Author Topic: Which Ancestors to Follow?  (Read 935 times)

Offline Eris

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Which Ancestors to Follow?
« on: May 25, 2019, 09:55:05 pm »
(Note: I looked for any existing posts on this topic, but I couldn't find any. If this question has already been answered, I'll gladly delete this post to save server space.)

In several of the posts on this forum, somebody has recommended that people should seek the ways of their ancestors when pursuing a spiritual path. But now I'm wondering ... what if a person has no specific culture to follow?

For example, I'm pretty much a cultural "mutt". I've got some Greek blood, Romanian blood, Sami blood, Norwegian blood, and who knows what else inside me. I was born and raised in a small, conservative town in Texas (USA). And although my parents and grandparents were devout Christians, I tried that belief system in my youth, and I have absolutely no desire to return to it for a multitude of reasons.

So if I (or any other cultural "mutts" like myself) wanted to attempt to follow the path of my ancestors, how should I do that if no clear path seems to exist?

Thank you. I look forward to learning from your responses.

--Eris

Offline Defend the Sacred

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Re: Which Ancestors to Follow?
« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2019, 01:25:28 am »
[EDIT: I wrote this thinking she wanted advice on traditions practiced by "white" cultures] :

Most cultural communities that I'm familiar with think more in terms of cultural fluency, cultural belonging, interdependence, accountability to elders, and cultural preservation, than "blood", per se. Some even find it a bit... gross when people go on and on about "blood". Any white people going on about "blood" tend to be white supremacists.

"Blood" or lineage doesn't mean someone is born with cultural knowledge. It doesn't guarantee someone will feel an affinity to that culture. To be part of a culture requires participation in community.

Those of us who are part of traditional communities usually also have ancestors, parents and grandparents from those communities. But "white" people who've endeavoured to become more in touch with traditions of their more distant ancestors have had to undertake language study and cultural immersion. Some have felt called by their ancestors, and for others it's been a more practical manner of what living cultural community is an option where they live, or where they can realistically travel or move to.

I would strongly recommend that, if you're interested in any living culture, that you seek out established communities of that culture, rather than trying to say you're doing that culture or "path" on your own. We've encountered people doing some rather strange things making this sort of claim.  These people usually alienate and offend people from the living cultures before they even get very far into it.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2019, 05:01:49 am by Defend the Sacred »

Offline Eris

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Re: Which Ancestors to Follow?
« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2019, 01:39:13 am »
Thank you. If "blood" doesn't really matter, should I be able to contact representatives of any culture of my choosing and ask if they will allow me to learn and take part in their spiritual traditions? If a practitioner of a culture's traditional spiritual practices welcomes my inquiries and agrees to teach me their traditions so that I may take part, how would I make sure I avoid any possibility of cultural appropriation?

Offline Defend the Sacred

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Re: Which Ancestors to Follow?
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2019, 04:44:49 am »
Don't thank me, because that is not what I said.

I didn't say it doesn't matter.

Relatives matter. Who your family is matters. Who your ancestors are matters.

Who you're directly accountable to in the real world matters. Who will call you out and kick your ass if you mess up, matters. That's far, far, far more likely to come with real family than any newage or occult or "shamanic"-type group white people tend to join. White people like to pay to pray then flee without accountability. That's why I stressed community. That means extended family.

It's more the way you were phrasing it. White people talking about "blood" is creepy. You kept saying "blood" over and over.

Don't put words in people's mouths or jump to conclusions. If you're looking for loopholes here I'm starting to regret responding. There are already red flags with the stuff you said about Harner, and the fact you joined a "shamanic" group, or that you think practices can exist in some sort of culturally-neutral void. Now that you're talking about appropriation being involved I'm thinking this was a bad idea.

Any group of white people who says you have to have the same blood as them is racist. But groups that are being oppressed and colonized and stolen from by white people have every reason to keep white people out, and they have to, for survival. It's not an even playing field. The only time I think blood doesn't matter is in white groups. The living cultures I was talking about were Euro ones. I was in no way suggesting that you  approach Native groups. Not at all. If you thought that's what I meant, you completely misunderstood.
« Last Edit: May 26, 2019, 05:03:16 am by Defend the Sacred »

Offline Eris

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Re: Which Ancestors to Follow?
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2019, 05:25:24 am »
I apologize for any misunderstandings. I am not trying to put words into yours or anybody else's mouths. And I am not trying to find loopholes -- I'm trying to find understanding.

I understand that Native groups in general do not wish to share their spirituality with white people. And I do not expect any to share such information with me.

I asked hypothetical questions regarding Harner in an attempt to understand this group's views. I do not support Harner, nor do I defend him in any way, but I have heard of him, as he is well known, so I thought he would be a good example for my questions.

I joined a conversation forum online called "Shamanism" because I was wondering what kinds of topics people would discuss there. To my disappointment, there was lots of hokum flying around being taken as truth, and I have lost respect for the group.

I am 56 years old, but I have no connection to any relatives other than my children and my husband. I am not fortunate like you are to have a community of friends and family to call upon. I am not fortunate like you to have a connection to the culture of my ancestors because my ancestors were from many different cultures with none of them standing out.

