For those of you who don’t know what the term means, “tribalism” refers to the current within Neo-paganism that claims that in order to understand gods and practice religion properly the “culture” (often invented by the founder) must be adopted to some degree.
First issue: being able to pick one’s culture, invent it, and adopt a new ethnic identity. This is another manifestation of white privilege, as I learned from reading “Dealing with Race, Ethnicity, and Whiteness in constructing the Ethnic Folkway of Germanic Heathenry” by Jennifer Snook http://citations.allacademic.com//meta/p_mla_apa_research_citation/2/3/8/8/4/pages238849/p238849-1.php. From page 14: “Because whites are unconstrained by the politics and visibility of race, they are free to choose from multicultural symbols and practices.” With great privilege comes the greater responsibility of not using it.
Second issue: European culture (artificial or not) being presented as universal. Well, to be blunt, only a white person could come up with something so color and culture blind. Not to mention the fact it completely ignores the history of imperialism and how problematic westernization has been for non-European cultures.
Third issue: though the CR and Gaol Naofa FAQs discuss the evils of cultural appropriation, the authors don’t seem to realize that assuming someone else’s culture, and even ethnic identity (including extinct ones) when one has not been born to it or chosen to become a citizen of the country where it’s native, is the most egregious form of c.a. that I can imagine.
Fourth issue: But-its-my-cultural-heritage! People. Maybe if you’re an immigrant, or your family is, and you were raised in an immigrant community-you have some right to a European cultural heritage. But coming from the perspective of a person whose grandparents got off the boat at a one-muddy-path village called Jamestown, and I’ll be blunt again, one’s “European cultural heritage” ended when your ancestors decided to emigrate. We need to start calling it what it is-national heritage, because it belongs to the people who live in the country where the stuff happened. Faint if you must.
Fifth issue: the surviving Indo-European pagan religions (all Indo-Iranian [the Dharma of Sanatana, Buddha, Jaina, and non-racialist Mazdayasna]) do not require converts to adopt aspects of an Indo-Iranian ethnic group. The only thing they require to practice the religion is……….brace for it……………practicing the religion. Shocking, I know. No folk customs? No ethnic clothing/sports/cuisine/music/dances/art? No nothing? How do you live?! Some of you may exclaim. By grounding my religion in my own culture and family traditions. Which directly leads to-
Sixth issue: the CR and Gaol Naofa FAQs also talk about “westerners” (a.k.a. P.o.W.? [people of whiteness]) being rootless (read: ethnicless read: pretty sure they’re talkin’ ’bout white people now) and not being raised in a culture. How is that even physically possible? Are we alien pod people? Needless to say, this kind of attitude leads to the kinds of cultural appropriation they protest.
Seventh issue: The Usonan Person’s Burden. Sometimes the chatter about preserving European folk customs, when coming from my fellow Usonans, sounds paternalistic, like we need to preserve European ethnic groups from their own cultural evolution-which is none of our business, I might add.
A recent thread on how illogical folkism is reminded me that tribalism, considered the midpoint between the folkists and the complete universalism of Indo-Iranian religions, is also a little illogical. Especially when coming from U.S. citizens. Has anyone else noticed these issues? Is it possible for Neo-paganism to grow beyond them?
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