Upcoming Events at The Sea Witch of Cocoa Village

Sip & Stroll Christmas in July

Historic Cocoa Village

Saturday July 30th 5pm-9pm
Visit and reply at facebook.com/events/531007581366983

First Harvest (Lammas) Gathering & Ritual

at Angels Oasis

Sunday July 31st 5pm
For More Info Visit and reply at facebook.com/events/361773542709459
Summer Spell Candle Sale 10% off*
* Includes Sea Witch Spell Candles Only. Vendor Candles not included. Valid In Store Only

Guided Meditation: Journey to the Spirit World

This guided meditation had been originally written to be used around Samhain, but it can be done at anytime of the year. It sends you on a journey to the spirit world, enabling you to communicate and connect with the spirits of the underworld. This may be done at your ancestral altar or somewhere that is comfortable and where you can relax. Choose soft music to play during your mediation to help set the mood.

Journey to the Spirit World Guided Meditation

Begin by lighting a candle and some incense. Turn off the lights. Close your eyes, make yourself comfortable and relax. Next begin to prepare for the meditation by breathing in deeply through your nose, filling your belly, hold for a count of three and exhale through your mouth. Do this three times, or until you feel relaxed, centered and open.

Become aware of your feet on the floor. Feel your energy move through your feet, down through the floor, down through this building directly to the Earth. Feel the Earth’s energy joining with your own energy. Now, draw the energy up through your body. Feel the life-force move through you. As you feel this movement, become aware that you are walking through the woods. Leaves blanket the ground and the air is crisp. You are walking along a path that follows a small ridge overlooking a slow-moving river. Up ahead the path splits to skirt around two trees that have grown in the middle of the path. These trees are about two feet apart. These are the gateway trees. Feel and see the energy of the trees as a doorway. When you are ready, move onward through these trees. The path curves to the left, but you continue forward on the path. You can see that the ground slopes downward into a small valley where a stream trickles down a little stepped waterfall. You move forward down the steep slope where bare rock provides rugged steps. As you descend, You can begin to feel the energy of the land. The only sound you hear is the trickling water farther down the slope. Looking upward at the rock and earth below the path you left before climbing down you can see a few small ferns have taken root and makes a straight right angle that towers twenty feet above you. Not too far ahead within this rock wall there is a narrow alcove. Looking at the alcove, you see a crack like door of a cave. You are drawn to enter this cave. As you reach the opening, you notice there is a path that enters the cave. Looking inside, there is a wall on your right, but the left seems to slope away into darkness. There is a soft light from the rock above; just enough to allow you to see the path. You follow the path which begins to descend further into the earth. Although, you are underground it is not cold. It is as though the earth itself is providing warmth. As you continue on, it begins to get darker and the floor begins to slope downward. Just as feel the darkness overcoming your vision, you begin to see a light up ahead. Feeling safe you enter through the light. The light is the bridge between our world and the spirit world. Here you may encounter its inhabitants and converse with them. Take a few moments to explore and connect with this world.

When you are ready, begin your return journey to the living world. If you have been speaking with one of the beings, thank them for their gift of wisdom. In return, offer them a gift. It may be a piece of jewelry that you wear, something in your pocket, or a piece of your clothing. Give something that has value to you and give it freely. Begin by retracing your steps through the cave, then through the doorway where you find yourself standing next to the wall of rock. Climb up the slope, using the roots of the trees to steady you. Find the path you began your journey on and follow it to the gateway trees. As you walk through them, the forest around you begins to fade and you become aware of the room you are sitting in. Feel your feet on the floor mindful of the earth’s energy that has been holding you. Let excess energy flow into the Earth as you return to your everyday consciousness.

When you are ready, open your eyes.

