Another weekly snuffle through the undergrowth of the Pagan interwebs to bring forth the delights of Friday Foraging! This week:
Julia Penelope at The Wandering Witch on Patheos discusses something that I have long found problematic but didn’t quite have the words to express: the use of the term “Shaman” to mean any “indigenous” and/or Pagan and/or New Age practice that works with spirits.
In her excellent post, 6 Reasons to Stop Using the Word Shaman, she discusses the term’s racially and colonially charged baggage:
“Shamanism has become a metonym for all religious leaders within indigenous cultures. The word shaman signifies a non-Western indigenous religious practitioner whereas a priest is a Western religious practitioner operating within a socially stratified ‘advanced’ civilization. Have you ever wondered why we don’t just call shamans priests? Don’t they act in much the same role? As mediators between humankind and the divine? How do you think Catholic priests would feel if we started calling them Imams and vice versa? This unconscious manifestation of early evolutionary theory and Western racism represents “a willful denial of the complexity of “primitive” religions and the reduction of their diversity to a simplistic unity that can be effectively contrasted with more favored constructs like “Christianity.””
Also on Patheos, Molly Khan of Heathen at Heart writes about how Racism Stole Heathenry’s Past and Threatens our Future. I’m not a Heathen, but I love Norse mythology, regularly go to Nordic countries and have a particular (and unexpected) relationship with Thor after an experience at a Norwegian fjord. So, this matters to me. It should matter to all of us, because the same racist and ethnocentric undercurrents that have twisted Heathenry are a threat to all forms of Paganism, especially those who venerate the land and the ancestors. Molly writes:
“It’s not fair that we should have to give up using certain symbols, but is it worth the association with Neo Nazis and white supremacists?
I think that’s a question every Heathen will have to answer for themselves; hopefully with some input from those who are most impacted by this hatred. I find myself angry and also sad that our history has been appropriated for hatred both in the past and again in the present. But what I find most abhorrent is that my runic tattoos – one of which reads “honor to the land” and the other “honor to the waters” – might cause anxiety or fear in people I don’t even know. That innocent and sacred things I love could hurt fellow human beings because of racist idiots both past and present sucks.”
The always excellent Anima Monday has an Exploration of Animist Ethics that is well worth reading, thinking about and applying to our daily ethical decisions, both large and small:
“That then, is the only ethical imperative there is: to have the courage to feel, and to live our emotions. To not walk away when the going gets hard, but rather draw on our understanding of interconnectedness to keep going. To not hesitate to give back more than we have received ourselves. Just because we love.
What makes this a different statement from the version you usually hear is that we do not start from the assumption that love should only include the human tribe. Rather, the animistic view is that everyone of us is connected to the greater web of existence, and that every single person within that web has an equal right of being loved.”
Dana at The Druid’s Garden continues to be one of the leading lights of a practical, earth-centred Druidry, with her post The Druid’s Garden: Principles of Sacred Gardening. Reading this makes me want to get my hands in the dirt and start planting!
“One of the greatest blessings of gardening and growing things is the deep energetic connections that you can develop with plants…
…Whether we are growing in pots on our porch or in a big garden, all gardens offer us opportunity for these connections. It is in these gardens that we can begin to cultivate and to understand the sacred: a sacred awareness of the plants and their cycles; a sacred awareness of the magic of the seed and the soil; and a sacred awareness of our relationship to the growing things, the mystery of life.”
And finally, Joanna van der Hoeven has a new YouTube series, exploring the “Witchier” side of her spirituality. The first video is up now, with more to come.