Cultural Appropriation and Dilution in the Context of Energetic Safety and Hygiene

A lot of the time, discussions on cultural appropriation and dilution of tradition end up locked in the racial discourse. Given structural inequalities that operate across the planet, it is also utterly understandable. Whilst it is absolutely important to respect indigenous practitioners, lineages and tradition along with the social, political, cultural and economic framework of their origin …. there’s also a good energetic reason as to why any facilitator/client would want to do this.

Every tradition originates out of a particular experience of history, culture, (often) struggle and suffering. It evolves in response to particular challenges and establishes certain psychic and spiritual parameters of experience. It evolves practices to invoke gatekeepers, guides and ancestors to keep the practitioner, their family and their clients safe.

In a highly (and increasingly) commercialized spiritual marketplace, teachings on spiritual traditions of minorities and indigenous people are stripped out of context and time to make them publicly accessible. Whilst it make excite a lot of people who feel they have access to ‘ secret’ teachings that they did not before, it also opens them up to ungrounded and unsafe spiritual practices and teachings.

Basically, without the lived, embodied experience of learning and feeling through the nuance of a tradition, you’re flying blind. This is why coming back to a legitimate source is absolutely important. This is why you can’t legitimately claim mastery over something that you have no real connection to.

Reading a few things and answering an online test does not qualify – you’ll see why in the video. It discusses how and why this particular question popped to the forefront of my thoughts recently and why it is so important.

I would also like to acknowledge that spiritual traditions that fail to evolve are just as potentially dangerous. There needs to be a recognition that structures must evolve to acclimatize themselves to changing energetic contexts. Losing them entirely also loses valuable wisdom, protection and the insights of lineage. Taking an extreme on either side of the coin here is ultimately counter-productive.

Blessings and Love

Dr. Bairavee Balasubramaniam PhD

The Sky Priestess

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5 thoughts on “Cultural Appropriation and Dilution in the Context of Energetic Safety and Hygiene

  1. Ana Daksina says:

    There is need both for the preservers of linear disciplines and rraditions, and for those who synthesize multiple disciplines and traditions. To me, the motivation is key. I’m sure not going to stop saying “Namaste” because I don’t happen to have Indian blood — nor should I be expected to, right? Separatism is what’s gotten this planet in the trouble it’s in. Thanks for letting me sound off, and have an excellent day!

    Reply
    1. Dr. Bairavee Balasubramaniam PhD says:

      Well, yes and no. An Indian person can ask you to stop saying Namascary, Namaslay, or some other distortion of the term. That’s the point. People who say it in sincerity are not the problem, with the realization that saying the word itself does not equate having a spiritual experience with yoga. Those who take it as a thing to distort are the issue – and that is where discernment is called for. That is not synthesis, that is flat out appropriation and disrespect. Hope that clarifies. Have a great day yourself and thanks for your continued support!

      Reply
  2. larrikin2020 says:

    this is one of your “good ones” too Bairavee.

    I totally agree that using traditions that we do not have any embodied cultural relationship to can be ungrounded and dangerous for the new would be practitioner AND divorces the practice from its context aka appropriation e.g. “yoga bodies.” (Even something as widely practised as “reiki” needs to be reborn in the practitioner as their own dedicated service in my view.) Nevertheless you are right to say learn… learning with respect for context as much as we can, is probably the key.

    Personally I might read literature, stories and accounts of different cultural practices, watch dances, witness rituals if invited.. in doing this I just begin, and begin is the word, to feel into them. I would never do a weekend “certificate” in any spiritual tradition let alone advertise it..For me its always a question of how does this place, art work, artefact, teaching, chant, song, performance resonate inside me? what does it open up in me and the space around me ? do my dreams change? can I bring any of this back in connection with my central path?

    am I still moved weeks and months later? is my heart more open ? is there awe? do I feel more connected with the earth, with life? do I feel stirred, perhaps horrified, perhaps challenged, or given a blessing? Then it will be how am I now changed? how is my way of being in the world altered? how do I live and work a little bit differently?

    I think there are karmic connections to particular cultural practices too that lie outside or parallel to my this-life-ancestral-and-cultural gifts and these ask to be known as well. As an example I saw a sculpture of the many breasted Artemis of Ephesus casually placed in an alcove of a museum at Ephesus when I was 22. I was shocked wide open, awed and also horrified that She wasn’t accorded more respect. Sumerian/Babylonian, Cretan and Greek mystery school foundations of astrology don’t belong to my this -life-ancestry but they are certainly part of my this-life path! I

    I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with someone of a different culture entering deeply into a tradition they are not born to…if a genuine teacher of that lineage accepts them so be it.They are likely to have a harder task perhaps, because the body does not not know the way, but there may be karmic memories and other support. But such initiations are not weekend courses! nor inexpensive and not of course what you are talking about.

    Reply

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