A Witch at Home: A little on Magick in the Kitchen

The kitchen has been the heart and hearth of many homes, past and present. When you have a gathering in your home, where do most of your guests end up? The kitchen, of course! The kitchen is like an old pair of sweat pants. It’s comfortable. It’s warm. It’s where you watched your mom make your favorite meals and ate cake batter off your grandmother’s spoon. It’s a familiar place to be, even if you’re in unfamiliar surroundings. This connection to the kitchen is the same as our ancestors had with the hearth of the house. The hearth was the center of the home, it provided heat on cold winter nights, and it was where the meals of the day were cooked. The hearth was also the focal point for many magickal and spiritual practices. It was and acted much like a household altar. Many of today’s fireplace traditions can be traced back to the days of the hearth’s predominance in the home.

Magick in the kitchen and hearth goes back thousands of years and its practice can found across many cultures. Fire and stone ovens were thought to be magickal because of their transformative powers. As society progressed, a large iron cauldron may have hung regularly over the fire of the hearth. In many households, this is where dinners were cooked and laundry was washed, and medicines were made, all in the same pot. What we consider old world Witchcraft, folk magick, and superstitions today were common practices that could be found in the days of the hearth. Many of which can now be seen in the two modern paths or “traditions”, known as Kitchen and Green Witchcraft.

A few years ago, there was a TV commercial that would show someone drawing a heart in peanut butter before making a sandwich and then presenting it to someone. Could you just see the potential of a spell happening to all the unsuspecting mothers copying this act, if for the moment they unconsciously were in a magickal state of mind.

Kitchen Witchcraft is a unique modern tradition of many solitary practitioners. It is about finding sacredness in everyday simple acts such as cooking and cleaning. Kitchen Witches make the simple chores of everyday life a sacred and magickal act, and for many, this is also how they honor their gods and goddesses.  Kitchen witchery can be seen as one of the oldest forms of a magickal practice in that it follows the traditions of what some see as the wise women of ancient times.  Even if you do not practice any sort of kitchen magick, the power of food and how it sparks emotions and memories is almost magick in itself. Is there a meal or dish that creates a feeling of happiness or love? It is this magick that can be shared with anyone. From cooking a meal for a significant other on Valentine’s Day to making a pot of chicken soup for a sick friend, everyone adds a little magick to their cooking. At its simplest form, it’s about the intent and emotion behind the cooking. For Witches and non-Witches alike, we all add a little magick to what we prepare. Then there is also the concept of using food itself within spell work. Spells that use food or those that are focused within the kitchen are some of the oldest practices of folk magicks. This may be due to the easy access and commonality of food in our lives. Today, the hearth can be seen as a stove and in what has become known as kitchen witchery. From baking bread with bay leaves to egg divination, kitchen-based magick and spells can be found in every tradition and culture.

Bon appetit!

Guided Meditation: The Cauldron

cauldron-1

As Witches and magickal practitioners, most understand that the common tools used are just that, tools. They are props to help us focus and create a magickal environment that our subconscious uses to direct our energy and intent. Although, they do hold certain energies within themselves, they are not necessarily needed. The idea is that you have these tools within you. This guided meditation uses items that you create and visualize within your own mind. This was written for a meditation group that met in a place where any sort of fire could not be used. It provided the group a way to do a release ritual without the use of fire and tools. Through this guided meditation they would not only practice visualization, but also understand that one does not always need tools to perform magick.

The Cauldron Guided Meditation

Begin by lighting a candle and some incense. Turn off the lights. Close your eyes, make yourself comfortable and relax. Next begin to prepare for the meditation by breathing in deeply through your nose, filling your belly, hold for a count of three and exhale through your mouth. Do this three times, or until you feel relaxed, centered and open.

Feel the room around you, acknowledge the glow of the candle and scent of incense.
As you breath in, begin to visualize the smoke of the incense circling you, surrounding you.
It begins to create a bubble around you. This bubble will protect your body on your journey.

