There is an innate syncretism that surrounds catholicism and its relationship with different paganisms, i.e. indigenous cultural practices, that involve a lot of practical themes across the board.
When people are first coming to decolonise their christianity, I find that it’s definitely easier if you’re catholic because many of the practices were absorbed or catholic-washed with a very thin veneer.
We see this in Italian, Spanish, and Mexican catholic practices amongst others. We see it in Black liberation religious practices like Vodun/Vodou, Candomblé, Santería/Lucumí, etc. We also even see it in Protestant branches of BLR hoodoo/Rootwork/Conjure evidenced by the work…
Cultural Imperialism on Steroids
Over the last few years I’ve been grappling with unlearning and learning about cultural appropriation, especially with regard to religious beliefs and practices. This combined with decolonisation in religious studies has opened up so much healing and helpful reconciliations.
So much has been done already on how to steer away from appropriation by asking what are the things not to do? The natural partner to this was to ask the question: what should I do instead? And the resounding answer to this was decolonising your practices.
But what hasn’t so much been discussed en mass culturally…
I recently wrote about the 90+ year history of how locs are a result of the 1930s Jamaica movement against racist British colonial violence. Beginning in Rastafarian culture it eventually made its way into pan-African Black Liberation Movements via reggae in the 60s. Challenging white supremacist beauty norms and standards, many artists and activists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, Assata Shakur, and Angela Davis used locs as a politic of revolution and rebellion.
Activists since have continued the natural hair movement as an extension of a multilayered antiracist praxis, knowing full well how white supremacy culture must be challenged at every angle…
Dreads and Locs are not curly-locks are not plaits are not Fairy-Knots are not Elflocks are not…
When white people modify their hair, it is often to assimilate into white heterosexist supremacist beauty norms (straight, blonde etc.) or to indicate deviance from those norms as acts of rebellion or counterculture “freakiness.” Whether it is the mohawk or dreads, white people love going to extremes to stand-out from the norm: essentially as non-white, and where they see it as a badge of countercultural honour, others see it as disrespectful appropriation.
White people will go to great lengths to defend themselves from…
I am a Healey.
But I am also a Soucia.
a Merrill and Cromp.
a Darragh, LaPlante, Miner, and Soulia.
a McCann, McArdle, Knight, Jones, Beauvais, Barcomb, Titus, and Myatt.
a Keeff, Corre, Lavery, Dennenson, Quin, Finn, Shepard, Perrigo, Wilson, Ostrander, Lebrun, Marshall, Jones, Melavia, Dancouse, Caza, Durocher, Cusson, Guerin, Lemay, Berthiaume, Patenaude, Jodway, Collette, Vreeland, Davidson, Teachout, Johnson, Gibbs, Riveis, and Holcomb.
I could go on farther back before the 1800s, though the blanks and misspellings, and literal dead-ends begin to compound. …
Who are our folk? The kyriarchy would have us believe that we should stay isolated and homogenous. When we white pagans look around in our spiritual communities and neighborhoods, we must ask ourselves how segregated we still are?
Racial segregation did not go away. Reservation creation, miscegenation, redlining, exclusionary rental and real estate practices, and second generation segregation in schools (tracking) all contribute to current racial segregation in the US. We also see the same in and at our religious gatherings and groups.
So, who are our folk…
Last week, i used a lot of antiracist and anticolonial theory vocab.
But basically what it comes down to is asking the question of how we as white pagans can be in right-relationship with the Land beneath our feet and all around us. With land spirits who are stolen indigenous lands. Land spirits that have seen continued colonisation and genocide. Lands who give and sustain life. Lands who are alive and conscious and sovereign and more than a resource to exploit or a foundation to build temples upon.
This week I want to go further on a few things that…
On Samhain 2019 I took vows to serve the land, folk, and gods as a dedicant pagan priest. Over the last year I’ve had constant questions whispering in my ear: what land? what people? what god(s)?
The gods of what land?
The gods of what people?
The land of what people?
The land of what gods?
The people of what land?
The people of which gods?
Which ones do I choose to serve, aid, and help? And whom/what will be excluded due to the nature of this choice? Which ones will choose me? What relationships will emerge?
Anthropologist. Abolitionist. Cultural Critic.