harmony with what is being said... I love that we are not slaves to our DNA. However, and maybe in my exuberance to embrace that truth I didn't express this. I DON'T believe- for myself at least- that I can just bust open the worlds religions book and choose which ones I like the best to incorporate. The whole reason, I am pleased to see others are in agreement that we do not HAVE to follow our predominant DNA is because I don't feel like I CAN. I feel an undeniable undertow in certain directions. There are things that just call to me, speak to me, that I recognize as "like calling to like." The fact that these things do not perfectly match my cultural heritage does not change the strength of their pull. So, basically, I totally agree. I think there has to be a "being chosen" element, perhaps more so than any other element.

I do not know enough about Japan to not sound like an idiot to some who knows it well. But, it is a good example to continue. I think Japan has some amazing culture. I love the art and style of the culture. I find something very magical about the lore that I am familiar with. The katana, some of the characters like Kitsune and I almost named my dog Baku because I love that particular lore. However, I am NOT called to this. I will likely never incorporate a single thing from Japanese culture into my practice or my spirituality. Conversely, I am more Irish than anything else(as in probably 50% with everything else making up smaller percentages). And while I would love to visit there, the particular flavor of practice does nothing for me. Same with the associated lore. It is interesting. I don't dislike it. But it feels no more to be part of me than Japanese culture does. AND I TRIED to pound that square peg into the round hole, because at one time I thought that's what I was SUPPOSED to do. So being chosen, being called, yes, I feel that is absolutely essential.

In regards to the ancient religions, I'm glad that made sense to someone:). Egypt, Sumerian, certainly not JUST Hinduism- these are our spiritual birthplaces as a race. Undoubtedly there are more ancient and lesser known varieties of these that were not recorded or preserved that probably resonate with our deep selves as well.

Edited by Oroboros, 12 December 2015 - 04:50 PM.

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#25 Anara

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Posted 13 December 2015 - 04:38 PM

I don't have much time right now to respond how I want to, but I will get back to this in a bit.... :)
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"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will always long to return." ~ Leonardo Da Vinci

#26 Aina

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Posted 13 December 2015 - 04:55 PM

I came across the following a few minutes ago. It's taken from the Celtic Heritage site.

"Simply having Celtic ancestors does not give one any special insight into Celtic civilization. It can provide one with a powerful motivation to learn about Celtic culture, but it will not, in and of itself, give one a superior aptitude to learn. This is, in some ways, a peculiarly American problem: when our families came to this continent as immigrants many of them lost the use of their languages and all direct access to their ancestral cultures, so that genetic lineage has come to be more important than culture itself in defining ethnic identities within what is really one vast Anglo cultural continuum with regional variations.

"Taken too far, this can lead to a really obnoxious form of racism, as in the claim that one's genetic background must define one's cultural allegiance the claim that people with black skins, for instance, should only be attracted to African traditions (and, conversely, should have no place in European ones), or that only people with Native American "blood" (however little) should have any involvement with Native American cultures, and so forth.

"Given the amount of ethnic mixing that has taken place here, the demand for "pure" ethnicity becomes ludicrous. As someone who is part-Russian, part-French, what single ethnic label could I possibly give myself? I suppose I could claim a "Gaulish" lineage through my mother's side, but it would have very little to do with why I am attracted to Celtic culture, and why I've devoted much of my life to studying and defending it. I know people of "Celtic" descent who are actively participating in African traditions, and people of African descent on this continent who feel drawn to Celtic things. For that matter, I know people of African descent in Wales and Scotland who are fluent in Welsh and Gaelic and have completely embraced Celtic language, culture and ethnic identity. One major promoter of the Breton language is Japanese."

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#27 Anara

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Posted 14 December 2015 - 02:41 PM

Aina, I was going to say something along the same lines here but you beat me to it. That is a good article & it makes you think. It's an important topic that is not a popular one to discuss-as far as I am aware of, anyway. I don't know why though.

Oroboros, there are some threads with conversations touching on the topic of ancient religions here in the forums and if you haven't come across them yet- I bet you would enjoy reading about them and could, perhaps, contribute your own thoughts too. Lots of interesting things to read on this general topic and some unique perspectives shared.

