Ancestor worship has become a popular topic in the Pagan community, but it is worth noting that it is not universal, or necessarily normative. It can also lead to some problems. . .
Recently I attended a workshop run by R. J. Stewart and he related a story of a discussion he had with a Lakota Shaman. Something she said to him was that she didn't want white people trying to take the practices of her people and make them their own, but rather that she wanted them to find their own practices and then meet with people from other practices and share what each of them was doing. When I heard that story, it made me think that something which is really important for all of us is cultural exchange, where we appreciate what a given person (and his/her culture) brings to the table without feeling the need to steal from it. Instead that appreciation allows us to learn from the other person and reflect on our own practices in context to what we've learned. We engage in a cultural exchange, so that everyone can benefit from what is learned.
Cultural appropriation is the wholesale stealing of a given culture's practices. The reason people do it may be a result of feeling disconnected from the culture they are in or identifying spirituality as only residing in the cultural practices of the culture they are appropriating from. Regardless of what the reason is, such appropriation ultimately creates a mockery of the original practices, because while the person might steal away the practices, s/he can never truly know the culture. S/he is always interpreting the other culture through the lens of his/her own culture.
One of the grey areas in this kind of discussions involves the choice to study a given culture's practices. I likely fit into that gray area. I study Tibetan and Taoist meditation practices. I am not of the cultures where those practices originated and I don't try to be. I study those practices to learn from them and implement them in my life, without trying to identify with the culture. It's a grey area, because I'm not trying to appropriate the overall culture and pretend to be something I'm not, but I am learning and practicing from that culture's spiritual practices. However, I think that such learning can fit into cultural exchange if it is done respectfully and with an intention to respect the original culture without trying to become part of it....
I don’t think that secrecy is a good thing. I don’t think it’s healthy and I don’t think it’s beneficial to anyone. Secrecy is a condition that allows all manner of malevolence to thrive. Secrecy allows wounds to fester in the darkness and spread infection throughout the family system.
I’ve heard 12-steppers speak of the ways in which their families are affected by keeping secret the alcoholism of one or more family members. Keeping that afflicted family member’s secret adversely affects everyone in the family. One rationale for keeping such secrets is shame.
The same is true of families in which there is physical, mental and/or emotional abuse. There is shame attached to allowing domestic abuse to continue. More importantly, there is the very real danger of serious injury or death....
Wow, it's been over a month since I last blogged. *chuckles* Whoops!
Truthfully, most of my activity has been over at my Tumblr, but even so... lots of life interruptus. But hey, a busy life means plenty to write about when you have time.
For example, today's focus is on Samhain and Sabbats in general, but also on the concept of Darkness and what it means to people in the magical world....