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Thread: Cultural Appropriation and the Gods

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
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    Where it gets interesting is something else I picked up in both Nippon and Scotland. I have Scottish ancestry and of course a son born in Nippon. By heritage some would there because they are land wights that are attached to place but also land wights attached to familial roles that are not ancestors but connected to families. As we move about they move with us yet aid us in retaining a connection to the ancient lands. So under that concept I have Highland & probably Norse landspirits and Kami Spirits that are connected to my family and proper honoring would be to honor them in the tradition of both heritages. Then factor in the American influence of a Native ancestry as well as the Landspirits of this land as a whole and the traditional influences here. All of that falling beneath the idea of animism / animatism and shamanic influences and theologies. Figure not even realistically considering spiritual & religious influences with regards to gods & goddesses factored in as mine tend to be centered mostly about Hellene pantheon divinities.

    So the land spirits or wights have some that dwell with us but are connected to the land, some that are connected to the land but remain in their home area and some that are connected to us by familial lines and their connections are to us though they gain energy from the land itself. Land being sort of symbolic in the the wight or spirit can be of any element or realm and collectively called a spirit or daemon. But that is why I say one has to understand how it all tied together. Especially when mixing. It's like red was a color the Kami liked and was very popular in Nipponese art and Yin & Yang. Yet it was a color that was highly taboo from what I recall in the southern US where Navajo Skin Walkers were to be found nor was sit popular in Cherokee (Tsalagi) areas where Raven Mockers were to be found. Don't quote me on that though been awhile since I messed with that lore. So sometimes doing it the way someone else did it because that's the only way you know is not the best way to do something, that's where that cultural appropriation gets messy again.

    It's like the Dragon I suppose. It carries it's pearl of wisdom in it's claw yet one of the legends says the further east it went the greater the cost to its claws. So by the time it got to Korea it only had four or three claws, by the time it got to Nippon it tended to have only three claws. Did it loose wisdom? Perhaps, but one thing is certain only the Imperial dragon of China is golden and has five claws, the rest had 4 but as it went east they began to fall off. But then all the Lungs are associated with water in some capacity except the Pan-Lung who is associated with the earth and deep treasures which I suppose could be equated to wisdom as well for it lies deep and like water penetrates all things but has to rise to the surface but can be quite destructive depending upon how it is unleashed. Very different from their western counter parts who are earthly, brute force and destructive. Except for the Hydra, it guards one of the gates to the underworld and is associated with water as well, but cut off a head and it grows two more. Which is sort of reflective of wisdom I suppose for a wise person always is creating new possibilities much like new heads.

  2. #32
    Join Date
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    You see this is the stuff I truly LOVE to get into. Both on a practical spiritual level and a purely academic level. The color example is why the research and quest for more knowledge is so very important, whether you are diving deeper into your own culture or 'appropriating' someone else. It is pretty easy to avoid a particular color once you find out that it is not a good one to the culture of the spirits, but it is very hard to find that out if everyone closes themselves off completely to anyone coming to ask. Again I would not wish to force them to talk but education is better then denying knowledge every time, except when the knowledge may get someone hurt or it doesn't belong to you to give. IMO.

    Then you also run into things that may not be offensive but aren't exactly traditional, but it is better then nothing. So basically, nothing is better then being offensive, but something that isn't exactly right is better then nothing at all depending on your circumstances. I put the circumstances in there because if you are spending the same amount on mead that you could be spending on sake and you know these spirits prefer sake (even if they don't mind mead if its all you have) then you are just being rude to the spirit and the culture because your circumstances allow you to get the right thing you are just choosing not to. (The above example is just something I pulled off the top of my head; I have no idea if any of the spirits are picky over those specific offerings as that is a huge gap in my education I am only now starting to close)

    And speaking of Animism, it is traditional in Nippon to bring old objects to a Jinja (shrine) to be thanked and burned rather then throwing them away. I'm not sure if any other animist cultures had different traditions for such things or how someone might do it if they don't have a sanctioned Jinja near by. Animisticly speaking, what would the difference be between a set of chopsticks used in Nippon and the same set used in the US as far as retirement of the item is concerned? If one only knows the Nippon method or tradition, is it ok to use it even if you are not in Nippon and are not Nipponjin? Could you do your own version of the ceremony as best you can considering your circumstances? Or should you search high and low for your own cultures way of paying respect to a tool who was useful and did its job well but has reached the end of its life so to speak? Assuming your culture even has a way or an Animistic history.

