Meso-American

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Cultural Appropriation is a real, important, and harmful thing, but god damn if it’s not one of the most recklessly abused terms in the social justice lexicon.

Transcription under the cut for accessibility

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Olmec mask.


The first known civilisation in Mexico started the long running tradition of carving life size masks carved from jadeite, nephrite and other similar stones. The famous mask of Lord Pakal from Palenque attests to the long life of this artistic tradition. The Aztecs some two thousand years later ritually buried a mask like this in the ruins of Tenochtitlan. The Olmecs flourished between 1,500 and 400 BCE, and were the product of a thousand years of cultural evolution in the region. They also invented the ritual ballgame that was to play such a central part in subsequent meso-American cultures.

Loz

Item in Musées Royaux d'Art et d'Histoire, Brussels
Image credit: Michel Wal.

Chichen Itza - Mexico 

Located in the Yucatan Peninsula, Chichen Itza is the most visited, and the largest of the Mayan archaeological sites in Mexico. It is an easy day trip from Cancun. For over 1000 years, the city was an important place of pilgrimage for the Mayan people.

The most recognisable structure in the ancient city is the El Castillo. Also known as the Temple of Kukulcan, the temple is a Meso-American step pyramid, believed to have been built sometime between the 9th and 12th centuries. Stairs lead up all four sides of the pyramide, to the temple at the top. Statues of Serpents run along the balustrades of the staircases. Each side of the temple has 91 steps. When added together with the final step at the top, where the temple sits, the total number of stairs adds up to 365, equal to the number of days in the Mayan calendar. 

Pirate AU Headcanons
  • All the brother’s ships are named after their drag queen titles, e.g Oso’s is Madame Legend, Ichi’s is the Shiny Nekomata, etc. (Except for Jyushi’s ship, which is called ‘The Homura’)
  • Each one knows different languages depending on the region: Oso knows Spanish and some French (and has something of a Caribbean creole), Kara understands French and English (with a bit of a Scottish lilt), Choro knows numerous Indian dialects, Ichi can speak fluent Arabic and some Hebrew, Jyushi can speak Spanish and some local Meso-American languages, and Totty knows Japanese and a little bit of everything
  • Kara and Oso love sea shanties and can often be seen humming or singing them
  • Kara and Ichi are avid star watchers: Ichi does so for directional purposes, while Kara does it for poetic inspiration
  • Oso’s ship has the most canons out of all the brothers (and coincidentally, the most booze)
  • Kara actually has a glass eye under that eyepatch of his. He keeps it covered because it freaks people out. He never specifies why he lost his first eye, and the story changes whenever you ask
  • Choro has numerous tattoos of different clans and such. They’re mostly on his back and shoulders, so they’re mostly hidden from view.
  • Very few people have actually heard about Ichi and his crew… Mainly because they leave no survivors
  • Jyushi’s hook is actually made of enchanted gold. It was given to him by a certain greed demon…
  • The parrot on Totty’s shoulder is his pet, messenger, alarm system, and fashion critic all in one

And finally,

  • This scene, except with Choro and his Hesokuri Wars friends
Dragons

A dragon is a legendary creature, typically with serpentine or reptilian traits, that appears in almost all cultures around the world.

Dragons In Slavic Mythology 

  • East Slavic Dragons have three heads, green, walk on hind legs and spit fire.
  • South Slavic Dragons have a division on what they call them, but basically they are the same creature. They are considered intelligent and wise, possess superhuman strength and are proficient in magic. Aside from breathing fire, they are also known to lust over women with whom it can produce offspring. In Bulgarian and Serbian folklore, these dragons were seen as defenders of crops and fighting against a specific demon – Ala, whom they shoot with lightening.
  • Their abilities vary depending on location. Some believe the east slavic dragons can re-grow their heads if chopped off. They exhale fire, which is dangerous to anyone in the way. Their enormous size makes them just as deadly.

Behind the legend of the downfall of medieval Serbia, lie fairy-tales about a good dragon who failed to save his people from the hands of the malevolent Ala, or Azdaha.

Thus, the Ottoman conquest and the famous Kosovo Battle of 1389 resulted in a battle not only fought by people, but by dragons as well.

According to oral tradition, the participants of the bloody battle became semi-gods, mythical creatures whose dragon origins often appear in folk tales and epic poems.

Serbian cultural expert Sreten Petrovic, through his books, has attempted to prove the existence of a dragons “pantheon” in Serbian medieval culture, called the “Jastrebacki panteon”.

This Pantheon was crowned by the Jastrebac Dragon, Zmaj od Jastrepca, and included various heroes from Serbia’s medieval epic poetry.

Many legends and folk tales in Serbia feature these lusty and brave dragons, which defended Serbia’s skies and lands from the Ottomans, and from bad weather as well.

