Monthly Archives: October 2016

Walking with the Spirits Part 3-B

(Update: I noticed today that my email followers is over 900. Thank you! Each and every one of my dear readers!)

After long cycles of debate, the Peoples had decided that they would introduce themselves to the humans. But yet the questioned remained of who would do the introductions?

“We are too unlike them. We cannot understand their needs.” The Tree People argued.

“They would kill us and eat us.” The Rabbit People added.

“They already kill and eat us.” The Deer People said.

It was in that moment that a person came into the circle among all the competing voices.

“I will do it.” The small voice said.

It was not heard over the cacophony. Many of the People gave reasons why they should not be the ones to introduce themselves to the humans.

“I will do it.” The small voice repeated.

It was in that moment that one of Tree People noticed the tiny little person. It was a small boy. A small human boy. To this point, no humans had ever joined the debates.

“How did you get here?” The Tree asked. The boy looked around, and an expression of fear crossed his face.

“I am unsure. I was laying down to sleep, and when I woke up I was here.” The little boy said.

The Tree then addressed the group, and brought their attention to the little boy. He repeated his offer.

“Why have we never considered a human before?” The Wolf asked.

“Of all the People that would understand their needs, it would make sense it would be one of their own.” The Tree added.

“And in time, this human can start to introduce his people to our own.” The Deer said.

“We could grow together as friends as allies.” Bear said, obviously excited by the idea.

By nearly unanimous vote it was decided that the boy would serve as the mediator to humanity. The only one that voted against it was a very unfriendly member of the Pine Clan. When pressed for a reason why, all the Pine would say was;

“I dunno. I just don’t like him.”

The boy was invited to sit in with the council of the Peoples, and he would live and learn from them.

“Why can’t I go be with my own people now?” The boy asked.

“You have a lot of learning to do first. There is much that you must understand, and when it is time, you will have to teach all you have learned to your own people. Then we all can begin the long process of getting to know each other.”

The boy nodded in agreement, and his days as a student began. Over many long ages did the boy grown into a young man, learning all he could from the People of all kinds. Even if he spent a year with each, there would never be enough time to learn from them all.

In what seemed to be the blink of an eye, the boy had grown into an old man. He had learned much, and had become wise and full of knowledge. One of the Oak People approached him.

“You have become quite wise in the time you have spent with us, but now it is time for you to take all you have learned back to your own people. I do think your descendants will be quite happy to see you.” The Oak said.

“My descendants?” The old man asked.

“Oh yes. You have spent quite a bit of time with us here, time in fact for many of your relatives to grow and have children of their own, and as such down through the generations.” The Oak said.

“How long?” The old man said.

“Generations, but the exact amount of time is not important. What is important that they learn of what you have to teach. It is important that they learn the way of other Peoples.” The oak said.

“How will I do that?” The old man asked. The Oak invited the old man for a walk.

They walked across the land, and as they did it started to shift and change. It was noticeable for only a second, and then the old man found himself staring down a hill at a small group of humans sitting around a fire.

He turned to see that the Oak person was gone.

The old man took a deep breath, an walked into the stranger’s camp.

Commentary;

I have had writer’s block on this series for a while, mostly because of this story. I have found out something about myself all through this process, and that is I struggle a lot with writing shorter stories. I am much more of a novelist at heart. The reason being, I think, is mostly because I am a wordy person. I feel like there is always more to a story, and more to the world than a short story allows me to explore.

Deliberately editing myself drives me a little bit crazy. There is plenty of material here for a few thousand words, and here I am trying to keep it under a thousand. You know, a good size to read in a single sitting; something fit for a blog instead of a novel.

All that aside, there were a few things I really enjoyed about this story. It really has an “otherworldly” feel in my opinion. The little boy comes to the People at the beginning of the story. Honestly, I imagined that the boy had died young, and so he met all these people in some sort of after life, where time and space really don’t play my the rules of “reality.”

