There are those of American indigenous beliefs that warn all non-tribal people away from those beliefs and practices that are valued by the tribe. Outsiders are accused of corruption at the least and outright thievery at the worst. Even those associated with the tribes are accused of being traitors and turncoats by sharing knowledge that the protectors of the faith hold to be sacred unto themselves. Last year I found myself in this accusatory environment when I indirectly encountered the words and writings of the tribal guardians.
I am now tempted to turn away from the shamanic practices of the United States. This decision is strong in me, but I also feel that there is a vein of irrational thought running through the logic. This is the story of my life. In theory I would walk away because sincere and honest protectors of indigenous beliefs are presenting their views and asking me to step back. Why step back? I have a love of teaching, though this is not evident in my hermiting times now. I would be drawn to share if I were to embrace any part of the American shamanic practices. To share is the greatest sin in the eyes of those who charge others with appropriation. Do I honor these people by stepping into the shadows?
Here is where I find my logic to be flawed, though I still have a hard time convincing myself of these points. My leaving the active shamanic path will not be recognized by any of the critics. They will not send me a thank-you note for my actions. I will not be an example to those who are truly charlatans and frauds in the shamanic world. They will continue their ways. I will only end up hurting myself. Here is an analogy for the situation. It is as if there is a shallow pond being trampled in by outsiders. Those who rely on the pond are hurt as the mud creates a foul mix that serves none. They ask the outsiders to stop their actions and please leave their pond so it will settle into usefulness. I am in the next town over and hear the cries of those being hurt. I heed the cries and step out of my wading pool, full of water just like the small pond in the next town. I close the yard and shoo away any that would like to partake my wading pool. It is water isn't it, and the pleas of those being hurt asked everyone to step back from the water? Sadly, I am being quite silly. The condition of my wading pool, even thought it too contains water, has no affect on those attempting to use the pond in the next town. They don't know I exist. The interlopers in the other pond don't care a twit about what I'm doing or not doing. I end up crucifying myself and cut myself off from those who might enjoy a bit of relief in a mere wading pool.
This analogy makes sense, but I cannot fully embrace it. I think this is because the entire appropriation matter has taken on the stink of a toxic battle. I want no part of that. I would rather leave than expose myself to the hatred and defensiveness that sincere people are expressing as they talk at each other. I am sickened when indigenous people who chose to share are defamed as traitors, liars, cheats and out-right monsters. My own indigenous teacher faces this in his own tribe to some degree.
Humanity disappoints me and I end up disappointing myself by my own reaction...