Cultural Appropriation in Spiritual Practice, Part Four: A Checklist for Evaluating Your Practices

Aug 14, 2019

Photo: The path forward: an ancient pathway through an indigenous Irish oak and hazel forest. Photo credit: Murphy Robinson

 

What have we learned?

To sum up, here are some things to think about when assessing your own use of practices from cultures other than your own:
 
  • How did you receive the practices?
     
  • Have you gone through the traditional initiations of that culture, or skipped over them?
     
  • Have you examined your white privilege and settler privilege generally (or just your settler privilege, if you’re a non-native person of color)?
     
  • Do you practice the traditions privately or publicly?  Public practice requires extra care and scrutiny.
     
  • How thoroughly do you explain the source, transmission, and permission when you discuss the practices with others?
     
  • Do you teach the practices to others?  Who gave you permission to do this?
     
  • Do you receive any money associated with these practices (this a HUGE red flag)?
     
  • Are you in current relationship with living people of the culture they come from?
     
  • What are you doing anything to give back and support the struggle against ongoing cultural genocide?
     
  • Are you using your privilege to lift up the voices of oppressed peoples and not just to promote yourself?
     
I don't think that all settlers completely shunning native practices is the answer to this problem, but I think that most settlers aren't doing it right.  I've met two or three white settlers who seem to be doing it well, and hundreds who are doing it poorly. I don’t think I’m doing it entirely right yet, but I’m getting much closer.  Awareness of your ethical impact demands constant evaluation and updating of your practices as you learn better ways to do things.
     Always remember:  the power of your magic is created by your integrity.  Be as impeccable as you know how to be. We are all figuring this out together, and we’ve all made individual and collective mistakes in the past.  Don’t get bogged down in guilt and shame, but once you know better, do better.  
 
Recommended Reading:
 Johnson, Lyla June.  “The Vast and Beautiful World of Indigenous Europe.”  https://whiteawake.org/2018/01/31/the-vast-and-beautiful-world-of-indigenous-europe/
 
Eve Tuck and K. Wayne Yang.  “Decolonization is not a Metaphor.”  Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education & Society.  Vol. 1, No. 1, 2012, pp. 1.40. https://www.latrobe.edu.au/staff-profiles/data/docs/fjcollins.pdf
 
Federici, Sylvia.  Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body, and Primitive Accumulation.  2004.
 
For training in open-source priestess/priestx/priest skills in a culturally aware setting:
 The Way of the Weaver, a spiritual training taught by Murphy Robinson and Jamie Waggoner:
 http://www.mountainsongexpeditions.com/wayoftheweaver.html

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