That is why by the time the boy has become an old man, an inexact number of “generations” has passed. The way I figured it, learning from even a few dozen mentors could be a long process. Never mind that the People represent different species, of which there is some trillion or so living on the planet. Can you imagine the length of time it would take to learn all that, or even a small part of it? Even if you spent a day with each of them, that is still some trillion days.

Which, if I have enough zeros (12) in my calculator, is something like 2,739,726,027 years.

It’s a really long time, even I messed up the math. That is some 2.7 billion years. Humanity hasn’t even been on the planet that long.

Math! I know, it is pretty intense. There is another odd note I wanted to make about the “time” of this story. Sometimes the chapters of my two series are interconnected, sometime they are not. It is all part of the same “story arc”, but they don’t always line up one-to-one. This is one of those felt really disjointed to me. I am not really sure where it should fall in the time line, if it really fits at all.

All the same, in the next part of this series, we get to explore the earliest evidence we have for spiritual and/or religious belief.

Thanks for reading!

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Some Political Thoughts

This time of year, like many other people; politics tends to be on my mind quite a bit. I start thinking a lot about the past and future of the United States. I happen to live in this country, and I don’t see myself leaving anytime soon.

Yes, I have put serious thought into moving to another country, the closest of which is Canada, the farthest is probably Norway or Sweden. I’ve always wanted to visit the Nordic countries, and for more than just like a two week vacation. Ah, maybe someday.

The point being that I am stuck here in Michigan and the US, and that there is quite a bit to mull over because of this. I won’t say I am “staying to fight”, but there are a lot of changes I would like to see in this country.

In this political cycle, my current logic looks like this;

1) We are in a two party system. Only one of two are going to be president.
2) Making third party candidates unrealistic. Plus I don’t agree with Stein or Johnson.
3) Sitting out is also not an option. While I agree with the sentiment of a protest vote, it would also mean I would be comfortable with either result. I am not. Plus sitting out only means the hardliners in either party determine the vote. I would rather have my say then count for nothing.
4) I have no love of Clinton. She is a well qualified politician, but nothing about her particularly inspires me.
5) I have nothing but contempt for Trump. I am disappointed the Republicans nominated such a.. person.
6) Therefore, I looked at the issues and compare them with my own values.
7) I value the ideas of social democracy, ie the Nordic Model. Equality, democracy, and the needs of the many over the needs of the few. People before profit. Ect.
8) Sanders inspired me, and spoke to my values. But even as a write in, he is no longer a realistic option.
9) Issue by issue, and with concessions to Sanders ideals, the Democratic platform is closer to my views. The Republican platform is actually regressive to my values.
10) I would rather have four more years of the status quo, then give up what has been gained, though it is far from perfect.
11) I think a Republican presidency under Trump would be harmful to women, LGBT folks, and minorities in general.
12) Therefore, I will be voting Democratic this cycle. If Clinton is the side effect of that, I will accept that.

Now I want to talk a little bit more in depth about a few of these points.

It is hard for me to convey my disappointment throughout this whole process. I consider myself an independent, so I really vote by how the various issues line up with my own thoughts. It is no secret that I was a big supporter of Bernie Sanders, as he spoke a lot about social democracy and the Nordic Model. These are ideas that are really close to my heart.

But alas, Sanders did not get the nomination, nor did a whole legion of Republican candidates. The two nominations for the major parties are Trump and Clinton. There are also the third party candidates of Stein and Johnson, and perhaps a few others I don’t know about. I have read and heard a lot of people talking about a “protest vote” of one of the third party candidates, or not voting at all.

I understand the sentiment behind it, I do. I am as sick of the two party system as most people. And maybe that is something we need to change, but can we be realistic for a second? The third party candidates really don’t have a chance. In America, we have a two party system and have had one for a long time. That means only Red or Blue can win this election. You may want to protest, hell I do. But third party candidates is not the way to do it. All voting third party will do is pad the numbers of one of the winners.

The same is true of refusing to vote. I have heard it said, and partially agree with the idea, is that even not voting is still voting. You are voting to not have any say in the process. Your vote really wont count one way or the other. The number of people that don’t vote are counted only as a side note in this culture.

