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Thread: Cultural Appropriation and the Gods

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Humming Bird View Post
    ..Point is, with dreads and white people wearing dreads I don't see black people saying "Thats disrespecting the traditions surrounding wearing dreads" or "that's not how you honor dreads" it becomes "white people can't wear dreads" and I think it comes out of a desperate want of reclaiming their identity all the same, but that it is this notion that it is a black thing, a way of showing they are balack and if white people do it then they'll have to struggle even more to show they are different.
    You touch on something here that I think is sort of relevant to the US more so than anywhere else. In that regard it's not really a black thing, a white thing or an Asian thing but a thing that American's suffer through.

    My European ancestry is mostly Irish, Scottish some German though I've not taken a DNA test to see what else is there. Rumor mill on the other hand of course says other things and names suggest other ethnics sources that DNA might confirm. Yet here's the rub, I'm not Irish or Scottish for that ancestry migrated to the colonies in the late 1600's early 1700's so to far removed to be Irish or Scottish. Same thing applies to the other European ancestry, to many generations removed to say I am of anything more than of _______ European descent. So many times you get you can't claim that heritage because your not living it and the connection to it is to far removed. The very things that make a person Highland Scot by tradition, heritage, stories, memories, rites, etc are basically lost to us other than fragmented things that are many generations removed. To be truthful when you go back looking it's not to often your welcomed back with open arms and welcomed into the family clan or fold because other than a surname there is little to connect you.

    Race or ethnicity doesn't really matter, we're all in that same boat unless your families arrival in within a generation or three for the most part. To far removed from ancestral binds and heritages to actually be connected to them by lineages and ceremonies and many times accused of appropriation when something touches deeper strands within us that come from somewhere else. Many times potentially not even knowing the why of just why it is reaching out to us or what it is we are hoping to fill in us by its presence. It's like why have various Native Nations contacted various High Land Clans and felt a connection to them when they saw how the clans were set up and saw the spiritual world? Because there where a lot of similarities between them which I've heard was one reason the Irish and Scottish settled on the frontier areas where the Cherokee where and got along rather well. Yes there were differences but the similarities and spirit world was not entirely dissimilar either. Is It true? Some of the Cherokee I've known and spoke to have said there are a lot of my deeper beliefs that have a lot of Cherokee influences or what appear to potentially have come that route but appear to definitely have been Native American in influence.

    So many times I think there is an issue where it's not cultural appropriation as much as trying to find an idea of cultural identity when you really do not have one. To far removed from the identity and stuff your ancestors came from yet not really having one you can call your own as the very nature of culture is putting us in

  2. #12
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    I try to avoid cultural appropriation when and where I can. I mean, I'm syncretic in my religion, but I focus on a few particular sources to draw from. And I do my best to research and understand where it's coming from. But if someone else's personal practice is enriched by embracing things from a culture they're not born into, I'm not going to get in their face about it. It's not my place to tell someone else how to live their life.

    At the same time I genuinely think we should be trying to move past ethnic and cultural boundaries. I know I sound a little naive, but I grew up hearing over and over again the value of multiculturalism. That we are strengthened by diversity, and it should be embraced. And more often than not, I see this issue crop up and divide people rather than bring them together.

  3. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louisvillian View Post
    I try to avoid cultural appropriation when and where I can. I mean, I'm syncretic in my religion, but I focus on a few particular sources to draw from. And I do my best to research and understand where it's coming from. But if someone else's personal practice is enriched by embracing things from a culture they're not born into, I'm not going to get in their face about it. It's not my place to tell someone else how to live their life.

    At the same time I genuinely think we should be trying to move past ethnic and cultural boundaries. I know I sound a little naive, but I grew up hearing over and over again the value of multiculturalism. That we are strengthened by diversity, and it should be embraced. And more often than not, I see this issue crop up and divide people rather than bring them together.
    The problem though, is that many self-called inclusive groups will appropriate and water down the teachings of others to assimilate them into their own cultures and views. You are allowed to be involved so long as you hold the same politics. So with most inclusive movements we actually lose our cultural diversity. When people say they want to remove cultural boundaries what they are really saying is that they dont really want to understand and honor cultural differences. They aren't really for multi-culturalism, they are for easy comforts and the world being a safe place where everyone agrees with them in their new-age delight.
    Tsalagi Nvwoti Didahnvwesgi Ale Didahnesesgi
    (Cherokee medicine practitioner of left and right hand paths)
    anikutani.stfu-kthx.net - The Anikutani Tradition

  4. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louisvillian View Post
    I try to avoid cultural appropriation when and where I can. I mean, I'm syncretic in my religion, but I focus on a few particular sources to draw from. And I do my best to research and understand where it's coming from. But if someone else's personal practice is enriched by embracing things from a culture they're not born into, I'm not going to get in their face about it. It's not my place to tell someone else how to live their life.

