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Old 05-15-18   #1
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Default Smudging - cultural appropriation or no?

This topic has been bouncing around herbal communities for a while - what do you think? http://sacredhearth.com/blog:smudge



I purify a space with earth, air, fire and water, or I simply sain with blessedwater. Smudging with sage feels wrong to me on many levels, but I do make incense from local trees and herbs and burn them as a sacred offering. I just don't call it smudging.
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Old 05-15-18   #2
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Default Re: Smudging - cultural appropriation or no?

I do use sage but I mix it with lavender, I was taught by one of my teachers for Reiki back in the day.

Recently I started using Palo Santo, I love the smell, and its also for purification.
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Old 05-15-18   #3
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Default Re: Smudging - cultural appropriation or no?

Here's one of those where I think you fall into people don't know their own history and people don't know anthropology / sociology. That and sadly the fall out of all the bs of the so called Native American pantheon that many authors tried to push in the 1980's and 1990's.

Many people had "Smoke" type rituals / ceremonies for purification that were performed prior to battle, burial, rituals / ceremonies, certain public events. Some were to purify the spirit and bring in bravery, others a form of fertility and union. About the only thing that really changed was what was burnt.

When torches, wild songs, pots & pans were carried and the bride and groom were stolen during Charivari (or shivaree or chivaree). Granted the shivaree could be used as either a form of punishment (purification / cleansing) for justice or fertility & union in the form of a wedding recognition. Yet it still had a smoke aspect to it with the torches, wild songs, etc.

The usage of Sweet Grass, Sage, etc I agree has become very new age and popular. However, again that same popularity came about in the 90's with the concept of a Native American Pantheon. A popularity that is realistically no different than signing a post off with any other Native American word or term, especially Namaste for instance.

But I wonder is it cultural appropriation in the concept that one knows using various plants for purification was done in Europe. If the Scots used Pine for purification and those same Scots moved to the US and encounter Cedar and Pine, is it appropriation to use similar plants for similar purpose? Is it appropriation then to move west where the pine or cedar is no longer found and replace it with the sage or sweet grass for the same purpose?

That's part of the issue when it comes to appropriation. To be in the same land as another and use the same material for the same things is that appropriation? Now if your sitting in another land and bring their stuff to you and use it then that could be appropriation. Yet if your on the same land and use the same material for the same purpose then that doesn't seem to be appropriation.

Not unless you try to become them in every way while denying who they are as if they do not exist. But then one would think you'd have to use their actual words for those things first, not your words for them.

For instance the various nations to my knowledge do not call that process "Smudging" so how could you culturally appropriate that term. That was a white man's term to begin with.
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Old 05-16-18   #4
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Default Re: Smudging - cultural appropriation or no?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brigidrose View Post
I do use sage but I mix it with lavender, I was taught by one of my teachers for Reiki back in the day.

Recently I started using Palo Santo, I love the smell, and its also for purification.

I do as well, all of those, and I make incense too (and am insanely addicted to Mermade Magickal Arts - thanks, Mara)...


But I take the point here to be not so much about using smoke or specific plants to purify, as using the term "smudge". One of my most respected herbal teachers recently raised this issue (appropriation is a hot topic in herbal circles, given we are using the herbs of this land that some consider 'not our own') and I have been giving it a lot of thought. My friend Nikiah Seeds, who made my drum, has dropped the term "shaman" from all her writings, courses etc. I think it's important to be aware of all this, but I also see some PC-craziness that tends to diminish the power and meaning of the core intent.

I actually used a white sage bundle last night to clear the area, for the New Moon. I will likely use frankincense etc instead, in future, but I will always make my "9 trees" incense.. you know the one.
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Old 05-16-18   #5
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Default Re: Smudging - cultural appropriation or no?

Quote:

The usage of Sweet Grass, Sage, etc I agree has become very new age and popular. However, again that same popularity came about in the 90's with the concept of a Native American Pantheon. A popularity that is realistically no different than signing a post off with any other Native American word or term, especially Namaste for instance.

I don't really mind Namaste if someone is actually Hindu! I have used Mitakoye Oyasin as a marker of respect for all creatures and my work with the more-than-human world. But it does carry that "NA wannabe" thing so I'll remove it - actually had not thought about that until just now. I've said it to the land and the forest for many years, but it is a cherry-picked expression.


