Can we talk about "Cultural Appropriation?"

Ok, y’all. From the outset, let me say I mean no harm but do tend to be “that friend” who asks the questions no one else will ask. So here goes…

I have been seeing videos and reading MANY things in the witchy genre which take care to be very clear that they try their hardest to avoid and very much disapprove of cultural appropriation in witchy/wiccan/pagan/religious/natural practices and observances. This entails AVOIDING using various kinds of cleansing smokes, herbal teas, divination tools…you name it. But see here…I can’t help but say that all of this, to me, appears like soft virtue signaling. Everyone the world over, in all space and time, has been blending cultures and practices since forever. From the use of spices, tools, dances, music, clothing, technology of all kinds… if our ancestors, whoever they were, didn’t share and learn from each other none of us would be here today. I am open to people sharing and discussing and openly believing in things as long as they do harm to none. Whether we are praying to deities, journeying with various teas and foods found in nature, or presenting ourselves in myriad ways which are both endearing and fun and can speak to our various levels of individualism. But the religion of political correctness I think is not the same thing as respecting everyone’s individuality. In fact, I think it falls short of respecting others in that it silently implies NOT respect for others, but rather, LOOK AT ME BEING SO RESPECTFUL! BELIEVE ME, I’M VIRTUOUS." Respecting others has never meant singing about it (virtue signaling). I wonder what people who followed the Golden Dawn would say about this notion of cultural appropriation in light of their edict to “Do as thou wilt.” What’s more, does it not seem that anyone who would say, “These are my customs, not yours, my songs, my herbs, my recipes, my spells, my beeswax candles, my Nordic runes, my Egyptian gods, my cultures…you can’t have them!” … is excluding others? What do we think about exclusive behavior and hoarding of knowledge, skills, and the benefits of spirituality? For me, I find it more loving to recognize, no matter what form of spirituality we all explore or regularly partake in, we all will come back to each other in the ultimate “I AM.” I am happy to celebrate and promote each and everyone with their chosen path, their choices in colors, perfumes, spices, rituals, songs, talismans, dance, herbal garden selections, concoctions…with harm to none. How has this topic touched any of you? What do you think are the reasons and consequences/effects of promoting cultural exclusivity via the cultural appropriation label being dropped here and there in various communities and circles? Remember, I’m not trying to stir up a bees nest, but I did want to address this question with others from various backgrounds and beliefs/practice choices (where there is no wrong choice, as they say). What do you guys think about this matter? Signed, That One Girl Who Dared to Ask That Uncomfortable Question (Formerly known as That Kid Who Shouted “The Emperor Has No Clothes!”)


Iv hadn’t heard of them for few years I also wonder what they think about us.


Yes. Saw and read some amount of stuff about the G.D. while researching what I wanted to explore…enough to know that there is a good amount of historical research already done by folks who founded that practice, but it wasn’t necessarily resonating with me personally. I like knowing there is something out there such as High Magic but for now, the more grounded, folk path speaks to me. And this might change, but until then… :stuck_out_tongue:


I’m going to answer this from the viewpoint of my ancestry as it’s a mixed bunch of mongrels as we say in our family. :heartpulse:

My ancestry and upbringing influences are English, American, Irish, Scottish, Arabic, Anglo Saxon, Germanic, Norse, Viking, and who knows where next but that’s as far back as my grandmother could trace. According to this I should worship all the Celtic gods, Norse gods, Saxon gods (most of which are Norse anyway), German god’s, Arabic pagan gods :person_shrugging: (maybe that’s why I’m drawn to the Djinn) and English/American Gods. Should I be woad, celt, viking, Saxon, Arab etc. It gets very complicated in my family as we’re travellers so each generation no matter how far back you go, travelled and brought back a little bit of this and a little bit of that :grin:

If I just take the vikings, my fathers line, I’ve chosen Loki (well he picked me but that’s another tale :rofl:). The vikings travelled far and wide bringing their culture to a whole load of “cultures” as they travelled. So the question is, should only Scandinavian (pure bloods to use a Harry Potter term) serve Loki, and are the rest of us “half bloods”. :person_shrugging:

I for one know that Loki would be insulted by this as he is all about inclusion, he doesn’t care who or what you are. He’s about community coming together, that is a core thing in most heathen circles. We can’t come together if we don’t share our discoveries.

When I was struggling to buy a particular coloured candle, an old witch of a long line of Arabian witches said to me, “what are you fussing over, this colour, that colour, this crystal, that crystal. Your ancestors used whatever was around them. They learnt their craft from whoever they met, don’t close your mind. Look around, everything is right Infront of you.”