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"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will always long to return." ~ Leonardo Da Vinci

#28 Oroboros

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Posted 14 December 2015 - 04:04 PM

Aina, I was going to say something along the same lines here but you beat me to it. That is a good article & it makes you think. It's an important topic that is not a popular one to discuss-as far as I am aware of, anyway. I don't know why though.

Oroboros, there are some threads with conversations touching on the topic of ancient religions here in the forums and if you haven't come across them yet- I bet you would enjoy reading about them and could, perhaps, contribute your own thoughts too. Lots of interesting things to read on this general topic and some unique perspectives shared.

I am interested. You don't happen to remember the title of the thread(S) you are referring to do you? Do you think searching "ancient religions" would get it done?

Edited by Oroboros, 14 December 2015 - 04:05 PM.

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#29 Anara

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Posted 14 December 2015 - 04:56 PM

I am interested. You don't happen to remember the title of the thread(S) you are referring to do you? Do you think searching "ancient religions" would get it done?


You could try searching that particular phrase, sure. I don't have a lot of time this morning to search (plus sometimes the search button doesn't pull stuff up for me). Here are three I remember off the top of my head, to get you started. You can check the myths & legends section as well, maybe. I have to get going for now, but have fun searching & reading.

Sin, The Mesopotamian Moon God...
http://www.tradition...cient +religion

Luciferian Gnosis...
http://www.tradition...nosis/?hl=hindu

The next one is a book list-but a worthwhile mention for further reading..

Material recommendations for Hekate Study...
http://www.tradition.../?hl=luciferian

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"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will always long to return." ~ Leonardo Da Vinci

#30 Oroboros

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Posted 15 December 2015 - 04:34 AM

Thanks, comparative religions is kind of a pet interest mine.
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...From ev’ry depth of good and ill , The mystery which binds me still...— Poe

#31 witchpriest

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Posted 26 January 2016 - 08:17 PM

I am a little late to this thread, but I thought I would weigh in. I only follow the traditions of 1/4 of my genetic make-up. I am a typical American mutt. The quarter I follow is my Mother's Mother's heritage and traditions. I am glad I have a rich tradition to follow, and it is passed down for a few generations, BUT being that it is not even half of my heritage, I am denying a lot of tradition and the flavors of those other cultures. So in my case this is still a high degree of appropriation. I have to side with Caps above, study and practice what speaks to you. The spirit/egregor of a tradition is stronger than any DNA coursing through our veins. So I believe we as humans can follow the footsteps of any one or combo of traditions while still fully embodying the power of that culture. If you walk with respect, I don't view it as appropriation, but honoring the truth of a tribe that inspires your craft to a higher level!
P.S., I follow my Grandmother's traditions, which is Eastern European, but go back a few generations from her and it is further split (Russian Jew, Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian, Roma, etc. Etc.) So this isn't even an American issue, I think it affects most humans if you go back enough generations :)

Edited by witchpriest, 26 January 2016 - 08:19 PM.

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#32 Jaesin

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Posted 15 February 2016 - 09:52 PM

So, how do my fellow mutts determine what tradition or traditions to embrace?

My path is as void as possible from as much cultural influence as possible.  I found it much more beneficial for myself to return to a primal sort of witchcraft - that which was just everyday living for primal humanity, of which the ability to communicate with the soul and/or spirits of those human, non-human (such as animals), and other than human (spirits of the land, as well as of other non material realities) was simply natural to do.  It was not seen as anything special.  This primal form of witchery spoke to me clearly, calling me back, and therefore I did not embrace *it*, but *It* embraced me.

Do you consider yourself bound to your dominant DNA? or Is DNA not all that important?

I do feel very bound
by my DNA but not in the sense of any cultural appropriation.  It is very much in regards to 'Tapping the Bone'.  To me, our DNA carries an organic memory of all who have came before us. Our DNA does far more than just supply the building blocks of which we are made (our genetic makeup),, but also contains one's Spiritual genome, so to speak, which can be far more important than blood lineage (IMO). Blood does not make one a witch.  It is the spiritual energy imprint that is passed on that makes one a witch (thus inheriting the ability of a seer, medium, etc,.)   We carry Spiritual energy as stewards to then be transmitted to the next generation. 