Quote:
But I wonder is it cultural appropriation in the concept that one knows using various plants for purification was done in Europe. If the Scots used Pine for purification and those same Scots moved to the US and encounter Cedar and Pine, is it appropriation to use similar plants for similar purpose? Is it appropriation then to move west where the pine or cedar is no longer found and replace it with the sage or sweet grass for the same purpose?

I don't think it's so much about the plants (maybe in the case of sage and palo santo) but the use of the term. It's well known that purification with smoke/incense is not a NA-only practise.But the use of the abalone shell, eagle feather etc and the pretense of being NA is what bugs most people. I've done those things for years too, at times and never really thought about it, but when I see people really playing at being NA (I've known a few) it bugs the Hell out of me. Despite my love of this land and above-average knowledge of its flora and fauna, I am essentially a transplanted mix of Anglo Saxon and Celt....I think it disrespects the traditions of First nations peoples for me to assume I can just use their sacred tools, like my ancestors basically took everything else from them....


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That's part of the issue when it comes to appropriation. To be in the same land as another and use the same material for the same things is that appropriation? Now if your sitting in another land and bring their stuff to you and use it then that could be appropriation. Yet if your on the same land and use the same material for the same purpose then that doesn't seem to be appropriation.

I agree. I find owl and turkey and all kinds of feathers in the woods; I make them into witches ladders and incorporate them in all kinds of things. I've learned the medicinal trees and plants of this part of the world very well - I gather responsibly and ask before taking etc etc. I don't think that's appropriation at all. There is a line here, for sure.




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Not unless you try to become them in every way while denying who they are as if they do not exist. But then one would think you'd have to use their actual words for those things first, not your words for them.

For instance the various nations to my knowledge do not call that process "Smudging" so how could you culturally appropriate that term. That was a white man's term to begin with.
Was it? I thought it was NA....but hey, just discussing this is powerful and important, I think. Here's an article that says some of what I've been feeling...I can imagine how the mass commercialization of Druidry would feel to me...

https://www.dailydot.com/via/urban-o...appropriation/
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Old 05-16-18   #6
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Default Re: Smudging - cultural appropriation or no?

Well I suppose I fall into the 'new age victims' category, so I have called it smudging, I guess I could call it cleansing, or, maybe just makin it smell real nice.

I have a white sage bundle I like once in a while, but usually use frankincense on charcoal as I have for many years. I love the smell.
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Old 05-16-18   #7
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Default Re: Smudging - cultural appropriation or no?

Quote:
Originally Posted by feranaja View Post
I don't really mind Namaste if someone is actually Hindu! I have used Mitakoye Oyasin as a marker of respect for all creatures and my work with the more-than-human world. But it does carry that "NA wannabe" thing so I'll remove it - actually had not thought about that until just now. I've said it to the land and the forest for many years, but it is a cherry-picked expression.
Let me preface this with I wasn't directing that word statement at you. Honestly didn't notice you had one there.

For it just seems the loudest criers about appropriation seem to have the most statements and such on their pages. Almost militant about it many times and almost always claim to be a person of color. Though that percentage might be as low as like 1/1000 of a percent.

Yet that very thing they are arguing about in the last 20 to 30 years has been packaged by more than a few "Native" authors and sold for profit. That or those who claim to be native authors such as Brooke Medicine Eagle and sold for profit. With lineages so suspect that if they are actual member's of said nations they are not claimed by said nations. Sort of like the books and series by Sun Bear and his Medicine Wheel. Another Native American "Medicine Man" that has created a whole system according to many groups without it having an actual legitimate Native American basis.

Quote:
I don't think it's so much about the plants (maybe in the case of sage and palo santo) but the use of the term. It's well known that purification with smoke/incense is not a NA-only practise.But the use of the abalone shell, eagle feather etc and the pretense of being NA is what bugs most people. I've done those things for years too, at times and never really thought about it, but when I see people really playing at being NA (I've known a few) it bugs the Hell out of me. Despite my love of this land and above-average knowledge of its flora and fauna, I am essentially a transplanted mix of Anglo Saxon and Celt....I think it disrespects the traditions of First nations peoples for me to assume I can just use their sacred tools, like my ancestors basically took everything else from them....
This is one that raises an interesting question, "What are their sacred tools?" The reason I ask that is what "Tools" were given to the various nations that have no equal in the east or west? If it has no equal then you could say your taking or stealing it, if it has an equal or similar then is it taking it or using material that is found here?

