Did I catch your attention? I hope so.
I wanted to further talk about cultural appropriation in the pagan community, because I feel as if it is a topic that needs to be stressed and understood. If this were an issue that people recognized and said “Oh! Now I understand! I’ll stop doing it right away and tell all my friends!” I’d be quiet. However, it is ongoing, and so I, in turn, will be vigilant.
The problem I want to talk about is cultural appropriation in terms of lumping all deities together. Whether one believes that all deities are archetypes isn’t really what I’m talking about- what I am talking about is when a person decides to lump all deities together, slap an Archetype on them, and then proceed to honor them in anyway they feel like it, because it feels “natural”, “intuitive”, or the like.
There is nothing wrong with feeling intuitive and inspirational in your practice. However, when a person decides that they don’t care how a religion has been practiced for hundreds or thousands of years, or decides that an individual deity can be worshiped in the same way as another, ignoring any cultural implications or traditional practices, it becomes a matter of cultural appropriation.
This also ties into the “shiny, me want” culture. I cannot tell you how many times I have gone to a pagan website, and have them create a ritual for Kali-Ma under the Archetype of “Destroyer”, without even understanding how She is worshiped by actual followers of the Hindu faith. They do not take the time to learn, because they feel as if they can worship the deity in anyway that they want to.
This is not okay.
This is especially not okay when we are talking about cultures that have been (and continue to be) marginalized, exotified, and trivialized.
If you love a deity, and feel called to them, how about you actually take the time to learn about them, they’re history, and they’re development?
The same thing happens in regards for the iChing. How many people can actually tell you a bit about Chinese mythology, or even some history or spiritual practices? Not many. But they still love the iChing! The words are beautiful and poetic, and the symbols are pretty cool too. What could be wrong with that?
Everything, because you are taking something interesting from a culture, and saying fuck the rest. You believe that you have a right to something belonging to another culture, and will kick, scream, and whine when someone tries to tell you otherwise.
The problem with saying that all deities are the same is that when most people say this, they ignore the individual cultural implications any deity has, and then take it upon them selves to make shit up instead of, you know, reading, about something. So the next time you feel the need to trivialize someone else’s spirituality because you think you can, try stepping back and actually learning about it for once. That way, you won’t get offended when someone calls bullshit.