Wednesday, September 21, 2011

More on Race, Clan, Ancestry and Heathenry: Deconstructing Deconstructor

My earlier post on an earlier post from Jason Pitzl-Waters (shades of infinite recursion!) has sparked a few conversations in various venues.  For the sake of convenience, I thought I'd bring them together here.  Let's start with these bon mots from "Deconstructor," who spoke his mind in the Wild Hunt's comments section:
OK, let me try to understand .....you have greater expertise in African Diaspora religions.....that means you are an African? Or does that mean that you study/practice African religions? You're a white person immersing herself in African religion? 
Reminds me of the times I spent with Minnesota Cree and Taos Pueblo Indians. A lot of Native Americans do not like white people who want to 'walk the red road'... They see it as another form of encroachment upon their own sacred grounds. 
It's THEIR native American identity...Identity is not a commodity... For many it's all they have left.. 
paganism is one way for white people to awaken their own roots.....but you're not going to find your roots in African religion unless you're African. 
You want to develop a folkish/ancestral practice by going to African religions? Surely you jest?
As I said in my earlier post, there are Haitians who will not offer initiation to non-Haitians.  As I also said, this is not about being "African" or "European" but about being Haitian. It's a distinction which many Americans - including, apparently, Deconstructor - have problems grasping.  There are also houses which will initiate non-Haitian members: Société la Belle Venus in Jacmel and Brooklyn is one of these.  And while I agree that one needs to address issues of cultural appropriation, something tells me that Deconstructor's objections were based in other concerns.

With regard to people of one ethnicity or nationality developing a spiritual practice by going to a different culture, I have three words:  The Golden Ass.  And if that picaresque tale of a Roman Isis-worshipper doesn't convince you, here are another three words: Cult of Mithras.  The ancient world was a far less provincial place than many would have you think.  There have been trade routes for millennia, with extensive commerce in goods, Gods and genetics.

One develops an ancestral practice by establishing a relationship with one's ancestors. The "White Table" or "Boveda" is one popular and effective way of doing that.  And while Deconstructor and others may associate this with Espiritismo and other practices popular in Central and South America, it has definite roots in Europe.  (Does the name "Allan Kardec" ring any bells?)  The point is to make and strengthen the ancestral contact by whatever means are available to you.