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Author Topic: Which animal oracle deck should I get?  (Read 5570 times)

Eevee

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Re: Which animal oracle deck should I get?
« Reply #15 on: November 02, 2016, 11:55:46 pm »
Quote from: Redfaery;198541
But...there IS no "general" Native standpoint.

Well how are there cards, books, trinkets and all sorts of things marketed as simply "Native"? Even if it's the Natives themselves who market it as such? (eg: the Medicine cards)
If you actually want to help me understand, saying "There IS no "general" Native standpoint." isn't really offering me any information on the matter (and I feel like I'm being sassed, to be honest, but that could just be my social anxiety shining through), so I'm struggling to even write a response to that.

Not everyone's American.
Not everyone knows about different Native communities.
And to be frank, not everyone cares enough to research it - and that's fine, as long as they don't claim to be "into it". If I had to research every tribe that exists or existed in the world, I wouldn't move from my laptop for at least 5 years.

I already expressed my disinterest to dabble with practices exclusive to ANY Native community (out of respect - since I am not Native, and dont plan on playing "Cowboys and Indians" with a "PAGAN" sticker on my forehead), so I dont really see why this is turning into yet another "cultural appropriation" thread.



And FYI (or for anyone interested) I found a deck of cards I love. Some of the art is Native-esque, but in no way tries to replicate or appropriates the practices of the Native American tribes.
They come with no booklet - only words on the cards - so they are TOTALLY up to your interpretation, without the influence of any tribe, culture or individual's opinions or spirituality.

Phew.
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Eevee

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Re: Which animal oracle deck should I get?
« Reply #16 on: November 03, 2016, 12:22:54 am »
Quote from: Morag;198545
(I don't do readings for people any more, because the last time I did I got screamed at for an hour because she didn't like the card mentioning the historical fact of colonization or all the nasty, uncomfortable truths there. A New Age deck would, in my experience, not be willing to dive into that sort of thing. It would look to soothe white guilt, and this deck does not do that.)

(Only quoting this because I didn't want to quote the whole lot)
Thanks haha
I figured the Native tribes' worldview doesn't differ THAT much, to a point where I can't mention the Natives as a whole.
It doesn't work like that here either. There are hundreds of Australian Aboriginal tribes, but Aboriginal Dreamtime is generally thrown into one bag - and I haven't heard of any Aborigines (or otherwise) having issues with that.

I must admit, about 20% of me DID consider the Medicine Cards (seeing as oracle cards aren't exclusively Native American anyway). I just wanted an animal oracle deck, and the Medicine cards have animals. That kind of joined 2 dots together + many parts of the world share the same animals (except maybe the bison or coyote?).
But I did initially want something that isn't Native specific, so I'm just going with my gut feeling.

Although I bought books on "Totemism" and assume any talk of "Totems" as the Western adaptation of the term, I realise the core meaning of Totemism IS exclusive to a specific Native community(or communities?), hence I will find ways around that word, and any other practices of any other cultures I dont identify with.        
 
And really, neo-paganism is a bastardization of old paganism. To put it as crudely as possible. But a necessary bastardization - considering the industrial century we live in.
But I do disagree with the simplification of things JUST to pander uneducated people.
« Last Edit: November 03, 2016, 12:24:47 am by Eevee »
Naboo: This is black magic. This is hardcore. Don\'t mess with the occult.
Vince Noir: I thought it was good for you.
Naboo: What?
Vince Noir: Well, you know, good for your digestive system.
Naboo: That\'s Yakult!

Dusk

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Re: Which animal oracle deck should I get?
« Reply #17 on: November 03, 2016, 12:50:44 am »
Quote from: Eevee;198537
Hmmm. I see where you're coming from. That alone is enough to deter me from buying it.
But the deck/book is by a Native. Can a Native appropriate his own culture?

 
I have seen several claims that Jamie Sams is fraudulent. Whether or not she is, it is certainly still possible for someone with a certain heritage to still distort and water down that heritage for monetary gain.

I found a book review here that gives some examples of what I mean. Bits like "long ago in tribal law" ("Native American" tribal law because... there's only one?) "Thoth, the Atlantian who later returned as Hermes," and "All of our petroglyphs speak of the Motherland, Mu, and the disaster that brought the red race to North America…" (Mu, for reference - I mean, what?) It's just really awful.

