Spirit, Memory, Race & Place: On what it means to honor the land and work with it respectfully
When you truly respect a particular culture, you would not wish to distort or dilute it. It is really that simple.
Where you were born, or what race you are is immaterial there. What counts is the depth of your engagement and whether you are willing to experience something that may be alien to your upbringing on its terms, rather than your own.
Especially when dealing with indigenous cultures that strongly connect with a land-based tradition, one cannot use the mind and intellectual analysis alone to make that bridge. It is a somatic and deeply emotive experience.
But it takes patience, surrender and a willingness for the land or culture you wish to engage with to recognize who are its custodians. That´s one of those places where what we want, impose or construe about ourselves has very little to do with it but rather how we wait for the invitation or recognition or permission to participate.
When everyone understands that point alone … we will no longer really need to have the cultural appropriation debate. Culture is not something that you own or claim to have the right to single-handedly change or alter for your own purposes.
You can read all the books you can find on a particular place or culture, but that does not mean it is yours. Finding a personal relationship and being recognized to practice, teach and/or build upon what is there is an exercise in energetic sensitivity.
My heart goes out to descendants of indigenous cultures (and there is actually a very specific understanding of what that term means – www.indigenouspeople.net ) – who have been dislocated from their cultures by virtue of the global diaspora. And here a different type of work is needed. The connection is not immediately activated by virtue of genetics, but it takes work to activate it if it has been suppressed or kept dormant for a long, long, time.
And in some cases, that diasporic descendant may actually feel more connected to where they were raised – and the life-histories of their families who migrated to that new land. Which is fine. But it really goes a long way in differentiating the two.
In short – when you create a grounded relationship with a different culture – in body, heart, mind, soul – you tread very differently. Developing this awareness and skill-set is going to be one of the most vital steps in learning to engage with the cultures that hold ancient planetary wisdom, in ways that connect to the acceleration of collective consciousness underway.
We explore a lot of these questions in the video ( https://youtu.be/K0s8n1uW77E ) .
In this installation of the SpiritBuddy Interview series, I sit with Medea B Hardy – a PhD candidate studying Women´s Spirituality, truth-teller, god-body, land-worker and sister of many colours.
We explore how and why Medea considers Virginia as ´her home´ (as opposed to West Africa), how she engages the land energetically, and how she was invited to and given permission to do the same in New Orleans. She makes a stunning, and deeply important observation on the significance of the Mississippi River.
This is a very powerful discussion and a must-view for anyone exploring this word and the sensitivity and recognition of intersectionality that needs to come along with it. You can find more of her work at Activating Your Spirit and her conservational efforts with her husband at CORE USA
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Related Material :
Honoring the land, honoring the indigenous – https://wp.me/p4OUNS-2so
Spirituality & the Politics of Cultural Appropriation – https://wp.me/p4OUNS-2sv
How spiritual platitudes and pretending history didn´t happen re-traumatizes people of colour & ways to truly engage – https://wp.me/p4OUNS-2sv
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I would prefer leaving my writings freely accessible without introducing a subscription service – but for that to happen there needs to be an energetic exchange that honors all.
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Text © Bairavee Balasubramaniam, 2018. All rights reserved.
Video © Bairavee Balasubramaniam & Medea B Hardy, 2018. All rights reserved.