As you breathe, the smoke now begins to enter your body through your skin.
Where the smoke enters you begin to feel a tingling sensation, that starts to encompass your whole body.
In your mind, look down at your hands, you can see that your spirit self is starting to separate from your body. Allow your conscienceless to leave your physical body and go with your spirit self.
Visualize your spiritual body begin to stand up and walk toward your front door.
Reach for the door knob and open the door.
Upon opening the door you can see that the world outside has changed.
It is not what you normally would see.
Begin to walk through the threshold, taking notice of the new environment.
In the far distance you can see a large metal pot, that resembles a cauldron, sitting next to a tree stump.
There is no one around but you feel that you are being called to this place.
As you begin to walk and investigate further, take notice of any animals, plants or stones that you may come across, they may help you later to determine where you are.

As you approach the tree stump you can see that there is a piece of old parchment, a black feather quill and a few matches sitting on it.
You move closer to look into the cauldron, and see that it is filled with water and that is so dark that it looks endless. You can see your reflection in its mirrored surface.
In an instant your reflection begins to move, involuntary of yourself.
It begins to explain that you are to use the parchment and quill to write down all things that you wish to remove, overcome and let go of in your life.
As you turn back to the tree stump and reach for the paper and quill you already begin to feel lighter and freer than before. Begin writing down all that you wish……..

Once you reach the point that you cannot write down any more, your reflection continues
“ Now fold the paper three times and burn the parchment, allowing these things to burn away.”

You take up and light the matches, the smell of sulfur plums around your hand.
Lighting the folded paper and watching it burn, you can feel all that you wish to be removed is burning away with it. These things will no longer return with you to your physical body.
As the paper burns closer to your fingers, drop the last few remaining paper into the cauldron.
As the burning paper hits the waters surface the air around you begins to fill with a vapor mist that grows into a thick fog.

After a few seconds the fog lifts and you notice that you are back in the room with your physical self sitting in your protective bubble, walk over to your physical self and sit down into yourself, allowing your consciousness to return to your physical body.

Once you feel you are completely back, open your eyes.

A New Addition to The Sea Witch Family

Please Welcome our newest addition to the Sea Witch Family, Oracle Hekataios!

Oracle Hekataios is an active priest and oracle of the Goddess Hekate and the God Dionysos. He has been in oracular work for 15 years, dispensing prophecy, healing, invigoration of the aura and energy centers, as well as ancestral contact and ancestral healing.

He will be offering In-Person Mediumship and Healing Services at The Sea Witch of Cocoa Village

Oracular Mediumship w/ Oracle Hekataios

Oracle offers purification ceremonies of lustral water and smoke with anointing oil to break curses, cut cords, and facilitate inner healing. Every reading comes with such ceremonies, thus enabling the individual to be pure and clear before the spirits as the person prepares to embark on a new chapter of their life. 

Book an Appointment

Healing Services w/ Oracle Hekataios

Oracle begins with a ceremony at purification and anointing using lustral water, sacred incense, and oil to seal the aura. This facilitates the proper space to healing and growth. In working with trance and ceremony, Oracle uses the spirits to dispel spiritual ailments, imbalances, and hindrances helping you heal and to spiritual cleanse you. 

Book an Appointment

Connecting with the Elements: Earth

Coming full circle and finishing up our “Connecting with the Elements” series!

As with the previous posts of fire and water, we will focus on not only the element itself, but its associated direction and an animal spirit associated with it, The Mighty Buffalo. For many of the indigenous plains tribes of America, the Buffalo was life. In many ways it meant stability for a time and an abundance of food and needed materials for the tribe. Buffalo is a lot like working with elephant and sometimes just as stubborn. Buffalo helps provide grounding after walking a path of emotion and the spirit spark of the other directions of water and fire.  He is of the land and yet is the land.

Buffalo powerfully sits in the North, he lives and moves through the dust and dirt. Lets now take a look at the element of earth.

Being able to connect with the earth is fairly easy compared to any other element because everything we do is on the earth. Physically speaking, the earth is what we live upon, we build our homes on and with the things we take and create from it. We plant seeds in the earth to grow food to sustain life. We depend on its stability for us to grow both physically and spiritually.  The element of earth and its energy of stability, logic, patience and how it connects to our own bodies and the way we live is a good start in working the element.

