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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Bright Wolf

Cultural appropriation in the Spiritual community

I was recently at an event that was part of a Shamanic group under an Indigenous umbrella.


It struck me how the people attending, including myself were not a part of this culture & yet had adopted it.


Even with myself; I was adopted into Indigenous cultures for 8 years & had fully identified w it.. but seeing it as an outsider really struck me.


What was it about these cultures that so many connected to?


I’ve sat w this for years & the way I see it is that there is a sense of yearning & belonging that people are drawn to that doesn’t exist in our lives.


The Welsh call it Hiraeth, the Scottish call it Cianalas. It means longing home & it feels as both heart break & nostalgia.


Westerners along w so many others have had their cultures wiped out as they’ve moved away from their Ancestral lands.. & have been yearning for a sense of home & belonging.


In the world we live now there is no real sense of community or culture & it’s sorely grieved.. so naturally people gravitate to what feels good to replace it.


These other Indigenous cultures have provided this sense of home & a sustenance to the hungry, and if that's all that's available then that's a fine place to start, but it can’t end there ~ there needs to be an ongoing quest into ones own roots.


When parts of another culture is adopted without real understanding and context… it can be a slippery slope bc it starts by appreciating it and leads to them identifying w it & they feel they are a representation of those people.


There is a missed opportunity from their own ancestors who are trying to get through as well.


If you know your roots, you have a sense of dependable & undeniable strength & life force energy that is accessible to you.


This can’t be done w another cultural roots, appreciate & learn all you want but it is not yours to claim.


I deeply yearn for my Babylonian Jewish & Celtic roots & have felt them yank my belly as I sat w these well meaning people.


With all my clients, in the 1st or 2nd session- as part of their homework- I invite them to work w their ancestors as ongoing while working with me.


It is profoundly healing to work w ones own lineages.. whatever you are is unique, no one & no culture is more superior than the other, all have their own value.



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