Friday, January 20, 2012

Tarring me with the "plastic shaman" brush....

Newsflash: I am not a Tungus Saman. Or a Lakota Medicine Woman. Or a Marakame, or a Sangoma. In fact I belong to no hereditary paths whatsoever. I make no false claims about who or what I am. So why do I occasionally get confronted by some angry, politicking ass who wants to call me a cultural appropriator and a fake? As far as I can tell, it's because I'm white. I'm stealing no rites, my ritual tools are made with my own hands under the direction of the spirits, and anything that I do do which is similar to what an indigenous shaman might do is fairly universal (like using a rattle, for example, or saluting the directions). But I just can't get rid of that pesky Caucasianness, and thus no matter how original, respectful and dedicated I am, some people are going to hate me for daring to speak to the spirits.

Newsflash number two: the spirit world is not the sole purview of nonwhites. It may amaze ignorant clods like the one that attacked me online earlier today to discover this, but some of us pasty folk receive the Gift and the Call to serve the spirits as well. And I don't apologize for that. I am no Lynn Andrews or Carlos Castaneda, laying claim to someone else's traditions without proper training, dedication or attitude. Instead, I am trying to build a new tradition from what the spirits teach me, which I intend to pass on to others with the right motives and mindset regardless of their race. What I am doing is neither the cash-grabbing of the plastic shamans and $hamans, nor a borrow from anyone's tribal traditions. It just is, it works, I have built on it slowly and carefully, and the idea that I am a fake because I don't belong to any cultures with an unbroken shamanic lineage is narrow, bigoted and pathetic.

Newsflash number three: I am not in any way ignorant of the damage plastic shamans and the money grubbing crowd have done to both shamanic truths and the cultures they appropriate from. Nor am I ignorant of the fact that I have no ancient, unbroken tradition at my back. I wish I did. It would be nice to have had the security of a human teacher and lineage. Unfortunately the old Wiccan adage that "when the student is ready the teacher will appear" turns out to be crap--if you're expecting those teachers to always be human. Tribal medicine people have the right to restrict the teaching of their traditions to those they share a tribal lineage with. Core shamans have the right (legal, if not moral) to charge piles and piles of money for their trainings. But both practices have left people like me out in the cold. I used to think that this meant that I could not be a shaman. But that is horseshit. Humans do not get to hold me back when the spirits call, and I was punished severely by those spirits when I let myself get discouraged. Which leads me to:

Newsflash number four: No stranger on the Internet's rantings are going to hold even a tenth the weight of the spirits' opinions or the opinions of those whom I have helped and collaborated with. Trying to tar me with the brush of "plastic shaman" only demonstrates an ignorance of both the term, and of me. Thank you, drive through....

Ahhhh. It was good to get that out of my system.

In other news, it is finally raining! As I slowly dry out, I remind myself of how desperately I asked for rain, and remind myself to be grateful even while I drip on the carpet. Heh. Now to see if a wet enough January can make up for our bone dry December.


  1. Amen to this. I hate the assumption that if you practice Shamanism you are ignorant of appropriation (coughcoreshamanscough) and people attempting to abuse this path for money and pretension. It gets to the point where I feel the need to apologize for being what I am just by virtue of being white, and that's pretty sad. (because I am constantly expecting someone to pull what they pulled on you.) Sigh. Haters man.

    1. Never fall into the trap of apologizing for your spirituality just because some jackasses don't approve of your race. People like that capitalize on white guilt to try and shout down your spiritual self-expression, but in the end all they have is their narrow-assed opinions. Also, I kinda sorta noticed that my main detractors seem to all be blustery older males who use a lot of condescending language toward my sex. So basically, they fail at having the moral high ground in more ways than one.

  2. So true! And SO glad to hear your thoughts! This really extends to all sorts of things in life too! Aww I'm sorry that happened to you, but guess what you're th last one laughing with your positive attitude and ability to take these kinds of experiences on - only makes you stronger in your beliefs!

    Lots of love to you... have a great weekend! xo PS I enjoy all you posts so enlightening! I don't know much about shamanism so it's a joy to go on this learning journey with you! Toodles!

  3. It needed saying. Seriously, I'm shaking my head after this latest one. It used to be, before I got my life more in order, that having some blustery ass shouting me down would make me cave in just to get them to shut up and leave me alone. But now? Now I've been through the forge a few times and can stand up to a verbal pounding.

    You have a great weekend too! And thanks for the kind words. I'll always try and make what I put on here worth reading, even if it is just an entertaining and semi-enlightened bitchfest. XD