Other Ways to Connect:

Focus on the objects around you, your relationship with them, your attachment to them. Notice your relationship to all physical objects. What do you depend on and limit their use.

Explore your body’s senses and what triggers them.

Plant a flower(something that will return each year) with your energies visualize it mixing with the earth energies.

Devotionals

Create a devotional routine to a Deity you have a connection with or that has a connection with the element of earth, consider doing this with a Deity that has some form of linking the element in their mythos or to you personally. You do not have to make your devotional lengthy, just spend a few moments with your Deity, asking for blessings, advice, or just thanking them.

Divination

One divination method other than tarot that is closely related to the element of earth is runes. Usually constructed of wood or stone these divination tools are inscribed with symbols or letters of an alphabet. Take this a step further by creating your own “runes” for divination. Spend some time collecting and searching for rocks, sticks, or mold them out of clay. They do not need to be perfect or extravagant. They can be rather simple and crude. You may lay them out in a spread used for tarot or research the many ways they can be used. This is a great way to attune to the element in a hands-on-approach while learning a new method of divination. Once you are finished try them out by accessing the element of earth within yourself.

You can also incorporate the use of tarot in when working with the element of earth. Here are a few ways to use tarot and the element:

– Refresh your knowledge of all the pentacle cards of the deck.

– Pick a card that is associated with the element to mediate on each day.

– Use the spread below or create your own that focuses on the magickal correspondences of earth.

EARTH tarot spread

Place card 1 on top left. Place card 2 slightly right under card 1. Place card 3 right of card 1. Place card 4 next to card 3. Place card 5 next to card 2 and card 6 in the bottom center.

  1. Your lessons. What have you learned?
  2. Your rock. What are your securities?
  3. Your growth. How have you changed?
  4. Your focus. What you need to focus on?
  5. Your spirit. Where are you on your path?
  6. Your roots. What are your strengths?

Some other things you can do

Spend at least 30 minutes to 1 hour in meditation to connect to the energy of the element of earth. 

Research and learn about how other traditions and cultures view and use the element of earth. There are just as many concepts of the elements as there are the traditions that hold them. They can be found in the folklore, legends, and myths of almost every culture around the world. We can even see their influences in our own modern culture, especially in the entertainment and literary culture. Every tradition and culture use some “form” to represent the energy of the elements. These can be seen as dragons, angels, and the more physically related forms such as animals and trees. Focus on only the element of earth and its conceptual view in different traditions and culture.

Study the correspondences of herbs, oils, and crystals associated with the element of earth. Create your own incense or oil recipe. Various cultures have been making associations between the physical and the spirit for thousands of years. This maybe because of the belief that all things are connected. So, we must then conclude that some things work better together, in a similar manner, contain a similar energy thus we have what we call magickal correspondences. These correspondences can be used to connect and strengthen our own energy. Research and learn the attributes of our world that are connected to the element of earth and use them to create something magickal.

Create and perform a spell using the element of earth as its focus. The use of stones, crystals, and the planting of seeds are some common things that can be found in earth element magick. When creating your spell, think of an intent that will help balance “earth” in yourself.

Connecting with the Elements: Air

bird flying

“The east wind is my lodge, it is powerful;  The air is my medicine”-Siksikaitsitapi Song

Air is the manifestation of movement, freshness, and communication and of the intellect. Sound is another manifestation of this element. As an element, it is invisible, but its reality can be felt in the air that we breathe. When we invite the energy of air into our lives, we invite change and inspiration. A great way to connect with air  is to express the qualities and correspondences of the element through art. You do not need to be a best-selling author or be able to paint a masterpiece. It is about using the qualities of the element to help us understand its energy and it can be fun too.

