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Cultural Appropriation

Cultural Appropriation

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#41 Merianna

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Posted 22 June 2016 - 04:36 PM

I comoletely agree with that and see it a lot actually where i live. People claim things that they have taken from another culture or from someone else's traditions, they mash it up together and then they claim it as their own and make a fortune out of people that are looking for spiritual peace of mind.
I myself am a south african, yet i am white, blonde and blue eyed. My ancestry is a mix between French and Duch from what my grandmother told me, and it's actually easy to see.
I also grew up in a christian home but never felt truely drawn or satisfied with the religion. I have a deep love for celtic music and one of my biggest wishes is to live in Ireland someday. I love traditional weapons such as throwing knives, kunai, swords, tamahawks, bows and arrows and have been practicing and taught myself how to throw my knives and tamahawk.

So i think a person could say that these 'traditions' or 'influences' called out to me. I think for most of the people here it is like that. We practice what we are comfortable in and what we feel free in. Something that feels natural to us even though it's not in our 'DNA' so to speak.
No wrong ever comes from learning and researching what draws you, in fact it's a bonus to be more enlightened about what draws you.
The more you know the better, and the closer you feel to it.
So I also don't think that the traditions you feel drawn to should be witheld due to bloodlines or denied due to your DNA makeup. The world doesn't work around the rules of society. It was man that declared the ways that society should work. The land, spirits, energies and all other things don't work according to man made rules.

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#42 Zombee

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Posted 29 June 2016 - 12:40 AM

By now, eclectic should be a tradition...I read, I experiment, I make it up as I go...because nothing is going to fit exactly, or even closely. So even my practice is a mutt, like me. I'm not interested in reconstructing imaginary history or dress-up. I am interested in connecting to the over-all stream of magical consciousness. Anything that can help me do that is worth the effort of researching and adapting for private use. I am not going to play at being a native shaman because I am not a shaman, but I am a witch and I can walk the same paths, my own way.

I'm Dutch, German, English and N. American, going back 4 generations. I like Vikings well enough, but I don't live in a Viking culture so what good is that? Yet Norse influence shows up subconsciously. I still live in this era of time and this place.

Edited by Zombee, 30 June 2016 - 03:07 PM.

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#43 Nemesisuk

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Posted 07 April 2017 - 06:55 PM

I was born in Britain, have a long ancestry to Britain, and have a surname which is centuries old, but I do not feel that the path I have chosen is down to DNA, but more to my feelings to my ancestry. If it were DNA, I could have Roman, Angle, Viking, Saxon or goodness knows what in me!

My path is taking me down a route of traditional British witchcraft, mainly using what is native to this island. However, the internet and global shipping open up all sorts of supplies from other lands, so I do use non-native herbs etc, and there is enough information available on these items to be able to know if they will be of use.

One aspect of my path (and is influenced by) is I often think of how witches worked a thousand years ago. They must have only been able to use products local to them, say herbs for example, which they must have grown or sourced from local woods, countryside or markets.

Trees, I feel, may have played a large part in their craft.

I often think of a witch finding a pebble on a beach or on the river bank, feeling it to be a good pebble, and using it as a charm, but never knowing if it was a precious stone like Agate or Jasper or Tiger's eye, and to be honest, it it probably a standard pebble. But if it felt right, why not use it.

 

Sorry if I have rambled on  :P


Edited by Nemesisuk, 07 April 2017 - 07:05 PM.

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#44 westofthemoon

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 05:21 AM

I'm Polish, Slavic, Swedish and straight up New England Puritan/English. Of course, there could be more, but I've never gotten DNA testing done. The one I'm most drawn to is New England/English folk magic, and not just because it's "trendy". It fits somehow. I'm drawn to the folklore and fairy tales of the Slavs otoh, though I've never felt drawn to their magical practices.
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#45 Anubha

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 03:29 AM

This is something I've been thinking of lately. I'm of mixed ancestry as well. The longer I delve into different aspects of witchcraft, the more diverse cultural themes pop up. Not only as in what speaks to me but visions I have and spirits that interact with me. It bothers me a little and I'm not sure how to blend these aspects into something harmonious.