I think cultural appropriation for me, is a modern concept and is more about respect, and recognition of where some customs come from. To avoid exploiting our earth and people, to show care and understanding to everyone whether they be witch or not, and to build a more inclusive world where every practice, people are respected and credited with their paths. For me, I feel some have taken this to the extreme to mean we can’t share. If that’s true and we can’t share, then, for me our craft could get very complicated, or could even die out. Who has the right to scry? Read tarot? Use a crystal ball? Worship an Irish god? And what about crystals, if it’s not a native stone in your area should you use it? This sort of thinking creates division not inclusion. The opposite of what this world needs.

Now, you can put up my stake, and light it up, I know my view is probably not popular but there it is. I want to see a world where we all live, share and explore our craft together.

We witches have faced enough persecution in our history, do we really want to be persecuting each other, just my view. :person_shrugging: My witchy ancestors would be in awe at what is available to us today. We are a very fortunate generation. And I practice my craft today, and follow my deity today because that first Norseman many eons ago got in that boat and sailed the high seas, to him I am eternally grateful :green_heart:


Thank you for your reply! Thank you for not being intimidated by a potentially prickly post! I am ever so grateful. And I share the same view with you. Most of us come from long lines of various cultures…Even those in countries for hundreds of years worth of ancestors had family which came there from somewhere!

You brought up a funny point… the crystals being from our areas. LOL Good lord! I’m a crystal lover, collector, enthusiast…I have so many beautiful crystal and mineral specimens from all over! Some women collect shoes and purses. I collect crystals and minerals. LOL I’m fascinated by their properties and energies.

But back to my original reply…I agree. We all come from innumerable combinations of peoples from the dawn of time. We are now in a time of inclusion, sharing, and openness. There shouldn’t be any “gate keepers” to information, practices, or implements of those practices and observances.

Well said, your sentence about respect and it all being [quote=“tracyS, post:4, topic:47280”]
more about respect, and recognition of where some customs come from. To avoid exploiting our earth and people, to show care and understanding to everyone whether they be witch or not, and to build a more inclusive world where every practice, people are respected and credited with their paths.
[/quote]. Certainly. With all seriousness and reverie that is due each individual aspect of devotion, partaking in such will only amplify the love going back into the universe pertaining to those various cultural practices. Warmest Imbolc wishes!


I’m just here to say: this. :point_up:

Just because we here tend to be respectful towards others, doesn’t mean everyone is. In places like social media, we see the extremes of those against cultural appropriation, and those using it to seem “quirky” and “interesting” to maintain a certain aesthetic but actually show zero respect for where it came from. So things like this have to be considered not from a personal level of whether I, myself, am guilty of such and such a thing, but what’s going on at a greater societal level.

As long as there’s monetary incentive to be disrespectful towards other cultures, there will always be a problem, even if we don’t see it within our own personal circles.



I agree with this. This to me is the core root of some problems in the magical/wellbeing community, profit profit profit. Which is a shame, but the sign of our times. “If there’s a quid in it, take it” as the saying goes here. I hope that over time, we’ll get back to values rather than profit. Money has its place, but I feel the appropriation argument is more about exploiting people’s heritage for a profit rather than sharing knowledge. Witches I’ve personally met from various cultures have always been excited to teach me new things. I don’t mix on social media apart from here, so no clue what goes on there apart from what others say.

I’m still on the optimist side and looking forward to a world (maybe my kids generation) when cultural appropriation won’t be necessary because we won’t have a society that puts profit before people.

Here’s hoping :green_heart:

(This is Loki, plonking me right in the middle of it all :rofl: lol. Hail Ragnarok for a better world :beers:)


@shelly1 Have a lovely Imbolc too :kissing_heart:


I personally think that, as long as you respect the history of the traditions and culture, then there is no issue. The difference is when you exploit it for your own benefit or to get noticed/stand out/look different. That is when things verge on the inappropriate for me.

I love Mexican culture and honour el dia de los muertos. Some British friends (im from UK) said this was not appropriate because it is not from our culture. I disagreed. I was using the occasjon to remember my own past loved ones in a respectful way, not using it as a halloween costume or anything.

To top if off, I asked some of my friends in Mexico what they thought. They thought it was wonderful and said it was open for everyone to rememeber their loved ones. They also thought it was great that their culture was being acknowledged around the
world. The key here is repect. A bit of tact is required i think bit when it comes “from the horses mouth” as being acceptable, then it proves others to be nothing more than pointless virtue signallers.

Blessed be



I grew up going to Native American Pow Wows all across the tri state (IN, MI, & OH) area. We visited Natives in many other states, too. Trips were enjoyable cultural edification; dances brought in tourists and extra money for crafters, etc.

