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Author Topic: By Blood or by Deed?  (Read 2599 times)

Frostfire

By Blood or by Deed?
« on: December 05, 2012, 04:04:07 pm »
Ok So last night my friend said something in passing that made me think. She had been asked why she was so focused on her geneology and heratige. Her reply was that it gave her something to research and often times she came across cultural details that she found attractive and that she may want to research and get into.

We wound up further discussing the topic and I wound up with the following questions based off her answers:

Do you think that heratige is a determining factor in your practices and actions even down to your religious beliefs?
As in do you think that because you have a lineage tied to a certain practice or belief/system that you should be a part of it?
Conversely does a lack of a blood tie exclude you from that heritage or system?

So for instance could I being a black male with no notable ties to celts or such practice a celtic Religious system and be accepted by virtue of my sincerity alone and a belief and adherance to the practices of that system or would such a thing be frowned on?

I am very comfortable with my religious views and spiritual path and I don't think that blood, so to speak, ties a person to a particular path. I am going to go old school and say " By blood or by deed "  I conceed that an ancestoral tie can be a good factor in a choice like that but I think a person legitemately dedicated to and interested in a religion should be just as welcome to be a part of it.

I hear about cultures and people being exploited by outsiders using their ways and traditions and I have to wonder if that his a blanket accusation. On the one hand there could indeed be someone exploiting the culture, on the other they may be people seriously interested and dedicated to following the tradition or practices.

Away from both of these are those who take portions of the practices and adapt them to suit their purposes. They tend to be accused of diluting the culture or perverting it. To me so long as they aren't claiming to be a practitioner of said culture it's all good. For instance an eclectic wiccan taking a portion of a druidic ceremony and tweaking or altering it to suit a ritual they are performing is all gravy so long as they admit it and don't claim it is something it isn't.

Whats the census on the whole thing? thoughts feelings experiances? As always I want to know please and thanks :D
« Last Edit: December 06, 2012, 08:25:42 am by RandallS »

Nyktipolos

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Re: by Blood or by Deed
« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2012, 04:24:22 pm »
Quote from: Frostfire;83597
I have to wonder if that his a blanket accusation.

When it comes to many Native traditions, it usually isn't. Sometimes it is, but I don't get in the habit of doing such a thing. I take things on a case-by-case basis.

Quote
On the one hand there could indeed be someone exploiting the culture, on the other they may be people seriously interested and dedicated to following the tradition or practices.

Well, one of the easiest ways to avoid that is to A) make sure what you are adapting to your practice does not require someone to give you permission or have it gifted to you, and B) have permission to use it.

If you're trying to wear a very obvious imitation of a okimâwastotin (Cree word for the "war bonnet"/ "Indian headdress" you often see appropriated for sports logos, etc.) and you have not been gifted such a thing by a tribe? I have every right to call you (general 'you') out for cultural appropriation. It's rude, it's offensive, it's gross, and it doesn't matter what your "intent" is.

I have the same opinion about sweatlodges (spiritual, not mundane) and the Sun Dance. If you haven't been given permission to do it, don't. (EDIT: To clarify, I am not talking about being invited to these events, but rather trying to start up your own and you have not been given the proper permission to do so.)

That's pretty much the only bit I'll comment on from my experience and background.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2012, 04:28:21 pm by Nyktipolos »
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Schuyler

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Re: by Blood or by Deed
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2012, 04:51:37 pm »
This very thing has been on my mind today. I am Korean-Japanese, but have almost no ties to either culture. I was born and raised in the U.S., and I have no experience with Japanese customs or the language; my knowledge of the Korean culture is from a Westerner's point of view and, while I can read it, my general grasp of the language is pitiful. I was bullied extensively when I was in Korean school because I was not Korean enough, so if my reply seems biased, it may be so.

Quote from: Frostfire;83597
Do you think that heratige is a determining factor in your practices and actions even down to your religious beliefs?
Given all of this, I would have to say no-- rather, I believe the environment and one's sincerity to be more of a deciding factor. I feel a greater tie to the Cypriot-Greek culture, as my stepfather did the bulk of raising me and I spent a good chunk of my teenage years living in Cyprus and attending a Greek Orthodox church. Granted, I did get quite a lot of stares.