 

There is a lot of Native American influence which makes sense as my grandma was half Shawnee. And I live in the U.S. But there is some Hindu influence as well. Maybe all that transcendental meditation I was doing?  I read a lot of OSHO. There is also Celtic influence and Anglo-Saxon which is my ancestry. These aren't things I went after or was necessarily interested in. This is my inner landscape. My little corner of the Otherworld.

 

I've come across some opinions about people who collect spiritual practices like trading cards or treat spirituality like a buffet. But I didn't choose this. It just is. So, I would say that ,among other things, a witch is a portal. And as such would have access to many different spiritual groups. Especially in these times where nearly everyone is exposed to many cultural influences, even if only through literature and the arts.


Edited by Anubha, 19 April 2017 - 06:42 PM.

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#46 Forester

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 09:51 AM

Although I agree cultural practices cannot be owned, you can find many who basically admit they are appropriating and assigning ownership to the things they take, but take them anyway. Why would someone outside of the southern region of North America combine turquoise, silver and the skulls of animals of this region (just an example) if not to appropriate another culture, when they have no ties to it.

I wouldn't do it myself and I think it's in slightly bad taste to adopt an expression of a cultural trait from a certain country (practicing a cultural trait in a way exclusive to one region) when there is no connection between you or your land and them and their land? Because then you are connecting neither with your land nor theirs. By all means, white Americans can practice native tradition, but I do think they should do it under guidance of those whose ancestors spent generations understanding.

It's a paradox, or something similar. People may adopt elements of a tradition but still call it something that links it. If they don't believe in cultural appropriation, why continue to name it that way? I think a lot of people, turning away from the middle eastern religion they were often raised in, struggle with an identity crisis. I know I did/do. By all means be inspired by those who inspire you, but I would hope that one is respectful. By respectful I mean actually try and bond with those who have a link to this culture you have appropriated, or make it clear it is your own (often uninformed) interpretation of what they do. Shouldn't be using a Inuit deer hoof rattle as part of any random practice and still call it whatever they call it, it has become something else.

Personally, I would not seek a bond with anything outside of Brittonic, Slavic or Scandinavian culture or magic, or Bronze Age (or previous) British imagery. I feel that well and truly accepting these chalk downlands as my homeland (I'm the only one in my family born and bred in this region, my connection is stronger than the others) has rewarded me with the trust to use its imagery and history with maybe a little more ambiguity than a tourist would be allowed. I feel this range extends, to a lesser extent, across Britain, though there are high points (west coast of Scotland and the islands) and east Midlands (Lincolnshire, and the Danelaw generally). This range weakens of course because Britain is by no means a historically (or prehistorically) homogeneous land mass of people, although culture is widely similar.

My Polish and Danish (more so) roots offer me, I feel, a window into two other worlds, but as they are distant these are by no means assumed or automatic and I have to be more respectful, or maybe less casual, than I can be seeking Brittonic and prehistoric British inspiration.

This is just my perspective, and I wouldn't howl at someone who honestly believes they are respectfully using tradition and rite from a very foreign culture to their own. We don't own the land, or the animals and minerals that can be found on and in it (despite how people try), but I do think it is only respectful to engage with those whose ancestors have worked hard to interpret and learn it, rather than the magical equivalent of saying "Ooo, that person's worked hard at that book, I'll have it for free, thanks!" and go on to talk about how it is actually a door stop.

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#47 Yex

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 08:16 AM

One of the ways that I look at this issue, applied specifically to spirituality/magic, is this this:

 

Let's say I'm a lawyer, but I get it into my head that I'm meant to be a heart surgeon. I went to law school, my business card says "lawyer on it"... but that alone shouldn't really inherently prevent me from going back to medical school, putting the hard work in, and training to become a heart surgeon. Ok, fair enough. But let's say that heart surgeons - and indeed, the entire field of medicine - has been fucked over by lawyers for centuries. And let's say that as a result of this, no medical school will offer to teach me medicine, on the grounds that it's their field, they don't like me, and they don't feel like they have any reason to teach it to me. What is one to do? I could call myself a heart surgeon, but still keep practicing law, but that's just ridiculous. I could just go ahead and try doing an open heart surgery anyway, but that will undoubtedly have serious negative repercussions. Or, I could just resign myself that I'm probably never going to be a heart surgeon in this lifetime, and if I don't like law, maybe I should just study something else entirely. Maybe someday I'll have enough good fortune to gain the trust of some heart surgeons who will teach me anyway - and if that happens, and I learn how to perform open heart surgery, then great, I can do that then - but it's probably best not to hold my breath, and just roll with the situation as it is. 

