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Author Topic: Does anyone else have issues with tribalism?  (Read 4361 times)

Juniperberry

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Re: Does anyone else have issues with tribalism?
« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2014, 12:46:08 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;157218
It's when people try to "get" culture. As if it were collectible.

Quote from: veggiewolf;157226
So, it's a variation on a theme - "Cultures are not Pokémon; there's no need to try to catch 'em all!"?


I get what you guys are saying, but isn't that actually a part of US culture that all citizens are taught? As in,  "The Great Melting Pot". As in, there just isn't a "native" American culture unless you happen to be native. As in, we don't transplant cultures to get culture, transplanting is part of our culture?
« Last Edit: August 27, 2014, 12:46:43 pm by Juniperberry »
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Re: Does anyone else have issues with tribalism?
« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2014, 03:06:38 pm »
Quote from: Jack;157210
Pop culture paganism!

That's certainly one way of doing it. And I don't malign it, unlike some others, because I do recognise that spiritual forces are malleable and can take all sorts of shapes.

But what if someone doesn't want to go that way? It's ridiculous to say that they have to go with that path. That completely ignores and invalidates their personal experiences and preferences.

Sarah

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Re: Does anyone else have issues with tribalism?
« Reply #17 on: August 27, 2014, 03:14:37 pm »
Quote from: Louisvillian;157273

But what if someone doesn't want to go that way? It's ridiculous to say that they have to go with that path. That completely ignores and invalidates their personal experiences and preferences.

 
yes, it is ridiculous to say anyone has to go with that path. That's probably why nobody said it
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Louisvillian

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Re: Does anyone else have issues with tribalism?
« Reply #18 on: August 27, 2014, 11:24:59 pm »
Quote from: Jake_;157275
That's probably why nobody said it
I'm not so sure. It certainly sounds like what both Jack and Materialist were saying.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2014, 11:25:49 pm by Louisvillian »

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Re: Does anyone else have issues with tribalism?
« Reply #19 on: August 27, 2014, 11:31:26 pm »
Quote from: Louisvillian;157343
I'm not so sure. It certainly sounds like what both Jack and Materialist were saying.

 
I agree that it was presented in a manner that suggested it was the only appropriate, logical course of action for Americans. It's possible that was just the result of text being largely toneless.

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Re: Does anyone else have issues with tribalism?
« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2014, 12:23:44 am »
Quote from: Louisvillian;157343
I'm not so sure. It certainly sounds like what both Jack and Materialist were saying.

 
Perhaps you are a Tapatalk user and can't see them, but both my 'religion:' descriptor and my .sig make it pretty clear, IMO, that I work with both traditional and nontraditional religions, so I figured it would be taken as a suggestion and not a prescription.
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Re: Does anyone else have issues with tribalism?
« Reply #21 on: August 28, 2014, 03:02:17 am »
Quote from: PrincessAstrid;157345
It's possible that was just the result of text being largely toneless.

I suppose that would explain it. And perhaps I'm a tad sensitive about it because I do identify so much as a revivalist. My interest in contemporary Paganism is rooted in my fascination of ancient polytheism and mythology. To abandon that would not make any sense for me, especially considering my personal experiences involving the gods.

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Re: Does anyone else have issues with tribalism?
« Reply #22 on: August 28, 2014, 04:09:37 am »
Quote from: Materialist;157097
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?

Yes, yes I do have an issue with some of this. I've written on my blog before about the way that Irish and British cultures can be fetischized to the extent that it becomes offensive. The result is usually a mishmash of things that the practitioners might claim is 'authentic' but must be remembered is a modern construction, put together mostly by people who don't live in that culture. Who are, essentially, trying to exchange their own culture for a fantasy. At least some of the time.

Example: I'm in Ireland now -  I come back once every couple of years to see family. I was listening to local radio as I drove out of the airport, and there was a mockery happening of those new age idiots who believe in the sidhe-folk. Mind, that was balanced by a shared understanding of the concept of a 'fairy fort' and why someone might not want to stay all night in one. Interesting contrast that shows something of the reality of modern Ireland. It was a really amusing thing for a follower if the fairy faith to come home to :D Whenever I'm here, I'm reminded that my beliefs are a modern construction based on easily-fetichized and romanticised ideas. This doesn't mean I shouldn't have those beliefs. It does mean I have to be really careful, though. And get a regular dose of reality. I should listen to Radio Kerry more. :)

Being here also makes me chuckle about certain groups being very strict about whether their members live the Irish and British cultures enough. In terms of all their omens coming from the winds and such, I think. Here in Dingle there's a great little shop selling crystals and tarot readings for locals. The shops with Ogham jewellery and Celtic knotwork are mainly for the tourists!
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Faemon

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Re: Does anyone else have issues with tribalism?
« Reply #23 on: August 28, 2014, 05:25:02 am »
Quote from: Naomi J;157370
Yes, yes I do have an issue with some of this. I've written on my blog before about the way that Irish and British cultures can be fetischized to the extent that it becomes offensive. The result is usually a mishmash of things that the practitioners might claim is 'authentic' but must be remembered is a modern construction, put together mostly by people who don't live in that culture. Who are, essentially, trying to exchange their own culture for a fantasy. At least some of the time.

