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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in cultural appropriation
Day of the Dead, Samhain, and Halloween: cultural appropriation or something wonderful?


Taos, where I recently moved, is famous for its celebration of Day of the Dead.  Not surprisingly Day of the Dead themes have been integrated in to Halloween celebrations here in Taos.  Day of the Dead also shares many points of overlap with Samhain.   For the previous two years I worked with Mexican friends to organize a joint celebration of Samhain and Day of the Dead in Sebastopol, California. We had side by side altars and people were encouraged to light votives honoring their deceased loved one, and to place them on the altars of their choice.  My Wiccan altar had marigolds on it, and the skull was a colorful one in keeping with Day of the Dead symbolism. Otherwise it was very traditional.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Pagans Must #StandWithStandingRock

I've been following the events on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, where hundreds (if not thousands) have gathered to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL for short) for the better part of two months, though I've been dimly aware of the issue since last spring. As a native South Dakotan transplanted to Texas, I still follow news outlets from my beloved prairies, including several independent Native news agencies. When I started sharing posts about the growing camps of protectors -- community members prefer this term to protestors -- I was shocked and amazed when friends told me that my Facebook feed was the only place they were hearing about the situation. (The 1,172 mile pipeline, which will carry oil from North Dakota's Bakkan region, crosses the Missouri River in a number of places, threatening the only source of drinking water for many indigenous communities. Construction also threatens burial grounds and other culturally important sites for the Standing Rock Sioux. For a quick primer on the situation, go here and here.)

I've been heartened to see that the Pagan community has spoken out about the DAPL and has offered support to the protectors at Standing Rock. While I understand that many Pagans "don't like to be political," there is no question in my mind that we have a duty to stand with indigenous peoples everywhere, and in particular with Native American/First Nations peoples. For Pagans in the United States and Canada (and elsewhere in the Americas), the very land on which we stand and which we purport to venerate is the same land (and water, and air) threatened by the DAPL and projects like it. The environmental stakes alone should give us reason to stand up and say #NoDAPL and to support those seeking to prevent the "black snake" from being built across the nation's prairie heartland, from North Dakota all the way to Illinois. As earth-venerating people, I believe that it is incumbent upon us to stand up against environmental degradation -- as Al Gore famously said in Earth in the Balance, Paganism is the spiritual arm of the environmental movement. 

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I know about a pipeline being built here in Virginia, there have been a lot of newspaper articles on it. It looks like the state
Pagan News Beagle: Watery Wednesday, October 14

An artist creates masks that celebrate goddess spirituality. A Pagan writer considers the place of disabled persons within the social justice movement. And does the Pagan community have a problem with cultural appropriation? It's Watery Wednesday, our weekly feed for news about the Pagan community! All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

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Note: I'll be back to the Hero's Journey next time, but this topic came up on the Facebook "Magickal Community and Education" group ( Rather than simply posting my thoughts there, I thought they'd make a decent blog post. I look forward to everyone's thoughts.


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  • Susan “Moonwriter” Pesznecker
    Susan “Moonwriter” Pesznecker says #
    And thank you! I appreciate this-- and I'll modify accordingly.
  • Piper
    Piper says #
    Thank you, This is nicely done and avoids most of the baggage that surrounds this issue, I do have 1 thing to add, your statement

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

As a storyteller, I tend to do much of my thinking through stories. In the ongoing discussion of cultural appropriation it seemed to me that abstract theorizing may well benefit from the wisdom of narrative. So I began casting about for a story that addressed the subject.

Theorist Cei Serith says, “When confronted with a new situation, first consult ancestral precedent.” The Received Tradition (or at least those portions of it with which I am personally conversant), has little to say on the topic of cultural appropriation directly, but in fact the practice has a surprising number of parallels with the grand old Keltic pastime (one could almost call it a sport) of the táin, the cattle-raid. The Kelts came by cattle-rustling honestly (so to speak): it would seem, in fact, to have been an ancient tradition of many Indo-European peoples (and, indeed, of pastoral cultures in general: compare the current problems with the self-same practice in South Sudan).

We have, to the best of our knowledge, no surviving mythology from the Dobunni, the Keltic tribe that inhabited the Severn basin and Cotswolds in what is now the south-west Midlands of England. (The “creation myth” that Stephen Yeates “recreates” in A Dreaming for the Witches cannot truly be called a story.) There seems to be good genetic and archaeological evidence to indicate that Dobunni population and culture survived into Anglo-Saxon times as the tribe known as the Hwicce. Maverick archaeologist Stephen Yeates would contend that the tribal religion of the Hwicce, with its strong continuities with the preceding Dobunni religion, is in fact what would become historic Witchcraft (and later, Wicca). Historical or not, it's a powerful story, for which I will admit a certain personal fondness, perhaps because some of my own ancestors hail from this same region.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    One wonders to what degree (if at all) memory of the tain remained current in 19th century Irish popular culture (before the liter
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Interestingly, I've suspected that the cattle-rustling in the American West, carried out in large part by Irish cowboys, was a cul
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Thanks and hail, daughter of Dobunnia. Kindly give my regards to the Severn.
  • Danu Forest
    Danu Forest says #
    great stuff thanks for posting! the dobunni are thought to be the tribe where i actually live! hail the storyteller! ;-)

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

In the beginning of days, the Great Mother called all the peoples to her, her children, and to each people she gave its own proper food.

To the Cornovii she gave the deer to be their food, and indeed they are great hunters to this day. To the Brigantes, she gave oats to be their food, to the Iceni barley, to the Silures sheep, and so it was. To each people, its own proper food.

But to our people, to the Dobunni, to us she gave cattle to be our food, and their milk and their meat are indeed the best of foods.

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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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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    This reminds me of the 1990s when a long poem about saving the environment attributed wrongly to Chief Sealth (the guy that Seattl
  • C.S. MacCath
    C.S. MacCath says #
    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 sak

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