 

I've definitely been drawn to some paths in my life - certain Native American tribes' religions, some African Diasporic stuff - that seemed like they were really calling me, but when it came down to it, I realized that I'm probably never going to be legitimately initiated into those traditions, and if that's not the case, then I should really just leave it alone. And I get that the spiritual forces involved are not controlled by human beings, but humans do pass on the knowledge of how to contact those spiritual forces. Reading a book and having a feeling that it's right is not going to give me enough familiarity with the spiritual technology (eg ritual forms, means of trance-induction, etc) to really work with those forces. If they are really calling to me, if it is my life's path, then chances are someone who does have familiarity with that path and is willing to teach will cross paths with me anyway. 

 

(I should note that the above is something I've had to learn the hard way, and it took a lot of humility to reach those conclusions). 

 

***

 

And now, since everyone else is sharing about their own genetic backgrounds and how that ties into their paths: On my mothers side it's half Ashkenazi Jew, half a mix of Irish and German; on my father's side, it's half from southern Italy, the other half a mix of German, Scottish, and English. The two lineages I currently work with as far as Ancestors go both on my mother's side: her father's paternal line, who are Jews, and her mother's maternal line which goes back to Ireland. I'm involved in Druidry, so I guess the Celtic stuff in there covers that. I work with some Greek deities, which I suppose is covered by the Italian, and a particular Celtic deity has been calling to me recently in trancework, although there's only record of him amongst the Gaulish traditions, rather than Insular. Years ago, early on my spiritual journey, I had a strong calling from Shiva, so there's a wildcard, though I don't really work with him anymore, for the most part. My training in magic comes from several human teachers - one trained in general "shamanism", one who works entirely with Ancestral healing, and one whose traditional witchcraft is rooted mostly in stuff from the British Isles, Germanic folklore, and Scandinavian trolldom stuff. Plus I do duel-faith observance with (albeit very heterodox) Christianity, and dabble in stuff like astrology, Tarot, and kabbalah. And of course, I learn the most from the spirits, particularly of nature and of the dead. As an animist, I try to seek out places of power in my locale, and honor the spirits there, but I certainly don't claim to practice the traditions of the local tribes. 

 

Well, make of that what you will. 

 

***

 

As a closing note, I dream of a day when the societal systems we live under to-day - capitalism, colonialism, racism, sexism, the dual monopoly of conservative Christianity and reductionist materialism over all philosophical and religious fields, etc - are long gone, when we live in some better world, and I imagine that when such a world exists, the shamans and witches of all continents will have no more need for secrecy and suspicion of outsiders, and will form vast global networks where practitioners of all traditions will learn from each other and help each other to hone humanity's collective spiritual technology, and better our relationship with the spiritual otherworld. Such a thing is nothing more than a pipe-dream in the society we live in, but someday, maybe. 


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Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world
The heart has its beaches, its homeland and thoughts of its own
Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings
But the heart has its seasons, its evenings and songs of its own
 

#48 Forester

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 05:45 AM

I can relate to this description. I feel I may have been called by Diana/Artemis. I am wary, due to my philosophy, about pursuing this, however I am fortunate enough to have a friend who is a Hellenist, who informs me it's quite normal to be involved with only one deity and that I don't have to start worshipping a whole pantheon and become a Hellenophile just because I may be drawn to her. I also feel this may justify me violating my own rule, if someone like him is so welcoming.

I'm still not sure if the connection is me pursuing her or her pursuing me, I've never been interested in the traditional classics, but I find her admirable. I am also unsure if this is some philosophical infatuation (she is a strong female figure not defined by who she is married to, which I respect, and who has intimate connections to forests, as do I) or that I might actually find myself building a rapport with her, due to my godless animism up this point, I don't want to worship anything again or I will feel I have not really escaped the religiosity I fought with a few years ago.

As such any relationship I may have with her I will always feel like a guest in another culture's history. I wish to seek ties with the natural forces, will a deity distract this, or will she possibly make a "deal" of sorts which is mutually beneficial? Greek deities after all are not like typical ideas of God, verging far more on personification, and much more human than we realise. I don't know.

