Now, my skull is pounding, and I perhaps should be hibernating in a dark hole while this passes. However, there are some things I feel I must share.
P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, in his Patheos column Queer I Stand, has written a really good article regarding the whole “indigeny” trend among (mostly white, socially privileged) Pagans. I could point specific people out on this, but…I won’t, because that’s not my focus here, and I have better things to do with my time. They’re not hard to find. Anyway, I’m really glad he wrote this, because I really think there is a significant lack of criticism and critical thinking going on that really needs to be addressed and focused on.
This overlaps with my conflicting problem over the use of the word “shaman,” but this sort of thing seems far more socially accepted and not much challenged among pagan and polytheist circles, even though the use of the word can have really strong appropriative undertones. To call myself a shaman would be like calling myself a Buddhist rabbi. See what I did there? I think people need to do more thorough research, and really think about the words they are using, and how they are being used. I just don’t think people discuss this sort of thing enough. And when some try to, they are too easily demonized and silenced. I think this needs to change, and everyone would benefit more from a hearty dose of critical thinking.
You know, I used to use ‘shamanism’ as a sort of catch-all term. I’ll admit, I’ve been guilty of that in the past. But at some point I realized: hey now, you dumb old dog. Intellectual laziness is unbecoming of you. Yes indeed.
In fact, the more I observe, the more I find that quite a variety of abuses and appropriations are occurring all in the name of ‘shamanism’. It seems as if people do not truly know what this word is and where it came from, or they just don’t care. One quaint little excuse is that it has become part of the common parlance, therefore, that makes it right. Except, it doesn’t.
I probably have a lot more to say on this issue…in fact, I know I do. But, I have enough irons in the fire at present (most of which are happening offline), so I will have to revisit this topic later.
Personally I find there to be a pointed difference between cross-cultural assimilation and syncretism, and cultural appropriation. Where to draw the lines in this case is an important (and hotly debated) issue, something I should probably write on at some point.
I have been slow with everything lately, after having just weathered a car accident I damn near didn’t walk away from. But I am gradually getting my ass screwed back on, as it were. The support I’ve gotten has been truly overwhelming, and I am very grateful. I’ll write more later.