As such, realistically we will end up with either Clinton or Trump as president, either a Democrat or a Republican. I am not going to go through the effort of detailing everything I like or dislike about either of these two, but suffice to say I compared my own values to the platforms of the two parties.

As I said, I highly value the ideas of social democracy, especially as they appear in the Nordic Model. Basic principles such as equality and democracy, and also things like worker’s rights, gender equality, redistribution of wealth, LGBT+ equality, environmental responsibility, universal healthcare and education. You know, people before profits and the needs of the many above the needs of the few. Hell, I’ll even flirt with ideas behind democratic socialism, which is even farther left than I consider myself.

The point I am trying to convey is that I am left of center in many of my beliefs and ideas, and as such I align more closely with the Democrats this time around. Partly because of where the platform stands on the issues, and partly because the alternative terrifies me.

I am not going to pull any punches here. I think Trump is a self-serving bigot, sexist and racist. He embodies so many of the things I stand against. I might even go so far as to call the guy a fascist. The fact is that he terrifies me, and I am utterly disappointed that the Republican Party and their voter base allowed for such a man to become the nominee. In my opinion, the Republican Party failed this country by allowing it to happen. They have a lot of soul searching to do when all this is over, and decide whether or not they are still relevant to the future of America.

Honestly, the only people I think will do well under a Trump presidency are those just like Trump, the rich and powerful, mostly of the white male persuasion. Now, I’ll own the fact that I am a white male. My privileged position might shield me from some of the worse from a Trump presidency…

But it won’t protect my family, friends and loved ones. Trump has shown himself to be a sexist, and that makes me concerned for all the women I know. He has shown himself to be a sexist, so all my LGBT+ friends would be at risk. He has shown himself to be against immigrants and foreigners, and this makes me worry for all the people that don’t think, look, and/or act like Trump…

All the ideas and principles I cherish would be at risk under a Trump presidency. I cannot in good conscience stand by and let that happen. I don’t think I could sleep at night if I voted third party, or sat this one out.

This is not to say that I have an overwhelming love for the Democrats either. I feel very “meh” about Hillary. She is well qualified for the job to be sure, but there is nothing that particularly endears her to me. She doesn’t inspire me. I think she will be a mediocre president, and the status quo won’t change very much. The oligarchy is not going anywhere soon.

Which is a component to my overall disappointment with the whole process. There are a lot of changes I would like to see made. Those changes are all long term stuff for sure, and will need a lot of time and resources to implement. It may take generations, and let’s face facts, a simple writer like me just doesn’t have a lot of influence overall.

I want to see this country move in the direction of social democracy. I think people should come before profit, and we need to consider the needs of the many above the needs of the few. America kind of gets this backward, if you want my honest opinion, and we lag behind the rest of the world significantly in this regard.

In case I have not made it clear, I will be voting Democratic this election. Not so much for the candidate herself, but for the platform. At very least, to preserve what has been gained.

But let’s not kid ourselves, we have a long way to go before we get to anything that closely resembles social democracy. In addition, the forces, people, and cultural ideas that made Trump even a nominee for president will not just vanish when this election ends. That underlying spectre of bigotry will not cease to exist. That is something to consider too.

There is much work to be done, and I am still thinking about how we should go about it. It may be a project for another blog, once this disappointing election cycle is over.

Thanks for reading!


My Animism

I wanted to sit down and type this out for two reasons; first and foremost for myself and for my readers. I have talked quite a bit here about my beliefs and worldview. I wanted to take the time to really create a more concise version of all of that. Second, I am hoping to add another contribution to the growing My Polytheism project.

As I have said many times before, I am an animist first and foremost. It is my foundation, and the lens through which I view the world. I am a polytheist as well, because there is more than enough room for gods in my animism. But that’s not the focus of this post, so will leave that for a moment.

My animism starts with a single and simple philosophy; that the world is full of people, most of which are non-human, and that life is lived in relation with others.

This idea comes from Graham Harvey’s book “Animism: Respecting the Living World.” As I have explored in many other posts, the implications of this philosophy are huge. In many ways it informs everything I do as well as many of my values and principles.