What about someone who was adopted from one culture and raised in another?

This is the very reason why bloodline cultural appropriation is less important than the Spiritual genome itself.  Once again, it isn't the bloodline that makes the witch. A bloodline may link one to a 'class' (for lack of a better term), but it does not make one a witch.  If one has inherited the DNA of centuries of a witch, and chooses to ignore the inherent abilities and go on with a mundane life, is one still a witch?  I would contend not.  Therefore, being adopted from one culture, and into another really holds little clout in the role of a witch in the true sense.

Do some of you consider it cultural appropriation if a witch chooses to practice a tradition that they have little DNA attached to?

I think it has nothing to do with cultural appropriation for the reasons stated above and more.   In my experience (and I stress that on purpose), each person rebirth (not reincarnation) is accurate in respect to the cycle of birth and death.  In each incarnation, a person takes on a particular personality if you will.  This personality allows you to learn and experience that which is needed for you in that given incarnation.  Think of it like this.  If you look at old photographs of yourself starting at the age of four and worked up yearly to your age, you would look at them and recall lessons and unique experiences that you had at that given state in your life which were appropriate for that time.  Yet, the you today is certainly not the same as the you at 4, 7, 12, 16 etc. years old.  While you still maintain the memories of those experiences and lessons, the personalities of those times are left behind, and you have grown into your present personality.

The same can be said for this incarnation of your being.  *You* may have existed in various cultures in previous incarnations, learned the lessons and had profound experiences of those cultures, But the *you* of today is no longer those things (they may not even exist in the bloodline of your current incarnation), all the while that Spiritual genome carries that memory, waiting to be accessed.  So you may not have a DNA link to that culture, but Spiritually, the memory can be present for you to access.  So practicing outside of a tradition that you have little to no physical DNA to is less cultural appropriation than it is a Natural knowing.

Do you think this matters at all? or Do you think this is the foundation of one's practice?

I think the answer to this question is a matter of perspective.  To many, it is the bloodline that validates ones *status* as a witch, much like a royal bloodline validates ones royal status, but IMO it is the spiritual link, or spiritual DNA if you will that is important.  True validation comes when ones efforts on whatever path you walk come to fruition!

This of course is simply my own opinions based off of my own experiences and insights in the material and non material realities as I have navigated them.  So please take it with a grain of salt.

 


Edited by Jaesin, 15 February 2016 - 09:55 PM.

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#33 ErinnAinsley

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Posted 07 April 2016 - 04:21 PM

I am also totally late to this thread (judging by when it was started, and nobody has replied in a good month or two lol) but it is precisely one of the things on my mind lately and often in my recent past (the 4 and some years I've been trying to learn my path)

I am "mutt" as seems to be the favoured term. Haha
French and Native American on moms side. To further break down: Mi'qmak, Mohegan on her fathers side.
Her mother's father was adopted and lived on a reserve (I need to go find out again where this was, embarrassing... Of all the most traceable things in family history I should know this). He labelled everything in Michif that we have found of his which is REALLY curious because I thought that was more used westward in Canada...and he was from the east. But he had no Native blood that we are aware of. However he grew up fully immersed in the culture of his parents. (Unlike the rest of us in the family, including those with actual native blood lol how's that for irony).

My father is proud Scottish (obsessed with that aspect of his heritage, pushes the family tree and clan history on everyone but ignoring the Irish, welsh also from his mother's side)
And his grandfather and grandmother were German, all of his family traced before this, from Germany entirely.

So native, German, Scottish, welsh, Irish, French.

