About Cultural Appropriation
Here are a few things about cultural appropriation. You cannot appropriate your own culture. I know to some people that might sound moronic. But I get that question all the time. I hear, “I’m half Irish and half Puerto Rican can I practice Spiritism?” Let me tell you something, it is your birthright to practice the religion of your ancestors. If you go back far enough, we all practiced the same religion at one point in time which was Spiritism. The blood that runs through your veins, in your DNA, gives you the license to be able to call on your ancestral spirits. It does not give you the right to call on someone else’s ancestors or act like a priest in a closed religion. That is cultural appropriation. My time on TikTok has forced me to explain the difference between ethnically closed practices and initiation-based religions many times. So, I would like to talk about what is and what is not acceptable. The general rule is if you have to ask whether or not you can practice something the answer is probably no. Anyone can read any book about any cultural practices. Learning about other people’s cultures and traditions is crucial for understanding the world. No one can tell you that you cannot read a book about a religion or an ethnic group or their practices. Let us take a look at a few religious traditions to understand the differences between closed and initiation-based practices.
Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest religions in the world. But to be a Zoroastrian means that your father and mother are both Zoroastrians by birth. Freddie Mercury was a Zoroastrian. If one of your parents is Zoroastrian and one of them is not, it means that you are not. That means only children with two Zoroastrian parents are considered in the religion. Anyone who is not born a pure Zoroastrian by ethnicity cannot convert to being a Zoroastrian. This is a closed religion based on ethnicity and one of the most extreme examples.
Let us say you want to study Judaism and the Kabbalah. Even if you become a convert to the Jewish faith you will never be Jewish. Because being Jewish means that you were born a Jew. Even though you can practice the religion you are never going to be truly Jewish. That is an example of an ethnic-based religion with foreigners as converts.
Hoodoo is a set of folk practices that were performed by Black people in the south, predominantly in the Carolinas of the United States. Folks that practice Hoodoo and rootwork are traditionally protestant Christians. When someone practices hoodoo and rootwork they are calling on their ancestral spirits. Hoodoo is a African American slave magic. And if you are not Black this practice is not for you. I do not care what Catherine Yronwode says. Hoodoo does not come from Ireland. That is another tradition of folk magic known as Conjure, Southern Conjure, or Appalachian folk magic. People who work in the Conjure traditions use the same kinds of magical equipment. That can be jars, candles, honey, nails, crossroad spirits, etc. But if you are not a descendant of black slaves in the United States you do not practice Hoodoo, you practice Conjure or some other variation.
Santeria, Palo Mayombe, Vodou, and other religions that come out of the Caribbean are initiation-based religions. Anyone of any ethnicity can be initiated into them if the spirits allow it. The traditions are closed because it requires you to be initiated to practice. When you are initiated you receive a “license” to practice the religion, learn the magic, and work with the spirits. To practice the religion properly one must get Godparents, get a reading, take the first steps towards initiation, and then be crowned with their spirit. All the traditions that come out of the Caribbean have some form of initiation to officially introduce you to the spirits no matter your ethnicity. Performing rituals that are only for initiates is appropriation. There are ways to honor the "gods and goddesses" of these traditions without being disrespectful, but you should seek the advice of an elder.
A closed practice by ethnicity is something an ethnic group does in a religious ceremony and would be offensive for an outsider to perform. That goes for most ALL Native American traditions and rituals. A closed practice by initiation means trying to perform ceremonies that are only for initiates. You cannot wake up one morning and declare yourself a Catholic priest and perform the role of one. Well you can! But if you go down to the Catholic church on Sunday and tell everyone you will be serving Mass they will laugh in your face. All religions should be treated with the same level of respect regardless of how many people practice it.
How can you avoid appropriating another person’s culture then? It is simple. Work with your OWN ancestral spirits and guides. By doing so this removes any confusion about what would be and not be appropriate to practice. You might be adopted and not know who your ancestors are through a family tree and that is OK. I recommend that everybody get a DNA test so that they can find out what their family's migration patterns are. And no, it is not OK to borrow from another tradition even if you do it "respectfully". It is disrespectful for you to feel entitled to take what is not yours just because you want to. That is spiritual colonization. And it is a slap in the face to the elders and the spirits of the tradition you have appropriated. Most of the time if you are not formally introduced to the spirits they will not be listening. At worst you will piss off a spirit and learn your lesson the hard way.
The only exception to this rule is… In mixed spiritism we believe that our spirit guides and guardians can come from any time, any religion, and of any ethnicity. What is this based on? Traditional mediumship for hundreds of years. If a person who is white has a spirit in their celestial court who is specifically from a closed practice that practitioner must work with their guide and follow its direction on how to practice magic. Let me be super clear. And let’s use Hoodoo again as an example. If you are not a black American, you should not be practicing Hoodoo for others. You should not be practicing Hoodoo online, casting spells for others, or calling on another person’s ancestral spirits. If you have a La Madama spirit guide who was a rootworker while alive, and is now one of your saints, work with her under her guidance. Your spirits will teach you and guide you. They will take you deep into the mysteries if you allow them to do their job. This kind of Hoodoo inspired work is for you and yourself only. It is the same if you had a Native, African, Indian, or Asian spirit guide. Since our spirits have influence over our life, they will drag us to where they want us to go. But your spiritual practice and important magical work should never be put online or social media. Another exception is if you are invited by a practitioner of a closed practice to come along and work with them. If the invitation is to practice side by side with your friend in the craft, it is ok. But even if you did help your friend cast their spell it does not mean you can go home and start practicing their ancestral magic. You must have the spirits to work the tradition.
