© Lori Lappin, the Witch of WITCHCRAFTS ARTISAN ALCHEMY®


I recently was asked what I think about 'cultural appropriation'. That's a good question, especially since I personally base my own spirituality in the ways of and to the honor of my ancestors.

Personally, I think that it is optimal for most people to ground their own spiritual development in the ways of their ancestors. The problem with trying to do that is, first, many people don't really know their own deep ancestries or who their own ancestors were beyond the past few generations (if that many).

Sure, a person can make a reasonable first guess based on knowledge of their near relatives and personal physical characteristics, but that is really only a place to start. For example, some African-Americans are surprised when they find out they have a some European genetic ancestry despite the color of their skin. Similarly, some European-Americans are surprised when they find out that they have some African genetic ancestry, also despite the color of their skin. So, a person can never really know without genetic testing what his or her deep ancestry may be.

Second, I also believe that people who are drawn to practices seemingly not ancestral to themselves either have ancestors they don't know about or are people who may be still looking for a spiritual path that fits. Everyone's journey toward finding a way that fits perfectly for them is different.

Third, I also believe that our ancestors may include spiritual teachers or family that are not necessarily blood related - for example, people who are adopted are not only adopted by their living relatives, they also become adopted by the ancestors of those who adopted them into the family - such adoption into the clan was formally recognized in ancient times through rites such as 'blood brotherhood' and ritual acceptance into the clan (which is the pre-Christian origin of the 'baptismal' sprinkling of babies with water).

Fourth, cultural learning is dynamic, organic and ever-changing. Human beings learn from other human beings, incorporating new knowledge and new ways of doing things into old ways of doing things all the time. If we stop doing that as human beings, we become regressive intellectually, spiritually and culturally. Those of us living today are the Ancestors of our children and our children's children - we have the right and the responsibility to mold a healthy future - incorporating new knowledge as befits the well-being and spiritual growth of our descendants. It is right and appropriate to accept what is good and to reject what is bad for our descendants.

Consequently, I do not support judging people who 'seemingly' appropriate the spiritual practices of other 'seemingly' unrelated cultures (unless, of course, they are clearly doing it to cause strife). True ancestral bonds are not always as they seem to be to both ourselves and others.