6 ingredients (which could be further broken down by tribes, clans, geographical origin, religion, etc)


So am I picking a tradition from among these? Don't even have a clue yet lol
The only learning along the lines of the craft that I had passed down to me to any extent was from my German great grandfather and maybe sorta my grandfather (but he kinda checked out and became alcoholic, and now both are passed) and a bit from my non-native great grandfather who grew up on a reserve lol...(mostly to do with herbs, natural medicines) and I mean all of this was so minimal... I was physically/geographically separated from most of my extended family most of the time after maybe the first 5-9 years of life.

But... I can't help feeling like I am supposed to be learning something associated with my heritage/bloodlines...
It's sad everyone was as scattered and tragic and far away or just dead and gone as they were, while I was growing up, but...there are no decisions made for me and if I do commit to a particular name-able path of any sort it will be a matter of the heart regardless.

As for now... I'm doing what I know, what I'm drawn to and what works... But still feel like I'm not quite "on" the track I should be yet.. :)


Cultural appropriation? Well... The truth is, unless you grew up immersed in the practices of any of those, the actual people in these geographical locations who DID grow up with their traditions will laugh and see you as an outsider largely. All of them. Some in fact will guard even the most trivial aspects of their way of life from outsiders. And if you push to learn, you will be seen as appropriating or "stealing" in many cases. This is very difficult when you are a mutt from a transplanted family history because, well, we didn't very well start a whole new culture, religion, traditions etc of our own entirely that has no ties to the past. So do we ever belong anywhere fully? ;)

But we are all getting more and more mixed, and this approach is getting older and older...
It's a strange wiggly line is what.
And much of the "walling up" encountered will only serve to hinder the preservation of ways of life, thought and practice. But remember it's often done because of cultural theft and then complete bastardization and abuse of traditions to make money, sell books, run super fake religious "retreats"...and the list goes on.

I guess the best thing to do is listen to those who actually know what they are talking about should they decide to share with you, show the upmost respect. Make deep friendships and connections and don't claim you know everything because you read a book about the place your great great great grandmother lived lol

It still doesn't sit right with me to have absolutely no history/cultural exposure growing up/blood (at least one of these) affiliated with a practice/tradition/lifestyle and then take it (from modern books) and claim this is you, your identification 100% of course but this is an ever changing world and I do believe sharing and learning will happen for those searching for the right reasons and behaving respectfully.

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#34 Abraxia Thalgus

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 02:49 AM

Being at least 5th generation, white Aussie, I'm definitely a mutt.  And I can't tell you what 50% of me is about because I never knew my father.  I think we have a much more laid back attitude here and more of a 'check it out, give it a go' attitude because so many people have come here from all over the world.  Something like 200 different races/nationalities now call Australia home.

 

On my mother's side, they are mostly from Britain/Ireland/Wales.  But, they are Jewish and have the whole wandering through Europe in the middle ages thing in them, so who knows what's in there.  My attractions have been to Sumer, Israel, Palestine, Central Australia and parts of Dakota.  A strange mix I know.  It took me a long time to realise I'm not attracted to a culture per se, but to land and from that, the people who developed a culture in response to that land.

 

I found it very interesting that when I was 29 I did a meditation and was given a name ongala.  Then later on, I had a very strong reaction when I came across a Lakota people known as the oglala.  To my western ears, they sound very similar.  And then I discovered the beliefs of the oglala and certain peoples of Central Australia were almost identical - particularly the belief they both came from Pleiades - yet neither group had any contact with each other that I'm aware of.  This probably speaks to my pull toward shamanic practices more than anything else.

 

And what they all have in common, (except the UK connections) is they are all desert areas.  The UK pull is more to do with recent ancestors coming from there about 5 generations ago.

 

As for cultural appropriation.  For me that's easy.  Someone who collects 'made in china' pieces cheaply, who loves the show of a culture and never goes beyond the glitz and glam is appropriating.  Someone who feels a genuine connection and does what they can to study and learn is not appropriating in the current meaning of the word.  It comes down to respect.


