February 17, 2020

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Thoughtful Politics, Archetypally Oblivious

By

Alexander Baker

Thoughtful Politics, Archetypally Oblivious

​Mars has entered Capricorn, but I wrote this before the red planet’s passage into his exalted sign. One of my last Mars in Sadge philosophical soapbox type spiels this time around.  It's somewhat appreciable.

I find myself a bit thrown off by the behavior of people whose sphere of concern seems primarily sociopolitical but lacks in archetypal understanding and introspection of psyche, micromanaging 'spiritual people' — specifically those who wantonly appropriate practices from other cultures with no regard for tradition, lineage and intersectional awareness.

Yes, you're fighting a good fight. By all means, call out or call in flavor-of-the-week festival-goers, hodgepodge hippies, whoever you’re mad at to make them aware — and to check the outright selfish and entitled behavior of others, whatever their shtick. I feel like most people know that non-Native folks wearing headdresses are oblivious or downright tools; playful use of the term 'spirit animal' is worn and can be in/directly disrespectful; etc.

​A secondary problem, however, is that too often these exchanges are like watching a relatively uninvolved third party loudly mitigate a discussion between two people speaking different languages — one well, one not so well — as they attempt to share sentiments the third party doesn't relate to. It's like the difference between getting angry at someone for doing a bad job of speaking your language / participating in your culture, and bearing with them if their intentions are good.

I fully recognize the distinction between one person's integral religious practice and another's hijacked aesthetic. What I don't care for, is to see the sociopolitically self-righteous become ironically externalizing and polarizing as they pretend a person has to look a certain way or come from a certain heritage to have a devotional practice or even simply an intentional dialogue with spiritual narratives. This type of psyche gets pretty close to the hyper-literal and objectifying mindsets that pave way for discrimination, division, and subsequent appropriation in the first place.

Nicholas Campion, if I remember, spoke of the thread that can be traced from the Neoplatonists through to the European revival of hermeticism and later the Theosophists as they jumped around, and how this all surfaces (albeit sometimes sloppily) in modern New Age circles — which I might add, have no problem whitewashing all manner of indigenous traditions as well.

To stay continuous with my initial examples of Native appropriation: Yes, specific practices belong to specific cultures. But having an archetypal connection to the spirit of an animal does not — however socially uncouth careless use of the term 'spirit animal' can be. To those who wield swords of social justice for vain purposes, sitting in some oft-atheistic armchair, I must say: Treating spiritual practices like untouchable stories of ethnic purity sounds very... like something else. You know? Don't just read a book. Try and get more dirt under your nails participating in the Divine Mystery. Everyone's included.

A solar system sanctuary.

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