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Author Topic: The Cultural Weave: How to Use It, How to Address Its Weaknesses  (Read 842 times)

Darkhawk

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The Cultural Weave: How to Use It, How to Address Its Weaknesses
« on: November 18, 2012, 04:33:47 pm »
Inspired by the ongoing "Celtic Shamanism" thread, I figured I'd take this over into this space for some practical deconstruction.

As I said over there, every culture has its things that it's good at and the places it tends to fall down, and thus everyone has to work through that matrix, learning how to use its strengths and balance its weaknesses accordingly.

So I thought I'd start up a discussion about the contexts of cultures-of-origin, and how to build effective mystical practices that take those contexts into account.  I know many people are not coming from cultures-of-origin in which mystical practices are accepted/common/etc., which is one of the common hurdles.

So where are people coming from?  How have people utilised that?  And where do people tend to run aground?  Let's talk about this.

(I will comment on myself in a following post.)
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Rayne

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The Cultural Weave: How to Use It, How to Address Its Weaknesses
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2012, 05:21:47 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;81468
Inspired by the ongoing "Celtic Shamanism" thread, I figured I'd take this over into this space for some practical deconstruction.

As I said over there, every culture has its things that it's good at and the places it tends to fall down, and thus everyone has to work through that matrix, learning how to use its strengths and balance its weaknesses accordingly.

So I thought I'd start up a discussion about the contexts of cultures-of-origin, and how to build effective mystical practices that take those contexts into account.  I know many people are not coming from cultures-of-origin in which mystical practices are accepted/common/etc., which is one of the common hurdles.

So where are people coming from?  How have people utilised that?  And where do people tend to run aground?  Let's talk about this.

(I will comment on myself in a following post.)

Where I am coming from....oh boy. A twisted path to say the least.

Mom was raised Mennonite, but left for a man. He was Methodist...produced 3 kids. Divorced. Then she ends up with a Catholic and I come along. But I was not raised with religion or spirituality of any sort.

Once in a blue moon I'd attend services of some srt with a friend's family, so that exposed me to Judiasm and the Southern Baptists. In High School I developed an interest in mythology which was my first "toe in the water" toward Paganism.

So my exposure has been to a variety, but nothing ever taught. In some ways this hae made things easier because  don't have the preconceived notions to work past that some may, but I'm also without context for faith in daily life.

As with many things I'm forging my own way from scratch, but open to ideas and influences from all over.
For All That I Am..For All That I See
For All I\'m A Part Of..For All That Sees Me

Maps

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Re: The Cultural Weave: How to Use It, How to Address Its Weaknesses
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2012, 06:03:05 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;81468
So where are people coming from?  How have people utilised that?  And where do people tend to run aground?  Let's talk about this.


I heard my conundrum best described by someone else via the, I think, POC pagans tumblog: that the sights, sounds, and smells that I most closely correspond with mysticism, magic, and otherworld, the images that remind me of "home", tend to be of misty forests, moss, big... trees. Etc, etc. I blame this on the fact that these were the images fed to me in my impressionable witchy years (because witchcraft always = pale woman in purple robes and swirly black makeup sitting with a bunch of candles and incense in the forest talking with frogs or something).

The rest of my family is either atheist, catholic, or something in between. I don't have any curander@s on that side of the fam-- they gave up a lot of culture when they came here, so who knows what they'd had several generations back. We're pretty darned average as far as USians go. I think I'm the only one that can tell a maple from a sycamore, and I'm definitely the only one that can even begin to identify all those weeds the grow on the sides of roads. I come from a family firmly rooted in the mundane, slaves to big pharma, folk who wouldn't know a ghost if it came and punched them in the face. However, the culture we do have left is in our food, and boy howdy is there a lot of it still there.
 
Way back when, when our ancestors maybe didn't resemble middle America so much, they might have had the words and scraps of knowledge to be able to hold a conversation with them about these sorts of things, but not anymore.

So it's been an interesting ride so far; trying to do something foreign with domestic tools, but it's more rewarding than I could have predicted. I don't need the British vocabulary, I don't need their effects and their methods, but if I do take from them then it's going to be on terms I can recognize as belonging to me instead of trying to measure up to some animated gif of this cardboard cutout of a woman in a forest with candles that probably took her 10 minutes to light. I mean, if I go back far enough, my ancestors didn't even use candles. The Spanish brought them, along with a lot of other things that have fucked over these two continents.

I've got British ancestry too I'm sure, but these days, their world is starting to make just the tiniest bit less sense than it once did.

How am I using it? I don't know just yet, but I do know that I am. I needed Mysteries that weren't escapism, I needed them to be painfully and dangerously relevant. They needed to actually be of consequence. So I guess I'm building that.

Marilyn/Absentminded

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Re: The Cultural Weave: How to Use It, How to Address Its Weaknesses
« Reply #3 on: November 18, 2012, 06:40:25 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;81468

So where are people coming from?  How have people utilised that?  And where do people tend to run aground?  Let's talk about this.


 
Basic North American culture.  The 'exotic' bits are Scottish peculiarities and Ojibwe relatives, but I'm not political about either of them.

Using that basic culture, hmm.... I guess it's more the pop culture I use if you're talking religion and magic.  My main deity is a FN being, and I do relate to him in a sort of traditional way - more FN than European approach to deity figures, anyway - but that's pretty much where it ends.

I love and am fascinated by North American entertainment, legends, habits, etc., and I recognize them as separate from 'family stuff'.  I'm always a bit confused by people bemoaning our lack of culture because I don't see how that's even possible.  