  • The natural habitat of Serbian dragons was typically considered to be on mountaintops, such as Jastrebac near Krusevac, rivers, mountain streams, or the woods. Many of these places still bear the name “Zmajevac”
  • Zmaj’ (meaning dragon) was a title given to the most fierce and powerful warriors in Serbia and other South Slavic countries.

Dragons In Norse Mythology 

Norse mythology, in general, is dark and tragic, like the cold and icy wastelands the Norse traversed. Whether on land or sea, the Vikings were threatened by dragons.

Dragons are a central part of Norse mythology, as are those who battle them.

The Vikings believed in this structure of their universe to be the nine worlds and in the great cosmic tree, Yggdrasil, which held all things together. Norse mythology taught that dragons were under the ground and at the bottom of the ocean.

To the Norse, dragons and serpents were the same creatures and not differentiated. Viking mythology is largely based on tales of the sea as they were seafarers, and dragons were commonly found in many aspects of their lives.

Dragons were often carved on the bows of ships to protect the seafarers. These sea-serpents were symbolic of the Viking prowess, and were used to heighten the berserkers sense of self, and to frighten potential opponents. The dragons on the bows of their ships were also believed to scare away the serpents in the depths of the ocean.

Dragons In South American Mythology 

Close to Mexico City are the pyramids of Teotihuacan.  They are carved with many things – including a dragon called Quetzalcoatl.

Quetzalcoatl was not an evil dragon. He was the ancient cultural hero among the Aztec, the Toltec and other Meso-American peoples.  He taught them how to write and explained agriculture to them.  He introduced the calendar, monotheism, music, dance and so on – in essence he civilised them.

The Maya knew him as Kulkulkan, and the Quiché called him Gucumatz.  The same god appeared in Zuni rituals as Kolowisi and a Hopi ritual named him as Palulukong. All of these have the same meaning: “plumed serpent”.

In his dragon form he ruled the wind, the rain and the fertility of the earth, the cycles of human sustenance. As a celestial and terrestrial being he was man’s magical connection to the mysteries of heaven and the sacred earthly realm.

Quetzalcoatl was an integral part of the creation of each of the worlds/cycles/suns of the Aztecs.  The fifth age was initiated by Quetzalcoatl in 3,113 B.C. and is due to complete its cycle on Dec. 21, 2012.  Just prior to the age of the fifth sun, Quetzalcoatl created man by going to the underworld and retrieving the bones of an earlier human incarnation.  On his return journey he stumbled and fell, breaking the bones, and therefore the resulting people came out in all different shapes and sizes.

When he was driven away by war he promised to return to his people one day. Some accounts have him leaving in a dragon boat or on a raft of serpents.  Some believe he sacrificed his human body and flew off into the sky to become the bright planet we know as Venus

Dragons In Japanese Mythology

Japanese dragons are similar to those of China, but are more serpentine in shape, have only three claws on each foot, and fly less frequently. The reason why they have three toes/claws is because the Japanese believe Eastern dragons originated in their native homeland. Their belief was that when the dragons began to leave Japan, they gained toes. The further the dragons went, the more toes they gained. Which explains why the Chinese and Korean dragons have more toes.

The most familiar type of Japanese dragon is the Tatsu or Ryu, which is a descendant of a primitive three-toed variety of Chinese dragon. Japanese dragons are traditionally associated more with the sea than rain. This is because Japan is less vulnerable to drought-related disasters as compared to China. Therefore they didn’t feel the same need to pray to rain-releasing dragons.

The Ryu originated from Buddhist religion and is one of the four divine beasts from Japanese mythology (the other three being the phoenix, turtle and kirin. Kirin is the Japanese unicorn). It is frequently the emblem of the Emperor or the hero.

The dragon is chief among the ideal creatures of Japan. It is seen carved upon tombs, on temples, dwellings, and shops.

Corn

(Zea Mays) Seed, silk: Safe to interact with.

Folk Names: Giver of life, Maize, Sacred Mother, Seed of Seeds.
Gender: Feminine.
Planet: Venus.
Element: Earth.
Powers: Protection, Luck, Divination.

Ritual Uses: The Corn Mother, or Goddess, is a deity of plenty and of fertility, long worshipped throughout the East and North America. The Zunis utilize different colors of corn in their religious rituals. Blue corn meal is used to bless and is scattered as an offering.

Magical Uses: Reach into a bin of corn, pull out any ear, count the grains. Allow twelve grains of corn for each year and it will tell your age.
An ear of corn is placed within the cradle to protect the baby against negative forces. A bunch of cornstalks hung over the mirror brings good luck to the household, and a necklace made of dried red corn kernels prevents nosebleed.
Pollen from corn was used to make rain by ancient Meso-American peoples, probably by tossing it into the air.
At one time, in the mountains of the United States, if a birth was difficult, red corncobs were burned on the doorstep of the cabin (or even under the bed) to speed up the process.

