The image above was taken from the blog of an occultist I respect. He didn’t write this, but he’s talking about it quite a bit. In case you can’t read the text in the image, it is: “Dear NonNatives: Nothing is your spirit animal. Not a person, place or thing. Nothing is your spirit animal. You do not get one. Spirit animals derive from Anishinaabe and other tribes deeply held religious beliefs.”
This is why I have to wear masks to talk with some people about spirituality. My appearance doesn’t conform to the “appropriate” stereotypes for the magic I do. And yet it works for me. I didn’t have to be “chosen.” I chose myself and the world agreed.
As soon as you combine spirituality with ANYTHING (politics, race, national identity, sexuality, money, who gets to police whom about what, who gets to speak and what is allowed to be said, what someone says is real and true vs. what we must all believe is delusional and false if we expect to be considered good citizens), you’re taking something away from someone and giving it to yourself. If you’re doing this as part of a consensual exchange, so be it. If you’re doing this to someone without their consent, you’re enacting spiritual violence.
Granted, there are good political, social, and economic arguments to be made about cultural appropriation. Granted, it’s time for certain groups to take power back in political, social, and economic areas. But please keep those political, social, and economic considerations off my altars. My spirits don’t care. They want offerings and interaction. They want to work. They don’t ask what color my skin is.
And you know what? I don’t care what color your skin is. I’m open to everybody by default. I don’t care where you were born or what you look like. Come over to my house with that same degree of openness and we can sit down over some matcha tea or one of my cups of rocket fuel coffee and talk about philosophy all day long. I’ll bet we have something to learn from each other that will make us both better people. But come at me with hate in your heart and you will seriously regret the journey. I promise you that.
Can a gay black African woman do Golden Dawn magic? Are you kidding me? Of course.
Can a straight white European man do hoodoo? Yes, indeed, he can.
Can a non-Native person have a spirit animal? Who are you to say no? Are you sitting on that non-Native’s altar? If you are, what are you doing there? Were you invited? If you aren’t or you weren’t, please take your political, social, and economic concerns elsewhere and let the non-Native talk to her spirits.
More non-Natives should be talking to spirit animals (and spirits in general). I suspect that the more spirituality we have, the better things get. Think about that. It might make you a little less angry and a little more motivated to feed your loa.
If you want to do what I do and charge for spiritual work, be my guest. If you want to express your concerns about post-colonialism and cultural appropriation, that’s a good thing, too. Have at it. But never assume you can tell people what kind of spirituality they “get” to have based on some aspect of their identity.
In that, all you’re doing is revealing how politically, socially, or economically upset you are. All you’re doing is trolling. You’re not bringing more Spirit into the world that way. Quite the contrary. You’re burning bridges that should cross cultures and bring people closer.
And, if that is the case, I feel sad for you.