I can use the buzz words of my youth and be understood by others, with whom I may share absolutely nothing else.  Jargon, background concepts, accepted imagery - it all comes into my religious and magical work in what feels like a natural way.  More foreign concepts come into it too, but they always feel emphasized for the strange, rather than just part of breathing.

Not sure if this is exactly what you are asking about.  My culture is basically English Canadian formed in the 60s and 70s, modified in the 80s and 90s, and relatively unaffected by the last decade or so.  (I think - there are probably unconscious adaptations because the present has grown from the past, but I feel like I personally stopped adapting at some point and settled into my demographic.)

Maybe there's some part of that that is relevant to the topic? :)

Absent
I smile when I\'m angry.  I cheat and I lie
I do what I have to do to get by
But I know what is wrong, and I know what is right
And I die for the truth in my secret life

   In My Secret Life, L. Cohen

Rayne

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Re: The Cultural Weave: How to Use It, How to Address Its Weaknesses
« Reply #4 on: November 18, 2012, 06:57:19 pm »
Quote from: Maps;81488


How am I using it? I don't know just yet, but I do know that I am. I needed Mysteries that weren't escapism, I needed them to be painfully and dangerously relevant. They needed to actually be of consequence. So I guess I'm building that.

 
THIS. Yes.

Well said Maps!
For All That I Am..For All That I See
For All I\'m A Part Of..For All That Sees Me

Darkhawk

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Re: The Cultural Weave: How to Use It, How to Address Its Weaknesses
« Reply #5 on: November 18, 2012, 07:23:48 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;81468
(I will comment on myself in a following post.)

 
Hokay, now that I'm not running around all over the place doing errands, some thoughts on my own stuff.

I was raised in a fairly secular post-Christian academically influenced environment.  My first encounters with religion were in a comparison-shopping context; once I wound up stable, my next most immediate thoughts were, effectively, that I wasn't getting any damn mysticism out of it.  (I could not have framed the thoughts that way at the time, but, y'know, I was eight.)

This leads to the following things:

1)  Belief is something that I consistently feel on the outside from.  Since I wasn't raised within a strongly religious context, I'm constantly, at a subtle level, taken aback that I am devoutly religious; it's something that's outside my default expections of how people actually behave.  This can make it hard to seriously commit to a set of practices or go fully into an experience; at the same time, it gives me a perspective conducive to evaluating experiences and tweaking things for effectiveness.

2)  I am particularly prone to valorising intellectual understandings over intuitive ones, even though many of my default responses are emotional.  (I am very good at justifying emotional reactions intellectually.)  I am a very good speaker to people not of my religion because of this; I can frame things in terms that are accessible to scientific-culture-accepting Westerner pretty well.  However, I am very bad at trusting my own intuitions on things, because they don't filter well as 'real'.

3)  I suspect in significant part because of the culture of my individual family, I am particularly prone to associating concepts together and building upon them, and I retain really random factoids remarkably well (which is occasionally useful, and occasionally 'why can't I remember this information instead of They Might Be Giants song lyrics?!').  This means that I tend to synthesise heaps of information well and see spaces between them - which makes me prone to looking at heaps of practical information and creating mystical spaces between the facts, and then getting stalled otu as to how I can explain this to anyone else, ever. ;)

So I think I have some typical-American-pagan issues: being raised in a culture that's heavily dominated by observable facts and "objective" reality makes it hard to appreciate and relate to subjective and inner realities.  At the same time, I can take piles of facts and create inner realities out of them, so that same tendency to collect data is still functional for what I do with my mystical work.

(Several of my major mysticism projects have to do with this: I accrue a big heap of information from my research and go 'Oh, I can see how this goes here, and....'  People familiar with my Nut Cycle work can see one of the more obvious examples of this.)
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

SkySamuelle

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Re: The Cultural Weave: How to Use It, How to Address Its Weaknesses
« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2012, 08:12:38 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;81468
Inspired by the ongoing "Celtic Shamanism" thread, I figured I'd take this over into this space for some practical deconstruction.

As I said over there, every culture has its things that it's good at and the places it tends to fall down, and thus everyone has to work through that matrix, learning how to use its strengths and balance its weaknesses accordingly.

So I thought I'd start up a discussion about the contexts of cultures-of-origin, and how to build effective mystical practices that take those contexts into account.  I know many people are not coming from cultures-of-origin in which mystical practices are accepted/common/etc., which is one of the common hurdles.

So where are people coming from?  How have people utilised that?  And where do people tend to run aground?  Let's talk about this.

(I will comment on myself in a following post.)

 
I grew up Catholic. My family had not much interest in religious practice, even if they were adamant on me going to Church every sunday and never missing a single cathechism lesson. I loved mythology of any flavor - I read the old testament several times when I was in middle school and my little greek myth handbook even more often - my village was actually close to many ancient temples ruins so while I can't say knowing greek mythology was part of my culture, I would say it was part of my background noise at least.

I tried to be religious then, even lots of stuff didn't make sense to me logically. Ironically this beginning point brought me to:

a) Because I always had religion as structural part of my life and because praying was something I always did in some measure (even if my family was not religious, my house used to keep religious statues as decorative motif and it was easy for my child self turn to that when I was scared) the habit of talking to gods is pretty much ingrained. I can't imagine being atheist. The idea feels somehow innatural. Even

b) My biggest issue in cathechism was the fact I was supposed to accept everything blidly and don't question dogmas as good Christians should feel ashamed to even think the question when Jesus died for them. I never even got why Thomas was so contemp-whorty. So... now I question everything freely until it makes sense and I enjoy it, enough than it turned to be an advantage in mysticism. I actually love when a new bit of information puts in question my mental puzzle of how the universe works and I have to reason anew how the new piece relates to the old ones.
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