(from Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs by Scott Cunningham)

Designing some Planes

I’m not sure who to tag to get some much needed feedback here, but I figured I would throw these out there, and in a worst case scenario, nothing would come of them.  If you have nothing to say, but know of someone who might, please signal boost this to them. Alright, here goes, I’m casting a super wide net here (hopefully none of you will be annoyed): @flavoracle, @magicarasa, @vorthosjay@blackdeckwins, @isharton, @sarkhan-volkswagen, @frigidloki. Thanks in advance for even glancing at these, folks!

I’ve been casually designing planes (at first only one) with the idea of making a custom Magic set. The idea, as it stands now, is to design just enough of Five Planes so that I can craft a set styled around a similar dynamic to Origins. The conceit of the set is to follow some of the early travails of a single planeswalker who I have created whose arc will take him to these various places. One is his birth plane, another his first ‘walk, and each of the others will fit in in some small way to his journey. I don’t yet have a name for this proposed set. Another detail, is that each plane will be based in a single color and likely have a secondary (likely enemy) color for cards to appear in, again, like Origins.

So, I am posting this to see if I can bounce some ideas around, garner a bit of feedback, and hopefully hone these ideas from some very raw forms into something a bit more.. well, good.

What follows (which I will apologize in advance, is super long) is a bit of “art” done to show off the name of the set with a nifty font/style and display a rudimentary expansion-like symbol as a jumping off point.

The first of these planes is called Ocaeryx and is the white-based plane. I don’t have a ton of information in my head yet, but I envision this plane as one where the major aesthetic is of gemstones and crystals. I am likely going to have them integrate with living things too, a la Mirrodin but with crystal instead of metal. As far as the beings that live here and what life is like? No real idea. This plane is the location the protagonist will ‘walk to first. I picture him tumbling down a hill after he “lands” there and encountering a giant plain coated in a crystalline glass which is bright with reflected light.

That’s about it.

Next up is Vaznikep. This one is basically just a cool logo with something to do with fire and rituals. I want it to be somehow inspired by Hebrew myth/legend… which I know almost nothing about except that it is WAAY under-utilized in fantasy. There will likely be golems? This plane is, for now, the red-aligned plane in the set.

Ajopuåd… Is by far the LEAST fleshed out. For this one, I literally only have the images above to guide me. I mean, I don’t know anything about this one but it is going to be black-aligned. I am thinking some sort of Nordic or Islamic aesthetic going on here? No idea. What do YOU folks see when you see the symbol or the loops in the name?

Metzicatli was the first plane that I made for this project and the one I know about the best. This plane will take inspiration visually from Meso-American cultures and lore. Now, with the recent “leak” of Atlazan, I feel like my thunder may have been stolen a bit… but I think I have an intriguing twist with this one. Metzicatli is a plane that is in ruins and completely taken over by the wilds and the beasts that call them home. The wilderness has completely reclaimed what was once a proud Incan/Aztec-esque culture and not a single humanoid life lives here anymore. This plane, in case it wasn’t obvious is green-aligned. I am toying with the idea of there being a primal and violent version of the Nantuko that call this plane home, to counter point the monks we saw when last we met this tribe. If you want to know more about this one, just ask!

And, finally, is Runaulje! This plane is second in terms of my knowledge and fleshing out of it. Runaulje is inspired visually by Slavic cultures and that aesthetic. Its spells are all derived from books, and tomes and the written word. Like Kaladesh where the artifact is king, here it is the grimoire and scrolls that rule the land. No one is more respected than the Librarian (who is more soldier-mage and protector of the books than mere scholar). Secondarily, is the scribe who is charged with the important job of using rare and magical inks to transcribe these precious parchments. I’m thinking this plane will have an emphasis in Enchantments and Artifacts. Oh, and since learning is super important too, this plane is aligned with blue, primarily.

Soooo, that’s that. Hopefully one of you fine folks can help me refine these ideas and make them even better. Thanks in advance for any help you can offer!

PSG Roundtable #6: Choosing Your Path

We here at the PSG often get the question: Where do I start?

Usually, this leads to questions like, how do I choose a path? What kind of witch am I? How do I find a deity?

While we don’t mind these questions, ultimately the answer is up to you. However, we do have resources to help one get started.

When it comes to choosing a “type” of witchcraft or a path, know that you do not have to follow this path 100% to the letter. Each path is a guideline, or at the very least one’s primary source of magic. A Fire witch may draw their power from Fire, Candles, Heat, etc but that does not mean that they cannot work with water, other elements, the moon, etc. 

While you don’t need to have a label for your path, craft, or practice, it can be a helpful identifier or just something that makes you feel more genuine in your practice. It’s completely up to you as to what you actually call yourself, and one can practice any open or initiatory belief. 