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...you need a lot of courage in this life, to make some of the choices you have to make. That's natural. I mean, you can't sit back like an amoeba and just regenerate yourself. You've got to be an exciting, dynamic human being, and there are choices you're going to make that's going to cause you some difficulty, and if it requires some courage on your part, then do it. - Charles Perkins, Arunta Elder, 1998

#35 odalibuc

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Posted 25 April 2016 - 03:51 AM

I can trace my genetic heritage to basically all of Europe, and I feel like none of those cultural traditions apply for me. Its possible that no single cultural tradition matches with what I do. I built my practice from the ground up, without any research into what other cultures had done; I tried paganism, but none of it clicked. Instead, I asked the spirits in the world around me what they knew of the world, the gods, and how magic works. I based my practices in how I was guided by the immaterial world, and its been quite a rewarding experience. I suppose there's a little bit of a lot of traditions in what I practice, because every culture touches on the fundamental truths in different ways and acts on those truths they way that they need to in order to meet the needs of the communities built around them. I'm not looking to build a community. I will help people with what I do when its feasible, but mostly I'm just trying to better myself and understand the forces around me and inside me. And to do that, I will follow where my guides lead me regardless of who else has done it before me. Not to invalidate their experiences or as an attempt to take anything away from them or butcher their own belief systems, but because I need to take that path too. To speak symbolically, there are only so many paths through the same forest. Even if everyone going in and out starts in the different places and has different methods of navigation, paths have to merge and diverge and cross eventually.


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#36 aefre

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Posted 26 April 2016 - 12:47 PM


Cultural appropriation? Well... The truth is, unless you grew up immersed in the practices of any of those, the actual people in these geographical locations who DID grow up with their traditions will laugh and see you as an outsider largely. All of them. Some in fact will guard even the most trivial aspects of their way of life from outsiders. And if you push to learn, you will be seen as appropriating or "stealing" in many cases. This is very difficult when you are a mutt from a transplanted family history because, well, we didn't very well start a whole new culture, religion, traditions etc of our own entirely that has no ties to the past. So do we ever belong anywhere fully? ;)

But we are all getting more and more mixed, and this approach is getting older and older...
 

 

 

I grew up 'immersed' in the practises of my family.  But, I am also the product of a 'mixed' era.

 

EA, you are absolutely right, the 'enclosed' attitude is last weeks news.

 

We no longer live in a world of closed, tight communities.  We move, we emigrate, we marry different races/nationalities and settle on different continents.

 

This has plus and minus points.

 

On the plus side, I have met many other Europeans (from non-English speaking countries) who still live with several generations in the same house or close vicinity.  If your family is cool, then this is wonderful.  Someone said "It takes a village to raise a child" and I agree.  It can be wonderful to grow up in a close-knit community. 

 

On the minus side, not many of us do it any more.  We increasingly live more isolated lives.  I don't expect my kids to stay nearby when they're older.  In fact, I'd be very surprised if they do.  Travel is so easy, I certainly did it.

 

And at some point, many people look back to their 'roots'.  They want to find a base for their beliefs, their ancestry, but we're all so mixed up that it can be almost impossible to trace.

 

I watched a fascinating documentary recently about DNA.  Apparently, blue eyes (like red hair) are a genetic mutation, and scientists now have a theory, that everyone with blue eyes originated from one 'mutated' person in the Baltic region.  Do you have blue eyes?

 

I do, therefore, I'm a Baltic mutant LOL  Who knew?

 

Another theory is, that all human life, as we know it, started in Africa, and we basically all just spread out from there  It makes sense to me.

 

I guess the point I'm trying to make is, we're all cut from the same cloth.  People divide themselves into groups, it makes them feel safe and special.  But in magickal terms, the same practises are often carried out by many different groups.  One of the joys of the interweb (and being an English speaker) is that we can communicate with each other and share this fact.  What I thought was exclusive to me, isn't.  Others practise the same thing, just differently.

 

As Odalibuc, just beautifully said "there are only so many paths through the same forest".

 

If people won't share, that's their problem, carry on regardless.

 

Read everything, study everything, and hopefully you will find what suits you.

 

I myself have Irish and Italian heritage, but am a very naughty old witch, who is adding to her Book of Shadows with all sorts of 'nasty foreign' things that would make my grandmother's toe's curl!

 

It's all a matter of perspective :)


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Be nice or go away!

