Sunday, 13 September 2020

Leather nun habit + my feelings on certain spiritual arguments...

I bought latex... I bought cloth... now I want a leather nun habit!  I am looking into how I could obtain one on a budget, I don't want to spend more than $1000 on the complete outfit if I can avoid it - $800 would be more reasonable.  Because I financially benefited from CERB and not spending very much during this past while, I kind of want to treat myself to something, and thought that I need to expand my "holy" wardrobe, so why not?  Long sleeve leather dresses are available that are not very expensive on sites like Etsy (maybe $300 for one), and I could easily hire someone to make the nun accessories to go with it.  I called Northbound Leather in Toronto but they were charging too high for what I desired, so someone I know is going to ask a friend who works with this material and see what they would charge.  I don't know where I am going with this Sister Penance persona, but I want to look the part!

Also, I want to briefly discuss something that is very popular in spiritual conversation these days, something that has been getting on my nerves as someone who has had to rely on self-exploration with plant medicines to heal myself from spiritual sickness (all on my own because I never found a teacher for this specific thing).  It's become a trend to slam non-natives for using white sage and identifying with power animals, and I kind of have a problem with how aggressive some of these arguments have become.  Firstly, let's tackle the white sage one:

White sage is often the go to plant for ceremonial use of smudge in Anishinaabe ritual, such as healing circles, to name one example.  It has become "trendy" to criticize non-natives, especially white people, for burning white sage in this way.  I find this rather ridiculous, at least in the arguments I have seen presented, because every elder I have ever discussed my spiritual health with (and I have talked to 3 elders on and off, and many other First Nations people, many of whom live in my building) have suggested white sage and other plant medicines to me as treatments for my situation - in fact, they recommend it for pretty much everyone as a means of maintaining spiritual hygiene.  I don't know who these angry people are who say it is so wrong for a person like me to engage in using this plant medicine for personal usage, but that is not the tone I have gotten from the Anishinaabe community.  Sweetgrass helped save me from the situation with the demon, tobacco has healed me through use of it with prayer, and white sage was been good for calming me during a bad day.  Anishinaabe are the experts on their usage, and should be the go to people for advice on working with plant medicine, but to attack other groups for using it properly is absurd to me.  Where is there a problem when sacred medicine is used with respect?

Next: power animals.  Yes, it's obnoxious when non-natives describe a Pokemon as their "power animal" or whatever, but what about when it's something personally meaningful to the individual?  Look, I get power animals - they are not just something you identify with because you like it, you must have a profound encounter with this animal through journeying for it to be the kind of thing that is discussed in spirituality in the more legitimate sense.  But this is an experience not bound to any specific culture - though more significant in some cultures than others, it can also be significant in an individual.  Ask virtually any anthropologist, qualified psychologist who has studied world culture, or legitimate medicine person - "shamans"/healers/seers/etc (or those qualified to work as one) can be of any race, and though they are more prevalent in some parts of the world than others, those who get the call will find that it's not uncommon for an animal to come to be associated with their soul.  When you are called by the gods to work with them, it's real, even if you're white.  There is some basic commonality to this experience, perhaps different groups have different terms or interpretations of it, but it happens to many initiates.  So as someone who had powerful experiences as I felt my soul take on the form of a cobra (and am still looking to make sense of it), and who has wrestled through an intense dark night of the soul that lasted over a decade, healing myself as I crawled out of spiritual sickness, I am bored and insulted when someone says I should call this a "fursona" or a "patronus".  Great, so I should name it after something a TERF came up with - no thank you.  Indigenous culture is long overdue for greater respect, and I would be one of the first to say so, as bored as I am with colonialism, but so does individual experience deserve respect.  To ignore someone's story is also a mistake.

Systemic racism is impossible against whites, but stereotyping them is still possible, and seems to be a trend.  Though I like to throw around the word "honkey" on here, it's a pain in the ass when someone assumes I can't have a meaningful spiritual life simply because I'm caucasian.  I feel that cultural appropriation is negative when it causes a group or culture harm, or is exploitative, like when a non-native sells Anishinaabe ceremony for profit, but when someone is personally adopting practice that comes out of a place of respect, and helps them to feel better about their life, where's the harm?  That being said, white privilege is real, and the irritation I feel when someone criticizes me for using white sage is nothing compared to what indigenous communities endure on a daily basis, I acknowledge that.


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