What Is Good about Friday?
Updated: Apr 17, 2022
What is good about this Friday? Good Friday is celebrated in the Christian tradition to commemorate the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Sunday will be Easter, a holiday that honors Christ's resurrection, and a word that is associated with the Eostre, Anglo-Saxon goddess of Spring and fertility. Ostara is the celebration of the Spring Equinox, and the goddess of Spring in ancient Germany. So, who is "right?"
A dear cousin (I have a few, but this one is like an older sister afar, on my dad's side) and I recently had a short conversation- we will continue!- in which the topic of appropriation in shamanism arose.
What is appropriation? "Cultural appropriation" is a trending term. The online dictionary will tell you it can be defined as, "the unacknowledged or inappropriate adoption of the customs, practices, ideas, etc. of one people or society by members of another and typically more dominant people or society." The example given, of dreadlocks as being widely appropriated, made me chuckle. I raise my hand guilty of saying this many times over the years. Yet I have a friend who moved to Africa, married her true love there, is raising a daughter with him, and has a big head of blonde dreadlocks. Did she appropriate this hair, take it as hers without permission or acknowledgement, or is she honoring the culture that speaks to her, that she has been adopted into and that she lives every day?
The answer there is pretty clear, but not always. There is a level of knowledge and respect that are necessary for authentic expression of a cultural or spiritual custom or practice. I will leave this conversation today with a quick point and two resources to listen to and think about, if you'd like to delve further.
Shamanism exists the world around in different cultures. Core shamanism recognizes and works with commonalities, while peoples in different places and cultures have their own unique understanding and expression of tenets of shamanism within their families and communities. Shamanic practitioners work with those helpers and teachers they have met and with whom they have developed relationships. There is a uniqueness to those relationships and the work done. At the same time, practitioners may be drawn to particular historic and cultural elements of practices that are different from what they know as their own family lineage or culture. Is this wrong?
We are all one. At the same time, we all have unique relationships in OR and in NOR. It is our responsibility to build those relationships and do the work we are called to do, with respect and permission.
Want to listen and think some more? Here are a couple options. The first is a program I listened to on NPR Code Switch while driving home last Saturday afternoon, "The Dance That Made Its Way from Harlem to Sweden". The second is an episode of the podcast "Why Shamanism Now" featuring healer and author Mary Mueller Shutan (to whom my cousin introduced me- thanks, Cousin!) in a conversation about appropriation in shamanism.
Enjoy and have a beautiful Easter and Spring weekend!