#37 ErinnAinsley

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Posted 26 April 2016 - 10:36 PM

You naughty blue-eyed witch! No, I have rather dark brown eyes. I am no mutant! Lol
I have heard a lot of people upset about the topic of "cultural theft" in my daily life in general lately and it's getting so excessive sometimes. There are things that people will claim, and then if you look back, they were borrowed from another culture, and they borrowed it from crossing paths with someone else entirely different before that. But people want to get arrogant and claim things.

On the other hand, if you have a unique family coat of arms, a very private family or tribal tradition, or something like this and then someone takes it to flash around as their own or make a buck, that really is horrible, and I totally get it.
But it seems like people are getting so self righteous about cultural appropriation out there on social media and such, that they are losing sight of what really is and isn't unique to their heritage or traditions, and what in fact has evolved and exchanged amongst many groups of the human race for eons.
Anyway, yeah. I'm just blathering on saying what was basically already said, cuz I'm cranky about the self-righteous sorts lol

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#38 mudang

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Posted 08 May 2016 - 09:27 PM

Cultural appropriation is an anthropological concept supported by decades of research and there are over a quarter million scholarly books and articles discussing it in academic fields as varied as anthropology, sociology, law, political science, social psychology and philosophy. Cultural exchange is obviously not the same thing as appropriation or the literal experts in studying culture wouldn’t have made two wildly different terms with two wildly different definitions. Cultural appropriation is “taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else’s culture without permission … when the source community is a minority group that has been oppressed or exploited in other ways.” -  from Who Owns Culture?: Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law by Fordham law professor Susan Scafidi. Cultural exchange is “an intentional act of bringing two or more people or groups together to exchange information about their differing backgrounds to understand each other.”

Obviously they are not the same thing. 

 

“Two ways in which cultural appropriation can be harmful are easily identified. The first sort of harm is violation of a property right … The second sort of harm is an attack on the viability or identity of the cultures or their members. Appropriation that undermines a culture in these ways would certainly cause devastating and clearly wrongful harm to members of the culture … Other acts of appropriation potentially leave members of a culture exposed to discrimination, poverty and lack of opportunity.” - from The Ethics of Cultural Appropriation (edited by Young and Brunk)

There are literally thousands of books by experts in the study of culture, history and law that go into detail of what appropriation is and how it is harmful, two of which I’ve cited already.

 

 

So, all in all, cultural appropriation does exist, it is extremely harmful. Cherry picking from closed traditions such as Folk Traditions across the world is wrong. Attempting to learn from a member of that Folk Tradition (who will be okay with teaching you) is okay.


Edited by mudang, 08 May 2016 - 09:29 PM.

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#39 Duchess

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Posted 09 May 2016 - 05:52 PM

I think the most important aspect to this is: are you using someone’s cultural practices in a way that could harm that culture? Or is it something you are doing in the privacy of your own home?

 

In my area cultural appropriation usually means a white person taking on some Native American practices (I know it does have a much wider meaning than that). For example, my uncle (via marriage to my aunt) is an elder and spiritual leader in one of the local tribes. It’s a huge part of who he is, and specifically links him to his ancestors. It’s also deeply important to him because he has only been legally allowed to practice it since the 70s. I’m an American mutt, but basically of European descent. I don’t think I could ever practice any of my uncle’s beliefs without feeling very uncomfortable. It is not my culture, and my ancestors had a hand in making it illegal for my uncle and his ancestors to practice it.

 

I love reading and learning about all the different cultures and practices, but I basically lean towards the practice of my ancestors, though that is a wide swath of traditions. But I believe the bottom line is: what you do in private is your own affair, and no one has the right to tell you otherwise. It is when someone steps into the public to gain something from another culture’s practices (like a white person selling weekend warrior sweat lodges) that I think a line has definitely been crossed. 


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#40 lalinrises

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Posted 02 June 2016 - 05:35 PM

I don't there is anything wrong with wanting to learn from other cultures and participating in those cultures. The problem really begins when some takes things from a marginalized group and begins to exploit them, spread misinformation while pretending to be experts at it.


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