If your looking for more of a relaxing way to connect with the element, there are many meditations out there you can follow. The use of air is extremely common in and is an important aspect of meditation, especially with its connection with incense and breath work. When we are balanced with air our minds are clear, precise, focused, and open to new ideas and perspectives.

anise aroma art bazaar

Speaking about incense, why do we burn incense? What are the reasons why certain herbs are used? Where does the concept of incense hail from? Who else has similar beliefs of its use? When and how do others use incense?  Try to answer these or something similar or create an incense with the herbal correspondences associated with the element of air.

Consider also researching and learning about how other traditions and cultures view and use the element of air. Many of the ancient cultures believed that the wind was influenced by the direction from which it originated from. If the wind blew from the south, it represented fire and was said to generate passion, warmth, or vitality. A wind moving from the west embodied the qualities of water; from the north, earth energies; from the east, it doubled the strength of the air element. Air can be found in almost every tradition and cultural spirituality. You may come to find that what you may have been taught about the elements and the directions they are associated with may not fit into your personal spirituality. Its all on the winds of change.

In contemporary Witchcraft, many Witches often do air element magick to inspire new ideas, improve communication or cooperation between people, or strengthen mental abilities. For instance, if you are taking an important test or taking on a creative project, consider performing an air spell. Air spells tend to take effect quickly, but the results are not usually as long lasting as those of earth spells. The wind direction can also be used in numerous types of air magick. For example, in banishing, always scatter magickal ingredients to the wind moving away from you to take away a problem. In the magickal sense, air holds the energy of the mind, of intellect, inspiration, and imagination. It is ideas, knowledge, dreams, and wishes. These are just some intentions that you might want to focus on while creating and performing spell to help you connect with the element.

Lastly, divination and air can be very rewarding and useful. Air can be used for a variety of divination methods. Whereas, some read clouds, trees, or sand by throwing it to the wind and seeing what patterns it forms. The element of air can also carry messages that can be heard in a multiple of ways. The Aborigines of Australia believe that the winds carry messages from the Divine. In the tarot, air is represented by swords and can reveal the messages from the mind. Use the spread below or choose your own method that uses air as the holder of information.

AIRtarot spread

Place card 1 on the far left and place card 2 under card 1. Then place card 3 on the top center. Place card 4 on the far bottom right and card 5 on top of card 4.

  1. Your thoughts. What do you think of yourself?
  2. Your wall. What blocks you?
  3. Your scale. What keeps you in balance?
  4. Your rope. What grounds you?
  5. Your creativity. What inspires you?

I “totem” so! – Respecting “Living Cultures”

totem_poles_stanley_park_vancouver_december_2010

Cultural appropriation has been a phrase that has been showing up in many areas of social media,‭ ‬especially within the Pagan and now even in the indigenous communities.‭ ‬Just recently there was an interesting conversation in a Facebook group that sparked the idea of this blog entry and we thought we would write about it.‭ ‬We want to express that this post is based on opinions of the information that was found viable on the topic and through the experience of one of our owners own connection to a “Living Culture” and by no means constitutes,‭ ‬as a factual study or anthropological theory.‭

With not mentioning names or personal situations,‭ ‬the above conversation focused on someone asking for help with interrupting a vision they had involving a‭ “‬totem‭”‬.‭ ‬Whereas another member of the group,‭ ‬respectfully but sternly pointed out the use of the word‭ “‬totem‭” ‬is disrespectful to the Native American tribes of the northwest as well as pointing out it’s over use in the Pagan and New-age communities.‭ Agreed! ‭ ‬Although,‭ ‬it is not so much in the actual word being used,‭ as it has become part of our social language, ‬but more so in its improper use and meaning.‭ ‬What made the conversation even more interesting was when an admin for the page joined in,‭ ‬assuming it was to keep the peace before it escalated into an unfruitful debate.‭ ‬The admin’s interjection of a reminder to respect one’s personal beliefs is what really raised an eyebrow.‭ ‬Whereas,‭ ‬what constitutes respect for one’s beliefs and how far does that carry over when it is appropriating a‭ “‬living culture‭” ? ‬and who has the right to correct it? To answer these questions, it is best to first look at what “cultural appropriation” really is,‭ ‬and what the general thoughts are at this time.‭