I'm half Guatemalan and I have Maya ancestry but if I ever wrote a spiritual book about what "the indigenous people of Latin America believe," mushed together a bunch of distorted concepts, and marketed it as authentic, it would be entirely fair for people to accuse me of appropriating those cultures.
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Dusk

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Re: Which animal oracle deck should I get?
« Reply #18 on: November 03, 2016, 01:00:09 am »
Quote from: Morag;198545

So, no, there is no general Native culture, just as there is no general European culture, but it can be argued there is a general Native standpoint, because of the overarching epistemic system being mostly the same across tribes. (As with everything, there are exceptions, obviously.)

I would give more detailed examples, but unfortunately I don't have my notes from classes handy and my memory is pretty hazy these days. I just wanted to point out that bit about epistemic systems, because it's something that goes largely unremarked upon in these conversations but I think it's important to keep in mind.

As far as the Medicine Cards go in particular, I'm assuming the author is actually writing from a Choctaw point of view (as that is his nation), but not actually stating that because, well, marketing. What's going to sell better to people who want a taste of "Native American spirituality"? Something specific to a tribe, or pan-Indianism? The latter, unfortunately.

Personally, I use them and like them and don't really have any problems with them; any pan-Indianism going on seems to at least be true to the epistemic system at root, if not to the details of the cultures. I definitely would not call them a "New Age bastardization," as New Age says to me a refusal to look at harder or more uncomfortable truths, and the cards *do not* shy away from those things.

 
Carson has Choctaw ancestry, but Jamie Sams, who also authored the book, claims French, Cherokee, Seneca, Choctaw, and Mohawk ancestry, so it really cannot be assumed that the book is representative of Choctaw traditions.

It can certainly be argued that there are some commonalities between Native American tribes, but that becomes a harder point to argue when specific claims are made, like how many totems a person is supposed to have, or of a concept like animal medicine, or of the specific myths that are cited when describing the animals. Overall attitudes and perspectives can be generalized somewhat, but details should not be.

To me, the New Age treatment involves the simplification of concepts to be more approachable and appealing, at the cost of accuracy, and an irresponsible brand of eclecticism that shows no respect for the cultural origins of different traditions. The Medicine Cards book fits that definition.
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Eevee

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Re: Which animal oracle deck should I get?
« Reply #19 on: November 03, 2016, 01:49:06 am »
Quote from: Dusk;198557
"Thoth, the Atlantian who later returned as Hermes," and "All of our petroglyphs speak of the Motherland, Mu, and the disaster that brought the red race to North America…" (Mu, for reference - I mean, what?) It's just really awful.

....Wtf? Ugh. It's things like this which make research really bloody difficult. On Amazon it's got outstanding reviews. But yeah, that DEFINITELY deters me from purchasing it.

What about Ted Andrews, author of Animal Speak? The book looks like it's about Native shamanism, but did he practice Native shamanism? Was he Native? (I'm assuming he was)
I was interested in his book Animal Speak, until I saw his other book titles "The Enchantment of the Faerie Realm" I thought "hmmmm....what is this..."  
That seems to be along the same lines of "Thoth the Atlantian"

 
Quote
It can certainly be argued that there are some commonalities between Native American tribes, but that becomes a harder point to argue when specific claims are made, like how many totems a person is supposed to have, or of a concept like animal medicine, or of the specific myths that are cited when describing the animals. Overall attitudes and perspectives can be generalized somewhat, but details should not be.

Aaaaaaand THIS is why I'm careful about Native stuff. I'm happy to read the more generalized stuff, to simply gain personal insight and see things from different angles (and I find it very charming and similar to Sami shamanism - which I'm more interested in). But my affiliation with Native spirituality ends there.
Naboo: This is black magic. This is hardcore. Don\'t mess with the occult.
Vince Noir: I thought it was good for you.
Naboo: What?
Vince Noir: Well, you know, good for your digestive system.
Naboo: That\'s Yakult!

Eevee

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Re: Which animal oracle deck should I get?
« Reply #20 on: November 03, 2016, 02:19:00 am »
Quote from: Dusk;198559
w
It can certainly be argued that there are some commonalities between Native American tribes, but that becomes a harder point to argue when specific claims are made, like how many totems a person is supposed to have, or of a concept like animal medicine, or of the specific myths that are cited when describing the animals. Overall attitudes and perspectives can be generalized somewhat, but details should not be.