I seek to learn spiritual values and wisdom. But I do NOT believe that just because my relatives were Christian that I have to be Christian, too.

You disagree with some of my existing beliefs, but that does not make me worse than you. It only makes us different.

I am not some colonial who is trying to rip off indigenous people. And I will not be condemned by the sins of my fathers. I am my own person, seeking knowledge and truth ... just like you are.

-- Eris

Offline Laurel

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Re: Which Ancestors to Follow?
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2019, 10:09:21 am »
But you come off very much as if you're looking for loopholes. "What if he had called it Harnerism--what then? What if I have this blood or that blood--what then? I do have Saami blood, so my drumming is spiritually pure--right?"

That's not why I'm replying, though. I'm replying because you just had the gall to lecture Defend on how lucky they are to know their family and have friends. Without even knowing who you're talking to or what Defend's family is. You just sailed in and assumed that the person you're talking to has some kind of family, community, and a tradition handed down over the ages that you are jealous of. You seem to be assuing Defend is indigenous. And so lucky! Oh, lucky, LUCKY indigenous people! All we took from the is everything--but a few of them still know each other! Oh, so fortunate. THE NERVE. Think about what youre saying when you tell indigenous people how lucky they are. Show a little respect.

I'm 54 and I'm an adoptee. I have never met and will never meet a single member of my biological family. Being white means my family is probably also a blend of many cultures that threw their religions away centuries ago to become Christians. I don't have a husband or children, and my adoptive parents are dead. None of that gives me the right to anyone else's ways. None of that means I can do anything I want.

You say you're "not some colonial trying to" rip people off. If you want anyone to believe that, try asking questions or contributing to topics that are not all about you and what you want to do, religion-wise. "Finding one's path" is not what this board is about.  It's about stopping people from selling ceremony, no matter who they are.

I don't think anyone cares about your grandfather. Nobody is blaming you for any "sins" that aren't your own. There is no such thing, while we're at it, as "reverse racism."

I apologize for any misunderstandings. I am not trying to put words into yours or anybody else's mouths. And I am not trying to find loopholes -- I'm trying to find understanding.

I understand that Native groups in general do not wish to share their spirituality with white people. And I do not expect any to share such information with me.

I asked hypothetical questions regarding Harner in an attempt to understand this group's views. I do not support Harner, nor do I defend him in any way, but I have heard of him, as he is well known, so I thought he would be a good example for my questions.

I joined a conversation forum online called "Shamanism" because I was wondering what kinds of topics people would discuss there. To my disappointment, there was lots of hokum flying around being taken as truth, and I have lost respect for the group.

I am 56 years old, but I have no connection to any relatives other than my children and my husband. I am not fortunate like you are to have a community of friends and family to call upon. I am not fortunate like you to have a connection to the culture of my ancestors because my ancestors were from many different cultures with none of them standing out.

I seek to learn spiritual values and wisdom. But I do NOT believe that just because my relatives were Christian that I have to be Christian, too.

You disagree with some of my existing beliefs, but that does not make me worse than you. It only makes us different.

I am not some colonial who is trying to rip off indigenous people. And I will not be condemned by the sins of my fathers. I am my own person, seeking knowledge and truth ... just like you are.

-- Eris

Offline Defend the Sacred

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Re: Which Ancestors to Follow?
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2019, 05:02:59 pm »
Thank you, Laurel.

Offline Laurel

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Re: Which Ancestors to Follow?
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2019, 05:44:06 pm »
Any ol' time.

Offline Smart Mule

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Re: Which Ancestors to Follow?
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2019, 10:23:22 pm »
Eris - it is illegal to improperly store bodily fluids so you best dispose of all that blood you have hanging around  :o

You are not Sami. If you have ties to a specific Sami family and a specific Sami community in Sapmi you could be considered Sami American. What is your family name? Where was their sameby? Can you describe their kolt or gakti? Sami people in the diaspora are generally Apostolic or Laestadian Lutheran or they're agnostic. There are no legitimate teachers in America of traditional Sami ways. There's a lot of fakes and frauds but no one legit. There are decent books on history and culture but not on spirituality, unless you want to follow the words of anthros and fakes. And there's a lot of fakes.

I noticed you did not include that you were Tungusic or Evenki. Shamanism belongs to them and solely to them. The word was stolen by anthros and misapplied to so many cultures. It is a colonial term of linguistic erasure and not at all spiritual. Linguistic erasure is a form of genocide.

Offline Eris

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Re: Which Ancestors to Follow?
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2019, 10:45:36 pm »
Smart Mule -- I wrote the following in my introduction post several days ago. "I am a 56-year-old Caucasian woman living near Denver, Colorado. (I have ancestors who were of the Sami people, and it comes out in my physical appearance, but I was not raised in their culture, so basically I'm pretty whitebread.)
I've performed spiritual work for the last quarter century. I may use a drum to help put my mind into a trance state. I may dance. I may seek guidance and assistance from nature spirits. I may play a flute. I may use physical representations of a spirit in an attempt to help connect with them. But I do not claim to be a "shaman", nothing I do is taken from Native American rituals (nor do I claim it to be), and I have never charged for my services."

