In this video, I chat with you about some of my latest thoughts on the topic of cultural appropriation, but focused narrowly on cultural appropriation as it would pertain to religious or spiritual practices.
So this isn’t going to cover cultural appropriation in the fashion industry, in the naming of sports teams, or when commodifying a minority culture to the point of objectification. I’m speaking specifically about adopting the religious or spiritual practices of a culture that isn’t necessarily one that’s part of your DNA.
Among Western mystery traditions, you often hear about eclectic witchcraft, can even loop chaos magic into the scope of this topic, and those who observe esoteric practices in a way that blends different cultures and religions. Taoist religious scholars refer to this particular way of practicing religion as syncretism. I say Taoist here because Taoism, as a religion, tends to be syncretic.
In Bell Chimes In #4, I make a case for syncretic religious practice. Today very few of us stay sequestered within a homogenous framework. Not only do we travel physically to interact with different cultures, become geographical and cultural transplants ourselves, but with the Internet at our fingertips and our own curiosities to navigate that web, we have access to a diversity of religious ideas in a way our ancestors did not.
As we engage with different faces of the Holy Spirit, we’re able to discover and formulate our own unique Key of access to that Holy Spirit, or connection to Shen (I talk about this in the video), that fits our physiology, karma, life experiences, and psychic imprint. To not reach out and seize upon such opportunities is what I’d describe as rejecting authenticity. Following one fixed religious doctrine from its Point A to its Point Z that conforms to what a textbook says is historical is not “authenticity.” Authenticity, I argue, is about following what’s in your bones and in ways that maybe no one else will ever truly understand. And what’s being guided by your bones may appear to be eclectic.
Presenting “Bell Chimes In” #3. I’ll be talking about initiation rites.
Slowly but surely, I’m making my way through all the fun and provocative topics for conversation that have been swimming around the online metaphysical and psycho-spiritual circuits. We covered deity in episode #1, then the placebo effect and magic in #2, and now initiation rites.
As I commented on in the video, even if you’re a solitary practitioner–perhaps especially if you are a solitary practitioner–an initiation rite is worth your consideration. See it as leaving behind an old perspective, detaching from something that wasn’t working for you, and vowing to take a particular disciplined path in esoterica guided by particular forces you will be committing to work with, whether that’s a patron deity, a specific modality of craft or a tradition of magic, or just dedication to closer future attunement with your guides or ancestors. However you want to frame it, this is about you accepting for yourself the role of the initiate and committing to something that is going to be a dedicated, regimented way of practice from this point on.
Little needs to be said about initiation to one who is on a traditional path, following a set lineage, or who will become a member of an established mystery tradition. So this is addressing the solitary practitioners. Start by thinking about garments for dress that is going to be out of the ordinary for you. I’d even go so far as to acquire garments just for this occasion, exclusive to this occasion, and then something you’ll tuck away in a memory box, something you won’t wear again or at least not for ordinary occasions, and so this particular garment will become symbolic and sentimental to you.
Consider a local mountain or somewhere near where you live that indigenous folk once upon a time considered sacred. Find someplace where you can be alone, with open land and open sky, and if a lake, river, or brook is nearby all the better, and in that privacy, commune with Spirit, connect to the natural powers of the earth around you, and uttering carefully crafted words you’ve drafted ahead of time, send up a vow or petition in exchange for the sending down of a channel of power, attunement, connection, or access to you.
If you’re into astrology, check dates and times for the initiation rite that is going to be resonant with your own birth chart. If there are particular astrological or planetary references associated with your patron deity, then check those as well and make sure those particular astrological features are empowered at the time of your initiation rite.
Everything else about the initiation rite, all the in between details I didn’t address, is up to you.
I’ve got a couple more ideas listed out in a brainstorm for the “Bell Chimes In” series, but I’d love to hear your requests. What topics would you like to see my talking head yammer on about in the form of a YouTube video?
This is not an educational series, meaning the topics should be ones where all I’m doing is offering an opinion. There shouldn’t be any instructional value, so don’t be like, “an episode on how to read a birth chart!” or “the history of the I Ching.” This series is about perspectives and points of view. [The “Tinkering Bell” series, in comparison, is going to be more instructional in format.]
“Bell Chimes In” is about discourse, or at least that is my hope and intentions for the video series. It’s about me chiming in on a topic oft talked about, with my own perspective, opinions, or hypothesis, and with that, continuing the conversation on that topic. So I hope you’ll join in to keep the discourse going.
In my last blog post I mentioned my new “Bell Chimes In” series on YouTube, with episode 1 on Deity. Here in episode 2, I chime in about magic and the placebo effect. I couldn’t decide which title would be better for SEO, “Placebo Effect and Magic” or “Magic and Placebo Effect.” I settled on the one you see in the title.
Also, I need to make a note to myself to never make YouTube videos when I’m having a bad face day. Argh.
I’m enjoying my new foray into video making on YouTube, but this one I could have taken a bit more time on. I thought of the topic in the morning, shot part of the video at that time as soon as the idea came to me, drew the doodles at work, outlined some notes, then recorded the rest of it after I came home. As a result, I don’t think I explained my thought cogently enough. The guideline I set for myself is it has to be under 15 minutes, so quite a bit of cutting had to be done as well. Sigh.
Anyway, the point of the video is I experienced deity as energy first, not realizing that was deity, and then was first taught personification of deity and monotheism through Christianity when I was nine. For most of my life I’ve been fascinated with religion and mythology, passionately inquisitive of what different people believed about deity.