Quote
As in do you think that because you have a lineage tied to a certain practice or belief/system that you should be a part of it?
I do not believe that having blood ties to a culture does not justify one to be a part of it. If I were to go to Korea or Japan today, I would be seen as an American-- it would border on cultural appropriation if I expected to be welcomed in to a Shinto temple and involved in certain rituals, and it would be appropriation if I decided to call myself a Korean shaman. There is a degree of national pride that permeates these religions, and they would seem alien out of their natural environments. It wouldn't matter if I spoke flawless Japanese or Korean and performed the rituals perfectly; I would still be seen as an outsider, and that is something that one would have to respect. I understand that this is similar in Native American shamanism. Now, I am not trying to offend anyone that does follow Shintoism or practices Korean shamanism; I am merely stating my opinion and experiences with people from those cultures.

Quote
Conversely does a lack of a blood tie exclude you from that heritage or system?
This may seem contrary to my above reply, but no. I think that it all depends upon how the native practitioners feel about it, and that should be respected. If you are in a village in Korea and everyone welcomes you and the mudang does allow you to become initiated-- then go for it.

I honor the Celtic pantheon, but I would never call myself a Celt or a Druid.
« Last Edit: December 05, 2012, 04:53:43 pm by Schuyler »

Maps

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Re: by Blood or by Deed
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2012, 05:57:14 pm »
Quote from: Frostfire;83597
Do you think that heratige is a determining factor in your practices and actions even down to your religious beliefs?

It was a jumping off point but continues to make itself more relevant all the time. I'm also discovering a lot about my ethnic heritage from a secular perspective, which is very exciting and valuable to me personally.
Quote from: Frostfire;83597
As in do you think that because you have a lineage tied to a certain practice or belief/system that you should be a part of it?

No, not really. It's inspired me, but preservation of one's culture is important regardless.
Quote from: Frostfire;83597
Conversely does a lack of a blood tie exclude you from that heritage or system?

Well, you can't claim heritage of something if... you didn't inherit it. Folk practices are different, though, and those can be generally taken out of context for better or for worse. Sometimes lack of exposure to a cultural praxis does very much exclude you from ethically participating, but some people are assholes and do things they're asked not to do anyways.

Quote from: Frostfire;83597
So for instance could I being a black male with no notable ties to celts or such practice a celtic Religious system and be accepted by virtue of my sincerity alone and a belief and adherance to the practices of that system or would such a thing be frowned on?

There's a lot to unpack here, and it's not quite so black and white as you might posit. Racism, colonialism, white privilege and the like all play very ugly roles in these kinds of real-world situations.

Quote from: Frostfire;83597
I hear about cultures and people being exploited by outsiders using their ways and traditions and I have to wonder if that his a blanket accusation. On the one hand there could indeed be someone exploiting the culture, on the other they may be people seriously interested and dedicated to following the tradition or practices.

See: cultural appropriation. Generally, this is only a seriously damaging issue where indigenous people are concerned, but this can and does happen to varying degrees with all sorts of religio-cultural practices and beliefs. The practices of non-POC (peoples like the Sami consider themselves to be indigenous people of color, so they don't apply here) European cultures are generally, in my opinion, at the least risk of suffering real damages from this.

Quote from: Frostfire;83597
Whats the census on the whole thing? thoughts feelings experiances? As always I want to know please and thanks :D

There really is no consensus in the popular sense. There are a lot of shitty people out there that want to exclude for the sake of exclusivity, and there are those that exclude for the sake of survival. Don't get the two mixed up.

Lokabrenna

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Re: by Blood or by Deed
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2012, 06:18:09 pm »
Quote from: Frostfire;83597

Do you think that heratige is a determining factor in your practices and actions even down to your religious beliefs?
As in do you think that because you have a lineage tied to a certain practice or belief/system that you should be a part of it?
Conversely does a lack of a blood tie exclude you from that heritage or system?


In my case, I have an adoptive family and a biological family (hereafter known as a-family and biofamily).

On my a-family's side, I have:

Irish (my mom's family is from Kilkenny in Ireland)
English/First Nations

My biofamily, on the other hand, is from Romania. I don't know that much about them, other than that my great-grandmother on my mother's side was German, and my dad might have some Asian blood in him somewhere.

I don't identify as anything other than Canadian, though. I was born and raised here.

