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Oroboros

Cultural Appropriation

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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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It depends on how one is using cultural appropriation, for instince, as a Historian I know that cultural appropriation doesn't really exist because people have always learned and used from one another throughout history. It's not a popular statement but its valid, Vikings had dredlocks way back in the day does that mean everyone with dredlocks are ripping off Vikings? No, because  even people in babylon had dredlocks, this is just a quick example. If you mean using the culture in a purposeful expolitive way of a culture you hate, detest, or occupy then I am against that but that I see as something different, also cultural appropriation is a more modern concept that would take a very long post to explain.

 

My genetics are of Englsih, Irish, and Sicillian Jewish mix, I like aspects of them but I also don't feel overly connected to them, even on St.Patricks day, St. George's Day, or the High Holy Days. I view it as happenstance, I happened to be born in the United States, in New England, and these two people happened to mate and have me. I use the aspects I like, overall if something speaks to me then I'll use it. As far as deity I hold a more Panendeism view. 

Edited by Ozman

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With you completely on this, Ozman. A couple years ago when one dear to me told me that cultural appropriation doesn't actually exist, my knee-jerk reaction was to feel like it was an offensive and privileged standpoint---but, nah, it's just a fact. There's no culture today that's "pure" in the way that we might envision a hidden glade of elves untouched by the outside world would be, and even the ancient indigenous groups of [insert anywhere here] are the product of cultural sharing that runs deeper than any anthropologist could trace. I don't think any but maybe a deranged minority were shouting "help, help, they're appropriating my culture!" back in the day when the cults of Isis, Hecate, and Hermes were spreading vastly beyond the (disputed) roots of their conception, taking up new additions to their mantles with every new culture they were appropriated into. Like with most things in life, just don't be a dick about it and at least try to be educated, and all's well.

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Exactly. I think that having an ancestral connection might make it *easier* to bond with a tradition, but it's certainly not the only way to bond with it or to make it a part of your life.

 

And any religious leader will tell you, sometimes converts are the ones that are strongest and most zealous in their faith, because it was a deliberate choice that they made to go in a new direction.

I couldn't agree more with this idea... myself, I'm Irish, Russian, Pennsylvania German and French, but I've always been drawn to ancient Egyptian mythology and their pantheon. I guess it may not be an actual tradition as it is not current, and I'm still in the process of figuring out what exactly draws me to it, but your post resonated with me because of that.

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I couldn't agree more with this idea... myself, I'm Irish, Russian, Pennsylvania German and French, but I've always been drawn to ancient Egyptian mythology and their pantheon. I guess it may not be an actual tradition as it is not current, and I'm still in the process of figuring out what exactly draws me to it, but your post resonated with me because of that.

My DNA says that I came out of Egypt with the exodus, Maybe you did too, then Egyptian mythos would definitely appeal to you.

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If you zoom your focus out far enough, it seems that we're all interconnected, each culture taking part in a single shared history. Thankfully though, you don't need to glean validation for a fascination with any given culture or mythos by retracing genes back to antiquity; human religious expression is fascinating in its own right. It might be hard to identify any one component of a vast mythos and aesthetic as the reason above all else behind your attraction to it...when we admire a beautiful specimen in a garden, we are drawn to its entirety at once, not simply one particular leaf or one petal on their own.

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I have mixed emotions, especially as I am very close with my ancestors. So - this answer will constantly contradict itself, lol, but here goes: I love Natie American Spirituality, but my ancestors are all from England and it would be hard to ask their advice or guidance as none of them would even recognize what I was doing in an NA ceremony. Take it all the way back to the first human-type thing that wandered to North America across the Bering Strait and my ancestors are probbly related to it, but bottom line is that was so long ago that those beings (although their memories may be accessible with a lot of work) will have had experiences that are probably so beyond anything I can imagine that I wouldn't recognize their response to my asking for guidance. Then again, I could just work with my ancestors for love, family guidance, blessings, etc., and not bring any culture into it for them although it could leave me without magical/spiritual guidance (I'd have to think about that one more).

 

The other issue I have is true, horrible "chain migration" (people who were migrated against their will in chains). That happened with a lot of the cultural practices down here that survived be being integrated or hidden ( Santeria, Voodoo, Hoodoo...). Santeria (which is a truly beautiful religion, BTW) was an African religion. It was integrated into the Latin culture down here through the Cuban slave trade. That is how it survived. So much of the rituals, sayings, etc., now are actually in Spanish. But it was so well guarded and protected that the true rituals and beliefs did not get adulterated. And I think that adulteration is a big problem in spiritual traditions (just look at old-school original Gardnerian Wicca compared to artsy-fartsy new age "hi, like, OMG, I'm in a coven of pink sparkle fairies" wicca out there these days). But getting back on topic, I think many people who had/have been persecuted, slave-traded/sold, and had their culture raped and destroyed would be spitting fire at anyone who tried to claim their culture without actually, truly experiencing the horror (whether through memory, elder stories, or experience). That doesn't mean one couldn't respectfully claim a cultural spirituality as their own, but I don't think it can be done quickly - one would have to truly, deeply, delve into the past.

 

I was once tapping into memories of a culture that lived in a cold climate. The memory I pulled was a woman walking in the snow, holding a frozen baby to her breast. She knew it was dead, but was too despondent to let it go... not even heartbroken as much as having given up all hope to the point of not being able to care anymore. In the  memory the tribe also knew it was dead but that was the least of their worries - they were trying to keep the living ones still alive.  It was devastating and I was overwhelmed for days afterwards. I think that anyone whose ancestors had lived that reality might be offended by someone who had sparkly, sexy, snow goddesses taped to their mirror and claimed to represent a snow culture (and if you do claim to practice a cultural belief, then to anyone outside of that culture you WILL be representing that culture). Sexy snow goddess is only taking one small part of things and making something unreal, unbalanced, and destroying it's validity in daily life. One would have to take the whole culture, not just a part of it, and most cultural spiritualities are so deeply guarded against outside adulteration that I don't know if it would be possible.

 

Anyway, that's my opinion for now - it will probably change tomorrow, lol lol lol...

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If you zoom your focus out far enough, it seems that we're all interconnected, each culture taking part in a single shared history. Thankfully though, you don't need to glean validation for a fascination with any given culture or mythos by retracing genes back to antiquity; human religious expression is fascinating in its own right. It might be hard to identify any one component of a vast mythos and aesthetic as the reason above all else behind your attraction to it...when we admire a beautiful specimen in a garden, we are drawn to its entirety at once, not simply one particular leaf or one petal on their own.

 

I couldn't have said it better myself, it's beautiful and poetic. 

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Context: I am a paleskinned, blue -eyed, redheaded American of Scottish, Welsh, and English extraction. I have experimented breifly with Wicca, I've initiated and studied Druidry, and I've taken a fairly deep foray into Heathenism, and I still work with some of the Heathen gods. Very recently I've started studying traditional witchcraft... I loved the first book I read about it a decade ago, but life happened and I'm just now continuing that study. I realize now that I've been drawn to the practices, ethics, and aesthetics of traditional witchcraft for years, and I've started working hard to more deeply encorporate those into my life

 

Life is never simple.

 

One of the most devout Heathen men I know is an African American.

 

I have been repeatedly told (by multiple different people in separate African traditions who dont know each other) that Yemaya, an orisha of the African Diaspora religions, wants to work with me.

 

So in addition to my studies in witchcraft, I've added studies in African Diaspora religion, Yoruba culture, Hoodoo, and Voodoo. If I'm hanging out with a Yoruban orisha I want to treat her right.

 

I am of the opinion that sometimes "they" choose you.

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