    In this instance I would say that cultural appropriation is appropriate and the right thing to do, personally, and I would hope that someone of the culture who does know more then the person not of the culture, who is just trying to do the right and respectful thing, would help them fill in any gaps in their knowledge to make sure it goes as well as possible. For the sake of the spirit being honored, not the person seeking the knowledge.
    神の恵みと祖先の恩とに感謝し
    明き清きまことをもって祭しにいそしむこと。

    Kami no megumi to sosen no on to ni kanshashi
    Akaki kiyoki makoto o motte saishi ni isoshimu koto.

    I am grateful for the blessings of the kami and my ancestors
    And will practice my faith with brightness, purity, and sincerity.

    敬神生活の綱領
    Keishin seikatsu no koryo
    Commitment of Life Devotion

    - 'Shinto Norito' by Ann Llewellyn Evans -


  3. #33
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    I think with Hashi (chop-sticks) it depends. If they are the fine ones then you use the ceremonial methods. Yet if they are the mass produced wooden ones you get in most places then they are thrown out. But in that regard it's all relative to the situation and quality of the hashi. Yet like I said many things depend, around Christmas you'll see the roadsides and trash can's packed with Daruma Doll's with one eye colored in. It denotes wishes that were made and the lack of the second eye colored in means the wish didn't come true. The same could be said of the O-Mikuji's that are seen hanging on tree's or walls around the same time or scattered on the ground at times though sometimes they'll also be on the rope tree's or straw ropes. Not wishes but good or bad fortune and was it changed. Boy making me think about Nipponese customs and such. I left there for the final time back in 1991 though we hosted a couple of exchange students for short term visits in 92-93 time frame.

    I think with a lot of groups how things are passed down or taken care of depended upon what it's value was to the person or family. Things that could be refurbished were often refurbished. Old clothes for instances could be re-purposed into quilts, and many times became heirloom items. Metal things could be smelted and reforged or cut down and recrafted into other items. Other items of course destroyed but destruction depended upon custom. Some by burning, some by burial beneath the ground, some by burial within caverns, some by burial upon open air platforms and left to rot and decay. That or the task given to the Spirit Keeper to aid the spirit in conveying it's last wishes while it drops its earthly garb and lets go of its possessions. Others left as offerings to the gods, goddesses or spirits, even sacrifices. Maybe calling in a Sin Eater to eat the sin's of the person so the spirit is cleaned and the possessions and body are purified in death. Old items can be an iffy thing to define at times depending upon culture. In the US we are pretty much a throw away culture so things go quickly. I saw places in Eastern Europe and Asia that people had stuff that probably was hundreds of years old but couldn't tell you if it still worked or not. Yet they still hung onto it. Saw estate sales in Scotland that were unreal for what was in them age wise.

    I suppose from my perspective that's where the shamanic warrior priest / priestess function comes in. They traveled with the warrior bands / clans and performed various rituals / ceremonies associated with war, battle, death, bravery, healing or mixing the potions and medicine. But were not exactly like what most view shamanism like today. I know some of them where contraries. A contrary could be a person who bathed in dirt and dried off in water, a person who was a woman but performed and dressed as a man or vice-a-versa, a person who rode into battle backwards, all sorts of things. That or they could fall into what the Norse would call a bereserker or skin walker ie one who refused armor but wore the skin or a bear or wolf only.

    Thing about traditional is tradition often varies by location. Even within the same culture, society or region there maybe minor to major differences between how the same traditional things are observed and celebrated. That's what the dragon and it's talons tells us. The further afield you get from the center the more the change even when it is about the very same thing. Yet it all pertains to the same thing, ie the dragon but it will change, it has to change. Yet the change is from within and by the people who it serves and represents as it moves outward. The dragon did not loose it's talons because change came from without acting upon it, it lost them because it moved outward from it's source and was changed from within. Change the Pantheon to Hellene, Roman, Kemetic, Norse, it doesn't matter there is a difference in how it is seen between different places within the sphere of it's reach as it spreads outward from its center. Even the very calendar's that mark the year may vary between the major populations centers, causing the rituals and ceremonies to vary as well.

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