Not that long ago, I took a trip to southern Colorado to visit Mesa Verde National Park (among other sites). For me, it was more than a tourist-y trip. I was making a return to a location where I had a personally powerful moment with Crow. Much of that moment was being reminded that while I work with Him, that I am not “of the people.” A simple reminder that I am not a First Nations individual. My personal Spiritual practice was not to mirror or mimic that of the First Nations people. Their ways were not – and are not – my Path to walk. Now, I did make another moment with Crow, as I heaved and gasped my way along a rather steep trail. That was to get into better physical health than I already am. But that’s a thought for another time.
More than once I have been accused of cultural appropriation because I work with Crow and Coyote. One comment that was made to me was that Abnoba is the lane I should be in. Abnoba being a Germanic Goddess – my heritage being European (my mother was German, much of my ancestry comes from mainland Europe and Scandinavia). I have always found it amusing that there are those that try to nudge me back into my “lane,” particularly when I don’t have a “lane.” In the past, I would have argued with these folks…these days, I shake my head, keep my comments to myself, and continue on. All I need to remind myself of is that the Gods call those that They call.
After all, I am not trying to make myself into the image of a white, cis male that wants to play “Indian” around the fire at night. I’m not of the People. I never will be. Their Spiritual practices are not the same as mine. I have no desire to take a place within their culture. I merely work with two of the Gods from their Spirituality. ::shrug::
However, all of this revolves around a perspective of one word: worship. Do I worship Crow, Coyote, Abnoba or any of the other Gods and Goddesses out there? I guess that really depends on how you define the concept of worship. According to Wikipedia (not exactly a top-notch source, but it works for the point of discussion):
Worship is an act of religious devotion usually directed towards a deity. For many, worship is not about an emotion, it is more about a recognition of a God. An act of worship may be performed individually, in an informal or formal group, or by a designated leader. Such acts may involve honoring.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worship
So, working from this perspective, do I worship the three Gods I tend to work with? Most assuredly. I honor all three in what I do. Do I wind up prostrate on the ground to venerate Them? No. In working with these three, I have found that They are not looking for such slavish perspectives. They have, in the past, provided me tasks to do for Them here on this plane of existence, which I do gladly to honor Them. I’m not Their equal, but I’m not going to consider myself so far beneath Them that I cannot say “no” to Them.
That’s right. You can say “no” to the Gods. Just like any relationship that you have, you have the free will to say “no.” And in any relationship that you have, that “no” can produce some negative repercussions. Say “no” to your Significant Other about something that they have asked. You might find yourself sleeping on the couch for a couple of days. A negative repercussion, right? Well, it is if you have a couch as lumpy as mine. 😊 when I point out that I work WITH my Gods, it’s a relationship. Its not always a straight-forward one either. Just like any relationship we have with other people. Just like relationships with people, a relationship with the Gods must be cultivated through time. My relationship with Coyote is far different than that of Crow or Abnoba. After all, a relationship is a distinct relationship between two entities. Whether that be people, animals, Gods or whatever else you can bring up.
As I have noted before…my relationship with Crow and Coyote is a unique one between myself and each of Them. I work with Them because They asked. I honor Them because I want to. None of that has me trying to assimilate cultural or Spiritual aspects of First Nations’ peoples. I am not trying to become part of the People. I’m an eclectic Druid. I’m not trying to be a Medicine Man or a Shaman. I’m not attempting to mirror the practices of the People. I’m just trying to get on with my Spiritual Life by taking each day one at a time. Sometimes, one hour at a time. If that’s cultural appropriation in the eyes of someone else – so be it. I can’t control what other people think or believe. Nor would I want to. I’ve got enough worries of my own. I don’t need everyone else’s too.