I wanted to start off with a topic that is of interest to me and that would be the subject of Hoodoo. I was reading Stephanie Rose Bird’s A Healing Grove, and it bought to my mind the subject of African American spirituality, Hoodoo, and Paganism. Also cultural appropriation.
What I’ve witnessed over my short few years of studying Paganism is a disturbing trend of cultural appropriation. For those of you raising your hackles as your reading this, I define cultural appropriation as taking from one culture- a subject, deity, practice, ect.- of interest, and leaving the rest, most of the time without knowing very much else about the culture you are taking from.
Cultural appropriation is NOT learning from a culture and then incorporating it into your life- one of the biggest examples I can think of to date is chakras. Every book I pick up that mentions chakras or the chakra system makes me roll my eyes- why? Because the author’s definition of “chakras” is a new-age, watered down example of how Western society takes for it’s own profit and interest as leaves a big “fuck you” for the culture it stems from. Yoga, smudging, chakras, hoodoo, the iChing, runes- all to name a few of forms of cultural appropriation I see daily when reading pagan blogs, books, or any other subject matter.
One of the biggest problems encountered when addressing cultural appropriation is when people refuse to acknowledge that they are doing it. Here are the common excuses:
“I’m just appreciating the culture!”
By doing everything wrong.
“I am called to this deity. My relationship to Him/Her is personal.”
Be that as it may, ignoring hundreds of years of cultural norms and practices simply because “it feels right” is like saying you don;t give a damn about traditionally how things are done, and you are going to do it your way.
“All deities are one.
This is a personal belief, however, simply ignoring personal cultural practices attached to a deity in favor of an archetype is not right.
People need to stand up and stop. Cultural appropriation usually effects marginalised cultures as it is, turning key spiritual elements and practices into exotic play things. People need to step up and do their research instead of feeling as they have the right to simply take spiritual practices as they desire and ignore key elements into that culture that they are trying to “appreciate”