 
I'm replying to this again coz I decided to go more in depth.
I read the hefty and draining book called "The Road to Hel" by Hilda Ellis Davidson, about the Norse concept on the afterlife.
I found that the concrete concepts of Valhalla and Hel are not as concrete as many people - even Asatru followers seem to think.
There was belief of living corpses, alternative "heavens", different methods of funerals (some only believed in burial, some only believed in cremation), different ideas (or even lack thereof) on souls, "Hamingja" (luck).
All these (some conflicting) beliefs varied from region to region, and not just within Sweden/Norway/Denmark/Iceland but prior to unification where people still lived in tribes. But no one pays attention to these details and has to sift through a 200 page pdf file to get all of this information (or scattered through maybe 1 in 20 websites and books).
So my point is, no culture/spirituality/religion can TRULY be narrowed down, and its NEVER going to be black and white. Pagans today will always practice only a vague version of what was. You can't really expect people to dig up the details unless they are truly passionate about it. And even still, we are limited to the literature we have, and finding that literature can be a bitch, like sometimes even "page 20" of your Google search wont give you the information that's available.
And in terms of Native Americans, I understand they're still around (unlike Vikings), but as you said, some of them twist even their own spirituality with fluff. So who can you trust.
Naboo: This is black magic. This is hardcore. Don\'t mess with the occult.
Vince Noir: I thought it was good for you.
Naboo: What?
Vince Noir: Well, you know, good for your digestive system.
Naboo: That\'s Yakult!

Morag

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Re: Which animal oracle deck should I get?
« Reply #21 on: November 03, 2016, 03:17:46 am »
Quote from: Dusk;198559
Carson has Choctaw ancestry, but Jamie Sams, who also authored the book, claims French, Cherokee, Seneca, Choctaw, and Mohawk ancestry, so it really cannot be assumed that the book is representative of Choctaw traditions.


Ah, see I only knew about Carson, not Sams.

Quote from: Dusk;198559
It can certainly be argued that there are some commonalities between Native American tribes, but that becomes a harder point to argue when specific claims are made, like how many totems a person is supposed to have, or of a concept like animal medicine, or of the specific myths that are cited when describing the animals. Overall attitudes and perspectives can be generalized somewhat, but details should not be.


Which is what I was talking about, really. I was saying that in my experience of the book, the pan-Indianism that was there did more-or-less keep in line with the epistemic systems, if not the cultural details, which is why it didn't really bug me. (My overall point about epistemic systems was actually more general than focused on the Medicine Cards in particular, too; I should have made that clearer.)

But that's just my view on it and the cards in particular; I won't argue that there are problems in the book, just that so far as I've encountered them, they haven't really bugged me. Others' mileage will obviously vary.

(Also, I'll note I haven't read the entire book. I only read animal entries when the cards come up in my readings. I skipped the intro and extraneous material, because these cards were used in my childhood, so I didn't feel the need to read that other stuff as I usually would with a new deck -- because the deck isn't really *new* to me. So at this point, I haven't come across any material that's beyond the pale for me. I read the entries for inspiration and hints as to what I need to examine in my life, and it works for me that way.)

Quote from: Dusk;198559
To me, the New Age treatment involves the simplification of concepts to be more approachable and appealing, at the cost of accuracy, and an irresponsible brand of eclecticism that shows no respect for the cultural origins of different traditions. The Medicine Cards book fits that definition.


My definition of the New Age treatment is a bit different, so while I can see how they fit into "New Age" in some ways, they don't fit in other ways. So I wouldn't class them on the whole as a New Age bastardization. Probably New Age-ish, or New Age Lite.
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Dusk

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Re: Which animal oracle deck should I get?
« Reply #22 on: November 03, 2016, 03:21:41 pm »
Quote from: Eevee;198560
....Wtf? Ugh. It's things like this which make research really bloody difficult. On Amazon it's got outstanding reviews. But yeah, that DEFINITELY deters me from purchasing it.

What about Ted Andrews, author of Animal Speak? The book looks like it's about Native shamanism, but did he practice Native shamanism? Was he Native? (I'm assuming he was)
I was interested in his book Animal Speak, until I saw his other book titles "The Enchantment of the Faerie Realm" I thought "hmmmm....what is this..."  
That seems to be along the same lines of "Thoth the Atlantian"


I can't find any reference to Ted Andrews having Native ancestry, so I think he was just white with an interest in Native American practices. Animal Speak is the biggest classic in the genre, but I haven't read it so I can't personally comment. Really anything to do with animal guides is more likely to be a miss than a hit because the vast majority of resources have the same pseudo-Native origins. Lupa is my favorite author in the subject by far, partially because she never claims to be emulating Native traditions, but rather developing her own.
 