    At the same time I genuinely think we should be trying to move past ethnic and cultural boundaries. I know I sound a little naive, but I grew up hearing over and over again the value of multiculturalism. That we are strengthened by diversity, and it should be embraced. And more often than not, I see this issue crop up and divide people rather than bring them together.
    I think part of the problem with multiculturalism is the presumption that it implies equality and equity between the cultures within it. Far to often your more likely to encounter cultural enclaves within a larger community than actually find a mixed cultural system though that is what most seem to infer when the term is utilized. It many times seems to both give a false sense of acceptance to exploit or borrow aspects of the weaker or lessor cultural aspects of one community by the larger or controlling community, almost condoning it. Yet the conclave mentality, inequality or lack of equity within the system for the culture's within it show it's more correct that it's monoculturalism more so than multiculturalism. It's also a concept that is pushed when one community is experiencing the influx of immigrants and the government is trying to make its people accept the influx of the new immigrant population. Even though the incoming immigrant population probably will not be accepting of the existing cultural and social dynamics nor be expected to embrace them. It becomes a buzz word or phrase used to humiliate or shame the established population for trying to resist or deny the immigrant population that is being introduced by the government through it's policies.

    At best the idea of multiculturalism is sort of a continuation of colonialism in the sense that a primary western cultural practice exist and other culture's exists within the shadow of it. Then some lip service is applied under the concept of supposedly recognizing and giving them equality and equity as a culture but they still are lessor to the main western culture. Then anytime a new series of immigrants are introduced into the community they take a precedent over the existing western cultural practice and focus for the moment and push the lower one down even further. To use the current US model the Muslim immigrant's are the major focus of the multicultural system and multiculturalism concept. Behind them are probably the LGBQT section of society given the current political fall out, then the BLM and African American's in general, Asian American and Native Americans even further down the chain regarding the multiculturalism listings. Yet realistically all of them are conclaves of culture's and societies that exists within the western culture which is itself broken down into conclaves divided based upon ethnicity, economics, regionalisms, educationalisms. The very Multiculturalism idea nothing more than a 1970's idea usually attributed to Canada.

    Of course just my opinion so others may disagree.

  5. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by monsnoleedra View Post
    I think part of the problem with multiculturalism is the presumption that it implies equality and equity between the cultures within it.
    Isn't that something we should be striving for? Be the change you want to see, and all that.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Louisvillian View Post
    Isn't that something we should be striving for? Be the change you want to see, and all that.
    Truthfully I do not think you can ever achieve a sense of equality and equity between cultures. In part due to the fact it first requires and demands that each culture be willing to sanitize it's own heritage so as not to offend those outside its structure. Every culture is made up of all the influences that made it what it is, the good and the bad that went into molding it and shaping the ethics, mentality, spirituality, identity of the self and the stratification of its members. Multiculturalism relies greatly upon the notion of selecting noble aspects of a culture, usually as defined by others outside that culture, and encouraging those traits. Then discouraging those traits that conflict with what others find offensive and replacing them with either imported non-natural cultural traits or sanitized traits that have been carefully "filtered". Then repeating the process until the original culture is no longer even recognizable but only a shadow of its former self.

    Historically it's been applied to foreign person's migrating into an area, whether it be the US or other regions. It's also been heavily applied to existing populations that existed prior to the establishment of a given area, again looking at the US you can see the influence upon Native American culture's that existed prior to the colonial period and later westward migration. It's been applied to regions within the US when other areas have decided that they knew better and the existing cultural norm had to be eliminated such as the mountain culture in many area's that was attacked for both the land they possessed or false social constructs that attempted to prove the mountain populations were inbreed, uneducated, cut off from many advancements in modern society which made them culturally backwards, etc. One could take it even further with the cultural difference that exists between the North, the South and the West coast and the mid-western states regarding political, religious, spiritual, family, economic, etc differences that separate the various regions. That doesn't even touch the various "Little ______" settlement conclaves where English is not the spoken language nor the prevailing cultural influence but are heavily German, Dutch, French or as we are seeing now more Muslim focused.