For instance I really know of nothing in the east or west that resembles pipestone or serves the same function as pipestone or the peacepipe. Even with it tied to the story of White Buffalo Calf Woman Comes Dancing. So to take the Pipe Stone and pipe I think would be taking a sacred tool and trying to borrow a symbol basically common to many nations. It basically was a Native American sacred tool and had many functions, though we probably know it best as the peace pipe.

Figure pipestone only came from one place and it was sacred to all the nations and if I recall correctly no one fought there.

Yet the mandela or shield as a sacred item was basically found the world over. Most people think of shield in the west and think of war shields only but that wasn't the only type of shield. The Injx had a shield or Mandela form beside its singing bird form.

So I personally think again it becomes a fine line between what is a sacred tool that is unique and what might be said to be a universal sacred tool. To a degree even what could be said to be a unique usage and what could be seen as a broader usage.

Quote:
I agree. I find owl and turkey and all kinds of feathers in the woods; I make them into witches ladders and incorporate them in all kinds of things. I've learned the medicinal trees and plants of this part of the world very well - I gather responsibly and ask before taking etc etc. I don't think that's appropriation at all. There is a line here, for sure.
I agree. I taught my sons it was a gift from the forest and the spirits of the land. Have taught my grandchildren the same. Part of the respect for all things. Seem's to me the only way I could ignore that would be to think that only those things that come from my European heritage would be gifts from nature to my heritage. Yet that flies in the face of all I was taught and those I've known in other lands who've said we honor the land and the spirits of those lands.

Quote:
Was it? I thought it was NA....but hey, just discussing this is powerful and important, I think. Here's an article that says some of what I've been feeling...I can imagine how the mass commercialization of Druidry would feel to me...

https://www.dailydot.com/via/urban-o...appropriation/
Nope another term applied via anthropology. That's one of the problems today, Scientific terms are applied outside of scientific circles and become sort of standard presumptions. Sort of like "Shaman" and "Shamanism", inside anthropology it holds one meaning outside of it, especially inside pagan circles, it holds a different meaning.

The same applies to another idea, that of Totemism. It's another term that many in shamanic circles have pretty much dropped as it's become so corrupted and polluted. Yet in modern paganism totems have become as common as having a familiar, probably as common as having a zuni type fetish. That little carved animal figure that represents your totem or spirit animal that people just have to have. That they tuck away in their Mojo Bag or Spirit Bag as I hear those are pretty big as well.
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Old 05-16-18   #8
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Default Re: Smudging - cultural appropriation or no?

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Originally Posted by Flailing Idiot View Post
Well I suppose I fall into the 'new age victims' category, so I have called it smudging, I guess I could call it cleansing, or, maybe just makin it smell real nice.

I have a white sage bundle I like once in a while, but usually use frankincense on charcoal as I have for many years. I love the smell.

Oh I have a Medicine Wheel on my office wall, and abalone shells etc...I don't think we need to feel bad about those things, but it's good to review our practises (IMO)) and see if anything needs to be changed.


One thing I used to say in all innocence, was this: "Western Herbalism is an ancient tradition based in Greco-Roman and Egyptian medicine, developed throughout the Golden Age of Herbalism in Europe, and now incorporating Native American plant wisdom in our work".


Ok, so to a large extent that is true - BUT, we don't have a right to just lay claim to NA teachings, because we are using NA PLANTS. It's true that the early settlers learned a shit-ton about native plants from the natives. It's true that every day I use American ginseng, Goldenseal, Snakeroot, Pipsissewa and a couple dozen other NA plants. BUT - it's still insensitive to lay claim to just "incorporating" Native teachings. No NA elder taught me, and I have no involvement in the struggles and sorrows of those people. So, I dropped that bit. Does that make sense to you? Just more...respectful.
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Old 05-16-18   #9
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Default Re: Smudging - cultural appropriation or no?

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Oh I have a Medicine Wheel on my office wall, and abalone shells etc...I don't think we need to feel bad about those things, but it's good to review our practises (IMO)) and see if anything needs to be changed.
Oh I agree, no reason to feel bad about it or like you've done something wrong. But, Let me add this disclaimer, is the Medicine Wheel found in all Native American Nations? The answer would be no. Added to that is not only is it not found in all nations but what is found is not the same in all nations. So there is no "Universal" Medicine Wheel. Color variations, animal variations, meaning variations, etc, exist from nation to nation. Most people who have a Medicine Wheel in fact have Sun Bear's version which is in fact a pseudo Medicine Wheel which he sort of made up. Loosely based upon the Sioux belief system if I recall correctly, but still made up.