According to the Oxford Reference site,‭ ‬which‭ ‬states that cultural appropriation is “A term used to describe the taking over of creative or artistic forms, themes, or practices by one cultural group from another.‬” It continues on,‭ ‬but let’s stop here for a moment.‭ ‬If we were to use this definition and apply it to our modern culture,‭ ‬we would all be guilty of‭ “‬cultural appropriation‭”‬.‭ ‬As a modern society we have adopted many cultural ideals and facets from almost every part of the world.‭ ‬This is what is known as cultural globalization or in this case cultural adoption.‭ ‬The fact is,‭ ‬that almost everything we do and say is a result of a mixing of cultures.‭ ‬From what we choose to wear in the morning to being polite when someone sneezes.‭ ‬They all have their cultural origins from somewhere in the world,‭ ‬yet we do these everyday things without a second thought of where they came from.‭ ‬In fact,‭ ‬much of our modern global culture can be attributed to the rise of intercontinental travel,‭ ‬whereas the world got smaller and we began to‭ “‬borrow‭” ‬from different cultures and incorporate them into our culture.‭ ‬This can be seen even more so since the creation of the‭ ‬Internet.‭ We could take this further and get into colonization but that could lead us down a rabbit hole that we choose not to go down.

On a smaller scale,‭ ‬a good example of cultural‭ “‬borrowing‭” ‬can be seen within the United States,‭ ‬where almost everything has been the result the world’s cultures living side by side.‭ ‬We can even go smaller on our scale and find these same patterns within America’s communities.‭ ‬This is just what happens when people come together‭; ‬over time they share and adopt the surrounding traditions,‭ ‬dialects,‭ ‬and even religious beliefs.‭

So,‭ ‬if it is something that has gone on for decades,‭ ‬why is it now a problem‭? ‬Well,‭ ‬that brings us back to Oxford’s explanation of cultural appropriation.‭ ‬It continues on,‭ ‬stating that‭ “It is in general used to describe Western appropriations of non‐Western or non‐white forms, and carries connotations of exploitation and dominance.” ‬Here is where it gets fuzzy for many people,‭ ‬and rightfully so.‭ Mainly because ‬how does one know where cultural integration‭ (‬borrowing‭) ends and cultural exploitation‭ (‬stealing‭) begins,‭ ‬truth is no one knows for sure.‭ ‬Which is why this topic has become so controversial in recent years.‭

elvis_presley_first_national_television_appearance_1956

A perfect example of the fine lines between the‭ “‬borrowing‭” ‬from or the‭ “‬stealing‭” ‬from a minority culture can be found right on our radios.‭ ‬Today,‭ ‬we can turn on the radio and hear thousands of different genres of music,‭ ‬all of which has progressed from the rock-n-roll and rhythm and blues of the‭ ‬1940‭‘‬s and‭ ‬50‭‘‬s.‭ ‬During this time,‭ ‬African American musicians weren’t widely accepted in American society despite the interest in their musical styling.‭ ‬So to make the music more marketable to white audiences,‭ ‬the record companies would use white musicians to replicate the music and style of the African American community culture with no mention of its origins.‭ ‬Sadly,‭ ‬many of the African American musicians who paved the way for rock-n-roll never saw any compensation for their contribution to the music.‭ ‬Even to this day there is still a debate between music historians as to where it all originated from and if it was integrated‭ (‬borrowed‭) ‬or appropriated‭ (‬stolen‭) and in some cases with good reason, some of the white artists grew up within the African American culture via their neighborhoods.