Naturalistic Aspects

There is a principle that I adhere to when approaching many of life’s obstacles; search for a mundane explanation first, then explore spiritual ones. This means I practice and live a spirituality that is very grounded in this world. A world of trees, deer and humans, and plenty of other things besides.

Science is very important to me, and I think it is a fine thing overall. Most of all, it is a reliable method for understanding that which is empirical. That being said, it is only one method of understanding the world. I prefer to integrate many different ways of understanding into how I view the world.

For example, science as well as my own senses tell me the world is full of many things. It also tells me that things like plants and animals are living.

My animism tells me that not only are these things living, but they are people too. Oak People, and Deer People, and Squirrel People. In fact, the current count of species on this planet is over one trillion.

One Trillion different species of People.

In addition, my animism also tells me that all people are deserving of basic dignity and respect, as well as the basic right to exist as they see fit. It fits nicely with things like ecology, that says in some way or another, we are all interconnected. Destroying forests for example is as bad for us in the long run as it is for the People that find themselves displaced.

It applies too to humans. It means that no matter your gender, sexual orientation, or the color of your skin, you deserve basic dignity and respect.

All are people. All deserve basic dignity and respect.

Spiritual Aspects

It is called the physical for a reason. It is the world we live in all of our embodied lives, the world of science and nature. It is the world we can touch and taste, measure and understand.

But as I said, I tend to layer and interweave the numerous aspects of my worldview. The physical is one aspect, the metaphysical is another. I draw a great deal of inspiration from old mythologies, folklore and archaeology. I weave the threads of the past into the present, and onward into the future too. It’s called the metaphysical because it is what comes “after” the physical. It is not the realm of science, but of belief and ideas.

I don’t think we just “stop” when we die. We become… well disembodied. In naturalistic ways, the dead are still with us. In our bones and blood, in our soil and in our air. Some day all the atoms in my body will be recycled into something else. My ancestors live on in my very DNA, and in my memories.

It is said that the dead are protectors of the living, and I take this to heart. In both a physical and metaphysical sense, my ancestors are still with me. I can ask them for guidance, and their blood runs in my veins. So much of my appearance, innate skills, my mental makeup, I owe to them. I have added my own bits from my own life experiences to be sure.

So there are the disembodied, and there are those that never had bodies to begin with. I am not going to go to deep into that at the moment. But I want you to consider what I said earlier about the trillions of species. Now consider they have trillions and trillions of dead behind them, back to the first of their kind. Humans have that too, and that makes my animistic view really complicated.

I want to share something now that hasn’t really appeared too much in my previous posts. It is my current way of organizing my thinking about all this. I tend to think of the various species as “Clans”. In the anthropological sense, “clan” usually means a grouping based on a common ancestor.

So in humans terms the McManus clan would in some way all be descendants of someone named McManus.

Also, if I say one of my big spiritual alliance is with the Arctic Wolf Clan, it implies most members of gray wolves, as well as the subspecies the Arctic wolf. Because under current taxonomy, Arctic wolves are considered a subspecies of gray wolves; Canis lupus artcos. See how that works?

As such, I would also be a member of the Human Clan, Homo sapiens (sapiens). If you want to go even farther back up the ancestral tree, I could claim I am part of the Primate Clan too. And considering that all life (and other peoples) on Earth have a common origin in some primordial time…

That makes every person on this planet a member of the Earth-Clan.

Obviously, there is a lot a room for nuance and overlap in this system. For example, because of my spiritual alliances, I am considered a member of Artic Wolf Clan as well as the clan of Skaði. There is a whole set of stories there I am not going to go into. Not in this post anyways.

Most of what I have said here comes as much from taxonomy and anthropology as it does a fair bit of Nordic folklore, especially Finnish folklore and modern art as well. There is plenty of scholarly material that suggests there may have been an ancient clan system in some parts of Europe. Reindeer/Elk and Bear cults being the most obvious examples.

One of my favorite Finnish folk metal bands is Korpiklanni, whose name means “Forest Clan.” As such, as I have just detailed, the various species would be the Klanni.

