Cultural Appropriation and Spirituality

I am far from a leftist, or even a right winger for that matter. My beliefs about politics are nonexistent, every politician is a cannibalistic traitor that eats the flesh of children.

However, the issue of Cultural Appropriation when it comes to spiritual matters is one I’ve questioned a lot. I personally believe that the best way to go on one’s spiritual path is to follow your inner voice, not go shopping in the New Age section at Barnes and Noble and pick and choose which beliefs you hold based on what sounds the catchiest.

My background/heritage is quite irrelevant to me, I was born to two alcoholic parents in a Midwestern state with no culture to speak of. I had to learn on my own, while listening to my inner guidance. I started my spiritual path with the generic bullshit, Wicca (no offense to any wiccans), “intention” based practice, crystals, the rule of 3 etc. However, I found myself always drawn further towards different types of magic and theology. Most common pagan beliefs are drawn from Norse or Celtic cultures, and they resonate with me at a frequency of exactly zero.

I grew up going to a Catholic school, and have an affinity and respect for the Saints and the Holy Virgin. Many of the tools on my altar I procured when I was in Andalusia (my favorite place in the world) at various cathedrals. I have a picture of La Virgen de la Macerna, the Virgin of Seville, on my altar at all times. Santeria is one of the most interesting religions to me, however I respectfully choose to not go down that path.

The fact of the matter is- I am overwhelmingly Caucasian. I have immense respect for many Afro-Latinos/Caribbeans and black people that practice Santeria or other African faiths, and their spiritual journey is their own. I am not about to start calling myself a Voodoo Queen just because I like to study Voodoo/Hoodoo.

However, I don’t think spirituality is as black and white as “this race can only practice this religion”. I prayed before entering a cornerstore that was known to sell different things including bootleg Versace cologne, some cheap wigs, a wide selection of Arizona drinks I have never seen etc. I found a kit of Hindu worship material, only one kit in the whole store. I was elated, because I knew my spirits guided me to this location to present something I needed. This kit is used to honor the god Ganesh, who I would now consider a great friend of mine. I do not consider myself to be Hindi, do not wear Bindis or try to school people on chakras and Hindu philosophy.

So if someone from a Slavic country somehow stumbled across Santeria, and they felt an immense pull towards this religion, I don’t think any of us can really judge that person. If they put in the time and effort to go through ceremonies, understand the Orishas, and essentially know their shit, I don’t think it’s on the same level as someone who just learned about Karma and decides they’re the expert on Tibetan Buddhism.

I do think the bodies and the heritage we were born into can be a major key into understanding our spiritual path, but as humans we have to understand that we cannot comprehend what the Spirits are doing 100 percent of the time. I respect people, especially Voodoo practitioners as this issue was brought to my attention by them, who wish to keep their practice contained to their people. Every region in the world has some kind of pre-Abrahamic religion or belief system. It’s worth looking into what OUR ancestors want for us, rather than praying to ancestors that aren’t even ours.

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