Okay,‭ ‬so you are probably saying to‭ ‬yourself that was then,‭ ‬we have come so far as a society that things like that don’t happen in that way anymore.‭ ‬Thankfully,‭ ‬now we have laws protecting intellectual rights for all,‭ ‬at least in cases of musical creations.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬it still can be found in other places,‭ ‬especially in our present day pop culture.‭ ‬Again,‭ ‬we can turn to our musical influences to find the topic of cultural appropriation still being an issue,‭ ‬where over the last few years,‭ ‬music artists and celebrities such as‭ ‬Madonna,‭ ‬Justin Beiber, and even Gorden Ramsey have all been accused of cultural appropriation. Which begs the question where does the line get drawn in artistic expression? Sadly, These controversies and concerns are not just found in the music industry and pop culture,‭ ‬but in neo-religious circles of our culture as well.‭ ‬At most,‭ ‬many see it as a form of racism,‭ ‬rather than a matter of respect for a living culture.‭ ‬Depending on the circumstances,‭ ‬it can be a matter of both or just one,‭ ‬which is why there are so many different perspectives on the topic.‭

Now that we have looked into what cultural appropriation is or might be,‭ ‬at least generally speaking.‭ ‬Is it possible that we can answer our preceding questions of‭ “‬what constitutes respect for one’s beliefs and how far does that carry over when it is appropriating a living culture‭” and to whom has the right to correct it? Especially,‭ ‬as in the context of the Facebook conversation.‭

Nope,‭ ‬not yet,‭ ‬there is still one more important part of the conversation that should be addressed.‭ ‬The concept of‭ ‬Pagan and the New-age ideals of respecting one’s spiritual beliefs and choices.‭ ‬This is an agreeable model of having respect for one’s personal beliefs and path.‭ ‬One should be able to have the right to have their own personal experiences, to do as they please,‭ ‬worship whom they please,‭ ‬in any way they please in their own PERSONAL spiritual beliefs.‭ ‬In a way that is what separates us from the dogma of many of conventional religions.‭ ‬However! you have to ask yourself a few questions,‭ ‬is it “‬stealing‭” ‬from a living culture? Are you stating that it is your own practice and do you have the rights to certain practices? This is where it can become disrespectful and may even cross the lines into cultural appropriation.‭ ‬It is rather interesting that one of the biggest things Pagans (a word that comes out of Christian culture) complain about‭; ‬is how Christianity stole from the Pagans,‭ ‬yet,‭ ‬they are guilty of the same exact thing.‭ Whereas, many of the modern pagan practices used today actually have more of a Christian foundation then what is assumed as “the old way”. ‬Many of us‭ “‬Steal‭” ‬from the indigenous and esoteric cultures of the world and make them our own.‭ ‬This is not to say that it is done with a purposeful intent,‭ ‬most often it is done out of ignorance and improper education.‭ ‬You might have noticed that throughout this entry the term‭ “‬living culture‭” has been used ‬in regards to appropriating cultural aspects.‭ ‬There is a reason for this,‭ ‬one cannot‭ “‬steal‭” ‬from what is not truly known.‭ ‬In other words,‭ ‬or rather a better explanation of this is that many of today’s Pagan religions and practices are based on what we know or think we know about ancient cultures.‭ ‬They are a mismatched,‭ ‬botched up,‭ ‬combination of cultural traditions that are in general not practiced anymore or are based on a modern interpretation of them through the founders of modern Witchcraft, such as Gerald Gardner. Even the Re-constructionist religions are only based on theory and limited historical texts.‭ ‬So there can be no cultural appropriation ‬when that original culture no longer exists as it was.‭ ‬It is when we start to incorporate specific teachings and practices of the‭ “‬living cultures‭” ‬that we begin to cross the lines of what we call today as cultural appropriation.‭ ‬We can see this especially in the use of the many indigenous practices within the New-age communities and even in many of the Pagan communities.‭ ‬Where you may find pseudo sweat lodges and ayahuasca ceremonies being offered by non-tribal peoples.‭ ‬This can be considered cultural appropriation‭, however even here there are fine lines. ‬To some these are sacred ceremonies of specific tribal traditions that are often misused,‭ ‬misrepresented,‭ ‬and‭ “‬stolen‭” ‬from their respected‭ “‬living cultures‭”‬, while others see them for all to use to spiritually better humanity.‭ However, it all depends on its origins and the teachings. ‬That is not to say that one cannot have a meaningful spiritual experience in taking part in such activities,‭ ‬it is just that you may be supporting the theft of a sacred ceremony in the process.‭ ‬Many people also view such things as drumming,‭ ‬smudging,‭ ‬and the practice of using sacred fires as cultural appropriation.‭ ‬Although,‭ ‬some of these practices can incorporate the‭ “‬stealing‭” ‬of a particular ceremony the actual practice is more of‭ “‬borrowing‭”‬ as they can also be found in non-living cultures as well.‭ ‬‬In the case of our Facebook conversation,‭ ‬we see the use of the word‭ “‬totem‭”‬,‭ ‬The word‭ “‬totem‭” ‬was and is still used by the Pacific Northwest first nations tribes of America (a living culture). This word along with many others (nameste, shaman etc) are often used inappropriately from it’s original intent or cultural meaning.