Gray/Arctic Wolf Klanni, Earth Klanni, and so forth. You get the idea.

Political Aspects

I don’t want to harp too much on this, as I have said a fair bit in other places. As I said earlier, my animism implies that all people deserve basic dignity and respect. This is regardless of the various ways we divide each other, by sex, gender, skin color, or what have you. This idea for me even transcends human issues. The whole of nature deserves respect as much as humans do.

I have made it no secret that I favor the ideas embodied in social democracy, especially in the Nordic model. You know, the kinds of ideas that put people first. Universal health care and education, equality and democracy. Because not only do people deserve respect, but deserve a voice too.

In addition to a lot of issues that fall under social justice, the Nordic countries also put a strong emphasis on the environment as well. As I said, basic dignity and respect extends beyond humans. We need to be doing everything in our power to live sustainably, and reduce our impact on the environment. Entire species, entire Klanni, are going extinct mostly due to habitat loss. That is on us humans. Not to put too fine a point on it, but in human terms wiping out entire peoples is considered genocide. In animistic terms, killing off entire species is genocide too.

Issue by issue, my animism does inform my political positions. Human people deserve dignity, so we should do every everything we can to make sure the people in our societies are taken care of. In addition, non-human people should enter in the equation too.

The long and short of it is; we cannot afford to think only of ourselves.

I feel like there is a lot more I can write here…

But as always;

Thanks for reading!


Ceremonial Dagger

Since I am in the mood of shameless self promotion, I wanted to talk a little about a commission I just finished up.

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This ceremonial dagger was commissioned as a gift for a friend. I am really happy how it turned out!

It is made of 4140 chromemoly. The handle is made of birch wood, and the sheath is a combination of birch and poplar. Those are the mundane specifications.

As most of you know this is as much a spiritual blog as it is anything else. I have made no secret of the fact that I am an animist and spirit worker/shamanic practitioner. So what I really wanted to talk about today was the spiritual aspects that went into making this piece.

This piece was designed to be friendly to spiritual folk such as the Fae, or those that strongly connect with that kind of energy. Several spiritual people like the Fae are adversely affected by iron, which can range in severity. For some, it may just ground out their energy and make them magically impotent. For others, it can be like a fatal allergic reaction.

As such, this piece was created with great care. It was given regular offerings all through the creation process, as was the Forge Spirit itself. Yes, there is an actual spirit that resides in my forge, and I even named it. He is a fiery, amazing beast.

No, I won’t reveal that name here.

The spirit of this dagger revealed itself real early in the process. For lack of better wording, it is quite the chatty spirit. Not in any kind of negative way, it just seemed to have a lot to say. I think working with it was quite a treat.

However, I was not allowed to name it, that much was made very clear. In addition, the dagger spirit was aware all through the process that it was not meant to me. While our relationship was generally cordial, it was in fact a passing acquaintance. The piece has since moved on to its new home, where I am sure it will be loved and cared for.

Want to talk to me about a project? Link up with me on my Facebook page or by email.

As per the usual,

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 


Of Mountains and Madness, Now Available!

Hello folks!

 

I am pleased to announce my fourth book is now available! I present to you; Of Mountains and Madness!

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I am really excited to keep moving forward on this series! There is one more book, which has to pass back through editing. But remember, this is only one of four so far!

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They are all available on Amazon;

The newest book can be found here! $11.99 for paperback, or $4.99 for Kindle.

(Note; as of posting this the print and Kindle version are still separate.)

Or maybe you want a signed copy? Get a hold of me on Facebook!

Synopsis;

On the far side of the galaxy, breadcrumbs wait to be followed.

After extensive genetic and cybernetic modification, Niel has discovered that the data in his head is really a whole other person. Whether it is an AI, or a possessing spirit has not yet been determined. She will lead him well away from the lights of human civilization, into the uncharted regions of the galaxy. The galaxy is a big place, and most of it is wild and untamed.

Not only will Niel and his companions survive the vast unknown darkness, they will soon discover they are far from alone in this adventure.


Admin Updates!

Hey folks!

Random short post here, with a few recent additions!