My point is that my ancestry--almost everyone's ancestry--is made up of a complicated hodgepodge of many different cultures. Where does someone in my position start?

In short, no, I don't think I should be worshiping Zalmoxis or Bendis because blood. I think if you feel a connection to a certain pantheon then by all means, explore that connection. I think it's problematic when you try to take things from a living culture (as opposed to a culture that was completely destroyed by Christianity) that you run into trouble, and I also agree that you shouldn't run around claiming that you're descended from a long line of druids going back to pre-Christian times. I don't claim, for instance, that everything I do (or even anything I do) is necessarily what people who originally worshiped my deities would do, because I'm not living in 10th century Scandinavia. I'm in Canada, it's 2012, times have changed. I might look to the past for inspiration, but I honour my deities in the present, and, TBH, sometimes I just do things because they work, but this is where research comes in.

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Re: by Blood or by Deed
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2012, 08:38:37 pm »
Quote from: Frostfire;83597
Do you think that heratige is a determining factor in your practices and actions even down to your religious beliefs?
As in do you think that because you have a lineage tied to a certain practice or belief/system that you should be a part of it?


These types of questions seem to come up periodically here at the Cauldron. As another black male, born and raised in the U.S., I thought I'd give you my perspective.

I don't think heritage is a determining factor, but I think it's an option that calls strongly to some people and is certainly worth exploring. I think such a religion will fit better the more connection one has maintained over the generations to the culture the religion springs from.

In my case--and I think for many of us African Americans--that cultural connection is almost nonexistent. Slavery just did too ruthlessly efficient a job of obliterating our ancestral roots. Practicing a West African religion would feel completely foreign to me; same thing for the religions of the diaspora (voudoun, candomble, etc.).

Quote

Conversely does a lack of a blood tie exclude you from that heritage or system?

 
From the heritage? By definition, yes. From the system? That's a tough one. For me personally, I feel that it does; I'd feel like a poser. Others don't have that hangup, in which case, more power to them. But, as Cedar noted, be prepared for some strange looks, and heed the warning others in this thread have offered about cultural sensitivity and appropriation. (I thought Maps put it particularly well.)

I'm a modern American guy raised in modern American culture. Like Cedar, I lay claim to that culture, the culture of the West, and have every right to do so. If anything, personally I'd be drawn to the Greco-Roman pantheons, since they're deeply embedded in Western culture. But that doesn't work for me either, mostly because of the "modern" part of the sentence above; for me, religions can feel culturally inappropriate not just for reasons of heritage, but for reasons of anachronism.

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Re: by Blood or by Deed
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2012, 08:39:55 pm »
Quote from: Maps;83607
There are a lot of shitty people out there that want to exclude for the sake of exclusivity, and there are those that exclude for the sake of survival. Don't get the two mixed up.


I wish I'd said that.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

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Re: by Blood or by Deed
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2012, 08:44:27 pm »
Quote from: Frostfire;83597
Do you think that heratige is a determining factor in your practices and actions even down to your religious beliefs?


For me, personally, it was a determining factor.  I'm quite a mutt in terms of my own cultural background, but the only ones I feel drawn to are my maternal grandfather's British & Irish roots, and my maternal grandmother's German background.  So when I was searching for a path and a pantheon to follow, those were the places I looked rather than, say, Egyptian or Greek.  But spirituality is a very, very personal thing - your mileage will, of course, vary enormously.

do you think that because you have a lineage tied to a certain practice or belief/system that you should be a part of it?

No.  I choose to do so, but don't feel any obligation, and with the exception of the few deities I've had personal contact with I think the pantheon in general could take me or leave me and isn't all that interested in my presence or absence.

However, I think it's relevant to this point that my heritage is almost entirely in colonialist, conquering cultures, where belonging to them brings its own cultural privilege.  My experience will be very, very different from someone with, say, a Native American or Aboriginal Australian background.

Conversely does a lack of a blood tie exclude you from that heritage or system?

Mine, no.  Some others are, and I respect that.

Maps

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Re: by Blood or by Deed
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2012, 09:40:28 pm »
Quote from: Altair;83632
I wish I'd said that.

 
If there was one thing I had to like about repeating myself in these kinds of threads, is that they help me refine my soundbites. ;)

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Re: by Blood or by Deed
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2012, 10:08:18 pm »
Quote from: Altair;83632
I wish I'd said that.