So that sort of presents an interesting situation. Is it cultural appropriation? There are cultural elements and factually correct aspects to it. Yet many within the various nations say it is in fact simply a false creation to begin with. Like the beads made for selling to tourist. Yet other's claim it is appropriation of Native Belief's simply due to it's overall symbology and spiritual premise.

The idea of people playing Indian I suppose. Yet it is packaged and sold with that very purpose and intent in mind.

Not to say the Medicine Wheel doesn't have lesson's and teachings. Just it's not as universal as many seem to try and paint it. Definitely not as universal across the Native American landscape as most seem to think it is. Sun Bears version is Sun Bears version only and not reflective of any nation in particular.


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One thing I used to say in all innocence, was this: "Western Herbalism is an ancient tradition based in Greco-Roman and Egyptian medicine, developed throughout the Golden Age of Herbalism in Europe, and now incorporating Native American plant wisdom in our work".
That's a true statement though. Realistically no different than the inclusion of Asian Herbalism that has been incorporated.


Quote:
Ok, so to a large extent that is true - BUT, we don't have a right to just lay claim to NA teachings, because we are using NA PLANTS. It's true that the early settlers learned a shit-ton about native plants from the natives. It's true that every day I use American ginseng, Goldenseal, Snakeroot, Pipsissewa and a couple dozen other NA plants. BUT - it's still insensitive to lay claim to just "incorporating" Native teachings. No NA elder taught me, and I have no involvement in the struggles and sorrows of those people. So, I dropped that bit. Does that make sense to you? Just more...respectful.
I think the issue is not that you (collective) have learnt to use the plants and fauna of the America's. That is not cultural appropriation, it's not stealing the lore and taking from the struggle of the native people's. Whether you were taught by an elder or not really doesn't matter for if you were dropped into the area you'd still learn it by simply observing and testing. What you knew from where you came from would still give you clues to what many of the plants were. Any migrating people, regardless of ethnicity, survive through that concept.

It's when you take their stories and their identity that you've stolen their culture. If you take "Corn" and steal the story of the "Corn Maiden" along with it and how she first arrived and taught and saved the people, that is cultural appropriation. Then take the ritual of honoring the maiden and her arrival and her golden hair. Making baskets from her body, planting her each year so she returns in abundance, marking her return and departure. Creating the corn dollies or corn maidens and whatever they do with them.

Granted our early farmers did learn to honor the corn maiden and did copy many of those type rituals / ceremonies. But they were taught those rituals / ceremonies by the indians themselves. So they were shared rituals / ceremonies for those times.

But how many today make corn dollies and never once touched the earth much less a stalk of corn? Make poppets of any sort and talk about various things while wearing some sort of native garb? That I think is what is appropriation more than smudging or knowing how to use various plants in a manner that various nations in a given area do or did.
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Old 05-18-18   #10
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Default Re: Smudging - cultural appropriation or no?

Quote:
Originally Posted by feranaja View Post
Oh I have a Medicine Wheel on my office wall, and abalone shells etc...I don't think we need to feel bad about those things, but it's good to review our practises (IMO)) and see if anything needs to be changed.


One thing I used to say in all innocence, was this: "Western Herbalism is an ancient tradition based in Greco-Roman and Egyptian medicine, developed throughout the Golden Age of Herbalism in Europe, and now incorporating Native American plant wisdom in our work".


Ok, so to a large extent that is true - BUT, we don't have a right to just lay claim to NA teachings, because we are using NA PLANTS. It's true that the early settlers learned a shit-ton about native plants from the natives. It's true that every day I use American ginseng, Goldenseal, Snakeroot, Pipsissewa and a couple dozen other NA plants. BUT - it's still insensitive to lay claim to just "incorporating" Native teachings. No NA elder taught me, and I have no involvement in the struggles and sorrows of those people. So, I dropped that bit. Does that make sense to you? Just more...respectful.
Right. I see what the issue is now. I would never lay claim to other cultural teachings, I certainly hope I havenít, but I love various ideas and practices that I may enjoy to myself, to myself only.

I dislike the ones I run into covered in various items outwardly in a big show when I can see itís all, mostly show. But try... well ok, -try- not to judge. Out loud anyway.
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