In case you didn’t notice, there are now indexes for both of my ongoing series, just look up top.

Also, I added my shop’s Facebook page and Etsy shop on the right hand side.

—–>

Be sure to check those things out, yeah?

 

You all keep being awesome!

 

 

 

 


Multiculturalism and Appropriation

Today, I want to talk about multiculturalism and appropriation. This is kind of a tough set of topics, so I am going to cover them as gently as I can. First and foremost I want to talk about multiculturalism.

I consider myself to be a multicultural pagan, and some of you might be wondering what I mean when I say that? Well, for starters a lot of my practice is informed by my ancestors, who by consequence come from pretty much every conceivable place on the globe at one point or another. All that means is that I am human, and the result of countless generations across space and time.

That is one of the reasons I struggle with nationalism. I was born in the US, so yes I am subject to the culture and laws of that. But ancestrally, and like many Americans, I am a mutt. So when I hear people talk about practicing the “religions of my ancestors”, that really gives me a lot of wiggle room. I hope that is something that comes across in my series “Walking with the Ancestors.”

Some people also might be wondering if “eclectic” is the same thing as “multicultural.” Honestly I struggle with this one a lot. I don’t consider myself to be eclectic, and I’ll try my best to explain why. But please don’t take this as me belittling eclecticism. If that works for you, fantastic! It has never really worked for me, so I had to look for something that did.

To me, eclecticism is like having a bunch of pieces from multiple puzzles in a box randomly, and be expected to make a complete (or at least working) picture. I would sit for hours and hours, and just get frustrated that the pieces don’t fit together. And even if they did, I would be frustrated that the picture just looks like gibberish.

The other side of this might be considered some form of fundamentalism, or traditionalism. The idea being that all the pieces in the box are from the same puzzle. Everything fits together nicely and is nicely bounded and kept together. You get a fantastic picture when you are all done, but it some ways it is really limited. All the edges are sharp, and the picture is clearly defined. It’s nice, but I find it kind of stifling. So I really don’t fit this ideology either.

The thing is, I try my best to stay intellectually flexible and adaptable. And that is where being “multicultural” comes into play for me. It’s like having most of the pieces from several different puzzles, generally kept apart. Most of the pieces that are missing would be the outer edge pieces. As such, from one puzzle I could clearly make the picture of, say a barn. But there wouldn’t be any edge pieces, or clear cut boundaries. On another part of the table, I might have a partially complete picture of a wheat field. If I push the two puzzles together, a-not-quite-complete, but a not-quite-random scene of a farm starts to develop. That is kind of how I think of multiculturalism. Sure there are gaps in my puzzle at the end of the day, but I also have a pretty diverse view of the world. Plenty of room for adaptation and experimentation.

Maybe I will add a tractor from another puzzle? Or I may decide I really hate wheat, and replace it with a bunch of deer instead.

I draw inspiration for my spiritual path from a lot of different sources, and plenty of comparing and contrasting. Am I trying to force together random pieces? Not really. But nor am I trying to make completely opposed concepts work together. Each different piece has its own place, but it adds to the context of the greater whole. It is useful to think of it Venn Diagram style. I move together frameworks that have some sort of overlap, or parallels that can inform my worldview.

I hope that makes sense. I am finding it is a little difficult to express these ideas in words.

All that aside, the more I explored the idea of multiculturalism, the more I have found that there are multiple ways to think about it. Here in America we immediately seem to default to the “Melting Pot” concept of treating multiple cultures. The basic idea being that if we mix all these cultures together something new will be created from the “melting”.

The problem I have with the Melting Pot metaphor is that it often goes hand in hand with assimilation ideas. The idea being that “other” cultures (being non-dominant/majority) need to “assimilate” to the dominant culture. Honestly, it’s kind of colonial. The idea being that “they” need to adapt to look more like “us.” Obviously, it also feeds more into the “us vs them” mentality, and I really have no taste for that kind of thinking. I really don’t think the Melting Pot metaphor is useful in this regard, as it seems to reinforce a kind of homogeneity. That kind of runs counter to my personal values of plurality and diversity. Plus it can lead to ideas of cultural “purity”; I.e some “other” may contaminate our pot of “us.”