 
Same here.  Big +1.

The 'exclude for the sake of survival' thing was something I wanted to touch on, but wasn't sure how to word it.  But yeah, there are two very different things there.  On one hand you might have people wanting to restrict who can be in a recon movement to keep it 'pure', or to keep out those who 'don't take it seriously' - ie, do it exactly the same way those people do.  That's very different from from Aboriginal Australians who've faced a fierce campaign to wipe out their culture and language being leery about sharing it with the people who tried to destroy it.

BoneKeeper

Re: by Blood or by Deed
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2012, 11:12:33 pm »
Quote from: Frostfire;83597
Do you think that heratige is a determining factor in your practices and actions even down to your religious beliefs?
As in do you think that because you have a lineage tied to a certain practice or belief/system that you should be a part of it?
Conversely does a lack of a blood tie exclude you from that heritage or system?


I feel like having a cultural tie, or genetic tie, can be a starting point or be the entirety of someone's personal spiritual/religious beliefs or practice, or it could have nothing to do with it. I am almost entirely of western European and Scandinavian decent (like, 8 different country-ties of varying "amounts"). I am not African at all, but I work with a Yoruban goddess, Yemaya. She came to me, wanted me to work with her, make her an altar, do rituals with her, give her offerings, etc. So I did. (I actually need to get back to working with her again >.<). I am even drawn to voodoo, candomble, and other diaspora religions but none of them have ever "clicked" all the way, even if I may be drawn to particulars (which looking back, I notice are mostly the folk magic portions or the dieties, or one diety in particular). For instance I know many of those paths, you're supposed to call on one particular gate-keeper god in order to contact any of the other gods, but Yemaya I just talk to her, do a ritual, what have you. No need for a middle-man, so-to-speak. On the flip-side, some aspects of Nordic practices appeal to me as well, and Celtic, which I'm sure I have a full-blooded Celt or Viking (or a dozen) somewhere in my family line. However, again, none of those belief systems fully "click" with me (such as the Norse gods and belief in Valhalla and such) but certain aspects do ring true for me, or cultural ring somewhere deep inside me. I work with Cernunnos as my main "god", I am drawn to the Nordic shamanic practice of the volva and the seidh, etc. I am extremely drawn to practices such as shamanism, and after reading a blog post on a Primal site on "white people" trying to get into Native American shamanism when they have their own, "culturally appropriate" versions of shamanism (Nordic, Saami, mainland-European, and then ones from other cultures all over the world respectively) which got me thinking, and researching.



Quote
I am very comfortable with my religious views and spiritual path and I don't think that blood, so to speak, ties a person to a particular path. I am going to go old school and say " By blood or by deed "  I conceed that an ancestoral tie can be a good factor in a choice like that but I think a person legitemately dedicated to and interested in a religion should be just as welcome to be a part of it.


I agree with this. I think that if someone, legitimately, wants to be a part of a culturally-specific spiritual practice, and be dedicated to it, that they may or may not have blood/genetic ties to, should be welcomed. And again, many people don't realize there may be something similar in their own blood-- like the shamans in all cultures across the world, or "sweatlodges" also being cross-cultural, not just Native American (the Scandinavians had them, most commonly known as Sauna in Finland, and other parts of the world).

Quote
Away from both of these are those who take portions of the practices and adapt them to suit their purposes. They tend to be accused of diluting the culture or perverting it. To me so long as they aren't claiming to be a practitioner of said culture it's all good. For instance an eclectic wiccan taking a portion of a druidic ceremony and tweaking or altering it to suit a ritual they are performing is all gravy so long as they admit it and don't claim it is something it isn't.


I also think that there are many characteristics across cultures that people try to "claim" as being only "theirs" when they are, in fact, part of the collective consciousness or are seen, sometimes varying of course, across cultures-- even ones who have never had contact with each other.

BoneKeeper

Re: by Blood or by Deed
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2012, 11:31:05 pm »
Quote
I think that if someone, legitimately, wants to be a part of a culturally-specific spiritual practice, and be dedicated to it, that they may or may not have blood/genetic ties to, should be welcomed. And again, many people don't realize there may be something similar in their own blood-- like the shamans in all cultures across the world, or "sweatlodges" also being cross-cultural, not just Native American (the Scandinavians had them, most commonly known as Sauna in Finland, and other parts of the world).


