Cultural appropriation has been very much in my face lately. Halloween was just a little over a week ago and there was a lot of talk about how Native American costumes are unacceptable and how wearing a feathered headdress is appropriating that culture. Some of these conversations began around the idea of the Sexy Squaw costumes that reinforce the idea that Native American women are trash and that as such, they can be used and thrown away. The rape statistics are shocking for Native women, with ONE THIRD of them reporting having been raped. This contrasts with 17-18% of white and black women and a much lower statistic for Asian American women. I certainly agree that if we can shift this for our sisters, then we need to avoid that costume and dress up like a Sexy Lawyer or other alternative.
Other conversations showed up around how celebrating El Dia de los Muertos, an honoring of our dead, is also cultural appropriation. I can see that, yes, and yet in my Pagan practice celebrating the thinning of the veil with an altar to my deceased loved ones is a normal part.
Today I was reading some information from a course I’m taking. The course is offered by an Irish woman who is a powerful blogger and has strong ideas about who should share ideas about Irish mythology. She talks straight to us about how those of us who have not grown with our feet in the soil of Ireland, or in the larger context, the British Isles, should not attempt to appropriate that culture.
And here I am, a white woman of British and Northern European descent, looking for a way to connect with my land, with a culture and a mythology and everywhere I turn I’m told that I am appropriating something that belongs to someone else. Where does that leave me?
I’m going to attempt this! It’s so multi layered. Obviously I understand that I am a member of the ‘overculture’ or ‘dominant culture’ here in the US.
It is possibly important to know that I am a healer by nature and one of the things I do is to heal the land. I live in my grandfather’s house and there was a lot of trauma to this land. Arson, rape, suicide, sexual abuse of children and spousal abuse were all perpetrated here. After years of work the land has released much of the pain, the vibration of love has increased. People come here and never want to leave.
I feel like I’m really good at that, the healing of land and homes and the clearing of old, stuck energies.