    To many people have already lost their own identity due to multiculturalism and are not willing to lose any more. I think one failure aspect of multiculturalism is the constant push that one groups culture needs to be protected and taught while another groups is attacked which puts people on the defensive. It's more of that selective nature of what is acceptable and positive and what is negative and thus has to be removed.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by monsnoleedra View Post
    Truthfully I do not think you can ever achieve a sense of equality and equity between cultures. In part due to the fact it first requires and demands that each culture be willing to sanitize it's own heritage so as not to offend those outside its structure.
    I think this is the assumption that causes most of the problems people see with Cultural Appropriation. There is no need for the original culture to sanitize it's heritage, none. Just because the Japanese adopted Buddhism and changed it to fit their own culture didn't mean that the Chinese masters they learned it from had to change their own practices to match. And those old masters didn't disown their Japanese students for starting a new sub-sect, the religious lineage is still there an acknowledged even across sect lines and times. In fact I would argue that ancient Japan with its knack for "cherry picking" from surrounding cultures, without delegitimatizing the original, is the perfect example of how multiculturalism can and has worked in the past.

    Most of the problem people have is with assumptions others and even themselves make. If I take some Celtic beliefs into my own faith, it doesn't mean I am calming to be a druid and everyone else who also clams the tittle but doesn't follow my way is wrong. But that seems to be what some ASSUME I may be doing in this hypothetical example. At the same time if I take in these Celtic beliefs without taking in EVERYTHING it doesn't mean that I didn't study and don't respect the things I chose not to take. There is a chance I may have lost the true meaning in doing this, but that is an opportunity for education and discussion not "how dare you defile my beliefs!" who knows, I may make a rather convincing argument for my choice, using a part of the same culture you didn't consider or think about. There is a reason why people learning a second language can sometimes know said languages inner workings and history better then those who grew up speaking it, because they HAD to learn it from the outside. There are countless people who follow certain cultural faiths and traditions without knowing WHY, just that they have always done it. Forgetting this is just as bad as ignoring or forgetting the opposite, that people who grew up in it may have a different, and more accurate, view of it then an outsider.

    My last point is this. If someone sharing your culture means that you can't have it anymore then there is something very wrong. It is still your culture no mater who else is using it, you can claim it without baring others. Just because we give minorities equal rights does NOT mean that suddenly we have less rights (no mater who the 'minority' or the 'we' are in this sentence). Again, as long as someone, anyone, inside or outside of the culture, doesn't try and force a global change of said culture and kick you out then you aren't loosing anything and you really need to look deep and see why you might feel that you are. Culture and religion are not like prom dresses, where you need to be the only one at the prom with that particular dress. If sharing your culture and religion (and by this I mean you both have the same elements not you personally taught it to someone else) means that you somehow loose your identity as an individual then there is something wrong with how your are seeing things, not with how other person is practicing your religion or culture. IMO

    In the end it is all about respect. Are you respecting the original people, history, knowledge and culture? if yes then good. Are you claiming to know more about it then the original? That they have some "good" parts mixed in with some "bad" or "misguided" parts that you have chosen to disregard because you know better? if yes then you are showing disrespect and that is bad.
    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 -


  8. #18
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    Sorry would have to disagree. Nippon (Japan) is not as multicultural as your trying to make it sound. Yes there is an influence from China and many Japanese persons from the royal court did learn and return to Japan (Wu as the Chinese called it) but that didn't mean they embraced it. In fact Nippon closed it's borders quite a bit and spent more than a few years making things their own before it truly became Nipponese and was recognized as being reflective of Nipponese culture. The fact that the Imperial court retained any contact to the Nipponese Imperial court through the island and royal court of the Ryukyu Islands is a testament of influence. But even today there is a strong stratification in Nipponese society and a very strong resistance to multiculturalism regarding ethnic & heritage issues. Economic issues are quite separate from cultural & ethnic issues and the hidden societies and blood checks are still performed for marriages. That doesn't even touch social stratification such as first born's marrying first born's, mother's having rights over wives within the first born son's home. Even the 6.5 years I lived in Nippon more than a few of our Nipponese friends were surprised that I as a first born son had a first born wife.