Sorry if I sound like I'm repeating myself. I kind of see it for instance, if a person from Arabia wanted to become a Druid (they are probably, or have family who are, Muslim, and have no cultural or religious ties to Ireland/Druids/Celts etc. but they are drawn to that faith/path) and want to be dedicated to that, then that should be allowed them regardless of genealogy or cultural ties. Also, I'm pretty sure (could be wrong, but pretty positive) that the majority of say (just as an example) people who practice Hellenistic Reconstructionism (don't know if that's the right spelling, forgive me) aren't Greek, or of Greek heritage/genetics, but that is the faith/path they are called to and practice, that they are dedicated to. Of course, it is easier in that instance because it is not a current cultural practice still alive and well today (or more likely, struggling to survive). Touchy stuff.

I also believe that regardless, one should ALWAYS be respectful. And I don't agree with cultural bashing/misuse/disrespect/exploitation at all.

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By Blood or by Deed?
« Reply #12 on: December 06, 2012, 03:11:29 am »
Quote from: Frostfire;83597
Do you think that heratige is a determining factor in your practices and actions even down to your religious beliefs?
As in do you think that because you have a lineage tied to a certain practice or belief/system that you should be a part of it?
Conversely does a lack of a blood tie exclude you from that heritage or system?

1. Yes, heritage is a determining factor in the path I've ended up on. But not necessarily for 'genetic' reasons. Half of my family comes from Ireland, and it's the half that's very proud of their heritage, so I grew up hearing folklore and music and some of the language, and a bit later, spending a lot of time in Ireland. It doesn't surprise me that when I started exploring Paganism, the Irish gods turned up.

But I'm also Jewish and English and Welsh, on the messy mongrel 'other side' of my family. I didn't know my grandad was Jewish until I was older, my Welsh grandmother didn't talk much about the place where she grew up, and the English relatives were just English. Nothing there particularly resonates with me, and the Welsh gods don't talk to me much.

I've concluded that this is as much about nurture as it is about nature. As a
sociologist, I study the socially constructed aspects of social identity. My social identity is involves an Irish background rather than a Welsh one, because that's what was ingrained in me growing up. Genetics have little to do with this, in my opinion. We're all serious mongrels, and in the end we all come out of Africa from Mitochondrial Eve.

2 & 3. No, I don't think anyone should have to follow any path because they have ancestry there. As I say, Jewish ancestry, but I'd still have to convert to be part of that religion (something my in-laws once suggested I should do - no thanks. I enjoy celebrating Passover with them, but I feel absolutely no calling to that religion). I don't think you have any obligation to follow a particular path just because you may have ancestors who did.

And there's also no reason why someone shouldn't follow a path that they have no obvious ancestral or cultural link to - within reason, and with more respect to living traditions and even to remnants of those. We can say that living cultures are different from 'dead' ones, and there's some truth to that - I wouldn't appropriate a Native American tradition without being invited. But some modern Irish people also feel that there's cultural appropriation going on from some Pagans who don't acknowledge that the Celtic Irish tradition is a living thing that didn't die out with the Druids. I think we all have to be very careful of cultural appropriation. I'm not sure exactly how I do that, but it's something I try to be aware of, at least.
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Fausta

Re: By Blood or by Deed?
« Reply #13 on: December 10, 2012, 02:44:17 am »
Quote from: Frostfire;83597
Do you think that heratige is a determining factor in your practices and actions even down to your religious beliefs?


In mine, no. For others, it can be, varying from heritage playing a role but only a role to having no other option at all.

Quote
As in do you think that because you have a lineage tied to a certain practice or belief/system that you should be a part of it?


In short: no.

From personal perspective, if I was to practice what my lineage has practiced, I would have to be Evangelic Lutheran Christian or of a sect of said religion, which I'm not. Looking back the same lineage - and I'm one of those "boringly purebred" types, nothing but plain Northern Finns around and inbetween two river valleys centuries back and not likely to have anything else even before the beginning of official records - there'd be Finnish traditions and gods to follow.

However, what I've got from that direction has been a clear: "You're not ours, go away!". With clear, I mean stuff like getting almost-but-not-quite hit by lightning after trying to address the thunder god of Finnish pantheon. So, off I went. :p

Quote
Conversely does a lack of a blood tie exclude you from that heritage or system?


