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Thoughts on Cultural and Spiritual Appropriation
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Article ID: 9722
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Lady GoldenRaven
Posted: May 22nd. 2005
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Wow! This is a tough one - because while some people do accept responsibility, most do not, even among us Wytches, Druids, and Shamans.
It can be a difficult thing, walking the talk, when it is much easier to either avoid or deny responsibility, or deposit the blame at someone else’s doorstep.
But first, what is PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY? Is it just referring to the acts of “magick” we perform or does it go deeper? We have a responsibility to Mother Earth to protect her and help her heal the wounds inflicted by Mankind. We have a responsibility to the Lady and Lord (or the powers you pray to) first. Then to ourselves, family, friends, and so on.
Before doing any kind of workings, I always think them through. I try to think of the effects, both short term and long term; how this will affect the people involved. Casting a spell or performing a healing does not just affect that person; it affects all who surround them. It is like dominoes - tip one, they all fall.
Here is an example, in which the names have been changed to protect confidentiality:
John, a friend, is in the middle of a custody battle with his ex-wife. She has a really bad cocaine habit and to feed this habit, she does what she must. That may be fine for her, but not while her 13-year-old daughter is in the room. John wants me to do a spell to ensure he gets custody; John is clean, has never done ANY kind of drugs and is a strong family man. He also asked me to do a spell on his ex-wife for her coke habit. Now, being a former coke addict myself, I know what she is going through as well as he. (By the way, I have been clean for 10 years.) Anyway, since I know both parties involved, I told him I would have to think about this.
I have no problem with the justice spell - to ensure a FAIR hearing - but I told John I could not ethically, morally, or spiritually do a working for Mary, unless she asks for the help.
Could I do a spell for Mary? Of course - there is a spell for everything out there somewhere. Will I? Not unless she gives the okay. Why? Because she is on this path for a specific reason; I have to trust the Lady knows why. This was a hard lesson to learn. I am grateful I went through my cocaine and other drug problems early in life. Now, I can use that as part of my teachings. I have talked to young kids about this, etc; I now know the reasons why I had to go through my drug days. So, do I leave her to learn her lesson on her own? Or is she one who is doomed to never coming out of this and becoming another statistic? I decided to let the Ancient Ones take care of that one. But, by doing that, am I not also doing harm to her child, by leaving the child in that environment?
I will do a justice spell for John. I will not do a working for Mary. I will put up a protective shield around the child. This way, I am helping the whole situation and avoiding harming anyone.
The problem with personal responsibility is, people tend to justify what they do either way. This does not just pertain to magick, but everyday living. How many times have we done something we knew we shouldn’t, only to come up with fifty excuses to justify the action? Individuals do it, politicians do it, and so do the clergy to a certain degree, depending on the religion.
Personal responsibility to the Earth: How do we stop the rape of Gaia? The government wants to open up the protected areas of Antarctica to drill for oil. Why? Because of GREED - they want that elusive treasure beneath the ice no matter the cost. There is more than enough and besides, there are many other alternatives. Sure, we can sign petitions, but does it help? We are the MOST wasteful of all generations. Earth cannot hold much more of our trash which, when bought it we thought, “We NEED this.” Let’s keep tearing down our forests - have we done anything to stop that? No. Do most of us recycle - yes and it does help, but there is so much more we can do. So, in keeping Mother Earth clean and healthy, we must take responsibility.
A lot of people talk the talk, few of them walk the walk. I try my best to walk the walk, but I am human as we all are, subject to the same pitfalls as anyone. I think, if we can recognize what these pitfalls are and learn from them, taking life’s lesson and continuing to grow, then we are at least on the right path.
I also think, it is much easier for those of us who have come from a turbulent past to walk the walk. Anyone who has been tormented from grade school on up, anyone who has been through abuse, especially verbal where there is extremely low self-esteem, will tell you that because we were knocked down to the lowest point we could possibly hit, we KNOW how it feels and we do everything in our power to NOT hurt others. Abused humans can go either way: either continue the cycle or go towards the other end of the stick and harm none!
I think it is also hard in our society today to walk the walk. There is so much temptation out there. Instant gratification seems to be the word of the day in these modern times, regardless of the outcome. Personally, I am of the old school - learn and earn. I wanted this really cool BoS, which cost 300 dollars. I could have taken the easy way out and done something “magical” to come up with the funds, but no, I did extra work and saved for it. Same with my Lady and Lord statues. Before we do ANYTHING magickal, we need to stop and put ourselves in the shoes of the person we are thinking of doing the workings for or on. We need to think heavily upon what factors will influence the change we want and once those changes are in place, the effects in the future. It is the domino effect or the ripple effect, whichever you choose. But everything we do affects this whole world in which we live. This is something we, as Pagans, understand, whereas most other religions do not.
We are not out to corrupt anyone nor to try and change another’s point of view. We HAVE the POWER, but know how and when to use it. This is a major responsibility. Look around at the world today. Greed, corruption, lies, poverty, and violence. Politics and religion both denying responsibility for the problems we face. Everybody points the finger at everybody else. If you listen closely, they sound like third graders, but instead of calling names like brace-face, they are out with a vengeance to slander all. Tell me how they will face their Creator and say they have taken responsibility for the decay of civilization? We, on the other hand, who are in touch with the Lady and Lord on a daily basis, LIVE this responsibility. We do what we can, however insignificant the action seems, so we can stand with Mama and say I walked the walk and took responsibility.
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