I am not a "shaman", I do not practice "shamanism", and I never said I have.

I know I am not "Sami" nor of the land where they traditionally live. Nor am I Romanian or Norse, even though I have distant relatives from those areas. I grew up in Texas rural culture.

And I'm sorry that the word "blood" seems to disturb you. Where I am from, "blood" is often used to mean "ancestors". For example, it is not uncommon to hear somebody in my area say something like they have "New York blood" to mean their parents were from New York. I will avoid using that word for that purpose anymore.

Thank you.

Offline Laurel

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Re: Which Ancestors to Follow?
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2019, 11:04:11 am »
Eris, you say you do spiritual work, use a drum to go into trances, and talk to nature spirits. How, exactly, does your practice differ from what is currently known as Harner "shamanism" (using a drum/rattle to go into trance states wherein one encounters "spirits" and "does spiritual work")?

If what you do and what he sold are very different, what are you justifying? Since you got here, you've made it clear your posting at NAFPS is all about you and what you want. Can't read your mind, but you seem to have wanted the following answers and failed to get them:

"Yes, as long as you don't call it 'shamanism,' everything you do is just fine by all the indigenous peoples of the world" and "You should definitely 'follow your Sami blood,' because your other ancestors are boring."

You're not going to get those answers here, and I suspect you're going to go on doing whatever you want to no matter who has a problem with it. So, unless you intend to start engaging with the board's actual topic, exactly why are you here?

If what you do isn't "shamanism," then good. If it's so close to "shamanism" that you have to spend a paragraph explaining the difference, maybe the difference isn't as big as you think it is.

Surely you, like almost everyone else here, have encountered the following sentiments: Real medicine people don't call themselves "shamans." Real medicine people don't charge money. These are true, at least as far as I know, but they're not "get out of jail free" cards--they don't make anything anyone does acceptable.

Smart Mule -- I wrote the following in my introduction post several days ago. "I am a 56-year-old Caucasian woman living near Denver, Colorado. (I have ancestors who were of the Sami people, and it comes out in my physical appearance, but I was not raised in their culture, so basically I'm pretty whitebread.)
I've performed spiritual work for the last quarter century. I may use a drum to help put my mind into a trance state. I may dance. I may seek guidance and assistance from nature spirits. I may play a flute. I may use physical representations of a spirit in an attempt to help connect with them. But I do not claim to be a "shaman", nothing I do is taken from Native American rituals (nor do I claim it to be), and I have never charged for my services."

I am not a "shaman", I do not practice "shamanism", and I never said I have.

I know I am not "Sami" nor of the land where they traditionally live. Nor am I Romanian or Norse, even though I have distant relatives from those areas. I grew up in Texas rural culture.

And I'm sorry that the word "blood" seems to disturb you. Where I am from, "blood" is often used to mean "ancestors". For example, it is not uncommon to hear somebody in my area say something like they have "New York blood" to mean their parents were from New York. I will avoid using that word for that purpose anymore.

Thank you.

Offline Smart Mule

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Re: Which Ancestors to Follow?
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2019, 04:31:41 pm »
Thank you Laurel <3

Offline Smart Mule

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Re: Which Ancestors to Follow?
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2019, 04:53:46 pm »
Smart Mule -- I wrote the following in my introduction post several days ago. "I am a 56-year-old Caucasian woman living near Denver, Colorado. (I have ancestors who were of the Sami people, and it comes out in my physical appearance, but I was not raised in their culture, so basically I'm pretty whitebread.)

What do Sápmelaš look like?

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I've performed spiritual work for the last quarter century. I may use a drum to help put my mind into a trance state. I may dance. I may seek guidance and assistance from nature spirits. I may play a flute. I may use physical representations of a spirit in an attempt to help connect with them. But I do not claim to be a "shaman", nothing I do is taken from Native American rituals (nor do I claim it to be), and I have never charged for my services."

What are these nature spirits you are connecting with? How do you know they are nature spirits? Why do you want to connect with them?

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I am not a "shaman", I do not practice "shamanism", and I never said I have.

But you took it upon yourself to join a shamanism forum...again shamanism when applied to any culture outside of it's home community is linguistic erasure. It's cultural genocide.

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I know I am not "Sami" nor of the land where they traditionally live. Nor am I Romanian or Norse, even though I have distant relatives from those areas. I grew up in Texas rural culture.

Norse indicates medieval Norwegian or Scandinavian ancestry. That's a whole lot of generations ago.

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And I'm sorry that the word "blood" seems to disturb you. Where I am from, "blood" is often used to mean "ancestors". For example, it is not uncommon to hear somebody in my area say something like they have "New York blood" to mean their parents were from New York. I will avoid using that word for that purpose anymore.

Thank you.

The reason that the use of the word 'blood' is so offensive is due to the widespread usage by white supremacists and promoters of white supremacist folk traditions. That's why it's disturbing. Defend the Sacred already mentioned this. Perhaps you missed it.