I just might be one of those new age idiots who believe in the sidhe-folk, so I definitely would be interested in reading that post of yours and getting your perspective :)

I mean, my spiritual and paranormal experiences are based on what I've extrapolated from folklore compilations by Keightley and, lately, Yeats (well...earlier than lately, Yeats, who I consider amusingly unkind about French fairy lore.)

What resonates (new age buzz word, sorry) with me are not the sort of fairy stories that I get the sense of being written as a morality tale or "wouldn't it be cool if this happened" but ones where I just get the sense came from, "this actually happened, the teller expresses it but can make no sense of it" and enough of those provide parallels and recurring mentions of phenomena that I myself, doing comparisons, then make some sort of sense of all that data. (Even if, being incorrigibly suspicious, perhaps they're only recurring mentions because someone heard so-and-so thing once and went, "wouldn't if be cool if that happened to me" and expressed something similar, but completely made-up, without presuming to make sense of it because that teller had an instinct for verisimilitude, so it looks like it happens more often than it did. And maybe it was originally a dream, or a drug trip, or a psychotic break--in any case.)

My sources are mostly Irish because those are, from what I've gathered, the most prominently represented in the body of personal-accounts-of-encountering-the-fair-folk that give me the "sense" that I look for...but then, I don't live in Ireland, have never been there, and have no claim to heritage. (Well, my mother's father's mother's maiden name was Toher. But that's not heritage. I just used to think it was and--well, that'd take too far a tangent.)

I say that makes sense of my paranormal/spiritual experiences as attributing-extrapolating the mechanics of it, as in...the best sense, which a similar method of personal-accounts-of-encountering-extraterrestrials just hasn't made. But I encounter the yokai more often than I do sidhe-folk and I wonder if it's right to apply what I've hashed out with the process above...or if I'm appropriating supernatural vocabulary.



And then that flows into how I incorporate modern fairy tales, which are definitely not "this actually happened to the author who can express it but make no sense of it yet" but I chalk up to a sort of inspiration-gnosis crossover.

I mean, I consider J.M. Barrie's novel Peter Pan just chillingly full of truth. Not Tiger Lily's accent. Not the physical spiriting away of the Darlings, necessarily. It's a fiction, made up of what the author thought made sense and was cool and what was considered cool at that time. (The way that Tiger Lily's tribe and herself played into the story was so uncool Barrie what the what just I can't even)

But...the dreams, the veils, the memory loss, Peter Pan as psychopomp ushering abandoned infants to this otherworld "to defray costs", the powers of manifestation in the otherworld, the musical language of an entity classified as a fairy, and the modern mis-interpretation of Neverland as the place of eternal youth (which wasn't in the novel, but I think of it as the concept of "eternal youth-land" as having elbowed its way through and gone "ta-daa~!" in the spotlight of collective consciousness through the Peter Pan story).

That all rings true for me, that validates my paranormal experiences...even though it came from somewhere too removed to possibly ground. The book's in my hand, but what right does that grant me in terms of what I adopt from that story?

I could wish that my subconscious were more politically correct and just stuck with inspiration=gnosis, instead of invoking a greater appreciation...and validation...or basically resonance of those truths by what I see as a folkloric lineage. I mean, I could do that. The Neverending Story gives me the same chills without tracing it to German folkloric lineage or mainland European folkloric lineage. (Also, wasn't Atreyu coded some sort of tribal and waaay better characterized than more-than-subtly-coded-tribal Tiger Lily?)

I guess the real question is delineated between "Should I?" and (maybe a little whinging) "Must I?"
« Last Edit: August 28, 2014, 05:31:36 am by Faemon »
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Re: Does anyone else have issues with tribalism?
« Reply #24 on: August 30, 2014, 04:11:51 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;157097
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....

 
Lots of interesting ideas in this thread, so I'm just going to focus on one issue I have with "tribalism". I'll limit my comments to my experiences of modern heathenry, since I don’t have the necessary experience with other traditions to make useful comments.

On one hand, I think it is necessary to try and understand the cultural context in which a religion was practiced if one has the goal of creating/reviving a tradition with some meaningful links to the Pre-Christian past. On the other hand, I do have a bit of a problem with the idea that one is going to adopt another culture’s “worldview”.