We need to create an agenda for this program! There is a lot of information in this course so let's make your "To Do" list. In the following portion of this section we will:
- Set up your Journal
- Purify your home and yourself
- Set up your Boveda
- Learn how to pray the Most Holy Rosary
- Become familiar with the Selected Prayers of Allan Kardec
- Start praying and talking to your spirits
It's that simple. This book is going to give you the most basic guidelines for starting out and then it's up to you to do the work and keep a journal of your experiences. You can start learning how to pray the Most Holy Rosary and Selected Prayers now if you wish, they are in the Prayer and Meditation portion of the book. Don’t wait! Get a journal and start saying prayers tonight.
Setting up your Journal
It is my recommendation that you immediately obtain a Leuchtturm1917 medium "dotted" hardcover notebook (AKA the Bullet Journal). You will not be able to accomplish this program without buying and keeping a journal. The Bullet Journal style of note taking will change you forever. The flexibility of having a blank dotted notebook not only allows you to take notes but also create calendars, make lists, draw pictures, create graphs, and adjust your journaling style as you evolve. Please go to YouTube tonight and search for "starting a Bullet Journal" and get ideas about how you will set up yours. This style of journaling is too complex to explain in this book, plus you will get more benefit listening to the advice of many other Bullet Journal enthusiasts and there are many of them.
Purifying the Mind, Body, and Spirit
If you are going to be venturing into the realm of spirits you need to be clean in body, mind, and spirit. You also have to be working in a clean space. Do not perform any spiritual work with a dirty body or in a stinky room. Spirits love fragrant smells, aromatic colognes, fine incense, and essential oils. They will not come unless your ritual space is clean and your body is clean. Always shower well before conjuring spirits and anoint yourself with cologne or an essential oil of choice to call the specific spirit group you want to communicate with. Let's go over some protocols.
Purifying Your Home
Clean your home thoroughly from top to bottom. Dust and get all of the cobwebs out of the corners of your ceiling. Mop your floor and put the dishes away. Make your bed, get your stuff off the floor. I clean my home with pure rubbing alcohol and Florida Water when I am going to do ritual work. When I am not planning to do something big I keep the room and the space around my shrine/altar clean. I keep the altars clean and refreshed. The water in my glasses are refreshed every six or seven days but not longer than a week. If I put out an offering of alcohol, candy, or coffee it does not stay out for longer than 24 hours. You do not have to sage your home. Open the windows and get fresh air running through your home. Yes, sweet smelling incense will attract spirits especially frankincense, myrrh, and sandalwood. Essential oils and colognes are also wonderful choices. Your home should be clean especially where you call your spirits and the air should be fresh and sweet. You will have spirits that like tobacco and cigars. They might want you to light one for them or blow smoke in their direction. Tobacco is a sacred and protective plant in this tradition. As you clean you can play music that your spirits respond to and enjoy. As you clean your home and listen to the spiritual songs it will also clear your head and put you in the right frame of mind.
Purifying the Body
Cleanliness is next to Godliness and it's true. Ritual bathing is crucial in spiritual work. In Japanese Shinto religion the act of purifying and washing the body (misogi) must be done as a form of penance and purification before approaching the spirits (kami). The Taino Indians were reported to love water and bathed frequently throughout the day. There was definitely a ritual and spiritual significance to bathing in their culture that lives on today in Sanse and other South American shamanistic traditions. Taking a shower before doing spiritual work is enough. Make sure to rinse your mouth out too while you bathe and set an intention to be pure in mind and heart. There are also spiritual baths for purification, more than I can mention. You can get on YouTube and search for "spiritual baths' ' and many Afro Caribbean practitioners will come up with their own recommendations. When you do a spiritual bath do not buy cheap powders or magical oils they sell in Botanicas or online shops. Buy fresh or dried herbs as well as quality essential oils for your baths at the grocery store or health food store. We will go into herbalism later in the book and how you can buy herbs in bulk.
Fasting is Good for the Soul
The thought of not eating for a day or two might terrify some of you, especially Americans, but in truth fasting has been used in most all spiritual traditions around the world as a way of cleansing the body of toxins and showing humility to God. Besides being good for the soul and having self control over your appetite science has shown that it also improves your health. The Catholic and Orthodox Churches historically observe the disciplines of fasting and abstinence at various times each year. Muslims also do during Ramadan. For Catholics, fasting is the reduction of one's intake of food, while abstinence refers to refraining from meat (or another type of food). The Catholic Church teaches that all people are obliged by God to perform some penance for their sins, and that these acts of penance are both personal and corporeal. Bodily fasting is meaningless unless it is joined with a spiritual fast from sin. St. Basil gives the following exhortation regarding fasting, "Let us fast an acceptable and very pleasing fast to the Lord. True fast is the estrangement from evil, temperance of tongue, abstinence from anger, separation from desires, slander, falsehood and perjury. Privation of these is true fasting."
Fasting Boosts Brain Power
Intermittent fasting is claimed to cause weight loss, improve metabolic health, boost brain power and even extend lifespan. Here are a few of the most popular fasting techniques. I have added them here because they have been tested and are safe for healthy adults. If you have metabolic disease or are on medications consult with your doctor before attempting to fast. When you decide to fast dedicate your fast for your spiritual evolution and to elevate your spirits.