The common “types” of witchcraft tend to be Elemental, Seasonal, Aspects of Nature, and Abstract Concepts, but there are many, many more than this, and each type can be purely individualized depending on your primary source, what kinds of spellwork you do, and what you like to do. 

Here are some masterlists of “types” of witches and crafts:

An individual can practice witchcraft without being Wiccan, without having anything to do with nature, and without religion. 

In general, if you’re trying to figure out your path, ask yourself questions. 

  • What am I interested in?
  • What do I want to learn?
  • What do I want to try?
  • Am I interested in cursing?
  • What is my primary spell casting style?
  • What am I drawn to?
  • Do I want to work with elements? 
  • Do I want to work casual magic or dive deeper?
  • Am I interested in weaving magic into daily and/or household tasks?
  • Am I interested in nature? Gardening? Earth, soil, herbs?
  • Am I interested in my environment, be it urban, suburban, cityscape, or rural?
  • Am I interested in divination? 
  • What do I have available to me, at this moment?

There are many questions you can ask yourself and ultimately do not think of witchcraft as a finality, ball-and-chain path. Your path is your own, and whatever spells, crafts, or practices you incorporate are yours to do with. 

Likewise, ask yourself similar questions in finding a religion or deity, if you are interested.

What aspects are you interested in? 

Deities are not simply gods “of” things, but have many facets to them. However, it’s it totally fine to begin finding a deity based on an aspect you are interested in: Love, War, Death, Leadership, Bravery, Sadness, Depression, Home, Community, etc.

If you are interested in working with a deity of death, a quick Google search of “Gods of X” will help give you a very brief list via Wikipedia. Look into different deities from open and/or initiatory religions (that you would have access to) to begin. Most ancient, “dead” religions are open, whereas indigenous beliefs are not. Heathenry, Hellenism, Kemeticism, Gaulish Polytheism, Irish Polytheism, and Sumerian are all examples of open religions. Meso-American, Native American, and many other indigenous cultures are not open due to the fact that these cultures are not dead and that their respective people have said that they do not want outsiders practicing their beliefs. 

If a deity contacts you, or you wish to contact a deity, that is not of your belief, do not take this as a sign to work with or worship them. The sign might be there, but the sign could, instead, be saying that you should learn the culture, people, and language of its origins. 

In looking for deities, research each individual deity and see if they interest you before contact. It’s okay to find more than one deity from different pantheons intriguing, as this is called an eclectic practice, but know and understand that not all gods that share aspects are the same. Take, for example, Hela, Hades, and Anubis as gods of death. They are very different in personality, culture, and even working with, so take into consideration the gods themselves.

It’s perfectly fine to open communications with a deity and later cutting off communications. There is no harm in testing the waters.  Worship and working with deities should be something you desire to do without terrible hindrances. While an individual’s belief on worship and work with may vary, you have a right to say no.

There are many paths and pantheons, and balancing them if you are eclectic can be tricky, but keeping each deity separate and the worship to their respective originating culture would be best, especially for beginners. There are some individuals who may mix the cultures, beliefs, and styles of worship with different deities spanning other pantheons, and usually this is due to a later, better understanding as to how they can go about their own practice. Starting with separation is a good way to learn about your particular deities, and later help you decide if you desire to mix or keep separate different practices.

Here are a couple variations of paganism

There is also Pop Culture Paganism and the creation of your own religion if you so choose.

While the first one is mostly used for writing fictional religions, it can still be used to create your own:

There are a variety of ways to communicate with a deity or entity, and you should remember that you do not need to vow, oath, or devote yourself immediately, or at all. These are very serious terms and conditions that can easily get you royally fucked if you’re not careful, especially with certain pantheons or deities. That’s not to scare you away from devotion, oaths, or vows but they should not be taken lightly.

Feel free to look at our Beginner Tag, Godphone Tag, and Communication Tag

Here are some more helpful posts by us:

My Personal Experience

When I first began to dive into Paganism, I started out dabbling Kemetism. I was interested in working with Bast, Sekhmet, and Anpu all three, and it was nice for a time but I later abandoned it, feeling that not only was it not for me, but I was mostly using it as a facade. It would have been disrespectful to keep going for me, so I moved on. I still care for them, they helped start my journey into paganism, but it just ended up better this way. 

Eventually I came to Satanism & Luciferianism, and branched into Demonolatry. I worked with Satan for some time, and that was also nice, but again it still didn’t feel quite right. I worked with demons, and occasionally still do, but it wasn’t something I was interested in for a long-term, permanent practice. 

Down the road, I began to research Loki, and he came in and kicked my ass. In a good way, mind you, but I started to research more and he kicked my ass into gear, it was a kind of aggression that was both necessary and welcomed, but not terribly harsh. I researched more into his family, Sigyn, Angrboda, Hela, Jormungandr, Sleipnir, Narfi & Vali, but I avoided Fenrir for the longest time. He terrified me. Eventually I came to worship him, too, and branched into working with other gods such as Freyr, Skadi, and Tyr. 