The word itself derives from Ojibwe‭ (‬Chippewa‭) ‬word odoodem,‭ ‬which roughly translates to‭ “‬his kinship group‭”‬.‭ ‬Totems are representations of spirit beings or a symbol of a particular group of people,‭ ‬such as a family,‭ ‬clan,‭ ‬lineage,‭ ‬or tribe.‭ ‬They are also considered sacred objects.‭

The term‭ “‬totem‭” ‬has been‭ “‬stolen‭” ‬by many of the New-age and Pagan communities who have either no involvement in it’s tribal practices or uses it’s meaning improperly as a term for their personal spirit or guide.‭ ‬Partly this is due to it being often used in scholarly circles as an umbrella term just as the word shaman is used for anything related to an indigenous practice.‭ ‬The word totem has been commonly used inappropriately to describe the belief in guardian spirits and deities of the indigenous peoples of America,‭ ‬Africa,‭ ‬Asia,‭ ‬Australia,‭ ‬and even Europe.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬these cultures have their own words for guardian spirits in their own languages,‭ ‬and do not call these spirits,‭ “‬totems‭”‬.‭

Because the word is both misused and continues to be a part of a‭ “‬living culture‭” ‬it can be considered cultural appropriation.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬the associated practice of using guardian spirits or certain tribal meanings is not.‭

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Another tribal phrase that is often used in the New-age and Pagan communities (although, its become less favorable over the years) is Aho‭! ‬Again,‭ ‬here we see another tribal word misused from a‭ “‬living culture‭”‬.‭ Unfortunately, it is unclear whether or not it has been‭ “‬borrowed‭” ‬or‭ “‬stolen‭” mainly due to the open use of it within the powwow circuits and the open teachings of many Lokata members or if it is a throwback of the 70’s new age movement. ‬The word itself originates from the language of the Lakota people where it means‭ “‬hello‭”‬.‭ ‬It can also be found in the Kiowa and Cherokee tribes,‭ ‬but‭ ‬its use is entirely different.‭ ‬The use of this term has been adopted and wrongly used by many within the New-age and Pagan communities,‭ ‬where it is often used to indicate agreement.‭ ‬

So how far does respecting one’s spiritual beliefs go when there is an apparent appropriation of a living culture and who has the right to challenge that.‭ ‬Honestly,‭ the only people who have a right to challenge that is someone who is of currently or from that living culture itself. Even there it can become tricky because there is disagreement within those cultures as well, especially between the elders and younger generations. Which is why it is best to leave the issue to only those are currently involved in the said culture that may be being appropriated within their own community or better yet, follow the “two wrongs don’t make a right”, and just let it be. If your voice is louder than the voices of a living culture you are just as much as the problem as the appropriator and sometimes just being an ally just means you are a supporter and not a warrior.