    Yet there is a considerable dispute between the Chinese version(s) of Buddhism and the Nipponese version of Buddhism. Both of which still have some disputes between Indian & Tibetan versions of Buddhism so it's not all as forgiving as your trying to paint a picture of here. Nor can you remove the influence of the Shinto religion from Nipponese Buddhism as Nipponese people tend to start life out as Shintoist then later in life convert to Buddhism even at times practicing both at the same time.

    That lack and conflict of multiculturalism a significant reason why Nippon closed its borders and restricted all contact with the outside world as it sought to retain its own unique identity and heritage. Similar to China's attempt to retain it's own sense of heritage and identity prior to the warring states period and the Opium wars period where Western powers basically usurpered it's identity and self right to government / religion. The political period where the Qing Dynasty ruled in China and the Great White Fleet forced the Emperor and Shogun to accept Western influence upon the Imperial court in Tokyo. So much for multiculturalism and it being a benefit and not forcing people to change and accept foreign influence. Something that continues though people today try to claim it as a right when they seek to do it for their own benefit at the expense of another peoples heritage / spirituality.

    Regarding beliefs if your not living it and weren't raised in and under it then your not experiencing it. Your on the outside of the fishbowl looking in and trying to understand it and imagine what it means to be inside the fishbowl. You can read all about it, maybe have a better history of it than the person inside the fishbowl but your still not being subjected to all the influences that created the conditions inside the fishbowl. Your not part of the process that underwent the process that determined why something was added, dropped, changed and the causation for any of it. So your missing the catalyst and fallout that resulted from it. Your not better informed or more qualified, your just someone who wants to be part of it or borrow some aspect of their heritage / spirituality but never experience the totality that brought them to that point. So yes culture and religion / spirituality is like a prom dress and you are the only one at the prom with that particular dress and sharing it is taking it without proper authority and justification if you've never actually experienced all that goes into knowing why they are wearing it and what all the trappings really mean to them.

    I recall describing a lesson I was giving once and the person I was talking to told me I speak like an Indian elder in how I described it. I told them I might have Native blood but I am not an elder nor can I prove I have NA blood. They told me I speak in that way which was good, I respected their way which was also good, I didn't claim a heritage which wasn't mine even though it might be which was good and I didn't claim a title that belonged to another people. Yet he also said I was marked for he could see death had claimed me once and left it's mark and I had returned. Did it make me special? No But it did show me things belong to cultures and the people in them and the way they are taught is what is shown to them other people were shown similar truths but in different ways but it wasn't so they could take it from another culture because they forgot it in their own or didn't listen.

    But perhaps that's the shamanic influence upon my pathway. It's like the ratings in the Navy or Coast Guard. There are many ratings to get the job done and each does it a different way with different criteria and skill sets needed to get the job done. Looking at another's skill set doesn't get your job done no matter how well you develop their skill set. Unfortunately, it seems far to many get tired of what they were originally slated to do so seek an easier job or another job when the first one proved to difficult or challenging and look all over. But then after taking a bit here, and a bit there discover they still are left feeling empty because they didn't take everything but only the parts that appealed to them and disguarded the rest for one reason or another or moved on when the going got difficult. For many in the shamanic pathway we never got a choice it started the moment we died and were brought back from the veil.

    Sorry cultural appropriation and justification or the ease of justification gets to me. Falls to close to colonialism far to often as a justification.

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sage Rainsong View Post
    I know that this topic has been popular and controversial but I think it would be interesting to talk about here. How do you feel about cultural appropriation?Are certain beings and practices closed to some people? Do you draw the line somewhere? Is anything and everything ethically ok? Are some practices okay and not others? I have seen both end of the extremes of this argument and I want to know what you lovely people think.
    If I come across the information without use of unethical means and it's only being used in my practice then my general feeling on people saying, "Don't use that, it's ours" is moderately impolite. If I'm asked for information that I have acquired without personally resorting to unethical means AND that I have not agreed to keep in confidence then sharing that information is at my discretion. I don't really acknowledge copyright on a practice except when its a matter of law. With that said, I do have a few peeves

    a. If you are breaking an oath to share information and you don't have a **** good reason then you are wrong.
    b. If you acquire information under false pretenses without **** good reason then you are wrong.
    c. If you willfully lie about the nature of information that you are sharing, the origin of information that you are sharing or your authority to share that information without **** good reason then you are wrong.
    d. Knowing the rites/practices/etc of a position does not automatically confer on you that position*. Claiming otherwise is knowing and willful deceit. Engaging in this without (say it with me now) **** good reason means you are wrong.