For simplicity’s sake, I’ll leave aside the issues of appropriation for now, and focus on my main problem with the full-scale adoption of an extinct culture’s “worldview” - which is the near-impossibility of recreating a non-literate, agricultural, tribal (in the sense of relatively small, relatively autonomous cultural/social groups) culture in a mass-media infused, urbanized and atomized society.

You mentioned the attempts to recreate pre-Christian social structures as something problematic, and I agree with this. You cannot recreate the fully immersive experience of living in such societies simply by calling the leader of your kindred a “sacral king”, or by referring to new members of your religious community as “thralls”. You cannot eliminate the fact that unlike an actual pre-Christian tribal society, you have significant familial and economic linkages with people who do not share your religious ideas.

Now virtually every Heathen in the world would probably agree that a modern practice should incorporate elements of a person’s modern culture. The problem is that there is no agreed-upon idea for what concepts from pre-Christian societies should be integrated into our modern lives, and what concepts should be left in the past.

I think for a lot of recons the process of trying to really understand a past culture takes precedence to the extent that there is a relative lack of discussion about what aspects of pre-Christian cultures are not useful in our current contexts, and what non-heathen aspects of our culture are, quite simply, useful in ways that pre-Christian concepts may not be.

To take one example, pre-Christian Heathen traditions often do not show the same level of concern for people outside of our immediate family/community that universalist religions like Christianity and Buddhism do. This is not a moral failing on the part of pre-Christian peoples - they simply did not live in societies where one had to have effective interactions with strangers on a regular basis. It is a modern failing when we throw away a critical part of our heritage just because it has roots in Christianity.

Ultimately, I think the focus for heathens in the future may have to shift from its singular focus on understanding and integrating pre-Christian worldviews, to a more balanced assessment of the many, many things in our culture that are non-Heathen, but have proven to be useful and effective. Christianity and Humanism have made many vital contributions to our current culture that should not be scrapped simply because they are not “heathen”. They are not infections or poisons to be cut radically out of our mental space. I think it is possible to have a healthy balance between integrating useful ideas from past cultures with our actual living Christo-Humanist heritage. But in order to do so, we have to stop treating “the full conversion to an ancient worldview!” as the penultimate goal of our reconstructionst/revivalist religious traditions.
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Tenorbear2

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Re: Does anyone else have issues with tribalism?
« Reply #25 on: September 03, 2014, 02:18:36 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;157097
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.

  Frankly, I think it's absolute rubbish.  The more I"ve studied the more I've learned that humanity is not made up of tiny, mutually exclusive tribes each with their own discreet and exclusive characteristics. If I study what mystics in the Iroquois Nation had ascertained by the 1500's I find it's not so different from the Celtic "tree of life" concept that seems to have been pre-dated by the Kabbalistic Tree of Life being filled out by today's physicists after a romp back to it's origins before the Hebrew language was lost during the Babylonian exile.  This should be of no surprise. Time is not linear, we're all part of the energy whole that is the universe and anything we do to isolate ourselves from each other is counter productive and anti-life.  

Tribalism is like children trying to figure out the obscenities of adult power struggles by inventing imitative "clubs".  Whether you're in the "Girl haters club" the "Boys have Cooties Club" or the "Mouseketeers" you've given yourself over to something immature and wrong headed that will result in nothing but misery.  When relions play these games people end up dying by the hundreds of thousands or even millions. Never forget; anyone who says, "God told me to tell you."  is a liar.  Especially when he/she tells you that "those people over there are the bad people and God wants you to go kill, steal, rape, burn, torture etc. them."  

Neo-paganism needs tribalism about as much as it needs to start "holy wars."  Not.  Run away.
« Last Edit: September 04, 2014, 01:49:05 pm by Chabas »

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Re: Does anyone else have issues with tribalism?
« Reply #26 on: September 05, 2014, 08:41:22 am »
Quote from: Tenorbear2;158052
Never forget; anyone who says, "God told me to tell you."  is a liar.  Especially when he/she tells you that "those people over there are the bad people and God wants you to go kill, steal, rape, burn, torture etc. them."  

If a deity wants to tell me something, I expect them to do so themselves or at least demonstrate my satisfaction that their chosen messenger is relying their words, not just saying what the messenger wants -- which is likely going to require directly contacting me so they might as well just give me the message themselves.