On the other hand, there are other ways of to think about multiculturalism. Another idea is the Salad Bowl metaphor. The basic idea being, let’s take all of these diverse pieces (apples, oranges, chicken, nuts, whatever you like in your salad) and toss them together in a bowl. The pieces are not “melted” together to form one uniform whole, but each retain their individual apple-ness or orange-ness. What keeps them together is not uniformity, but the bowl itself. The bowl might be what we would call the “common”. The common law of the country, the language(s) we share to communicate with each other. Afterall, communication, community, these all hinge on the idea of the “common”.

I am not saying this metaphor is perfect. It still is subject to majority/minority politics. The “common” of the bowl might be defined by the over abundance of lettuce. The entire salad might have the “official” language of lettuce. Obviously this puts the apples a little bit at a disadvantage if they wish to interact with the “common”.

However, I think the big positive of this metaphor is that it doesn’t require the apples to be assimilated into lettuce. Even though the lettuce may define most of what the bowl stands for, the apples get to retain their apple-ness, though they will need to interact with the “common” of the salad bowl.

Anyone else getting hungry?

Alright, to move this conversation a bit into another direction, I want to share a modified version of a graphic I have shared before.

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Original from the Human Odyssey, by Simon Davies

Modifications (highlights) added my yours truly

Now, I want you to look at the above graphic. I have shared this before, but this time I have made a few changes to it. This is what I mean when I call myself “multicultural.” These are just the lines I have put a fair amount of study into, and most of these choices have been informed by my ancestors. There is still plenty of work to be done of course, and maybe some day I will even learn some non-English language. What can I say, research and study is a time investment, and I am still fairly young. Plenty more time to put in in the future.

But that is not what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to draw your attention to the circles that are not green. There are a few yellow ones on this chart. These are my “caution” flags when it comes to approaching certain culture complexes.

The reason is because of appropriation. There is plenty of writing on there on the nature of cultural appropriation. There was a recent article on Patheos by Yvonne Aburrow, which I think does a decent job at getting at the heart of the matter. There are plenty other articles by the same author, which are also linked below.

Cultural appropriation has plenty of “fuzziness” around it, and that can sometimes make it a difficult concept to pin down and define without nuance. That being said I think there are really two aspects to cultural appropriation.

1) Taking something (whether intangible, such as beliefs or rituals, or tangible, such as artifacts), that you do not own/have no claim to; without permission. (Especially in a exploitative manner, IE for profit)

2) When 1) is done in a context where there is a notable inequality in power dynamics

I want to have you look at the above image again. You see the yellow circles yes? You know what a lot of those cultural complexes have in common? They have a long and recent history of being colonized, exploited, and downright marginalized.

I have wrote a little bit about the Sami on this blog before. I have done my best to do it in a respectful manner, because if I am not careful I may be engaging in some form of appropriation. The point being that the Sami have had about anything you can imagine taking from them. Their cultural lands, their way of life, their cultural heritage. They have been exploited, and colonized, and many of those practices continue to this day.

And if I were to take something (ideas, artifacts) from the Sami, I would be further engaging in those very same practices. Many Native Americans suffer from the same kind of exploitation today, and I could point to countless examples. In fact, in my next post I hope to talk a little bit about the protests going on in Standing Rock.

Also, I am saying this as someone who may (as yet unconfirmed) have Sami ancestry, and recently I wrote a post about how there is some Native American in my genetic makeup. You won’t see me claiming to be “part” of either of these cultures. I don’t feel genetic ancestry gives me real claim to these cultures. Maybe my ancestors did at some point, but I am well removed from that time and context. And so, I do everything in my power to be careful, and respectful of these cultures, and others besides

There is a lot more nuance that could be teased out here, but for now I would like to move on to other writings that are pressing for my attention.

Thanks for reading!

Sources, references;

Misconceptions about Cultural Appropriation – Yvonne Aburrow

What is Cultural Appropriation? – Yvonne Aburrow