Gael Ùr

Discussing Gaelic culture, advocating Pagan story, honoring the Earth and the beings who share it with us.

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Interstice: Appropriation Looks Like This

This is just a quick, interstitial post about a thing I found online today. The attached meme tells us that the word 'tenalach' is Irish and 'describes a relationship one has with the land, air and water, a deep connection that allows one to literally hear the Earth sing'.

According to my Irish dictionary and the researches of several Irish-speaking commenters on the original post, this word does not exist in the language. In fact, it violates a basic principle of Irish spelling.

Folks, this is what cultural appropriation looks like. It matters less that the spiritual concept is gorgeous and fulfilling than it does that Irish language and culture were inappropriately overlaid upon it to lend it legitimacy. Irish deserves better than that and so do the people who speak it.

 

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C.S. MacCath is a writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry whose work has appeared in Strange Horizons, Clockwork Phoenix: Tales of Beauty and Strangeness, Murky Depths, Witches & Pagans and other publications. Her poetry has been nominated twice for the Rhysling Award, and her fiction has received honorable mention in The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Sixth Annual Collection.

Ceallaigh's first collection of fiction and poetry entitled The Ruin of Beltany Ring has been called 'wonderful, thoroughly engaging, always amazing', a book of 'tiny marvels' and 'well-worth reading'. At present, she's working on a science fiction series entitled Petals of the Twenty Thousand Blossom and a second collection of fiction and poetry.
 

Comments

  • Greybeard
    Greybeard Tuesday, 19 August 2014

    This reminds me of the 1990s when a long poem about saving the environment attributed wrongly to Chief Sealth (the guy that Seattle is named for). The poem was widely published by many including most pagan environmentalists. A fact check determined that some of the topics in the poem could not have been known by the real Chief Sealth. It was written by a wannabe environmental activist in the 1980s. He added the fiction about "by Chief Seatlh" because so many environmentalists were also NA wannabes. It got a ton more sharing than it would have if he published it under his own name. Total inappropriate usurping of NA names and tribes.

    There was another similar NA wannabe environmental thing circulating on FB last week. Its best to object whenever we see it.

  • C.S. MacCath
    C.S. MacCath Tuesday, 19 August 2014

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I agree it's best to object to these sorts of things whenever we see them, both for the sake of the appropriated culture and for our sakes. We don't need to hang our belief in the sanctity of the Earth on some ancient culture in order to legitimize it. It really is all right for us to tell new sacred stories, and these should be celebrated on their own merits.

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