Why you shouldn’t use the term “Spirit Animal”

givemeunicorns:

phoenixwrites:

agentotter:

sofriel:

fralusans-ana-marein:

thekal:

agentotter:

exploitationiscontagious:

*snip*

No. Nooooooooooooooo. No. God, I would like to make a rule where non-Natives are not allowed to make any sort of statements on the appropriativeness or non-appropriativeness of “spirit animals” ever again. 

Fact 1: I am Native. So-called “spirit animals” are part of my spiritual tradition, which is Metis-Anishinaabe. They’re usually called by the Anishinaabe word, which I am not putting on the internet, or “spirit/dream helpers” in English. Natives in fact are not, gasp, homogeneous, and omg some of us have different spiritual traditions than others! (look, I can do the obnoxious patronizing voice too!) And so just because you point to three Native people from cultures that don’t have such a tradition doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist! This tradition is a VERY sacred one, and thanks to colonization it is being forgotten in huge amounts, to the extent that most young Natives don’t even really know much about it—a situation exacerbated by the popular appropriation of “spirit animals.”

Fact 2: Yes, people around the world have and had similar traditions of spirit helpers, who are frequently animals. HOWEVER, the concept of spirit animals in popular culture came from anthropologists’ descriptions of Native American religions (see Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life). It doesn’t matter if the ancient Celts had similar practices, because spirit animals are associated in the popular imagination with Natives, not Celts. I and other Natives regularly get asked, “Can you tell me what my spirit animal is??” Irish people, for instance, do not. And “it’s not Native, it’s New Age” my ass. Where the hell do you think the New Agers got it from? They got it from anthropology textbooks and from the hippies who went to the reservations in the 60s seeking Noble Savage enlightenment. 

Fact 3: The fact that spirit animals in popular culture are a bastardized form of Native traditions does not mean they are not appropriative or harmful. Why? Because the popular idea of it comes to supersede the original meaning, infantilizing our traditions. Non-Natives start to think that they understand our traditions, and that they are primitive, rather than actually consulting and trying to understand. This gets bad when those non-Natives are the ones with control over our legal ability to practice our religion. Non-Native appropriation of the sweatlodge incorrectly done and causing death, for example, has resulted in greater restrictions on Native sweatlodges, because the non-Native interpretation was assumed to be representative. 

Fact 4: Appropriation is a part of Native oppression, not a decoy issue, good lord. This attitude of popular ownership of Native traditions causes people to deny Natives the right to practice our religion, which is tied to the colonization and denial of access to our landbase since our practices are often linked to specific places, which is tied to the situation on reservations. It’s tied to the psychological state of our people, because you try growing up with having everyone making an utter mockery of your religion and see how your self-esteem comes out.

And yeah, I will also say, if calling out appropriation is the only thing you’re doing to help Native people, if you are just shouting “Don’t wear headdresses!” and don’t actually get why it’s a problem, then yes, you’re kinda failing as an ally. But appropriation is part of the violence being done to indigenous people. 

You did get one thing right though, we are sick of your bullshit. Very, very sick of it. 

Here, I just got served, everybody reblog this shit. The righteous smackdown has commenced and I apparently had it coming. This is me shutting up and listening, with my thanks to sofriel for correcting the ever-loving shit out of me.

I have been using the phrase ‘spirit animal’ a lot.  Stupid white privilege.  Apologies if I’ve ever offended anyone and I’m going to stop.  

This gives me hope for humanity. Also Patronus is the new, super rad, non appropriative filler for spirit animal. All in favor? Good.

don’t use the term spirit animal. period.
(this goes doubly, imo, if you get pissed about people misusing words from your religion).

(Source: schroedingers-economy, via anotheralexandros)

Why you shouldn’t use the term “Spirit Animal”

givemeunicorns:

phoenixwrites:

agentotter:

sofriel:

fralusans-ana-marein:

thekal:

agentotter:

exploitationiscontagious:

*snip*

No. Nooooooooooooooo. No. God, I would like to make a rule where non-Natives are not allowed to make any sort of statements on the appropriativeness or non-appropriativeness of “spirit animals” ever again. 

Fact 1: I am Native. So-called “spirit animals” are part of my spiritual tradition, which is Metis-Anishinaabe. They’re usually called by the Anishinaabe word, which I am not putting on the internet, or “spirit/dream helpers” in English. Natives in fact are not, gasp, homogeneous, and omg some of us have different spiritual traditions than others! (look, I can do the obnoxious patronizing voice too!) And so just because you point to three Native people from cultures that don’t have such a tradition doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist! This tradition is a VERY sacred one, and thanks to colonization it is being forgotten in huge amounts, to the extent that most young Natives don’t even really know much about it—a situation exacerbated by the popular appropriation of “spirit animals.”

Fact 2: Yes, people around the world have and had similar traditions of spirit helpers, who are frequently animals. HOWEVER, the concept of spirit animals in popular culture came from anthropologists’ descriptions of Native American religions (see Durkheim, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life). It doesn’t matter if the ancient Celts had similar practices, because spirit animals are associated in the popular imagination with Natives, not Celts. I and other Natives regularly get asked, “Can you tell me what my spirit animal is??” Irish people, for instance, do not. And “it’s not Native, it’s New Age” my ass. Where the hell do you think the New Agers got it from? They got it from anthropology textbooks and from the hippies who went to the reservations in the 60s seeking Noble Savage enlightenment. 

Fact 3: The fact that spirit animals in popular culture are a bastardized form of Native traditions does not mean they are not appropriative or harmful. Why? Because the popular idea of it comes to supersede the original meaning, infantilizing our traditions. Non-Natives start to think that they understand our traditions, and that they are primitive, rather than actually consulting and trying to understand. This gets bad when those non-Natives are the ones with control over our legal ability to practice our religion. Non-Native appropriation of the sweatlodge incorrectly done and causing death, for example, has resulted in greater restrictions on Native sweatlodges, because the non-Native interpretation was assumed to be representative. 

Fact 4: Appropriation is a part of Native oppression, not a decoy issue, good lord. This attitude of popular ownership of Native traditions causes people to deny Natives the right to practice our religion, which is tied to the colonization and denial of access to our landbase since our practices are often linked to specific places, which is tied to the situation on reservations. It’s tied to the psychological state of our people, because you try growing up with having everyone making an utter mockery of your religion and see how your self-esteem comes out.

And yeah, I will also say, if calling out appropriation is the only thing you’re doing to help Native people, if you are just shouting “Don’t wear headdresses!” and don’t actually get why it’s a problem, then yes, you’re kinda failing as an ally. But appropriation is part of the violence being done to indigenous people. 

You did get one thing right though, we are sick of your bullshit. Very, very sick of it. 

Here, I just got served, everybody reblog this shit. The righteous smackdown has commenced and I apparently had it coming. This is me shutting up and listening, with my thanks to sofriel for correcting the ever-loving shit out of me.

I have been using the phrase ‘spirit animal’ a lot.  Stupid white privilege.  Apologies if I’ve ever offended anyone and I’m going to stop.  

This gives me hope for humanity. Also Patronus is the new, super rad, non appropriative filler for spirit animal. All in favor? Good.

don’t use the term spirit animal. period.
(this goes doubly, imo, if you get pissed about people misusing words from your religion).

(Source: schroedingers-economy, via anotheralexandros)

Posted 1 year ago & Filed under pagan, pagan*, cultural appropriation, 8,850 notes

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    So that answers that, and is relevant to another discussion I’m having. I would also suggest taking a peek into some of...
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