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

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 The District: Oakbrook Mall Food Hall near Chicago | Oakbrook Center

I swear, books like this put the “neo” in “neo-pagan.”

How to Get What You Want by Stealing Other Peoples' Goddesses.

That wasn't the title, but it might as well have been.

I riffle through the pages. It's much as I expected: twelve chapters, twelve goddesses, twelve different cultures. Heavy on the European and Asian goddesses, of course. Each chapter headed by a colorful picture of said goddess (or quasi: Kwan Yin is a boddhisatva, the Guadelupana technically receives hyperdulia—whatever that means—not worship), then continues with a brief description, and finally—most importantly—concludes with how you can use her power to get what you want.

(Sedna. Of course there's a chapter on Sedna.)

Welcome to the food court of the gods.

My mind fills with questions.

You've been pagan for 40 years, and you're still doing this beginner-ass kind of sh*t? I think.

What's the matter, don't you have any gods of your own to cozy up to? I think.

Twelve different cultures, and not one of them yours: don't you feel even the slightest bit morally dubious about this? I think.

That's it? “It's female, therefore it's mine”? That's your spirituality? I think.

How does spiritual imperialism differ from other kinds of imperialism? I think.


Sometimes I feel like I'm still learning this “pagan elder” business.

Maybe some day I'll be the kind of pagan elder who can ask these kinds of questions. Maybe some day I'll be the kind of pagan elder who knows how to phrase questions like this in ways that they can be heard. Maybe some day I'll have the wisdom to know what to say in a situation like this.

Meanwhile, my friend's wife seems completely happy with her new acquisition. I hand the book back to her.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Why Witches Have All the Best Stories

Long ago, in the dawn of days, the Great Mother gave to each people their own proper stories.

To the Cornovii, she gave the stories of the Cornovii.

To the Dumnonii, she gave the stories of the Dumnonii.

To each people, she gave their own proper stories.

And to our people, to the Dobunni, the tribe of Witches: to us she gave the best stories of all. So it is that, to this day, our stories are the best of all stories, and our storytellers the best of all storytellers.

So it is that, when you hear an excellent story among some other people—among the Cornovii or the Dumnonii, say—it can only be that this story has been stolen from its rightful owners, which is to say, from us, from the Dobunni, to whom, in the dawn of days, the Great Mother gave all the most excellent stories.

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Viewing The World Through Pagan Eyes VI:  clearing away the confusions of ‘cultural appropriation’


Previous essays in this series

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  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham says #
    I have seen pictures of a Sikh family celebrating Christmas and I have read of a Jewish woman saying that Christmas is too nice a
  • Thesseli
    Thesseli says #
    Great article!
Moving Beyond 'Cultural Appropriation:' Part III: Memes as cultural organisms



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Moving Beyond Cultural Appropriation: Part II. Cultures as Ecosystems

Jarume Uwujare  argues cultures should relate as equals when they take something from another, and contribute something to the other in return. I think we all can agree people can and should relate as equals, but I argue this is a confused way to think about cultures.

If I have what you want, we are not equal unless you also have what I want, and want it with about the same intensity. We can easily have a formal equality to make an exchange or not, but this equality is modified, sometimes drastically, by the intensity each of us has to make the exchange. The more desperate one party is compared to the other, the greater an important kind of inequality.

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Moving Beyond 'Cultural Appropriation,' a Pagan Perspective. Part I.

Some people within the Pagan community object to instances of what they consider “cultural appropriation.”  Smudging with sage, seeking a power animal, celebrating Day of the Dead, is somehow stealing. To my mind they are confused about culture, confused about appropriation, and even confused about what it is to be a human being. In their confusion they attack other Pagans, creating a problem for all of us.

No NeoPagans practice traditions with an unbroken connection to pre-Christian times. Almost all old Pagan traditions have been mostly oral, and the core of those teachings have been lost. When once Pagan practices have survived, their interpretation will have changed, as Sabina Magliocco has described in rural Italy.         

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  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Aryós Jezebel quotes cultural appropriation as "'Taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or ar
  • Mariah Sheehy
    Mariah Sheehy says #
    I too, have found the phrase to be mostly a stumbling block. It seems as if it may have been mostly used for more extreme example
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Thank you for continuing the discussion! Though some of what you raise eill be in later installments, here is some stuff I hope y
  • Aryós Héngwis
    Aryós Héngwis says #
    "You say for you it was limited to the sacred. Maybe for you. For example, thoughtlessly eating a burrito was given as an example
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Aryós I am not very concerned with where the term first appeared, but if you can provide a link I will be happy to make that disti

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Going Viking

The sad, sorry truth is that none of the old ways have come down to us intact.

None of them.

That's why we go viking.

The way of the shaper, who makes the new, is good.

The way of the merchant, who buys and sells, is also good.

But when you can't make for yourself, and there's none to be had by honest means, then betimes needs must set sails.

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