I tried Gaulish Polytheism for a moment, without leaving Heathenry behind this time, but that also wasn’t for me and Heathenry has stuck as my primary pantheon ever since.

I eventually came around to Pop Culture Paganism, as well, but again, without abandoning Heathenry as I have all previous beliefs. Now I have two pantheons I work with separately, Therosean and Heathen. My diving int Pop Culture Paganism took some time, as I at first was confused as how it “worked.” I started out in Pop Culture Magic, first, using spells based off my favourite characters before I found that these characters could be manifested as spirits, and eventually gods, to me. 

In regards to magic, I found that my primary methods of magic were curses involving nightmares, anxiety, and fear, as well as glamours and spells about self-love, love, care, and protection. In regards to a “type” of witch, I am most definitely aligned with being a Glamour Witch and a Curse Witch. Hell, I even call myself a Nightmarist and Cursemage, since, yknow, I can call myself whatever I want and I decided to go a little purple with it. 

It’s perfectly fine if you don’t quite get your patron deity or pantheon or have any gods choose you specifically. It’s also just as fine if you bounce around for a while. Your path is your own and usually your type of craft and practice will reveal itself with time as you perform more magic and work with your deities respectively.

If anyone else has anything to add, tips about finding or choosing your practice or sharing personal stories, feel free to add ! 

~ Rose  

Some things I wish I’d known when I first started:

  • Wicca isn’t the only thing out there and I shouldn’t try forcing belief in myself to suit a religion
  • while there are a few wrong ways to be pagan (e.g. cultural appropriation), there is no single right way
  • I’m allowed to make mistakes
  • I can adjust my practices to be realistic for my needs and limitations instead of trying to follow someone else’s regimen
  • having religious faith doesn’t make me any less rational than my former atheist peers - what matters is a religion’s impact on my life rather than its impossible-to-know-anyway objective truth
  • judging my value as a pagan by comparing myself to others who appear more ‘advanced’ is not only unnecessary but also pointless and actively illogical
  • all those Big Name Pagans once started out as clueless as everyone else
  • there’s no deadline and I can learn at my own pace
  • your path will change over time - fuckin accept it
  • challenge yourself - recognize when you’ve outgrown a practice, belief, or even a community, but be realistic about your needs and limitations, too
  • fear is not the same as caution
  • intellectualism does not replace experience
  • I’m allowed to trust my intuition

I still struggle with taking things as they come and not getting distracted by trying to figure out the bigger picture.  The latter comes with a lot of anxiety and second-guessing, which basically turns into self-sabotage.  I like untangling chaos into coherent theories that can then be challenged and tweaked and refined and which basically allow me to confuse a degree in philosophy with the practice of a religion that is based on the ineffability of personal, intimate experience.  That isn’t useful to anybody, let alone myself.

I don’t wish to go into much personal detail, but essentially I allowed fear of one of my goddesses’ reputation and my mental illness to hold me back to such an extent that it had started impacting my quality of life.  My denial, dressed up as being “cautious” and “smart,” kept me from seeing how she could teach me to heal my damage (some self-inflicted, some not) and turn those parts of myself I fear into strengths.

If your religion or spirituality negatively impact you, it is your right to change it.