    * To go with a universally familiar example. A Catholic priest is part of an organization. Yes there is training involved and knowledge that a priest is expected to have but taking all the classes in a seminary does not make you a priest. Pledging yourself to God and the Church and having that pledge accepted makes you a priest. If you claim to be a Catholic priest and the Church disagrees then by definition, you aren't a Catholic priest (I won't say you aren't a priest because divinities reserve the right to appoint agents but you won't be a Catholic priest). There is more to the position than knowing things.

  10. #20
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    I would add one facet of multiculturalism and working with the divine is the idea of revealed spirituality. Under the Abrahamic beliefs there are scriptures and Holy Books that contain the revealed teachings of the prophets and such. Each claiming to be giving the word of the divine being and his revealed message. Moving away from that and into other belief systems you also have revealed systems though they are not Abrahamic in origin but have that revealed concept.

    Yet many of the pagan / heathen practices have no such "revealed" scriptures and are mystery cults or revelation through divine guidance via other means, ie omens, prophecy, etc. Then you had a cultural and social structure in place of temples, priests & priestesses along with how to live and honor / worship the gods / goddesses that was part of the spiritual / religious life of the community. While the Abrahamic influences have created a one-on-one connection between devotee and divinity that has been picked up by most pagan / heathen practitioners there is still a lot of cultus influence in how the gods / goddesses influence culture / society. Especially in the sense of a culture's history and heritage and it's spirituality.

    So where does that leave the practitioner who receives direct revelation from a divine being? Especially if said divinity is not of that practitioners ethnic or cultural heritage. For many there is a claim it is cultural appropriation as the divine would not contact them to begin with. Yet a person has no control over who the divine choose to contact. Yet if you are contacted and something is revealed to you, is it cultural property? Are you bound to old honor rites dealing with that material and expectations? If such a revelation occurs at a sacred site, are you bound to the conditions of the sites former rules? For some I've heard people say yes, the site was dedicated to say Hekate at Samothrace and you being a devote are bound by the rules of her worship at said site. Your presence and the revelation of her guidance commits you to her conditions and expectations. Even if your on the waters that surround the island for they are still her sacred waters.

    It's like I was off of Egypt and had a lovely vision of Bastet under a full moon and an interesting journey. Clearly in Egyptian waters and her domain along with the symbology that went along with what all was revealed that night. Now some might argue it was Bastet, others might say it was the conflated union of Bastet and Artemis to whom I am blood Bound. Yet what was revealed complemented other visions I was given throughout the Med at other sites associated to Artemis. Yet I have not Hellene ancestry I am aware of, so is that cultural appropriation? Do I own the ceremonies and rituals shown to me? I have spoken of them to others, not as an authority but simply as these are things I saw or was shown and many matched things I read about or later discovered when I researched what was shown to me. Do I own it or is it cultural appropriation that at Korfu and Rhodes as I held an alabaster statue of a female archer a woman's voice rang in my mind in Korfu that said that is that Roman Diana, and in Rhodes said I told you that is that Roman Diana not me!.

    So I think there is a point where the gods / goddesses may reveal things that could be revealing of a culture but it doesn't mean it is taking from that culture. That or it is possible that something is revealed to better understand the divinity not as an archetype but as many persona's within a culture. If I only knew Artemis as the virgin huntress then i'd not truly know her as the Hellene's know her, i'd only know her as a small percentage know her. Yet it begs the question am I bound and charged to tell what she has taught me of her other persona's?

    I think people forget that cultural appropriation also has an element of cultural responsibility and accountability. We are not only accountable and responsible for what we might appropriate but also what we are given over to protect and look out for. What do we tolerate and condone and willing to turn a blind eye to.

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