I know this post is older, but I am so inspired to see other bloggers are opening this discussion and working on these ideas, that I have to reblog it;-) I was raised with the remnants of my family traditions of spirituality from different parts of the world and cultures-all of whom had been colonized, and all of whom had kept important traditions and found ways to pass down that knowledge, even if it was in fragments that needed decoding and study to understand. So, being autistic and not really ever feeling a part of any culture, I learned my own relationship with nature, and Universe-then I tried to fit it into words, cultures etc to communicate with others. I always thought the word shaman was like the word rollerblade, or fast food-one of those hybrid Americanizations that tell you something, but not really. I’ve always felt that anyone on Earth can learn to trust their own internal awareness without any teachers except the trees, the stones and the sky-it’s just hard for westerners trained to look for a teacher, to look for approval and acceptance and directions to do that. Everything is alive, even built things, and none of us ever needs to co-opt or steal from anyone to learn or grow-just open ourselves and communicate with our own world(which means to listen deeply to it as well as sharing of yourself). Even tho I have ancestors who are Native American, Irish/Scottish, French-I can not claim to BE any of those things-because what I am is a combination of all of them plus the dirt, the air, the trees,plants, food and water as well as the culture and people around me where I live now. I live far from anywhere any of my ancestors lived, and even the cultures they were part of are no longer the same. There is a difference between sharing tools like sage, and co-optation. Respect, and listening are important. Instead of giving up certain spiritual ideas to avoid co-optation, truly listening and respecting the cultures they come from in real solid ways-*giving back* make all the difference imho. Derrick Jensen talks about how if he wants to eat salmon then he is responsible for taking out dams. Perhaps non-native people who burn sage and sweetgrass could stand up for Native issues, sign petitions, show up at protests, help educate others? The plastic shaman problem is more about those making money stealing from those who have no money and are suffering while the plastic shamans give nothing to the communities whose children suffer the caricatures of their culture as a self definition reflected to them from TV etc. Most Native people are happy to share with those who are part of their community no matter what “race”, the thieves are not part of the community-they give nothing back., they don’t live there. Emma Restall Orr writes about a native British “shamanism” or more accurately animist religion Druidry from her own lived experience. All life is reciprocal, we are all part of the Circle of life, no matter where we are born or what our genetic history. To co-create our positive future we have to learn to listen, to respect one another, to heal one another and ourselves and to heal the circle of all living beings together. Much thanks to Therioshamanism for this post!!
“Shamanism and racism”. Google that, and you’ll mainly get various pages referencing Shamanism, Racism and Hip-Hop Culture by James Perkinson (which, incidentally, is now on my wish list). There’s more when you do various searches for shamanism and cultural appropriation (without quotes). But it seems like most people don’t want to use the R-word.
And yet there is inherent racism in a lot of non-indigenous shamanic practices and trends. Not overt racism, but racism nonetheless. A few examples:
–White people traveling to far-off lands for the sole purpose of having shamanic “experiences” with “genuine tribal elders”. In many cases, these experiences are completely removed from the reality of their cultures of origin. This is especially pernicious in cases where participants are blind to the fact that members of that culture may be living in poverty, may be subjected to egregious human rights violations at the hands of governments and corporations…
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