Quote from: Eevee;198561
All these (some conflicting) beliefs varied from region to region, and not just within Sweden/Norway/Denmark/Iceland but prior to unification where people still lived in tribes. But no one pays attention to these details and has to sift through a 200 page pdf file to get all of this information (or scattered through maybe 1 in 20 websites and books).
So my point is, no culture/spirituality/religion can TRULY be narrowed down, and its NEVER going to be black and white. Pagans today will always practice only a vague version of what was. You can't really expect people to dig up the details unless they are truly passionate about it. And even still, we are limited to the literature we have, and finding that literature can be a bitch, like sometimes even "page 20" of your Google search wont give you the information that's available.
And in terms of Native Americans, I understand they're still around (unlike Vikings), but as you said, some of them twist even their own spirituality with fluff. So who can you trust.


That's true, and I think one indication of the trustworthiness of a source is the acknowledgement of that kind of variance. Things that say "these are the beliefs of this specific group of people at x time in y place." It's also helpful to be aware of what exactly you are searching for, and what kind of inaccuracy you can accept. If you don't really care about the authenticity of something as long as it works for your practice, or if you are okay with some vagueness as long as there are no extravagant claims made, or if you prefer something that straight-up cites all its sources but might be more academic-focused and less concerned with practical applications.

Specific topics will come with their own warning signs. For example, if a totem dictionary combines the Jaguar/Leopard entries and says something dumb like "Jaguars are associated with Bacchus" I'm done. Wrong species, wrong continent.
 
Quote from: Morag;198564
Which is what I was talking about, really. I was saying that in my experience of the book, the pan-Indianism that was there did more-or-less keep in line with the epistemic systems, if not the cultural details, which is why it didn't really bug me. (My overall point about epistemic systems was actually more general than focused on the Medicine Cards in particular, too; I should have made that clearer.)

But that's just my view on it and the cards in particular; I won't argue that there are problems in the book, just that so far as I've encountered them, they haven't really bugged me. Others' mileage will obviously vary.


That's fair. The vagueness might not bother me as much if there weren't as many other red flags in the book, but I seem to remember most of those being in the introductory materials rather than the entries about the individual animals, so if you're just using the cards and those entries for reference (which is mostly how I used the book), its not a big deal. The bigger problem arises if the book is used as introductory material to animal guides itself, which is how I initially used it when I first got it when I was about 11. Honestly, part of my current irritation with this book might be due to the fact that such questionable material was my only available resource on the subject at the time, portrayed as authentic, and something that I then had to pick apart and unlearn.


Quote from: Morag;198564
My definition of the New Age treatment is a bit different, so while I can see how they fit into "New Age" in some ways, they don't fit in other ways. So I wouldn't class them on the whole as a New Age bastardization. Probably New Age-ish, or New Age Lite.

 
Maybe it is more New Age-flavored rather than pure New Age. It's definitely not one of the fluffier feel-good examples of New Age, but I tend to see that movement as a fairly broad umbrella.
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Re: Which animal oracle deck should I get?
« Reply #23 on: November 03, 2016, 04:19:36 pm »
Quote from: Eevee;198547
Well how are there cards, books, trinkets and all sorts of things marketed as simply "Native"?

 
Because it sells better.

Basically, it is really popular among colonising people to treat the cultures they are overrunning as both exotic and generic.  Individual differences among cultures can be wiped away into the Other, which is then turned into a commodity for sale.

Caring about which tribe produces which ideas and how they fit together would require a level of actually giving a shit about the nuances of the Other that many people cannot bring themselves to muster.
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Beryl

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Re: Which animal oracle deck should I get?
« Reply #24 on: November 03, 2016, 06:04:48 pm »
Quote from: Eevee;198539
I think Dusk was talking about Medicine Cards(by Jamie Sams/David Carson) and not Earth Magic.
The pictures on oracle cards will always be a bit vague. People instantly associate shamanism with Native Americans, so that's probably why they just slapped a random picture of a Native on there.

 
Yes, I was pointing out that (though to a lesser extent) I got a bit of a similar vibe from the Earth Magic ones.

And, well, the second paragraph I'd say is sort of the wrong way round - people make that association in part because of generic "here's some wise looking old Native dude, he's a shaman, don't ask any questions about his tribe or if he's actually a shaman though!" marketing and such...

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