Sorry I'm blathering but it seemed appropriate to the topic.

Edited by Forester, 16 May 2017 - 05:47 AM.

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#49 FlyingPeregrine

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 01:53 PM

I'd really like to know where different practitioners draw their lines, or if they have lines, on this topic.

To be clear, I'm not talking about how many generations of witches you come from. If that is the case this topic will not probably apply to you.

A lot of us from the States (and probably elsewhere too) are absolute genetic mutts if we are honest with ourselves. And of course there are not truly any "States" specific long standing traditions except a few very specific localized traditions like different forms of mountain magic, hoodoo, etc. And Wicca of course(cough). I know, for me what styles of practice speak to me in a "like calls to like way", not in a "it's cool because I like dream catchers" way. And In my personal experience, what speaks to you is not always your dominant genetic lineage. The areas that speak to me ARE part of my ancestry, but not the biggest piece of my DNA pie, so to speak. But, that's just me.

I certainly think if your going to claim a culture or tradition, you'd best know it very well and respect it completely. I also think ancestor veneration and assistance are important. But beyond that I do not personally have a strong opinion.

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

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

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

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

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

 

I come from a line of Jewish and Celtic peoples. I'm drawn to Norse paganism, however. I have some elements of the Celtic faith (i.e. mainly the creatures and spirits like fairies), but follow Freya. Freya deals with fairies and elves, anyway, but it definitely comes from my Celtic roots. 

I was drawn to my beliefs. Different things call to different people for a special reason. I don't think DNA has to be involved, but it definitely helps with the connection. The foundation of one's practice should be what calls to them. I went to a southern baptist church that my family felt was very important for several decades, but never felt at place because I wanted to practice witchcraft. 


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#50 Yex

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 06:18 PM

I think it's worth noting, just because it seems to come up a lot in this thread, that one's blood ancestors stretch a lot farther back than the people whose names we know. No matter how long one's family may have embraced Christianity, somewhere further back in the lineage, there are spirits who, in life, practiced pre-Christian religions. 

 

 I don't think DNA has to be involved, but it definitely helps with the connection. 

 

______________________________________________

 

^ I agree with this, generally. I would add, though, that, in my opinion, no matter who you are, you have some ancestral spirits, from somewhere back in your family tree - it may be a long ways - who are alive in your DNA and guide you magically. I don't think you need to try and reconstruct the historical spirituality of your culture(s) of genetic origins - at least not necessarily - but it is there, and it does play some role, however subtle. 

 

(Sorry if this post digressed too far from the original topic). 


Edited by Yex, 18 May 2017 - 06:19 PM.

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Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world
The heart has its beaches, its homeland and thoughts of its own
Wake now, discover that you are the song that the morning brings
But the heart has its seasons, its evenings and songs of its own
 

#51 Madame

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Posted 21 May 2017 - 04:17 AM

I don't think it's DNA but rather cultural ancestry...I am the rare American who is 5th generation on my mom's side and 8th on my dad's but I'm strictly of Polish and German descent. There's no such thing as "pure genetics" IMO...lots of migrations happened over the course of history all over Europe, borders changed and changed again and changed once again. But since being in the US, up until my mom's generation, they were always generally marrying other culturally Polish people. My grandmother was secretly dating a German boy as teenager, and when her grandmother found out she was forbidden to ever see him again and she borderline arranged a courtship with the Polish kid down the street for her, who eventually became her first husband, for example. My dad's side was in a rural area dominated by German immigrants, to the point where 100 years after landing in the US, my paternal side was still speaking German alongside English. Everyone in his county had a German or Americanized German last name.

 

So that said, there are elements of both cultures that end up in my practice. Sometimes a little bit of old world Catholicism ends up in there.The old folk beliefs that my maternal side brought along with them also have a place with me, too.

 

I have had dealings with some of the Greek pantheon but I don't have any patrons or tend to utilize any reconstructions of Helenic paganism. I looked into Rodnovery but although I enjoy the lore and myths, that path ultimately didn't call to me, either. Animism is more my thing, like many others. I also incorporate the native plants and places of power where I live, but I have my own unique conversations with them rather than following Native traditions. Those aren't for me or people like me. Those are a unique conversation that Native people have been having with this land that I have no business involving myself into. 


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