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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in cultural appropriation

Email for inquiries and submissions: Crystal Blanton

Megalithica Books, an imprint of Immanion Press (Stafford, U.K./Portland, OR, U.S.A) is seeking submissions for the Bring Race to the Table: An Exploration of Racism in the Pagan Community.

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  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus
    P. Sufenas Virius Lupus says #
    I will probably try to submit something for this! (I have to get a hold of a few resources in order to do so, thus it won't be fo

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.

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  • Jennifer Tindell
    Jennifer Tindell says #
    Thanks, this is very good.
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    The story I tell about cultural appropriation is that I once approached a Native American practitioner and inquired about learning
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Hi Carl, Thank you for commenting. I wrote an essay for that anthology. It's a good anthology, and some of the other ones that we
  • Carl Neal
    Carl Neal says #
    Very interesting! I recorded a panel discussion last weekend (at the Oregon Coast Pan Pagan Gathering) that addressed this same i

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Tithing: not just for Christians

Risking charges of cultural appropriation, I'm going to come right out and say that I thinking tithing is a wonderful idea that Pagans should borrow and embrace . . . with some modifications to fit our diverse paths and beliefs, of course.

Tithing is the Biblical tradition of skimming ten percent off the top of one's income and giving it to one's church.  This was an effective way to provide for priests and ensure that charity stays local, but there are a number of reasons why its literal application won't work for most modern Pagans.  A few that come to mind are:

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    Mr. Ward, I wish we could do this. We do give to various charities, though. Thanks again for another great post.
  • Debbie Vozniak
    Debbie Vozniak says #
    This is a great idea. I personally tend to give my donations to animal or nature rescue causes and to victims of disasters worldwi
  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward says #
    Great points, Emily! Produce was the originally tithe expected of Hebrews, with money moving in as a convenient way to measure th
  • Emily Mills
    Emily Mills says #
    Wow. Another timely blog that coincides with things on my mind. What is about this site? The Fistula Foundation is a charity I l

Joseph Bloch has invited us to participate in a July Blogfest by writing about cultural appropriation.

I'm a Jungian and an eclectic Neopagan, which means that I am doubly vulnerable to charges of cultural appropriation.  Jungianism and eclectic Neopaganism are criticized for their borrowing of symbols from other cultures for a variety of reasons.  First, the removal of religious symbols and practices from their cultural context may be seen as trivializing.  Second, the adoption of the traditions and practices of another culture may be seen as a form of cultural theft, and another form of Western colonialism.  In many cases, these charges are well-founded, but I don't think it is fair or accurate to condemn eclecticism automatically as either trivializing or as cultural theft.

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  • Jamie
    Jamie says #
    I may not share your theological views, but as a Platonist I'm impressed with your rigorous logic and willingness to share your be
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Wow! Hadn't heard about the Lesbos lawsuit! Those are exactly the right questions: where do we draw the line? and who gets to de

Author's Note: This is a reprint of an article I originally published in the Anthology: Talking About the Elephant in 2008. Because the theme of the month is on cultural appropriation I thought I'd dig it out and reprint it here. I've added a commentary on the end to show where my thoughts on this topic are now (5 years after the original article was published).

While some of the articles of this anthology [Author's note: I'm referring to Talking About the Elephant] deal with cultural appropriation issues that Neopagans and Occultists may perpetuate, the goal of my article is to provide a look at a different form of cultural appropriation currently gaining popularity in both the academic and Neopagan/Occult cultures. This cultural appropriation comes in the form of academic articles and books focused on Neopaganism and the Occult. On the surface, it would seem that scholarship on these subjects is a good thing, certain to buoy the public relationship image that both Neopaganism and Occultism have with mainstream culture. However, as I will argue, there is a different, more subtle agenda occurring in these academic works, and in a manner that can be considered cultural appropriation. Unfortunately, there is a tendency to revere academic works without coming to them with an open, but critical, awareness of how those works really represent their beliefs. Nor is the question raised by Neopagans or Occultists, if the benefits of said academic works are really good for the community, or are only good for the academic who happens to be doing the research.

 

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  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    The knife does cut both ways and I'm sorry you had that experience, but imagine if you'd gone in, recorded everything and publishe
  • Amarfa
    Amarfa says #
    I tried that myself, and I got burned badly. I can't use my research at all. I wasn't allowed to record, barely able to take not
  • Amarfa
    Amarfa says #
    I have a question on this subject: Has a researcher ever encountered a Pagan population they wanted to study that has said "No" t
  • Taylor Ellwood
    Taylor Ellwood says #
    Not that I know of, per se, but by the same extension has the researcher fully briefed them on what they would be doing and/or sha
  • Amarfa
    Amarfa says #
    *I apologize for poor grammar and sentence structure in the last paragraph, I hit submit before I was actually done.*

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Debussy: A Return

In response to Joseph Bloch's call for a July Blogfest on Cultural Appropriation, I once again present Claude Debussy.  

Debussy should be wildly important to modern Pagans, primarily as a French composer in Paris at the end of the 19th, turn of the 20th centuries who was admittedly Pagan, participated in some occult activities, (Societe de la Rose Croix that we know of) and is fully part of the Classical music paradigm.   (Paris and Vienna both were hotbeds of occult and new-age spiritual activity, especially due to the opening of new trade routes and better shipping and overseas travel.) 

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  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Gee, Candi, if Debussy is a copycat then so is Shakespeare! The Bard borrowed older storylines in practically everything he wrote.
  • Amarfa
    Amarfa says #
    Thanks, Tammye! Afternoon of a Faun was, to me, the greatest Pagan "outburst" of the musical art of the Gilded Age. Have you rea
  • Tammye McDuff
    Tammye McDuff says #
    I love Debussy, one of my favorite pieces is Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun. He captures the imagination and transforms his mu
Reflections on "The Union of Earth and Sky"

In the process of designing and teaching a course called Ritual Theory & Liturgical Design at Starr King School for the Ministry (UU), I was digging through some of my old materials and found this reflection from 1999.  I'd been thinking about some of the things I learned from this particular ritual, "The Union of Earth and Sky: A Ceremony for Thor and Freyr," created by Sparky T. Rabbit.  I was really glad to have found this because it's much fresher than anything I could write from this distance in time.

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