No.

To elaborate, I see a difference between cultures and religions that are alive and practiced, and those we only more or less historical information on, but with traditions and practice broken. Even with the former, there's a wide variety in acceptance of outsiders.

If a religion is alive and practiced and one is drawn towards it, I see as the proper way to go forward being contacting the people in question and presenting one's calling to them. Depending on the culture, it may take a heck of a lot of time and work to be accepted as a true practitioner, or one can get downright rejected. That's the right of those in the religion, I'd say.

Unproper way of doing this would be taking information published, forming a practice based on the information and calling oneself "practitioner of religion X" or claiming a title used in the religion without having gained it as it should be gained in it. Saying one is practicing something based on religion X's beliefs and practices would be better.

With religions and traditions where practice has been broken everybody is pretty much in the same position (with differences in availability of information depending on for example language skills) and the gods seem to nudge who the will regardless of heritage. :) Not that it wasn't so unheard of that people were drawn to gods not of their own cultural pantheon in the ancient times either - just look at the "imported gods" of Greece and Rome.


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So for instance could I being a black male with no notable ties to celts or such practice a celtic Religious system and be accepted by virtue of my sincerity alone and a belief and adherance to the practices of that system or would such a thing be frowned on?


Whatever the path, there's always somebody to frown on somebody else's being on the same path...

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I hear about cultures and people being exploited by outsiders using their ways and traditions and I have to wonder if that his a blanket accusation. On the one hand there could indeed be someone exploiting the culture, on the other they may be people seriously interested and dedicated to following the tradition or practices.


The thing is, it can be quite difficult indeed to see which kind of an interested outsider it is asking to be taken in. So, with indigenous people, especially those who have seen their own ways or ways of others like them exploited by outsiders, it isn't really any wonder if there's a hefty dose of suspicion in the air.

With exploitation I mean for example people coming over interested in taking part in rituals - especially ones where some, let's say interesting plants are being used - and then claiming to  be experts enough to teach other outsiders the ritual "as it is practiced by this-or-that tribe/culture". All the while this outsider doesn't know anything past the most superficial layer of the religion and even rituals in question.

This has happened, as has a given culture's religious practices becoming "the latest thing", causing way too large groups of people for the culture to handle traveling over in order to get their taste of this latest fashionable thing to do. When these things happen, there are also pretty much always those eager to capitalize on the interest of "religious practice tourists", providing them with show practices of no deeper value and in worst cases no true authentizity either. If it looks exotic and contains interesting plants used, how would the ignorant outsiders know if what they've been taking part of is authentic or not? Next round of dilution and disfiguration happens if/when those participating in tourist-diluted practices take what they've learned back to where they came from and start teaching it as authentic.

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To me so long as they aren't claiming to be a practitioner of said culture it's all good. For instance an eclectic wiccan taking a portion of a druidic ceremony and tweaking or altering it to suit a ritual they are performing is all gravy so long as they admit it and don't claim it is something it isn't.


:nod:

Quembel

Re: By Blood or by Deed?
« Reply #14 on: December 11, 2012, 12:03:04 am »
Quote from: Frostfire;83597
Do you think that heratige is a determining factor in your practices and actions even down to your religious beliefs?
As in do you think that because you have a lineage tied to a certain practice or belief/system that you should be a part of it?
Conversely does a lack of a blood tie exclude you from that heritage or system?

 
Beyond biological factors, I don't think so. Personally genealogy is attractive to me out of curiosity. I think everyone's family tree would reveal qualities both desirable and undesirable, and therefore I would never assume that should dictate one's path. Circumstances like place and time matter as well, and there are certainly details of your ancestors that will remain obscure. I think our culture romanticizes the significance of ancestry beyond what's relevant.

As far as a lack of blood tie excluding one from a particular system, I don't think that's true at all. We as humans are tied to one another as a larger family, and even greater than that I believe in spiritual connections that transcend the physical. For example, if you believe in reincarnation, it's difficult to imagine always coming back as a member of a particular blood line. Also, while I respect those who wish to keep indigenous cultures pure, I find that it's hardly practical. Culture is constantly being reshaped to fit our current circumstances; that is, the cultures that survive reshape to adapt. Also, seemingly distinct cultures from the past share many commonalities because they're all shaped by humans.

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