- mountain hound

The PSG Roundtable Index
before asking | faq+tags | resource blog

Friends Forever AU--The Bits and Bobs
  • Young Ford first meets Bill in his mindscape, after a particularly brutal bullying session that accidentally knocks him unconscious.  When Stan finally wakes him up, Ford assumes that the whole encounter was a dream…or, at least, he would, if it wasn’t for the mysterious summoning incantation written on his hand.
  • Ford starts associating with Bill in his dreams, where Cipher presents himself as a friend. This is exactly what Ford needs right now, so he accepts the bond without much question.
  • Like in canon, Bill can only exist in the mindscape and when summoned (in his typical grey, paused world, like in Dreamscaperers).  His goal is still to achieve a physical form and cause Weirdmageddon, so he starts planting the portal idea in Ford’s head at a very young age. The boy’s motivation? Bill says on the other side, Ford will meet all kinds of friends just as “special” as he is.
  • Initially, Bill insists that they keep their friendship a secret—this is mainly so he can mess with the rest of the Pines family without suspicion. Which he does. A lot.
  • In the beginning, Bill seems like a positive influence on Ford; he takes more pride in his six fingers, and overall, seems to be happier.  But eventually, his peers—especially Stan—start noticing the negative side effects.  Ford is sleeping a lot more, drawing triangles all over his notes, and are those…deer teeth…on his desk?
  • And when it comes to Stan, all of their little adventures for “Meso-American gold” and “pirate ghosts” have now turned into searches for other dimensions and portal possibilities…
  • After Stan questions how distant Ford has been, Ford finally confesses about Bill. In an attempt to reconcile, Stan tries to meet with Bill on his own. Chaos ensues.
  • The only thing that Ford’s hesitant about is the proposal of possession.  Bill promises him knowledge, enlightenment, all that good stuff, but this is still a kid; he’s uneasy. He’s scared.
  • Bill’s pivotal reveal comes when he finally exposes his true power, grotesquely attacking some of Ford’s bullies in an attempt to 1-up Stan as a defender. Now that Bill’s presence is public, Ford takes him on as a bodyguard.  Stan hates every part of this.
  • Tensions only grow as the twins age into high school; with Ford fixated on his “friend” and the portal, Stan is forced to find new friends of his own—they’re far from a good influence.
  • In one of Stan’s darkest moments, Bill finally goes to appeal to him.  While Stan initially distrusts this thing that’s tormented him for years, he’s willing to do anything to reconnect with his brother.  And while Ford may be hesitant about possession…if that’s what it takes…
  • Bill seals the deal, and also seizes that opportunity to get Stan in a heap of criminal trouble.  Filbrick finds out everything—Stan’s kicked out without even getting the chance to say goodbye.
  • So Ford’s left alone…But at least he’s got Bill, right?
  •  …Right?

Yeah, in short, Bill is a really cruddy friend.

Cultural appropriation in the body modification industry...

My response to cultural appropriation and body modification industry….a conversation initiated by Alan Vedge..

Dear Alan, I appreciate you initiating a conversation like this .. It is also my hope that you read this with an open mind and heart…

I am speaking to you from the perspective of a women, a native to north and Central America, a body piercer and essentially a “ hipster white kid” believer.

Although I appreciate what You think is an attempt to magnify the “ injustices ” taking place in the body modification industry or rather “disrespect to indigenous people of the planet ” you have In fact done quite the opposite. In fact you alone in my opinion have done more damage than good in the quest for higher conscientiousness and unity.

In this melting pot of a culture you live in, you have put your perspective or opinion in a place above others in an attempt to right some wrongs that you believe are occurring. Don’t you think it’s time that privileged people stop telling all the other people what to do? Isn’t that the premise of all colonization on this planet …Someone with presumed privilege telling the crazy natives to act and behave in a certain way? Let me tell you something …really something about what it’s like to not belong anywhere and find a connection with anything that keeps you feeling like a human… Because that’s what tattoos and stretched lobes, body modifications, jewelry, ritual and other earthly things do for some people …and most certainly for me.

If you want to know how a native person feels about using ancient symbols or ceremonies in a modern way for tattoos or otherwise maybe you should ask one…instead of instituting what you think upon the situation…just pick up a stone and throw it ..you will no doubt hit a person who is native to some place who uses these symbols and ceremonies. White, black, red , yellow…all the people of the earth, homie.. What you might find is a person who live connected to these symbols is happy to share even with the most oblivious ….symbols don’t belong to anyone that’s what make them symbols…they can symbolize anything you want them to….

Lets talk details:

“Using culturally significant names for westernized piercings (ie. “Bindi” and “Sadhu” piercings)”

How fucking presumptions and white privileged of you to call these piercings western…or to identify them with modern usage before their cultural roots…a sadhu piercing is called a sadhu piercing because the first people to have large conch piercings where in fact sadhus so that means we stole it not the other way around and FYI , the word bindi means decoration…not specific to just Hindi and is technically correct if the decoration is a piercing worn by whoever…it is also called a third eye piercing but I would hate to offend those who have been blessed with an extra eyeball.

“Wearing culturally significant jewelry with no regard to the culture it came from.”

Wearing jewelry from another culture, without knowing the significance, are you kidding me? If you studied jewelry of the world and tribal cultures you would know that one thing all the cultures of the world have in common is that many times if not most times jewelry is worn for adornment…to look beautiful and to express a beautification process. Well fuck if I didn’t honor that culture by wearing a piece of jewelry and looking beautiful…all the ancestors must be pissed…if just trying to be beautiful offends you than you might be truly lost.

-“Stealing culturally significant tattoo imagery, jewelry designs, etc. )”

“Stealing” really? Stealing is a word that doesn’t belong in this equation..to steal something means it at some point belonged to someone and was than stolen. and again your conquestador mentality comes out. Symbols like the swastika don’t belong to anyone or any one culture, just like the cross..or spiral, or hundreds of other imagery items that are now used for tattoos…if they don’t belong to anyone , you can’t fucking steal them…in fact I would go so far as to say they belong to everyone.

