Modern pagans draw from a variety of cultural wells, both historical and contemporary. All too often the effects of this tendency to borrow are ignored in lieu of “spiritual development”. What happens when plastic shamans and wannabe Celts are accused of distributing inaccurate information, deliberately misleading others, and even engaging in spiritual and cultural genocide? Often, the response is only an uncomfortable silence.
Talking About the Elephant: An Anthology of Neopagan Perspectives on Cultural Appropriation is an attempt to shatter that stillness and to promote constructive communication about the issues surrounding cultural appropriation in neopaganism. The nineteen essays approach such practices and faiths as Celtic reconstructionism, neoshamanism, and ritual magic; and explore and critique topics ranging from academic appropriation of pagan and occult practices, to intra-community intimidation, and potential solutions to the problem of appropriation.
The controversy surrounding cultural appropriation in neopaganism is nothing new; however, it’s time to stop pretending the elephant isn’t staring at us as we stand in silence. This powerful, diverse set of voices is poised to break open a new dialogue, one that must occur if our spiritual communities are to balance individual needs with concerned criticisms.
Featuring essays by Elizabeth Barrette, Aliyah Benjamin, Phillip Bernhardt-House, Veronica Cummer, Diotima, Taylor Ellwood, Thea Faye, Kenaz Filan, Frater Barrabbas, Sean Green, Erynn Rowan Laurie, Lelandra, Rhiannon Louve, Lupa, Jenne Micale, Larisa Pole and Vince Stevens. The table of contents is as follows:
Introduction by Lupa
Specific Cultural Concerns
Devouring Kitsch: Image Collecting and Cultural Appropriation by Lelandra
Dead Religions, Living Cultures: The Reconstructionist Research and Visionary Blues by Erynn Rowan Laurie
Reinventing the Wheel by Thea Faye
“None May Enter Without Art or Deeds of Heroism”: Going Hungry or Whole Hog with Celtic Cultures by Rev. Dr. Phillip Bernhardt-House
Cultural Appropriation in the Neopagan Community: An Ásatrú Perspective by Larisa Pole aka Mist, Gyðja of Kenaz Kindred
Magic and the Eucharistic Mass by Frater Barrabbas
Druids and Brahmins: Of Cultural Appropriation and the Vedas by Jenne Micale
The Veiled Goddess by Aliyah Benjamin
Scéla Ióbhi 7 Mairt 7 Ápaill 7 Óis by Rev. Dr. Phillip Bernhardt-House
General Approaches and Other Perspectives
It’s In the Blood… Or Is It? by Diotima
Braiding Pagans: Cultural Etiquette in a Multicultural World by Elizabeth Barrette
Those Whom the Gods Call by Veronica Cummer
Appropriation and Service: A Shamanist’s Perspective by Sean Green
Academic Cultural Appropriation of Neopaganism and Occultism by Taylor Ellwood
Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing, Baby… : Cultural Appropriation and the Myth of Authenticity by Kenaz Filan
Cultural Appropriation and Interfaith Inclusion: Contrast and Comparison by Rhiannon Louve
Animal Totems for Everyone! By Lupa
Exploring Your New Self: Cultural Appropriation in Theory and Practice by Vince Stevens
Work and Fear by Erynn Rowan Laurie
About the Authors
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An autographed (by Lupa) copy of Talking About the Elephant is available for $20.99 plus priority shipping in the U.S. and air mail in Canada.
An autographed (by Lupa) copy of Talking About the Elephant is available for $20.99 plus media shipping in the U.S.