When I got to New Mexico, I learned there were strict rules to be followed among the Natives. I was suddenly saddened that the people had experienced such horrors in their homes and towns that they had to make such rules. When I read the rules, I was appalled and terrified. My allergies alone would not allow me to follow some of the rules!
I felt excluded from travel and tourism and cultural edification, silenced from honoring a way of life I’d grown to respect and care deeply for, and scared to speak to anyone who looked different than me.

Even when I was invited to a dance, I was attacked and told to go overseas, though I had done nothing but stand next to the one who invited me. My French family had supported the Natives throughout history to the best of their ability, but I was treated like a barbarian.

Some Native kids on a city bus found out I was a witch. They told me they knew my beliefs had been disrespected and looked upon me with awe. Bless them! What they felt was the way I had always felt about them.


LOL, excellent point. We should put all the “Look at me, I’m so cool and quirky using this Indian Headdress” people on an island with all the “Look at me, I’m so virtuous for Caring about appropriation” people and let them sort it out. There’s a fun show even Loki can get behind! Giggle. From a psychology standpoint, they actually may have a lot in common with each other, which is, a need to feel like they belong. I suppose it’s understandable after countless years living and surviving via tribalism and misfortune avoidance. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I like knowing how other people view this. :slight_smile:


Thanks, Alan! I saw a video from someone, maybe Mark Dice on Youtube, where he dressed up as a Mexican w/ sombrero, poncho, fake mustache…flip flops, lol, and asked the “man on the street” passers by if they thought it was cultural appropriation. All the white chicks said “YES!” The AA’s seemed either unsure or thought yes. The Mexicans said, “Hell no! You look handsome! Everyone should dress like this!” LOL I have seen Native Americans take issue with their cultural representation, however, from sports teams mascots to costumes…though, in their defense, I’m sure it would seem everyone has taken from them since colonization.


Happy Imbolc to you!


"When you say “Dylan”, he thinks you’re talking about Dylan Thomas
Whoever he was
The man ain’t got no culture
But it’s all right, ma
Everybody must get… "

Simon & Garfunkel]

I was adopted at 6 weeks old. The doctors ask me for “family history” :rofl: and I tell them “it starts here” :sweat_smile: I tell you all this because I have no culture and no knowledge of family or heritage. In California, a closed adoption meant CLOSED with no information would be forthcoming. So I never looked and just turned that off. My “parents” were wonderful in their way. My mother was a Methodist because that is what her family was. She is 98 and still doesn’t know what christianity is all about, like many christians. My father was agnostic/athiest and taught me to question everything and learn all I can. BUT there was no culture or ritual in my life.

Culture and heritage are being done away with in general. Appropriation is the norm and blended in with everyone and everything. good or bad… yes. I believe co-operation instead of competition, compasion and respect instead of comparison and arrogance. The trouble with all of this(for me) is it adds so much to shadow work. One builds walls to prtect oneself and those walls are hard to break down after many years of building and adding to them.

I don’t ask that we forget our culture, far from it. But teach it to everyone that will listen. Share the wisdom inherent in all of it. This is not appropriation but the sharing of wisdom. I’m not saying that everyone wear a headress made of eagle feathers, it is not your culture, but something to be respected.

My fingers cannot keep up with my thoughts and have probably insulted enough of you already soooo…



@Shadeweaver No insult seen here lovely.
Nice points.

In a thousand years from now, we’ll all have blended with each other even more. Future generations will probably look back on this conversation and wonder what it was all about :grin::green_heart:


@georgia Thankyou for sharing your experience. Filled with joy and sadness. Your experience with the native kids was lovely though :two_hearts:


First Nation was always my favorite culture … but so hard to get accepted into. I have always Loved going to pow wows. but never felt accepted. Whod a thunk it, big fuzzy white boy :rofl:


I love that! I think that will be awesome! Like…having more than one or two spices in your spice cabinet! Flavor! Color! Multifaceted sparks of beautiful experiences to choose from! :witch_hat: :heart_eyes: :witch_cauldron: :witch_hat: :witch_broom: :blush:


Hahahah! That’s awesome! I went to a Native American Culture Fest / Pow Wow in Asheville, NC. I thought it was moving. The drums. The singing. But yeah…they weren’t exactly inviting white spectator folks up on stage. I didn’t DARE ask them about sharing any peace pipe! Giggle (playing of course, lol) Levity, everyone. :stuck_out_tongue:


This topic kinda confuses me. I think I’m in the majority here. My opinion, simply put, as long as your being respectful to others and their cultures is ok. I don’t like when these customs/cultures are exploited for fasion, media and money.