“(Especially when that jewelry is then produced by exploiting other people of color in developing nations)”

Is this directed at the people making jewelry in Bali and selling to Piercers in the US? It’s clear that you speak to this not from first hand knowledge but rather a very sheltered experience….Do you know that because of the rise in popularity of organic jewelry that an industry has been created in Bali for what would be considered a not as talented carver? A carver who otherwise may have gone without work? Do you believe the people are being exploited because they offer low prices on large orders and get paid decent wage to carve jewelry. Do you believe people like Jimmie, Corey, Erika and Phoebe would engage in a business standing on the backs of indigenous people?? Well they don’t. These people honor the designs and the carvers who make them and compensate them for their time and efforts. ( Oh and the phrase “ developing nation” in regard to a third world country like Bali is fucking insulting, they are well developed )

And please find me the original tribe who invented the spiral so we can pay them respects…oh wait ! That design surfaced in at least three different continents all at the same time and it reminds us that we are all one tribe and identify with the same symbols…oh no ?too soon ? We will get to that part…

-“Stealing the names of rituals, mimicking them, and/or taking elements from and using them outside of their cultural history. (“Kavadi” and “Sundance” rituals.”
This is the part where I want to punch you in the face …boy , you fucking missed the boat on this. Stealing the names of rituals? Really ? Mimicking them? Taking elements? Blood rituals go back as far as humanity…they don’t have names until we gave them names and therefor stealing their names is a moot point. Spiritual ceremonies belong to the people who participate in them. The ceremonies from Africa using scarification aren’t stolen from Meso Americans that also practice the same art. And mimicking ? The modern day Sundance ritual is a mimick of itself at best as the ceremony has changed many times handed down time and time again. The Druids have a type of Sundance, the Lakota, the Mexicah, Mayas, Dine….about a million visions of the same intention who’s to say a back yard suspension hold any less importance. These rituals are resurfacing in different manifestations all over the world….none more important than the other. Should people be respectful of ceremony in general ? Absolutely. Should they feel like they don’t belong doing those ceremonies because they are white or not able to make it to the land of their origin to participate in the original mimic of their roots? Absolutely not. Any truly spiritual person will honor each individual and the movement that is needed to accomplish their spiritual quest….add these words to the list of names that don’t belong to any one tribe therefore are not needing you to defend their usage. Vision quest, Sweatlodge, Moondance, ball dance, spear dance, Blessing Way, Birthrites, Death dance, etc…. These ceremonies belong to the people of this earth, they are not a privilege but a birthrite, at anytime any human or any cultural background can claim these rights and don’t deserve to have anyone judge them for that.

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“Wearing cultural people as tattoos or on clothing, often a bastardized and racist stereotype of the culture. (“Indian girl” tattoos with headdresses and face paint, “Gypsy” tattoos, etc.)”

Regardless of what you might think both the examples given here are part of a subculture here in the United States that wears these Tattoos not for the content but because of the original artist who made them popular. Both the Indian head and gypsy head tattoos come from a body of work originated by artists like Sailor Jerry who serve as a godfather of modern tattooing in North America… People get them more for the traditional style than for the content..so while trying to amplify the offensive nature you are also trying to rip apart a culturally significant design to THIS culture. Way to go…

“Wearing other cultures’ clothing as costumes for events”
This might be the only one I agree with you on but I also feel like this has been taken too far. Black face is not funny , no doubt …but does a person dressed as a Mexican Vato for Halloween offend me? No not really …and men dressed in drag for Halloween also doesn’t offend me. What offends me is how offended everyone gets for no reason.

I realize your post was to heighten awareness of these subjects but what it sounds like you are saying is “ you stick with your tribe and not borrow from others. ” or “ don’t do it unless it’s from your cultural background ” and what that says to me is you are more comfortable keeping cultures segregated. Which quite honestly sounds like separatist shit. Expressing disgust or dislike to “ white hipster ” kids for learning about cultural symbols and tattooing them is so ironic since you are in fact a “ white hipster” but alas refer to my initial statement that says I am a “ white hipster” believer ….what I mean by that is the middle American white male that has “ stolen ” these cultural markings has in fact given birth to the generation of Piercers that I identify with. If it wasn’t for a certain few white males in western culture ( Fakir, Blake, Cliff Cadaver, etc) “ reclaiming” these practices and then being published in magazines and books ( modern primitive, savage magazine, PFIQ etc….I would have never found it and connected in the way I have to my culture and the rich cultures of the world that have been my inspiration for the last 20 years in the industry. So I believe in the movement of young westerners and their innocent quest to connect with the culture of the world. I believe it has been monumental in the resurfacing of ancient practices that in so many ways are saving lives, mending broken hearts and closing in the boundaries that separate us.

“Those of us with privileges should be using that to elevate the voices of others in our community and reaching out to those who may feel initially left out rather than asserting opinions and alienating them.”

