Friday, September 23, 2016

Healing Wyrd, an article I really needed to read.

Picture snagged from Pinterest

I recently took some time to catch up on backed up e-mail, you know the e-mail you really want to read but don't quite have time for it, so you save it for later? Well, a subscription to Happily Heathen, on The Agora: the Central Hub for the Patheos Pagan Channel, was one of those "I'll save these for later. That later came when I couldn't sleep one night. 

While playing catch up on this particular subscription, I came across Healing old wounds at a new ancestors grave. In a lot of ways, this was something I needed to read. There have been some people in my family that have negatively affected our Wyrd. My Mother's Step Father for instance. I do not want to honor this man. What he did to my Mother and my Aunt makes me sick. I have no love for him. I wish I could say that he means nothing to me and doesn't affect me, but he does. The things he did make me quite creative when thinking about vengeance and then I have to remind myself, as I did when he was alive, that he just isn't worth it. 

But there is a lesson in his existence, his crimes, and even my Mom's Mom's fear of being alone so much so she stayed with someone who hurt and abused her children. That lesson is in my Mother. For everything that happened, my Mom got herself out, she made a life for herself, and while she never forgave her step dad (he's dead now, had a heart attack and crashed his truck into a light pole- not quite the judicial end I would have liked but I will take it), she forgave her mother. She forgave her mother for looking the other way, for beating her when she tried to get help, for choosing a monster over her own daughter. She forgave all of it and she didn't do just for herself, she did it for her mother so that Grandma J, would have a chance to know me, her Granddaughter. Now, I was never left alone with my mom's step dad and I never got to spend the night with Grandma J until after he died. But that one night I was able to, meant more to my Grandma J than I could even express to my Mom. I feel in a lot of ways, my Mom doing that, helped to heal the wounds of the family Wyrd and taught me the importance of forgiveness, and getting back on your feet and pushing through. 

On the converse, my Aunt, my Mom's Identical Twin, did not learn these lessons. In fact, she fell into the victim roll and continued the cycle of abuse in her own kids, particularly to the one who actually cares about her the most. She is also horrible to my Mom, so much so that while my Mom still loves her sister, she wants nothing to do with her. I think hanging in there for 50+ years is long enough and at some point, you just have to say, "I love you, but we're done." I don't know exactly how that will affect the Wryd, if that's positive or negative. For me personally, I'm fine with this disconnection to my Aunt. I tried for a long time to be devils advocate, to be sympathetic, but she finally just pushed me beyond my limits. I love my Aunt, always will, but that doesn't mean I have to talk to her or allow her to cause more damage. 

But how does this play out in honoring my ancestors? How do you honor someone or people who have hurt you or others you care about in your life, even if you don't want to honor them? What about the people you don't know about yet? Or ancestors from long ago you know nothing about only their names? I think its a personal choice. I don't think anyone can tell you who you have to honor. That probably comes off as "pick and choose" in so far as picking what you like and discarding the rest. Well, I suppose in a way it is. I will honor my Aunt because I love her and we had some good times, but also because she is my Aunt and there are lessons in my life that she's taught me about people. I don't want to honor my Mom's step dad and while I may never honor him directly, I will honor the indirect lessons- those my Mother learned and then instilled in me, such as who and what to watch out for, getting back on your feet, and learning to forgive and what forgiveness can do. This may not work for everyone and I think that's okay. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Why I call BULLSHIT on Cultural Appropriation- except when...

Why I call BULLSHIT on Cultural Appropriation- except when...

A while ago, a friend of mine wrote a blog post about some issues that span across multiple areas, pagan and otherwise, that inspired a response from me. In agreement with her, I hammered out my support piece but didn’t post it right away. I read it to Amanda, and I just decided not posting it would be for the better, at least until I had cooled off, because some of the topics my friend wrote about, are things that I get all hot and angry about, and believe it or not, there are times where I come off far stronger and intense than I intend to. I deleted it in the end.
Anyway, one of the topics within my friend’s post was cultural appropriation- a concept that while it has always been around, seems to have flared up with the Social Justice Warriors (SJW’s) in the last couple of years.

First, two things: Social justice- yes, we need some but with that said there are people who take things to the extremes and that’s what I find unacceptable. You can fight for a cause without name calling and being an overt asshole.

Second, cultural appropriation is and can be real thing if someone is being disrespectful to another culture. However, I call bullshit on cultural appropriation when it comes to someone celebrating another culture or even simply wearing clothes.

What I mean by the latter is that some people, SJW’s mostly, seem to think that certain prints on clothing are a form of appropriation. Bullshit. The fashion industry has been and always will be drawing inspiration from the different cultures of the world. It will never end no matter how much you fuss about it and instead of seeing it as appropriation, why don’t you see it as a form of celebration. Someone thought something from another culture was beautiful and wanted to celebrate it in their own way. I honestly don’t believe that a fashion designer maliciously thought about using a pattern, a design, or whatnot to hurt an entire people.

In fact I don’t believe that’s what anyone is doing. More to the point, while our planet is large, it is becoming very small in terms of communication and exploration. We see each other’s cultures and become excited about them. They are new, different, fascinating. Take me for example, I am not Japanese but I enjoy Anime, Japanese history and culture, Kimono, the language, ect… I have made a Kimono and I have one that someone gave my Great Grandma Richardson. I am even interested and fascinated in Shinto and have been to a shrine. But because I have some Kimono, eat the food  with chop sticks, listen to the music, and so on, someone would accuse me of appropriation instead of seeing that I just enjoy another culture so much that I am choosing to celebrate it. And it’s not just the Japanese culture that is celebrated in my house, there are cultures of Amanda’s and my heritage that are celebrated as well.

Speaking of heritage celebration, someone accused one of Amanda’s cousins of cultural appropriation because he was wearing a Native American headdress in some photos. He is a blonde haired, blue-eyed white kid and his friends and others on facebook assumed that because of his physical appearance, he was in the wrong, never once asking if he has Native American Heritage, which he, in fact, does. I keep seeing instances like this all over the place and excuse me for saying, but it seems to be geared toward white and white-looking people. There, I said it. Now while I don’t think dreads look good on a lot of white folks, there are some who look great in them, but you never hear that. You only hear that “the white person is trying to be black”. But you never seem to hear about or see anyone jumping down an African American’s throat for converting to Islam or any one bitching to anyone else for celebrating St. Patrick’s Day or Christmas or any other holiday.

Now, don’t mistake me, this isn’t me being trying to be a bitch, this me pointing out some flaws in other people’s logic. And this is also me telling you its bullshit, that it’s okay for you but not okay for anyone else. Here is the thing, as long as no one is disrespecting or defaming, or purposefully bringing harm to yours or another culture, why are you so upset about? Why assume the worst of people, when you could be excited that they are excited about your culture. Why not see this as an opportunity to teach and share? Especially when this move out of the hair style and fashion or physical arena and into more of a spiritual one. How many pagans worship and celebrate a religion that may or may not be from their heritage and more importantly, how can you tell? I mean, you can be black and have Viking ancestors and follow a Heathen path, and even if you don't, color of skin should never matter in this arena. And even more importantly than that, what business is it of yours to tell someone how they worship is wrong? I mean if you really HAVE to make your business, why not do it peaceable and again see it as an opportunity to share and teach- all without being a total dick.


I think in the end, what it all boils down to is, live and let live, mind your own business, and if you absolutely can’t help yourself, try to be understanding, sharing, caring, and helpful. Being an ass is what makes problems.