And even if a deity gives me a message directly, I'm likely to ignore it if it goes against my morals. Going out out to " kill, steal, rape, burn, torture" someone just because a deity says so not something that it likely to stand up to my moral standards.
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Re: Does anyone else have issues with tribalism?
« Reply #27 on: September 05, 2014, 12:14:25 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;157224
Which is what I was going to say. The U.S. has its own literary culture, why can't we use it? Why must god and myth=something written down 2,000 years ago in  a foreign country? That new gods and myths can pop up all the time, or be created to fit a specific need, appears to be inconceivable to a lot of Neo-pagans.

This.

Yeah, some of it is stigmatized, and IMHO justly so. (For example, there's the Shrine of Mothra--yes, as in the Japanese movie giant insect contemporary of Godzilla: http://chneukirchen.org/tmp/www.geocities.com/Tokyo/Island/2295/ )

But some of it is gorgeous, and resides right here among us Cauldronites. Morag writes some beautiful, original mythic stuff, and I just learned of Ainellewellyn's mythos, which I'm working my way through reading right now. These kinds of efforts are fresh. They're exciting. And no knowledge of ancient cultures is required.

Personally, I have never felt comfortable adopting the gods of a culture far removed from my own, whether in time, place, or ethnic/cultural heritage. I needed gods relevant to a world that has become much less parochial and much more interconnected...relevant to modern Western values and societies that are increasingly multicultural...and reflecting the universe as we understand it today, with our current scientific knowledge. That's why I write my own myths.

I get that adopting "newborn" gods might not work for everyone, but I think it deserves much more exploration.
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Re: Does anyone else have issues with tribalism?
« Reply #28 on: September 05, 2014, 01:23:59 pm »
Quote from: Altair;158152
I get that adopting "newborn" gods might not work for everyone, but I think it deserves much more exploration.

I do quite a bit of work both with fantasy and created myth figures, as well as with thought forms. Even a fetch or deliberate thoughtform can be shared, and fantasy figures can provide depth of experience.

Shiney is quite the little godling, even though he started as a "helper spirit" and was entirely created by me, many people have... interesting experiences with him.

Also, I'm not at all ashamed to admit I've evoked (as in conjured to "visible" appearane) both Gandalf and Zed (from the sword of truth series) with decent results.

It works, but I won't pull the thread off topic by yammering on.
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Re: Does anyone else have issues with tribalism?
« Reply #29 on: September 10, 2014, 07:35:20 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;157097
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?

 

While I agree that picking an ethnic identity that has nothing to do with your own is weird and offensive, however I take issue with your 4th point. Core to religions such as Asatru or different forms of Celtic Paganism, is ancestors. Honoring your ancestors is important, and for many who follow Asatru or a form of CP, their ancestors are from those regions. Those of us who live in America did not suddenly lose our ancestors upon being born in a different country.

Maybe I am misunderstanding your tone though, that is possible. I can see where Americans, even with Celtic heritage, are trying to mimic current Irish/Scottish/Welsh culture. That can present a problem and come off as ignorant appropriation. However when trying to reconstruct the beliefs of your own ancestors, I do not see a problem with this.

I want to put something forth, something I feel, and I am sure many other Americans feel. We were born into a hodgepodge culture. America was called a melting pot for a reason, because our current culture does incorporate and embrace many other cultures. America itself, IMO, does not have its own distinct culture outside of the modern eclectism as far as spirituality goes. To be fair, even Christianity is not American, it is a middle eastern religion like Judaism and Islam. However Christianity seems to dominate most of our current culture and government. The only thing America has/had from the 'beginning' was Native American religions, and we all know what kind of S***-storm happens when white Americans try appropriating that. Please, let white Americans have their heritage/ancestry. It is one of the few things some of us feel any spiritual connection to because what has been presented to us here in America is Judeo-Christian.

I believe EVERYONE, of every heritage and race, has the right to try and follow the path of their ancestors. Hell, even if people want to follow Greek who have no Greek heritage, who is to tell them they are wrong, if the gods called to them? This really comes down to what the gods view as acceptable from their followers, do we really have the right to judge peoples relationship with their ancestors or gods?.. Again, I can understand where people can go too far and become offensive, such as trying to mimic things and pass those off as true to a culture they have never been in. However when it comes to ancient cultures and things such as Recons or Polytheists, we don't have much to go on, we have to make guesses and we have to experiment and piece things together. We were not lucky enough like Buddhism, Shinto, or Hindu to have such a long lasting recorded religious history to draw from.

Please remember, 'White people' have a heritage as well (We didn't just pop out of the ground like orcs with no history lol), and we have just as much right to it as a Mexican to Aztec or a 4th generation removed Native American wanting to rediscover their ancestry and roots.  It is sad when 'white people' do use their race to undermine the importance of others, but we are all important, and everyone's heritage/ancestry is also important. Love! :)

----- May have gone off on a tangent, sorry! <3 ------

TL;DR: Live and let live.

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