In your attempt to not alienate people you have done so. Take your own advise. You are no doubt one of the privileged and yet lacking in so many other ways. In my fight to connect with other humans, to belong to the tribes of the world and to educate about compassion and awareness…I encourage you to step back, look at what has been said and realize that you are most certainly part of the problem in our industry, not the kid who unknowingly is wearing some Jewelry from India , but a person who judges and presumes to know what is best for others based off limited knowledge of the subject. If you would like I would love to have this conversation in person and invite others to chime in.

JURUPARI (Yurupare, Crooked Mouth)

A chief god, cult god, or an evil spirit of various groups in the tropical forests of the Amazon and Orinoco River regions of South America. Jurupari is considered by some to be a god that only males could worship. He is associated with coming-of-age rituals of boys. So male-oriented are these ceremonies that women risked death if they found out about them. The Maku, who still practice a jurupari include flute music and the taking of hallucinogens to induce trances to get in touch with the gods and spirits. Part of the ritual includes a re-enactment of the coming of the ancestral anaconda (a giant snake) to the rivers. As a cult god, Jurupari is said to make sure people continue their traditional way of life.

As an evil spirit Jurupari is a jungle demon who takes many animal forms to draw humans toward it. It is said to also appear at night, often to children, gripping their throats just enough to bring on an illness or a bad dream. The first Jurupari was a young boy who was born to the first woman named Amaru just after the time of creation. When he was born, he had no mouth, so he could not eat or talk. One of the first men, Exhaler, blew wind all around him, which gave the boy nourishment so he grew. One day the creator god, Son of the Bone, asked the boy if he was fish, animal, or human, but with each question, the boy shook his head no. Then the creator god asked if he was a Jurupari. As the boy nodded yes, he suddenly had a mouth, which he opened wide as he sent out a loud roar.

Not long after this, Jurupari watched as some boys from the villages sneaked some fruit their parents had asked them not to eat. Having taken it, of course, the boys knew they would get into trouble. Jurupari opened his mouth wide and the boys, thinking it was a cave, ran in to hide from their parents. Then Jurupari went back to the village and threw up the children.

Son of the Bone declared that Jurupari must be punished by death for eating his playmates, but Jurupari fled into the sky, vowing never to come down.After many hours, his stomach began to rumble. Soon, Jurupari was crying for something to eat. Son of the Bone prepared a special plate of food to tempt Jurupari down, then captured the boy as he shoved the food into his huge mouth. Howling, roaring, and making all the sounds of the animals and birds, a defiant Jurupari declared that Son of the Bone could never kill him, not with wood, water, knife, nor any man-made weapon. Undeterred, Son of the Bone and Exhaler threw the boy into a bonfire. As he burned, Jurupari put a curse on the world, declaring that men could no longer enter heaven unless they died first. That was how death came to Earth.

Jurupari’s burning body finally exploded, showering ashes over die land. Various plants sprang from the ashes, including the first paxiuba palm tree. From this tree, Exhaler made 10 reed flutes, each from three to six
feet in length. These flutes could make all the animal sounds of the jungle. When Anaru heard the flutes, they reminded her of her son. Claiming die reeds for her own, she argued that they had sprung from the ashes of her son and were therefore her grandchildren. When her brothers refused to part with the flutes, Son of the Bone arranged a tree-climbing contest for the men and women of the tribe. Whichever side won could keep the flutes. The men won, but the women stole the flutes and ran away with them, caressing the flutes and creating a beautiful tune in die process. Exhaler chased the women and used thunder to kill them all, excepting only his sister Amaru. Then the men claimed the flutes for their own, and the now-reconciled spirit of Jurupari taught them how to make all the sounds of the animals and birds of the jungle.

This type of origin myth of male domination was used to explain men’s power and authority over women. Each year, the men enact a special Jurupari ceremony for the younger boys that teaches them how women first discovered or were given magical nstruments that include JAKUl (reed flutes) and trumpets and how the men eventually figured out how to get exclusive rights to the magical instruments. The instruments are kept hidden in a special building that women are forbidden to enter. The men of some tribes also wear wooden masks to evoke the spirit of Jurupari. These masks or costumes, made of twisted palm leaves, human hair, and other braided material, are considered sacred and only the men of the tribe are allowed to touch them.

The Jurupari story comes into modern life in the name of a river fish. The jurupari species (native name jumparipindi) are what are known as mouth-breeders: After being fertilized, their eggs are somehow brought into the fish’s mouth, where they are kept in a pouch until they hatch; then they are released. Some varieties keep the eggs in the pouch for only a little while and then lay them in nests in the sand on the river’s bottom at some point of their development. But if the eggs are endangered at all, the parent takes them back into its mouth —just as the first Jurupari took in the fruit-eating boys.

Just one possible explanation. Excerpt transcoded from the scan of a Meso-American mythology book.